Now, mixed within all of the media firestorm and "the sky is falling" chatter amongst the fan base, one would think the jets are destined for a 2-12 season. Yet, by rationally and calmly assesing the projected roster for next year in comparison to what it was last year, and comparing it to the rosters of the teams we are projected to play next year, I have realized that in reality, not only will the jets shock teams, but they might down-right become a dominant play-off contender by the end of the year. First, one must asses the various rosters.
QB- Now, we all know that sanchez, garrard, and mcelroy are not miracle workers and might be all be gone after next season. Or not. Each have their merits and reason for optimism. Sanchez, first of all, will be entering his fifth year in the league, and if his psyche was not destroyed last year, he will by default be more experienced, and with better weapons at his disposal than last year. The O-line, Wide reciever cops, running backs, and O-coordinator will all be better by default, either through gaining experience (hill, cumberland, powell, kerley) or coming back from injury (santonio holmes), not to mention any weapons we picked up in the Draft. True we lost keller, slauson, and moore, but Keller was injured most of the year, slauson was an average guard at the very best, and moor was declining by the end of the season. And when it comes to Garrard, if healthy, he will do a better job than the sanchez of last year, because quiet honestly its hard to do a worse job. And mcelroy I don't truly consider an option, that or tebow, who I believe will be cut.
RB- By adding Goodson, and giving powell and mcknight a chance to develop with another off season, and a more speed/ shift friendly offense (Moriwhegs), the performance of the RB's should easily eclipse that of last year. Not to mention a potential addition in the draft (which I would be against though, because we have three young backs who will be motivated and competing against each other to make a great impression in a wide open starting position on the roster).
WR/TE- Stephen hill will be a year more developed, and he was really coming along towards the end of the year. Because he was so raw last year, this will be more like his rookie year, but it might be a very solid one. Not only that, but santonio is coming back, and kerley is only going to get even better. Not to mention one the young wide recievers on our roster who might break out on our roster (J.White, Pollard, etc). This is before possibly bringing back edwards on a cheap contract, or more likely getting a rookie wideout in rounds 2-4. When all is said and done, we might be presenting a top 15 wide reciever group on the field by the middle of the season.Now Cumberland and the Aussie are mostly unknowns at this time, but we will most likely add a TE in the draft, plus either or could prove to be reliable, or even a game changer. They both have the athletic ability and talent, they just have to put it together.
O-line. Now we lost slauson and moore and lack depth, but its not as bleak as it looks. If willie colon is healthy, he is easily an upgrade over slauson, and we have an all-pro in mangold and a pro-bowler in ferguson already on the line. Not to mention an improving austin howard. So by hope, four spots on the line should be better than, or equal to than last year. The last guard spot though, will either be filled by a cheap vet, a rook, or ducasse. So that's a bit of a gamble, but by the law of averages, the O-line should be as good as, if not better than last year. If anything, it should be reliable enough to be an average O-line in the league, but truly I expect Ducasse to sieze the guard spot, and with him and colon manning the spots for us to have a top ten O-line by years end. Yes I understand he at times looks clueless on the field, but he has all the physical tools, is already a mauler in the run game, and I believe will improve enough in the pass game to be passable. That or Chance Warmack. That could happen too.
So In summary, by taking an unbiased look at the situation on offense, you could see that we almost HAVE to be better than last year, and have a potential to have an offense that's ranked somewhere between 20-10. We also get the luck of playing some potentially awful defense in the bills (twice), saints, bucs, Oakland, Tenn. (Revenge game), maybe NE (don't know how their defense pans out), and two very depleted old defenses in the Ravens and Steelers. There is some serious potential in this offense, especially when you consider that we will probably add 2-3 more offensive players rounds 1-4. (depending on Revis trade and trade downs).
Now on to defense.
D-Line: Despite the loss of devito and pouha, I believe our D-line will be substantially better than last year. First of all, the development of of Wilkerson, Coples, Ellis, and Harris, all hopefully playing healthy and comfortably with each other, should make an absolutely intimidating group, and potentially top 5 in the league by years end. While devito was a warrior and great run-stopper last year, I feel like Coples can more than make up for his absence in time. Not to mention Pouha played most of the season hurt or at 50%. The addition of Antonio Garay also gives us depth and versatility. All in all, the D-line is in fine shape, and should be dominant league wide next year.
LBs- We lost scott, pace, and thomas to old age (its not free agency if no one signs them), so there is clearly a void there. But in the middle, I have hope that Demario Davis can progress to be an adequate athletic start, and David harris can bounce back from what was clearly a down year. Depth behind the two hasn't changed. As to the OLB's, expecting us to grab rook in the draft (prefferable Chase Thomas in the third round :P), the platoon of a rook, mcyintire, and antwane barnes, while not fantastic by any means, can definantly be an improvement over last year by sheer athleticism and youth. And truly, the group is not as unexperienced as some suggest. There will only be one rookie in the group, and D.Harris has proven to be a Pro-Bowl caliber player in year's past. In summary, as with The Qb's, by default, the LB' corps should be better than last year.
Secondary- Now, we have lost both our starting safeties, and in honesty I do not believe neither Josh Bush or Antonio Allen is ready to step into either starting role. Yet, with the signing of dawan Landry, we just got the younger replacement for Yeremiah Bell, just as durable, yet potentially a little faster and more athletic. He does struggle in coverage, but is comfortable with Rex's system, and should do just fine. As for the other safety spot, I expect a rookie from the deep rookie class to fill it, such as LSU's Eric Reid, and we will simply have to hope for the best from that. Antonio Cromartie is a pro-bowl corner, and if we Smartly resign revis and he comes back healthy, we have the best corner back duo in the league. If Revis is traded, Kyle Wilso will have to do, and hopefully he can only get better with another off season of work. Regardless, Our youngsters like Darrin walls, Eric Berry, and Isiah Trufant will only get better, so in one way or another, we will match the Secondary of last year, or be even better. Be even better than, remember, the 2nd best passing D in the League. ( I know the number is inflated due to the fact people knew it was smarter to run on us once they got a lead). Depending on the rookie safety and what happens to Revis, this might be a historically great secondary next year, especially with D. Thurman and Rex Ryan leading the way.
The D, In Conclusion, especially coached by Ryan and Thurman, easily has top 5 potential next year. Outside of the 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos and Texans, I can't think of any defenses that will clearly be better than the Jets next year.
As for who we play... at home we play Buffalo, Miami, NE, Cleveland, Steelers, New Orleans, Tampa, Oakland. I realistically see a anywhere from a 4-4 to 7-1 record against this line up. Kolb, Freeman and Bucs pass D, Saint's D, Oakland, Cleveland, and the Dream Team Dolphins all seem like realistic wins. The steelers are old, and we always give NE a good fight so who knows, it might just be our turn to take one from them.
As for the road, we play buffalo, miami, NE, baltimore, cincy, Hotlanta, Carolina, and Ten. I see anything from 3-5 to 5-3. I say at least we split Buffalo and miami, beat Tenn. in a revenge game, and grab a win from one of the remaining 5 teams, or go 3-2 against them. But I don't see anything like a 1-7, or 2-6 record.
So In conclusion, realistically, given a few things reasonably work out for the jets, they should be anywhere from 7-9 to 12-4 Next year. At the absolute worst I say we match our record of 6-10, but I would bet anyone we won't do worse than that, and at the most optimistic 13-3 if we get on a roll and remain healthy and competitive. Either way, I am simply trying to argue that we should all calm down about the guaranteed top 5 pick we are going to have next year, and instead get excited for potentially quiet the bounce back season.