Dec 6, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
As the New York Jets prepare for the upcoming season, they won’t be winning the AFC East due to several key factors that will inhibit having major success.
The New York Jets in 2015 exceeded expectations by posting a final record of 10-6. Last season, the AFC East saw the New England Patriots once again winning the division at 12-4, the Jets in second place, Buffalo Bills in third with 8-8 and finally, the Miami Dolphins at the bottom finishing the year at 6-10.
Unfortunately for the Jets heading into the regular season, things are much different now. While they did find some upgrades this free agency, they also lost some key players that won’t exactly be easy to replace.
It’s hard to gauge just what will transpire in 2016 of course but truth of the matter is with the uncertainty of their quarterback situation, veterans only getting older and a much tougher schedule this time around, it’s not going to be as easy.
Without further ado, here are the top five reasons why the Jets won’t be winning the AFC East this upcoming season.
Next: 5. A tough as nails schedule
Jan 17, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) carries the ball against the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter during the NFC Divisional round playoff game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
5. A tough as nails schedule
Last season, the Jets played well enough to finally have a winning year but unfortunately missed the NFL Playoffs entering a golden situation. All they had to do was beat the Bills in a “win and get in” scenario but they lost with everything on the line.
This time around, the first six weeks of the season see the Jets face the Cincinnati Bengals, Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals. Five of which all were teams that made the playoffs that year.
The Jets could easily lose key games to start the season off on a bad note and should the unfortunate happen where they go 1-5 or even 2-4, it might be hard to bounce back as the season progresses.
With a tough as nails schedule to start the year off, the Jets might not be able to adjust accordingly and could be on the outside looking in when it comes to winning the AFC East.
Next: 4. Losing several key players
4. Losing several key players
When one looks at the offseason of the Jets, it’s easy to see they lost several key players that had a major hand in their winning ways last year. With defensive tackle Damon Harrison and running back Chris Ivory bolting via free agency, they will leave behind some voids that won’t be easy to fill.
Harrison was one of the key cornerstones on defense, especially against the run. Last season, he totaled 39 tackles and started in all 16 games. He solidified the middle of the Jets’ defensive line and even though Steve McLendon was acquired via free agency as his replacement, it’ll take time for him to be as dominant and consistent as his predecessor.
While running back Matt Forte is an upgrade over Ivory, there is no denying that despite his usual late-season decline, Ivory was a big factor during key victories for the Jets. Once he was hot, there was no stopping his power-running attack.
Out of all the key players the Jets lost, offensive lineman D’Brickashaw Ferguson is one that hurts the most. To win plenty of football games is to win the battle of the trenches and well, the Jets’ offensive line lost a huge part of it. Ferguson was as consistent as they come and excellent in protecting his quarterback and establishing running gaps/lanes for the ground game.
Next: 3. A Cinderella team is brewing in the division
Jun 14, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan speaks to the press after mini-camp at the ADPRO Sports Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
3. A Cinderella team is brewing in the division
Looking around the AFC East, every team for the most part upgraded key areas of weakness heading into the regular season. Teams got faster on defense, added some big offensive weapons and leadership regimes are doing their best to post a winning season.
Of course the team to beat are the New England Patriots but make no mistake about it, there is a Cinderella team brewing in the AFC East. You know, the one that fans least expect that will try to derail the current division champion Patriots and earn a huge spot in the playoffs.
It could be the Jets but reality says that the Bills will more than likely put up a contending team, one that could go toe-to-toe with the Patriots. Head coach Rex Ryan is once again playing for his job and will make sure that this time around, his team stays humble and executes.
With his top-notch defensive mind, Ryan will lead the charge with a team that could field one incredible defense and a high-octane offense. One of which that judging by last year, will ensure the Jets won’t be anywhere near on top of the division.
Next: 2. The uncertainty at quarterback
May 25, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) and New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
2. The uncertainty at quarterback
When one looks around the NFL, it’s easy to see that the best of the best all have one thing in common; they all have an established and consistent quarterback.
As much as it’s possible the Jets can win plenty of football games thanks to a potent ground-and-pound offense and their stout defense, if they have terrible quarterback play, they’ll be in for a rather long season.
Quarterback Geno Smith is at this point in time the Jets’ starter and it could go either way in 2016. While there is optimism he will deliver a breakout season with much better talent around him, hope is much different than harsh reality.
With their uncertainty at quarterback and compared to their AFC East neighbors, the Jets are at a major disadvantage without the stability they had with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who not only led their offense towards a record-setting year, he had the love and respect of the locker room. The Jets, should they head into the season with Smith at quarterback, will need time for him to earn similar respect. They’re the only team in the division with the biggest question mark at the most important position on the team.
Next: 1. The Patriots
Jan 3, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) scrambles during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins won 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
1. The Patriots
They’re the cream of the crop, the team with a future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback/head coach and a culture built on perennial success. That’s right, one of and more than likely the only reason the Jets won’t win the AFC East is thanks to the Patriots.
All the Patriots know how to do is win and well, ever since quarterback Tom Brady took over, they’ve consistently won the division and of course, several Super Bowls along the way. It’s a shame really since last year, the Jets split their games against them 1-1 and almost went 2-0 but fell short.
Just because the Patriots will be without Brady the first four games of the season doesn’t mean the team will miss a beat. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been studying under Brady for a few years now and is more than capable of running the Patriots’ offense efficiently during his absence.
Overall, the Jets will have a hard time in 2016 to win the AFC East, especially with the Patriots on the quest to add another championship to their franchise. The Jets simply don’t have the overall talent to keep up with them and quite honestly, the Patriots will once again be on top with everyone else looking up when all is said and done.