After a miserable 6-10 off season ending in a franchise quarterback flopping, a defense collapsing and the Tim Tebow Saga, the New York Jets begun a transition to a new era under new GM John Idzik after a series of poor managerial decisions and inflated contracts cost Mike Tannenbaum his head. Going into this season, the Jets were arguably the worst team in the NFL. According to most, they had no defense, no offense, and coaching was a mess. They could be the first team to go 0-16 since the 2008 Lions some enthusiastic Jets haters thought, though most thought they'd go anywhere from two wins to at most 6, including myself. We were faced with a difficult schedule and with even less talent than last season after the departure of All-Pro Darrelle Revis. How could it get any worse?
Suddenly it did. In week three of the preseaon, presumed starter Mark Sanchez went down with a shoulder injury late in the game. He would be out for the season, thrusting rookie quarterback Geno Smith into the Starting role. But then tides changed. A half season filled with Miracles put the Jets at 5-4 at the bye to the surprise of most. Then they crashed down to Earth with a 8-8 record to end the season without a playoff berth for the third time in three years, but keeping Miami out of the playoffs. While disappointing, most will agree the 2013 Jets will be remembered for overachieving. Lets take a look back to just how we got to where we are and the moves that set us up for an exciting season!
Note-My grades are simple. They go from A+ to F, and take into account who we had before, what we've got now, how both have played this season and the outlook for the future. Most will be in the format "who we gave up" for "Who we got in return".
Less Noticeable Moves:Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy for Matt Simms and David Garrard
Releasing the former was required, but if there was an adequate backup on the Jets they would have benched Geno. They didn't predict Mark Getting hurt, but you have to plan for injuries and did nothing to replace him once he did.
Grade:CJohn Connor/Lex Hilliard for Tommy Bohannon
Bohannon has been typical of a rookie 7th round fullback. Connor was much better but was cut for injuries and not fitting in the Sparano 2012 system. Replaced with Hilliard who was hurt this off-season and replaced by Bohannon. It's not a big deal in today's NFL, fullbacks are unnecessary.
Grade: DBrandon Moore/Matt Slauson for Brian Winters/Willie Colon
Much to the disbelief of many, Moore has been on a decline over the past few years. Hasn't played as well as everyone thinks, and was let go. Slauson was better, but I'm guessing did not get along with our new offensive line coach and was benched frequently for Ducasse. Winters has shown promise, but is a typical rookie and Colon has been a leader, but has shown his age.
Grade:B-Bart Scott for Demario Davis
Scott became one of the cancers last year as the team slowly moved away from him on passing downs and benching him for many parts of the game as he became old, slow and soft. Davis came to the Jets in the draft last season, with Rex claiming he could be the next Ray Lewis. He didn't do anything spectacular this season, but he was better than Bart as our linebacker core improved tremendously from last season.
Grade: BLaRon Landry/Yeremiah Bell/Eric Smith for Ed Reed/Antonio Allen/Dawan Landry
You know, even though the names changed, the outcome didn't have much change. Ed Reed was able to secure a few game sealing picks late in the season, and Antonio Allen was able to help turn the tides against the Patriots, but in a secondary that continued to let up big plays, they not much progress was made. Expect even more changes in the future.
Grade: C-Nick Folk Remains as Kicker
The Jets did everything they could to get rid of this guy during the preseason bringing in a wide variety of Big Names with Big legs. He 'beat out' every one of them, though it was close. What did he do? Have an incredible season, hitting as many game winning field goals as he missed and nailing over 90% of them. Long Live the Folk Hero!
Grade: A+Bryan Thomas for Quinton Coples
In a move that was supposed to signal a new dominant pass rusher, Quinton Coples was moved to outside linebacker during the offseason. After suffering a broken ankle in the preseason, he had a rough transition through the first few weeks but turned it around to silently become a force in the opponent's backfield.
Grade: A-Mike Pettine for Rex Ryan/Dennis Thurman
After an uncharacteristically bad season by the Rex Ryan defense, Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine made the lateral move to the Buffalo Bills. His replacement on paper was DB coach Dennis Thurman, but in reality it was Rex Ryan. This lead the way for a dominant defensive line and the 11th best defense in the league. We lacked in turnovers, but the for the talent level we had, we see why Rex is the best defensive mind in the league.
Most Noticeable Moves:Drafting Geno Smith
In a strange turn of events, highly touted Quarterback Geno Smith fell through the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft and fell into the laps of the New York Jets with the 39th overall pick of the draft. He eventually became the starter and had a turnover-prone rookie season. He had his ups and downs like all rookie quarterbacks, but the downs came much more frequently and distinctly than his highs. It can be directly placed on him for many of the losses this season as he seemed to be lost. However, he did show promise in some games and a hope for the future. While the move could have been made in upgrading the skill position such as a much needed wide receiver, this move was harmless in terms of financial responsibility. They did not reach for him, they drafted two players in the first and let him fall to him. This season was a test to see if he could be a franchise quarterback, and I say he barely passed with a D. He deserves one more look with more talent around him.
Grade: B-Shonn Greene/Bilal Powell for Chris Ivory/Bilal Powell/Mike Goodson
Last season was not good for running backs. They were all slow, lacked vision and could not get anything on the ground averaging only 3.8 YPC. After last season, Greene proved that he was a spell back at best. Someone to come in during the fourth quarter and play a bruiser. It wasn't what we were looking for. Powell at the end of last season looked exactly like what he was. Below-average. After releasing Greene, we traded for New Orleans' Running Back Chris Ivory who was lost on the bench. After some early season injuries, he came alive and helped lead the Jets run attack averaging 4.6 YPC but only three touchdowns. Powell showed new life early in the season being one of the AFC's best, and when Ivory returned he became a shifty spell back and someone who could provide a change of pace for Ivory. Greene has had an average season backing up Chris Johnson in Tennesee with a 4.0 average and 4 touchdowns.
Goodson on the other hand, while briefly showing he could be a lightning in a bottle player, got into trouble with the law and then was quickly injured upon his return. I would have made him an incomplete as a grade, but his suspension came after he signed with the Jets, and it wasn't pretty. He drops the grade from an A+ to a A=.
Grade: A-Releasing Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller
This was probably the hardest category to make in this list, and the shortest. Why? Because we really did not do much in terms of improving this area. We signed Kellen Winslow to replace Dustin Keller, but he was suspended for PED use mid-season and missed several games. Jeff Cumberland was a decent backup, but he's a one trick pony who got hurt mid-season. The fact that the only name I can use to replace Braylon Edwards with is either Greg Salas or David Nelson is a very bad thing.
Let's be honest here. Braylon Edwards was not good, and I'm saying this as a Braylon fan. He was old and slow. His hands were okay, but not what they should be. Keller was similar. Both had major issues and should not be starting on an NFL team unless that team has a Quarterback who makes players around him better. They weren't a fit for the Jets. However, the front office did a terrible job replacing them. That's fact. Just having somebody doesn't mean it's an improvement. David Nelson is nice, but he isn't and shouldn't be a starter. We expected Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes to come back and 'star' for us, and it blew up in our face. Much of Geno's struggles are his, but his receivers are failing big time. They aren't getting open and beating one on one match ups. It's bad.
Grade: D-Mike Devito and Sione Pouha for Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison
In a more shocking turn of events, the Jets let both Sione Pouha and Mike Devito walk during the off season, coming off a season where the defensive-line was the best part of the team. The Jets decided that wasn't enough and choose to get younger and more athletic. In comes the Sons of Anarchy. Sheldon Richardson and Harrison both became anchors in arguably the best defensive line in the league. Harrison and Richardson both wreaked havoc throughout the season, and Richardson showed some skill by scoring more Touchdowns than Holmes did this season.
Darrelle Revis for Antonio Cromartie/Dee Milliner
And in the most shocking move of the off season, All-pro Darrelle Revis was traded to the Tampa Bay Bucs for a first round draft pick. This pick became Sheldon Richardson. With our pick, we took Alabama Corner Dee Milliner. Coming off a shoulder surgery in the off-season and an ankle injury in the preseason, he was off to a rough start. As was Pro bowler Antonio Cromartie, who dealt with injuries issues all season. Our secondary was consistently awful, allowing big plays that Jets fans have long forgotten the feel of while we were the proud owners of Revis Island. While our corners were among the leagues worst, they ended the season on a high note. Milliner backed Rex Ryan's claim that he'd be the best rookie corner in the league, a concept we thought was ridiculous, and sealed Miami's fate with two picks after slowing a star-hot Josh Gordon to pedestrian numbers in a Revis-esk performance. I would have graded this as an F, but the future looks bright for Milliner.
Grade: CTony Sparano for Marty Mornhinweg
It couldn't be worse than Shotty right? That's what we all thought right? WRONG. After firing Brian Schottenheimer, the Jets brought in Miami HC Tony Sparano to lead the offense. I won't even go into how bad it was. This offseason we fired Sparano and hired long time Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. With a dearth of of talent, Marty decided to take up the call and try to right the course. The result? A below average offense. There was a huge amount of turnovers and 3-outs this season. BUT, he was able to improvise and adapt to the talent of the team around him. When Powell was red hot to start the season, he switched to Chris Ivory who tore up the league and was able to get some production out of guys no one thought could make it in the NFL such as David Nelson. The future points up for an offense lead by a turnover prone QB though, as Geno Smith fixed much of his issues in the last few games lowering turnovers and scoring more by throwing the ball and running. While it wasn't the Denver Broncos, and there are many places to improve, Marty did a good job for the talent he had around him.
Grade:C+Mike Tannenbaum for John Idzik
Mr. T was an exciting GM, he would always make the flashy moves and lived for the now. He often cut old veterans with leadership for cheaper guys to help make room for stars. This came back to bite him after the Tebow debacle and many of his stars imploded, such as Sanchez, Holmes etc. He quickly found himself in the hot seat and fired as the main cause of the terrible 2012 season. After a long and arduous search, we found our new General Manager, John Idzik from Seattle. He did the opposite as Mr. T. He signed many older free agents to cheap deals to see who would last, including guys from Dawan Landry, Willie Colon, Mike Goodson and others. He drafted based off talent available. When we had other 'needs', we went Defensive Tackle and Corner back, two positions that we thought were already adequate. In a turn of events, his draft turned out to be above average to excellent, and his free agents were all serviceable. Most importantly, we are looking at being $40 million under the Cap rather than being extremely over like we were supposed to. The future is bright, lets see how he does in his first full offseason as GM. Jets fans, you've gotta be excited.