Heading into the 2013 season, expectations were very low for the New York Jets.
Many experts and analysts predicted the team finish with no more than 4-5 wins, and were basically a lock for a top five pick in the NFL Draft. But the Jets exceed these expectations finishing a respectable 8-8. While they exceed expectations put on by others last season, people have higher expectations for the Jets this season based on the moves they made and the talent they brought back.
The additions of free agents Eric Decker, Chris Johnson, Michael Vick, and Breno Giacomini have made people start to believe the Jets can have themselves a very good season. While I absolutely agree with that statement, I believe there are five guys on the team who really need to step up their game this season for the Jets to make a run for the playoffs and challenge the Patriots in the AFC East.
The first guy is Geno Smith . It is pretty simple, if Geno Smith improves on his shaky rookie season and lowers his turnovers, the Jets will no doubt be competing for a playoff spot. It’s juts that simple. The Jets added many offensive weapons this offseason that should undoubtedly help the second year quarterback with the additions of Chris Johnson, Eric Decker, and Jace Amaro. The Jets are hoping that Smith can build off his strong finish to the 2013 season and have himself a very strong 2014 campaign running the show for the Jets.
Number two is Quinton Coples. While Coples has been a solid player for the Jets in his first two seasons in the NFL, he has not really shown just how dominant he really can be. After making the switch to OLB from DE last season, Coples looked well on his way to having himself a great season, but unfortunately he got hurt in preseason, and missed a good amount of time. With Calvin Pace getting up there in age, the Jets need Coples to be the rush presence coming off the outside, which would be a huge boost for the Jets defensive line.
The third Jet who needs to step up is Stephen Hill. In my opinion, this is a make or break offseason for the third year receiver out of Georgia Tech. Early in his career, Hill has struggled with staying healthy, and also dropping passes. If Hill performs poorly, there is a strong chance his spot on the roster is in serious jeopardy. But say Hill puts it all together, it would be a tremendous boost to the Jets receiving core. Hill has shown flashes of greatness, so if he puts it all together Decker, Kerley, Saunders, Evans, Nelson, and Hill can become a very respectable group of wide receivers.
Number four is a guy who played his best football at the end of 2013. Dee Milliner had himself a very rocky rookie season in the Green and White. He was beat often by opposing wide receivers, and was even benched at times by head coach Rex Ryan. At the end of the season though, it seemed like Milliner really felt comfortable again at corner, and shut down two of the NFL’s best receivers in Josh Gordon and Mike Wallace. Heading into the 2014 season, Milliner is considered the number one cornerback after the team decided to part ways with veteran Antonio Cromartie. That move showed the confidence the team has in Milliner,and the Jets hope he can build off his strong ending to the 2013 season.
Last but not least , left guard Brian Winters is another guy who needs to step up his game heading into the 2014 season. After taking over at left guard early in the year for Vlad Ducasse, the rookie struggled mightily at times, but all in all had himself a pretty average first season. Heading into his second season though, the Jets are counting on Winters to be much more consistent. The one play that sticks out to be from last year for Winters was when he pulled off the line, and made a huge block to spring Chris Ivory free for a huge gain when the Jets were backed up on their own one yard line. Winters has the ability, so now that he got his feet wet in the league, the Jets are hoping he takes that next step forward and has himself a strong 2014 season.
These are just five Jets who I feel need to step up this season. If all goes right for the Jets, I can see them coming close to ten wins. It should be a great 2014-1015 season to watch.