The Jets' first year in Adam Gase's offense isn't what anyone wanted to see. New York finished last in the NFL in yards per game (273.0), fourth-worst in passing yards (194.4), second-worst in rushing yards (78.6) and second-worst in points per game (17.3).
Yes, Sam Darnold did miss the chunk of the early regular season, and the Jets saw improvement when he returned. But with Le'Veon Bell struggling to get anything going in his much-awaited return and the offensive line being extremely porous among other issues, it's safe to say this group needs a massive amount of improvement in 2020.
That's why GM Joe Douglas went out and fixed up the O-line and added a couple weapons at wide receiver in Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims. But there is one position group that could mesh everything together in this offensive rebuild.
It really isn't crazy talk. Quarterbacks around the league love to have reliable tight ends whom they can go to at any time. Whether it's a third-down pinch or end zone threat, tight ends can provide that safety blanket in the middle of the field. Some can even break out for big plays.
The Jets might not have the flashy option on the depth chart, but they have a duo that can perfectly complement one another to do both of those things. Jets fans shouldn't sleep on Chris Herndon and Ryan Griffin.
Coming out of Miami two seasons ago, Herndon was considered a steal for the Jets and that looked to be the case when he had a fine rookie season of 502 yards on 39 receptions and four touchdowns. He built chemistry with Darnold in his rookie year, too, something that could pay dividends now that Herndon is healthy and finished with his PED suspension -- the two things that stymied his sophomore season in 2019.
Because of Herndon's absence, Griffin came to the forefront as the Jets' best option at tight end last season. He started all 13 games he played, and though 320 yards on 34 receptions doesn't look like much, he did have five touchdowns -- all of which came after Darnold returned to lead the offense in Week 5 against the Cowboys.
Of course, the Jets aren't banking on their tight ends to make this offense go. Gase would love to get Bell and the receiving corps going in his offense. But having Herndon, Griffin or both making consistent plays in the middle of the field, while also helping in the blocking game, spreads things out a ton.
Think about Herndon's play-making ability pulling a linebacker or safety out of position because he has to worry about just that. It opens things up for speedy receivers like Perriman and Mims to get open field for those big plays. And Griffin at 6-foot-6, 255 pounds showed why Darnold trusted him in between the pylons.
More importantly, Darnold is a quarterback who does well scrambling out of the pocket. He doesn't want to do it as much as he's had to in his first two seasons, but instead of targeting Jamison Crowder in those situations or dump-offs in broken up plays, either tight end can help as well.
They may not get the spotlight all the time -- not every tight end can be Travis Kelce or George Kittle. But think about the best offenses in the NFL last season in order -- the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons. Now look at how much production their tight ends got. It wasn't just a stud running back or wide receiver corps that led to their success, but players like Jason Witten and Blake Jarwin, Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, Kittle and Austin Hooper.
Tight ends are extremely important and the Jets do have a tandem, though not as flashy or well-known as others that can produce each week. That production may not jump off the stat sheet, but when you see third-down conversions sprayed across it with a touchdown mixed in, it's a successful week.
If Gase can figure out how to use them effectively -- and they can stay healthy -- he should be watching things open up elsewhere all over the field, turning this offense around very quickly.