Five questions: New York Jets

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Doom and gloom were the two leading predictions for the Jets in 2013, but the team defied those execrable expectations to go 8-8 while securing wins over teams like the Patriots and Saints over the course of the season.

Predictions aren’t quite as bad this time around, although that doesn’t mean people are clamoring to get in line for playoff tickets. The team improved their offensive supporting cast, but there’s still plenty of uncertainty about Geno Smith’s ability to drive the bus. On defense, the strength of the defensive line is balanced out by a shortage of cornerbacks that could prove fatal given the Jets’ schedule.

Questions about quarterback and cornerback kick off our five queries about the Jets and the answers to them will probably go a long way toward answering the final entry on the list.

1. Who will start the most games at quarterback?

Unless things go terribly wrong against the Giants in the team’s third preseason game on Friday night, Smith will be starting the opening game against the Raiders. That hardly settles things for the entire season, though.

With Michael Vick on the roster, Smith won’t have the same kind of rope he got when Matt Simms was the only other option during his rookie season. With Eric Decker, Chris Johnson and other new additions on offense, Smith also won’t get the benefit of doubt that comes from playing with a skeletal supporting cast. Smith will have to show that his strong close to last season was a building block for the future, something that hasn’t been readily apparent in the team’s first two preseason games.

If he can retain the job through the season, it should mean that the Jets have taken a significant step forward offensively. If he can’t, Vick may be able to rally the team but it would leave the Jets back at square one in their decades-long search for a franchise quarterback.

2. Were the Jets too dismissive of cornerback needs?

The offseason started with the Jets cutting Antonio Cromartie because of his outsize salary, a move that opened up cap space that many imagined General Manager John Idzik would use to bolster the position. While they did sign Dimitri Patterson, the Jets otherwise resisted the temptations of free agent cornerbacks and end the summer with a lot of cap space that should help them maintain fiscal sanity in the coming years.

It won’t do them any good against the pass, though, and that’s become a big problem with Dee Milliner’s readiness for the season in doubt because of an ankle injury and third-round pick Dexter McDougle lost for the season because of a torn ACL. Patterson’s also been banged up this summer, no surprise given his history, and there’s not much behind them on the roster.

Idzik says he has no regrets about how things went this offseason, but let’s check in again in a couple of months. The Jets open with the Raiders and then go on to face the Packers, Bears, Lions, Chargers, Broncos and Patriots with the last two coming five days apart. Those are all potent passing offenses and the Jets’ corner issues could make it late real early this season.

3. How will the running back workload shake out?

Johnson still has the aura of a marquee back because of his past exploits, but he’s not guaranteed much of anything with the Jets after offseason knee surgery and two disappointing years with the Titans. Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell are back after each had strong stretches for the Jets in 2013 and the desire to put too much on Smith’s shoulders should leave work for all of them come the regular season.

There’s little question that the best-case scenario for the Jets offense is that Johnson rediscovers his old magic and takes the lead role in the backfield while Ivory and Powell do complementary work. If he can’t, the Jets offense will likely be on the plodding side and that hasn’t worked out for them the last couple of years.

4. Will Quinton Coples take the next step?

Given the issues at corner, the Jets would help themselves a lot if they can pressure quarterbacks into mistakes. Rex Ryan’s defenses have had some success doing that over the years, but his recent Jets teams have been a bit short on that front if their talented defensive line doesn’t get the job done on its own.

The addition of Jason Babin gives the Jets another piece to use in hopes of generating a more robust pass rush this season, but it would be ideal if Coples were to find more success in that area. He’s a better all-around player at this point than Babin and his work down the stretch last season provides hope that the light’s coming on for the talented but inconsistent linebacker.

5. Is this Rex Ryan’s last season with the Jets?

Ryan signed an extension with the Jets after last season, but it fell well short of securing his job for years to come. He got one more year of guaranteed money, which means he enters this season in pretty much the same position he entered last season. He did some of his best coaching by squeezing an 8-8 record out of a roster short on talent, but he was hired before Idzik and may still face the axe if there isn’t a significant improvement after three years out of the playoffs.

28 responses to “Five questions: New York Jets

  1. The Jets are actually being innovative by not having an NFL caliber CB in the starting lineup. You get flagged for covering WRs these days anyways, so why even spend money on the position?

  2. Really need to see Jets pickup a serviceable CB before week 1. Milliner should have a very solid season once he is healed, by week #2. Other side is a big concern.

    Outside of that, rest of the defense is in great shape. Offense has begun to gel. ST should be fine. Thinking 9-7 with outside shot at 10-6 this year.

  3. Dimitri Patterson is 31 and is now on his 7th NFL team having been let go from each team. He played well in some games for the Dolphins but is a journeyman who couldn’t stay healthy with groin problems. Idzik and Rex are really rolling the dice on this if they expect Dimitri to hold up. Massive gamble…
    Rex has been let down by his GM in not drafting/recruiting sufficient CB talent.

  4. The worst move of the offseason for the Jets was signing Vick because any time Geno struggles, the temptation will be to put Vick in.

    Vick has an amazing talent to torpedo a team’s season while getting praised constantly on ESPN for his running ability while ignoring his inability to go through his reads.

  5. 6. Can the Jets play everyone’s backups this year?
    They were really good when their starters were playing the Bengals’ backups last week.

  6. If the Jets fire Rex they deserve to be losers for another 100 years. Guy is a brilliant NFL mind. He’s the Sean Payton of defensive coaches. If they can find him a QB/OC combo the guy will be elite in short order.

  7. I don’t see Woody letting go of Rex. In fact, I think it would be downright stupid. Ryan, for all his bluster and foolishness (which I personally enjoy immensely) is also a terrific coach who seems to get the best out of his players.

    While watching the apparently even-keeled and mainly soft-spoken Mike Smith on Hard Knocks the past three weeks, I thought even more of Ryan in comparison. That’s not to dish on Smith because I hope he and the Falcons have a good season… it’s just as a point of comparison.

    And in the New York market, I suspect Woody clearly knows that bluster and a little controversy and some hard-nosed bragging on occasion keeps headlines on the front page and posteriors in the stadium seats.

    Finally, it appears to me that Ryan (for all his apparently ego-driven comments) also recognizes that he has limitations and is smart enough to change and grow. That’s certainly a factor I’d want in a head coach.

    So I don’t think Rex will be looking for a new job any time soon. And if Geno comes of age this year, the Jets may well visit the playoffs once again.

  8. Look, does anyone really feel this talent lights up the field? It will be another season of moderate play held up by great defensive coaching by Rex, and then disarray (again) when they wrongly lose patience with him.

  9. I think the hope was to have Mcdougle start opposite Milliner and have Patterson play in the nickel packages. Now that all three are hurt things look grim, but If Pryor plays well and Milliner comes back healthy early in the season they should be fine as long as the D-line does their thing and pressures the QB.

  10. Notice how Chris Johnson isn’t the point of any of these 5 questions. Welcome to reality, Jets fans … CJ hasn’t been relevant since 2010.

    – Titans Fan

  11. I think considering how tough the first half of the Jets schedule is regarding passing attacks, the Jets are going to run the ball like crazy to manage the clock. CJ?K could be a steal in the fourth round.

  12. I’m not a Jets fan, but I hope they keep Ryan around for a long time. He is probably fun to root for, and definitely fun to root against! He doesn’t seem to have a clue on how to develop a good quarterback – it seems like every QB for the Jets gets worse at an age when they should be improving.

  13. I thought Geno looked better than last year with his fundamentals. I’m not talking about the “wow” plays that everyone is looking for. I’m talking about his 3,5,7, step drops something he didn’t do @ WV and was horrible last year with. He also improved with his timing of pulling it down and taking off instead of forcing it like he did a lot last year (hence 24 turnover). He also isn’t staring at his 1st read and actually going through his progressions. He’s looking off defenders on his slants and in routes now. Stepping up in the pocket now instead of floating backwards when he feels pressure. Doesn’t panic and get happy feet as much when the blitz is coming at him which was his biggest problem last year. We’ll see how all this translates to him being a competent QB and winning games but theres definitely an improvment since his rookie year. Also for the haters and trolls, I’m not saying he’s Joe Montana now but just that you can see him progressing and we’ll see if it continues.

  14. I’m a Pats fan but I’m not going to be down on the Jets. A strong and aggressive D-line could potentially help hide CB deficiencies and honestly, say what you will about Chris Johnson, but the dude always has the potential to be scary. That’s why they play the games, and why projections and smack talk in August is pointless. With the NFL, you never know.

  15. Regular Season Two-QB System:
    1st Qtr: Michael Vick
    2nd Qtr: Geno
    3rd Qtr: Geno
    4th Qtr: Michael Vick

    This ensures “competition” to see who puts up the most points, and keeps both QBs fresh, particularly Vick, so neither QB will have to play four full quarters. The same scheme can be done with CJ2K and the rest of the RB crew.

  16. The Jets are a hard read because they are capable of beating any team or losing to any team. They could be 4-12 or 12-4. That is why most analysts will peg them at 8-8. If Geno Smith’s maturation along with added weapons Eric Decker, Chris Johnson, and Jace Amaro can help the offense add a TD per game, up to 25 points a game instead of 18 (29th in the NFL), the Jets will contend for a playoff spot. In 4 of the 8 Jets losses last year the defense yielded fewer than 23 points, while the offense scored one TD total (A NE, 13-10, PIT, 19-6, A BAL, 19-3, MIA, 23-3). The Jets only play 3 elite opponents (H vs DEN & NE twice). They also only play 3 also-rans (H vs OAK in opener and at MN in Wk 14 & at TN in Wk 15. They must win the close games against contender teams at their level (H vs CHI, DET, BUF, PIT, & MIA and A vs GB, SD, KC, BUF & MIA).

  17. Packers, Bears, Lions, Chargers, Broncos and Patriots
    Holy crap, Batman, what a schedule! They better take their aggressions out on the Raiders while they have the opportunity.

  18. Does Wrecks understand the X’s and O’s of Defense?


    Does he understand how to motivate players?

    That’s a BIG no. Note how he handled Sanchez – guaranteeing a Super Bowl, putting pressure on him, failing, then doing it again, then crushing his confidence by flirting with Peyton, finally brining in Tebow, then having to pay Sanchez a $58 million contract extension, then finally cutting him and brining in Smith and Vick

    Then he brings in Vick, tells him to let Smith look good – then stabs Vick in the back claiming Vick didn’t compete hard, etc, etc, etc,

    Wrecks is a hilarious Wreck as a Head Coach. I hope they keep him forever!

  19. Adding Chris Johnson to last year’s #2 rushing attack in AFC makes them dangerous. Decker, Amaro, and Geno looks very confident this year.
    Challenge for playoff spot.

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