A pre-draft look at Jets offense heading into 2017
By Paul Newbold
Sep 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) and quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) prior to action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Right before the 2017 NFL Draft, here is a pre-draft look at the overall offense of the New York Jets.
The offense of the New York Jets was much maligned by fans and analysts in 2016. Poor quarterback play, offensive line struggles, and a below average running game all combined to make the team the 26th rated offense.
The Jets were all over the place last season but lacked consistency. They couldn’t score touchdowns and clearly, lacked the leadership to get through the many offensive struggles.
Of course, playcalling also had a major hand in everything as offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was rightfully relieved of his duties. Hopefully, new offensive coordinator John Morton makes the most of this offense, which should bring more energy to the field than what Jet fans saw last season.
All of this required major changes and general manager Mike Maccagnan has been working to improve the offense this offseason. Let’s take a pre-draft look at it in its current slate.
Next: Offensive Line
The team’s offensive line has been in transition for the past several years. Long time contributors, D’Brickashaw Ferguson retired prior to the 2016 season and the team parted ways with center Nick Mangold this year. Breno Giacomini also saw his time with the team come to an end due to erratic play and financial considerations.
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Meanwhile, the Jets began to revamp their offensive front, and it’s beginning to take form. James Carpenter and Brian Winters return after solid efforts in 2016. Wesley Johnson will return on a one-year deal to presumably take over the center position, though he may face a competition this summer. Brandon Shell was a rookie last season and showed well when he was called upon.
He’ll face competition at right tackle, but with development, Shell has the potential to be a starter in his second season. The Jets also added Kelvin Beachum and Jonotthan Harris during free agency to bolster their line and provide much-needed depth.
Assuming the line consists of James Carpenter at left guard, and Beachum at left tackle, the left side promises to be solid. The right side has Winters holding down the guard position, while Shell will have a competition to start at the tackle position. Johnson certainly isn’t an upgrade over Mangold, but with development and competition, the position should be sufficient for 2017. Overall this line is shaping up to be an improved version of the one the team fielded in 2016.
Next: Running Back
Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) breaks the tackle of Buffalo Bills cornerback Corey White (30) during the 3rd quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneider-USA TODAY Sports
The team will once again feature Matt Forte and Bilal Powell as their running backs in 2017. Both players posted over a thousand yards of combined offense in 2016. With Forte aging, Powell will get his opportunity to prove he can carry the bulk of the load in the running game.
The team also has a young running back prospect in Brandon Wilds on the roster. The trio should be sufficient to improve the run game behind an upgraded offensive line, but look for the Jets to take a prospect to replace Forte in this year’s draft.
Overall, the run game will be much the same as 2016 unless the team brings in a significant talent from this year’s draft.
Next: Wide Receiver
Oct 23, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; The New York Jets celebrate a touchdown by New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) during the first half of their game against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets have plenty of young potential starters, but with little experience. Eric Decker returns after two surgeries, and the hope is he can bounce back and lead the group in 2017. Quincy Enunwa has proven himself to be a potent weapon and has become the team’s No. 2 receiver. The team also signed free agent Quinton Patton to the group this offseason.
Beyond the starters, there is potential. Robby Anderson burst onto the scene in 2016 and provided fans with something to cheer about. Jalin Marshall is another promising talent but will start the season on the suspended player’s list. Charone Peake also offers potential, and Devin Smith returns in hopes to prove he can stay healthy and produce.
The Jets currently have eleven wideouts on the roster, which guarantees there will be plenty of competition come training camp. Overall, the team’s wide receiver group should see improvement over 2016. Development and competition will be key factors, and the team may very well be looking into adding another talent via this year’s draft.
Next: Tight End
Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (88) on a catch against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jimmie Ward (25) during the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The tight end position has been a thorn in the team’s side for years now. In 2016, the play at the position was nothing short of horrific. In a league where the position has taken on an increasing importance on offense, the Jets have lagged behind significantly.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins leads the group into 2017. Jenkins was with the team in 2016 but was a disappointment when it came to production. Behind Jenkins, the team has virtually no experience in the NFL. The team currently has four tight ends on the roster, and will certainly need to add talent to the position from this year’s draft.
Overall, the position is poor at this time.
December 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) during the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. The Jets defeated the 49ers 23-17 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The position once again is the hot topic for the team. Ryan Fitzpatrick departed after a horrendous 2016 season. Bryce Petty saw limited duty last season, and what we saw was less than ideal from the backup. Christian Hackenberg never saw the field in 2016, leaving us with little to evaluate him with. In addition to the two young arms, the team signed 37-year-old Josh McCown.
Prior to the draft, the position appears lacking. There are still young quarterbacks on the roster, however, and with development, it’s anyone’s guess what they will look like in 2017. I believe Hackenberg holds the biggest potential, but don’t rule out the Jets drafting another talent to supplement the stable.
Next: Overall Offense
Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Detailed view of a New York Jets helmet during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The team has significant talent on the offensive side of the football. The offensive line promises to be an upgraded unit, which will aid both in the running game and the passing game. The wide receiver group is talented, if not overly experienced. Tight end remains a weakness, but can certainly be upgraded in a deep draft at the position.
Next: Jets should channel a Joe Namath-like attitude in 2017
The run game has the potential to be more potent than in 2016. The divisive position, of course, remains at quarterback. If the team can find a solution this summer, the Jets offense promises to be a fun watch in 2017.