FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:
1. Clock ticking on Leo: General manager Joe Douglas came from the Philadelphia Eagles, an organization known for its proactive approach with player-personnel decisions. That pedigree could be put to the test as the Oct. 29 trading deadline approaches. If the Jets (0-3) are out of contention after seven games — it certainly appears they will be — it behooves Douglas to determine which players he wants to be part of the future. The others — the ones with trade value — should be on the trading block.
The most intriguing case involves defensive end Leonard Williams, who can bolt after the season as a free agent. The Jets need to decide if Williams, a solid player who hasn’t lived up to his first-round draft status, is worth a big investment. If not, shop him for draft capital.
It’s a tough call because there’s a lot to like about Williams. He’s young (25), durable and versatile in that he can play multiple positions on the defensive line, but he doesn’t make splash plays — only one sack in his past 14 games, just 17 in his 67-game career. His position coach, Andre Carter, defended him this week: “He’s on the upside. I’m so proud of him, how he has developed his game. Granted, the sacks aren’t there, but if you look at the overall stats, he has affected the quarterback 10 times in the past three games.”
The Jets say Williams isn’t getting home because they have faced quarterbacks with quick releases. Statistically, that’s not true, as they’ve faced only one with a quick trigger, Tom Brady (2.45 seconds). What about all the double -eams? He has been doubled on 54 pass-rushing plays, tied for fourth in the NFL, per NFL Next Gen Stats. That illustrates a measure of respect from opponents, but it’s worth noting he’s the only player in the top 25 on that list who hasn’t recorded a pass-rush “win” against a double-team. Buffalo Bills rookie Ed Oliver already has six “wins.”
“[Williams] has a good physical skill set,” an opposing personnel executive said. “He’s been a good run defender, perhaps not the rusher hoped for or the difference-making rusher you ideally wanted from a top pick. But he can play all three downs, yet he’s a run defender first.”
The expected return of rookie Quinnen Williams (ankle) could create more one-on-one opportunities for Leonard Williams, who believes he’s performing well within the system. The Jets can hope for a long-awaited breakout, but after four-plus seasons, Williams is what he is. That probably will be good enough to fetch him at least $12 million a year on the open market. Douglas has four games to decide if he’s down for that.
If he waits, he could wind up losing Williams with no immediate compensation. A third-round pick in 2020 (fair price in a trade) would be better than a compensatory pick in 2021. They could kick the can down the road by using the franchise tag (an estimated $18 million), but that would not be a smart allocation of resources.
2. Follow the money: It has been an interesting couple of weeks for Jamal Adams. He removed the Jets from his social media bios, expressed frustration about being pulled out of a game, ripped the NFL for a roughing-the-passer fine and canceled his weekly spot on WFAN radio, fueling speculation he is tired of the losing and wants out.
Adams is young and emotional, so it’s hard to say if he’s just blowing off steam or if he’s creating dots for us to connect. This much we know: The Jets can trade him next year with minimal cap ramifications (only $3.5 million in dead money). Next year also marks the first time he’s eligible for a new contract. He saw the big money thrown at safeties last offseason (Landon Collins, $14 million per year), and you can bet he feels deserving of a mega deal. Never underestimate the money factor.
3. Practice, who needs practice? The Jets certainly resemble a team that could use some extra work, but they had no practices during the bye week. Coach Adam Gase didn’t want to go that route, preferring to focus on recovery and classroom time. The players had meetings Tuesday morning, and that was it for the remainder of the week. When asked about not having a single practice, Adams responded with a dismissive tone, saying, “It’s the bye week, man. You want to get away.”
For the record, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick always has at least one practice during the bye. That approach seems to be working well for him.
4. Did you know? The Jets have lost 12 of their past 13 games, the lone victory coming last Dec. 9 at Buffalo. They’ve been outscored by almost a 2-to-1 margin, 372-201. In case you’re wondering, 1-12 stands alone as the worst record in the league over that span.
5. Joe Must Go (to Canton): I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Joe Klecko belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His best shot is coming up because the Hall of Fame, in honor of the NFL’s 100-year anniversary, will have an expanded class in 2020. Instead of inducting the usual one or two senior candidates, the Hall will welcome 10 seniors. Klecko has been in the senior category since 2013, because he didn’t make it in his 20 years of eligibility as a modern-era candidate.
A 25-member, blue-ribbon panel was formed last week to determine the Centennial Class of 2020, which will consist of 10 seniors, three contributors and two coaches. The 48-member selection committee will select the five modern inductees on Feb. 1. These next few weeks are critical for Klecko, because the blue-ribbon panel will start to narrow the field.
“Not getting in the Hall of Fame is extremely disappointing because it is the pinnacle,” Klecko said on ESPN’s “Flight Deck” podcast. “It is the top. Only 300-something players have been elected in the 100 years of the game. It would be astounding to be part of that. As for the years I didn’t get it, I followed it to a tee. I was hoping to get in. When it didn’t happen, it wasn’t as devastating to me as people might have thought. I’m pretty good in my own skin.”
Make no mistake, Klecko wants this badly — and he deserves it. From 1977 to 1981, he recorded a remarkable 50.5 sacks. Unfortunately, the sack didn’t become an official statistic until 1982, so his NFL.com bio lists him with only 24. In reality, he has 74.5, a crazy number when you consider he spent much of his career as an interior lineman. Peers such as John Hannah, Dwight Stephenson, Joe DeLamielleure and Anthony Munoz — Hall of Fame offensive linemen — have stumped for Klecko.
“For John Hannah to come out and say Howie Long and Joe Klecko were the two toughest guys he ever played against, I think that [has] some credibility,” Klecko said.
6. Looking ahead: This is taking a dark view of the season, but it’s conceivable the Jets and Miami Dolphins both could be 0-7 when they meet Nov. 3 in South Florida. If that happens, should we call it the “Mudville Bowl?” #nojoy
7. One is the loneliest number: If Luke Falk doesn’t start another game, which is the hope of the Jets, he will join a small fraternity of quarterbacks — he’d be the fifth player in the Super Bowl era to start only one game for the Jets. The others: J.J. Jones (1975), Kyle Mackey (1989), Greg McElroy (2012) and Trevor Siemian (2019).
8. Last word: “I’m sure Michael Jordan got frustrated, too, when he didn’t get the ball. You know what I’m saying?” — wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, on Robby Anderson, who has 10 catches and no touchdowns