Six big questions about the New York Jets at as they face the 2014 offseason

NFL: New Orleans Saints at New York Jets

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

After an 8-8 season, the news that they will be retaining their head coach and some solid play from what might be the young core of the Jets in December, here’s six questions that are on our mind as the team enters the 2014 offseason.  Full disclosure: Kim Martin of Newsday already did a fantastic version of this last night that inspired us to write a similar post.  Go read her’s first.  Flattery is the sincerest form of imitation … or something like that.

Will the Jets be better a year from now than they are today?

There is no reason for them to not be.

Going into the last quarter of the season, Sheldson Richardson was the exception to the rule of the Jets five rookie starters. Then something happened. Geno Smith loosened up, his in-game decisions and familiarity with the receivers over the last four games paid huge dividends to this team’s weekly competitiveness. Dee Milliner’s best games were his last, while his play improved since late November, he capped his last two games with three picks and 10 passes defensed. And Brian Winters?  He was thrown into the fire and only looked singed yesterday, getting his first “green” grade from Pro Football Focus in his last game of the season.

Beyond that? The offensive line will be better with more continuity between seasons. The team’s best unit (including Coples) average age today is 24.6. That’s hella young. The Jets will also have upwards of 12 draft picks, four of which will come in the top 80 (assuming Revis is kept in Tampa Bay) in what looks to be a much richer skill position draft than we saw in 2013.

One thing we do need to be explicit about is the cap space. In the last two days, we’ve seen writers and analysts throwing around $48 million in cap space waaay too loosely — there’s contingencies to that figure. The Jets will only have that high a cap space value if they cut Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes AND (here’s the kicker) Antonio Cromartie. Of that cap space, they then will need to reward their own. Since Mo Wilkerson falls under the new CBA rules, the team’s best player deserves a new contract this offseason to cut off contract ugliness later on. There’s also players like Austin Howard who should get new deals. So, a high water mark of $48 million will quickly come down to around $35 million and the team will still be rid of Antonio Cromartie. If Cro is willing to take a paycut any sort of renegotiation with Cro will could further tamp down that number.

Regardless, the Jets will have so much more flexibility in 2014 than they had during their 2013 austerity. All this to say, with a stable and secure head coach and tons more talent from one to fifty three on the roster this team has every reason to be better in 2014.

What are the areas of priority going to be for this team in the 2014 offseason?

Jordan-Matthews

As we just said, first and foremost this team needs to be vastly more talented top to bottom — that goes on both sides of the ball. Right now, no one on earth is more qualified than Mike Westhoff to practically evaluate on-field talent of the Jets from roster spots from 23-53. Yesterday, on SNY’s Jets Postgame Live, Westhoff gave his frank assessment of the Jets roster since 2011.

“It was the least talented group I had in thirty years,” he said. “I thought we lost [significant talent] in the last two years.”

That from a man whose main part of his job with the Jets was to independently evaluate skill of the largest swath of the roster and find an on-field fit for it on special teams.

It’s nothing we don’t know … but the klaxon alarms should be going off when a former coach says something like that … but hey this is New York! Where’s the Tebow angle?

But looking at free agency and draft acquisitions in areas of importance as of today? In a loose ranking, I’d say receiver, tight end, safety, running back, outside linebacker and then corner are the areas where they must make upgrades. Not all necessarily be at the starter level, but all those units mentioned need some degree of shoring up. The Jets ought to find quality starters at the wide receiver, tight end, safety and outside linebacker spots at a minimum. Everything else must be made to build depth. Of course, every roster action has an equal and opposite reaction. This means that many of the backups and undrafted players that we have come to know and love are going to have a very hard time making this roster next year. Upgrading a roster should contain no sentimentality.

Raiders Jets Football

Will Geno be the starter again in 2014? 

I don’t think the Jets would be so blind as to pass over someone they consider a game-changing talent at the quarterback spot in free agency (at the right price) or the first- or second-round, but as the last four games have demonstrated, Geno seems to be getting the hang of the NFL.

That, of course, is a function of Geno adjusting to the NFL game, getting his passing targets healthy and taking initiative himself to run the ball when the play breaks down. Coming out of the Bills/Ravens/Dolphins stretch, I would not have blissfully handed Geno the keys for 2014, but I could be persuaded to do so after what I saw in December. As the contrast in the Dolphins games showed, cutting down the flagrant turnovers makes a massive difference.

After the way the season ended, Geno is definitely a fair baseline for moving forward. Many analysts believed Geno was the best quarterback in the 2013 draft class, but that he needed the time to mature into an NFL quarterback. Did we see that struggle realized all season with the breakthrough progress in December?

Will Ryan get a contract extensions?

That might be up to Rex Ryan himself. As we discussed not long ago today he might have to accept some changes to his coaching staff as part of any such extension. I’m not going to re-write everything so just look at this post for more on what might be the holdup for now on any extension.

What will the Jets do with Mark Sanchez?  

Cutting Mark Sanchez represents a $8.3 million dollar savings to the team. There is almost no likelihood that Sanchez will come back in 2014, but don’t expect that Sanchez will be cut tomorrow. If we learned anything from John Idzik’s negotiation process with the Buccaneers, and his slow-playing of the Tebow situation, it is that he’s not above dragging out the release of Sanchez if he believes there’s any profit in it. That profit might come in either third day draft pick or salary cap off-sets (Bent notes no offsets are likely in Sanchez’s contract) that might arise from such a trade. Idzik could be openly shopping Mark Sanchez around the time of the NFL Combine in late February … or beyond.

What other high-priced veterans might not return?

The Jets are currently projected to have around $22 million in cap room for 2014 before any cuts. If they really want to tighten their belt, just a few well-placed moves could put them at upwards of $48 million in space. Cutting Santonio Holmes ($8.2 million) would save a large chunk and seems an inevitability. Holmes did make some contributions, but ending the season with a putrid 38 percent catch rate is unconscionable for a top receiver. The Jets would be wiser to re-invest the savings into a younger more dynamic receiver that might also be willing to play nice with the press.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at New York JetsAntonio Cromartie has been a holdover contributor to this defense as they have moved on from Darrelle Revis. We’re putting words in his mouth, but we think if you asked OTC‘s Jason Fitzgerald he would tell you that he’s surprised Cro stayed healthy up until this year. From some earlier Q&As with Fitzgerald, he sees the health issues and cap savings as enough of a pretext to move on from Cromartie. This could come down to the veteran corner’s willingness to re-work his deal. Cromartie is supposedly willing to do so, so it might come down to Cromartie’s agent and Idzik agreeing on a number. Our hunch is that Cromartie could probably get more on the open market than the Jets would be willing to spend … which would indicate he will be cut.

Calvin Pace has stated that he’d like to keep playing and retire as a Jet. After posting double digit sacks in 2013 at a cap-friendly contract it might come down to Pace’s willingness to forego more money elsewhere in order to stay in New York.

Ed Reed’s play got better as his time with the Jets went on. Of course, few will remember how the season ended over the earlier gaffes. We wouldn’t mind seeing Reed back in 2014 in the reduced role we hoped he would have been in already for 2013. Reed might have to compete for the “wily veteran” spot against Dawan Landry in camp if he were to come back on a veteran minimum deal, but the Jets might want to look at safety in the draft first before agreeing to any future deals with Reed. We don’t imagine there will be a huge demand for his services in a decent class of free agents and Day Two draftees.




133 comments
Mark Kittell
Mark Kittell

I think someone is drinking the koolaid here. As Pro Football Reference pointed out, based on performance, the Jets should not have won more than five games last season, and we know how they won at least two of those games. Sanchez played with virtually  the same supporting cast as Smith the previous year, and look at how he was hammered. The Jets season will hinge on whether Smith actually improves on his NFL worst QB rating, or goes through a "sophmore slump."

nyijkm
nyijkm

I know everyone has moved on from this guy after the preseason, but can anyone provide an update on Braylon Edwards? I was upset he got cut before the season as I remember his great performances in 2010-11, and I've always felt the Jets should have some loyalty to him over an Obumanu or Salasor Nelson. I know he loves it here and i'm sure he would be cheap. I guess it just depends on his health. All I'm asking for is Braylon be considered for a backup position/deep threat situational guy. He is only 30 and much better than Hill. Thanks guys.

Eric Dixon
Eric Dixon

We need a vet back not a neary fossilized on.either

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

Geno is a pocket passer that is also mobile and will be two dimensional, which is a great thing. While he is utilizing his legs more, he will also improve as a passer with another year under his belt as he is just learning  from a simple college offense. He is already showing improvement with his reads and progressions and this cat has a gun! More experience and some playmaking pieces around him, and we will see this kid take off baby!

Kyle Suta
Kyle Suta

FA

WR Anquan Boldin (2/15m)

OG Jon Asamoah (5/38m)

QB Josh McCown (2/8m)

WR Devin Hester (2/3m)

Draft

1 TE Eric Ebron North Carolina

2 WR Jordan Matthews Vanderbilt

3 S Dion Bailey USC

Jerry C
Jerry C

The return (and departure with injury) of Kerley can be very closely mapped to Geno's good and frightening games. Nelson turned out to be a nice addition and Kerley has proven to be nice parts of a receiving crew. I would like to see a proven veteran QB as the backup, but I am very excited to see what we do in the draft and FA $'s to dramatically improve the team.

Milliner looked very good the last few games and either Winters was an aberration on Sunday or he started to put it together.

johnnyl65
johnnyl65

Are we better next year I'd say we better be.

Does Geno start? I hope not he finished up strong when he realized just to take off . But I've never been a fan of the mobile QB,give me a field general who can dissect a defense any day. Runners don't stay healthy. But Geno did figure out his game one game earlier we'd be in the playoffs.

I'd love to see Rex get a 3 yr extension, I mean what does he make? like 3.m a year .

lamjones
lamjones

I can't tell if I posted this earlier thanks to the comment section downgrades, but I LOVE the Jordan Matthews picture in the offensive weapons area.

Wolf
Wolf

I HATE THE COMMENT SECTION;


But @Brendanwhat's good in that hood?


Very proud of this team, common sense to bring back Rex Ryan. Let's see Idzik go out and prove himself with a solid draft.


Nice to see Milliner turn things around by recording 10 defended passes and 3 INT's in the last 2 games. What a way to finish what was otherwise an embarrassing rookie campaign.


I'm with Woody when he says this team is "ascending".

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

Rex has grown a lot, but still has more to grow. After a premature Gatorade shower, I hope he has his head on straight enough to do a self-evaluation and work on a few items going forward. If he does, I believe he can mature into a fixture for the Jets with a few SB's under his belt before retiring.


Beside game and clock management, he has to channel his emotions from loyalty to an individual player to loyalty to the team as a whole. In addition, he must learn that ramping up from the Bye Week differs from getting the team ready to start a season. He does a good job with 4 weeks of preseason games to prepare, but also requires 3-4 weeks after the Bye Week to get the team to perform like it did before the Bye. I'd like to see Idzik focus Rex on second half preparations going forward. If he does this one thing, it could easily mean 2-3 more wins and the difference between making the playoffs and blowing off another season despite an improved 2014 talent level.


PS. Returning Rex was the right move. Now it's up to him.

harvlis
harvlis

I am worried that everyone is overrating Geno, based on his play against mediocre teams.  I would prefer that we get a real QB and let Geno learn a little more.  Our defense is the real deal (and will be even better next year).  I would hate to waste another season.

nesboogie
nesboogie

Draft Eric Ebron, if we draft a WR in the 1st, it better be Sammy Watkins, which won't happen. This draft is loaded with WRs, we can draft WRs in the later rounds such as Jordan Matthews, Davante Adams, Paul Richardson, Allen Robinson, Odell Beckam, Jarvis Landry, Brandin Cooks, I mean the list just goes on and on.

NYCPEinGermany
NYCPEinGermany

"I’d say receiver, tight end, safety, running back, outside linebacker and then corner are the areas where they must make upgrades. " 


RB should be an afterthought upgrade, especially if Goodson can come back healthy. Shoring up the CB spot is much more important.

Mike Jones
Mike Jones

1. Can they build a team for the playoffs?

2. Can they build a team to win the SB?

cunny
cunny

Ok, just watched some youtube stuff on Eric Ebron. I'm sold, dude will a matchup nightmare from day 1.

juunit
juunit

Here's the Tebow angle:


He's just signed on to be a college football commentator with the SEC network.

djf1
djf1

@nyijkm I'm guessing the fact that he wasn't picked up by anyone is a red flag when it comes to his health.

Brendan
Brendan

@Kyle Suta No WAY is Asamoah worth that much. I'd rather bring back Colon on a cheap deal. 

Derek Moultrie
Derek Moultrie

He only takes off when he has to he's a pocket qb stupid.

Brendan
Brendan

@Wolf You've been missed in the chats, my friend. 


Amazing how two wins to close out the year changes the entire perception of things. 

Brian Bassett
Brian Bassett

@Wolf Well well well!!!

Look who's back after publicly swearing off the site entirely!

idothis2
idothis2

@harvlisGeno could've folded ala Sanchez last year, but he got better and the game seemed to slow down some. his passes looked much crisper and he displayed better footwork than during that atrocious 3 game stretch when his psyche could have been damaged. he looks the part, but time will tell. i liked the reckless abandon that he was playing with yesterday. it truly looked like he was having fun. hope the coaches don't try to button him down.

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

@harvlisRight on! Geno's first year was like the last year of a pro-style game in college. He was so raw he didn't know about pocket passing (3,5,7 step drops), using his legs, stepping up to avoid the rush vs retreating 10-20 yards, feeling the rush, etc. And although he's learned most of these thing to varying degrees, he still has a whole lot of fundamentals to learn before / if he arrives.


That's the trouble with picking a guy with so far to go, you never know if / when he'll finally get there. 

 Despite having started 16 games, the level of play I expect out of Geno in 2014 will be that of a rookie in this years QB heavy draft class. He'll still make rookie mistakes like staring down receivers, missing open men, not reading defenses and not seeing & accounting for an obvious pass rusher. That's rookie play in a nutshell.


I just hope we still win enough games to make the playoffs. But despite the upgrade in O talent that we all expect, it's still a QB driven league and so it's going to be ugly. - Expect it.

boomer
boomer

@Johnsbodybyvi Ledo Lions 7-9, Bears 8-8, Chargers 9-7, Packers 8-7-1.  Aside from two teams with HOF QBs this team did remarkably well with a rookie QB and a bunch of spare parts.


What do you think the Jets might have done this year with Rex as coach and Brady or Peyton behind center?

boomer
boomer

@NYCPEinGermany I don't agree that RB should be an afterthought.  Powell is a great team guy and a useful back but he is just that, useful.  Ivory is a stud but his style is conducive to injury, he ended his season early on Sunday due to his own collision.  Goodson is a true wildcard with no guarantees at all.  Beyond that, void.


But there are a few good RBs on the FA market including Ben Tate who put us some impressive numbers with the Texans and I don't like drafting RBs early. Maybe a mid to late round flyer. Get another RB in the FA market and target WR, CB and TE in the draft.

a57se
a57se

@jaym 

That would be like Rex to not give in on his coaches for his own long-term security.

johnnyl65
johnnyl65

@Derek Moultrie Really? Easy with the name calling tough guy.One thing about tough guys they're usually not. As for him being a pocket QB,how'd that work for him? His most successful games were when he ran the ball when nothing was there. I guess you haven't been watching games if you think otherwise.

lamjones
lamjones

@Brendan @Wolf  I will take a strong finish over moving up a few slots in the draft every time.

jdb7
jdb7

@a57se  Exactly.  Rex is incredibly selfless.  It's why everyone is so loyal to him.  They will be motivated again in 2014 

jaym
jaym

@a57se

This just proves to me that Idzik is full of crap, he does not want Rex and can not wait till Rex loses so he can be replaced

Brian Bassett
Brian Bassett

@Brendan @jaym Hmm ... that would indicate to me that Ryan is pushing back on the defensive staffing changes ... 

Marvel
Marvel

@lamjones

 this is just silly imo. But it seems to be split around here.



the difference between picking 11th or higher & 18 is huge.. I'd take the higher pick once playoffs are out of the picture.



idothis2
idothis2

@Johnsbodybyvi Ledo "Only offensive juggernauts we played were the Saints and Pats this year."

Pats didn't look like an offensive juggernaut for most of the year. they didn't look like an offensive juggernaut when they played the Jets in either game.

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

@boomer@Johnsbodybyvi LedoThe Jets did OK on the tough part of their schedule going 5-4, but crpped bed after the Bye when playing the dregs. This means that we should be less concerned with facing tough teams and more concerned with bottom feeders that perennial winners like the Pats use to build their win totals down the stretch. - That's something Rex has to work on.

boomer
boomer

@Johnsbodybyvi Ledo You play the teams on your schedule.    Going into the season, the Broncos had the easiest SOS in the league and the Jets and Pats were pretty much even.


The Jets beat the Pats at home and should have beaten them in Foxboro.  That win alone would have put us behind only the Pats and the Broncos in your list.


And the offensive juggernauts that are the Bears and Lions are out of the playoffs just as we are and so might the Chargers barring a blown call that the refs have now acknowledged they made.


I don't think we are as far away as you do.

Zartan
Zartan

He doesn't realize that we will be playing those teams next season.

Zartan
Zartan

Where do you get that? I see a gm trying to do his job.

D
D

@jake100@Daniel@__fense@jaym@a57seyour right, but even with a few "deficiencies" in the secondary Rex can make it work for our D, especially in the playoffs.  

Maybe draft a CB and perhaps move Cromartie to a safety? 

I like where Idzik's head is at.  he is going to get players on the roster who are hungry and willing to compete which means no ones job is safe.  He didnt hit a home run on every draft pick but what GM does.   Millner will be much improved and Richardson is a stud   .  He seems to have  decent eye for talent and from what the "experts" say this draft is deep.  12 picks to work with.   You can be an instant competitor if you do it right

I think maybe another quality LB will help our D, but we desperately need to get some offensive help.  Sucks that St Louis jumped up and grabbed Tavon Austin but what are you going to do. 

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

@Daniel @jake100 @__fense @jaym @a57se 


I have no doubt that if the Jets bolster the offensive supporting cast and address the secondary..... safety and CB, we will be a true consistent contender. It is actually amazing that we got 8 wins with this team. I have to give Rex and Idzik credit, but now we have to stop celebrating mediocrity and fly to the next level!

D
D

@jake100@Daniel@__fense@jaym@a57seI mean look back when we made those playoff runs, albeit we may have "limped" in to the playoffs, we did it on minimal offensive talent.  Braylon, a healthy Santonio, Brad Smith all were solid NFL receivers.   Tomlinson and Green were good enough backs.


I think ivory and powell are solid enough lets get some game changer WR's and find out.  

D
D

@__fense@jaym@a57se Ill say it once ill say it twice,  Rex is a playoff coach, we just need an offense that can get him there.   Im confident in his abilities.   

Look around the league all the guys let go are the teams with atrocious QB play,   Geno had lots of downs but showed a lot of promise.  Lets get some guys that can make plays and get YAC and see how we fair.    


A good defense can only take you so far.......lets get more young players and maybe a key FA and see where we stand. 

__fense
__fense

@jaym @a57se Have you seen the video of them after the game? I don't see how anyone could see that and think that one of them has any ill will towards the other. Why would Idzik be screaming "This is our coach!" if he can't wait to fire him?

D
D

@a57se@Daniel@jaym You know that is a tough question to honestly answer.  My gut tells me Rex but some of the names ive heard like the guy from Seattle has links to Idzik.   


Coaches also have a reputation that they rely on as well that is a showing of their work ethic, that is something Idzik can take notice of.  He seems pretty hands on with the team, dont you  think?

joemustgo
joemustgo

@jaym @a57se I imagine Woody is also on board with only a one year extension rather than a longer contract. If he wanted to lock Rex up long term, he would have over-ruled Idzik.

D
D

@jaym@a57se yea but Idzik has been part of some great runs for other franchises....it cant hurt to add better assistants/coaches.  Its just like adding better WR's for your QB or better CB's to your d.    

IMO Rex is a playoff coach and I think a lot of us including Idzik know that.  Problem is we need to get back into them

Even if Rex gets a one year deal or whatever,  its called urgency.   no ones job is secure and that is what idzik is doing.  Lets hope the O can turn around soon for Rex's sake.  

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

@__fense @jake100 Don't know why you had to throw that last line in, we were just having a decent conversation, there was no need to get rude.

jma020
jma020

@__fense @Brian Bassett @Brendan @jaym I'm not saying there is  an Idzik v. Ryan dynamic going on.  But just because he hugged him and screamed "this is our coach", doesn't indicate that there isn't some tension between the two.  Idzik knew there were cameras there and wouldn't have worn his true emotion on his sleeve if he did have an issue with Rex.  Whatever contract Rex gets says more about what they think of him than whatever Idzik screamed to rally the fan base after a meaningless win.  

__fense
__fense

@jake100 You would be able to use emotions as arguments if any of them favored your side. It doesn't make sense for Idzik to do wrong by his head coach, and he clearly thinks of Rex as his coach, as evidenced by him yelling "This is our coach" multiple times while pointing at him. You have no evidence except an ill will towards the people who comment on this blog.

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

@__fense @jake100 @Brian Bassett @Brendan @jaym 


Alright, you got me, I cant argue with emotions, lol   The business side will always win amigo.

__fense
__fense

@jake100 @__fense @Brian Bassett @Brendan @jaym Yeah, do me a favor and give me a link to a video with that amount of emotion in the locker room for Schotty. Shotty didn't get a game ball after the week 17 game in Miami, and for good reason. Idzik being close to tears and embracing Rex while yelling his praises is not even close to the same situation as a press release saying that Schotty was going to be trying to find employment with another team in a nice way. 

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

@__fense @Brian Bassett @Brendan @jaym 

I remember them saying Shotty goes no where unless they make him a HC somewhere else and then he was shipped off  as an OC. This is a cut throat business and some are very good actors as they have to be for PR, and believe me, there is a lot going on with Rex and Idzik. Not saying it wont work out, but it has to play out.

__fense
__fense

@Brian Bassett @Brendan @jaym Do you really think the guy who was shouting "This is our coach" over and over again while hugging Rex is trying to force things on anyone? This is the NFL we're talking about. Decisions are always joint, and there's no Idzik vs Rex dynamic going on.