For the third consecutive year, the New York Jets are trying to bounce back from a last-place finish. So how could they win a division title in 2019?
We see it on an almost annual basis and it was the case twice in not only 2017 but a season ago as well. One year after an NFL club winds up in the basement, they rebound for a first-place finish. In ’18, the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans rebounded from last place in their respective divisions the previous year to capture division crowns. One season earlier, it was the Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles that turned the same trick. And the latter wound up hoisting a Lombardi Trophy after defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
When it comes to the AFC East, it’s been more than a decade since such a turnaround occurred. Back in ’07, the Miami Dolphins bounced back from 1-15 to 11-5 and wound up in first place. Since then, the New England Patriots have won a record 10 consecutive division titles.
So can the New York Jets manage such a one-year turnaround in 2019? It’s a team that owns a combined 14-34 record the past three seasons and is coming off a 4-12 campaign. There’s a new head coach in Adam Gase, late of the Miami Dolphins. And if this new-look club can improve in three vital aspects, could a division title be in the cards?
3. Create impact plays on defense
While the Jets’ offense has struggled in recent seasons, the defense has let down the club as well. During the first two years of the Todd Bowles Era, the club was more than respectable on the latter side of the football. But the team has not produced in terms of the pass rush and conversely, there have been very few impact plays created by this unit.
In 2018, the club rolled up 39 sacks and came away with 20 takeaways. But it’s worth noting that the Green and White forced 13 turnovers in their four wins compared to just totaling seven takeaways in a dozen losses. The Jets were ranked 25th in the NFL in total yards allowed, finishing 26th vs. the run and 24th vs. the pass while surrendering 45 offensive touchdowns.
New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams hopes to change all that. He should bring a more aggressive approach to a team that added inside linebacker C.J. Mosley via free agency and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams with the third pick in April’s draft. A year ago in Cleveland with Williams at the controls, only the Bears (36) forced more turnovers than the Browns (31).