Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA;New York Jets inside linebacker David Harris (52) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) in the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets have a few areas across the team that need to be upgraded. If they can bolster these positions heading into next season, they will be one scary team.
The Jets were one game away from making the NFL Playoffs, and there were several reasons why they missed it. The reasons they got in position to be in the playoff hunt was because the offense played great and so did the defense.
The defense forced 30 turnovers and the offense set or tied records. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick set the record for most touchdown passes in one season and he is second all-time in passing yards in a season. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall also set the Jets’ single season records for yard and catches plus tied the record for touchdowns.
Even with that, their offense left a lot to be desired. Their tight end production was horrendous, and despite the numbers, their offensive efficiency when starting in opponents’ territory was erratic. They had 18 drives which started on the plus side of the field. They had a 7-4 touchdown to turnover (2 on downs and 2 interceptions) ratio. They were also 3-5 on field goals and punted twice, including a punt when they started on the Jaguars’ 37-yard line.
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The fans were excited by the 2-0 start by the Jets, but their offensive inconsistency started early.
In the games against Cleveland and Indianapolis they got 10 turnovers, but they were only able to muster 51 total points. Also, despite getting those turnovers, their defense was only able to get 38 sacks, with 12 coming from Muhammad Wilkerson and let’s not get started on how terrible their special teams was.
The Jets had an exciting run, but it fell short. They will need to upgrade a few positions to get into the playoffs next time around. Let’s take a look at the top five that are priority to get better for 2016.
Next: 5. An unexpected needed upgrade
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
5. Running back
The Jets got a lot out of Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory this season. Ivory had a career year rushing the football rushing for 1,000+ yards for the first time and setting career highs in touchdowns and yards. They got the max they could out of Powell as a dangerous weapon in the passing game out of the backfield scoring two touchdowns receiving and adding one on the ground.
It’s hard after that to say the Jets need an upgrade. However, here is how the team stacked up against the top backs available:
Ivory wore down towards the end of the season and Todd Bowles‘ reluctance to use him in the most crucial game of the season, in Buffalo, bears out why they need a more reliable workhorse back. It also shows why we need an upgrade at the position.
Next: 4. Special help needed
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
4. Kick/Punt returner
Special teams was hardly special for the Jets. Their kickoff return yards (20.8 per return) ranked 26th in the league, punt return average (8.6 per return) ranked 14th in the league and they had the 8th most fair catches in the league with 22.
They also didn’t have a kickoff or punt return for a touchdown. A below average return unit does hamper the offense’s ability to score, because they aren’t setting up the offense with good field positioning.
The Jets will be playing one of the toughest schedules next season, and they won’t be able to expect the 30 turnovers they got from their defense. That means they will need a serious upgrade to their return game.
Next: 3. Help the hogs
Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) prepares to make a pass while being protected by tackle Breno Giacomini (68) during the third quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots won 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
3. Right Tackle
Breno Giacomini under-performed in 2015. While his play wasn’t supremely horrible, it was below the standards he set when the Jets signed him to a four-year $18M contract back in 2014.
The free agent class is relatively deep in talent at the right tackle position, but if they can’t find a fit for what they need, so is the draft class. The best thing about the draft class is there are a few that would play at right tackle early on in a career and could also transition to left tackle after D’Brickashaw Ferguson is no longer on the team.
According to Football Outsiders, the Jets as a whole ranked 26th in the NFL in their stat call Adjusted Line Yards, and it seems that the right tackle position actually brought down those numbers. When you check the yardage at every position, it was over three yards, but at the right tackle position the ALY was 2.68, which ranked 29th in the NFL.
Their definition of ALY: Teams are ranked according to Adjusted Line Yards. Based on regression analysis, the Adjusted Line Yards formula takes all running back carries and assigns responsibility to the offensive line based on the following percentages:
Losses: 120% value 0-4 Yards: 100% value 5-10 Yards: 50% value 11+ Yards: 0% value
There definitely needs to be a serious upgrade based on those numbers. The Jets can get help whenever they can, and it could help them get more consistency from Fitzpatrick.
Next: 2. An addition to their receiving corps
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
2. Tight End
The Jets’ tight end play was worse than their special teams unit, and that’s saying something, because we’re comparing the work of three guys to the work of 10+.
Here are the players listed as tight ends on the official Jets’ roster page.
Here are the stats for the season:
Jace Amaro‘s return from injury is a cheap upgrade for the Jets, but I believe the Jets will need to upgrade via free agency and/or the draft as well. The Jets like to employ the I-formation, which utilizes a fullback, but many teams employ the formation that ESPN’s Jon Gruden calls 12 (1 back and two tight ends).
The Jets can’t incorporate that formation, because they don’t have the talent. However, if they do, it would open up even more for Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall and give whoever the quarterback is next season an extra security blanket plus another red zone target.
Next: 1. Help on the edge
Dec 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) is sacked by New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
1. Pass Rusher
The Jets had 39 sacks as a team last season, and they got 12 of them from one player, Muhammad Wilkerson. Wilkerson should be franchise tagged if the Jets can’t get a deal with him, and that will make him very unhappy. It will also be likely that he ends up playing out that tag, if the Jets don’t trade him, and go elsewhere in 2017.
With that said, some outlets, including NJ.com, have thrown the idea that the Jets could do a deal with the New York Giants and tag-and-trade with them for their 10th overall pick. In that case the Giants would get a needed pass rusher and the Jets could use their number 10 pick on a quarterback.
In my opinion it would be foolish for the Jets to do that, not that trade but drafting a quarterback at No. 10. If they pulled off this trade, they would actually need to use the extra draft pick to fill the void left by Wilkerson and the No. 20 pick on a pass rusher to form a pass rushing duo like the one we expected to see with the Houston Texans.
They’d probably take Alabama product A’Shawn Robinson at No. 10 to replace Wilkerson, and then take a player like Philip Anthony “Scooby” Wright III at No. 20. They need a much more formidable front seven on defense to get after opposing quarterbacks with their tough schedule next season.