After a disappointing final season under coach Rex Ryan and GM John Idzik in 2014, the Jets have completely revamped their team this year with a good free agency and a very good draft in the post-season.
New Head Coach Todd Bowles has attracted big names back to East Rutherford and his first team looks a much better fit than last year’s 4-12 outfit.
The biggest change is Gang Green’s secondary, which has been boosted by the re-signings of cornerbacks Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in Free Agency as well as Buster Skrine.
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The Jets defence got torched last season due to injuries to rookier corner Dexter McDougle and second year Dee Milliner – both ending up on Injured Reserve lists early in the season.
Seventh rounder Phillip Adams as well as undrafted Darrin Walls and Marcus Williams had little hope last year as the defence gave up 31 passing Touchdowns and over 3700 passing yards.
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With the return of ‘Revis Island’ and Cromartie, the Jets have two players who formed a formidable partnership at cornerback where they only conceded 3210 passing yards and 24 passing touchdowns in the 2010 NFL season where the Jets would reach the AFC Championship game under Ryan.
Since the pair left, Revis has won the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots and both corners were named in the Pro Bowl last season.
Fitzpatrick under centre
Ryan Fitzpatrick was also brought in during the offseason to boost the Jets quarterback woes following the release of Michael Vick and a dreadful season by second year West Virginia QB Geno Smith in 2014.
Fitzpatrick who played 12 games in the Houston Texans to a 9-7 season in 2014 is viewed as a ‘caretaker QB’ after the Jets passed up the opportunity to trade up for Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, the first two picks of the 2015 NFL draft.
However, the Armish Rifle, was only less than 40 passing yards behind Smith last season, with Fitzpatrick playing two less games. The 10-year veteran also scored more Touchdowns and gave away fewer interceptions than Smith.
It shouldn’t be ignored that Bowles handing the starting gig to Fitzpatrick could be due to Smith’s pre-season injury where he was allegedly punched by then team mate IK Enemkpali, which led to a broken jaw.
However, Fitzpatrick seems a much more reliable starter to steady the Jets, who have had a struggle at QB for many years with draft prospects Mark Sanchez and Smith being disappointments and trade busts in Vick and Tim Tebow.
He isn’t expected to be a spectacular starter for the team, but he does have an array of receiving weapons as well as decent running backs in Chris Ivory and Zac Stacy, all of which should be useful for the former Harvard man.
With Smith sidelined for the time being, behind Fitzpatrick will be fourth round rookie Bryce Petty fresh out of Baylor University.
Petty is a decent prospect as an NFL quarterback, finishing tenth in the Heisman Trophy voting and also being named as Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2013. Petty passed for 3,855 yards and scored 29 passing touchdowns in his final year (2014) at Baylor, being named 2015 Offensive MVP in the Cotton Bowl Classic after throwing for a Cotton Bowl-record 550 yards.
During the offseason, the Jets acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall from the Chicago Bears to line-up with Eric Decker. Five-time Pro Bowler Marshall has twice been ranked in the top fifty players in the NFL in the last three years and was ranked 57 in 2015.
Marshall will add much needed depth to the receiving core at the Jets, with Decker the only credible receiver last year, despite the mid-season trade for Seattle Seahawks’ Percy Harvin.
He also gives another option for Fitzpatrick, especially with second year Tight End Jace Amaro listed on Injured Reserve.
How can they do?
The Jets should definitely better their 4-12 season with the new coaching additions and the new playing additions, however, I don’t suspect they’ll make a serious run for the play-offs with a lot stronger teams in both the AFC and AFC East.
Their schedule is balanced with teams equal to or worse than the Jets like the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans but also teams superior to them like the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles.
The Jets are likely to go 8-8 like the 2013 season, although they could equally go 9-7 or 7-9 depending on how their luck turns.