This guest piece comes to OJT from Mike McNulty of FeedCrossing.com, who shares his thoughts on the NY Jets. Image: The Star-Ledger
The 2012 season was a long and disappointing struggle for the New York Jets. Head Coach Rex Ryan could conjure up only six wins, the team’s play was listless at best, and certain developments left serious question marks for 2013.
It all starts with on-field leadership. In other words, is there enough? After a dynamic debut in the NFL, Mark Sanchez continues to regress at quarterback. Whether it’s physical, mental, or a combination of the two, Sanchez was responsible for one of the weakest passing attacks in the league last year.
Ryan maintains that Sanchez will turn things around and produce the kind of effective play that led the Jets to two consecutive AFC Championship Games in 2009 and 2010.
I'm starting to doubt that reasoning. But one thing about the Jets – give them credit for actively trying to fix things.
This offseason has led to a number of changes on the Jets roster. There was a healthy mix of signings and cuts, as well as a productive draft that yielded three picks inside the Top-40.
First, let’s look at the notable moves made during the offseason: Interestingly, some of the Jets’ largest offseason personnel decisions involved player departures. This is typically a troubling sign for a franchise (see the Ravens, who lost eight players off a championship team), but these moves could work out quite well.
More after the jump...
In terms of media coverage and distractions, the biggest moves were the waiving of Tim Tebow (why he even came to the Jets remains a mystery) – and the trade of talented cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Buccaneers for both a 2013 first round pick and a 2014 conditional draft pick.
This move will certainly hurt the Jets secondary (a bright spot during 2012) at first, but it gave the Jets a solid 2013 draft and a brighter future.
After trading Revis, the Jets used their first pick – the ninth pick overall – on Dee Milliner, a cornerback from Alabama. Some experts said he had the potential to go even earlier, so the Jets were probably quite happy to take him.
The next pick was Missouri's Sheldon Richardson at number thirteen overall. Richardson was considered one of the best prospects in the entire draft at defensive tackle.
Their final pick in the first two rounds was Geno Smith, a QB from West Virginia. Smith was taken 39th in an unusual draft that was historically weak at quarterback.
Many of these offseason moves suggest a desire to make the defense more balanced. In 2012, the rush defense was the in the bottom quarter of the NFL, in terms of yards per game allowed, while the pass defense was one of the strongest units in the NFL (for yards per game allowed).
It’s actually an impressive statistic, considering the Jets are in the same division with the pass-happy Patriots. Bolstering that defense seems like a very smart move from the defensive-minded Ryan.
But can the Jets improve on a 6-10 record?
This year’s rotational schedule pits the AFC East against the NFC South and the AFC North. Along with their six divisional games, the Jets also play the Titans and the Raiders (which should be victories). Although the Patriots have fallen from their previous position of total dominance, the AFC East is still not an easy division.
Overall, the Jets will likely struggle again. While I like many of the moves they have made in the offseason, particularly the moves intended to give more balance to the defense, I don't think they can succeed as a team with Sanchez being as inconsistent as he has been the last few years.
Sanchez is increasingly prone to turnovers and seems to lack the ability to produce big games. Unless he magically regains his form of three seasons ago, something must be done about him. Whether it involves delegating him to more of a “game manager” role or outright getting rid of him, the Jets must solve this problem.
Perhaps McElroy or Smith will be prepared to start in another season. Then again, maybe the problem lies with Ryan. A lifelong defensive coordinator before his Jets’ head coaching job, Ryan has sometimes been (rightly) criticized for being too defensive-oriented.
He has said in the past that he prefers to run the ball, but his no-name running back chart makes this challenging. There were many relatively minor coaching changes made in this offseason, which is a trend that could continue.
I predict a 7-9 season, with some big personnel changes anticipated at the end of the 2013-14. This time, it might cost Ryan his job.