Aug 4, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; Former NFL coach Mike Westhoff (left) and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan (right) walk out to the field prior to the start of training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
There has been a lot of discussion this season around the web, in the media and between the fan base as to whether or not the Jets are a Play Off team. The Power Rankings are out and they hold some insight into how this team might perform. For the most part, the Jets have been ranked in the middle of the pack, and that’s not very promising for a playoff birth.
With the Jets releasing its first depth chart of the season, I’d have to believe they are still a middle of the pack team. With the additions of Chris Johnson and Eric Decker to the offense they will be an improved team, but for several reasons I don’t necessarily think the improvement of talent will translate into more victories this season. In all fairness it’s still preseason and anything can happen between now and opening day. That being said, there are just too many “ifs” and “buts” concerning this year’s roster to make this a likely playoff team.
If you haven’t looked yet this season, it’s a tough road for a team that is rebuilding and went 8-8 last season. The Jets play four teams from the NFC this year, including the NFC North Champions; the Green bay Packers. They also play the AFC East Champions twice as the Patriots are within the division, they were busy during the off-season, and appear ready to make another run at the Superbowl. Add to that the Denver Broncos, who not only won the AFC West, but the AFC Championship as well. There are winnable games along the way, but the road is rough and the schedule will test the fortitude of this team.
The AFC East promises to be a battle ground this season. The Jets finished 2nd in the division last season, practically tied with the Miami Dolphins. The Pats were busy during the off-season and are odds on favorites to win the division once again. Miami improved its talent level and should be competitive as well. While the Bills were pretty bad last season, they did however add significant talent in free agency and the draft. Playing these guys twice this season might be a difficult task.
The Jets promise to once again field an awesome defensive line, led by Muhammad Wilkerson. They are tough in the run game and will bring the pressure from multiple spots. The back end of this defense is where the problems arose last season, and likely will again. Our LB’s are aging and while reports of Demario Davis‘s development in coverage is encouraging, the unit as a whole is a bit of a liability against the pass. The secondary is the real concern. Calvin Pryor’s concussion and missed reps couldn’t have come at a worse time in his development, rookie reps are extremely important at safety. Dee Millner has yet to show consistency at the corner position, reportedly struggling early in camp. Dimitri Patterson has had a rough go of things in Cortland and his health also has to be a concern. The Jets corners lack consistency at the position and opposing teams will take advantage of it as they did last season. The Jets were beat by the short to intermediate pass last season, keeping the front seven on the field for far too long. The Jets desperately need a corner to step up and produce results!
While the Jets offense promises to be an improved unit overall, there remain questions of how good it will be. Much depends on the continued development of Geno Smith, going into his 2nd year the Jets need him to perform at a high level to succeed. Signs have been encouraging through OTA’s and now early on in camp. The offensive line remains a question mark, specifically the guard position. Willie Colon is now 31 yrs old and has suffered through a string of injuries in recent years, so his health has to be a concern going into the season. Brian Winters had a rough road in his rookie season and needs to prove he can handle the position. Oday Aboushi has gained the notice of the coaching staff for his development, but he’s basically a rookie, having sat on the bench through 2013. An injury here would likely be felt in both the run and the passing game. The wide receiver group has improved with the addition of Eric Decker, he’s come into NY as advertised. David Nelson has become a reliable if not spectacular receiver, and Stephen Hill has shown signs of improvement this offseason as well. Jeremy Kerley is solid in the slot. If all goes well the starters will be an improvement. The draft class at the position has been a bit underwhelming, and assuming the Jets will go youth over the likes of Clyde Gates, the depth at the position will be questionable at best. Overall, the offense will be a good unit if everything goes right and everyone stays healthy, if not it could spell trouble. After drafting defensive players in the first round for so long under Rex Ryan, the offense has been left thin. The run game will be potent, but is it enough?
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This unit is far from set as its only the first preseason game and the personnel will rotate early on to find their niche. Nick Folk will again be kicking the ball through the uprights for the Jets. The punter position is a competition at this point, with Jacob Schum giving Ryan Quigley a run for his money. Interesting note on the Jet Depth Chart, Jacoby Ford was listed as a kickoff returner instead of punts, where he’s had success in the past. Too early to say if this unit will be a strength or a weakness.
The Jets have some serious question to answer yet through the preseason. As I see it, there are too many questions for this to be a playoff team quite yet. They have acquired some talent, and are still rebuilding, but with the concerns on the roster, added to the schedule, I just don’t see them being ready. You know what I think about the 2014 Jets chances. I want to hear what you’re take is!