Why the New York Jets are Close to Contending
Sep 7, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets general manager John Idzik reacts during the game against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Raiders 19-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The 2014 season has been a disappointing one thus far for the New York Jets. The team is 2-8 heading into the bye week, which is where few people expected them to be after finishing with a record of 8-8 last season with far less talent on the roster. So far this season, fans have called for the firing of second year general manager John Idzik, even raising money to build billboards calling for his firing, which I completely disagree with, but that is not the point.
The point is the team has struggled. After starting off the season with a win over the Oakland Raiders, the Jets then went on to lose the next eight games before finally snapping that streak with a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. While playoffs may be out of the question for this season, I believe that the Jets are not far away from being a legitimate playoff contender, maybe even by next season.
Nov 9, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterbackGeno Smith
(7) looks over at quarterbackMichael Vick
(1) against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Steelers 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
In my opinion, Michael Vick should be the starting quarterback for the New York Jets in 2015. Now if you read my previous pieces, you know that I am a big fan of Geno Smith. Even after his recent struggles, I still believe he will be a solid quarterback in the NFL. After taking over for Smith a few weeks back, Vick has been very impressive. He has not turned the ball over, and has provided a spark to the Jets offense, which desperately needed one. Even at the age of 34, Vick is still able to use his legs to create big plays on his own, which has helped the offense immensely.
If Vick can stay healthy the rest of the season, I hope the Jets decide to bring him back next season. While many fans are hoping the team drafts a QB, I am not one of them. Remember, Geno Smith is just 24 years old. Has he struggled so far? Absolutely. But, he still has his whole career ahead of him. Say Vick is resigned, Geno will have another year to learn from Vick, and even after next season, he will only be 25 years old.
Nov 9, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running backChris Ivory
(33) runs with the ball during the first half of their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
As for the rest of the offense, the team has plenty of talent that will be around for many years. At the running back position, Chris Ivory has proven himself to be one of the toughest ball carriers to bring down in the league. Credit has to be given to Idzik for only trading a fourth round pick to acquire Ivory, who is still relatively young. The Jets will also have the option to decide if they want to keep Chris Johnson and Bilal Powell, two guys who have played well in a somewhat limited role. The position I am most excited about is the wide receiver position. After trading for Percy Harvin, the Jets WR core has vastly improved.
If the team decides to pick up the option on Harvin, which I believe they will ,the Jets will have Eric Decker, Harvin, and Jeremy Kerley signed for the next four seasons. That is a very solid top three WR’s. Along with those three, the Jets will 2014 draft picks Shaq Evans and Quincy Enunwa ready to contribute, as well as having the option to bring back Greg Salas, TJ Graham, and many others. While this unit was a main issue in 2013, John Idzik has done a good job in making this unit a strength of the team in 2014. To go along with the WR’s, the Jets may have found a star a the tight end position. While Jace Amaro has struggled at times with drops, the rookie leads all rookie tight ends in many offensive categories.
Oct 12, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Denver Broncos running backRonnie Hillman
(23) is tackled by New York Jets defensive endMuhammad Wilkerson
(96) during the first quarter of their NFL football game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Now let’s flip over to the defensive side of the ball. First off, without question, the strength of the Jets team is the defensive line. Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Damon Harrison are three main guys who anchor this unit. The scary part is, these guys are all under the age of 25. Wilkerson and Harrison are due for a payday, which I believe will be Idzik’s number one priority this off-season.
Oct 16, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiverJulian Edelman
(11) runs the ball against New York Jets inside linebackerDemario Davis
(56) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
At the linebacker position, Demario Davis and David Harris make up a very solid 1-2 punch at inside linebacker for the Jets. Davis has emerged as a vocal leader for the team. The Jets also have former first round pick Quinton Coples on the outside to get after the QB, to go along with Jason Babin and Antwan Barnes.
Sep 14, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiverJordy Nelson
(87) catches a 33 yard pass with New York Jets cornerbackDee Milliner
(27) defending during the second half of a game at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
By far the weakest unit on the team is the secondary. Unfortunately for the Jets, they have had to deal with some bad luck when it comes to this unit. Before the season, the starters at CB were going to be Dee Milliner, Dexter McDougle, and Dimitri Patterson. Both Milliner and McDougle suffered season ending injuries early on, while Patterson was released after a series of weird incidents. Luckily for the Jets, the Jets will have both Milliner and McDougle back for the start of next season.
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Milliner a former first round pick in 2013, and McDougle, the team’s third round pick in the 2014 draft have a lot riding on their shoulders, but both have shown they have the potential to be good players in their limited action so far. At the safety spot, the Jets actually have some good depth. The team can decide whether or not to bring back veteran Dawan Landry next year. If not, the team has 2014 first round pick Calvin Pryor, Antonio Allen, last week’s star Jaiquawn Jarrett, and young safety Rontez Miles, who I am very high on. All in all, the defense has the potential to be very good next season.
While some may some I am a bit too optimistic, I disagree. Many things need to fall into place for the Jets next season, but I do believe the team is headed in the right direction. Also, at this point, the Jets still have close to $18 million in cap space, and the majority of that will carry over into next season. Having that much cap room will allow John Idzik the freedom to resign players, and be active in free agency. While 2014 has been a bit disappointing, I believe the future is bright for Gang Green.