Proclamations of a march to the Super Bowl blew up in the Jets’ faces last season as the offense sputtered on the way to an 8-8 record. Lost in all the focus on that side of the ball was the fact that the Jets defense wasn’t as good as it had been during their two runs to the AFC Championship Game. The Jets need help on both sides of the ball if they are going to make good on any of Rex Ryan’s proclamations.
Outside Linebacker: The biggest thing missing from Ryan’s defense in his three years with the Jets has been a difference-making pass rusher off the edge. Aaron Maybin did some good things, but they need an three-down threat as well. If the Jets don’t bring the house, they simply don’t create enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks. There should be a few options — Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw, USC’s Nick Perry — available to the Jets with the 16th pick, but it might help the overall roster more if they are able to deal down a bit to help the team while still grabbing Chandler Jones from Syracuse or Whitney Mercilus of Illinois.
Right Tackle: Wayne Hunter did not have a good season at all on the right side of the line and the Jets’ attempt to be a hard-nosed running team struggled as a result. Top backup Vladimir Ducasse was a project when the Jets acquired him and he’s fast turning into a suspect. Getting better at this spot is a must regardless of which offense the Jets are running next season. There’s no obvious pick on the table at 16, but, again, moving down could make sense as a way to fill multiple holes.
Wide Receiver: The Plaxico Burress experiment didn’t work, leaving the Jets without anyone across from Santonio Holmes. Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schilens can fill out sub packages, but they need to get someone who can occupy defenders in base formations. Word out of New York is that there isn’t much interest in Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, but they’ll need to uncover a talent somewhere to help put their broken-down pass attack back together again.
Safety: Signing LaRon Landry could work out very well, but they still need someone to play alongside him. There’s a chance they could address the need with another veteran free agent like Yeremiah Bell, but they could use some youth and athleticism even if they do.
Running Back: Hunter was one problem with being the Ground and Pound team that the Jets wanted to be, but the Jets didn’t get enough from their backs either. LaDainian Tomlinson is gone and Joe McKnight can’t be the power back that the team needs to utilize alongside Shonn Greene. There will be backs available in the middle rounds and the Jets would be wise to avail themselves of one before the draft comes to an end.
The Tim Tebow trade cost the Jets a fourth-round pick that they could have used to address some of these holes, which is why we were banging the drum to look into dealing down and getting more picks. The Jets need to replenish a roster that looks a lot less threatening than it did a couple of years ago. If they don’t, the end of the 2012 season could make this year’s craziness look like a walk in the park.