New York Jets Pre-Season Predictions Vs. Results
As the season was about to unfold I wrote an article making some predictions about the season (you can find that here). It is always fun to look back and see if you were right or wrong and why. Here’s how I did:
Unlike most I believe the organization knows that this is year 1 of the rebuild and isn’t expecting Ryan to make the playoffs to save his job. What he needs is show the development of the young players on the roster, especially Geno Smith. If Smith shows improvement and the young players develop then he will show that he is the man to lead the rebuild of this team. I’m going to place my bet on Rex Ryan. (August 29, 2013)
It did seem that the organization was thinking in that vein. More than the 3-1 record in final four games what helped Rex Ryan the most was the development of Geno Smith, Dee Milliner and even Brian Winters coupled with the way the entire team came together playing good football even though they had nothing but Rex to play for. Sheldon Richardson had been good since day one. Muhammad Wilkerson got better this year despite what Pro Football Focus’ numbers try to tell us he is now an All-Pro caliber run stopper and pass rusher. Quinton Coples suffered through injury and a position change but the light came on for him and he had an excellent last six games and is trending upwards. Damon Harrison’s year came out of nowhere as he was one of the top run stoppers in the entire league. The youth of the team is developing and that is part and parcel of good coaching.
This offense will improve over last year. Last year was rock bottom with an awful coordinator, awful quarterback play and no weapons. This year the coordinator and quarterbacks coach are much improved and the scheme plus play calling will lead to more accuracy and fewer turnovers. I say the team averages 21 points per game which would be almost a 4 point improvement and the turnover margin will fall closer to even at -3. 11 less turnovers and 4 more points are notable improvements that help win games. Mark Sanchez will start game 1 but will give way to Geno Smith by Week 6 at the latest. Chris Ivory will run for 1100 yards and it will take until the second half of the season to see dividends from Mike Goodson but we will and Powell will be a steadying force. I say Holmes, Kerley and Obomanu are the top 3 receivers while Hill is a year away from breaking out. (August 29, 2013)
I wasn’t even close here as the offense took its lumps behind Geno Smith. Smith ended up starting all 16 games after Sanchez’s injury became season-ending and amassing 25 turnovers to go along with his 18 touchdowns. There were five terrific game winning drives and definite improvement in the last month of the season but there was also a terrible middle of the season where he was pulled from multiple games and looked lost. Chris Ivory would have got his 1100 yards if it weren’t for early season injuries he ended up running for 833 yards at 4.6 yards per carry and was every bit the violent runner that was promised and showed surprising agility as well. Bilal Powell had a good year ran for 697 yards and had another 272 receiving for a total of 969 yards from scrimmage. Mike Goodson was starting to come on after his suspension but suffered a season-ending injury in just his 2nd game. The receivers were a mix of injured and awful. Jeremy Kerley led the team with 523 yards while only playing 11 games. Santonio Holmes went for 456 yards in 11 games and was mostly invisible when he did play. Mid-season pickup David Nelson was 3rd with 423 yards in only six starts. Stephen Hill was ineffective for the last 3/4 of the season and Ben Obomanu had one catch for eight yards before being released. The skill positions must be upgraded going into the 2014 season and that is an understatement. The team finished with 18.1 points per game (up .5 points per game) and had the same -14 turnover margin.
This year the defense will be able to drop from 23.4 points per game down to 20 and will keep the team in most of its games. If the team’s strong defensive line can stop the run then this will be an elite defense. They will be able to get to the quarterback both conventionally through a 3 or 4 man rush and exotically through blitzes. Will the back-end of the defense be able to hold up behind Cromartie? I see Wilkerson rising to an All-Pro level, Richardson developing into a transcendent talent by the end of the year and Coples will adjust well to his new rush role. Milliner will struggle more than we think due to injuries and the time it takes to adjust to the pros (even Revis wasn’t Revis in year 1) and the play of Darrin Walls will be key for the defense. They need to find a safety opposite Landry that can cover or the linebackers will be exposed. (August 29, 2013)
The Jets were 19th in the league in points allowed at 24.2 points per game. They were number three against the run in yards allowed, number one in yards per attempt. They were 22nd in the league in passing yards allowed. What Rex Ryan did with the defense is nothing short of amazing. The reason I say that is the entire secondary was based on the premise that Antonio Cromartie would do the same job of approximating what Darrelle Revis did in covering number one receivers 1 on 1. That allows the team to send another rusher, flood the middle if necessary or give safety help to the rookie starting on the other side. Cromartie had the worst year of his career partly due to a hip injury and was a liability in coverage. With Milliner struggling for most of the year like I predicted the Jets were forced to play more conservatively than usual even having to rely on Cover 2 zone at times. Couple that with the fact that none of the safeties were good covering the back-end and Demario Davis couldn’t cover anybody and you can see why I think so highly of the job Ryan did on defense. The defense recorded 40 sacks with Wilkerson leading the way with 10.5 sacks. Wilkerson played at an All-Pro level against the pass and run certainly growing as a player in year three. Sheldon Richardson is the favorite to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year for his play against the run, 3.5 sacks and two rushing touchdowns. Damon “Snacks” Harrison went from a fringe roster player to one of the best run stuffers in the league. David Harris and Demario Davis benefitted from Harrison and Kenrick Ellis’ work up front to snuff out the run as well. Antonio Allen emerged and showed the ability to cover the tight end and make a difference on defense even though he lost snaps to Ed Reed in the 2nd half of the season.
…I will say that the teams struggles some early but rallies late for Rex and finishes at 8-8. Since most see this as a 6 win or less team I believe 8-8 and trending upwards at the end of the year will save his job and let Geno Smith have stability going into 2014. The future is brighter than it is being portrayed by the media just trust the plan. I do. (August 29, 2013)
Not a bad start for me I nailed the record and the late rally by the team led by its young core. While I believed that the early season schedule would put the team behind the 8 ball and force it to rally late the Jets did well against the better teams on the schedule and failed during a post-bye three game stretch against “lesser” opponents. The late rally was needed to get back to .500. Key wins in Atlanta, New England at home and New Orleans at home highlighted a surprising 5-4 start to the season while a 3-1 stretch that closed with knocking Miami out of the playoffs in their own building left the team on a high note and ready to move on to finishing the rebuild.
How did I do? I nailed the record and Rex Ryan’s continued employment and hit more than I missed this year. How will I do in 2014? Stay tuned to find out.