The offseason is unofficially only a week old. There is still plenty to be done. There might be a few more small scale free agent moves both before and after the Draft. There is still the Draft. Keeping that in mind, what do you think of the moves the Jets have made so far? Do you like what they have done?
In the big picture, I approve of the moves the team has made. I'm not a big fan of every signing and every contract,but I think they have done two very important things.
The secondary has been addressed. The group the Jets had was not going to cut it. The Jets invested heavily in the defensive backfield because the unit needed a complete reconstruction. There might have been some temptation to leave Dee Milliner, Dexter McDougle, and Marcus Williams competing for a starting job based on hope and limited stretches of promising play. The Jets wisely avoided this temptation and bought a new unit.
In particular, the starting cornerback position has turned from a weakness into a strength by bringing back the former starting tandem of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Revis is either the best corner in the league or the second best corner in the league depending on how you feel about Richard Sherman. Cromartie has excelled in his career when he has played the role of sidekick to a top notch number one corner. He did working with Revis, and he did again last year in Arizona with Patrick Peterson.
The Jets will now be able to man up on the outside with Revis and Cromartie against most teams without needing to dedicate linebackers to roll in coverage or safeties to help over the top. This puts so much more schematically on the table for the coaching staff. Those players can be used over the middle in confusing zone coverage or as part of exotic blitz combinations. It is going to be a different defense.
When talking about a team's needs, people frequently limit it to positions where a team is weak. Sometimes needs transcend position, though. I am a big believer that when a team builds an offense, the first thing it has to do is find somebody or something it can go to in any situation.
Why were the Jets successful in 2009 and 2010 and less so in later years under Rex Ryan? There are many reasons. One of the biggest was the functional offense the team had those first two years. It was about the running game. No matter what, the Jets could run the ball to the right side behind Nick Mangold, Tony Richardson, Damien Woody, and Tony Richardson. The defense could know it was coming. It could be a running down. The Jets could execute. When you can do this, the defense has to dedicate extra resources. That opens up other things. For the Jets, this created play action and one on ones for Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Dustin Keller to beat. All of the defenders sent to stop the run meant there were less guys deep. This left Mark Sanchez simple coverages to read and beat.
The Jets have not had anything they could go to with consistency since 2010. Brandon Marshall changes that. When everything breaks down for the quarterback, what does he do? The protection is falling apart. Nobody looks open. For the past few years, the answer for the Jets has frequently been to take a bad sack or throw an interception. Now the answer is throw the ball in Marshall's direction, and let him win it. Defenses have to dedicate extra resources to stopping Marshall, and even then he still can get his. He's the kind of guy who opens things up for everybody else. I have heard people talk about Eric Decker this way when he signed. I heard people talk about Percy Harvin like this when the Jets traded for him. I heard people say Chris Ivory would become this. None of those guys has that kind of impact. Marshall does. He can go out and make plays. It is important to have somebody who can go out there and make big plays so that the offense doesn't have to execute with pinpoint precision 12 plays in a row to score a touchdown.
With the attention defenses will need to pay on him, Eric Decker can go back to doing Eric Decker things, using his size against number two corners and working the intermediate zones. Ivory should have more room to run. Marshall doesn't need great quarterback play either. He's posted big years with Matt Moore and Kyle Orton throwing him the ball. Two years ago, he had a big season with Josh McCown starting half of the games.
I think in these two particular areas for the Jets, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. So far I'm satisfied with what the team has done. Are you?