6 things that could be different about the Jets when fans return to MetLife Stadium

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Tyler Greenawalt
·3 min read
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The 2021 Jets season will look a lot different than it did in 2020 — for a lot of reasons.

Obviously, there’s the ever-changing makeup of the team. But fans are also expected to be in attendance at MetLife Stadium for the first time in over a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said outdoor venues can open to fans at 15 percent capacity starting March 1. If COVID-19 cases continue to drop and vaccines become more accessible, that order could extend into the 2021 NFL season and the capacity restrictions could decrease.

When fans finally do return to watch the Jets, there will be a lot of changes. Here are six ways the team already is or could be different when Gang Green’s faithful returns.

New coaching staff

(Jennifer Stewart-AP)

Joe Douglas shed the Jets of Adam Gase and his staff soon after the 2020 season ended, but he took his time deciding on hiring Robert Saleh to take over. Saleh is the complete antithesis of Gase and brought with him an eclectic staff full of young and innovative minds – including Mike LaFleur as offensive coordinator and Jeff Ulbrich as defensive coordinator.

Woody Johnson's return

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

For better or worse, Woody Johnson is back as the Jets' full-time owner after spending the past four years as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. He seems to have left more responsibilities to his brother, Christopher Johnson, who assumed control of the team when the elder Johnson was gone. Johnson seemed pleased with the job his brother and Douglas did in hiring Saleh and thanked both of them for their work.

New offense

(Jeff Chiu-AP)

The Jets will run a brand-new offense under LaFleur – one that's all about the run game, speed and deception. It's completely different from the offense Jets fans have watched for the past decade, and it should inspire some confidence considering how well its architect – 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan – perfected it over the past several years during his stops in San Francisco, Atlanta and Cleveland. The Jets also have several solid players that can fit into the offense already.

New defense

(Danny Karnik-AP)

Saleh also hired another innovator to run his defense. Former Falcons linebackers coach and half-season defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich will bring a 4-3 defense to New York – similar to the one Saleh ran with the 49ers and Pete Carroll ran with the Seahawks (where Saleh and Ulbrich both coached). The Jets will need to fill a few roster gaps to fit this scheme but Quinnen Williams should see a boost in production in this defense.

A new quarterback

(Steven Ryan-Getty Images)

This is still to be determined. Sam Darnold very well may stay on as the Jets' quarterback in 2021, but the team will not make a decision on him until after its explored every scenario and evaluated all the rookie quarterbacks. The coaching staff likes Darnold's potential, but they may just leap at the opportunity to draft a new guy – potentially Zach Wilson or Justin Fields – or trade for a veteran like Deshaun Watson.

New star players

(Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets have a lot of holes on their roster and could have around $100 million in cap space heading into free agency after roster cuts. Douglas didn't use a lot of cap space last offseason, and the Jets suffered for it. Regardless of who their starting quarterback is, the Jets will need more star players on offense – especially at receiver – and could use their cap space on upgrades like Allen Robinson or JuJu Smith-Schuster.

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