NY Jets: Top 5 areas of pressing need
Dec 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) runs the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets walk into the 2016 off-season with many pressing needs. They will need to address all of them if they want to contend in 2016.
General manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles have a lot of work to do. Maintaining the roster is key for success come next season. There may be some cap casualties, but that’s the nature of the beast.
The Jets are far from perfect but they had a memorable season in 2015. It was a lot of fun for the fans and players but at the end of the day, they failed to make the NFL Playoffs. They now must endure the long off-season ahead with hopes of being able to replicate and even exceed expectations in 2016.
Here are the top five pressing needs for the Jets as they start to take a good hard look at the roster and start planning every scenario they can think of heading into free agency and the 2016 NFL Draft to enter training camps ready to pick up where they left off.
Next: 5. Fix Special Teams
Nov 22, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (11) returns a kick during the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
5. Fix Special Teams
The Jets hired Bobby April to fix the special teams. They were hardly anything special during the season.
In fact, the Jets were the worst in the league. They had good kicking, but their return and punt games were very suspect.
Their opponents’ 87 punts led to 22 fair catches (tied for eighth in the league) and they had 89 punts that resulted in only 14 fair catches (tied for second to last in the league). They also had a net average of 36.2 (second to last in the league). Kickoff returns weren’t much better, averaging 20.8 yards per return.
Next: 4. Maintain Running Game
Dec 6, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) runs the ball against the New York Giants during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
4. Maintain Running Game
Chris Ivory was a welcome surprise to this team entering his contract year. Ivory had career highs in yards (1,070) and touchdowns (7).
As a team, the Jets were 10th in the league in rushing. They also only lost six fumbles.
With limited cap space, they may have to make room to keep both Ivory and Bilal Powell. However, they can also draft a replacement for Powell if necessary.
Next: 3. Receiving Tight End
Dec 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Tennessee Titans strong safety Marqueston Huff (28) defends New York Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland (85) at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won, 30-8. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
3. Receiving Tight End
For lack of a better word, the tight end position was a joke this season. Jeff Cumberland was the leader among the tight ends with five catches, 77 yards and zero touchdowns.
The depth is thin at this position in free agency. The best players available are Antonio Gates, Marcedes Lewis, Jermaine Gresham and Vernon Davis.
Knowing this, the Jets may turn to the draft, because it’s a cheaper option. Also, the top of the draft class is deeper than the free agent market and they can get a good tight end in the second round.
Next: 2. Pass Rusher
Jan 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) celebrates the win over the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chargers 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
2. Pass Rusher
Despite the turnovers, defense was a small issue for the Jets. They didn’t get to the quarterback fast enough.
They finished the season with 39 sacks and Muhammad Wilkerson had 12. Eight of the 11 teams that had at least 40 sacks made the playoffs.
Not being able to sack the quarterback wasn’t more evident than the playoff elimination game in Orchard Park against the Buffalo Bills. They will either need to hope that Von Miller is available or draft one at No. 20.
Next: 1. Keep their important free agents
Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) celebrates his sack of Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (not shown) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
1. Keep their important free agents
Wilkerson was our best defensive player without question. He led the team in sacks and ranked tied for sixth in the league.
The franchise tag will cost the Jets varying amounts and a long-term deal would be best. According to the position categories on Spotrac, if he’s a defensive lineman, then the average is $15,902,737; at defensive end his number would be $13,181,174; and at defensive tackle, the number would be $11,495,750.
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After his best season, Ryan Fitzpatrick deserves a reward. His cap number this year was $3.25M and he deserves a slight raise as he puts the Jets in a very good position to win plenty of football games next season.