New York Jets: Top 5 strengths heading into 2015
Sep 7, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets receiverEric Decker
(87) is tackled by Oakland Raiders cornerbackTarell Brown
(23) and safetyTyvon Branch
(33) at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Raiders 19-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets had such a marvelous offseason that many believe they have the most upside of any team that is looking to bounce back this upcoming season. They have revamped their abysmal defensive secondary of last year and infused it with some of the top talent money can buy. They added more options at quarterback, running back and yes, even at wide receiver.
With a successful 2015 NFL Draft under their belt as well, what are their top 5 strengths heading into 2015? Take a look now at what will put the Jets in a great position to win plenty of football games this upcoming season.
Next: 5. Bolstered wide receiving corps
Nov 27, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiverBrandon Marshall
(15) before the Thanksgiving game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
5. Bolstered wide receiving corps
For years now the Jets haven’t truly had a solid wide receiving corps. Sure, they’ve had some quality here and there but nowhere near a complete unit that puts fear into the eyes of opposing defenders. The biggest surprise of this offseason so far has been the acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
Sure, he might be a diva in the locker room but he’s going to light up the scene with the Jets as there is no denying the skill-set he brings to the table. So far in his career, he’s contributed 9,771 yards on 773 receptions for 65 touchdowns. He’s the perfect No. 1 option at wide receiver that will also open up things for Eric Decker.
Decker has always been a No. 2 receiver as he thrives in the Y position on the field with his ability to find mismatches and capitalize on them. Jeremy Kerley will continue being a solid slot receiver thanks to his speed and ability to get open in a heartbeat.
Add newly-drafted wide receiver Devin Smith into the mix and the Jets have a solid group at wide receiver. The kind of group that can make up for some possible sub-par performances by Geno Smith if he returns to old habits come next season. Either way, this wide receiving corps will make Smith shine and give him plenty of talent to work with.
Next: 4. Rushing attack in full force
Dec 7, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Jets running backChris Ivory
(33) rushes against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
4. Rushing attack in full force
Last season, the Jets were able to achieve being ranked 3rd in the entire NFL with rushing yards at 142.5 per game which is pretty impressive. Led by running back Chris Ivory, the Jets were able to launch a potent running game that showed off their ability to get the job done on the ground.
Considering that the Jets lost a ton of games due to inconsistency at quarterback and a terrible defensive secondary, there is no reason to believe that new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey won’t continue the ground assault to a degree. Ivory should pick up exactly where he left off last season that saw him contribute 821 yards on 198 carries for five touchdowns.
Zac Stacy looks like he could end up being a hidden gem for the Jets. In just two seasons with the St. Louis Rams, he contributed 1,266 yards on 326 carries for eight touchdowns. Ivory, Bilal Powell and Stacy are the leading candidates to be the new three-headed monster for the Jets at running back.
Look for the Jets to launch a balanced attack this upcoming season with a playbook that emphasizes a spread offense. Considering that all the aforementioned running backs do have experience receiving the football as well, look for them to play a hand when it comes to helping out the passing game.
Next: 3. Leonard Williams will be unleashed
Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Leonard Williams (Southern California) poses for a photo with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number sixth overall pick to the New York Jets in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
3. Leonard Williams will be unleashed
In a shocking situation that nobody really predicted, the best defensive prospect in the entire draft was still available to the Jets with their No. 6 pick in the first-round. Defensive end Leonard Williams will be an absolutely monster for the Jets. He’s the perfect kind of depth to add to the Jets’ defensive line as he will be unleashed this upcoming season and prove he has everything he needs to take the NFL by storm.
In his college career at USC, Williams contributed 218 tackles, 21.0 sacks, two interceptions and five forced fumbles. Needless to say, what he brings to the table for the Jets will be intensity, aggression and above all else a relentless attitude to be the very best at everything he does.
Williams will bolster an already incredible defensive line that features Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison and Sheldon Richardson. Since the Jets will most likely stick to a 3-4 base defense, new defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers will definitely utilize his speed and raw power to get the job done, especially on 3rd and short defensive situations.
Overall, the Jets will have one of the top defenses in the NFL come next season. They’ve tremendously bolstered the defensive side of the football to put them as early contenders in the AFC East. If this defense plays as good as advertised, they will wreak havoc all season long even against the most prolific offenses coming their way.
Next: 2. New leadership
Jan 21, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets new general manager Mike Maccagnan (left), ownerWood
y Johnson (center), and new head coachTodd Bowles
(right) pose for a photo during a press conference at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com via USA TODAY Sports
2. New leadership
Owner Woody Johnson needed to change the culture of the Jets and did so brilliantly when he decided to bring in a new general manager and head coach. Both general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles seem to have a solid understanding at what needs to happen to build a successful team from the ground up.
Maccagnan sure did impress many this offseason with making a ton of smart football moves to help add some much-needed talent to the Jets. So far in organized team activities, Bowles has made the right strides and comments in rebuilding the mentality of this team that the past is buried and new hope is indeed on the horizon.
It won’t be an easy journey but so far, the new leadership in town is winning over a fan base that grew tired of the previous regime as everything seems much more focused, refined and is brewing the right formula to be competitive again.
Players are responding to all the new leadership nicely as for the most part, everyone wants to do whatever is needed to turn things around for the better come next season and beyond. It’s hard to get everyone to believe in the overall message but so far, the pieces are falling right into place thanks to a new era being upon the team.
Next: 1. Revamped defensive secondary
Nov 17, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets cornerbackAntonio Cromartie
(31) breaks up a pass to Buffalo Bills wide receiverMarquise Goodwin
(88) during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
1. Revamped defensive secondary
They always say that defense wins championships as it’s completely true when it comes to the grand scheme of things. The Jets spared no expense in bolstering their defensive secondary beyond belief. With returning faces in Antonio Cromartie and Revis Island once again in New York, the Jets already have two of the top defensive backs ready to stop opposing offenses dead in their tracks.
When it comes to the other positions, Calvin Pryor will now be able to move back to his natural position at strong safety while Marcus Gilchrist will be a key contributor at free safety. Pryor had a pretty terrible rookie season that saw him contribute only 35 tackles, 0.5 sacks and not even a single interception.
Perhaps with this change to his old stomping grounds as a strong safety will enable him to live up to his nickname of being a “Bonecrusher” with how hard he hits opponents. He showed some promise last season but fizzled out, whether it was the learning curve of transitioning to the NFL or not, he will definitely show much improvement heading into next season.
Cornerback Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle are coming back off of a season-ending injuries and are looking to make quite an impact in 2015. The Jets have quality all over the place on their defensive secondary from their starters all the way to the incredible depth they have just waiting in the background to contribute when called upon.
Overall, the Jets have plenty of strengths heading into next season and should be able to contend in the AFC East, especially against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Keep an eye on this team as they have the pieces in place to make a serious run in 2015, much to the surprise of many who still doubt the Jets even after all their big offseason acquisitions.
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