Oh Where to Start: Ranking Positions the Jets Need the Most Help From
Added by Justin O'Connell on January 22, 2013.
Dustin Keller is not expected to return to the Jets next season, leaving a hole at tight end.
With all the constant news about the New York Jets front office and coaching vacancies, many have forgotten that the teams personel will be depleted when free agency arrives and they will have to decide in what direction they want to go. The only position that the Jets can feel comfortable about are their cornerbacks, even though Darrelle Revis is going into the last year of his current contract.
With a team that has more holes than swiss cheese, it is imperative the Jets fill the more essential spots that can get them back to where they were two years ago.
I will rate the order of the Jets need from least important to most important.
10. Special Teams/kicker
Although the Jets special teams was awful this past season giving up four touchdown returns, they did have the second best kick off returner, Joe McKnight, who average 27.5 y/rt. Special teams can be an easy fix, even with losing veteran coach Mike Westhoff, but if they can sure up their tackling on returns they will be fine. The kicking situation should be ok, as long as they re-sign Nick Folk, which they are expected to.
The Jets might have the best group of corners in the league (when Revis is healthy), although the Seattle Seahawks are giving them a run for their money. Revis is in the final year of his deal and will want to show everyone that he is fully recovered and still the corner he was before he was hurt. Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson stepped up in his absence and that translates to success for the Jets next season.
8. Defensive Line
During second half of the season, the Jets d-line started to truly show some signs of dominance but next season they will have to be more consistent. They are a young group of guys and having a full season together under their belt helps a great deal. Their last two first round picks, Muhammad Wilkerson (5 sacks, 3 FF) and Quinton Coples (5.5 sacks), showed they could get pressure on the quarterback and stop the run. Kenrick Ellis and Sione Pou’ha are more than sufficient defensive tackles and if they can keep Mike Devito their d-line will have some depth to it.
7. Running Backs
Shonn Greene will more than likely not be coming back and that is a load of production to account for, but it shouldn’t have a serious impact on the teams running game. Bilial Powell came on strong last season and even started over Greene toward the end of the year. Greene only averaged 3.9 ypr, while Powell average 4.0 ypr and McKnight averaged 6.0 ypr. Powell and McKnight complement each other perfectly, as McKnight has the speed and Powell has the power. Also, both are good blockers out of the backfield. The issues with these two is if they stay healthy and neither is a feature back. The Jets will have to look for a true #1 back in free agency or the draft, but these two men will have to do till that time. It is a passing league now, so the running game is becoming less essential, that is why this is high on the list.
6. Offensive Line
They still have two pro bowlers on the line, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. They’ve also found a steal in Austin Howard who played better than half of the right tackles in the league last season. Matt Slauson will be leaving for free agency, but he was the weak link on the Jets line and they have a back up waiting in Vladimir Ducasse. Losing the former pro bowler Brandon Moore will really hurt the Jets, as he has been a key part of that line for the entire Rex Ryan era. The Jets line was extremely inconsistent last season though and was simply embarrassed multiple times. It is hard to say what to expect from this group, they certainly will not have a top five line next season, but they are adequate, unfortunately, adequate doesn’t win championships.
5. Tight End
Dustin Keller (317 yards last season) is all but gone, and considering he was the Jets greatest threat, that means trouble for whoever is playing quarterback. Jeff Cumberland (359 yards) proved he has potential in the passing game, when healthy, but he is not a skilled blocker. The good thing about tight ends is that they can be found late in drafts or as undrafted free agents. The Jets will need someone to play with Cumberland and find another blocking tight end for the jumbo package now that Jason Smith will likely be leaving. Tight ends are more important than ever, so it would be smart for the Jets to make sure they find a talented tight end to be a security blanket for their QB.
LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell are both free agents, looking to get a big pay day. The Jets will not have the money to bring these two back. They probably don’t want to even come back. Landry made the pro bowl this year and was second on the team in tackles. These two men were always, in the box, helping to stop the run and were used to blitz and in coverage. Having these two leave along with Eric Smith, who is expected to be cut according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, leaves the Jets with no one to play either safety position. They have two rookies, Antonio Allen and Josh Bush, who played minimal minutes and spent much of the season on the practice squad. They will have to start if the Jets cannot find anyone in free agency. In a division where you have to play the Patriots, you need talented safeties to cover tight ends and slot receivers. The Jets are lucky they some of the best corners in the league or their secondary would be dismal.
3. Wide Receiver
The Jets are loaded at the wide receiver position… with guys who can’t play or catch the ball. Their number one guy is Jeremy Kerley (827 receiving yards) who on any other team would be the third string receiver or slot receiver. Their second leading receiving, Chaz Schilens with 287 yards, will be a free agent. Kerley can have an significant impact on a team, but he is best when he is playing in the slot. When Santonio Holmes returns from his injury he will return to his number one spot, but who knows how he will perform. Also, Holmes has many on and off the field issues that always seem to come up and hurt the team. Mark Sanchez did have a horrible year, but nobody could have won with the group of receivers he had. When Clyde Gates and Braylon Edwards are you number one and number two guys at the end of the season, one can not help but laugh. Stephen Hill did not develop like the Jets hoped he would have, but he is still young and has a high ceiling. Step one is to stay healthy. The Jets HAVE to go out and find some talent in the draft because they will not have the cap room to sign or trade for a high end wide out.
The Jets were 20th in team defense and 26th in rush defense, much of that is because their linebackers could not tackle a running back if he was standing still. They also couldn’t get any pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, their leading sacker was Garrett McIntyre with 3.5 sacks. Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas, their starting two OLB, had a combined 5.5 sacks and 52 tackles. Bart Scott was invisible last season and David Harris had the worst year of his career. Harris will probably be the only one of this group returning. OLBs have become one of the most important positions in the game, now that it is a passing league. If you cannot get pressure on the opponents QB, it is next to impossible to win the game. DeMarrio Davis will take over for Scott if he is cut, but the Jets need a lot of help and as of right now they have one of the worst group of linebackers in the NFL.
Now this might come as a shocker to everyone, but yes the quarterback position is the biggest issue with the Jets. Mark Sanchez is obviously not the answer and even though he may not be cut (because of the money he’s owed), the Jets have to bring someone in. The quarterback is the most important position in the game and without one of quality, you have a better chance at winning the lottery while being struck by lightening at the same time, then winning a Super Bowl. Ok, maybe that’s a little exaggerated, but you get the point. The Jets can either trade down in the draft or try and trade for someone like Alex Smith or Matt Flynn. None of these options guarantee a better situation, but anything is better than what they have now.
(All stats from profootballreference.com)