The Jets’ offensive statistics last year were … offensive.
The team ranked at the bottom or near the bottom in nearly every meaningful statistical category. Adam Gase was hired to steer the offense, but last season he steered it into the ground.
The Jets finished last in total offense (273 yards per game), 31st in rushing offense (78.6 yards per game), 31st in scoring offense (17.3 points per game), 31st in third-down percentage (30.7), 29th in passing offense (194.4) and 29th in sacks allowed (52).
There were reasons for the struggles. The offensive line was abysmal and injury riddled. Quarterback Sam Darnold missed three games with mononucleosis and the Jets had to turn to third-string quarterback Luke Falk to start two games. Running back Le’Veon Bell never found his footing in his first season with the team. Tight end Chris Herndon played one game. The whole offense never really found its rhythm until November.
So, as the Jets begin the 2020 season, the question now is: Why should anyone expect this group to be better?
“I do think the chemistry that we have, the unit up front is key, obviously Sam another year in the offense,” Gase said Wednesday. “I like our running back situation. I feel like we’ve got a lot of variety we can do there, having Chris Herndon back, having multiple receivers that can create explosive plays.
“I think [Jamison] Crowder being in Year 2 is a big deal, and now you add [Braxton] Berrios in there, you’ve got [rookie Denzel] Mims, he’s going to be able to practice. I mean there’s a lot of things that I’m excited about that are pointing us in the right direction.”
General manager Joe Douglas focused on the offense this offseason. He used a first-round pick on left tackle Mekhi Becton and a second-round pick on Mims. He signed free agents: center Connor McGovern, tackle George Fant, guard Greg Van Roten and wide receiver Breshad Perriman — who are all expected to start Sunday.
Outside of Becton, there was not much hype around any of those other players. That has left people wondering whether the Jets did enough to surround Darnold with the talent he needs in Year 3.
“I like the guys that we have, I like the weapons we have,” Gase said. “I feel like everybody’s forgetting about some of these guys that we didn’t have last year. Chris Herndon was a pretty good player that first year that he and Sam played together, and just getting him back alone I’m pretty fired up about. Adding Frank Gore with Le’Veon and then you start adding [La’Mical] Perine in there, you start adding Perriman, Mims, Berrios, Chris Hogan, I feel pretty good.”
Darnold echoed his coach when asked how much confidence he has in his supporting cast.
“I have a ton of confidence. They’re just hungry to win,” Darnold said. “They’ve shown in practice the ability to make big plays. As long as I’m good with everything and as long as I execute and do my job, I’m very confident in those guys to be able to go out and make plays and make big plays when they’re there.”
This is all the usual preseason talk, of course. We’ll see on Sunday against the Bills if this offense can show significant improvement.
Gase said he and Darnold have talked about how much better the Jets can be this year and both believe a second year in Gase’s system will be key.
“Where we’re at right now as far as our communication and things like that it’s we are excited to get going,” Gase said. “We’re excited to get this group heading in the right direction and finding ways to improve each week. My expectations and his expectations are always going to be extremely high. I mean that’s why we do this. We might not talk about it publicly, but me and him when we’re together our expectations are always probably going to be a lot higher than everybody else.”