For the first time in a long time, the New York Jets entered the 2019 NFL offseason knowing they have answered the continuous question of who its franchise quarterback is. Sam Darnold answered this question and has Jets fans very excited for the future of this young quarterbacks career.
Darnold finished his encouraging rookie season on a high note as he improved his consistency and playmaking and had an 87.7 grade per Pro Football Focus for the final three weeks of the 2018 season. This was the top rated grade for quarterbacks over the final three weeks. This was an extremely impressive accomplishment for Darnold as he still was the youngest quarterback in the league at 21 years old.
Having its quarterback in place, at the top of the Jets wish list for the 2019 offseason was to add offensive talent in all areas across the board. Of all the offensive positions, priority was to bring in more play makers for Darnold.
General manager Mike Maccagnan preached the Jets would be aggressive in free agency and he backed up his word with his actions. The Jets landed the top play maker on the market in star running back Le’Veon Bell which has Jets fans buzzing.
The Jets also added to Darnold’s receiving corps. The signing of the Jets 2019 offseason that deserves more hype is slot wide receiver Jamison Crowder. Crowder is a very intriguing addition for the Jets offensive skill group that lacked the true speed demon slot receiver that is every young quarterbacks best friend.
Crowder had an injury plagued 2018 season for the Washington Redskins after only missing one game in his first three seasons in the league. Crowder battled ankle issues and was frustrated with his performance, but is excited to have a fresh start with the Jets and new head coach Adam Gase who has a history of bringing out the best in his slot receivers in his offense.
Crowder averaged 64 receptions with 747 yards and four touchdowns in his first three seasons. In his career Crowder has 221 career catches and 150 of these catches have come from the slot which is the 13th most in the NFL in the past four seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
One of the unique statistics for Crowder is his average yards per reception on his catch rate percentage. On his 67.2% catch rate, Crowder averages 11.8 yards per reception. With a minimum of 300 targets, a couple of the only other receivers in this category since 2015 include Michael Thomas, Tyreek Hill and Adam Thielen. Crowder in the same conversation as these top-tier wide receivers should have Jets fans very excited for this addition to the offense.
Putting Crowder along side Bell and returning Jets Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and Chris Herndon will give Crowder better opportunities to exploit his matchups in the slot. Crowder should able to dominate the middle of the field as one of Darold’s safety nets as defenses are focused on the Jets vertical threats and Bell out of the backfield.
Crowder confirmed himself that he knows he can add value out of the slot for Darnold.
“The value I bring to the field is being a guy [Darnold] can target,” Crowder said. “Mostly, I’ve had success in this league in the middle of the field using my short-area quickness, being able to find zones in the defense and win man-to-man matchups. That’s what I think I can bring to this offense and I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it.”
The window is now for the Jets to take advantage of having Darnold on his extremely affordable rookie contract. They should be looking to continue to follow the template of other teams aggressively adding talent around its young quarterback as the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams have done and the winning results have followed. Crowder may not be the flashiest name of the Jets 2019 offseason, but he is very intriguing and Jets fans should be optimistic for the value he will add for Darnold for the future.