Exciting changes and events have been happening in the off-season for the New York Jets.
On April 26th, with the 3rd overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft, the New York Jets have made it clear they are starting to rebuild the team on the defensive line, after improving the offense with the 2018 pick of quarterback Sam Darnold.
Quinnen Williams, defensive tackle out of Alabama, was ultimately picked to boost the lackluster 2018 defensive line, which finished as the 7th worst run defense in the NFL.
The 2018 defensive line had some notable names on the roster; Leonard Williams, Henry Anderson and Steve McLendon are among the few that should be spotlighted.
Williams failed to live up to his spectacular defensive performances in the 2016 season for the second year in a row. He may shine once again with the addition of Quinnen Williams on the roster.
Henry Anderson, on the othe hand, had a stellar 2018 season with seven sacks and seven tackles for loss plus 16 quarterback hits, three stats that were careers highs. It was reported that Anderson would be let go prior to free agency, but the New York Jets inked a sweet 3-year, $25.2 million dollar deal wih him.
Pundits also reported the New York Jets would let McLendon go but so far it looks like he will be playing in the 2019 season.
All eyes may be on the defensive line in 2019 led by Williams, Williams, Anderson and McLendon.
Quinnen Williams reported he is impressed with McLendon's leadership after mini-camp this week.
"He really took me under his wing and I have a role model to follow in everything we do," Quinnen said.
McLendon said that he already sees so much potential in Quinnen Williams and believes he will make a "huge impact" in the league, starting in 2019. That comes as no surprise to the Jets combine scouts who had their eyes on him from the beginning.
The New York Jets had another surprise for fans with the announcement on May 15th that Mike Maccagnan had been fired as General Manager of the team, amid rumors that a rift was building between Maccagnan and Head Coach Adam Gase.
Christopher Johnson, New York Jets Chairman and CEO, announced that Gase would be the acting G.M. until a suitable replacement could be found. Rumors swirled that Peyton Manning was being sought for the job but the New York Jets hired Philadelphia Eagles V.P. of player personnel Joe Douglas on June 7th. Douglas worked with Gase back in 2015 in Chicago so their is familiarity with this pick. Management of the Jets is hoping this will result in a smoother coach - G.M. relationship than what has occured in the past few years.
In other off-the-field news, the New York Jets held their 16th annual "Taste of the Jets" event on May 17th at the Metropolitan Pavilion, a spacious loft style venue located at 125 18th Street in New York City. All proceeds benefited "Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation," whose main purpose is to build mortgage-free smart houses for seriously injured service members. The New York Jets are a proud and active supporter of the U.S. military.
More than 20 restaurants from New York City and the surrounding tri-state area offered a scrumptious selection of food tastings for guests to sample. Notable restaurants were Nobu, Patsy's and Calandras, amongst others. There were open bars around the venue and a premium whisky location as well. Activities included a live auction and raffle.
Almost 30 current players, including the entire 2019 rookie class, were in attendance. Jets Legends were also represented; Marty Lyons, a 1st round draft pick from Alabama in 1979 was there as well as Wayne Chrebet and Tony Richardson. All three were happy to oblige guests by signing their memorabilia
6'3" Quinnen Williams drew the longest line for autographs and towered over fans as he happily took photographs with those who were willing to wait.
Wide receiver Robby Anderson, bedecked with a heavy chain on which hung the initials "RA" covered in glittering diamonds, drew the second longest autograph line. Recently signed linebacker C.J. Mosley was on stage during some of the fun activities planned to entertain guests.
Last week the New York Jets began mandatory mini-camp at 1 Jets Drive. Media reports are available for those activities and comments, which will reported in the next column.