You couldn’t get much worse than 2014 for the New York Jets so thankfully it’s looking like 2015 is going to be a step (or maybe more) in the right direction. After a very successful free agency and draft, the Jets have bolstered areas of need with some top class talent; Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis and the widely touted ‘best player in the draft’ Leonard Williams, to name a few. This was in part thanks to the replacement of both general manager and head coach following the departure of John Idzik and Rex Ryan in January. The new guys in town; Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles are different. Maccagnan is not afraid to spend the cap and Bowles is more measured and realistic than Ryan, expecting more discipline from the players. As a result, for once, the Jets off season is not a media circus.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Jets have amassed what could be one of the best groups in the league. The d-line, with Sheldon Richardson, Mo Wilkerson and Damon “Snacks” Harrison was the only highlight of last years debarcle and with Leonard Williams added to the rotation it’s even stronger. However, already the ‘curse of the offseason’ has struck this group: Sheldon Richardson, for breaking the NFL policy on substances of abuse, will miss the first four games of the season, giving the rookie Williams a huge opportunity but reducing the rotation options available. The Jets also have a revamped secondary with Revis, Cromartie, Skrine and Gilchrist added to last years’ first rounder Calvin Pryor who is back to his preferred position at strong safety. With Todd Bowles as coach this is a fear inducing combination. Bowles, who learnt at the knee of twice Head Coach of the Year Bruce Arians and was responsible for a defense that helped Arizona to the playoffs last season, despite losing their starting and back up quarterbacks, is ideal for this team with a different but equally problematic quarterback situation.
Offensively, the team are stronger too. Adding Brandon Marshall alongside Decker brings receiver options for Geno Smith which he did not have last year and the backfield, with the addition of Stevan Ridley has potential; if injuries are overcome in time. Chris Ivory will need to continue his year on year improvements in production to ensure that the Jets can come close to their 3rd overall rushing rank from last year.
There still exists however, a huge question mark surrounding the quarterback. Geno Smith, coming into his third year, has yet to consistently bring the poise and skill that he has flashed from time to time. If he continues to throw as many interceptions, it won’t matter how good the rest of the team is. Ryan Fitzpatrick as back up is equally questionable, although the fact he has played, successfully, under new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s system is a positive.
There is also the question of the division to contend with. The AFC East is more competitive than ever, regardless of whether Tom Brady’s suspension stands. Buffalo and Miami have monster defenses too and if Ryan Tannehill has a good year, the division will be difficult to manoeuvre into the playoffs through. It also seems likely that Geno Smith will start at QB in September and therefore, despite all the other improvements and positives, Jets fan still face the new season with a little trepidation.
You can follow Nikki (Jets fan and writer for TurnontheJets.com, NYJetsFans.com, UK End Zone and UK First Down) on Twitter @NYCh1983