New York Jets Season Preview – QB Decisions, Rookies, and What’s in Store
As we move on in our NFL preview, we continue with the AFC East division and the New York Jets. An 8-8 season, with a near playoff birth, with a rookie quarterback saved Rex Ryan's job. An offseason of additions to help on offense and an already dominant defense could lead to big things for the Jets in 2014.
There is no doubt that Ryan is an excellent coach. After all, he reached the AFC Championship Game his first two years with Mark Sanchez as his starting QB. After a couple of losing seasons with an immensely struggling Sanchez, Ryan seemed to be on the hot seat. Sanchez gets hurt in the preseason, and enter rookie Geno Smith. Smith had his good weeks and bad weeks; leading to the 8-8 season. The biggest positive was a defense that always kept the team in the game.
In the offseason, the Jets added Michael Vick at QB. With the team reporting to training camp we now ask who will the starter be, Vick or Smith? In Vick, you have a dangerous playmaker with both his arm and legs. But with all that running, his health becomes a huge question mark. If you start Vick, what will it do to Smith's confidence? Does that mean the Jets don't truly believe Smith is their QB of the future? In Smith, you have a young QB with a lot of potential, as he showed for eight wins last year. He also has a lot growing pains to go through, as he showed in eight losses last year. How much he has grown during the offseason will decide if he is named the starter or Vick becomes the man. That question will rage throughout the preseason, and will decide just how far the Jets will go.
After having no reliable options at wide receiver, enter Eric Decker, rookie Shaq Evans, and Jacoby Ford. They join the returning Stephen Hill, who has yet live up to his potential, and Jeremy Kerley. If the Jets can also get production from the tight end position, they could have a reliable air attack-- regardless of the starting QB.
Chris Ivory returns at running back, but he is not alone back there. The Jets added Chris Johnson in free agency, who has only rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons in the NFL. Tennessee no longer felt that Johnson was worth they money he was due and let him walk. The ground and pound offense Ryan prefers works great for both Ivory and Johnson, who will get plenty of work. If the passing attack is consistent enough to keep defenses honest, both running backs may come close to breaking the 1,000-yard threshold.
The defense will remain just as good as long as Ryan is the head coach, whose specialty is that side of the ball. While Antonio Cromartie is gone, Dee Milliner is ready to step in and become the top corner on the team. Regardless of who plays where, Ryan and his defensive staff always has the defense ready to play and stop opponents in their tracks.
Let's play out how their season might play out:
Week 1- The Jets begin at home against Oakland. Two run-first programs, will lead to a fairly quick game and low-scoring game. Having the better defense gives the advantage to New York. If Vick is the starter, they may win 24-10. If it's Smith, Jets still do it but only 17-14.
Week 2- They now travel to Green Bay and a tough, early challenge. With Vick, they lose 24-20. With Smith, they lose 28-10.
Week 3- They host Chicago for Monday Night and another tough game. Jay Cutler is a better passer and, like Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, more weapons. If Vick, 28-13 loss. If Smith, 28-7 loss.
Week 4- A strong air attack from the NFC North for a third straight week for the Jets defense. If Vick, they lose 24-17. If Smith, they lose 27-17-- with Smith getting better.
Week 5- The Jets then travel to San Diego and may just shock the world. If Vick, they win 24-21. If Smith, they lose 24-21. If Vick, they are now 2-3. 1-4 with Smith.
Week 6- New York now hosts Denver and the Peyton Manning-led air attack. If Vick, they fall to 2-4. With Smith, they are 1-5.
Week 7- Now comes the first match against New England. In this rivalry, you go home team and that is New England. If Vick, they lose 27-20 and drop to 2-5. If Smith, they lose 24-14 and drop to 1-6.
Week 8- They back to winning at home versus Buffalo. If Vick, they win 35-20 and are now 3-5. With Smith, they win 28-17 and are 2-6.
Week 9- With two tough defenses and strong running attacks in Kansas City, it comes down to better QB. With Vick, Jets win 21-20 and are 4-5. If Smith, they lose 24-21 and are 2-7.
Week 10- The Steelers are getting older and don't seem to in the contender role anymore. If Vick, Jets improve to 5-5. If it Smith, they go to 3-7.
Week 11- A much needed bye week.
Week 12- Another win against Buffalo. With Vick, they get over .500 at 6-5. With Smith, they get closer at 4-7.
Week 13- Here comes Miami and the easiest stretch of the schedule. With Vick, they get by 28-24 and are now 7-5. With an improving Smith, they win 35-21 and improve to 5-7.
Week 14- They go to Minnesota and continue winning, With Vick, they got to 8-5 and a shot at the division. With Smith, they get to 6-7 and are in the thick of the playoff hunt.
Week 15- The Jets travel to Tennessee with Chris Johnson looking to have a strong showing against his former team. With Vick, they stay consistent and win 31-13 to go to 9-5. With Smith, they reach .500 at 7-7 with 34-13 win. Johnson has his best game of the year with 150 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Week 16- Big rivalry with New England and one must go home team again. With Vick, they battle to a 24-21 win and 10-5. With Smith, they make a splash with a 28-14 win and 8-7.
Week 17- They close out in Miami and a potential division win or playoff spot on the line and they come through. With Vick, they win 28-17 and 11-5-- possibly division champs. With Smith, they might clinch a playoff berth at 9-7 after the 35-14 win-- looking very dangerous with the improve accuracy and decision-making of Smith.
The New York Jets have the potential to win eleven games and win the division or have another 8-8 record. Key games are the two against New England, Kansas City, and Detroit. These are only early hypotheticals for teams without full roster and starting lineup decisions being made by each franchise.