Byron Dixon| BKD TV
The Jets may have a new coaching staff and front office, but they still have the same problem: They lack a starting-caliber quarterback, just as they did under Rex Ryan. Geno Smith has a broken jaw after being sucker punched by former teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali. New head coach Todd Bowles has his hands full but with a little time and tinkering of the roster he could be in a good position to compete.
While We Were Away: The Jets managed to accomplish addition by subtraction twice, jettisoning Chris Johnson and Percy Harvin. Both players were awful to have in the locker room, constantly poisoning the team with their negative attitudes. Harvin was replaced by Brandon Marshall, who was acquired in a trade from the Bears for a mere fifth-round pick. Marshall, who just turned 31, is clearly on the decline – his yardage dropped from 1,295 to 721 last year – but he’ll still be a capable possession receiver. The same can be said for Eric Decker, who wasn’t 100 percent this past season when he caught 74 balls for 962 yards. The Jets will be hoping that some of their young players step up. This includes second-year tight end Jace Amaro, who struggled in his rookie campaign. There’s hope for Amaro, however, as Chan Gailey’s offense will suit his strengths more rather than Marty Mornhinweg’s traditional scheme. Meanwhile, the front office used a second-round choice on wide receiver Devin Smith, a blazing-fast receiver who could start as early as next year. Smith won’t be asked to contribute much as the potential third wideout, but having him catch one or two deep passes each week would be a nice bonus.
As for Chris Johnson’s replacement, the Jets brought in two new running backs: Stevan Ridley and Zac Stacy. Neither is very good, however; the fumble-prone Ridley is dealing with a knee injury right now, which actually prompted New York to trade for Stacy. The former Ram was woeful this past season. This all doesn’t matter all that much though, as long as Chris Ivory stays healthy. The Jets were at their best when they gave Ivory touches instead of Johnson in 2014. Ivory gained 820 yards on just 198 carries – a number that definitely has to rise this year. Unfortunately for both Ivory and Smith, they won’t be getting much help from their offensive line, which is an aging unit that features several players who are no longer as effective as they once were. Left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and right guard Willie Colon are the primary offenders of this dynamic. Colon struggled immensely this past season, and given that he just turned 32, he doesn’t figure to bounce back. Ferguson, who will also be 32 come December, didn’t perform poorly in 2014, but he was far from the elite blocker he once was.
The rest of the front also appears to be in shambles, save for center Nick Mangold, who is still a dominant lineman. Breno Giacomini, a substandard player, will reprise his role as the team’s starting right tackle. Meanwhile, James Carpenter was brought in from Seattle to be the new left guard. Carpenter has always had problems with conditioning and injuries throughout his career. He played well early in 2014, but had some issues toward the end because of an ankle injury.
2015 Season Outlook: The Jets made a big splash in free agency, landing both Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Both will obviously provide massive upgrades for a secondary that was in shambles last year. Revis is probably the second-best corner back in the NFL, while Cromartie managed to outplay Patrick Peterson this past season in Arizona. Cromartie struggled back in 2013 with the Jets, but that was because he was dealing with a nagging injury. He’ll be an outstanding No. 2 corner for New York going forward.
The rest of the secondary is comprised of safeties Calvin Pryor and Marcus Gilchrist, as well as nickel Buster Skrine. Pryor is coming off an up-and-down rookie campaign, but could improve in his sophomore season. Gilchrist, signed over from San Diego, figures to struggle, however. He did not play well for the Chargers, and he’ll definitely be a downgrade from Dawan Landry. Skrine is also a big question mark. He’s a marginal player at best, whom the front office overpaid for.
New York has a tremendous defensive line to assist the strengthened secondary. Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson will return as the starting defensive ends after dominating in 2014, though the latter has been suspended for four games after violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. The pair combined for 14 sacks this past season, which is a high number for two players at their positions. The Jets are now even better there after spending the No. 6 overall pick on Leonard Williams. The USC product was expected by some to go second overall, but issues with his consistency caused him to drop. Still, he provided great value for the Jets at the sixth spot, especially for the future if Wilkerson leaves. Meanwhile, the nose tackle position still belongs to Damon “Snacks” Harrison, who is stout versus the run. Nick Folk drilled nearly 92 percent of his field goals in 2013. That figured dropped last year, but was still a decent 82.1 (32-of-39).
2015 Record: 7-9
The Jets defense will be stout and help get them over the hump in some games, this division is tough and their defense can help them cover a few things they lack on offense (QB). The secondary will make plays and create points for their offense and allow this offense to work with short fields. The inconsistency of the QB position will be their downfall but they will compete in each game and sneak out some wins and hover around .500.