Now that the season has ended prematurely, there are some things Jets decision makers will have to figure out. What to do with the primary two first options at receiver is one. Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill are both not good in their current roles as #1 and #2 wide receivers. Is Jeff Cumberland a starter in the NFL? Is Geno Smith with his 21 interceptions and 10 touchdowns the future at quarterback, or do they cut Sanchez, or sign a guy like Jay Cutler? Is 50 year old Ed Reed on the roster next year, or can safety be added to the list of demands?
Let’s get right down to it. The problem has never been the defense. Even with the secondary complaints, it’s always been the offense. The Jets are 31st in the NFL in points per game at 17.6. In conrast, the middle of the pack Colts are averaging 24.1, with most teams hovering within a point of the median. The vast majority of the NFL has averaged about a full touchdown more than the Jets this season. Another category where New York is dead last is first downs per game with 16.6, compared to 27 for Denver. The inability to sustain drives is what has killed this team.
Out of 33 quarterbacks that have started eight or more games this year at their position, Geno Smith is 33rd in quarterback rating with a 62.9. Players like Terrelle Pryor with his five TD’s and 11 INT’s had a better overall season than Geno Smith. Brandon Weeden, and Matt Schaub who at one point had fans burning his jersey and coming to his home, had a better statistical season than Geno Smith. Penalty-wise, the team has slid to 16th in penalties, and penalized yards which is a positive since the beginning of the season when they were lower than that.
In my mind, it’s not the defense that has let this team down. It is definitely not the coaching. It is the lack of talent in the skill positions like receiver, tight end, and quarterback. If I’m going to make the argument that Holmes, Hill, and Cumberland are all not starting quality at their position, I must also say that Smith is not a starter at quarterback. Holmes has proven unreliable physically, and even when healthy he has never in his career been a first option at receiver. Hill has played in enough snaps, and the largest percentage of plays of any receiver the last two seasons to accurately say you’ve seen what you’re going to get. Jeff Cumberland is best suited as a 2nd tight end. Geno Smith throws the ball as hard at a receiver five yards out as he does at one 50 yards downfield.
This next off-season in free agency and the draft I am absolutely positive I will hear the catch phrases like “explosive” and “playmaker” as needed players. This is not at all what the Jets need. When teams try to draft and sign players for that, they skip over the very things that are necessary to win games. The Jets need one more touchdown per game in production, 7-8 more receptions per game in receiving, 5-10 more first downs a game. What they need in short, are players that can move the chains. Not a one or two play a game “playmaker”, they need players that will keep the ball on offense, keep the defense off the field, and win the one on one battles for catches with regularity.