The New York Jets exceeded exceptions after putting together a 10-6 season. Owner Woody Johnson finally decided to shake things up which meant GM John Idzik and Rex Ryan lost their jobs. Enter GM Mike Maccagnan and first time head coach Todd Bowles.
This tandem was able to do great things but the team still failed to make the playoffs after finishing in the top 10 of total defense and offense. It’s important to take a look at how exactly this team can get better throughout the offseason, it’s the New York Jets exit interview.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
After taking an overall look at this team, there actually aren’t many holes. First off, the entire defense was a strength. Maccagnan brought back Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. He also watched possible number one pick Leonard Williams fall into their lap in the draft.
Their defensive line was already one of the best in the game and then Maccagnan also added solid vets in Marcus Gilchrist and Buster Skrine to their secondary.
The same thing applies to the majority of their offense, acquiring Breno Giacomini from the Seahawks helped address some offensive line issues. This allowed for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chris Ivory to have the best seasons of their careers.
Maccagnan also did great work trading for Brandon Marshall, he’s easily the best wide receiver the Jets have had in a long, long time. He complemented Eric Decker really well considering he allowed for Decker to be a stud in the red zone. That will be a great tandem going forward. Quincy Enunwa is a solid blocking receiver and Devin Smith should make strides next season.
Lastly, the three headed monster at running back also proved to be a formidable backfield. Chris Ivory has always ran angry his whole career, Bilal Powell acted as a great change of pace back, and Stevan Ridley was great in relief when both were injured.
Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey had plenty of weapons to work with and he definitely used them to his advantage.
This is going to sound crazy but the Jets still had a slight weakness at quarterback. With that being said, there are really only 10 guys on the planet who can consistently be a good NFL signal-caller. Ryan Fitzpatrick had the best season of his career and he set a Jets single season record for touchdown passes.
However, his costly mistakes are just a repeat performance of many Jets quarterbacks before him. In the past, the Jets simply haven’t had any surrounding talent on offense for someone like Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith to truly thrive.
The script has flipped, the Jets have one of the more complete offenses they’ve had in years and it’s the quarterback who simply didn’t hold his nerve when he needed to. There’s a reason why Fitzpatrick has never made the playoffs in his career.
The other weakness would be at tight end but that’s only because of injury, Jace Amaro and Zach Sudfield barely saw the field due to injury. Having a target like Amaro to stretch the middle of the field could make this offense even more dangerous.
PLAYERS TO RE-SIGN:
DTs Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon “Snacks” Harrison– Wilkerson might be the most important piece to the Jets defense. They can survive without him if he leaves but he’s the guy that makes them elite. Hopefully the Woody Johnson doesn’t decide to get cheap like he did with Darrelle Revis coming off of an ACL injury.
Wilkerson will have to recover from a broken leg and that injury will definitely cause some sort of contract dispute this offense. Hopefully the Jets decide to bring him back because he’s a beast.
Damon Harrison is going to be important if Wilkerson does leave, he’s proven to be a great backup and the Jets will need plenty of depth on the defensive line.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick– Based on what I wrote earlier about Fitzpatrick you’d think I wouldn’t want him re-signed. The fact of the matter is, there’s simply aren’t great quarterbacks that are available right now. This team still won 10 games with him and Todd Bowles wants him to be the starter. He should come back as well.
RBs Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell and Stevan Ridley– All of these running backs were an important part of the Jets offense and they all need to be re-signed.
LBs Calvin Pace and Demario Davis– These are two players who don’t get a lot of credit on the Jets defense but Calvin Pace and Demario Davis have been solid. Calvin Pace is a long time vet who may not stick around but Demario Davis is a solid tackler and a team always needs depth.
POSSIBLE FREE AGENTS: (PROJECTED) SALARY CAP ROOM $16.5 MILLION
QB Sam Bradford
DT Haloti Ngata
DT Terrance Knighton
CB Leon Hall
CB Josh Norman
POTENTIAL FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICK:
The Jets are going to pick at number 20 in the 2016 NFL draft. Based on what the Jets are as a team and what their philosophy is, I wouldn’t be surprised if they went with a defensive player again.
ILB Scooby Wright (Arizona)
OT Jack Conklin (Michigan State)
Read Salute Magazine‘s other NFL exit interviews:
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