NFL Season Preview:
New York Jets
Despite all the chatter about Rex Ryan coaching for his job, the Jets finished the season 8-8. The team struggled under rookie quarterback Geno Smith, but they were still able to finish with a .500 record, and Rex was able to keep his job despite the hiring of new General Manager John Idzik. Idzik, may have wanted to bring in his own man, but he still had to be impressed by the coaching job Rex did last season. Despite coaching this franchise to two consecutive AFC title games not too long ago, it’s hard to argue that Rex didn’t have the best coaching year of his career last season. The question is can he do it again?
Geno Smith is back for his second year at quarterback. He had an up and down season as a rookie with 18 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Gone is Mark Sanchez, and he has been replaced by Michael Vick. Vick, who played for offensive coordinator Marty Mohrninweg in Philadelphia, has been very supportive of Smith and hasn’t made any waves in wanting to start. While the GM and Head Coach makes Smith vs. Vick some sort of competition, it’s clear to all that this is Geno’s job. To support Geno the Jets may have the deepest stable at running back that this team has had in a long time.
Chris Johnson has brought his 4.28 speed over from the Tennessee Titans. For a team that has long lacked a proven playmaker with elite speed, it’ll be interesting to see what Johnson can do this season. To support Johnson the team still has Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, and picked up Darryl Richardson off waivers from the St. Louis Rams. Fullback Tommy Bohannon will also contribute to that stout running game.
At receiver the Jets picked up Eric Decker from the Denver Broncos. Decker was a #2 receiver for Peyton Manning, but he’ll need to be a # 1 receiver for the Jets. Can he be? For the Jets to have a successful season he’ll need to be. The question is who plays alongside Decker? Steven Hill is edging closer to bust territory, but at 6’4″ he seems to get the call over Jeremy Kerley, David Nelson, or Salim Hakim. The Jets also drafted three wide receivers in this year’s draft but two are out with injury, and the third likely won’t make this squad. The Jets offense looks strong on paper, but if there is any question marks at all it’s at the receiver position and the offensive line.
The reason why I call the offensive line as a question mark is that despite the presence of D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold, the other three spots on the line are a bit shaky. Brian Winters and Willie Colon will likely be your starting guards, and neither were that impressive last season, and while Breno Giacomini comes in highly rated from Seattle, but there are concerns as to how good he’ll be at right tackle. If the O-line can mesh, and a receiver steps up to compliment Decker than this could be the best offense the Jets have ever had under Rex Ryan.
The strength of any Rex Ryan team is it’s defense. That’s the Ryan family calling card. In Jets true fashion they have some beasts at defensive end in Sheldon Richardson, and Muhammad Wilkerson. Both men are very adept at getting to the quarterback and making big plays. The Jets also added Jason Babin this season to that mix. Babin has floundered some the past few seasons but if the Jets can get an Aaron Maybin redemption like impact out of him, and Rex is known for getting some juice from faded or busted players, than that will only help the defensive line production. Defensive tackle is a bit of a question mark. At this timethe Jets have no clue as to who will produce at that spot, but all the DT has to do is take up space in the middle of the line to let Richardson and Wilkerson do their work.
Linebacker is an interesting spot. David Harris, Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, and Calvin Pace are your starters. Harris has faded some, Davis has some good speed but needs bigger production, Pace is likely done, and Coples is a 4-3 DE masquerading as a linebacker. On paper you’d like what the Jets have at linebacker but this game isn’t played on paper. I’ve never liked the idea of Coples at linebacker. He’s too big for the position, and still looks uncomfortable and that shows when you watch a game. Harris and Pace have done great things as Jets players but I do have to wonder what do they have left? Davis? I like him, but he has to take the next leap this season. Also, look for Babin to get some work with the linebackers as well.
However, the Jets have one HUGE problem on defense. It’s a problem they’ve never had before. It’s one that Rex Ryan has never had to deal with before but this team is amazingly weak in the secondary. Rookie Dex McDougle is out for the season. Dee Milliner was benched three different times in his rookie season, and is now out with an injury of his own. Idzik passed over names like Revis, and Rodgers-Cromartie to sign journeyman Dimitri Patterson. In the draft he passed over a kid I think will be Revis Jr. in Darqueze Dennard who was taken by the Bengals late in the 1st round. The success of a Ryan’s defense is to have cornerbacks that can cover their man long enough for the D-line and linebackers to get to the quarterback. This team lacks a decent cornerback duo. Putting hope in Patterson, or Kyle Wilson is a frightening prospect. So, while cornerback is weak, the team does have some strength at safety. Antonio Allen is a good player, as is Dawan Landry. The team has a player I like in Jaiquawn Jarrett, and the Jets used their first round draft pick on Calvin Pryor a hard hitting safety with a big mouth. If anything fans will love a kid like Pryor while they boo the rest of the secondary unit for giving up huge plays.
The Jets special teams unit is led by dependable kicker Nick Folk, and solid punter Ryan Quigley. The Jets were likely hoping one of their rookie receivers take over the kick and punt return jobs but look for Jeremy Kerley, and Salim Hakim (or Clyde Gates if he isn’t cut) to play a big role in the return game.
As aforementioned the Jets used their 1st round pick on Pryor to add depth to the safety position. In doing so they ignored a larger need at cornerback. In the second round they took Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro. The team has high hopes for Amaro. He doesn’t have the biggest hands, he can’t block, but he is fast and can create some mismatches. However, he’s currently struggling in his first training camp with the team. The Jets drafted three wide receivers in Jalen Saunders, Shaq Evans, and Quincy Enunwa but Shaq Evans is out for the season on injured reserve, Saunders recently hurt himself in a car accident, and Enunwa is a long shot to make the team. The Jets draft class may turn up a gem or two but as things stand at the end of August, it’s looking like Idzik and company crapped out on the 2014 NFL Draft.
I didn’t expect much from the Jets last season. I thought 6-10, maybe 7-9, but they finished 8-8. The Jets do come into this season with what could be a damn good offense. Problem is that this year, the defense is hampered by a weak secondary and that’s going to be a big problem when I tell you who the Jets have to face at quarterback in Weeks 2 thru 7. The Jets start the season at home against the Oakland Raiders. The Jets should win that game because it’s a 1 pm start, and West Coast teams tend to lose when they play in an early game out East. However, after that game the Jets have to face off against: Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Phillip Rivers, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady. Realistically the Jets could lose those games to the Packers, Bears, Lions, Chargers, Broncos, and Patriots and be 1-6 after the first seven games of the season.
After Week 7 things do lighten up a bit with the Jets facing the Bills and Dolphins twice, a game with the Patriots at Metlife Stadium, and games against Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and Tennessee. The Jets schedule this season is very similar to what they had last season. They had a murderers row of a schedule early, and a softer one late and were still able to finish 8-8.
However, I don’t see the same thing happening this season. I don’t see the Jets finishing any better than 6-10. It’s not because of the offense this time, though. It’s because the Jets didn’t put much of their cap space money into the defense. The Jets currently are sitting on $22 million in cap room, and they are still sending out subpar corners. Makes no sense if you ask me, unless Idzik’s plan is to eventually sink Rex Ryan. I can be wrong, and as a Jets fan I hope I am wrong, but I have no faith in that secondary and looking at a schedule that is full of some good quarterbacks I don’t think they can pull another 8-8 miracle out of their hats. So, 6-10 for the Jets, Geno does play better, but Rex loses his job.
I’m sorry, EJ, I just don’t see it. I’m not sold on Geno, Eric Decker has already been hurt (to be fair, EJ didn’t have that info.) and other than that defensive line, I’m not sold on anything on the defensive side of the ball. Calvin is going to be very good, but I just don’t see much else helping from that draft this year. I really do think the Jets want to bottom out a year, and either fish or cut bait on this staff and team- and of course, Geno.
They should beat the Bills twice, but I think the Fins have passed them, The Jets also play the NFC North, and the only game I think they have a chance in is vs Minny, and that’s just because of that Defensive Line and the fact that both teams may be looking for next year. Bonus games vs KC and Tenn and I’m looking at 4-12 or thereabouts. Tell you one thing. Let Carolina’s DC leave and Riverboat Ron not make a phone call. . . .
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