Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets need a lot of work heading into 2017. Here are the top five ways to fix the state of the franchise to have better results come next season.
After going 10-6 just a year before, 2016 brought another meltdown of a season by the New York Jets. They ended at 5-11, made a lot of dumb decisions both on and off the field, and at the end of it all, were a complete embarrassment of a franchise last season.
The only good thing that came from last season was the rise of several young players that could potentially have successful futures with the Jets. Players like Quincy Enunwa, Darron Lee, and even Robby Anderson could be future cornerstones at their respective positions and bring some positive thoughts moving forward.
So how does one fix the state of the Jets to have more respectable results this time around? It’s all about honesty, being humble, and sticking to an action plan that will bring a much better outcome. Results should be low for 2017 but that doesn’t mean the Jets have to once again show no effort or competitiveness this time around.
Without further ado, here are the top five ways to fix the Jets for next season and possibly even years to come.
Next: 5. Rehaul entire offensive philosophy
Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) runs the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
5. Rehaul entire offensive philosophy
Last season, it was hard to tell what kind of overall offensive philosophy the Jets had. They were built to run the football and although they had success on the ground, stuck with more of an aerial attack even though it didn’t always work well.
It shouldn’t have taken the Jets weeks in ultimately deciding to bench a struggling Ryan Fitzpatrick especially considering they went into the regular season with four quarterbacks on the depth chart. Either way, the Jets need to rehaul their entire offensive playbook and come up with something that is new, exciting, and able to consistently bring results.
New offensive coordinator John Morton was brought in this offseason to replace Chan Gailey which was a move that needed to happen. Not only will Morton be able to transform this offense into something more efficient, but he should lay down a new offensive playbook that has a common theme to it.
Will the Jets focus more on a quick passing attack with one of their young gunslingers and all the great up-and-coming wide receivers they have? Will they draft a top running back with their No. 6 overall pick and build around him? It’s hard to tell now but once Morton comes up with his offensive playbook, it should be the blueprint for the offseason plans of the Jets heading into the regular season. Either way, there shouldn’t be anything kept offensively from last year since clearly, it was terrible, to say the least.
Next: 4. Rebuild entire defensive secondary
Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Justin Hunter (17) catches a pass over a fallen New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
4. Rebuild entire defensive secondary
The truth of the matter is, the defensive secondary of the Jets was easily the biggest weakness of the franchise last season. Every single week, opposing quarterbacks had a field day against the positional group and once again, the Jets waited too long to make some demotions to starters simply not getting the job done.
Despite what is going on with the off-the-field incident involving cornerback Darrelle Revis, the Jets should have benched him. Too many times, he didn’t hustle to take down players holding the football and looked like he didn’t even want to be on the football field. Attitudes like that can destroy a culture faster than a New York minute and at the end of the day, Revis was a veteran leader as it’s hard to imagine any of the younger defensive backs listening to what he had to say. He looked unmotivated and since he just had no effort on the gridiron.
Either way, the Jets need to rebuild their entire defensive secondary for the better. It’s hard to tell what will ultimately happen to Revis but before the incident, he was on the chopping block regardless due to his regression last season. The Jets need to bring in young defensive backs that want to not only play hard but give 110 percent on every single down. You know, defensive ballhawks that hustle, hit hard, and have pride because they want to wear a Jets uniform.
It’s important the Jets do this with their defensive secondary since the NFL is mostly a passing league. It’s all about top quarterbacks and their premier wide receivers that air it out more than anything else. If the Jets want to be competitive next season, it’s important they have cornerbacks and safeties that can keep up with anyone coming their way.
Next: 3. Get younger and more talented on offensive line
3. Get younger and more talented on offensive line
It doesn’t matter who is under center or what versatile running back a team has, if your offensive line is inconsistent, getting older, and always having to plug holes due to starters getting injured, your offense isn’t going to do well. Such is the case with the Jets that are in dire need to get younger and bring in better talent on their offensive line.
With the NFL Free Agency period looming, the Jets should try to bring in some quality depth to their offensive line and use some of their early draft picks to bolster the positional group. Take a look at all the top teams of last season that made the NFL Playoffs and you’ll almost always see a solidified offensive line that helped get them there.
Bringing in younger and better talent will open everything up for the Jets on offense. If their new offensive coordinator wants to launch a pass-heavy playbook, they’ll need to keep the quarterback upright to execute. If they want to emphasize a ground game, they’ll need offensive lineman that consistently open up the necessary gaps and rushing lanes to give their running back what he needs to run for daylight.
Football games are won and lost in the trenches. The Jets need to understand they won’t go far next season until they address their offensive line and at the very least, bring in players with a ton of upside for years to come.
Next: 2. Have an open quarterback competition
Dec 17, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) looks to pass against the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
2. Have an open quarterback competition
What do the Jets have in quarterback Bryce Petty? What about Christian Hackenberg? Will they even consider keeping Geno Smith around to see if he’s the answer? Regardless, the Jets, once again, have a huge question mark when it comes to the most important position on the team.
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Ultimately what makes the most sense is for the Jets to stick with their young quarterbacks in Petty and Hackenberg while also bringing in a very inexpensive free agent veteran as insurance. Again, the Jets shouldn’t waste their time with a band-aid quarterback like Tony Romo or Jay Cutler but rather, have a real open quarterback competition come training camp and may the best person win.
Hopefully, Petty proves that he is the best option to start and can actually have a full season to show what he’s got. It’s the only way to see if he can be the franchise quarterback the Jets need to finally have someone that is worth building around. Maybe it could even be Hackenberg or another veteran quarterback that is a game manager capable of doing just enough to win football games.
Ultimately, the Jets should continue developing both Petty and Hackenberg for the future. It doesn’t make sense to give up a first-round pick and/or players to bring in a popular veteran quarterback this offseason since the Jets have gone down that path and achieved little results. Even in 2015 when the Jets looked like a real contender, they fell short and still didn’t even make the playoffs. It’s best to avoid repeating history and again, stick with an open competition and give the starting position to the quarterback that gives the Jets the best play from under center.
Next: 1. Be honest with themselves and fans
Nov 22, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New York Jets owner Woody Johnson talks with Jets fans prior to a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
1. Be honest with themselves and fans
It’s not easy being a fan of the Jets. Time and time again they give you some great memories that last a lifetime but then make some pretty dumb decisions that make you question your allegiance. Regardless, it’s best the Jets are not only honest with themselves but their loyal fans.
The Jets were terrible last year and are looking for redemption in 2017. The Jets must be honest and keep expectations low in the grand scheme of things for next season. It’s hard and incredibly rare to see a team go from a 5-11 season to one that makes them earn a spot in the playoffs and go the distance. The best thing the Jets need to do is simply, keep it real with everyone.
At some point this offseason, the Jets should have a press conference with a basic action play that they plan to stick with and execute on. No, it’s not about giving their competition a look at their secret agenda or what kind of personnel moves they plan to do but rather, break down where their faults were last season and how they plan to bounce back this time around.
Don’t expect the Jets to be a contender in 2017 since it’ll take another year or two to fix all the issues across the team as this year’s free agency period and draft won’t be enough to turn them into contenders overnight. But an action plan with clear explanations at what the plan is at quarterback, talking about real player competitions at every position, better coaching, and more accountability across the table would not only earn a ton of respect but give fans hope that while it might not happen anytime soon, the Jets are heading in a better direction. One that will hopefully bring a team that actually hustles every single game whether they win or lose but also preach about being patient for everything to come together down the road.