Jets' offseason focuses on two QBs -- Sam Darnold and Tom Brady

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. A very Brady draft: The first part of the offseason (see: free agency) was mostly about quarterback Sam Darnold. They Jets tried to aid his development by acquiring three experienced helpers on offense -- running back Le'Veon Bell, wide receiver Jamison Crowder and guard Kelechi Osemele.

For the draft, the focus shifted. Instead of concentrating on their quarterback, the Jets made a concerted effort to spoil the fun for somebody else's -- specifically, the New England Patriots and Tom Brady.

As coach Adam Gase told his players on the first day of the offseason program, the No. 1 goal is to take down the defending champs and win the division. To that end, the Jets used their first two draft picks on front-seven players -- defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (first round) and edge rusher Jachai Polite (third).

No, the Jets don't have a "WANTED" picture of Brady hanging in their war room -- it's not a one-man obsession -- but they also know they have to be better on defense to have any shot of dethroning them. They haven't held the Patriots under 20 points in a game since 2014, for crying out loud.

If Williams and Polite play up to their potential, the Jets will have a nice inside-outside tandem that should help them in a division that includes a growing cast of Brady wannabes. The AFC East now includes two of Darnold's 2018 classmates -- Josh Allen and Josh Rosen, who was traded Friday night to the Miami Dolphins. For a change, the quarterbacking future looks bright in the division.

For now, Brady is king, and the Jets have to figure out a way to make him feel his age (41). It hasn't been going well. Leonard Williams is four years into his career, and he didn't record his first sack of Brady until last season in Week 17. Reinforcements are on the way.

2. Gator gamble: The Polite pick is fascinating because he's such a polarizing prospect. Based on his 2018 tape, he should have been a first-round pick. Playing in the talent-laden SEC, the Florida defensive end recorded 17.5 tackles-for-loss, 11 sacks and a nation-leading six forced fumbles. It was his only year of big-time production, but that's not what caused him to slip to the third round. Basically, he mailed in his postseason performance.

Polite gained weight, ran a poor 40-yard dash (4.84) at the scouting combine and ran a really poor 40 (5.04) at his pro day. He also made headlines at the combine for sharing details of his interview with the Green Bay Packers, who, like most teams do with prospects, grilled Polite on some of his bad plays from the season. He called it "bashing." He has taken a lot of heat from the scouting community.

Speaking to reporters on Friday night, Polite called it a bad rap. A month ago, he expressed a different tune, saying, "Whoever gets me, whoever's taking a chance from my terrible interviews and combine, they're going to get a great player. That's all I know."

It was interesting to hear Mike Maccagnan's take on Polite. The general manager chose his words carefully, almost sounding as if he had to be convinced to draft him. A sampling:

  • "He presented himself fairly well in the [combine] interview. There are some things I think he can do better. He's a young player, a young person. We had a chance to bring him into our facility and spend quite a bit more time with him and got a chance to get a better feel for him."

  • "We see some of the risk in him. We also think he has some really good qualities about him."

This was a really honest take by Maccagnan, who basically acknowledged Polite has some growing up to do. The Jets did a lot of homework on him. In fact, they had some insider knowledge. Scouting assistant Eric Ellingworth served as a Florida graduate assistant from 2015 to 2017. He worked with the offense, but he was around the team enough to form an impression of Polite.

Polite, too, has some Jets connections. He played with safety Marcus Maye at Florida, and he attended the same high school as Leonard Williams -- Mainland High in Daytona, Florida.

3. All for mom: Polite has a unique Twitter handle: @RetireMoms. His goal was always to make it in the NFL so his mother, Katrina Simmons, could retire early. She works as a housekeeping supervisor at an oceanfront hotel in Daytona Beach and makes money on the side as a hairstylist. She learned to braid hair at the age of 12, and by 15, she had a group of paying customers. If Polite's work ethic mirrors that of his mother, he might turn out to be a steal.

4. No one's perfect: The draft is a funny thing. Some picks are risky (Polite), some aren't. In Williams, the Jets picked arguably the safest player in the draft. When I texted an opposing scout to get his take on Williams, the scout said, "Love the pick. Q is awesome."

Does he have any negatives?


Last time I checked, braces won't impair a player's bull rush.

5. Trouble in paradise? Predictably, Maccagnan said everything is hunky-dory with him and Gase. Rift, what rift? Here's what I can tell you: There was some friction between them during free agency, a source said, but it apparently has been smoothed over.

There are two ways to view this: Just routine growing pains between two men working together for the first time. Or you could call it an ominous sign for the future. No doubt, the Gase-Maccagnan partnership will be watched closely, just like the Gase-Gregg Williams relationship.

There's rampant speculation about Maccagnan's job being in immediate danger. Not happening, per team source.

6. All talk, no action: There was a lot of chatter before the draft, and during, about how the Jets were going to trade down in the first round to accumulate extra picks. (They had conversations with the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills, who owned the fourth and ninth picks, respectively.) Then came the talk about how they were going to get back in the second round with a massive jump. (They talked to the Indianapolis Colts at No. 34).

In the end, they didn't make any big trades, just three minor trades in the third and fourth rounds. Maccagnan took the conservative approach in the first two rounds, refusing to part with future assets to get in the second round. It provided an interesting contrast to his ultra-aggressive game plan in free agency.

Bottom line: This draft might produce three or four starters in the future, but for 2019, it will be only one -- Williams. They failed to adequately address needs at center and cornerback, placing their faith in Jonotthan Harrison and Darryl Roberts, respectively.

7. Little trade: You don't often see a team trade up only one spot for a player, especially after the first two rounds, but the Jets did just that near the bottom of the third. They swapped places with the Minnesota Vikings, picking tackle Chuma Edoga at No. 92 overall. Why not just stand pat and take him at 93?

The Jets really like Edoga because of his versatility; he can play both tackle spots and maybe guard. They also like his traits, namely his power and quick feet. He's undersized at 6-foot-3 1/2, but he reminds them of left tackle Kelvin Beachum (6-foot-3). With Beachum and right tackle Brandon Shell entering the final year of their contracts, the Jets really wanted to pick up a tackle with long-term starting potential. Edoga carries some risk because of character issues. He reportedly flunked a drug test in 2015 and he was suspended one game in 2016 for violating an unspecified team rule.

Maccagnan made a similar move in 2015, trading up one spot in the fourth round for quarterback Bryce Petty.