Bob Wischusen has been the radio play-by-play voice of the New York Jets for 19 years. Lasting all season, Wischusen will share thoughts about the Green & White in a weekly column.
Big Baby's Big Growth
The best hope a Jets fan can take out of a season like this is that they will find some foundational pieces that will be on this team for years to come. When they start to turn the corner, those players are the reason why. It certainly looks like GM Joe Douglas has found a few of those players in his first draft class: Denzel Mims and Mekhi Becton, on offense, have been terrific. One player -- Quinnen Williams -- Douglas inherited, who we all wondered about this season, has taken a major step. He has, quite frankly, at times this season been unblockable. His game against the Dolphins is another reason the Jets have probably found their best foundational piece on the defensive line and maybe on the defense overall. He should be proud of himself for the way that he has remade his body and remade his game from his rookie year to his second season. You always wonder if players will learn the lessons from their rookie seasons, the lessons you need to learn to become a top-notch NFL player. It seems like Williams has learned all of those lessons and then some, and put all of those learnings into practice. He has had a terrific season.
Denzel Mims' Ceiling is High
It was difficult for Douglas and the front office to see so many wide receivers in last year's draft get off to terrific starts to their rookie season, while their rookie WR had two hamstring injuries and took a long time to get on the field. Now that we have all seen Denzel Mims with our own eyes, however, we can all see that he was worth the wait. The routes that he ran at Baylor that caught so much attention helped us to know he would have the same success in the NFL: back shoulder throws, deep balls, deep shots down the sidelines and red-zone targets. What I've been surprised by -- and I'm not sure that everyone who watched Mims in college thought he would be able to show this early on in his NFL career -- is the ability to go over the middle and show that expanded route tree. That has included him in the offense and allowed him the access to the entire field and not just run two or three specific routes. He has really shown that versatility, which has been a pleasant surprise. There is no question that the Jets have found a top-flight WR in Mims who will be a foundational piece for the offense.
Every player and coach inside the Jets' locker room desperately wants to find a win. Looking at their last handful of games, it certainly seems as if that win is going to be hard to come by. But maybe there is a silver lining to having such a difficult end to the season. When you are analyzing a team in a lost year, you want to try and identify as many young players as possible who you think can be big parts of your roster. And how better to analyze which of your young players are keepers than to put them out on the field against quality competition, teams that desperately need wins, teams that are involved in the playoff push, and teams that are going to put their best players out there against your best players. So, if the Jets are looking for that silver lining in having such a difficult end to the season, player evaluation should not be a challenge. There should not be any teams on the Jets' remaining schedule that will be sitting their starters and taking off the last couple of games of the season to rest up their players for the playoffs. It certainly seems that all of the teams the Jets play the rest of the way are going to be in a dogfight for the playoffs, which means it should be their best against the Jets.