Tuesday, July 2, 2013

NFL Preview: New York Jets

The final team in my look at the 2013 NFL season in the AFC East is the New York Jets. Possessing what is in my opinion the worst roster talent-wise in the entire NFL, it's hard for me to imagine the Jets being anything but a cellar-dweller this year in the division. It will be a pretty big surprise to me if they don't end up with a top 5 pick in next year's draft. Their only competition for "league's worst roster" is the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars, and at least both of those teams have at least one stand-out player (for Oakland it's Darren McFadden, and in Jacksonville it's Maurice Jones-Drew), which is more than I can say for the Jets now that they've traded away their clear-cut best player, Darelle Revis, to the Tampa Bay Bucs. Let's take a look at the breakdown for the 2013 New York Jets:

Key Additions: You know your team is either in a really bad situation or a really good one when your only key additions come via the draft. In the case of the Jets, it's the former. While they did address two key issues in the draft with their additions of Dee Milliner and Geno Smith, there were certainly more pressing issues that they could have addressed with these picks, and in my opinion, better players that they could have drafted if those were the positions they wanted to address. When I watched the combine, all I saw from Dee Milliner was some stiffness in his hips and an inability to catch the ball. Add to that the fact that he'd had a shoulder surgery prior to the draft that should keep him out of training camp, led me to believe (and I still do) that their were better options for the Jets at the cornerback position. Milliner will have to come in and be a contributor right away, and a spectacular one at that, if he's going to get Jets fans off his case about being the replacement to Revis. It's no small task for a rookie, and I have my doubts about whether Milliner is up to the challenge. When it comes to Geno Smith, he may have been the best of the quarterbacks in the draft, but I was never very high on him to begin with. Being a Big 12 fan, I watched a lot of Smith at West Virginia, and I never liked what I saw from him. I thought the only reason he was a first round pick was because of a relatively weak class of QB's this season, and as it turns out, he wasn't even a first rounder, falling to the top part of the second. I do not think that the Bills made a wise choice in taking E.J. Manuel over Smith, but if I had been a team looking for a quarterback, I would not have filled that position in the draft.

Key Losses: The biggest loss that the Jets had this off-season was one that ultimately needed to happen. Darelle Revis was never happy with the Jets organization, and while being the best cover corner in the league, it never seemed like the organization was happy with him either. They never tried to negotiate a long-term deal with Revis, and while Revis' constant hold-outs may have alienated himself from the team and the front office, his play on the field certainly warranted being treated better than the organization did. It was time for Revis to move on from the Jets, and now that he's in Tampa with a nice new deal, I expect him to be much happier than he was in New York. The loss of Revis means that the Jets are left with a pretty bare cupboard both in the secondary and on the overall roster. Revis was clearly their best player, and with his departure, I don't even know who would hold that title now. Unless some of these rookies pan out far better than expected, the Jets are going to be a laughing-stock for years to come with this roster.

What it means: As I alluded to in the introduction, I don't see any scenario in which the Jets are not the last place team in this division. Obviously I'm not going to pick my Dolphins to finish behind them. With all their recent struggles, I still think that the Bills have a much more talented roster overall than the Jets, and even with the recent arrest of Aaron Hernandez further depleting the Patriots pass-catchers, there's no way that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick let this team fall that far. I see the Jets finishing no better than 5-11 this season, securing themselves at least a top 10 pick, if not top 5, in next year's draft.

Well, that's it for my look at the AFC East for next season. Come back for my next installment, as I switch both division and conference and take a look at the NFC North division, team by team.