New York Jets: Biggest concerns on both sides of the ball
The New York Jets were a comedy of errors in 2012. With an underwhelming offseason that has included the trading away of the team’s best player, a controversial quarterback drafting, the loss of the team’s best quarterback due to injury and the arrest of a running back that many had high hopes for, most are predicting yet another embarrassing season for this team. While the concerns are not in short supply for the Jets, here is a countdown for the top three biggest concerns on both sides of the ball.
#3: Pass Rush
The pass rush was quite underwhelming last season. The Jets had 30 sacks last season, good for 25th in the NFL. That statistic, though appalling, is not really shocking. Rookie defensive end Quinton Coples slept through the games. Muhammad Wilkerson only came on strong towards the end of the season. He needs to play at that level throughout the entire season. Coples was recently moved to outside linebacker and rookie Sheldon Richardson will take his place. Richardson is sure to be an upgrade there. With Darrelle Revis gone, these pass rushers are going to have less time to get to the quarterback. Those coverage sacks seemed like the only ones the Jets could get last season.
#2: Running Defense
There were times when the running defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed last season. It was ridiculous…missed tackle after missed tackle. The Jets’ running defense was ranked 26th in the league. The Jets’ running defense would have made a Division III college team look good.
Darrelle Revis is no longer a Jet. It’s both sad and scary for this team. The starting cornerbacks will be Antonio Cromartie and Dee Milliner (most likely) because no one trusts Kyle Wilson anymore. The Jets also lost superstar safeties Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry. We have all heard that statistic that the Jets had the second-best passing defense in 2012. But this statistic is misleading, as opposing offenses weren’t passing that much against the team they had a substantial lead over. Had the Jets’ offense been more successful, opposing offenses would have thrown the ball more often. For that reason, it’s hard to gauge how good or bad the secondary really is.
Although the defense ranked eighth overall in 2012, the theme for the defense is underwhelming. The defense was just underwhelming. They had some great stops, but they also allowed some big plays—and that left us all shaking our heads in disgust. If the Jets are going to be any better than a 4-12 team in 2013, it is going to be because the defense stepped up and made plays. Surely the offense isn’t going to be very useful.
#3: Offensive Line
The offensive line always seems like a big concern for the Jets. The offensive line allowed 47 sacks in 2012, and it always seemed as though Sanchez was under pressure or getting hit. The run blocking was just ugly and was a big reason why the running game—once a strength for this team—was so wildly unsuccessful.
#2: Running Game
This season’s running game is going to be very different from last season’s—at least we can all hope. Signing Chris Ivory was the most important offseason move and he will probably make the biggest impact out of all the new acquisitions. Mike Goodson’s future with the team is still very uncertain, although in all likelihood, he will play this season for the Jets—in spite of his appalling arrest. Along with Bilal Powell, these three may do something here. It’s still such a huge concern because—while they may develop a decent running game—there is the question of whether or not the running game will be able to make up for what is sure to be a poor passing game. If the quarterback situation is going to be the disaster that everyone thinks it’s going to be, the running game will have to compensate.
Was there even any question that the quarterback issue is the biggest concern on offense? Of course not. The loss of David Garrard was devastating for the quarterback competition. If he was able to stay healthy, he would have been the best quarterback on the team and he would have been starting this season.
There’s Geno Smith, who the Jets just drafted in the second round. There are a lot of questions that come with Geno Smith. Will he be able adjust to the West Coast Offense? Will he be able to fix those inconsistency problems? Should a rookie quarterback be thrown into an offense that is just so incomplete?
Then there’s Mark Sanchez. There isn’t much to say about Sanchez that hasn’t already been said. His supporters (there are a few left) have some good points. They claim that with the right weapons around him, he is an above-average quarterback. That is certainly true (we’ve seen it, especially in the postseason), but the Jets’ offense lacks weapons this season. He’s also on his third offensive coordinator in three seasons, which, let’s face it, would hinder the development of any elite quarterback out there. He took 10 steps back last season; can he get back on track? Should we be loyal to the guy that brought us so close to a Super Bowl or should we leave the past in the past? This is the pros, and it tends to be “what have you done for me lately?”—especially with the long-suffering fanbase that is Jets Nation.
Whoever ends up starting, we can all agree that it will be an uphill battle for either man. If Sanchez starts, after his first interception or incomplete pass, the crowd will be screaming Smith’s name. Same thing for if Smith starts. That won’t do anyone any favors, but will happen nonetheless. Marty Mornhinweg better make this decision sooner rather than later—in fairness to the quarterback and in fairness to the running backs and receivers.
Angie Kozak is an AFC East writer for The Penalty Flag. Angie has had a NY Jets season ticket for 13-straight seasons and counting. She graduated from Penn State University in 2010 with a degree in Communications. Although a lifelong, diehard Jet fan, Angie can be outspokenly critical of her beloved Jets. Follow Angie on Twitter @Angie_Kozak for her witty Jets-isms.