The 2014 New York Jets Roster: Better or Worse So Far?

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Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) before Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are at the beginning of April, with the big money free agents having all found their new homes, for the most part, it is time to take this break between free agency and the Draft to look at where the Jets have improved, as well as where they haven’t. Remember this is just a snapshot of where the Jets are on April 3rd, one month before the draft and five months before the season begins. For the sake of brevity I will only go through the starters and key reserves.

QB – Geno Smith, Michael Vick, Matt Simms - This group has gotten better than a year ago and that would have been so even if they hadn’t added the number one ranked free agent quarterback on the market in Michael Vick. The reason being is the improvement in the final month of the season of Geno Smith and the natural progression that happens from year one to year two. For example, Mark Sanchez went from 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in his rookie year to 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in year two. Expect Smith’s confidence to grow, his knowledge of the offense both in his reads and knowing when to run to improve and with more weapons his accuracy should increase as well. Smith also needs to make sure he makes those improvements because a competition with Vick is forthcoming. If Smith beats out Vick, I think he will and reading the tea leaves so does the organization, Smith will still have to be on his toes because Vick is a viable backup who can win games if Smith is injures or falters. With Simms as the backup there was no real threat to pull Smith and nowhere to go when he was struggling, now there is. Vick knows the offense from his time in Philadelphia, is mobile like Smith and still has the ability to succeed in the league. Vick is also turnover-prone and injury-prone so he isn’t perfect either. However for a guy labeled turnover-prone he has 128 career touchdowns to 85 interceptions which is great in comparison to the numbers Jets quarterbacks have put up in the last two years.

Verdict: Improved

RB – Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Mike Goodson - For right now this group is unchanged from the group that led the league in rushing for the final six weeks of the season. Ivory and Powell were a good tandem with Ivory wearing away at defenses and Powell being a change of pace runner who can catch out of the backfield as well as be a pass blocker on 3rd down. What the team is looking for is a back with speed to score from anywhere on the field that is also durable enough to handle the load if Chris Ivory gets injured again. The few glimpses we saw of Mike Goodson showed that he can be that guy but his legal troubles continue to drag on with the case most likely going to trial right before the season starts. The Jets have been looking at backs like Donald Brown, Maurice Jones-Drew and most currently Chris Johnson in free agency but if the price isn’t right they can certainly look to fill the need in the draft with a player such as Dri Archer, who is coming in to visit the Jets on April 17.

Verdict: None so far, but most likely improved because they got only five quarters of play from Goodson last year.

WR – Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, David Nelson, Stephen Hill, Jacoby Ford, Greg Salas - Signing Eric Decker, the number one ranked free agent wide receiver, already guarantees that this year’s group will be better than last year’s mess. Decker is 6’3″ tall, can get down the field (averages approximately 15 yards per catch), and has had back to back 80+ catch seasons. More impressively, in 2011 he had 44 receptions and eight touchdowns with Tim Tebow throwing to him. In three years as a starter he has 32 touchdowns already which is a huge number. The Jets are not done with this position either, this is one of the best wide receiver drafts of all-time and the Jets will most likely draft 1 or 2 to add to the receiving core. They could also take a flyer on Sidney Rice. Jacoby Ford will mainly be a special teams player possibly filling the kick and/or punt returner role but with 4.28 speed he may get some gadget plays to get him in space as a receiver.

Verdict: Improved already and probably will improve much more by the start of the season


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Tags: Eric Decker Michael Vick New York Jets Nfl Free Agency

  • Paul Newbold

    I admire your optimism Craig. Besides the Decker signing, I just don’t see any significant improvement. Vick is Vick, not going to win you a super bowl, he can’t stay on the field long enough to make the playoffs. Giacommini was a own grade from Howard. Ford and Patterson an upgrade only because there is no one they actually are replacing, hole fillers, dollar store bargains. In my opinion this team hasn’t improved much at all this off season. Currently I’ve come to believe our new GM doesn’t have a plan! You know that “plan” he’s always referring to? Or maybe its the “plan” Rex has been eluding to? Oh no, I know….maybe its the “plan” Woody has been talking about? Either way, there appears to be three “plans” and combined they all have sucked this off season!

    • Craig Hoffman

      Just because the Jets aren’t chasing “names” doesn’t mean they aren’t improving. Smith and Winters will improve because of the experience they got last year in a baptism by fire situation and the fact that in year 2 rookies generally improve because they get a full offseason and understand the speed of the game. Vick is a viable backup. There was no other option than a struggling Smith in the middle of the season and now there is one. Giacomini and Howard are a push in my opinion with Giacomini having better intangibles. Ford is just a returner and 5th WR candidate but I’d take him over Clyde Gates. They are going to build through the draft and form their core that way and thats always been the plan. I expected a few more “name” signings but I’ve come to see that they won’t overpay to get those players. They are still in a position post-draft to absorb a large contract once the next round of cuts and trades happen but they aren’t going to spend it on guys with red flags.

      You mentioned Goodson the other day while saying that as long as he is on the roster the character concerns Idzik lays out are an excuse, and the reason Goodson is still on the roster is that the case needs to be adjudicated in order for the Jets to recover bonus money from him when they cut him. Goodson was not a character risk when he signed just an embarrassment after the incident.

      • RONBO19

        Craig, it appears to me that you are a fellow Jet sufferer so I want to say this as nicely as possible; BULL! (LOL) Actually,much of what you say above is true, however, I’m not buying for one second all this “good ship lolli-pop” nonsense about the Seattle way of building by not over paying! No question some of the deals handed out to some free agents were not in our best long term interest (see DRC or even Revis!) I get that. But guys like D.Byrd from Buffalo, A.Verner, Thurmond from Seattle and Davis from the Colts all signed for market value and any one of them would have been major upgrades over anyone currently residing in our secondary.Of course the other argument I see is building for the future? Again, nonsense! The Eagles,Chief’s and Panther’s all proved a team can turn its record as quickly as one off-season! By not upgrading our secondary when we had the cap space and the available talent , Idzik’s overly conservative inaction has set this team back at least one year.

      • Paul Newbold

        Sorry Craig, too bad about the bonus money, the right thing would have been to cut him the moment he was found in a car in the wee hours of the morning, drunk, with marijuana, a gun, and hollow point bullets! I know if he worked for me, I wouldn’t want him hanging around any longer then necessary!! I surely wouldn’t keep him just to get my money back! His bonus money is chump change to Woody. They kept him so they could play him, it bit them in the butt when he got hurt right after the suspension (slap on the wrist). Now they want the bonus money back, because it looks like he might be playing in the prison league for a bit. Idzik can’t have it both ways… “Character is a concern in potential players” but if your on the team, Character doesn’t matter because you were alright when we signed you.

  • RONBO19

    Craig, i didn’t see anything about the defense? As for your thoughts on the offense being improved, other than Decker over Holmes I don’t see it. The RT is a push as neither player will be seeing Canton with out a ticket. The improvement you expect from Winters is questionable at best. As the 59th of 62 players ranked on PFF at his positions and going completely unranked by the other poll (even Ducasse beat him out on that one!) I see no reason to expect much of anything from Winters this season.Frankly, he stunk as did three other rookies drafted by Idzik (FB Bohannon-also rated the worst at his position, O-linemen Oday Oboushi & Will Campbell who were apparently so bad they never even suited up for a game all season.) Now, we do have 12 picks in this draft but Idzik needs to really step it up this year as we wont be drafting nearly as high this year #18 vs. 11 or 12 last year.

    • Craig Hoffman

      The defense will be done in Monday morning’s article.

      Rookies improve from year 1 to year 2 and that is factual. Winters was a small school tackle that converted to guard and was hurt for a part of training camp further slowing his development. He had to start year 1 because Ducasse was so terrible. The experience he got led to improved play down the stretch & reason for optimism about this coming year. Winters was terrible for the 1st 3/4 of the season and I regularly took him to task here but I think he has potential and there is reason to expect improvement. Aboushi and Campbell are developmental players who should see an increased role this season. Aboushi is way ahead of Campbell because Campbell, just like Brandon Moore, is converting from DL to OL. Moore had time in the WLAF to make that transition while Campbell has to pick it up in the NFL.

      • RONBO19

        Craig, I voiced concern over the Winters pick immediately after he was selected.There were many players selected after him that went on to have much more productive first seasons. As the season went on my fears were confirmed as he struggled against the better athletes found in the NFL vs the MAC conference.My feeling then and still today is he was picked way too high.I had him as a 5th round talent based on his measurables (short arms and mediocre testing at the combine.( I have studied the NFL draft for over 45 years and I’m a former college player & coach who is a good friend and formerly coached with current Carolina Panther G.M Dave Gettleman)) As for Oboushi, every respected draft analyst I checked out plus what i observed first hand watching him struggle all week at the Sr.Bowl practices, and the game itself plus his poor combine showing had him rated as a 6th or 7th round pick.Gill Brandt (the former long time Cowboy’s G.M. and current NFL radio commentator)suggested he was an un-drafted free agent materal guy due to his poor work ethic.(How else do you explain a 6-5 300 lb O-lineman doing only about 12 reps at 225 lbs?) I doubt very seriously this guy will ever be anything but training camp fodder as he’s not even good enough for the practice squad. And yes Campbell was a converted DT from his Michigan days but let us remember he was a reluctant convert and I’m wondering if his heart is truly in it? I’m not here to bash my jets, My point is to point out the fact that all is not rosy in Jetsville and wont be until drastic improvements are made to this roster