I’m not going to lie, that loss on Sunday stung. It stung for a couple of reasons. It stung, because the Jets lost in a game where if they won they would have made the playoffs. It stung because it was Rex god damn Ryan who beat them. It stung, because a week earlier, they won a game against the Patriots that they NEVER win! But most of all, it stung because even in the aftermath of a season in which the Jets went 10-6, there are a whole lot of reasons why that record could be flipped next year.
So where do we go?
Let’s talk about the Elephant in the room. Let’s talk Quarterbacks. Going into 2016, do you really believe that Ryan Fitzpatrick, the 33 year old journeyman Quarterback, finally figured it all out overnight, and is going to put up back-to-back 31 TD, 3,900 yds, seasons? Don’t get me wrong, I love Fitzmagic. I love his story, I love how competitive he his, and most of all, I love how he tricked the entire football world for 16 weeks that he was a franchise Quarterback. But deep down in your heart of hearts, we all know Fitzy isn’t a long-term option. It’s why Geno Smith was QB1 until getting himself knocked out.
I honestly have so freakin’ clue where we go. Fitzpatrick is a free agent, Geno Smith has no interest in being a backup, but has one year left on his deal, so the Jets will either likely deal him, or keep him to back-up Fitzpatrick, should the Jets decide to go that route. Bryce Petty, drafted out of Baylor last year, didn’t dress for most of the games this year and is still likely not ready to make the jump to starter yet. I guess you roll the dice with Fitzy again, trade Geno for whatever you can get, and see how Petty can do with increased reps in training camp. There are zero franchise QB’s available where the Jets are picking. So I guess we ride again with Fitzmagic next year.
Running back/wide receiver
These were two of the biggest strengths of the team this season. Brandon Marshall broke almost every record in the Jets history book for Wide Receivers, and Eric Decker hardly played second fiddle, grabbing 10 touchdowns and giving Fitzpatrick two legit #1 wide outs to throw to. Chris Ivory was banged up almost all season but still finished the season with over 1,000 yards. Lord knows why he was benched on Sunday, but he’s an unrestricted free agent, along with Bilal Powell. Ivory will likely be back, and I’d like to see Powell back, but I really like Ezekiel Elliot, the running back from Ohio State, should the Jets want to go that route.
Talk about a steaming pile of crap. LT Ferguson, LG Carpenter, C Mangold, RG Winters, RT Giacomini. GROSS. Outside of Mangold, this line needs major upheaval.Ferguson’s best days are behind him, Carpenter and Winters create holes the size of doggy doors, and Giacomini might as well not even be on the field sometimes. The line needs to get younger, bigger, more talented…..pretty much just completely different. Taylor Decker from Ohio State and Jerald Hawkins from LSU are two lineman that have been linked to the Jets as early options.
After Muhammad Wilkerson broke his leg on the last game of the season, his last game before free agency, his future with the Jets, and the future of this defensive line, gets very murky. This injury is almost definitely going to affect how much money he gets in free agency, and with the depth the Jets have on the defensive line, the risk may not be worth the reward. Sadly, I think we’ve seen Wilkerson play his last game as a Jet. Then there’s Damon Harrison. If Wilkerson doesn’t return to the Jets, Damon Harrison is a must re-sign. He’s a cheaper option who creates chaos in the trenches.
Calvin Pace is a free agent, but bringing him back shouldn’t really be the biggest concern of the offseason. The Jets have been lacking an every down linebacker who can rush the passer consistently, with the key word being consistent. Calvin Pace is anything but that, and his skills have been visibly declining since his 53 tackle, 10 sack season in 2013. Jonathan Allen from Alabama, Darron Lee from Ohio State, and Jaylon Smith from Notre Dame are three linebackers the “experts” have around the time the Jets pick in the first round.
Cornerbacks Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls will hit free agency as well as safety Jaiquawn Jarrett. The Jets secondary, despite loaded with offseason acquisitions like Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Buster Skrine, never lived up to the hype, and finished ranked around the middle of the league
Get rid of Rid of Randy Bullock!!!!!!!
In the end, the Jets were who we thought they were. A lovable band of losers who caught enough breaks (and the easiest schedule in the NFL) to make an improbable run at the playoffs, even though they really probably didn’t deserve to be that close. But hey, you are what your record says you are, and at the end of the Jets season, their record showed that they were the best team in the NFL to miss the playoffs. Whether or not that means anything is up to you, but all I’m going to say is I’m disappointed, but cautiously optimistic, and at least it’s an improvement over how I felt on this Monday last year.