2014 NFL Preview: New York Jets

2014 NFL Preview: New York Jets

Looking back at the 2013 New York Jets, it’s a minor miracle they didn’t finish 3-13. They ranked 29th in points scored and navigated the season with a rookie quarterback, a mediocre running game, and the worst wide receiving corps in the league. Even the normally stout defense was middling at best, and yet they somehow managed to finish 8-8, one win shy of a potential playoff berth. Rex Ryan rightfully deserved Coach of the Year mention, a year removed from nearly being fired. Entering 2014, General Manager John Idzik tossed aside a lot of dead weight, added big name free agents, and engineered a promising draft class that yielded 12 picks. On paper, the offense should be improved. On the other hand, the defense has major question marks in the secondary. Here’s a preview of the 2014 Jets.

Outlook: Geno Smith isn’t guaranteed a starting job after throwing 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions as a rookie. He’ll face serious competition in the form of Michael Vick, who had glimpses of brilliance from 2010-12 in offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s attack. Rex Ryan appears to have his mojo back and possesses the necessary craftiness to cover some obvious holes on defense. This is a tricky team to decipher. They could end up exceeding expectations or flopping miserably.

New arrivals: Michael Vick didn’t sign to backup Smith. Vick still believes he has the skills to lead a team to the playoffs. His talent has never been in question, but he is a 4-6 week injury waiting to happen due to his reckless style. Chris Johnson averaged a career low 3.9 yards per carry in 2013, but he’s rushed for over 1000 yards in all six of his seasons and hasn’t missed a start since his rookie year in 2008. Eric Decker won’t have the luxury of catching passes from Peyton Manning, but he represents a huge upgrade over last year’s horrid bunch. Rookie Calvin Pryor is physical and athletic, and could end up as the leader of the secondary by mid-season. Jace Amaro has the pass-catching talent at tight end the team has coveted for years.

Wave goodbye: After four straight injury-riddled, underachieving seasons, Santonio Holmes was finally jettisoned. Antonio Cromartie started 63 of 64 games as a Jet, but he’s now a Cardinal. Ed Reed was clearly past his prime in 2013, so he wasn’t asked back. Same for tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who caught 31 passes and two touchdowns in 12 games a season ago. Basically, the Jets elected to get younger across the board. None of the losses, maybe with the exception of Cromartie, is significant.

Over/Under – 7: The schedule is difficult and the unsettled quarterback situation is troublesome. That said, this Jets team is intriguing. Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson are a disruptive twosome at defensive end. Calvin Pace is coming off his best season as a pro. Quinton Coples is on the cusp of becoming a reliable pass rusher. If Vick, Johnson, and Decker generate big plays, the offense will be steady. Never underestimate Rex Ryan.

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