- John Hazelet
New York Jets 2016 Recipe for Success Part 2: Defense
Last week we took a look at the Offense, this week we will disect the Defense and Special teams.
D-Line: The deepest part of the team could have a different feel to it next year. Mo Wilkerson and Damon "Snacks" Harrison are both free agents and what GM Mike Maccagnan and HC Todd Bowles decide to do with them, could shape this team for the next decade. With Sheldon Richardson and Leaonard Williams already under contract, I could make the argument to franchise and trade Mo just as easy as I could argue to franchise and keep him. He is a local guy and unlike Richardson, has kept his nose clean off the field. As much as I would like to keep Mo, I do not think you can keep Mo and Harrison under the salary cap. My gut tells me the Jets will look to trade Mo. What value could he bring back is the big question? I would think you are getting a 1st rounder at the very least, somewhere in the middle of the first round. Trading Mo, would not only allow the team to keep Harrison but it will free some money up to go after a rush linebacker which this defense desperately needs.
LB: If D-line is the deepest part of the defense the linbackers could be the weakest. David Harris had his typical year, he is the Nick Mangold of the defense. Solid player, leader and you can expect him to put up a ton of tackles. His counterpart, Demario Davis, may have been the biggest dissapointment of this unit this year. The Jets struggled to cover RB's on dump off passes and most of that in my eyes is on Davis. Erin Henderson was able to steal some time from Davis throughout the season. Both players are free agents and I only expect Henderson to be back, I would look for the Jets to be active in free agency and the draft to add some depth to this position. On the outside, the Jets cut former 1st round pick Quinton Coupoles a little more than halfway through the season ending what was a less than stellar Jets career. Lorenzo Mauldin showed some pass rush potential, his development could be a key to the 2016 season. Calvin Pace had a decent season but the veteran free agent may have seen his last game as a Jet. I think the team will look to get younger and faster at this position. Free agency could be the key here. If Bruce Irvin doesnt go back to Seattle, I think he could be a perfect fit for what the Jets are looking for via free agency. Von Miller would ultimately be the absolute perfect fit for the Jets but there is little to no chance the Broncos would let him get away. Another possibility could be one of Von's teammates. If Demarcus Ware is a Denver cap casualty, I think he would be a nice fit. He can clearly still play and could become somewhat of a mentor to Mauldin and whoever the Jets bring in via the draft.
CB: The corner position could be interesting. Revis will clearly be back but will the Jets try to re-work his contract to free up a little cap money? Doing so would free up some money but I dont like the long term ramifications. Revis maybe took a small step backwards this season. Still a top corner in the league, but maybe not the best anymore. The way Sammy Watkins owned him in week 17 is something that should be at least a little concerning. Even though Revis has a large contract it is somewhat team friendly in the fact that their is a minimal amount of guarantees he has coming. The Jets should resist offering him any guaranteed money past the 2016 season. This way if Revis declines after the year, they can cut ties with him and have no major cap penalties. Cromartie is a different story, he will most likely be cut or have his salary re-worked. Buster Skrine had a solid season but can he slide into Cromarties spot? I think Bowles likes Skrine as the nickel and would probably like to keep him there. Marcus Williams was a nice suprise. He played well while halthy. He will clearly have a role on the team in 2016. I would say that Dee Millner would be a cap casualty but his salary is guarantee at 4.6 million. That being said, look for the Jets to hang on to him. Hopefully he can develop into a servicable player. It might be a little overlooked but the Jets do have a little work to do roster wise at corner. I dont think they will do anything flashy at corner like bring in a big time free agent but look for something a little under the radar. Maybe a low risk free agent or draft pick.
Safety: Calvin Pryor had a breakout season. His value was really shown in the couple games he missed due to injury. Marcus Gilchrist was also solid. he was a very under the radar free agent signing. Rontez Miles also played well at times in his limited back up role after coming off of the Practice Squad. Depth at this position can use an upgrade.
Kicker: Nick Folk should return from injury. As long as he is healthy, he is the kicker.
Punter: Upgrade needed. Ryan Quigley is not the answer.
Punt Returner/Kick Returner: Yes please! The Jets were terrible in the return game. They signed Dri Archer this week, Thats a good start but I think they should grab one in the draft. A return guy that they can develop into a speed reciever would would be a very nice pick up for this team.