Tough Season Ahead As Jets Hit Reset Button
New York Jets fans are no stranger to heartbreak and misery over the years. With an ageing roster and limited wiggle room in regards to the cap. That trend looks set to continue into the 2017 season, as the Jets hit the reset button.
Todd Bowles and General Manager Mike Maccagnan face the impossible task of rebuilding a roster whilst keeping the Jets faithful and tough media market at bay.
The harsh reality facing both men. Is that as they part ways with a mixture of well tenured and big name playmakers. It could all be in vain, as patience is a diminishing attribute among NFL owners and fan bases.
In a knee jerk reaction world, a losing record coupled with the loss of players, those of which Jets nation holds close to their hearts. Both Bowles and Maccagnan could find themselves seeking alternative employment before the 2017 season concludes.
The Achilles Heal
Once again uncertainty surrounds the quarterback position. With Ryan Fitzpatrick out of the door and Geno Smith a pending free agent. The Jets find themselves at the mercy of Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg.
Petty to his credit overcome nervous outings against the Rams and Colts (Fitzpatrick benched) to rally the Jets to an overtime victory on the road over the hapless 49ers. Petty flashed moments of potential, with a willingness to push the ball down the field. But as with most NFL quarterbacks dipping their toe into the live action. Defenses soon catch on to tendencies and failure to make adjustments within your play, becomes your undoing.
As for Christian Hackenberg, he remains an unknown quantity within the NFL. The Jets red-shirted Hackenberg for his rookie campaign. It’ll be interesting to see if a year learning on the sidelines will prove beneficial to both the player and the team.
With a limited market in terms of inexpensive and capable free agents at the position. The Jets would be wise to see what they have under center going forward. Drafting another quarterback would be a fruitless exercise. Three quarterbacks under the age of 25, with limited reps, competing for a starting role, makes little to no sense.
The offensive line looks set to undergo a major revamp. For the first time in 12 seasons the Jets face life without 7-time Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold. Wesley Johnson who filled in during Mangold’s absence is primed to take over the role.
Both tackles spots remain open as Ryan Clady and Breno Giacomini were released. Brandon Shell and Ben Ijalana are expected to take over, should the Jets not address the issue during free agency or the draft. At guard the Jets look solid after signing Brian Winters to a new 4-year $29m deal. James Carpenter will once again start at left guard.
Bilal Powell remains one of the most underrated running backs within the NFL. Powell set career highs in rushing (722 yards) and receiving (388 yards). With Matt Forte in the latter stages of his career, Powell has the perfect platform to announce his presence to the rest of the NFL.
At the time of writing Brandon Marshall remains on the Jets roster, however a pending $7.5m cap hit could prove to be the concluding factor on his time in New York. Over the last two seasons Marshall has had 10 games with 100+ yards and remains a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses.
With Marshalls future up in the air the Jets will welcome the return of fellow wideout Eric Decker. Now fully recovered from hip and shoulder surgery, Decker’s veteran presence and playmaking ability will prove pivotal if the Jets are to be competitive in 2017.
A couple of bright stars on the offense are Robert Anderson and Quincy Enuwa. During 2016 the hybrid tightend/reciever Enuwa’s growth as a player was evident. Enuwa made numerous tough catches over the middle, using his physical presence to dominate opposing defenders. Enuwa could be set for a huge season in new offensive coordinators John Morton’s version of the West Coast offense.
Anderson a free agent acquisition last year was the star in preseason which prompted the Jets to name him as part of the 53 man roster. Anderson repaid that faith during the regular season as he showcased great hands along with the ability to stretch the field. Former second round pick Devin Smith will look to put behind him an injury plagued first 2-years (ACL) as he seeks an expanded role within the offense.
Whilst the decline of future of Hall of Famer cornerback Darrelle Revis dominated the headlines. The loss of Damon ‘snacks’ Harrison in free agency had a huge impact on the team.
As a unit the Jets run defense fell from second overall to eleventh. Becoming less susceptible to the run is a priority heading into 2017. On paper the Jets possess a formidable front. The likes of Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams are on their day some of the most dominant players in the game. Collectively they have their work cut out as disrupting the passing attack will help alleviate the pressure on an under par secondary.
Calvin Pryor played some of his best football of his young career during 2016. A ferocious hitter, with great instincts against the run. Pryor however, does have the tendency to overpursue due to the poor angles he takes.
Marcus Gilchrist has been a welcome addition to the Jets secondary, but his fate is also tied to poor cap situation. Should Gilchrist remain, his veteran presence would be a welcome asset to team and any potential rookie additions.
The rest of the secondary remains very much a mystery going forward. Darrelle Revis’s days appeared number due to a decline in play and pending legal issues. Buster Skine’s play was hampered by penalties, however he was very effective when blitzing. Marcus Williams possess promise. Despite a limited role, over the last 3-years. Williams has become something of ball hawk with 9 interceptions and 23 passes defended.With a talent heavy draft the likes of Justin Burris, Daryl Roberts face an uphill battle to make the final roster.
The Jets injected some much-needed youth and speed into the linebacker unit during last years draft. First round pick Darron Lee along with third round selection, Jordan Jenkins flashed moments and will give the Jets fans optimism going forward as David Harris career draws to a close.
After 7-years with the team Nick Folks’s time has come to end. Punter Lachlan Edwards returns to the fold as will long snapper Tanner Purdum. The Jets will need to address the return game as both Jalin Marshall and Nick Marshall performances were somewhat underwhelming.
Once again the Jets are held hostage by the lack of quality at the quarterback position. Whilst they have a few standout players on either side of the ball. quality depth is an issue. Jets fans will require an abundance of patience throughout 2017. The likes of Darron Lee, Leonard Williams, Eric Decker, Quincy Enuwa along with Bilal Powell will ensure they remain competitive during the course of the season.
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