Adam Gase met the media Monday for the first time since the Jets pared down their roster to 53 players over the weekend. And his press conference was noteworthy not only for what he said, but what he didn’t say about some of New York’s personnel moves.
Here is a look at some of those moves and his comments, followed by an analysis.
Waiving Jachai Polite. When general manager Mike Maccagnan was fired in May, it was an open secret that his draft picks would be under the microscope. Even the rookie draft picks would have greater scrutiny than usual.
Polite, who already had fallen to the third round because of a terrible Combine performance in February, apparently didn’t get the memo. Not only was he a non-factor in practices and games, but he repeatedly violated team rules, according to profootball talk.com. That report said he was fined a total of more than $100,000 by the Jets.
So although it wasn’t a shocker that Polite was waived, the situation apparently was worse than it appeared. But Gase chose not to elaborate on what happened.
“I just think the body of work of kind of everything that we’ve done since we’ve been here,” Gase said, “we felt like (defensive lineman) Kyle (Phillips) really earned his spot. That’s what we’re about. We’re about the guys that do it the way that we need it done. Best guys are going to make the team.”
He also refused to confirm or deny the report about the disciplinary problems, saying, “I’d rather not get into the details of that stuff. What comes out sometimes isn’t always true and sometimes it is. But it’s something that we’d like to keep in-house.”
When asked if there was division among the Jets’ braintrust on that pick, Gase said, “It’s hard for me to remember exactly what was going on during the draft. That’s not really something I’m thinking about nowadays.”
Analysis: If Maccagnan had not been dumped, Polite would not have been either. But once Maccagnan was out of the picture, Polite had little margin for error. Under normal circumstances, most teams would not jettison a third-round selection. But this was an unusual case.
Although Gase danced around the questions, his reference to Kyle Phillips was somewhat enlightening. New York retained nine defensive linemen and eight linebackers, which indicates the Jets almost assuredly no longer will utilize the 3-4 as their base defense as they had since Herm Edwards left for Kansas City after the 2005 season. Gase and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams claimed during the spring that the base defense would be a 3-4, but the players they kept on the roster indicates that they will use the 4-3 more often.
Two specialists replaced. As was suggested in a previous analysis, the Jets moved on from a pair of unproven players, kicker Taylor Bertolet and punt returner Greg Dortch. But the surprise was that New York replaced them with a pair of similarly unproven young players, Kaare Vedvik and Braxton Berrios, respectively. Berrios played for the University of Miami while Gase was coaching the Dolphins.
Gase said, “This guy (Vedvik) has a lot of talent and he’s done a lot of good things in some of the preseason games that he’s played in. We have guys that have actually been with him before, so that’s always a helpful tool to use.”
Of Berrios, he said, “we felt like this was a good opportunity for us. It was somebody that we, especially a lot of guys on this staff that were in Miami, had a lot of exposure to him in the past. Obviously, when you’re a guy that’s played in New England, it’s kind of a similar system.
Analysis: As Gase indicated, he and general manager Joe Douglas are leaning heavily on director of player personnel Chad Alexander, formerly with Baltimore. Vedvik was in training camp with the Ravens each of the last two years, and was traded to Minnesota on Aug. 11. But he flopped with the Vikings in two preseason games, going 1-for-4 on field goals, including misses from 43 and 37 yards.
Yes, Bertolet was struggling himself, but the Jets still are swapping one unproven kicker for another. If the Buffalo game on Sunday comes down to a Vedvik kick, it will be fascinating.
As for Dortch, he muffed a punt in the preseason finale Thursday, and even though he recovered it, that might have been one mistake too many for an undrafted free agent. Until then, he had been solid as a punt returner. Dortch finished the preseason with eight receptions for 49 yards and an average of 9.4 yards on nine punt returns. He was signed to New York’s practice squad Monday.
Berrios, a sixth-round pick by New England in 2018, spent all of last season on injured reserve. His preseason totals for the Pats this summer were three catches for 45 yards and an average of 9.2 yards on nine returns, so the numbers of the two players were quite similar.
It is interesting that while Gase couldn’t recall the discussion about Jachai Polite in the Jets’ offices last spring, he seemed to remember every piece of tape he saw of Braxton Berrios in the run-up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Funny how a person’s memory can work, isn’t it?
Let’s face it. It’s quite possible Gase does have a man-crush on Berrios. And he might prove to be a solid NFL player eventually. But it is undeniable that the Jets visit New England in Week 3, and perhaps Berrios can provide some intel on exactly what the Patriots’ schemes are these days.
Of course, the Jets aren’t the only team to play that game. Waived quarterback Davis Webb was signed to Buffalo’s practice squad. The Bills just happen to be visiting the Jets on opening day.
Indianapolis East or Baltimore North? That’s where the Jets seem to be trending at the moment. Two defensive backs formerly with the Colts are on the 53-man roster, cornerback Nate Hairston and safety Matthias Farley. Both were acquired last week, Hairston in a trade and Farley as a street free agent. The connection there is former Indianapolis front-office staffer Rex Hogan, now the Jets’ assistant director of player personnel. Hogan rose to director of college scouting in his previous tour of duty with New York.
As noted, Alexander is the Baltimore connection. Besides Vedvik, the Jets this summer have picked up linebacker Albert McClellan, a former Raven from 2011-18, and safety Bennett Jackson, who was with Baltimore in training camp.
Analysis: Give Douglas credit. He is listening to his staff. If the Jets hit on just one of these castoffs and he becomes a legitimate contributor, that will be a victory for New York. It is something to keep an eye on, as is the performance of any players who were cut by the Jets and picked up by another team.