WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue Athletics announced today that football head coach Jeff Brohm, L. Dick Buell men’s basketball head coach Matt Painter, women’s basketball head coach Sharon Versyp and director of intercollegiate athletics Mike Bobinski have each voluntarily taken a 20% reduction in salary, and agreed to forego any incentive compensation over the 12-month period beginning Sept. 1, 2020. As part of their salary reduction, these four, along with other coaches and senior administrators, have announced their collective intent to pledge $1 million to the More Than A Game campaign on Purdue Day of Giving on Wednesday, Sept. 9. These pledges will be fulfilled during the same 12-month period as indicated above.
“As we face unprecedented medical and financial uncertainty, we’ve been focused on strategies to limit the impact on the support we provide our student-athletes, and that best protect the long term interests of coaches and staff,” said Mike Bobinski, vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics. “Our current reality required that some uncomfortable and difficult decisions be made and I’m grateful for the understanding and resilience shown by our entire team of coaches and staff.”
Other contract head and assistant coaches have each voluntarily agreed to 15% salary reductions and all other Purdue Athletics staff will be impacted by either reductions in force, furloughs, reduced work schedules or salary reductions ranging from 5% up to 50% based upon a combination of pay range and the projected individual workload impact during the 2020-21 academic year.
“These salary adjustments, along with other personnel measures we’ve taken, such as limited reductions in force and an extended hold on certain unfilled positions, will result in savings of nearly $5 million dollars over the next 12 months,” Bobinski continued.
The More Than A Game campaign was launched earlier this month, in partnership with the John Purdue Club, to help the athletics department navigate the financial ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic and position Boilermaker athletics for future success.
Purdue Athletics is one of only a handful of Division I athletics departments that is entirely self-sustaining: it does not receive any taxpayer dollars, general fund support from Purdue University, or student fees. John Purdue Club memberships are directed to funding the $12 million scholarship cost for student-athletes and this separate fund will help offset a 2020-21 Purdue Athletics budget shortfall that could approach or exceed $50 million.
Boilermakers and friends can make a contribution to the More Than A Game campaign by contacting their Boilermaker Athletics Representative or by visiting JPCMoreThanAGame.com. The More Than A Game campaign will also be a giving option during Purdue Day of Giving on Sept. 9, 2020. Save the date to help Purdue Athletics meet the challenge by rising to the top of the donation, participation and hourly challenge leaderboards.
The Ravens announced Monday that fans will not be allowed at M&T Bank Stadium for “at least the initial part” of this season, joining a growing number of NFL teams expecting empty stadiums this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ravens’ decision came after consulting with government officials and public health experts.
“Ultimately, the health and safety of our entire community is at the forefront of every decision we make,” the team said in a statement. “We will always protect the well-being of our fans, players, coaches and staff.”
The ban on fans, while indefinite, is certain to include the Ravens’ Sept. 13 season opener against the Cleveland Browns. The team next hosts the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 28, a prime-time game widely considered to be the best game on the NFL’s 2020 calendar.
Two-time Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker has agreed to terms on a $59 million, four-year contract extension with the Arizona Cardinals.
The team announced the deal on Tuesday. Baker’s agent David Mulugheta confirmed the terms and that $33.1 million is guaranteed, which makes him among the NFL’s highest-paid safeties.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Baker played in college at Washington and was drafted in the second round in 2017. The 24-year-old has quickly become a young cornerstone for the Cardinals’ defense and led all NFL defensive backs with 147 tackles last season, including 104 solo tackles.
Baker’s rookie contract was set to expire after this season, but now he’s under contract through 2024.
Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and Oregon tackle Penei Sewell are among 11 players selected to The Associated Press preseason All-America first team who are not slated to play this fall.
The team was selected by 47 AP poll voters, who were asked to consider all Division I players – even those who had already opted out of the season or whose teams had postponed football.
The results show just how much star power will be missing from this pandemic-altered college football season. Twelve second-team All-Americans will also not play in the fall, including quarterback Justin Fields from defending Big Ten champion and preseason No. 2 Ohio State.
The Big Ten, Pac-12, Mid-American and Mountain West conferences have decided to try to play football in the second semester. As of now, Fields has given no indication that he won’t be with the Buckeyes if they do. Same goes for Sewell, the Outland Trophy winner and potential top-five NFL draft pick, and Oregon teammate Kayvon Thibodeaux, a sophomore defensive end.
Parsons is among a handful of stars who have said they are gone for good, opting out of the season to concentrate on preparing for the draft. Along with Parsons, Purdue’s Rondale Moore, selected as an all-purpose player, Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau and Pittsburgh defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman were first-team All-America opt outs.
The All-Americans who will play this season include Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard and LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
The NCAA is in the preliminary stages of considering four potential start dates for the 2020-21 men’s and women’s college basketball seasons, sources told CBS Sports. The NCAA provided a timeline document to conference commissioners late last week, obtained by CBS Sports, that details the review and approval process on starting the forthcoming season.
Sources said NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt communicated to conference commissioners late last week that the four timelines depicted below are up for discussion:
First practices allowed: Sept. 29
First day of season: Nov. 10 (No change to start of season)
First practices allowed: Oct. 9
First day of season: Nov. 20
First practices allowed: Oct. 14
First day of season: Nov. 25
First practices allowed: Oct. 24
First day of season: Dec. 4
Those dates are not fated to be the only dates discussed, but they are the initial trial balloons the NCAA is seeking feedback on.
Sources told CBS Sports the NCAA’s men’s basketball oversight committee and the men’s basketball selection committee are holding separate meetings Wednesday to discuss these potential start dates, among other action items. On Thursday, Division I conference commissioners will hold a meeting to discuss the basketball season, as will the NABC. On Friday, the women’s basketball committee and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association will convene and seek feedback on the recommended models as well.
The review process will include feedback on issues ranging from different start-of-season options, the latest recommended models being shared with the NCAA’s COVID-19 Medical Advisory board, plus myriad logistical questions, concerns and curiosities that exist with nonconference scheduling.
A tentative meeting between the men’s and women’s oversight committees is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 31. It’s hoped a clearer decision can be made at that meeting on a realistic start date for 2020-21. The NCAA is targeting the first week of September to settle on a model — or models, if necessary — to bring to the Division I Council.
A vote on the season’s start date is scheduled to be made on Sept. 16 by the D-I Council. (Approval from the oversight committees for men’s and women’s basketball would precede the D-I Council vote.) The NCAA is also tentatively planning for an Oct. 13 and/or 14 meeting with the Division I Council to approve any necessary tweaks or changes to the schedule if enough has happened between Sept. 16 and Oct. 13 to mandate updates to college basketball’s season.
“The first thing to understand is when you’re going to play the tournament — start from the end,” one source said. “If you’re going to try to play the tournament in March, what does that look like? How many games in the regular season? If you move it to May, more [teams] have a chance to participate, there’s more equity around the board.”
Paul George finally found his way.
The All-Star guard scored 35 points and the Los Angeles Clippers rolled past the Dallas Mavericks 154-111 on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round Western Conference playoff series.
George had shot 29% in the series and endured fans’ wrath on social media. He said he spoke to the team psychiatrist before Game 5.
“I mean, whatever it was, the bubble got the best of me,” George said. “I was just in a dark place. I really wasn’t here. I checked out. The past couple of games, it was just difficult.”
George said it didn’t feel like the playoffs until his teammates decided to create the atmosphere that was lacking inside the NBA’s Walt Disney World bubble.
“I came in with that mindset that this is Staples, we’re at home,” he said. “The place is packed. I really had to psych myself up. I thought the whole team took that and we ran with it. We created our own energy. We decided to dictate this game.”
Kawhi Leonard scored 32 points and Montrezl Harrell added 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who set a franchise record for points in a playoff game. Los Angeles can clinch the series on Thursday.
Dallas’ Luka Doncic, who hit a game-winner at the buzzer in Game 4 to cap off a 43-point triple-double, was held to 22 points on 6-for-17 shooting.
Jamal Murray scored 33 of his 42 points in a second half where he played every minute and the Denver Nuggets avoided elimination by beating the Utah Jazz 117-107 on Tuesday night in Game 5.
The Nuggets trail the sixth-seeded Jazz 3-2 with Game 6 on Thursday.
Murray was unstoppable down the stretch in nearly matching his 50-point effort in Game 4. He hit 17 of 26 shots and had eight assists, including a pass to Nikola Jokic for a 3-pointer with 23.6 seconds remaining that sealed the win.
“Whenever he’s like that we are winning the game or we are really close,” said Jokic, who also didn’t sub out in the second half. “That’s what we need from him.”
The dynamic tandem of Murray and Jokic clearly weren’t ready to leave the NBA bubble just yet. Jokic had it going early as he scored 21 of his 31 points in the the first quarter.
Murray took over late after his team fell behind by as many as 15 points in the third quarter.
“We’ve all got a will to win. Simple as that,” explained Murray, who played through a bruise on his knee. “That can carrying you. That can take you places.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo figured somebody was in trouble.
Even though the Milwaukee Bucks had just defeated Orlando for a 3-1 lead in their playoff series, Mike Budenholzer wanted to talk to them in the locker room afterward.
Antetokounmpo looked around, wondering if a teammate was about to be scolded.
“Usually when coach wants to talk to us after a game, somebody messed up,” Antetokounmpo said.
This time, it was because the Greek Freak did really well.
Antetokounmpo was voted NBA Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday, becoming the fifth player to win that award and MVP in a career.
The All-Star, who was MVP last year and is the favorite to repeat this season, ended the two-year reign of Utah center Rudy Gobert as Defensive Player of the Year.
He got the news with the rest of his teammates on the league’s best defensive team a day earlier.
“Coach was so excited, he was so happy,” Antetokounmpo said. “He told me I won Defensive Player of the Year. He jumped on the table.”
Portland guard Damian Lillard has a sprained right knee and will be sidelined Wednesday when the Trail Blazers play a win-or-else Western Conference first-round game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Blazers trail the best-of-seven series 3-1, and now will play without their leading scorer.
Lillard got hurt while driving to the basket and drawing a foul with 7:16 left in the third quarter of Monday’s game against the Lakers. The knee seemed to buckle as Lillard made an awkward landing and he was clearly limping as he made his way to the foul line.
During a time-out that was called about a minute later, Lillard briefly made his way into an area of the arena that isn’t visible from the court. He returned to the bench before the time-out was over and remained in the game for about another minute, before departing for good with 5:18 left in the third.
An MRI performed Monday night was inconclusive, prompting the Blazers to schedule the second one Tuesday – after which the sprain was diagnosed.
Lillard was the unanimous winner of the MVP award during the seeding games portion of the restarted season, the eight-game stretch that got the Blazers into the play-in round against the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s averaged 30.5 points per game inside the Disney bubble since the season restarted July 30, that average second in the league only behind Houston’s James Harden – who’s averaging 33 points per contest.
The next coach of the Philadelphia 76ers can count on having Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
One day after the Sixers fired Brett Brown following another early playoff exit, general manager Elton Brand said he’s evaluating the front office and considering more changes but doesn’t plan to trade either of his two top stars.
“I’m not looking to trade Ben or Joel,” Brand said Tuesday. “I’m looking to complement them better. They are 24 and 26 years old, respectively. You try to make that fit as long as you can. They want to be here, they want to be with our organization and I see them here for a long, long time.”
Simmons was sidelined for Philadelphia’s first-round sweep against Boston.
“That’s a huge key to us getting swept,” Brand said. “I would love to see this group with Ben Simmons, but I don’t want to make any excuses. But I think that attention to detail, that energy level, that certain push that we didn’t have at times.”
The Sixers underachieved after reaching the Eastern Conference semifinals each of the past two seasons. They fell to the sixth seed and couldn’t win a playoff game, costing Brown his job. Players mentioned that lack of accountability was a problem under Brown.
“I think the accountability starts with the top of the organization, it starts with me,” Brand said. “I have to hold myself accountable on how to push these guys, how to push this group. The new coach also has got to find that balance on how to push these All-Star players to that next stage. It’s not a collegiate level where you pull a guy and curse him out or maybe it is. And that’s what we have to figure out. And that’s what we have to find that balance.
The Indians are ready to give starter Mike Clevinger another chance – and the ball.
Cleveland will recall Clevinger to pitch Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins for the time since he and teammate Zach Plesac broke team rules and Major League Baseball COVID-19 protocols and were demoted for their behavior.
“It’s time to start the healing process with those guys,” said interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr., who is filling in while Terry Francona attends to health issues. “In order to go places, we’re going to need these guys, and also we’re going to eventually need Tito back.”
Alomar did not speak to Clevinger and Plesac, but was told both showed contrition.
“I guess both of them have remorse about what happened,” he said. “They want the opportunity to be given the chance to prove that they changed. And we’re human beings. We’re going to make mistakes. I think a little separation from the club helped, and it’s time for the healing process and for those two guys to let their teammates known that they’ve made some changes.”
Clevinger last pitched for the Indians on Aug. 5. His start in the series finale against the AL Central-leading Twins represents a fresh start for the free-spirited levinger, who not only angered his teammates by leaving the team’s Chicago hotel with Plesac on Aug. 8 but for not being truthful about his actions.
President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said Indians players were consulted before the team decided to bring back Clevinger. He said the right-hander had been in touch with teammates.
“There has been enough communication that we felt the team was ready to have those guys back and embrace them,” Antonetti said. “Again, as we’ve shared before, we’re all part of a family and sometimes there are things that happen within a family that you need to kind of make up and move on and I think we’re at that point where we’re all ready to look forward.”
Lucas Giolito quietly walked to the mound for the ninth inning, piped-in fake crowd noise wafting through the park and cardboard cutouts dotting the stands.
Moments later, in this strangest season of all, the Chicago White Sox right-hander threw the final pitch in a truly bizarre performance.
A no-fan no-no.
With the seats at Guaranteed Rate Field empty, Giolito pitched the first no-hitter of the pandemic-delayed year, striking out 13 in leading the White Sox over the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 Tuesday night.
“I’ve been working for this type of game for a while now and it’s really cool that we got it done,” Giolito said.
Sounds like he didn’t mind that nobody saw it. Well, almost no one.
After right fielder Adam Engel extended to catch Erik Gonzalez’s slicing drive toward the line for the final out, the hollers of Giolito’s teammates in the middle of the diamond echoed around the ballpark.
“I’m just stoked for Lucas and so happy and ecstatic and emotional for Lucas,” Engel said. “It stinks we couldn’t celebrate the way most no-hitters get celebrated.”
The smallest crowd listed for any no-hitter in the majors over the last 100 years came in 1944, when a mere 1,014 watched Cincinnati’s Clyde Shoun beat the Braves at Crosley Field.
Brandon Woodruff pitched six strong innings, Orlando Arcia snapped a 2-for-21 stretch with a go-ahead base hit in the fourth inning, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 on Tuesday night.
Woodruff (2-2) allowed two runs on four hits and struck out eight and walked one. The victory was a nice bounce back for the Brewers’ opening-day starter after a 7-1 loss at Minnesota in his previous start. He worked out of a bases-loaded, nobody out jam in the fifth. Ben Gamel helped him out with a perfect throw from right to force out Freddy Galvis at home.
“I just knew it was a tough read for Galvis,” Gamel said. “It was kind of in between, could have gone either way. Fortuntely, we got a good hop.”
Home plate umpire Shane Livensparger originally called Galvis safe but reversed himself after a mild protest from Brewers manager Craig Counsell and called him out.
“He forget it was a force out,” Reds manager David Bell said. “My angle was that the catcher didn’t have his foot on the plate.”
Jonathan Schoop hit a grand slam in a five-run sixth inning as the Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago Cubs 7-1 on Tuesday night.
The Tigers have won three of five since a nine-game losing streak dropped them out of serious postseason contention. Chicago still leads the NL Central despite going 5-8 in its last 13 games.
Spencer Turnbull (3-2) picked up the win with 5 2/3 scoreless innings. He allowed three hits and walked three while striking out five.
Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood (2-2) struggled in his return from the injured list, allowing eight baserunners while getting just four outs.
Miguel Cabrera gave the Tigers the lead with a first-inning RBI single. Jeimer Candelario doubled and Niko Goodrum walked to load the bases with one out and JaCoby Jones made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly.
Chatwood walked the bases loaded again with one out in the second, ending his game. Underwood came out of the bullpen to strike out Candelario and Goodrum.
Turnbull walked the leadoff hitter in the sixth but retired the next two before he was replaced by Bryan Garcia.
The Tigers put the game away with five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Cameron Maybin made it 3-0 with an RBI double off Jose Quintana and Schoop hit his fourth career grand slam off Casey Sadler.
Willson Contreras led off the ninth with a homer off Buck Farmer.
2020 NEW YORK JETS
The Jets have been in the midst of a rebuild ever since they drafted quarterback Sam Darnold in 2018, and they still have work to do to improve crucial areas of the team.
Wide receiver, offensive line and cornerback were all positions that needed to be significantly upgraded this offseason, and it’s nearly impossible to fill every need through the draft and free agency. Jets fans should have two major focuses this season: a Year 3 progression from Sam Darnold and a step in the right direction in the rebuilding process aided by the new free agents and draft picks.
Additions/players brought back:
CB Brian Poole (re-signed for one year, $5 million)
T George Fant (signed for three years, $30 million)
C Connor McGovern (signed for three years, $27 million, $18 million guaranteed)
G Alex Lewis (re-signed)
QB Joe Flacco
LB Patrick Onwuasor
WR Robby Anderson
WR Demaryius Thomas
RB Ty Montgomery
C Ryan Kalil
T Brandon Shell
T Kelvin Beachum
CB Trumaine Johnson (cut)
CB Daryl Roberts
Here’s what I wrote about Sam Darnold at the end of the 2019 season:
Darnold’s career has been a roller coaster ride to this point, as he started slow and finished strong as a rookie before putting together a similar stretch of good and bad play in 2019. He missed time due to mononucleosis before a disastrous performance on Monday Night Football against the Patriots; he followed that up with a midseason improvement before a mediocre stretch of play to finish the season. On the positive end, Darnold did return to his college form, showing good accuracy in the short game, but he ranked near the bottom of the league on 10-plus-yard throws. Those numbers should improve with a better group of playmakers in the coming years.
It’s a pivotal year for Darnold, who has shown the peaks of a franchise signal-caller but also the valleys of a backup. He’s also had one of the worst supporting casts of any recent first-round pick, so context is crucial in his evaluation.
In college, Darnold was outstanding on passes at the short and intermediate range (up to 20 yards), though he did struggle on deep passes. It’s been a similar story in the NFL, as he ranks 22nd on passes up to 20 yards but just 40th out of 44 qualifiers on 20-plus-yard throws.
Deep-pass success often comes down to receiver talent, so perhaps the influx of deep speed will lead to an uptick in downfield production from Darnold, but he has room to improve in all areas of the field. While the Jets still have work to do to better surround Darnold with talent, he’ll need to show enough improvement so to keep the hope for the future alive.
Le’ Veon Bell kicked off the first year of his four-year contract with a 73.8 overall grade, good for 21st during the regular season. Nothing sums up the running back’s dependency on their run blocking than Bell averaging 3.2 yards per carry with a 69.9 rushing grade just one year after averaging 4.0 yards per carry with a 67.7 rushing grade.
The Jets had the third-lowest run-blocking grade in the league last year, and it affected Bell’s production. But as a receiver, Bell still provides mismatch opportunities when he’s split out wide, and he posted a strong receiving grade of 77.3 last season, 11th-best in the NFL.
The Jets also added the ageless Frank Gore as a backup. The 16th-year veteran has averaged over 4.0 yards per carry just once since 2014, so expect him to be at the mercy of the playcall and the run blocking even more than most at this stage of his career.
Fourth-round pick Lamical Perine will compete for snaps after averaging an impressive 3.7 yards after contact per rush in college last season, while veterans Kenneth Dixon, Josh Adams and Trenton Cannon round out the depth chart. This unit depends on Bell returning to his Steelers form as an every-down mismatch weapon.
Sep 21, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver Denzel Mims (5) makes a catch against the Rice Owls in the first half at Rice Stadium. Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
The receiving corps has been a weakness for a few years in New York, and they’re hoping the 2020 overhaul pushes this unit in the right direction.
Robby Anderson was a viable deep threat, but he’s on to the Panthers, with Breshad Perriman coming in on a one-year deal to fill his role. Perriman finally showed off his first-round ability last season, posting a career-high 645 yards at 17.9 yards per reception. After dropping nine of his first 52 catchable passes in his career, Perriman only has one drop in his last 53 attempts, and if the Jets get that version, they have a viable downfield threat.
Jamison Crowder returns after posting a team-high 73.9 receiving grade, with 648 of his 854 yards coming from the slot. Crowder is among the league’s best at getting open on underneath routes, making for a solid security blanket for Sam Darnold in what figures to be an important year for the third-year signal-caller.
The Jets also added Denzel Mims, another big-bodied receiver with field-stretching ability, in the second round. Mims ran a limited route tree at Baylor, but he had a dominant pre-draft process that starting with him earning the highest grade among receivers at Senior Bowl practices. He should be effective on the vertical route tree, and there may be even more room to improve given the limitations in the Baylor offense.
New York is also looking to reclaim another former first-rounder in Josh Doctson, whose career-high grade of 63.3 came in 2018. He’ll compete for the No. 4 spot along with Josh Malone, Braxton Berrios and others. There are plenty of question marks on paper, but the potential is there with this receiving corps if Perriman continues to progress and Mims’ size/speed profile translates quickly.
Jets tight ends caught just 44 passes a year ago, but the team’s starter, Chris Herndon, was limited to only 18 snaps. Herndon was excellent as a fourth-round rookie in 2018, catching 39 passes for 502 yards to go with a 78.7 receiving grade, seventh-best among tight ends. He caught 17 of his 21 targets at the intermediate (10-19 yard) level that season and the Jets desperately need that kind of production once again in 2020.
Behind Herndon is Ryan Griffin, a career backup whose 61.9 overall grade last season was his first above 60.0 since his rookie year in 2013. Trevon Wesco, a 2019 fourth-rounder, will also see time as more of a run-game specialist after grading at 64.0 as a run-blocker last season. This looks like a mid-tier unit that can sneak into the top half of the league if Herndon continues to progress after the promising start to his career.
Nov 23, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals offensive lineman Mekhi Becton (73) warms up before the first quarter against the Syracuse Orange at Cardinal Stadium. Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets have thrown plenty of resources at the offensive line this offseason, but question marks still abound. They finished just 28th in our 2019 rankings, and they will have at least three new starters in 2020.
First-round pick Mekhi Becton, a mauling run blocker who has some work to do in pass protection, is the likely starter at left tackle. Becton’s college film is rare, as the 6-foot-7, 360-pounder tossed college players around like high schoolers, but his mediocre 64.7 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets is a concern.
At right tackle, it’ll be a batter between free agent signing George Fant and second-year player Chuma Edoga. Fant has been a developmental project for the Seahawks, and his best work has come when playing as a sixth offensive lineman at tight end. Fant has an overall grade of just 47.6 when playing tackle, 86th out of 89 qualifiers dating back to 2016, so he remains a project. Edoga, on the other hand, was drafted in the third round back in 2019 and has potential as a pass-blocker after a strong career at USC. However, his first 421 NFL snaps did not go well, evidenced by his 48.9 overall grade and the six penalties called against him.
Both starting guards return in Alex Lewis and Brian Winters, but there’s plenty of competition on the inside — Lewis has yet to grade above 60.2 in three years of significant playing time, while Winters has graded above 70.0 just once in his career (2016).
Greg Van Roten comes in from Carolina, where he had a career year in 2019, finishing with a 65.6 overall grade that finished 24th among guards. Van Roten first entered the league in 2012 and has taken a roundabout path to becoming a starter, but he’s been solid over the last two years.
Center has been a huge problem spot for the team, so the Jets signed another player coming off a career year in Connor McGovern, whose 72.0 overall grade tied for ninth among centers during the 2019 regular season. However, McGovern posted a 48.9 grade in 2017 and a 58.8 mark in 2018, so New York will be hoping they got the 2019 version in free agency.
So much of what the Jets expect from their defensive front relies on the development of Quinnen Williams, who was the Jets’ top pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Williams was one of the best interior prospects we have ever seen and earned the highest pass-rush grade we have ever given to an interior pass-rusher, but his rookie season was a letdown, particularly in the one area he was supposed to excel — generating pressure. The Alabama product notched just 19 total pressures across 349 pass-rushing snaps a season ago, making him one of the least efficient pass-rushers in the league. And while his run defense was solid, that’s not why you draft a player with the third overall pick.
If Williams can show why he was such a coveted prospect and become a force as a pass-rusher in Year 2, he has the potential to transform this unit single-handedly.
Outside of Williams, the defensive line is populated by solid players who largely defend the run better than they rush the passer. Steve McLendon played the second-most snaps of the group last year after Williams, and his PFF run-defense grade was 81.4, second only to Folorunso Fatukasi on the team.
Henry Anderson had a down year in 2019 but has shown the ability to be solid across the board, and he will likely have to fend off competition from Nathan Shepherd and rookie Jabari Zuniga for playing time.
Meanwhile, the edge remains a problem for the Jets — as it has for a number of years. Tarell Basham, Jordan Jenkins and Kyle Phillips all topped 500 snaps in 2019, but none of them were able to generate more than 40 total pressures or earn a pass-rushing grade north of 70.0.
Once more, it’s difficult to see who the obvious source of edge rush pressure for this team will be, and that has been the Jets’ Achilles’ heel for the better part of a decade. Overall, the Jets defensive line is not swimming in high-end talent, but the one player who was supposed to possess that in abundance could break out and change the entire dynamic of the group. The development of Quinnen Williams likely determines how good this group can be in 2020.
New York Jets: Pass-rush grades and ranks (2016-19)
Year Pass-rush grade Rank
2016 56.6 29
2017 63.6 27
2018 69.1 16
2019 67.2 24
The Jets linebackers had the third-lowest overall grade in the NFL last season, at 45.7, and their downward spiral started with C.J. Mosley playing only 114 snaps on the year.
Mosley was injured in Week 1 before playing 68 snaps in Week 7, but that was all we saw from the sixth-year linebacker after he signed a five-year, $85 million contract before the season. A healthy Mosley will give the unit a boost, though it will always be challenging for him to live up to that contract, especially given that he’s graded in the 70s in four of his five full seasons.
Avery Williamson also returns to the mix after missing all of 2019. His previous two efforts were the best of his career, as he posted a 73.5 grade in 2018 and an 80.2 grade in 2017. When healthy, Williamson is another good run defender who has never graded above 60.7 in coverage, so there are limits to his game.
In order to fill that void in coverage, the Jets need a step forward from 2019 fifth-rounder Blake Cashman after he graded at just 49.1 overall on 424 snaps last season. He was, however, an excellent coverage player in college.
Other returning linebackers include James Burgess and Neville Hewitt, who both graded below 55.0 overall last season while playing significant time. The Jets should see a bump in production from their linebackers this season if they stay healthy.
Dec 29, 2019; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New York Jets strong safety Jamal Adams (33) jogs on the field prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets are in an unusual position of having all the talent — at least as long as Jamal Adams is still in town — in the safety position, and not at cornerback.
Adams, for his part, might be the best safety in the game. He is ranked No. 20 on the PFF50 — a list of the best 50 players in football entering the season — and is a true difference-maker on defense for the Jets. Adams can line up anywhere on defense, do anything asked of him and do it all to a high level, and that makes him one of the most versatile players in the game on either side of the ball. Over the past two seasons, he has PFF grades of at least 78.0 in every category PFF tracks and has done so for two straight seasons.
Alongside Adams, Marcus Maye has shown the ability to be an impressive coverage player on the back end. Though he only had one pick in 2019, he also had six pass breakups and the best PFF coverage grade (77.4) of his career.
Cornerback is more of an unknown landscape for the team, with Pierre Desir, Arthur Maulet and Nate Hairston, among others, making up a stable of veterans looking to try and secure a starting job with some above-average play. Desir has the best stretch of play on his resume of the group — an overall PFF grade of 77.7 in 2018 — but even he is coming off the lowest grade of his career (58.8).
The team also added Bryce Hall in the fifth round of the draft; he is a talented player who could be a potential steal if he can get back to his 2018 play. The side also rolled the dice with multiple undrafted free agents, the most notable of whom may be Utah’s Javelin Guidry.
Cornerback is a significant question mark for this team, with only Brian Poole having any kind of consistent track record to bank on. Poole was the team’s best-graded corner last season (79.0) and allowed just one touchdown on 53 targets.
DEVELOPMENT NEEDED: DI QUINNEN WILLIAMS
While Darnold is the obvious choice for the most important player, Williams also must show improvement from his rookie campaign. After posting the highest-graded season from an interior defensive lineman in the PFF College era, Williams was just OK as a rookie, and his 57.5 pass-rush grade raised concerns. He produced only 19 pressures on 349 rushes, and even if his run defense gets back to the expected college level, Williams must get after the quarterback at a high rate in order to justify the No. 3 selection in the draft. Many defensive lineman take a big leap in Year 2, and we expect to see that from Williams in 2020.
DRAFT CLASS REVIEW
The Jets may actually have the most “boom or bust” draft class, as their first three picks all have the skills to become good starters, but they also come with question marks. From Mekhi Becton’s lack of true pass sets to Mims coming from a limited route tree and Ashtyn Davis not working out at the scouting combine, all three players have questions to answer. Throw in Bryce Hall as a fifth-rounder with Day 2 skills, and the results of this class could be a slam dunk in three years.
Our favorite to finish last in the AFC East, the Jets enter a make or break season for Sam Darnold.