FanPost

Jets Offseason Primer

It's a new era for the Green and White as Rex Ryan has been let go after a whirlwind of a tenure as the Head Coach of the Jets. I was always a huge defender of Rex and although a team like Atlanta would have been a better fit, I believe that he will have success in Buffalo. However, it was time for a fresh start for the organization and hopefully Todd Bowles and especially new GM Mike Maccagnan provide the Jets what they have been missing throughout my life as a supporter of this infuriating organization which is cohesion between Ownership, Front Office, Coaching Staff and the Players.

It's easy to look at the 4 win decrease from 2013 to 2014 and say that the Jets greatly underachieved last year. I would argue that those two teams were very similar besides the crucial fact that one team was much better in close games than the other. The Jets point differential in 2013 was -97 while the 2014 squad's was -118. Both teams were talent deficient and that is an indictment of outgoing GM John Idzik. Idzik looked at the 2013 team and saw a young up and coming 8 win team that didn't need to make major moves in Free Agency. Eric Decker was a nice signing but the fact that Idzik wasn't able to bring in any Cornerback of note in a free agency class that included Darrelle Revis, Aqib Talib, Vontae Davis, Alterraun Verner among others was his ultimate downfall. Unlike others, I was a fan of Idzik's basic philosophy of not wanting overextend himself by bringing in a bunch of free agents, but cornerbacks are so important in Rex Ryan's system that saddling him with Dee Milliner and Dimitri Patterson as his two starting corners going into training camp was incomprehensible. The one thing Idzik did do was clear the Jets cap sheet after the previous GM Mike Tannenbaum left them in cap hell. The Jets have over 48 million in cap space which ranks 4th in the league. That number doesn't take into account potential cuts like Percy Harvin and Jeff Cumberland so the Jets will have money to spend. Maccagnan has come out and said he will spend in Free agency so that money will hopefully be put to good use.

In order to see what the Jets best course of action this offseason would be, let's take a look at each unit of the roster and see what needs to be upgraded.

Spoiler Alert: A lot

Quarterbacks

I was a fan of the Michael Vick signing for the sole reason that it gave Geno Smith some legitimate competition which is something Mark Sanchez never had. Needless to say it didn't work out. Geno was his usual inconsistent self and Vick looked done in his brief time as a starter. As usual, there aren't many intriguing options on the free agent market and unless you're a fan of the past half decade of Jay Cutler in Chicago, no real candidates are emerging in the trade market either. That leaves the draft as the Jets best hope of finding a franchise Quarterback. Fortunately, it seems like Tennessee is content with Zach Mettenberger as their 2015 QB so the Jets have a good shot at landing one of the two top Quarterback Prospects in Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota at #6 overall. That is unless a team like the Browns or Eagles leapfrog them. In that case, the Jets have too many holes on their roster to get into a bidding war by giving up valuable picks that can be spent upgrading other parts of the roster. If Mariota or Winston are there at #6, by all means take them. However, another intriguing option looms. If the Eagles or another team calls with a monster package to move up to take a Quarterback, the Jets should listen. Going into the season with Geno and another veteran Quarterback might not seem like the most appetizing idea but as mentioned before, the Jets need to build their roster first before expecting to be a legitimate contender.

Running Backs

One of the few good moves John Idzik made in his tenure as GM was picking up Chris Ivory from the Saints. This dude is a wrecking ball. According to ProFootballFocus, Ivory ranked 3rd in the league in elusive rating which tracks the impact of a runner with the ball independently of the blocking in front of him. Ivory uses his sheer power to run over linebackers and Defensve Backs in order to gain extra yards. The downside of this is that Ivory’s style makes him more susceptible to injury. Ivory is not much of a pass blocker or pass catcher so a shifty complement in the backfield is a hole that needs to be filled. Idzik attempted to fill that hole with Chris Johnson but if CJ?K’s final seasons in Tennessee weren’t evidence enough, the former 2000 yard rusher looked close to finished in his one year in New York and was subsequently released.

While it is always prudent to look to the draft for young cheap running backs, there is a name in free agency that makes a ton of sense that will be familiar to Jets Fans and that is CJ Spiller. While Spiller’s fantasy owners can tell you how disappointing he has been the past 2 years, Spiller enjoyed his finest season in 2012 under new Jets Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey. Spiller’s skills are still really evident to the eye and he would bring a dimension the Jets offense has been missing for years, which is the element of the big play. Spiller has already said that he would be interested in joining the Jets and it is up to the Jets new Front Office to make that a reality. Spiller is not much of a pass blocker either so finding a back who can fill that role as the 3rd running back is a minor hole that could be filled through the draft or by bringing back impending free agent Bilal Powell.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

In a 2014 draft that included Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin, Jarvis Landry, Jordan Matthews and Martavis Bryant among others, John Idzik wound up with one guy who was cut 4 weeks into the season (Jalen Saunders) and another who didn’t make it on the field at all in year one (Shaq Evans). Idzik did sign Eric Decker to a very reasonable contract that pays him as much as the Dolphins are paying Brian Hartline. While some might look at Decker’s stats and view it as a disappointment, 74 catches for 962 yards and 5 TD’s in a year in which he was never fully healthy while playing as the number one option in an offense with Geno Smith at Quarterback, looks downright solid to me. At the very least, the Jets have a high end Number 2 Wide Receiver locked up for the next 3 years at a very reasonable price.

Good on ya Idzik!

With a solid slot receiver in Jeremy Kerley, the Jets need another outside threat to help take pressure off Decker and give whoever is playing Quarterback this year another option. Fortunately for the Jets, this years draft once again looks to be filled with solid options at Wide Receiver with guys like Amari Cooper, Kevin White and Devante Parker at the top and high risk/high reward prospects like Dorial Green Beckham, Devin Smith and Sammie Coates a little later on. The Free Agency class is loaded at the top with guys like Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas but those guys are unlikely to leave their respective situations. Perhaps guys like Torrey Smith or Jeremy Maclin make sense as cheaper options. Randall Cobb is also available but he played 85 percent of his plays in the slot last year and he is very similar to another player the Jets have a big decision to make on in Percy Harvin.

Harvin was brought in midseason from Idzik’s old stomping grounds in Seattle for what was deemed as a midround pick. If Harvin is on the Jets roster past March 19th, that pick becomes a 4th rounder as opposed to a 6th rounder if he is cut. The rest of Harvin’s contract is unguaranteed so there would be no cost in cutting his 10 million dollar salary to create even more space. I could see both sides of the argument but if I were the Jets I’d try to keep him. If Harvin is willing to restructure, then keeping him becomes a much more palatable option. The Jets need to be adding playmakers, not cutting them.

One of Idzik’s few good draft picks was last year’s second round Tight End Jace Amaro. Tight Ends rarely contribute much in year one and Amaro was no different. Amaro finished his rookie year with 38 catches and 345 yards. This may not seem like much but hey actually led all rookie tight ends by a wide margin. Amaro showed flashes of spectacular play throughout the season with his pass catching ability and even graded out decently as a blocker as well. Meanwhile, Jeff Cumberland continued to not make use of his opportunity and is a candidate for release at his 2 million dollar salary. Guys like Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron are free agents but that money could probably be used better elsewhere.

Offensive Line

What was once one of the best units in all of football has come crashing down to mediocrity. While Nick Mangold bounced back to All Pro form, only D’Brickashaw Ferguson had a season that could at least be described as average. Willie Colon had his typical issues with penalties and was atrocious in the run game while 2013 3rd round pick Brian Winters was one of the worst guards in football until he tore up his knee while free agent acquisition Breno Giacomini was a bust at Right Tackle. Rookie Guard Oday Aboushi showed some flashes but the Jets shouldn’t hand him the Left Guard job without a fight. Bryan Bulaga and Mike Iupati are the two top Offensive Lineman on the market and the Jets should be looking to break the bank for one if not both of them. Offensive Line Play is critical to a young Quarterback’s growth as it gives him time to throw as well as opens lanes for the run game to provide easier 3rd down situations. One of the biggest reasons the Jets made it to two straight AFC title games was the play of that O-Line that featured Ferguson, Alan Faneca, Mangold, Brandon Moore and Damien Woody. That line opened up holes for the number one rushing attack in the NFL as well as provided time for Mark Sanchez to throw his next interception. Fixing the Offensive Line should be near the top of the list for the new front office as great teams are built from the trenches out and the Jets already have one side of that covered.

Defensive Line

One could make the argument that the Jets have the best 3 man front in football with the Sons of Anarchy. Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison and Sheldon Richardson are all elite run stuffers while Wilkerson and Richardson provide pass rush as well. Like Rex Ryan, Todd Bowles runs multiple fronts so there shouldn’t be much of a transition. The Jets also have good depth at the position with Leger Douzable and Kenrick Ellis. They are both free agents but shouldn’t be too difficult to resign. The biggest enigma in this group and probably on the defense as a whole is 2012 1st round pick Quinton Coples. Coples has changed positions many times throughout his tenure. Whether it be the 5 technique, Pass rushing linebacker or one of the 4 down lineman, he has flashed at each role but has yet to show the consistency that the coaching staff wants to see. Perhaps a fresh start with a new staff will finally lead to the breakout Jets fans have been waiting 3 years to see.

Linebackers

One of the most confusing trends of the Rex Ryan era was his utter refusal to acquire a pass rushing outside linebacker. Instead, the Jets were content to run out low upside players like Calvin Pace and Garrett McIntyre out there while passing up guys like Melvin Ingram and Justin Houston in the draft. If Winston and Mariota are off the board at #6 and trading down isn’t a possibility, Pass rushing linebackers like Shane Ray and Randy Gregory would be great options at that slot. Demario Davis is locked in to one Inside Linebacker slot while longtime Jet David Harris is a free agent. Retaining Harris would be ideal but I could see him looking to go to a contender and chase a ring. Jason Babin had a surprisingly productive year grading out well in both Run Defense and Pass Rush. The Jets picked up his option so he will be brought to training camp. IK Enemkpali and Trevor Reilly played well in limited snaps so hopefully they will get a chance to shine in their sophomore campaigns. Adding a coverage linebacker like Jerrell Freeman would fill a need but there are many more pressing needs on this team so breaking the bank for a linebacker isn’t wise.

Secondary

The 2014 Jets Secondary made the argument to be the worst unit in all of professional football last year. Guys like Marcus Williams, Darrin Walls and Antonio Allen were playing key roles at cornerback. Dimitri Patterson never made it out of training camp and Dee Milliner tore his Achilles in Week 2 attempting to block a field goal. Last years free agent market was filled with quality cornerbacks. Inexplicably, John Idzik decided not to acquire any of them. Besides the big 4 of Revis, Talib, Davis and Verner, guys like Antonio Cromartie, Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, Brandon Flowers, Brent Grimes and Sam Shields were all available. All Idzik did was sign Patterson and reach for Dexter McDougle in the 3rd round. McDougle tore up his knee in training camp and never saw the field while Patterson was released due to a bizarre incident where the team released a statement saying he was AWOL for 48 hours.

Idzik did draft Calvin Pryor in the 1st round which I was a big fan of. I envisioned Pryor playing close to the line of scrimmage and scaring the crap out of any wideout who dared to come over the middle. However, due to a lack of options at Free Safety, Pryor was forced to be the last line of defense where he struggled. The Jets need to look at both Free Agency and the Draft in order to fill these holes. Antonio Cromartie has already said he would love to come back to New York. He would immediately become the Jets best corner. Darrelle Revis may also be available but if Woody Johnson was unwilling to pay him last spring, I don’t see anything changing now. There is no real elite Cornerback prospect in this years draft so hopefully the Jets can find someone in the middle rounds to make an impact. Dawan Landry played well last year but he is a free agent and likely will be looking to join a contender. Todd Bowles made very good use of his defensive backs last year, often playing 5 or 6 at a time in his base defense. The Jets don’t have the personnel for such a defense at this time but hopefully that will change in the coming months.

Conclusion

The Jets have a long way to go and it’s a shame that last offseason was basically a wash, but a new front office and a whole new scouting staff will hopefully lead to bigger and better things in 2015 and beyond.

This is a FanPost written by a registered member of this site. The views expressed here are those of the author alone and not those of anybody affiliated with Gang Green Nation or SB Nation.