Jets Mailbag: Will MetLife Stadium be safe or should fans watch games from home?
The newest edition of the Jets Mailbag explores what MetLife Stadium could look like amid the pandemic, Sam Darnold’s financial future, pressure on Adam Gase, the plight of undrafted free agents and more.
Do you see football being played with fans in attendance at any time this season or will the games be played without fans in the stands? - @JETSFAN139
I have a hard time picturing a social distance-friendly crowd filing into MetLife Stadium. At this point, it doesn’t appear feasible. It’s unclear what kinds of treatments for COVID-19 will be readily available by September, but we know this: There won’t be a vaccine when the league tentatively plans to begin the season. (The NFL will be unveiling its idyllic schedule this week).
Most NFL fans enjoying the at-home experience more than the stadium experience anyway. Factor in precautions and risks at the stadium and the live experience will likely be much worse. Plus, how many people would even be allowed into the stadium? 10,000? 15,000? Less? Why bother even showing up if 75 percent of the building is empty? How would that be enjoyable?
The Dolphins shared a preliminary plan to ensure safe entrance/exit procedures and cleanliness procedures for Hard Rock Stadium this season.
However, the safest course of action would be to play games in empty stadiums. The Jaguars unveiled a plan that offers deferments and refunds to season ticket holders. The rest of the teams will almost certainly offer similar packages given our new reality.
If you were the GM and the Jets fail to make the playoffs this year and next, what do you do with Sam? Tag him? Give him a long-term contract for $150-200 million? Trade him? - @tbonehu82
There are so many unknown variables that it’s hard to definitively answer this question. Did Darnold light it up in 2020 and 2021 only to be let down by the defense? Did he remain healthy? Did he take steps backward? Who’s his head coach in 2021?
I’ll reiterate that I firmly believe that Darnold has star quality. He can be a difference maker given time and the proper infrastructure and tutelage.
The Jets’ window to win – and win big – while Darnold is still on his rookie contract is closing fast. Meanwhile, the Bills have done a masterful job bolstering pieces (on offense and defense) around Josh Allen.
Barring injury, Darnold is going to cash in likely after the 2021 season. The Jets could stretch it beyond that depending on myriad circumstances (including who might be coaching him a year from now).
Did Gase lose the locker room last season? 2) Regardless, is Gase gone this year if the Jets have another losing season? - @MaryNYC1
Let’s clarify something: Jets defensive players view Gregg Williams as their leader. Even though Williams doesn’t have the head coach title, he’s absolutely viewed through that prism by half of the team. He galvanizes, motivates and chastises when needed. He’s the head coach of the defense.
Williams’ defense finished in the Top 10 in Football Outsiders DVOA efficiency ratings. Gase’s 32nd-ranked offense played well in four games against four non-playoff teams (Cowboys, Giants, Washington and Raiders). There are rumblings that Gase has attempted to spin the team’s offensive flop (at or near the bottom of virtually every meaningful statistical category) to people in the organization by claiming his offense only had a few bad games in Darnold’s 13 starts.
Bottom line: It’s a credit to the players that they didn’t give up on each other after their rough first half. CEO Christopher Johnson should hold Gase accountable if the team finishes with another losing season. It would be Gase’s fourth losing season in five years in the AFC East — and the Jets’ 10th consecutive season missing the playoffs — by the way. Fans should demand accountability and consequences for this consistent failure.
Would it be a disappointing season if the Jets don't win the division or make the playoffs given there is an added playoff spot? - @on2thenext0ne7
In a word: Yes.
Don’t forget that a certain legendary quarterback is no longer in the division, either. Some people officially and unofficially on the team payroll will have ready-made excuses if the Jets fail to make the postseason for a 10th consecutive year though.
If the Jets offense performs to Gase's standards (lower third in the league with any other quarterback outside of Manning), then who will get the blame: Darnold or Gase? - @abstractanalyst
Repeat after me: Sam Darnold can be a big-time player with the proper tutelage. If you’re blaming Darnold, you’re likely getting a kickback from the person you’re protecting.
What do you think the ceiling is for the Jets defense next year 2) Should we expect to see more I-formation and 2-3 TE sets on Offense to better accommodate Bell and our personnel 3) Biggest positional need - @craighirsch17
1. Williams’ defense was one of the 10 most efficient groups last season despite obvious holes on the back end and edge. Joe Douglas improved the cornerback room on paper. No matter what happens, it’s fair to expect that the Jets will remain a highly competitive and tenacious group again.
2. I recently outlined the best way to deploy Bell, who became one of the most dynamic weapons in the NFL by being a workhorse, not an ancillary piece. He’s best out of the I-formation, but Gase showed no real desire to feature him in his offense last season
3. Edge rusher
How many undrafted free agents can you see making the roster? I know it’s tough to predict, but I can see Georgia wide receiver Lawrence Cager and Nebraska cornerback Lamar Jackson. - @ryanmc817
Undrafted free agents have a difficult enough time making teams, but it’ll be an even more daunting challenge given this unusual offseason with no workouts. Teams will be in regular-season prep mode when/if training camps open. Camps and the preseason could be shortened, too.
Cager, a big-bodied, injury-prone wideout, will have to impress quickly to stick around. Same goes for Jackson. Their best bet is latching on to the expanded practice squad.