New England Patriots: Can Any AFC East Team Challenge New England?
By Hal Bent
New York Jets:
The Jets can at least say they got a quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick will not be back and Geno Smith has left to backup Eli Manning. Josh McCown–at age 37–is the new quarterback in New York (provided he can beat out the disappointing Bryce Petty and untested Christian Hackenberg). New York should be in full “tank mode” to get the top pickin 2018 and grab USC’s Sam Darnold (“Be Bold! Tank for Darnold” should be their slogan).
At wide receiver top target Brandon Marshall is gone but Eric Decker should be back as the top receiver. Quincy Enunwa–a good number three option–again will be thrust into a starting role as Robby Anderson, Charone Peake, Devin Smith and Jalin Marshall all looked capable of nothing more than a special teams role. Signing Quinton Patton from the 49ers is not going to upgrade the offense.
The offensive line was a mess last year and re-signing guard Brian Winters was the best move the Jets made all offseason. James Carpenter was solid at the other guard position last year and at least the Jets are set at two spots. Ben Ijalana is adequate at tackle but gets beat by good pass rushers and free agent tackle Kelvin Beachum was signed after being terrible for years in Jacksonville. Center Nick Mangold was released leaving only Wesley Johnson (who was terrible in relief in 2016).
At running back, the Jets need a young playmaker with Bilal Powell still stuck as the third down back behind veteran Matt Forte (a signing that looks worse and worse). They will have to address that in the draft. Their tight end position is bare as well with Austin Seferian-Jenkins showing little and facing a suspension to open the season. Brandon Bostick is a blocker and not much else more.
In the secondary the Jets are paying Darrelle Revis $6 million to go away just two years after breaking the bank to steal him away from the Patriots in free agency (New England fans, I hope you kept all those texts from your pals who are Jets fans when Revis left to go back to New York in March 2015). Morris Claiborne was signed away from Dallas to step in at cornerback. A colossal disappointment in Dallas, Claiborne will have the pressure of being the top cornerback in New York in a man-coverage scheme. A hot-head while in Dallas, Claiborne joining the dysfunctional Jets and dealing with the New York media seems a recipe for a disaster.
Beyond Claiborne the Jets are weak at safety (Calvin Pryor is a disappointment and Marcus Gilchrist may not be healthy at the start of training camp), weak at cornerback, thin at linebacker (Darron Lee was a first round reach and looked like it while veteran David Harris is about done), and desperately need to unload either Muhammad Wilkerson (impossible with his bloated contract) or Sheldon Richardson (whose value is free-falling as he is in the last year of his rookie contract). Basically, they have Leonard Williams on defense and then “everyone else”.
Next: 5 Reasons Why Pats Can Repeat as Champs
The Jets stunk last season. They are going to stink in 2017. If the team somehow screws up and win against Jacksonville, Carolina, San Diego, New Orleans and Cleveland to eke out another five or six win season, they will have effectively ruined their future by not giving themselves a shot at Sam Darnold next year in the 2018 NFL Draft. A three-win season should do the trick for the Jets to get their future back on track.