2017 New York Jets Preview
After almost making the playoffs in the first year under head coach Todd Bowles two years ago, the New York Jets really stunk it up last season. Not only did they finish last in the AFC, but the offense was a complete mess and the defense took a serious step back. Now, the Jets are hoping to go back towards the direction they were headed in 2015 and try to stop New England from winning the AFC East for the 317th year in a row.
The Jets started off with taking two safeties, Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, with their first two selections. Safety wasn't a strong position for New York last season, but Adams could make a huge difference on the back end of that defense. Maye will likely be the third or fourth safety in the rotation, but eventually he should make a big impact as well. In the third round the Jets drafted their biggest need (besides QB) in WR ArDarius Stewart, since Brandon Marshall and Jeremy Kerley are gone and Eric Decker is struggling with injuries. They also drafted WR Chad Hansen and TE Jordan Leggett to help with the passing game.
The Jets had a solid free agency, starting off with bringing back LT Benjamin Ijalana and a pair of backup outside linebackers. The big move was bringing in OT Kelvin Beachum from Jacksonville, who should slide right into right tackle. CB Morris Claiborne is likely going to replace Darrelle Revis, and K Chandler Catanzaro will replace longtime kicker Nick Folk. Finally, QB Josh McCown will be the de facto favorite in a three-way quarterback battle, and Jets fans hope he will be the Ryan Fitzpatrick from two seasons ago. Also, nothing happened with Sheldon Richardson and Muhammed Wilkerson yet as far as trade talk is concerned.
The Jets haven't officially lost a ton of players yet, as they still have a ton of free agents out there, but the big one is WR Brandon Marshall heading to the other locker room in the stadium. Backup QB Geno Smith joined Marshall with the Giants, K Nick Folk is now in Tampa Bay, and RB CJ Spiller went to the Kansas City Chiefs. Meanwhile, here is a list of all the free agents that are still available that have played key roles for the Jets in recent years:
CB Darrelle Revis, CB Antonio Allen, S Marcus Gilchrist, ILB Erin Henderson, LT Ryan Clady, RT Breno Giacomini, C Nick Mangold, TE Kellen Davis, RB Khiry Robinson.
I'm going to say it is the defensive line, with Leonard Williams, Muhammed Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson all on it along with Steve McLendon as the nose. This is a dynamic group of linemen, and the Jets definitely have enough there to trade one away if they so choose.
There are a lot of weak links on the Jets, including the defensive backs, quarterbacks, the offensive line. But I'm going with the pass catching group, which is led by an injured Eric Decker, a random breakout star in Quincy Enunwa, and third round pick ArDarius Stewart. The tight end group isn't better, although Austin Seferian-Jenkins has the talent to be a difference maker but hasn't been able to stay on the field consistently.
FIVE MOST IMPORTANT PLAYERS TO THE JETS' SUCCESS
DL Leonard Williams, ILB David Harris, CB Morris Claiborne, RB Matt Forte, WR Eric Decker
The Jets don't have a lot of offensive talent, and the two main guys there are both aging and have been dealing with injury issues. Forte is the strongest link on the offense, and if he has a big season it will make a difference for whoever is QB. Leonard Williams' continued growth allows the Jets to have flexibility with Wilkerson and/or Richardson, and ILB David Harris is still the leader of the Jets' defense. CB Morris Claiborne needs to play like the corner he was thought to be in college, and have a big season to make people forget about the lack of Revis Island.
Outside of the cornerbacks, I like this defense a lot. But this offense, especially the passing offense, will be the downfall of this team once again. I haven't even predicted who will start the season at QB yet (McCown, Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg), but I think I'm correct with saying all three will play at some point. And they don't really have the best people to throw to anyways, they didn't when Marshall was around. I think the Jets might rival the Cleveland Browns for the bottom of the AFC this season.