From Circus to Success: Are the New York Jets Built to Last?
Every time a team hires a new head coach players tend to come and go rapidly. The way a coach builds a roster depicts the longevity of their term. Todd Bowles along with Mike Maccagnan have passed the test in the first quarter of the year. On defense the Jets brought in heavy hitters such as Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, and Marcus Gilchrist to build a revamped secondary. Under the radar players such as Erin Henderson and Jamari Lattimore have also been added. On offense Brandon Marshall, Zac Stacy, James Carpenter, Devin Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Stevan Ridley have been added to resurrect an offensive system that just did not work under Rex Ryan. This year the Jets have started three and one thanks mainly to the new players that have been added to the roster. The question is, are the New York Jets built to last? Let's break it down by position group.
The main concern on this Jets team as far as youth is the offensive line. D'Brickashaw Ferguson (31), Nick Mangold (31) and Willie Colon (32) no longer are spring chickens when it comes to their age. The Jets have tried in the past to build depth but that has simply not happened. Brian Winters surprised everyone with his play against the Dolphins but who knows if that will last. In order for the offense to keep clicking Bowles and Maccagnan need to focus on the offensive line early and often in the 2016 draft and free agency. The next group that may be a concern is the quarterback position. Bryce Petty was drafted this year as the “quarterback of the future”, it is unclear if he can carry the torch. Geno Smith is not the answer and has appeared to not only lose his job but the locker room as well. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a game manager but he is not the kind of player who can win a game from behind for this team. Bowles and Maccagnan would be wise to add an experienced arm in the off-season.
The group on this team that is carrying the weight more than any other group is the secondary. This group is the complete opposite of what it was last year. The safeties are not a concern as far as youth, but the cornerbacks are another story. Revis and Cromartie are filled with veteran experience but with experience comes regression. Revis is still hitting on all cylinders but Cromartie is not. There is a great deal of depth at cornerback based on how Bowles leads his defensive schemes. Marcus Williams will be a star in Bowles defense and eventually replace Cromartie. Under Williams on the depth chart are players such as Dee Milliner, Dexter McDougle and Darrin Walls. Milliner is a question mark with injuries and his play on the field. McDougle is young which also makes him a question mark. Darrin Walls was on the fringe of a roster spot this year, it is unclear if he can make an impact. The Jets have a few years before the secondary becomes a concern but once Revis leaves the youth better be able to step up.
The next group that needs work are the tight ends. Statistically the tight ends have been nonexistent on this team. The problem is not youth but rather talent. Kellen Davis is a blocking tight end and should not be starting. Wes Saxton is young tight end who does have talent but needs time to develop. Jace Amaro has a lot of potential but as years go by it seems more and more evident that he is also not the answer. Jeff Cumberland seems to make the team every year by default and is also far from the answer. As long as Chan Gailey is Offensive Coordinator, tight end will continue to not be a featured position. The team should still revamp their tight end position with talent in case a new wrinkle is added to the offense.
The wide receiver and linebacker positions are very similar on this team. Both positions have one big star with a player who is a close second on the rise behind them. Brandon Marshall has Eric Decker and David Harris has Demario Davis. Another similarity with these positions are everyone but the two starters are question marks. Jeremy Kerley seems to no longer have a role on this team and it is evident. Chris Owusu has been a bright spot but also has been injured. Devin Smith is a rookie and has a lot to learn based on his play thus far on the field. At the linebacker position you have a group that is very uncertain. Calvin Pace (34) is towards the end of his career and Quinton Coples makes more mental mistakes than anyone else on the team. If the depth on the team pans out the Jets should be fine going forwards. There needs to be more games in order to determine if these positions need to be revamped. The Jets will cross that bridge when Brandon Marshall and Calvin Pace decide to hang up the cleats.
It is always good to end on a positive note. There are two groups on this team that really don't have to be changed much. These groups are running back and defensive line. Chris Ivory is a mauler on the field and should remain the starter as long as he has legs to stand on. The players behind him may change but Powell (26), Ridley (26) and Stacy (24) are a good young core. The Jets defensive line is arguably the best in the NFL. Wilkerson, Richardson, Harrison and Williams can be the new Sack Exchange if everything works out. There is talk that Muhammad Wilkerson will not receive a contract extension. That would not be best case scenario but even if that happens the position has adequate depth to build off of. If Wilkerson, Richardson, Williams and Harrison stay with this team long term there's no telling how good this defensive line could be.
The question remains, are the New York Jets built to last? On paper the answer seems to be a definitive yes. This team has years before any drastic measures have to be done. This team may be on the older side on many key positions but they certainly don't play that way. There may be some youth players that come in steal some jobs in the future but as of right now the Jets are on the fast track to a playoff berth. There is a veteran presence in the locker room that has been lacking in years past. The players are hungry to win with a coach that is equally as hungry. This is a no nonsense group of guys compared to years prior when it seemed chaotic. Jets fans have never had the opportunity to be on the outside looking in on this team. Now the fans can see the drastic changes that are going on based on the coach and the GM. It seems this team has gone from circus to success.