The New York Jets had a surprising season after most analysts predicted them to go 3-13 or worse. The offense was pretty anemic, and Geno Smith did not prove much except that he has a lot to learn about playing in the NFL. To be fair however, the Jets should want to see how he performs with actual weapons at his disposal, and Gang Green took steps to improve the passing game, and the ground game. Lets take a closer look at some of the moves that occurred during the offseason, and how things may pan out for a team that finished 8-8 in 2013.

Jeremiah+George+New+York+Jets+Rookie+Mini+CsN88okohdklLast season, the Jets were all but written off before Week One, with Geno, the rookie, at the helm of an offense with a poor receiving corps, yet the defense was able to save and win some games for Gang Green. The front seven, clearly the strength, was able to hold up over the course of the season, and the Jets go in to this season with a squad that maybe heading into its prime with players like Mohammed Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Sheldon Richardson poised to make a leap professionally. This year they were able to add a potentially powerful weapon at their weak safety position, with the drafting of Calvin Pryor out of Louisville. Pryor got off on the wrong foot and was diagnosed with a concussion, which may limit his impact initially but DaWan Landry and Antonio Allen can hold down the fort until he recovers. The Jets did lose Antonio Cromartie in the secondary but he wasn’t the same player last year, and Dmitri Patterson can actually be an upgrade if he can stay healthy all season. Dee Millner is only going to improve after a shaky first season, as he improved towards the end of the season significantly. Lets not forget that being a rookie cornerback in the NFL is one of the toughest jobs in sports. He went from guarding some junior college transfer student to guarding some of the most dynamic and elusive athletes on the planet. Millner should continue his progress and we shouldn’t see many more benchings from Coach Ryan in the future. Kyle Wilson is a little suspect at the ever important 3rd DB spot but he’s their best option at the moment unless Darrin Walls or Ellis Lankster have a phenomenal pre-season. The Jets may be candidates to pick up another corner, if a decent cap casualty becomes available.

rex-ryan-nfl-new-york-jets-training-camp1-850x560The rest of the defense is where many of the Jets strengths lie; the aforementioned Wilkerson and Richardson should give plenty of offenses issues, and Damon “Snacks” Harrison was a pleasant surprise last season. Even the back-end of the rotation is solid with Kenrick Ellis and Leger Douzable. This is by far the most talented facet of the Jets team, two Pro Bowl selections from his unit is not out of the question. The linebackers are a talented group but still have a lot to prove. The starters should consist of Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, David Harris and Calvin Pace, with recent addition Jason Babin filing in as a pass rusher when the situation calls for it. The underrated Babin signing should be a big help to this unit. He is a proven pass rusher and can spell Calvin Pace, who is going to be 34 in October. The Jets LB unit may actually be too deep for its own good with players like Jermaine Cunningham, Nick Belllore and Antwan Barnes on the second string. One of those players may be cut and be very useful for another team not so deep at the position. The defense once again should be a formidable foe for even the best offenses the NFL has to offer but can the offense do enough for it to matter?

The Jets offense was much maligned last year due to a relative lack of talent at the skill positions. The offensive line improved last year and the running game was good, and at times great even though the Jets lacked a true number one running back. This year they took a chance on the Player Formerly Known as “CJ2K,” but Chris Johnson is no longer the dynamic player he once was and wont sniff 1,000 yards let alone 2,000 yards. Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory should play significant roles in the running game again. All in all, Chris Johnson is an improvement over Mike Goodson, so the Jets will continue to run the ball effectively and consistently. The Offensive Line is a huge factor in the running game, and the Jets improved the right side somewhat with the addition of former Seahawk, Breno Giacomini. Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and Willie Colon return as starters and should once again be able to do an adequate job of pass protection while excelling at run blocking.

62Jets%20Camp%20FootballHere is where we get to the nitty-gritty, did the Jets do enough to improve quite possibly the worst receiving corps in the NFL? Jeremy Curley led the team in receptions last season, and he missed almost half the season. There was not one fantasy football worthy player on the whole Jets team all of last year. Ivory and Curley may have had a few decent games but it was mostly laughable at best, usually it was just sad. This season the Jets brought in Eric Decker from the Broncos to strike some fear in the opposition, with the hope being that Decker along with Curley and David Nelson can at least be serviceable and not a complete detriment. I sincerely hope that the likes of Clyde Gates and Greg Salas are never heard from again. Stephen Hill has proven to be useless time and again and if he doesn’t drastically improve this year, I would cut him if I was the Jets front office. While Decker is a nice addition, they are still lacking a true number one receiver and it will haunt them again this year.

The Jets needed safety help, so they can’t be faulted for drafting Pryor but the receiver position was much more of a need going into the draft. Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin were still available when the Jets were on the board and either of those players, or even someone like Marquis Lee could have made the Jets receiving corps a lot more of a complete unit. Decker is a great route runner but he’s not really going to scare teams as the top receiving threat on the field. Off course, for any of this to matter Geno Smith needs to cut down on turnovers and see the field better this season, hopefully Michael Vick can motivate and teach Geno a few tricks so that he can incorporate his running abilities into the NFL game better. Geno Smith showed some flashes last year, and exhibited poise in some tough situations and he learned how to win in the NFL (somewhat), but 12 touchdowns against 21 interceptions is not going to cut it if the Jets hope to make the playoffs. If he can keep his TD-INT ratio even and run the ball effectively and not recklessly, this offense can improve from one of the worst in the league to a middle of the pack offense, which will then give the Jets a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

Final prediction: The Jets are a competitive 9-7. They will play significantly better this year but may not get all the lucky breaks that they got last season. Still, its enough for a wild card playoff spot in the less talented AFC. Geno will solidify himself as a low-tier starter in this league who can occasionally make a spectacular play, either with the long ball or with a nifty run and if the defense is running on all cylinders, the Jets are a well-balanced team that can compete with the Patriots for the top of the AFC East, and should be better than the Bills and Dolphins on paper but we will have to wait and see……only 5 more weeks to kickoff.

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