In this segment of our 32 NFL Team Preview, we’ll be looking at the New York Jets. When they made it to the AFC Championship game in 2009 and ’10, many fans thought the Jets were on their way to being a force in the AFC. However, after records of 8-8 in 2011 and 6-10 in 2012, they’ve seemed to take a leap backward from the Super Bowl. Rex Ryan, Head Coach, has been a good addition for the organization since being hired in 2009. Ryan’s regular season record is 34-30 with the Jets but his last winning season happened in 2010. Some fans, including myself, believe that if New York doesn’t at least make a Playoff run in 2013, it’ll end up costing Rex his job.
Offense: The Jets Offense struggled, to say the least, last season. They ranked 30th in Total Offense (12th in the run and 3oth in the pass) and allowed the 6th most sacks in the league. Their Quarterback, Mark Sanchez, has undergone a ton of scrutiny. Fans have gone from calling him “The Sanchize” to calling him everything but his name. Having a career 55% completion percentage, Sanchez’s accuracy and decision-making has caused a lot of concern in New York. So much so that the team selected Geno Smith in the 2013 NFL Draft. Geno accrued 11,662 yards, 98 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions in his stint at the University of West Virginia. Nobody is sure when the Geno Smith reign will begin, but if it does this upcoming season, it’ll spell the end for Sanchez in New York. The Wide Receivers for the Jets are pretty solid, but their 2 main guys are coming off season-ending injuries. Santonio Holmes suffered a Grade 4 Lisfranc injury, which is an extremely severe foot injury. He’s hoping to come back strong and have his first 1,000 yard receiving season since 2009, when he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Stephen Hill, the other main target, was the 43 overall selection in 2012. Hill had Jets fans’ thinking he was going to be a difference maker Week 1 when he had 5 catches for 89 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, Hill finished the season with 21 catches, 252 yards, and 3 touchdowns; suffering an LCL sprain in early December. Jeremy Kerley was the team’s leading pass catcher last year, hauling in 56 passes (14 for 20+ yards) for 827 yards. He should be a good player in the slot for the Jets in 2013. Two players the Jets picked up that went un-drafted were Marcus Davis and Zach Rogers. Davis has perfect size and speed. He’s still learning the position; he is an ex-Quarterback who doesn’t do well in blocking at all. Rogers is a smaller guy that plays big, and played well for Tennessee last season scoring 7 touchdowns. I think one of these 2 players are will find their way on the field next season. The Tight End position is in the flux for the team, as they really don’t have a solid player. Kellen Winslow is looking to rejuvenate his career with the Jets, and will be competing against Jeff Cumberland for the starting gig. Winslow announced that his goal for 2013 was to catch 100 passes. A dark horse in this race is going to be Mike Shanahan, and I don’t mean Washington’s Head Coach. Shanahan comes to the Jets un-drafted from the University of Pittsburgh. Last season, Shanahan caught 62 passes for 983 yards and 6 touchdowns. He needs to work on his blocking to play Tight End consistently at the next level, however I feel he’s going to be a steal for the Jets. The Running Backs are good, but a little weak for Rex Ryan’s “Ground and Pound” style of Offense. Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson are two backs who have always made the most of their few opportunities. Ivory was traded from the Saints and Goodson was signed during Free Agency. They’ll be competing for the starting job but, notably, so will Bilal Powell. Powell came in as an unknown player to a lot of football fans and averaged 4.0 yards per carry, on 110 attempts in 2012, with 4 touchdowns. The Running Back position will be an interesting one to watch play out. D’Brickashaw Ferguson is New York’s best Offensive Lineman and has started every game for them in his 7-year career. He’s been a staple for their line for years at Left Tackle, which the Jets hope continues to happen. Austin Howard started for the team at Right Tackle last season. He allowed 13.5 sacks, and I think he’ll be in competition with rookie Oday Aboushi whom the Jets selected in the 5th round. Willie Colon and Stephen Peterman were signed in the Offseason to be the starting Guards. I think only one of them will win a job while Brian Winters, 72nd overall pick in 2013, steals another one. Winters is extremely physical and I can’t see any scenario where he’s not starting Week 1 for the Jets. New York’s Center Nick Mangold is usually just as solid as Ferguson, but he’s not lived up to his standard of play recently. Nick allowed more sacks total in the past 2 seasons than he did from ’06-‘10. He’s going to need to step it up to anchor the line this upcoming season. There are going to be some woes on this side of the ball for the Jets this year. Normally one’s success all hinges on the Quarterback. If the newly acquired players for the running game can’t seem to get it going next season, it could be a long 2013 for the team.
Defense: Ranked 8th in Total Defense, 2nd against the pass and 26th versus the run, the Jets’ strength is their D. The Head Coach is a Defensive Guru and will not stand for how bad the team played the run in 2012. The team drafted Sheldon Richardson to help with the 13th overall pick in the Draft this year. The Defensive Lineman hails from Missouri and should be one of New York’s better players in achieving tackles for loss. Muhammad Wilkerson, Defensive End, really came into his own last season for the Jets, acquiring 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 69 total tackles for the team in his 2nd season. As those 2 players will be responsible for putting pressure on the QB and stopping the run, Kenrick Ellis will have the duties of anchoring the line at Nose Tackle. This will be Ellis’s first year being a full time starter. He should have no problem imposing his will on Centers and Guards at 346 pounds. The Jets Secondary lost the best Cornerback in the NFL, Darrelle Revis, and added a strong replacement in the Draft. Dee Milliner fell into New York’s lap at the 9th overall spot and was considered the best Defensive Back. Milliner deflected 22 passes last season at Alabama, and totaled 6 career interceptions in his 3 years there. He’ll have to battle with Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson for a starting Cornerback job. Cromartie led the Jets in interceptions (3) and passes deflected (13) in 2012. Kyle Wilson is a player who’s hitting a make-or-break year; he was a 1st round pick in 2010 and has only recorded 3 career interceptions. Wilson will need to step his play up to make sure that Milliner doesn’t take his starting job. The Jets lost LaRon Landry to Free Agency, but signed his brother Dawan Landry to play Strong Safety. Landry has a lot of familiarity with Rex Ryan’s Defense as he played under him in Baltimore. Josh Bush has a strong chance to be the team’s starting Free Safety, but will be in a competition with Antonio Allen and un-drafted signee, Rontez Miles. Linebacker David Harris had one of his strongest campaigns ever in 2012, with 123 total tackles and 3 sacks. Demario Davis will get the start along side Harris, but I think that Calvin Pace would be a good fit here. I say that because it’s looking like Quinton Coples and Antwan Barnes will be the starting Outside Linebackers. Coples led the team in sacks last season, his rookie year, with 5.5. Barnes is a pass rushing specialist who the team signed in the Offseason from San Diego; he tallied 11 sacks in 2011. The New York Jets Defense is strong but not solid all the way around. Rex Ryan has always done a good job of maximizing his players’ potential, and he’ll have to do the same again to finish in the Top 8 in Defense for the 5th straight season.
End Result: I believe 2013 is going to be a long season for the Jets that might cost the Head Coach his job as they finish 4-12.