Finding reasonable expectations for the 2017 season
By Paul Newbold
Expectations for the New York Jets heading into the regular season has varied but for the most part, many predict a losing year. Things won’t be all so bad for a team clearly on the rebuild.
There have been far ranging predictions for the 2017 season of the New York Jets. Depending on the power rankings you prefer, the team is rated at or near the bottom of the NFL. Early predictions from analysts have the team finishing anywhere from 0-16 to an optimistic 10-6. I’d like to try and find realistic expectations for the 2017 season.
Defensively and offensively, the Jets roster has gone through major changes in the offseason. Gone is the “old guard”, the highly paid veterans have all but been erased from the roster. With little additions from the free agency period, the Jets turned to the draft and became a much younger football team. The question being debated by many fans this year is where exactly that leaves this team for 2017.
On the defensive side, the additions of Morris Claiborne, Jamal Adams, and Marcus Maye to the team’s secondary have many fans expecting a huge upswing in effectiveness. The theory being most cited is that an improved secondary will allow the Jets front seven to get to the opposing quarterback much more often. While there is little to doubt about the talent the team possesses on its defensive line, there are holes in that theory.
First, critics cite the lack of experience in the proposed secondary for 2017. Beyond Clairborne, there is not much experience at the NFL level. The team bypassed taking a cornerback until the 6th Round and then followed with another in the seventh round. Starting two rookie safeties, no matter how good they might be, also raises some eyebrows among skeptics.
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Secondly, the critics cite the Jets linebacker corps effectiveness at getting to the quarterback.
Last year’s draft pick Darron Lee had a rookie season that was less than spectacular.
The other draft pick from last year was Jordan Jenkins, he played well against the run as the season progressed, but his pass rush needs work.
An aging and ineffective David Harris was just released while the recent addition of Demario Davis did little to improve this corps. The team also drafted Dylan Donahue in the fifth round, but he’ll have his work cut out for him to have an impact in 2017.
Defensively, I believe a reasonable expectation for the 2017 season is an overall improvement over the 2016 season. The secondary will need to come together during training camp, and players will need to step up for any sizable improvement. Two safeties and a free agent corner alone can not fix the woes of last season. The linebacking corps will also have its work cut out for it to come together this summer. The defensive line will need Muhammad Wilkerson to return to form for this group to become a force.
Offensively it all looks pretty good on paper until you break it down. Critics, of course, point the finger first at the quarterback position, and rightfully so. No matter where you stand on any candidate, the fact is the group as a whole have never run a John Morton West Coast offense. The system requires accuracy from the quarterback position and the ability to throw timing routes with their receivers. None of the quarterbacks on the team’s roster have displayed those skill sets in their careers.
The team has a young promising receiver group, but they too will need to learn how to play in Morton’s system. With Jalin Marshall and Austin Seferian-Jenkins slated to start the season on the NFL’s suspension list, things are questionable to start things off. The team took two receivers in this year’s draft; ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen were drafted in the third and fourth round respectively. The group is young, mildly inexperienced, and will need to learn on the fly this summer.
The Jets have two well-suited players for the West Coast offense in Matt Forte and his teammate Bilal Powell. Both are known to have good hands and run crisp clean routes out of the back field. The concern of critics is their age and their durability. Both were injured last season, and both are at or past the dreaded age of 30 for NFL running backs.
Overall, the prospect of the team having an exciting year on offense isn’t that great. A reasonable expectation for this year’s offense, is for it to narrowly edge out the offense of last season. For it to do anymore then that, one of the quarterbacks will need to show development, or in the case of Josh McCown, he’d need a breakout season.
The 2017 season and the success in it for the Jets come downs to “ifs” and “maybes”. If head coach Todd Bowles can improve his coaching style and develop key players, then maybe the defense can once again be a stout one. If the team’s quarterbacks can show development and fully grasp the West Coast offense, then maybe the team will have a successful season.
With so many ifs and maybes surrounding the team’s roster, it’s a hard task to confidently predict what the out come of 2017 season will be. I believe this team is much better than the 0-16 record some predict, and I also think it can exceed the 4-12 calls from many analysts this year. While 10-6 seems a bit too optimistic for this year, a 7-9 season is more likely in my take.
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It’s very early in the process yet, and this roster does possess young talent. They will need to show development and come together as a locker room to achieve much success. The odds of this version of the Jets making it to the playoffs is slim and to contend with the New England Patriots, even slimmer. It takes a lot of time to rebuild a team and it may not be pretty in 2017, but I have to believe better days are coming. What can I say, I’m an optimistic Jet fan! Pressed for an early prediction, I’m reasonably expecting a 7-9 season. Something to build upon hopefully.