Catching up with … the Jets
|08.05.14 at 1:38 pm ET|
With the preseason looming, we’re going to take a look at what the three other teams in the AFC East have been up to since the season ended. We kick things off with the Jets:
The Jets finished the 2013 season with an 8-8 mark, good enough to give Rex Ryan at least one more year at the helm in North Jersey. The New York actually finished fairly strong, winning three of their last four to go into the offseason on an up note. (Granted, the wins were against Oakland, Cleveland and Miami, but wins are wins.) The Jets still have plenty of questions on the offensive side of the ball: Can Geno Smith become a reliable NFL quarterback? Will Smith be pushed by Michael Vick? How much does veteran running back Chris Johnson have left in the tank? And can new receiver Eric Decker help deliver a jolt to the passing game? New York may not be able to challenge the Patriots quite yet for divisional supremacy, but if they stay healthy, the fact that the Jets maintain one of the best front sevens in football with guys like Damon Harrison, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson along the line will be enough to make them competitive most of the year.
Who they added: The biggest pickup of the offseason was Decker, but he’ll be hard-pressed to replicate his 172 catches over the last two years, as it will be either Smith or Vick passing him the ball instead of Peyton Manning. The Vick acquisition will also be interesting — he figures to push Smith for the starting job sooner rather than later. New York also picked up Johnson, who likely has more boom-bust potential than any new face in the AFC East this year — regardless, he should be good for at least 1,000 rushing yards. Veteran cornerback Dmitri Patterson was signed to replace Antonio Cromartie. And Bay State native and right tackle Breno Giacomini joins the Jets after helping the Seahawks win the Super Bowl.
In addition, New York selected safety Calvin Pryor in the first round as well as tight end Jace Amaro in the second round, the latter of whom has struggled in his first couple weeks of training camp.
Who’s gone: The Jets separated themselves from quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes. They also made the curious move of allowing right tackle Austin Howard to walk out the door — one of their better young offensive linemen, he signed with the Raiders. And Cromartie is now with the Cardinals.
How they feel about the Patriots: “We don’t like Tom [Brady] at all. When I first came here, that was one of the first things I heard about: We hate the Patriots, and we hate the Giants. That’s what everybody was telling me. We hate those guys, and I look forward to playing them this season.” — Jets rookie safety Calvin Pryor on the Patriots.
Analysis: If there are no health issues, the Jets will continue to have one of the best defensive fronts in the game. On defense, there are questions on the back end — and as a result, they might be exceptionally vulnerable when it comes to the passing game — but they figure to be pretty tough again when it comes to stopping the run. New York was third-best against the run in 2013, allowing an average of just 88.3 rushing yards per game, but was 22nd against the pass, yielding 246.7 passing yards per game. On the other side of the ball, there were some improvements (especially with the addition of Decker), but it remains to be seen if New York has done enough to create a sense of balance. The Jets were 29th in the league last year in scoring, averaging 18.1 points per game. If they can’t find a way to bring more oomph on offense and put more points on the board, they don’t figure to take too many steps forward in 2014.