The New York Jets were one of the big surprises of 2015. After going just 4-12 in 2014, New York improved to 10-6. Snapping a streak of 4 straight seasons without a winning record.
Unfortunately for the Jets, 10 wins wasn’t enough to make the playoffs. Though they only have themselves to blame. New York went into their season finale at Buffalo needing a win to get into the postseason. They came up short in a 17-22 loss.
There’s no doubt that Jets fans were disappointed with the end result. However, it was a positive step in the right direction under first year head coach Todd Bowles.
The big story this offseason has been the contract dispute with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. After a career-year in 2015, Fitzpatrick wanted to be paid. The two sides eventually reached a deal and that at least gives New York hope for 2016.
2016 Roster Changes
Top Draft Picks
|LB Darron Lee, QB Christian Hackenberg, DE/OLB Jordan Jenkins, CB Juston Burris|
|RB Matt Forte, RB Khiry Robinson, OT Ryan Clady, DE/DT Jarvis Jenkins, NT Steve McLendon, ILB Bruce Carter|
|RB Chris Ivory, WR Jeremy Kerley, TE Jeff Cumberland, NT Damon “Snacks” Harrison, ILB Demario Davis, CB Antonio Cromartie|
2016 Schedule & Odds
|Week||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|Estimated Wins: 7.88|
The Jets featured one of their most prolific offenses in years this past season. New York ranked inside the Top 10 in both scoring (24.2 ppg) and yards gained (370.3 ypg). They did so behind a balanced attack. Ranking 13th in passing (253.6 ypg) and 10th in rushing (116.8 ypg).
The main reason for that was the breakout season from Fitzpatrick. He threw for 3,905 yards with 31 touchdowns to just 15 interceptions. Unfortunately for him, 3 of those picks came in the finale against the Bills.
What gets overlooked is he wasn’t even suppose to be the starter. Bowles had basically given the job to Geno Smith before he got injured in a locker room altercation.
Fitzpatrick wasn’t the only offseason addition last year that paid off on this side of the ball. New York traded for wide out Brandon Marshall. He came in and caught 109 passes for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns. Forming a potent duo on the outside with Eric Decker, who had 80 catches for 1,027 yards and 12 scores.
Both figure to put up big numbers again in 2016, but New York needs another wide out to emerge. Quincy Enuwa had the third most receptions by a wide out with just 22. Enuwa will be a part of the offense this year, but New York has a couple other options that could step up.
One of those being last year’s 2nd-round pick Devin Smith. Though he’s coming off a torn ACL in December and won’t be ready to start the season. The other is tight end Jace Amaro, who missed all of last year with a shoulder injury. Amaro had 38 receptions as a rookie in 2014. Last year’s tight ends, Kellen Davis and Jeff Cumberland, combined for just 8 catches.
Another potential threat in the passing game is running back Matt Forte. He was signed in the offseason to fill the void left by the departure of Chris Ivory. Forte will work primarily out of the backfield, but there’s talks of using him in the slot. Bilal Powell and fellow free agent signee Khiry Robinson will also get touches.
The big concern on this side of the ball is the offensive line. New York suffered a big blow when left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson announced his retirement. Replacing him will be Ryan Clady from the Broncos. Clady is a great talent, but can’t stay healthy. He missed all of last year with a ACL injury and has missed 30 games the last 3 seasons.
If Clady misses significant time, the Jets are going to be in trouble. There’s not a lot of depth at the tackle spot. They are already trying to replace Breno Giacomini at right tackle. Brent Qvale and Brandon Shell are both fighting for his job. The only two legit starters are left guard James Carpenter and center Nick Mangold.
As for the defense, it was dominant once again in 2015. The Jets ranked 4th in total defense and T-7th in scoring. They completely shutdown opposing rushing attacks, giving up just 83.4 ypg (2nd).
However, the run defense took a hit when nose tackle Damon Harrison left in free agency. His replacement will be Steeler cast off Steve McLendon. He’s not horrible by any means, but there will be a drop in production at the nose.
The good news is the Jets will surround McClendon with three stud 3-4 defensive ends. Both starters, Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson are two of the best. They also have a promising 2nd-year player behind them in Leonard Williams. The one concern I have here is Wilkerson wasn’t happy getting the franchise tag. If his play suffers because of it, that will be a big blow.
New York finally addressed inside linebacker this offseason. A position they have needed to upgrade for quite some time. They did so by drafting Ohio State’s Darron Lee in the 1st round. He might not start right away, but it won’t be long until he replaces either David Harris or Erin Henderson.
One area the Jets failed to improve was outside linebacker. As of right now, the two starers will come from the trio of rookie Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Mauldin and Trevor Reilly.
The Jets parted ways with starting corner Antonio Cromartie. While they may appear to be a big loss, Cromartie didn’t play well at all last year. Buster Skrine or Marcus Williams will battle to be his replacement. The winner starts opposite of star corner Darrelle Revis, though he’s on the decline.
At least New York has two quality safeties in the backend of the secondary. Both Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor are coming off strong 2015 campaigns. It will be critical that both stay healthy, as there’s not much depth behind them.
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the AFC East
to Win Super Bowl
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
The pieces are definitely there for the Jets to contend for a playoff spot in 2016. However, it’s no sure thing that New York will get the job done. As good as Fitzpatrick was last year, chances are he regresses to some degree this year. At the same time, the defense doesn’t appear to be as strong as it was in 2015.
The biggest thing standing in the way of the Jets and the postseason is their schedule. New York faces an absolutely brutal slate over their first seven games that could knock them out of the race. They play 4 of the first 7 on the road. Those coming against the Bills, Chiefs, Steelers and Cardinals. The 3 home games during this stretch are against the Bengals, Seahawks and Ravens.
Keep in mind they follow up those first 7 games with road contests against the Browns and Dolphins. Two games they should win, but given when they come it’s no guarantee. All of that and they still have to face the Patriots twice down the stretch.
I’m going to give the Jets the benefit of the doubt and call for them to go 9-7. However, I might be giving them too much credit given the schedule. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they posted a losing record. So while I have them pegged to beat their win total of 8, it’s not one I recommend betting.
AFC East Finish
Win Total Prediction
Jets 10-Year Recap