It’s no secret that being NFL General Manager is one of the hardest jobs in sports. Being in charge of an entire roster and an owner’s money seems like an extremely stressful responsibility.
However, there are some simple tasks that come with the gig. One of them being assessing the weaknesses of their roster in the off season. There are still some regimes that struggle at gauging their personnel and don’t address their weaknesses properly.
There were 5 teams in particular that were walking examples of this phenomena. And I believe that their sins of omission can come back to bite them in 2019.
The New York Jets: Edge Defenders
The Jets have lacked a dynamic pass rusher on the edge for quite some time now. Fortunately, this off season offered plenty of options in free agency and the draft to change this reality. Yet, the Jets failed to capitalize.
They dropped the ball in free agency by throwing a chunk of their money at less valuable positions in Linebacker and Running Back (C.J. Mosley and Le’Veon Bell). And only added one edge defender through the draft.
That means Frankie Luvu and Jordan Jenkins will most likely return as the starters after average performances in 2018. Hopefully, their 3rd round selection Jachai Polite can rebound from a rough pre-draft process and give them the juice off the edge that they lack. Because their starters don’t rush the passer at a high level.
Overall, this group of edge defenders isn’t inspiring. So, the Jets must rely on their strong interior and Greg Williams’s blitzes to generate pressure. But no matter how you look at it, their lack of edge depth is going to present some chinks in their defense’s armor.
The Oakland Raiders: Linebackers
In a division where you have to face two of the leagues best passing attacks in the Chargers and the Chiefs. Having Linebackers that can cover is a necessity.
Well, the Raiders don’t agree because they are content with starting what is left of Brandon Marshal and Vontez Burfect. 2 players that are thumpers and lack the requisite coverage ability.
An incredible catch and run by George Kittle set himself up for a short TD grab. It’s all 49ers in the Bay Area matchup vs. the Raiders. pic.twitter.com/8nW3G3ibUZ
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) November 2, 2018
The NFL is a mismatch league and these linebackers scream mismatch to opposing teams. Expect the Travis Kelce’s and Tarik Cohen’s of the world to go bonkers against this Raider defense.
The Seattle Seahawks: Pass Rushers and Cornerbacks
It was difficult to narrow this down to one position because Seattle has just so many question marks on defense. Especially on their defensive front. Their best pass rusher Jarran Reed is suspended for the first 6 games, Ezekiel Ansah is expected to miss the first half of the season (and we don’t know how much does he have left), and their first round pick L.J. Collier just hurt his ankle.
This means they must rely a lack luster group (in terms of pass rushing) in Rasheem Green, Quinton Jefferson, Nazir Jones, and Poona Ford for the first half of the season. Getting after the quarterback with 4 down linemen is crucial for this defense. And I don’t see a dynamic enough group to do that at a high level.
The absence of a disruptive pass rush forces their corners to take on more of the load. Yet, I am not sure they will be able to do that. Shaquill Griffin took a step back in his Sophomore campaign, struggling to cover the opposing team’s best receiver.
Trey Flowers surprisingly played well as a rookie but still had his ups and downs. So, he should still be considered a question mark. Lastly, Jamar Taylor and rookie Ugo Amadi are competing for the starting nickel job. Taylor has been a less than desirable starter for most of his career and Amadi is unknown.
In conclusion, Seattle is betting on a lot of guys to pan out but the probability that they all hit is unlikely. That said, this team might have to lean on their offense more because it is difficult to feel in confident in the foundation of this defense.
2. The Kansas City Chiefs: Cornerbacks
Cornerback was clearly the Chiefs biggest need heading into this off season. So, to only bring in a middling Brashaud Breeland and drafting Rashad Fenton in the 6th round was a head scratcher.
I don’t know if the Chiefs thought that new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is magic or just underestimated their need at corner. But this group is still extremely troubling. Sub-par coverage held the Chiefs back last year and it could very well hold them back again in 2019.
The Houston Texans: Offensive Tackle
It’s no secret that the Texans tackles were largely responsible for the astronomical amount of times that Deshaun Watson was sacked in 2018. So, everyone and their mother knew that they had to improve this position or their franchise QB wouldn’t survive.
Unfortunately, it looks like Watson is in for another long season because the Texans failed to make any significant changes to their offensive line. For example, they had 70 million dollars in cap space this off season and came away with Matt Kalil. Who has been one of the worst tackles in the league for his entire career.
They also reached in the draft by selecting Tytus Howard and Max Scharping (2 developmental tackles based on my evaluations) in the top 60. When they needed guys who could play right away. Hopefully, Howard and Scharping can exceed my exceptions because this team will continue to fall short until they can protect Watson.