If you needed any further confirming that the New York Jets weren’t any good and that their quarterback of the future wasn’t a quarterback of the future then the 2012 season delivered what you required. It wasn’t that the Jets didn’t challenge for the play-offs for most of the season (which they did up to the 3rd last game), it was how poorly the Jets played in a large number of games throughout that season.
Where did the Jets go wrong? It’s pretty simple; the Jets had an aging and underperforming defence, the offensive line under performed and had Matt Slauson in it, there was a distinct lack of skill players and the quarterback play was hysterically embarrassing.
All of this culminated into a 6-10 season, which seen the firing of the Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum, the trading of the Jets best player (Darelle Revis) for a measly draft 1st round pick (plus a conditional 4th/3rd next year) and the awkward marriage of Rex Ryan and John Idzik.
In the off-season the Jets lost their star cornerback (Revis), their pro bowl safety (Landry, who was never going to stay), their loud mouth line-backer (how you doin Bart?), their best skill player (Keller) and a couple of leaders in the dressing room (Pouha and Moore). It has left a very young roster of players to pick up the pieces of the two previous seasons. Oh and that guy everyone hates is still there.
This will be a position by position break down.
Mark Sanchez has been the Jets starter for the past 4 four seasons, and it is funny to think that in his first two he delivered and help the Jets to AFC Championship games. In the play-offs he was like a different player and made it look like he was a winner who could play well under pressure. However all of those beliefs about his potential have disappeared. In 4 seasons Sanchez has managed to throw 68 Touchdowns and 69 Interceptions, hardly good numbers for a former 5th pick in the draft. Add onto that 43 Fumbles (off which 20 were lost) and you have a complete drive killer right there. Most of the time Sanchez was asked to be a game manager but with a 55.1% completion percentage and a 71.7 QBR (66.9 last season) he just doesn’t have the skill set to do that. To be a franchise quarterback you need completion number in the 65% region and a QBR in the high 80’s, neither of which Sanchez is. At times Sanchez shows glimpses of a 1st round pick, but he will usually quickly follow that up with another screen interception, or hold onto the ball too long or not see a defender in the middle. If the question is what the future of the Jets quarterback position is? Then the answer certainly isn’t Mark Sanchez. The sad part is if the question is who will be the starting quarterback in week 1? Then it probably will be Mark Sanchez.
Geno Smith could be the answer to the Jets quarterback problems, but he could also be another failed project. Smith was drafted in the 2nd round which was good value for the top QB in the draft (although not worth one of the Jets 1st round picks, still should have been a late 20’s pick). Smith is an accurate passer that limits his mistakes as much as he can (doesn’t sound like someone else); he is also big and athletic and has decent but not great movement. The problem with Smith is that he has no professional experience; college is not a great gauge of how well a player will play in the NFL. There are questions over his leadership and he also has small hands and can be prone to fumbling. Smith is the great unknown this season for the Jets; however if you consider that there is no doubt that Sanchez would have been cut if it weren’t for his big contract, and that the coaches really don’t want to have to play him again after he has let them down for the past 2 seasons; it says a lot about Smith that he hasn’t won the QB battle at camp, and it doesn’t say anything good, he is clearly not ready.
There is only one way to describe the Jets current situation at quarterback, it is a total mess. I imagine that Sanchez will be the starting QB by week 1, because Smith just isn’t ready for that role yet. McElroy will take the 3rd roster spot but won’t challenge for a starting role.
Chris Ivory was brought in from the Saints to fill the gaping hole the Jets have at running back. Ivory is likely to be the starter on week 1, but he isn’t exactly what I’d describe as being electric. He doesn’t really fit a west coast system because he doesn’t have the pass catching ability required, but he is an upgrade on Shonn Greene.
What can you say about Mike Goodson? The guy is lightning in a bottle. The problem is that that bottle has seen very little practice thanks to his legal troubles and is a major doubt for the start of the season. I’m not sure what the Jets plan to do with Goodson, but his roster spot is up for grabs. Expect him to start the season on the reserve list. *EDIT* Goodson has officially been banned for the first 4 games of the season, which I doubt if he would have played anyway.
Bilal Powell showed some glimpses of potential at the back end of last season, and it looks like he could well flourish under Marty Mornhinweg’s system. Although I doubt he will be the starter (at least not at the start of the season) he is likely to be played as the 3rd down back due to his pass catching ability.
Joe McKnight is an anomaly, at times he flashes moments of brilliant as he turns the jets on and avoids tackles, and the problem is that it happens too rarely. McKnight is primarily a kick returner and if it weren’t for that he wouldn’t be on the team, even with his kick returning ability he is on the bubble and a bad camp hasn’t helped his case. *EDIT* Joe McKnight was released after I wrote this, which isn’t shocking to me at all although it does add questions as to who will be doing the kick returns on the team.
The quarterback and running back situations at the Jets are both a mess. I expect that Ivory will be the starter but we will see smatterings of Powell and that he will take the starting job by the end of the season.
Tommy Bohanon will fill the fullback role for the team after Lex Hilliard picked up a season ending shoulder injury. I think he would probably have won the role himself even without the injury to Hilliard, but because of the injury it has made it guaranteed to be his.
Santonio Holmes is very similar to Mark Sanchez in many ways, not only because they had a falling out in the 2011 season finale against the Dolphins, but also because he only has a place on the team because of his contract. Much like Sanchez, Holmes has disappointed in his time as a Jet; and this has not been helped by questions over whether he will be ready for the start of the season. He is the only experienced wide receiver that the Jets have on the roster and that is of course a major concern. Sometimes you have to question Holmes’ commitment to the cause (like last year when he got injured and just threw the ball away so he didn’t get hit, costing the team a TD) but he is as good as the Jets have.
Big things were expected of Stephen Hill last season, but he showed that he was, although physically gifted, very raw. Hill has height, speed and strength; but lacks the route running and pass catching skills of a no.1/2 receiver. Last season he struggled to make separation between himself and defenders and that caused his numbers to be very poor (252 yds., 3TD’s, with 84 yds. and 2 TD’s in one game). However Hill has had a strong camp and looks like he has improved his crispness and game overall (drops are still an issue) and looks set to have a good season.
Jeremy Kerley was by far the Jets best receiver last year, and showed bright sparks as a slot receiver. Kerley has that elusiveness, pass catching and yards after the catch ability which will help him thrive in the West-coast system the Jets will be running this season and it could be a break-out year for him (if a QB can actually get the ball to him). Kerley is also a punt returner and has shown flashes of potential; however he must cut down on the wasteful fair catches from last season.
The rest of the wide receivers currently on the roster are a bit of a mish-mash of veteran players and rookies. Clyde Gates will make the roster because of his speed and kick returning ability. Ryan Spadola will also make the roster in the 5th spot because of an excellent pre-season and camp, plus he’s a Jersey boy. There is potential for another slot to be taken up by a receiver to cover Santonio Holmes’ injury problems and that is likely to fall to Mohamed Massaquoi because he has more than 3 seasons of NFL experience (more than any other of the receivers on the roster, Holmes excluded). I was surprised to see Braylon Edwards released, but he has had a poor camp and was carrying injuries and clearly was thought as surplus to requirements when Massaquoi was signed.
Kellen Winslow II was brought in to give the tight end corps some much needed experience. Although he is unlikely to replicate his form that he showed at the Browns when he dominated the position, he will give the Jets an end zone threat with his height and pass catching ability. There are obvious questions over Winslow’s durability issues (he played 1 game last year) but the Jets are desperate for skill position talent and Winslow is worth the risk.
Jeff Cumberland has the size and speed that is essential for a miss-matched pass catching tight end. He has shown (like many Jets) glimpses of major potential, but has never fully been able to utilise that potential. This season could be Cumberland’s break out year (because of the system) where he finally takes those steps into becoming the threat across the middle the Jets hoped he would be, if it isn’t then there has to be questions if he will ever take that next step.
Konrad Reuland isn’t the exciting flashy player that a Winslow or Cumberland are, he won’t post big numbers; however what Reuland is, is consistent. Very much a blocking tight end, he will make the roster because he is the only one on the books. Reuland showed he has the ability to be an effective tight end as well as full back, and his versatility will be very useful for the Jets.
I would add that it is sad to see that Hayden Smith was cut the other day and isn’t quite ready to make the 53 man roster quite yet. Hopefully he won’t be claimed by another team and the Jets will be able to add him to the practice squad and continue to develop him for the future.
D’Brickishaw Ferguson will line up at the left tackle position once again this year and further cement his place as the Jets most consistent player. D’Brick has probably just dropped off of being an elite tackle in the league (still top 10) but his paly and consistency at left tackle is vital when you either have a rookie or a ditherer (Sanchez) at QB.
Austin Howard showed last season that he has potential to become a very solid right tackle, something the Jets haven’t had since the departure of Damien Woody. He did well last season, but this season will be much harder, with teams now having tape on his weaknesses and without the experienced Brandon Moore next to him.
Jason Smith was signed by the Jets after he was released by the Saints earlier this month. He was successful last season in the jumbo tight end packages for the Jets and is a useful pick up with a lack of depth at tackle being evident.
Oday Aboushi was the Jets 5th round pick from this year’s Draft and it looks like he may not be able to make the roster thanks to the arrival of Smith. Expect him to be signed to the practice squad if he goes unclaimed.
Willie Colon was a nice pick up for the Jets, and by signing him on a one year deal there is very little risk involved for the Jets. Colon has been hampered by season ending injuries recently and that is what caused his release from the Steelers. If he can stay fit for the entire season then the Jets won’t have to worry, however if he can’t (and based on his injury record it is likely he won’t) then the Jets may be in trouble.
Who would have actually thought that I would be sitting here and writing that Vlad Ducasse had actually made the 53 man roster, never mind that he is now projected to be the starter after beating out Stephen Peterman (who looked like a stick on to start, and then got cut) and rookie Brian Winters. Naturally I am a bit sceptical of Ducasse starting on the line (as anyone who has seen him play previously will be) but he can’t be much worse than Matt Slauson.
Brian Winters (3rd round pick) looked like he may win the starting job at left guard over Stephen Peterman in his rookie season, but has been hampered with injuries through camp and missed the first two pre-season games. Although unlikely to start now this year (unless for injury or Ducasse regressing) Winters looks like he will be part of the future at offensive guard for the Jets for many years to come.
William Campbell may (6th round pick) have a slight chance of making the roster (similar to Aboushi) but this may become less so if the Jets are able to pick up a more experienced back up to fit on the line. Definitely a candidate for practice squad if not claimed.
Nick Mangold is one of three elite players on the Jets roster (Cromartie and Wilkerson), and is one (if not the) best centre in the NFL. You know what you get with Mangold, and although his play his dropped off the past two seasons because of niggling injuries, he is still an ever present and vital member of the offense and more importantly the locker room.
The biggest problem with Mangold is that if he is not on the line then the line falls to bits. The past two seasons when Mangold has missed time, the Jets have not handled it well at all and this year does not look like it will be any different. Caleb Schlauderaff is the likely back-up centre (because of his ability to play both centre and guard) but to be honest, he isn’t very good. The other option is Erik Cook, who much like Schlauderaff doesn’t give you confidence if he were to fill in for an injured Mangold. Expect the Jets to try their best to look for a more talented and experienced back-up to Mangold after final day cuts, because otherwise we have to keep our fingers crossed Mangold stays injury free.
The Jets have a lot of questions heading into the 2013 seasons on offense; mainly at QB, RB and WR. There is a distinct lack of quality and experienced players at the skill positions; however what the Jets do have is youth, and with youth comes raw talent, and there is plenty of that to go around, with players like Kerley, Hill, Goodson, Cumberland and to a lesser extent Geno Smith. These players will all need to have big seasons (Smith excluded because I think Sanchez will start) if the Jets’ offense is going to compete at all. More importantly Mark Sanchez has to have a big season, and has to cut down on the turnovers that have plagued his NFL career thus far, otherwise he won’t be on the team next year.
This is what I expect the starting line-up to be on week 1:
Hill—Winslow—Ferguson-Ducasse-Mangold-Colon-Howard—Kerley (slot)—Massaquoi (Holmes if fit)
Mo Wilkerson in my opinion is an elite end and is a truly special player. He dominates the line and the point of attack; he can rush the passer or play the run game, he is a perfect end in a 3-4 system. I think that Wilkerson (if he stays fit) will be making the Pro-Bowl this year and will finally gain the recognition that he thoroughly deserves.
Sheldon Richardson was a surprising pick in the Draft this year from the Jets (3 D-Lineman in a row in 1st round, and a 4-3 technique end [Jets running 3-4 of course]). However Rex Ryan obviously saw something special in him to pick him at no.13. Richardson has shown glimpses of potential in pre-season and in camp, and will line-up across from Wilkerson. The Jets have two young exciting ends starting either side of each other and unlike in previous seasons have a lot of get up and go on the defensive line.
If the Jets take a 3rd end, then it is likely Leger Douzable will be it (although it is likely some of the nose tackles or outside linebackers may take that spot instead). Douzable has had a good pre-season and a solid camp and has put himself in contention for a spot on the roster, but the Jets may be unlikely to carry 5 defensive lineman into the season.
Kenrick Ellis is similar (although not nearly as bad) to Vlad Ducasse, based on the fact that he was drafted because of his physical rawness and potential but has never been able to develop into the player the Jets were hoping. However this off-season Ellis has gotten his life sorted out (legal troubles fixed) and has become more focused on his football. This has been seen in his pre-back injury camp, and he was a stick on to start in week 1 prior to his back injury. There are now questions about whether he will be ready week 1, but I imagine he will be and him sitting is merely precautionary.
Damon Harrison will be his replacement if Ellis is not ready to go on week 1. I didn’t understand why Harrison wasn’t given more of a chance last season when Pouha was out injured, because when I seen him play he seemed to do quite well. This season Snacks (great nickname) has shown his worth (7 individual tackles against Giants) and has developed his game further almost guaranteeing his roster spot.
Antonio Garay will take the last roster spot for the defensive line, and will give much needed experience to what is a very young and inexperienced line. Although I doubt he will be a starter and he has slowed down since his days at the Chargers, he is still a solid run blocker and his experience is required.
When David Harris signed his last contract he looked like he would develop into an elite middle linebacker and would boss the field for the Jets defence. Since signing his contract he has went on to have two lacklustre seasons, and has slowed down (in terms of speed) drastically. There are still major doubts about Harris, and he certainly isn’t playing to his contract value, but having young fast Demario David next to him this season instead of old slow Bart Scott, will help immensely.
Demario Davis showed last season that he has what it takes to be a starting middle linebacker in the NFL. He is excellent in pass coverage (vital in the modern NFL) and has excellent closing speed. He does however lack a little in playing against the run and isn’t the best tackler. David very much will be learning on the job, and will be helped along immensely by having a veteran like David Harris next to him.
Nick Bellore will act as the back-up at middle linebacker, and although he does not set the heather on fire in terms of ability, he is an incredibly useful special team’s player and will make the 53 man roster no problem because of that.
The final middle linebacker spot is a toss-up between Josh Mauga and Danny Lansanah. Lansanah has had the better camp and pre-season, but Mauga is the incumbent back-up and is therefore more familiar with Ryan’s system. Both could potentially make it but more likely only one will, if I were to guess I’d go Lansanah, but honestly I don’t know.
Quinton Coples has made the move from defensive end to outside linebacker this year, and naturally there are some growing pains. Coples made his name as a rusher of the passer, but now he is being asked to operate in space something he has done sparingly throughout his career. There are no doubts that he will be a deadly force at rushing the passer from the linebacker position (something the Jets have sorely missed for a number of years) but his lack of pass defence ability and his lack of ability in space are worrying. It will be interesting to see if the Jets will utilise him almost exclusively as a rusher, or whether they decide to use him as a generic outside linebacker. Coples will also likely miss the first few games of the season because of an ankle injury, which is costing him vital practice time at his new position (another player learning on the job).
Calvin Pace is the old man at outside linebacker and after being released (for money saving reasons) he was re-signed almost instantly. Pace is a lock for a starting role, and although he has slowed drastically from his heyday, he is still a very useful run stopper and a durable and reliable player.
Garrett McIntyre has shown previously that he is a solid player, he doesn’t do anything flashy but what he does he does well. Although not the best in space (often found wanting on outside runs) he will start the first few games of the season with Coples unlikely to make it. McIntyre is also (much like Bellore) an important special teams player, adding further value to himself.
Antwan Barnes was brought in by the Jets in the hope that he would be able to replicate his double digit sack numbers from 2 years ago when he was a member of the Chargers. The Jets have lacked a consistent pass rusher for years now (2005, John Abraham) and this has been a major problem in recent years (5.5 sacks by Coples most on team in 2012). The Jets are hoping that Barnes can be a speciality pass rusher and be effective in that role, I don’t see him starting.
Ricky Sapp is another one of those Jets players who you wondered why they didn’t receive more playing time last season (promoted to main roster in November). He is similar to Barnes as he is a pass rusher specialist, but he is more rounded than Barnes. Sapp has excellent speed and pass rushing abilities, and although it is unlikely that he will get a start, he could be used very effectively as a pass rusher. Sapp has had a very impressive camp (albeit against the 2nd string) and is well deserving of earning a roster spot.
Antonio Cromartie is the final elite player on the Jets roster, and truly showed his worth last season when Darelle Revis was absent. It was because of Cromartie’s play last year that Revis was considered surplus to requirements, and it was a deserved Pro-Bowl season. Cromartie has incredible physical attributes and is both tall and fast. The major mark against Cromartie is sometimes he is tackle averse and can often be found looking into the backfield (or making the INT) rather than concentrating on his man. Still the best corner on the team and one of the best in the league.
Dee Milliner (other 1st round pick) has the unenviable job of being the man that replaces Darelle Revis in the Jets line-up. Milliner has missed much of camp (worrying for a rookie) and also has some injury worries, however the Jets obviously thought highly enough of him to draft him at no.9 overall. Milliner has the skill set to be a success but nothing is ever a guarantee in the NFL, and the complicated high reliance scheme that the Jets run and the pressure it puts on the cornerbacks, very much put Milliner in a sink or swim situation. Although he was not impressive in pre-season, it isn’t unsurprising because he hasn’t had the training that he should have up to this point. He will have to learn quick or the Jets defence will be in serious trouble.
Kyle Wilson does not look like a player that is a former 1st round pick. He has never developed into the player that the Jets were hoping, and struggles in coverage (not ideal for a cornerback) often giving away a number of pass interference penalties. Wilson is a slot corner, but if either of the two starting corners were to become injured, he isn’t a player you would want to rely on.
The Jets are then likely to carry another 3 corners; I think Isaiah Trufant and Ellis Lankster are locks because of their speed, nippiness and experience at the position, both are good players and either could be a 3rd corner for another team, truly showing the Jets depth at the position. The final spot could be a toss-up between Mike Edwards and Darrin Walls; it is highly unlikely that both will make the roster, so it will be one or the other (probably practice squad for the unsuccessful one). If I were to pick I think that Walls will have the slight edge.
Dawan Landry is the only Jets safety who has any real starting experience which is of course a major concern for a team that relies heavily on safety play. Landry isn’t nearly as good as his brother (LaRon) but he is familiar with Rex Ryan’s system thanks to him playing with Ryan at Baltimore. He is a lock for a starting slot, the bigger question is who will be starting next to him.
Jaiquawn Jarrett is the unlikely man who will start next to Landry on week 1. Throughout camp it looked more likely to either be Bush or Allen starting at safety; however Jarrett snuck up out of nowhere and stole the place instead. Ryan was impressed with Jarrett’s play in camp and he followed it up with excellent play in the pre-season games, becoming the anointed one. He is a former 2nd round pick (of the Eagles) so you know he has ability (although never fully achieved obviously). However his lack of regular season playing time is a major concern, as is the fact that the Eagles gave up on him (something they wouldn’t do flippantly). He will be the Jets starter, but if his play isn’t up to scratch expect Bush and Allen to be waiting in the wings.
Josh Bush was my favourite for taking the safety role next to Landry because of his ability to play the pass, however he has fallen to being the 4th safety on the roster (behind Allen, Landry and Jarrett). I don’t think that he is at risk of not making the final roster and could be used effectively in rotation (Ryan loves 3 safety looks).
Antonio Allen is probably the player closest to the bubble of the Jets safeties because his stock has fallen the most out of the safeties. There is no doubting that Allen has ability, and showed last season that he is a good blitzer. Allen is a hard hitting safety, has good size and could be effective on covering tight ends (used to play linebacker also). I honestly don’t think he will be in trouble of not making the roster, and both Bush and Allen should push Jarrett throughout the season which should help keep players on their toes, because there is nothing better than competition for keeping players sharp.
Rontez Miles has the slightest of chances of making the roster; however I doubt the Jets will carry 6 corners and 5 safeties. Miles is a good candidate to see on the practice squad and could be one for the future.
Rex Ryan said that he believed that this season the Jets would have a top 5 defence, a bold prediction from a coach who is playing for his job. The Jets certainly have a lot of youthful talent on the D-Line (something they haven’t had in previous seasons), the linebacking corps are much younger also (although question marks about their ability still stand), the corner backs are still very deep even without Revis on the roster and there are still major question marks over the Jets safety positions. The potential is there, but the young players will have to play up to that potential if the Jets are to achieve a top 5 defence. One thing that can definitely be said about the Jets defence is that it has gotten younger and faster, a major problem that hurt the team the last two seasons. By no means do I think that the starting positions are as locked up as they are on offense; with NT (Ellis, Harrison) and FS (Jarrett, Allen, Bush) all still potentially up for grabs.
This is what I expect the starting line-up to be on week 1:
Nick Folk should still take this after beating out Billy Cundiff despite the fact the Jets signed Dan Carpenter as further competition. The worst thing that can happen to a kicker is to relax because there is so much competition for only 32 places in the league. Folk has kicked for the Jets for 3 seasons (going into 4th) and has been a solid kicker throughout. The one thing Folk lacks is a strong leg, which is an issue on kick-offs and long field goals (something Carpenter has in abundance). I expect Folk will be there on week 1 as usual.
Robert Malone had a good year last season (despite the blocks, mainly scheming issues rather than bad punting) and has beaten out Ryan Quigley in a tight camp battle. Malone could the punter the Jets have been looking for since recklessly letting Steve Weatherford go and much like Folk, expect him to be there on week 1.
Who else could it be but Tanner Purdum? He has been a solid LS since joining the Jets and hasn’t done anything to make you think otherwise.
The Jets are going into the 2013 season with quite a young and inexperienced roster. There is a large reliance on players who have never had a starting role and that could come back to haunt the Jets in what is shaping up to be a long season.
There is also a distinct lack of proven talent at the skill positions; and although there is potential and decent depth at tight end, running back and wide receiver, there isn’t a player that you could see having an 1k yard season. All the skill position players will benefit from playing in a West-coast system rather than the 1920’s style of Tony Sparano which was so ineffective last year. The biggest issue for the Jets of course is at quarterback; where it seems more than likely that Mark Sanchez will be starting week 1. The problem with Sanchez is obvious, he has had 4 seasons to prove his worth and each time has disappointed. Geno Smith isn’t ready to start in this league and throwing him to the wolves would be detrimental to his development. The Jets have a good young defence which contains lots of competition, and with Rex Ryan calling the plays once again expect the defence to up its aggression and cause a lot of panic and turnovers. The Jets will go as the quarterback goes, and unless there is a vast improvement in the quarterback play from last season (which is doubtful) as I have said already it is going to be a long season.
The way the Jets play in the season (assuming it is a losing record) will define whether Ryan keeps his job or not. If the Jets go down in the shambles of the past 2 years then he is gone, if the Jets show potential and a fighting spirit then I think he might just hang on once again.
If I were to put a number on the Jets season I would guess 6-10. I hope it is better than that but I have major doubts over the ability of the roster as a whole. If Sanchez (or Smith) were to have a really good season then maybe the Jets could pull out a 10-6 (similar to the Seahawks last season but not nearly as talented) but that is a very big if, and one that I can’t see happening. 6-10 is probably generous (with wins over Bucs, Bills, Raiders, Browns, @Panthers, @ Bills) but the Jets do have a fairly easy schedule and if they were able to get hot you just never know. My heart says just maybe, my brain tells me it isn’t going to happen.
So leave a comment and tell me what you think about the New York Jets this season (try and be nice as hard as it may be). Do you think that Rex will see the 2014 season? Will Sanchez become the next Peyton Manning? Or more likely the next Jamarcus Russell? Let me know and leave a comment, all are welcome.