Last year the Jets greatly exceeded the low expectations many had for them. After a horrendous 2014 year, many expected the Jets to be competing for the #1 pick in 2015 and giving everyone the gift of Genovers. However that was not the case after a lucky right hook, the Jets were able to end up 10-6 due to a decent offense and a very solid defense. Now the majority of the team returns and they added some young talent at other positions and many expect playoffs at the very least for this Jets team. Just like the Miami Dolphins of 2015, the 2016 New York Jets teams is a sleeping giant that will make a lot of noise…..if it actually wakes up.
The Offense is Largely the Same
Last year Ryan Fitzpatrick had a career year, breaking many Jets passing records and forcing the Jets to eventually cave to his demand of a one year deal. With him back, the offense should be the same if not better. The RB position will miss Chris Ivory who actually played well when Chan Gailey didn’t do something idiotic like playing Bilal Powell. However they got Matt Forte who while still old, is one of the best complete backs in the NFL. The rushing will stay the same but at the very least Forte will give Fitz a nice checkdown option. The WR corp is the same as they still have the best WR duo in the NFL in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Both are dangerous in the redzone and with the pass happy attack Chan does will mean their production from last year should be what you expect this year. Those three players will be the backbone of the passing game and hide the fact the Jets have the worst Tight End situation in the AFC. The only red flag is the fact their dependable left tackle retired and their replacement probably won’t be as good. But with the Chan attack, they will find a way to mask it.
The Defense will be Good…..except against Sammy Watkins
The Jets are led by defensive genius Todd Bowles who I’m sure the Fins still regret letting go to this day. The Jets fielded a top 10 defense and just like with the offense, the core of the defense is returning. The triplets on the line of Wilkerson, Sheldon and Leonard return and even though Damon “Snacks” Harrison left, it won’t be a huge loss as he was only good against the run. They upgraded the linebacker position with Darron Lee who gives the Jets a modern linebacker who can cover, rush the passer and make plays all over the field. The secondary is still the same and even though Cromartie was cut…..again, they have pieces in the secondary which actually are an upgrade. They still have Revis who despite being a little older is still a top 10 CB in this league. Overall the defense should be top 10 again, they will play well against most teams but against Sammy Watkins they will yet again struggle as he is uncover able.
They Don’t Have Rex Ryan
The biggest plus the Jets made last year was getting rid of future ESPN Analyst Rex Ryan. While Ryan had some early success, his lack of interest in offense and relying too much on elite corners ultimately doomed him and made him get fired. They got lucky with Todd Bowles who improved on the “vaunted” Rex defense and didn’t hate offense. Bowles has shown an ability to adapt his defense which let Wilk have a career year and made Leonard Williams a potential Rookie of Year candidate. Bowles hired a good offensive coordinator in Chan Gailey, something Rex neglected to do until he got lucky with an unemployed Greg Roman being available in Buffalo. Bowles also doesn’t care about the spotlight and instead of focusing on the hype of the game (see Rex against the Patriots), Bowles focuses on the actual game. If it wasn’t for Murphy’s Law hitting them badly in week 17, the Jets would have made the playoffs and probably made a good run to the Super Bowl. A big part of that was Bowles and I expect him to actually improve as he isn’t a green head coach anymore.
Overall the Jets have all the pieces to become a legit contender in the AFC. The offense and defense are solid and they have a Head Coach who isn’t incompetent. They also catch a break against a Brady-less Pats early on and if they can get an early division win against their biggest rival, along with the talent and coaching staff, the Jets might be the sleeper pick to lose to the Arizona Cardinals in the upcoming Super Bowl.