Times may seem dark for the New York Jets right now, and rightfully so. After Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker booted a 61-yard field goal Monday night, Gang Green will officially miss the playoffs for the third straight year. Now, attention turns to next season.
An evaluation takes place over these final two games. Rookie Geno Smith has this time, at least according to some, to prove he can be a franchise QB. Head coach Rex Ryan started off so well those first two years, but things have gone downhill. This rebuilding phase will enter its second year after the Jets finish their Week 17 game against division rival Miami Dolphins. If you look at their games in 2013, you can notice promise. A solid defensive line should continue their development heading into next year. They kept several of those blowouts close until late when secondary members would get burned for big plays. Fatigue was largely to blame, however, on an inept passing game.
If it was my call, here is how New York’s offense would approach offseason 2014: Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell are a nice running back tandem. Mike Goodson likely won’t be back, so a third-down option would be useful. Pass protection could benefit from a change at right tackle. Austin Howard may not be a starter. Brian Winters should be better with some seasoning. Receivers could look different, and this group needs a change. Santonio Holmes has to be released. Stephen Hill never worked out, so they should part ways with him as well. David Nelson and Josh Cribbs should be retained, if possible, as fourth and fifth options. Hypothetically choosing someone like Jordan Mathews in the Draft, while signing Hakeem Nicks or Jeremy Macklin, is an upgrade. Eric Decker would be ideal, but I am not sure he hits free agency. You already have a good slot option in Jeremy Kerley. Quarterback represents one major question mark, as Smith lacks consistency. I am torn on Ryan’s future, because he is a great defensive mind, however, such regression that has taken place recently is disturbing. Having a veteran signal caller for once though could unleash this club’s potential. Sign Jay Cutler or Michael Vick if available, while he and a draft choice all compete with Smith for the starting job. Trading for Kirk Cousins is intriguing if those veterans are not on the market. Smith has shown flashes, but this needs to be a team good enough not to scoreboard watch down the stretch.
Fans are sick of watching terrible offense. Ryan using his defensive prowess with two starting quality safeties, better wide outs, and stable QB play could make Gang Green dangerous next season.
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