- John Hazelet
New York Jets 2016 Recipe for Success Part 1: Offense
With the 2016 offseason a few days away I figured it was time to focus on how the Jets can continue to build on what was a successful yet somewhat disappointing 2015 season. Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles came a long way in 2015 but there is still room for improvement on the Jets roster. Let’s take a look at the offense.
QB: With Fitzpatrick coming off of a season where he set Jets all-time records in the passing game, he vastly made himself into arguably the most important free agent on this roster. It is imperative that the Jets bring him back but be careful to not over pay. While Geno Smith and Bryce Petty are both under contract and are most likely to return, it wouldn’t shock me to see the Jets bring in another veteran to compete. I know Colin Kaepernick has been brought up should he be released by the 49ers, and if he is willing to take a team friendly deal I say why not? You have a guy who openly wants to come to this franchise... I say embrace it but do so on terms that benefit the team. No guarantees. The Jets could also take another route and draft a QB, which I believe they will somewhere in the draft. HOF’er Ron Wolfe, who had a hand in hiring Maccagnan, drafted a QB at some point in the draft every season. Being it is the most important position in the sport, I tend to agree with this philosophy.
RB: Currently the Jets do not have any RB’s under contract as Ivory, Powell and Ridley are all free agents. I see them bringing back Powell and letting Ivory and Ridley walk. Powell may not be feature back material but he is a very solid complement in the backfield. If the Jets don’t sign him, look for Miami to make a play. Ivory had a solid year and early in the season was being called a top 5 back in the league, but he didn’t finish the season the same way. To be fair, maybe he was fighting a nagging injury down the stretch or maybe he ran out of gas. Either way, I think the Jets need to add some speed and some youth to this position. I look for them to use one of their top 3 picks on a RB and maybe add another late in the draft if they can’t find one they like in free agency. There are a few RB’s out there that you don’t have to bust open your piggy bank for.
WR: Dare I say this is the best position on the offense? Brandon Marshall has been a Jets dream comes true. Nobody could have guessed he would put up the type of numbers he did in 2015. Eric Decker had an equally big year sliding over to the WR2 position. It will be interesting to see how the team views this position. It seems they are high on Quincy Enunwa. Mike Maccagnan has been heard calling him the most gifted athlete on the team. His development this off season could rival Bryce Petty for most important. Devin Smith seemed to be up against the injury bug all year but be careful not to write him off, if he can stay healthy and return to college form, the Jets will have their much needed deep threat that I feel would go a long way with this offense. The head scratcher for me is Kerley. Seldom used this season, it seemed like he took a step back in this offense. Honestly, I didn’t see that coming with him. He could very well be a cap casualty. I do not see the team being active with WR in free agency unless there is a low risk high reward type of player or something so good they can’t pass it up. The draft is a different story. I don’t see them using a top pick at WR but I certainly think they could add a player in later rounds.
Offensive Line: I for one think the O-line played a little above their heads for most of last season. This is a position the Jets should be targeting very early in the draft. With D’Brick a possible reworked contract or cap casualty and Breno Giacomini at tackle, I think there is room for improvement. I see the Jets bringing D’Brick back out of necessity but Breno could be another story if they can find the right book end in the draft or free agency. Nick Mangold is still the Stalwart of this line but it may be time to bring in his future replacement. Look for the Jets to bring in a Guard who can also handle Center duties in case Mangold goes down or takes what seems to be an eventual step back. Guard can also use an upgrade although I was encouraged by the way Winters stepped up this season, I just don’t see him being the long term solution. James Carpenter, in my opinion, was the unsung hero of the Jets 2015 free agent class. Finding another just like him to play the other guard spot would go a long way.
Tight End: I think saying this is a position that needs significant improvement is an understatement. I don’t buy into the fact that Chan Gailey doesn’t like TE’s, I just don’t think there are any on this roster that he likes. Who can blame him? Jace Amaro coming back from injury should be the right jolt the Jets need here. However, don’t rule out free agency and or the draft. A player to keep an eye on if he is cut by the Texans would be Garrett Graham. He has some familiarity with Fitzpatrick and Maccagnan from their Houston days. The fact that Graham is from Brick, New Jersey wouldn’t hurt this idea either. Graham fell out of favor quickly when Bill O’Brien took over in Houston but not before Houston made a point to sign Graham after his rookie contract expired.