NY Jets: The core four
Sep 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets inside linebacker Demario Davis (56) comes away with a fumble recovery during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Jets 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Steven Ryan-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets have kicked off the regular season with an astonishing 4-1 record thanks to the efforts of four key players in particular, entering their contract years.
If anyone, fans or analysts, were told the NY Jets would hold a 4-1 record and stand second in the AFC East behind the undefeated Patriots and ahead of the tough defensive Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, they would have told you to wake up, you’re dreaming. Dreams can become a reality.
That being said, pinch yourself fans, the Jets are 4-1 and stand in second place in the AFC East. The success the Jets have achieved both offensively and defensively this season has been nothing short of dominant.
With the Jets 34-20 victory over the Washington Redskins this past week, collecting once again another handful of turnovers with an interception by Darrelle Revis and Marcus Gilchrist, the Jets defense has now forced 15 turnovers throughout their first five games of the season. On offense, Brandon Marshall recorded over 100-yards receiving for the fourth consecutive game becoming the first Jet to do so since Don Maynard in 1968.
The Jets not only stand in second place behind the undefeated New England Patriots but also rank in the top ten in power rankings. There’s a reason why this team has become so successful in just a span of one-off season coming off a forgettable 4-12 year. Efforts from each member of the Jets have contributed greatly to their impressive first quarter of the season, but four in particular have made the biggest impact on the Jets this year so far and they just so happen to be entering their final year of their current contract.
Muhammad Wilkerson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chris Ivory and Demario Davis will all be free agents at the beginning of free agency in 2016 if no further contract is reached. If they keep playing at the rate they are, the Jets will have some tough decisions to make down the road in order to keep this core four.
Let’s take a deeper look at this talented core.
Next: 4. The bearded wonder
Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws the ball in the second half against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
4. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Fitzpatrick has to be the biggest surprise of them all, a true journeyman in the NFL coming out of the 2005 NFL Draft by way of the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round. Since then, Fitzpatrick found himself on rosters of NFL teams such as the Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans and now currently with the Jets. Fitzpatrick signed a two-year contract worth $7.5 million and $4 million guaranteed with the Texans back in 2014.
He was traded to the Jets in March of 2015 for a conditional late-round draft pick. Fitzpatrick took over as the starter for Gotham once Geno Smith suffered a broken jaw during a locker room altercation with former linebacker IK Enemkpali. Since then, Fitzpatrick has recorded 1,177 yards for 9 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and has also recorded 83 rushing yards on the year with one rushing touchdown.
Let’s not forget he has led the Jets to a 4-1 start of the season as well. Fitzpatrick has developed a smooth chemistry with his offense which is being orchestrated by his former head coach Chan Gailey. He is entering the final year of his original contract that the Jets acquired from Houston. If they choose to re-sign the 32 year-old quarterback it will most likely be as their back up unless the team is still left with only Smith as pure competition.
Next: 3. The man that continues to be consistent
Oct 4, 2015; London, United Kingdom; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) in Game 12 of the NFL International Series at Wembley Stadium.The Jets defeated the Dolphins 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
3. Muhammad Wilkerson
Muhammad Wilkerson, the heart of the Jets’ defensive line and arguably the NFL’s best defensive end behind JJ Watt, is entering the final year of his current rookie contract. Wilkerson, a first-round draft pick by the Jets in the 2012 NFL Draft, signed a four-year rookie deal worth $6.8 million with a $3.5 million signing bonus.
Wilkerson since entering the NFL has proven to be one of the toughest and more solid defensive ends in the league. The 25 year-old has recorded 24 tackles on the year with 4 sacks and 1 forced fumble. His career stats consist of 261 tackles with 28.5 sacks and one interception. Wilkerson will be asking Watt kind of money as he will most likely seek a contract in the area of 6 years $75-100 million.
As the season progresses, Wilkerson will only get better and is essentially playing for his next big contract. The Jets didn’t pull the trigger to get a new deal done during this past off-season as that might come back to haunt them. Hopefully they will come to terms for a new deal considering just how important Wilkerson is to the Jets’ defense and how his best football is still ahead of him.
Next: 2. The soul on defense
Oct 4, 2015; London, United Kingdom; New York Jets linebacker Demario Davis (56) watches as Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) prepares to take the snap in Game 12 of the NFL International Series at Wembley Stadium.The Jets defeated the Dolphins 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
2. Demario Davis
Demario Davis, the Jets’ starting middle linebacker next to veteran David Harris will also be seeking a fresh, brand new contract at the end of the year. Davis was a third-round draft pick back in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Jets, he signed a four-year rookie deal worth $2.7 million with a $613,800 signing bonus.
This season, Davis has recorded 31 tackles for the Jets as his career stats consist of 191 solo tackles with 4.5 sacks, 1 interception and 4 fumbles recovered. Next to Harris, Davis is the soul of the Jets’ linebacker corps since he has exceeded in his development as a third-round linebacker.
Davis will demand at least a 4-year contract from the Jets pairing him up with Harris long term. He’s continues to be a leader on defense and keeps everyone in check during key defensive stops. He’s been an instrumental piece on defense and will continue to prove his worth as he plays out the final year of his contract.
Next: 1. He runs with purpose and determination
Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) carries the ball against the Washington Redskins during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
1. Chris Ivory
Last but not least, Chris Ivory. He is a running back that, a few years ago, no one even knew of. It wasn’t until Ivory was traded to the Jets for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft that made teams question his significance.
Ivory wasted little time proving he was the Jets go-to guy beating out every player fighting for his spot including guys such as Mike Goodson and Chris Johnson. On the season, Ivory has recorded 460 rushing yard on 83 attempts with 4 rushing touchdowns. His career stats consist of 3,421 rushing yards with 21 touchdowns on 719 attempts.
Ivory has become the missing link on the Jets’ offense as he is the first solid and consistent half back the Jets have had since guys such as LaDanian Tomlinson and Curtis Martin. Opposing defenses so far this season have struggled to slow down Ivory, a true must-sign player this off-season. Ivory with his great success could command a four-year or more contract locking him in Gang Green until 2019-2020.
Overall, these four free agents following the 2015 season are four of the key players that have impacted the early success this year for the Jets. Whether the Jets hold on to all four of them or not when all is said and done, they have each proven they are indeed worthy for a big payday. Only time and money will tell if the Jets can financially afford to re-sign all four core players.