Welcome to “This Is Totally Your Year,” our overly optimistic preview of the 2014-15 NFL season for all 32 teams. We’ve broken down why every team — yes, even your team (and yes, even your team, Rams fans) — will win it all this year. We’ll also give some reasons for pessimism and even estimate an actual season prediction. Next up: The New York Jets.
For the last four seasons, Rex Ryan has been coaching a football team without a full set of tools — with surprising success. He’s basically been running a two Michelin star restaurant without eggs, gas heat, or competent sous chefs (Brian Schottenheimer, ahem). Every morning, he shows up to the restaurant and it’s a mess because no one ever remembers to clean up and somehow, by lunchtime, chef Rex manages to get food out to customers without being shut down by the health department.
Sure, the food isn’t anything special, but it should be way worse. People should be choking on glass and dying from ecoli posioning — which is a good sign. It means they’re getting something right. This season, the Jets bought a lot of key ingredients that will give customers a noticeably better dinning experience. Here’s why…
(This metaphor is already dying and we’re one paragraph in. Shit.)
Ingredient #1: Artisan Chris Johnson
Between Bilal Powell, Chris Ivory, and former Rams RB Daryl Richardson — the 2014 New York Jets have plenty of depth in case Johnson goes down/doesn’t pan out. Best case scenario, however, they have three serviceable backs behind the fastest player in NFL history. Hungry for more optimism? The three other teams in their division have dreadful rush defenses, with Miami, Buffalo, and New England finishing 24, 28, and 30th, respectively last season in yards allowed. If there ever was a year to load up on ball carriers, it’s 2014, and it’s on the Jets.
What’s more, the beefed up run game should alleviate pressure on second year quarterback Geno Smith. He’ll benefit from the added dimension in more ways than one.
Ingredient #2: Heart healthy quarterback competition
If there’s one thing the Jets have struggled with over the last six hundred million years, it’s been roster flexibility at the quarterback position. Mark Sanchez should’ve been replaced two years before he got the boot, and the same goes for Chad Pennington before him. With two legitimate options behind center — both with relatively low expectations coming into 2014 — the Jets can make changes as they see fit whenever the hell they want (which is a good thing). Last year’s team was horrible in the air and they still finished 8-8. This year’s team, however, will have an improved Geno Smith (see: 2014 preseason) with a potentially explosive backup plan (Mike Vick) that will help win games should he end up taking over.
Worst case scenario they use two dynamic quarterbacks. There are worse personnel problems to have in the NFL.
Ingredient #3: A hot new menu item
To say that the Jets upgraded at the WR position this offseason is an understatement. In fact, calling it and understatement is an understatement. Between Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Jeff Cumberland and Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan hasn’t coached a game changing ball catcher in his prime until now. Eric Decker’s 4.5-40 speed and ability to spread the field is elite, making him an automatic assignment for every opponent’s best corner. Defenses will have to rewrite their game plan, accounting for one of the fastest wide receivers in football (who’s already caught a 50-yard touchdown against the Giants this preseason) which will lead to confusion Marty Mornhinweg can exploit. As teams figure out how to deal with Decker and prioritize the Jets revamped attack, running backs, tight ends, and wideouts on the other side of the field will have opportunities to shine.
The final dish:
The 2014 Jets defense tastes just right (ew, but we’re still going with the food metaphor still so bare with us). With young impact players at defensive end and linebacker, Ryan’s aggressive pass rush scheme will keep the Jets in just about every game they play this season. The question marks end up being in the secondary, where they’ve drafted Calvin Pryor to fix some of the issues that lead to a uncharacteristically poor pass defense last season (245 passing yards allowed per game was good for the 10th worst rate in the league). And while resigning Darrelle Revis would’ve been nice, none of their AFC East opponents made any real, substantial changes to their passing arsenals this offseason, so we’re confident this year’s Jets can keep quarterbacks in check and manage a fairly respectable record within the division — which goes a long way towards staying in the playoff hunt.
Actual Prediction: With a brutal schedule, things aren’t going to be easy for gang green (worst nickname in sports, easily). Another 8-8 campaign with some promising signs, Rex sticks around for another year.
Photo via Getty