After years of salary cap hell, John Idzik and the Jets were blessed with tens of millions of dollars to improve a lackluster roster. However, they did not spend enough money to drastically improve their team. The Jets’ only major signing was Eric Decker. Although Eric Decker is a nice wide receiver, he is not a number one. The Jets are hoping that he can become a number one because they have one of the worst receiving cores in the NFL. During the draft, the Jets added Jace Amaro in the second round. The tight end out of Texas Tech has a lot of talent and the prototypical size and strength for the position. The Jets added a few other receivers in the later rounds, who have potential, but it is unlikely that they will succeed this season, Along with Decker and Jace Amaro, the Jets tried to make their squad more explosive by adding Chris Johnson. Although Johnson is past of his prime, he still has home run ability, which the Jets have been lacking since losing Leon Washington. Along with adding explosion on offense, the Jets signed Brian Giacomini to replace Austin Howard at right tackle, add physicality, teach the rest of the team how to win . The offensive line needs to play well in order for the running backs to succeed and Geno to stay upright in the pocket.
On defense, the Jets maintained most of their players that led them to become one of the best defenses in the league. John Idzik and the Jets’ front office were under a lot of scrutiny this offseason because they did not answer the questions at corner. Although they had plenty of money, they only signed D’mitri Patterson, a journeyman who is frequently hurt. Instead of drafting one of the great corners in the draft, Rex drafted safety Calvin Pryor in the first round, the fifth straight defensive player selected in the first round. The Jets waited until the third round to draft cornerback Dex McDougle. Dex has a lot of upside, but has been injured throughout his collegiate career. Although Dex started hot at rookie camp, he has cooled off and Rex does not talk about him with the same bravado.
The most important player on the Jets’ offense is Stephen Hill. Although many believe that the Jets will go as far as Geno Smith takes them, Hill is the X-Factor on the team. Last season, the Jets had one of the worst offenses in the league and Geno Smith had a lot of difficulties because the wide receiver play were borderline unwatchable. Although Jeremy Kerley is a nice piece, he is a slot receiver and cannot make big plays in the passing game. Stephen Hill is one of the most frustrating players in the league because he has great size, strength, and speed, but he drops a lot of balls, is frequently injured, and commits mental blunders. With the addition of Eric Decker, defenses should pay less attention to Hill. If Hill can turn into an adequate number 2 receiver, Smith will have another weapon on the outside, which will drastically improve the offense and the entire team.
The X-Factor for the Jets on defense this year will be the cornerback Dee Milliner. After losing Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in consecutive years, the Jets secondary does not have the same talent that led them to two AFC Championship Games a few years ago. This season, the Jets will be relying on Dex McDougle, Milliner, and Patterson to stop Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and a few other great quarterbacks. If the Jets are going to stop these legends, Milliner must play like the number one corner that the Jets thought he would become when they drafted him ninth overall. However, during much of his first season, Milliner was absolutely dreadful and frequently beaten by opposing wide receivers. Fortunately for the Jets, Milliner drastically improved his play over the last 2 weeks of the season as he recorded 3 picks and defended 10 passes. If Milliner can carry over his success from last season, the Jets will have a number one corner to complement one of the best front sevens in the NFL.
After surprising most of the NFL and winning 8 games last season, the Jets are one of the most interesting teams entering the 2014-2015 season. While some believe that they are going to win only 5 games, others believe that they will challenge the Patriots for the AFC East crown and win 10+ games. However, the one constant is that all experts think that the Jets’ offense will determine how many games the team wins. If people predict that the Jets will win more than 8 games, they are presuming that Geno will take a step forward with the new additions. Similar to Dee Milliner, Geno improved as the season waned and notched 7 touchdowns compared to only 2 interceptions over the last 4 games, including 3 wins. With the inclusion of Decker, Johnson, Amaro, and hopefully Hill, the Jets should open up the playbook and allow Geno more opportunities to throw the ball down the field. On defense, the Jets are led by their front seven, specifically Sheldon Richardson, Muhammed Wilkerson, Calvin Pace, Jason Babin, David Harris, and Quinton Coples. Like last season, the Jets should be able to provide constant pressure on the quarterback. The pressure that the front seven creates will be critical so the secondary has to cover for less time. It will be imperative for the defense to play well in every ball game because it will rarely be able to score enough points to match the defense’s problems.
Tied for second in AFC East
Chris Johnson has the ability to restart his career in New York. Playing under Rex Ryan’s run heavy offense and Marty Mournwiegs’ tendency to include the running back in the passing game, Johnson should be given a lot of touches during each game. Although Ivory may steal a few of his touchdowns in the redzone (or even Sheldon Richardson), Johnson will definitely accumulate big plays and touchdowns.
Pics and Stats from ESPN.com