May 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coachTodd Bowles
speaks to the media after the organized team activities at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Earlier this week, the New York Jets were one of six teams to kick off their mandatory mini-camps. After this 3-day training, players will be on a mini-vacation until training camp. We are three months away from the season, but for the Jets a lot of questions still exist.
Let’s go through the top 10 questions still looming heading into the 2015 season.
Next: 10. Is Chan Gailey the right fit for the Jets?
May 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterbackGeno 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
10. Is Chan Gailey the right fit for the Jets?
The Jets have had five different offensive coordinators since 2001 and as ESPN’s Rich Cimini reports, none of them have gone on to do anything special.
History tells us it’s a fan-enraging, reputation-tarnishing job in which you’re second-guessed for just about everything. Five men have held the position since 2001, and not one of them has gone on to bigger and better things. The Jets and the Buffalo Bills are the only AFC teams since 2001 that haven’t produced an offensive coordinator who has become a head coach at the pro or college level (not counting Tony Sparano’s interim title last season for the Oakland Raiders). In other words, it’s a dead-end gig.
There have been a lot of factors in why the Jets have had such a fluid offensive coordinator position. One of them being the instability at the quarterback position. From Chad Pennington to Brett Favre to Kellen Clemens to Mark Sanchez well, you get the point. With the combination of players (Marshall, Decker, Amaro, etc.) and his offensive philosophy, will the 6th time be the charm for the Jets?
Only time will tell.
Next: 9. Who will emerge from crowded backfield?
Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) runs with the ball as Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Nigel Bradham (53) pursues during the second half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
9. Who will emerge from crowded backfield?
With a running back by committee approach, will any of the Jets running backs separate from the pack? Chris Ivory, Stevan Ridley, Zac Stacy, and Bilal Powell are the four-horsemen for the Jets. But as Rich Cimini notes, the lack of ‘home-run hitters’ could be a concern.
Do the New York Jets have enough speed in the backfield?
It was a question at the start of the offseason, and it remains a question because the running backs they added — Stevan Ridley and Zac Stacy — aren’t known as breakaway backs. Neither are the returnees, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. In fact, their four backs have combined for only eight runs of 40+ yards in their careers. That covers 1,943 rushing attempts. ()
It was rumored before free agency kicked off that CJ Spiller (formerly with the Buffalo Bills) would be an ideal fit in the Jets’ backfield. But Gailey opted to go the cheaper alternative option of Ridley via a low cost veteran contract and Stacy by way of a 7th round pick traded to the St. Louis Rams. And Gailey feels strongly that this backfield will be successful even without a consistent home-run hitter.
“That’s not that big a deal to me,” Gailey said recently. “I’ve had Emmitt (Smith), I’ve had (Jerome) Bettis and neither one of them are going to run 70 yards. You just adjust to what you have. You set it up to where you become an execution-oriented offense and don’t rely on the big play. If you get one, great, but you don’t rely on it on a consistent basis. Sometimes with certain types of people with certain types of backs, you say, ‘Well, we’re going to get one the next time.’ Well, you may not either.” (Cimini, ESPN)
Though the Jets may not have any players destined for Canton, Ohio in their backfield, they still look to have an effective combination of guys that could improve the 3rd ranked rushing attack in the NFL last season. Ridley has injury and fumble concerns but is certainly a dark horse. Ivory also has to be more consistent, but my money would be on Ivory making that leap.
Next: 8. Can the Jets end the streak?
May 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiverBrandon Marshall
(15) catches a pass during organized team activities at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
8. Can the Jets end the streak?
Of course the streak I’m referring the one about the Jets not having a 1,000 yard receiver since 2007. I mean the Jets’ offense has been abysmal the last several years there’s no way around it. The Jets have had at least some guys: Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Laveranues Coles in the past several years to name a few.
Plus Eric Decker this past year got close with 962 yards. Though most of that came in the final regular season game where Decker finished with 10 receptions for over 220 yards and a touchdown.
Enter Brandon Marshall into the equation. A legitimate No. 1 receiver, one who strikes fear into defenses on Sundays. Marshall is confident that the best of his career is still in front of him. Subsequently, the five-time Pro Bowler said he believes he can have his best season yet in 2015.
If that is true Jets fans can expect north of 118 catches, 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns which are career bests for Marshall. To put it simply, the Jets haven’t had a receiver of this caliber since Keyshawn Johnson. Jets fans are excited as they should be since this streak will come to an end in 2015.
Next: 7. Who will truly breakout for the Jets in 2015?
May 8, 2015; Florham Park, NY, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles (left) watches rookie minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
7. Who will truly breakout for the Jets in 2015?
Wow, this is a tough question because there are so many possible candidates. From upstart rookies making a splash like a Leonard Williams or a Devin Smith. Or even a veteran like Jeremy Kerley with the additions to the rest of the receiving core could be a breakout candidate.
But I think the player that could benefit the most from the talent around him will be Jace Amaro. In this article I wrote earlier this offseason it breaks down in detail why Amaro is the ideal candidate.
But in short, Jace has all the physical tools to dominate down the seam. With Decker and Marshall on the outside, Amaro should have a multitude of opportunities against slower linebackers or smaller safeties. Which could lead to at the very least doubling his rookie season statistics if not more.
Next: 6. Who will be the X-factor for the Jets in 2015?
Jun 11, 2013; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Thomas Mayo (16) catches a pass during the New York Jets minicamp session at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
6. Who will be the X-factor for the Jets in 2015?
It would be easy or me to say the quarterback position, that is obvious. But something more glaring has been an issue, though it plays a major part in the quarterback position. And has played a major part for the past decade. And of course that is turnovers. Drive-killers, game-changers, mistakes, errors, NFL follies; turnovers go by many names.
But regardless of the title, it has plagued the Jets from reaching that next step. In the ‘difference between take-aways and give-aways category’ the Jets have ranked 29th in 2014, 30th in 2013, 29th in 2012, and 19th in 2011 according to ESPN stats and information.
Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez alone have committed nearly over 100 turnovers during their tenures with the Jets. Their records mirrors these atrocious figures. The Jets haven’t been to the postseason since they were in the top-10 in this category. The X-factor this season, and you could say every season. Is getting these figures under control.
If the Jets want to be successful this season they will need to limit turnovers on offense and create a lot more on defense. Which they were unable to do the last several seasons.
Next: 5. Will the Jets' defense live up to the hype?
Oct 16, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rb Gronkowski (87) is tackled by New York Jets inside linebacker David Harris (52) and New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) after catching the ball during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
5. Will the Jets’ defense live up to the hype?
With the additions of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Williams, Buster Skrine, Marcus Gilchrist, and so many more to a unit that was already pretty well off. Understandably so, crazy expectations have already been set for this defense by fans and analysts around the league alike.
The Jets have been ‘crowned’ offseason Super Bowl champions by all the major media markets. From ESPN giving the only ‘A’ offseason grade to the Jets, to even Mel Kiper giving the Jets an ‘A’ draft. But can the Jets’ defense live up to the hype?
For a unit that ranked 6th in the NFL in terms of yards allowed last year it was a little skewed. Sure, the Jets may rank high in some categories but some major categories they didn’t do so hot in. They allowed over 25 points per game last year which ranked in the bottom half of the league.
They were also constantly scorched on defense by their terrible defensive secondary that included the likes of Marcus Williams, Dee Milliner (injured most of the year), Antonio Allen (playing out of position), Phillip Adams, LeQuan Lewis, Kyle Wilson (Bust), and Josh Thomas.
Recognize some of the names? No? Well don’t feel bad, most of these guys were signed earlier in the work week thrown in on Sunday and got torched (excluding Milliner, Allen, and Wilson who were on the roster the year prior).
Another huge problem was the Jets getting opposing offenses off the field on 3rd down last season. This defense legitimately could be the best defense in the NFL. They have the potential with their defensive secondary revamping while adding more toys on the front-7. Opposing teams are worried, and they should be.
Next: 4. Will the reunion yield positive results?
Jun 9, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) and New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie (31) talk during New York Jets minicamp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
4. Will the reunion yield positive results?
Yes, at the beginning of free agency it was all smiles and laughs on One Jets Drive. They had just rejoiced in the fact they had brought back one of their greatest players in franchise history in Revis. Brought back Cromartie from the Arizona Cardinals and inked him to a nice 4-year deal for $32 million.
With all the extra money in there pockets did the Jets brass pick up a copy of the Hot Tub Time Machine? Naysayers are suggesting that Revis (29 years old) and Cromartie (31 years old) are past their prime. That the Jets aren’t grabbing the same players they had several seasons ago. The Jets after paying more than $100 million dollars on these two players are sure hoping they have a lot left in the tank.
I still think Revis is the best cornerback in the game and Cromartie had a nice bounce-back year with the Cardinals in which he was selected to his 4th pro bowl. Plus with the addition of Skrine who will man the slot, the Jets have a much improved unit in 2015.
They may not be the same players they were, but with this front-7 they don’t have to be. The pass-rush will force the quarterback to get the ball out faster which will result in more takeaways for the defense which will put the Jets’ offense in better positions to score.
Next: 3. Will Muhammad Wilkerson get re-signed in 2015?
Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets defensive endMuhammad Wilkerson
(96) against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
3. Will Muhammad Wilkerson get re-signed in 2015?
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) June 9, 2015
Muhammad Wilkerson ended up participating for mandatory minicamps with the Jets. This situation has been lingering for the last several months and even since last year with the previous regime. I’ve said it in multiple articles, the Jets hold all the cards. They exercised the 5th year option on his contract per the new CBA rookie wage scale.
The Jets also drafted USC defensive star Leonard Williams. And even if it came to it, the Jets even have the franchise tag in their back pocket. So there isn’t really a lot Wilkerson can do about anything. From a fan’s perspective I’d love to see a deal get done sooner rather than later.
He is a huge part of this team and though it seems like the Jets have his replacement waiting in the wings, I know Bowles can find a way to utilize all of these guys on the field at the same time. I think ultimately in a last second kind of deal (hopefully a little sooner than the Revis-training camp saga) a deal will be consummated.
Next: 2. Who will be the starting quarterback for the Jets?
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
2. Who will be the starting quarterback for the Jets?
You’ll understand why this isn’t No. 1 on this list when you see the #1 question. But this is certainly going to be the story of the offseason. Gailey caused quite a stir when he ‘anointed’ Geno Smith the starting quarterback. But after some clarification from Bowles, I completely agree with his views on the quarterback position.
In an article written by Dom Cosentino of NJ.com, here is what Bowles said about the Jets’ quarterback situation:
“You don’t start out having two or three games getting first-team reps,” Bowles said. “I view it as open competition. It’s [Smith’s] to lose.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick has a broken leg, Geno was the starter last year, put two-and-two together it’s Geno’s job to lose. But as Bowles says, it’s Fitzpatrick’s job to try and take it away from Geno. In a perfect world scenario, I’m sure most Jets fans agree that you’d rather see Geno win the job as a younger player as he has more potential.
Ultimately the best guy is going to win the job whether that is Smith or Fitzpatrick. But if you want my opinion? Smith is going to be the starter Week 1 vs. the Cleveland Browns. I think he’ll have a 2-3 game leash hopefully by then he can put it all together.
Next: 1. Will the New York Jets end their playoff drought?
May 8, 2015; Florham Park, NY, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan (left) and head coach Todd Bowles watch rookie minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
1. Will the New York Jets end their playoff drought?
The Jets haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010. Back when they were riding high off of two AFC Championship game appearances. It was only 5 years ago, but it seems so much longer ago then that. Back with a blustery Rex Ryan with his bold predictions and that incredible ground and pound offense, oh yeah those were the days.
Fast forward 5 seasons marred with turnovers, fired general managers and coaches alike, boy how the mighty have fallen. With the new regime of Maccaganan and Bowles picking up the pieces and attempting to put the puzzle back together, better times should indeed be ahead.
With arguably a top-3 defense on paper, improving the 3rd ranked rushing attack from last season, turning the worst secondary in the league to perhaps the best, will all this equal some meaningful games in January for the Gang Green?
If I were a betting man, I’d start placing your bets. Tom Brady is out the first quarter of the season. The Jets are looking ready to rumble. With a favorable schedule anything can happen, it’s going to take a combination of all the things on this list.
A lot of questions will have to be answered first. But the green and white should be able to turn the ship around this year. And perhaps here that infamous chant at a home playoff game…we can hope right?