Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterbackGeno Smith
(7) looks on from the bench during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets might have quite the team on paper but when it all comes down to it, do they have any weaknesses? It’s no secret that the Jets not only spent a lot of money this offseason but they had such a successful 2015 NFL Draft that many analysts said was one of the best overall in the entire league. What could possibly hold them back heading into 2015?
Take a look at the top 5 weaknesses of the Jets that could derail their hopes of having a rebounding year next season.
Next: 5. Safety
Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets free safetyCalvin Pryor
(25) reacts against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Hopefully with Calvin Pryor switching to his more natural position of strong safety this upcoming season, he can live to the hype of being one of the hardest hitting tacklers to play at his position. Needless to say, he’s been a disappointment so far in his transition to the NFL. Last season in his rookie year, Pryor contributed only 35 tackles, 0.5 sacks and only two passes defended.
If he is to put the Jets’ defense in the forefront of the NFL, he’ll need to put up much better statistics than last season. With Marcus Gilchrist brought in to solidify the Jets’ free safety position, he should be somewhat of an upgrade but isn’t exactly known for being one of the best defenders in the league when it comes to coverage.
Hopefully with a revamped defensive secondary, the Jets bounce back nicely since last season, most opposing offenses had their way with the team when launching aerial assaults. If Pryor plays to his potential and Gilchrist can improve in his coverage skills, the Jets should be just fine when it comes to safety.
If not however, even though they have Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie back as their premiere cornerbacks, the Jets will have problems when it comes to stopping the top offenses coming their way this season if their athletes at safety don’t keep up with their assignments.
Next: 4. Projected spread offense
May 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) hands the ball to New York Jets running backBilal Powell
(29) during organized team activities at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
4. Projected spread offense
New offensive coordinator Chan Gailey will be installing a new offensive playbook that will cater to the strengths of his players. With a new projected spread offense, there will definitely be a learning curve for many, especially at quarterback. While Geno Smith use to thrive under this kind of offense back when he was in college at West Virginia, he’ll have to be incredibly sharp if he wants to thrive in it on the Jets.
The Jets will most likely have a balanced offensive attack which is leaps and bounds different than what they’ve been launching offensively these past few years. After being established as a true ground-and-pound kind of team for quite some time, this sudden change of offense might not work out as expected in its initial stages.
With better wide receivers in Brandon Marshall and Devin Smith, it should help make the transition to this projected spread offense somewhat easier but studying up on it and actually executing it are two different ballgames. The Jets could be in serious trouble if this offense doesn’t produce results right off the bat.
This new offense will take time to master as there is no telling just how long it’ll be until it’s mastered and executed as intended. If the Jets’ offense struggles this upcoming season, it might be another long season to endure.
Next: 3. Eric Decker
Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker (87) against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
3. Eric Decker
In his debut season with the Jets last year, Eric Decker was hands down the best wide receiver on the team. He contributed 962 yards on 74 receptions for five touchdowns which wasn’t so bad considering the instability the Jets had at quarterback. Keep in mind however, his numbers took a dramatic dip after he went from getting receptions from Peyton Manning to Smith.
Is he simply a product of Manning and the high-octane offense of the Denver Broncos or will Decker actually emerge as a top wide receiver in the league? Considering that the Jets acquired Marshall this offseason, it’ll allow Decker to go back to his natural position as a No. 2 receiver on the depth chart.
What happens if this time around, Decker doesn’t produce the kind of results he had in Denver before getting his big free agency contract with the Jets? There is the possibility that the Jets have splurged on a wide receiver that had his numbers padded because he was playing with a future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Hopefully Decker thrives in the No. 2 slot on the Jets’ receiving corps because if he doesn’t, the team will once again have problems on the receiving end of the football. Only time will tell but if Decker doesn’t step up even more and deliver some incredible results in his second year with the Jets, their offense might have similar problems producing touchdowns like it did last season.
Next: 2. Tight End
Dec 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets tight endJeff Cumberland
(85) runs with the ball against the New England Patriots during the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
2. Tight End
It’s been quite some time since the Jets had a dominating tight end on offense. Jeff Cumberland is good but he’s not great, which could be a major weakness on the team under their new projected spread offense. It’s the kind of offense that requires tight ends to find the open field and be depended on to catch passes running seam routes.
Last season, Cumberland contributed 247 yards on 23 receptions for three touchdowns. When the Jets drafted Jace Amaro in the 2014 NFL Draft, they were hoping he could be their long-term answer at tight end but he’s been struggling heavily in his transition to the NFL so far.
With Cumberland not being anything spectacular and Amaro dropping easy passes, the Jets might not get much production out of one of the cornerstone positions on a spread offense. While Cumberland’s strengths lie in his pass protection and run-blocking abilities, the Jets will need their tight ends more than ever heading into next season.
Since the Jets will more than likely ditch their run-oriented offense of the past, they will have some weaknesses at tight end due to the lack of talent to get the job done when it comes to receiving. Hopefully Amaro emerges in a breakout year but from early reports on OTAs thus far this offseason, he’s back to his old habits of making too many mental mistakes on the field.
Next: 1. Quarterback
May 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) and New York Jets quarterbackRyan Fitzpatrick
(14) during organized team activities at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Without question, the top weakness of the Jets heading into 2015 is with their quarterback situation. With conflicting reports from head coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey in who exactly will start at quarterback, it looks like they’ll be a competition at the most important position on the team later this summer after all.
Will it be Smith? Ryan Fitzpatrick? Could Bryce Petty be the Jets’ version of Russell Wilson and completely blow away the competition in training camp? Only time will tell but regardless, it doesn’t look good for the Jets and their confidence that they will get consistent results at quarterback this upcoming season.
Smith has been known to be a turnover machine in the past and unless he complete evolves into a quarterback that doesn’t make as many mental errors, he’ll be called out with every interception he throws. Fitzpatrick is coming off a broken leg injury so his durability come next season could be in question.
Petty has a ton of upside but again, it’s incredibly hard and rare to have a rookie in his position emerge as an NFL-ready caliber quarterback. No matter who is under center in 2015, the Jets will have a weakness at quarterback that won’t take long for opposing teams to take advantage of.