AFC East: The All-Encompassing 2014 Divisional Preview

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Jul 24, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan walks out to the field prior to the start of training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

 New York Jets

Offseason Recap

Tip of the cap to Rex Ryan: with changes in the front office due to a 6-10 season in 2012, it was widely believed 2013 would be Rex’s last season with the Gang Green. Then, with a rookie quarterback at the helm, Rex led his team to a surprising 8-8 record; lo and behold, Rex is back in 2014.

Hoping to build on the ’13 season, the Jets added some notable talent in the offseason: Michael Vick was brought in to compete with Geno Smith for the starting job at quarterback; it remains to be seen who’ll start in week one, but early indications point to Geno Smith.

With the departure of Santonio Holmes–coupled with poor play from Stephen Hill–the Jets signed former Peyton Manning favorite Erick Decker. Adding Decker is nice, but in my opinion, if the Jets wanted to give Geno Smith every opportunity to succeed, more needed to be done.

In the draft, the Jets spent their first round pick on heavy-hitting safety Calvin Pryor, a move that further bolsters an already dominant defense. Second round pick Jace Amaro–a move tight end in the mold of Aaron Hernandez–is raw, but should find playing time during his rookie season due to a glaring absence of offensive playmakers at the skills position.

Most Important Player in 2014 not Named Geno Smith or Michael Vick

Dee Milliner

Milliner, who was the mark of inconsistency in his rookie season, has come out and said he’s the best cornerback in the NFL. lol. Fortunately for the Jets, Milliner doesn’t need to play at an elite level; if he can play well for the Jets in ’14, that should be enough. Yes, the Jets’ defensive line is so talented that–even if their starting left corner merely plays well– they can succeed.

The Jets Make the Playoffs If …

They can get consistent pressure from their front three. Muhammad Wilkerson is an elite defensive end; Sheldon Richardson, the 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year, appears to be on his way (if not already) to becoming an elite defensive end. With Damon Harrison–a 6’4,” 350 lb monster–anchoring the defense, the Jets boast a stellar defensive line.

Different story in the secondary. Dee Milliner, who was selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, will have to step up after an inconsistent rookie season. Kyle Wilson, who projects to start opposite Milliner, has been a bit of a disappointment since being drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. If Calvin Pryor can contribute during his rookie season then the secondary becomes less of an issue.

I say all that to say this: if the Jets can dominate up front, it’ll allow Rex Ryan to get creative with his defensive scheme: that’s a big deal because, in my opinion, Rex Ryan is the brightest defensive mind in the NFL (yes, that includes Bill Belichick).

Bold Prediction

The Jets have missed the playoffs since 2010. That changes this year.

Regular Season Record


Fantasy Stud (Standard Scoring)

Erick Decker

Umm … can I say nobody? Gun to my head, I’ll go with Erick Decker. In my opinion, Decker’s not a number one wide receiver, but there’s reason to believe he’ll succeed in New York: he’s one of the few legitimate threats in the Jets’ passing attack, and, he’s dangerous in the red zone.

Someone’s gotta catch the ball in New York, right? With a current ADP of #34 amongst wide receivers, there’s a chance Decker puts up WR2 numbers, good enough to exceed his current draft position.

Fantasy Dud (Standard Scoring)

The Jets’ offense.

Fantasy Sleeper

Michael Vick

At this point, Vick is not the projected starter. However, with Rex Ryan–again–on the hot seat, expect Geno Smith to have a short leash if he struggles early in the season. Such struggles would open the door for Vick.

Reunited with Marty Mornhinweg, who was Vick’s offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, there’s a chance Vick steps in at some point in 2014 and excels.