New York Jets: 2015 Outlook

 
 
 
 
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New York Jets

By Shawn Childs, Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Jets haven't made the playoffs in four years while compiling a 26-38 record. Rex Ryan has moved on the on to the Buffalo Bills. It is now up to Todd Bowles' job to save the franchise. Bowles was the Arizona Cardinals' defensive coordinator for the past two years. He has 16 years of NFL coaching experience, but this will be his first time acting as a full-time head coach. Chan Gailey is his offensive coordinator. Gailey had been out of football since being fired as head coach of the Bills at the end of the 2012 season. Chan has 19 years of NFL experience, and this will be his fifth chance to run an offense in the NFL. Kacy Rodgers was brought in to run the defense. Rodgers has coached in the NFL since 2003. Over the past six seasons, Kacy was the defensive line coach for the Miami Dolphins. He has never been an NFL defensive coordinator. New York hasn't won a Super Bowl since 1968 and has 14 playoff appearances in the team's 55-year history. The Jets have finished among the bottom five in points scored in each of the past three seasons. On the bright side, the Jets' defense has ranked among the top eight in fewest yards allowed in five of the past six years. However, they have ranked 19th or worse in points allowed in each of the past four seasons.

Free Agency

The Jets are trying to relive yesteryear by re-signing cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and CB Antonio Cromartie. Both players are now on the wrong side of 30, but they still rank highly in pass coverage ratings. New York also brought in cornerback Buster Skrine for depth. Marcus Gilchrist was signed to take over the strong safety position. Over the last three years with the San Diego Chargers, Marcus struggled in pass coverage while being only slightly above league average in run support. New York signed Jamari Lattimore and Joe Mays for depth at linebacker.

On offense, New York released wide receiver Percy Harvin. He was replaced by Brandon Marshall, giving the Jets a legit No. 1 wideout. They parted ways with running back Chris Johnson. Stevan Ridley replaced him on the roster, and the Jets acquired Zac Stacy in a trade with the St. Louis Rams. Ryan Fitzpatrick will compete for the backup quarterback job. The Jets took a flier on WR DeVier Posey to hopefully upgrade their depth at the WR position.

Draft

The Jets found a stud defensive end in the first round when they selected Leonard Williams. He offers upside in all areas and gives New York a huge edge on defense when paired with defensive ends Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. Williams will move right into the starting lineup to give New York possibly the best defensive line in the NFL.

In the second round, New York added speed with wide receiver Devin Smith. Smith and his electric quickness will add a deep threat to the Jets' passing attack. His game will have much more upside once he eliminates the minor mental mistakes.

Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin was drafted in the third round. Lorenzo is strong against the run and can attack the quarterback. His lack of speed will hurt him when he has to change directions in pass coverage. He's a much better player when moving toward the line of scrimmage.

The Jets are hoping fourth-round pick Bryce Petty will push or pass quarterback Geno Smith on the depth chart. Petty has upside, but he need to improve in his ability to read defenses and to throw accurately while under duress. His arm isn't elite. He has very good quickness, which will help him avoid pressure, but he doesn't have much upside as a runner. Most scouts believe he'll need time to develop.

With their last two picks in the draft, the Jets selected guard Jarvis Harrison and nose tackle Deon Simon. Harrison has high upside if he's willing to put in the time in to get better. He has exceptional quickness for a guard and strength, but he needs to finish plays better and show more nastiness when faced with bull rushers. Simon is a monster as far as size and strength, but he lacks quickness and acceleration, which limits him to being a one-dimensional run clogger.


New York Jets DT Leonard Williams

Offensive Line

New York finished third in the league in rushing yards with 2,280 in 2014. They averaged 4.5 yards per rush on 507 carries with 11 rushing TDs. Nick Mangold was the best center in the league and is a very solid run blocker and pass protector. Left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, a former first-round draft pick, is starting to show some decline at age 31. He allowed only one sack last year, but pass rushers had nine QB hits and 27 QB hurries against him. He also received a negative grade in run blocking. The Jets allowed 47 sacks last season, the eighth-most in the league. This contributed to their meager totals of 6.4 yards per pass attempt, 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Willie Colon is expected to return at right guard. Last year, he was a huge liability in run blocking but allowed only one sack. Right tackle Breno Giacomini was slightly below league average in both run and pass blocking. James Carpenter was signed during the offseason to take over at left guard. The former first-rounder struggled badly in run blocking last year while with the Seattle Seahawks. Carpenter needs to remove the bust tag from his name. Overall, this line grades out as slightly above league average.

Schedule: Offense

The above chart shows the Jets' 2015 offensive strength of schedule in terms of rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA) and passing touchdowns (TDS).

This information is based on 2014 stats, which we will work with as our starting point for 2015. We'll look at all the changes on offense for each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades each team has made on the defensive side. We'll update this table when we finish researching all 32 teams.

2014 Average: The league average of each stat from all 32 teams in 2014.

2014 Results: The results for each specific team in the NFL.

2015 Adjustment: The difference between a team's result and the league average in a certain statistic. This number will show if a team is above or below the league average in each stat and will serve as the basis for the strength of schedule.

The Jets were one of the best rushing teams in the NFL in 2014 and have a favorable schedule in that department based on last year's data. New York has four very good matchups on the slate: the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants and Tennessee Titans. The Miami Dolphins will be much better against the run this year with Ndamukong Suh on the roster. Against the pass, the Jets have five tough matchups: The Browns, the Bills twice and the Dolphins twice. The lone extremely advantageous matchup New York's passing offense has is a meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Offense

Last year, the Jets were one of only four teams that ran the ball more than they threw it.

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Ryan doesn't have the greatest NFL resume. He's won only 33 of his 89 career starts with 123 TDs and 101 INTs. Last year, he went 6-6 in 12 starts for the Houston Texans while completing a career-high 63.1 percent of his passes. He tossed 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Texans called the second-highest percentage of running plays last season (53.1 percent), which really took the pressure off of Fitzpatrick and played a big role in his improved TD-to-INT rate. Ryan has ties to Chan Gailey from their time together in Buffalo, so it wouldn't surprise me to see him starting at some point if Geno doesn't play well consistently. Ryan's experience and Harvard smarts may offer New York its best chance to take advantage of its receiving talent.

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Geno has struggled to win games in his two seasons with the Jets (11-18). He improved his completion rate (59.7) and cut down on his interceptions last season (13). Smith has three 300-yard passing games in his career and only one game with more than two passing touchdowns in 29 starts. This season, he has a stud No. 1 wideout in Brandon Marshall and a solid No. 2 option in Eric Decker. Devin Smith will give Geno a pure deep threat, and Jeremy Kerley will work as a possession receiver. When you add developing tight end Jace Amaro, you have the foundation of an above-average receiving corps. The only thing missing is opportunity. The Jets' new head coach is a defensive mind, and the strength of the team is defense. So, expect a ton of running plays this fall. I believe Geno still has upside as he enters his third season, but this could be his last chance to prove it with the Jets. If he gains some more yards with his legs, Smith may have value as a backup QB or a bye-week cover in fantasy.


New York Jets QB Geno Smith

Injury Status: Out - Jaw

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After rushing for 4.6 yards per carry in 2013 and 5.1 over a three-year span with the New Orleans Saints from 2010-12, Ivory recorded a career-low 4.1 YPC in 2014. The Jets' other running backs averaged 4.8 yards per rush. He finished the year with 198 rushes for 821 yards and six rushing scores. He put together two 100-yard rushing games despite having just one week with more than 20 touches. The added depth in the Jets' passing game should open more holes for him, but he'll be facing some very tough defensive lines in the AFC East. Ivory runs hard and breaks tackles at a high rate, but he won't average more than 15 touches per game and doesn't add much as a receiver. He actually set career highs in the passing game last year with 18 receptions and 123 yards. His style of play is boring in the fantasy market and doesn't hold any real impact upside over the course of a full season. At his best, Chris was just a weak RB2 option. This year, he'll compete for playing time with Stevan Ridley and Zac Stacy. However, he could complement his value by becoming a pass catcher more often now that Chris Johnson is no longer on the roster.


New York Jets RB Chris Ivory

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Just like Ridley, Stacy has a season on his resume that is better than anything Ivory has accomplished over a full year. In 2013, he rushed for 973 yards on 250 carries with seven TDs for the Rams. He even caught 26 passes for 141 yards and another score. In his 12 starts that season, Zac had four 100-yard outings. Yet, he averaged just 3.9 yards per rush, identical to his total during his much less successful 2014 season. Last year, St. Louis lost confidence in Stacy after the first four games of the season in which he ran for 223 yards on 53 carries and one TD. Once Tre Mason passed him on the depth chart in Week 7, Zac handled just 15 carries for the rest of the season and didn't even see a snap in some games. However, he might be the Jets' best option on third downs and could open the season as the team's No. 2 back if Ridley's knee needs more time to heal.


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Ridley's stats have fallen sharply since his breakthrough 2012 campaign when he racked up 1,263 yards on 290 carries and 14 touchdowns. He lost playing time in 2012 and 2013 due to serious bouts of fumblitis. His 2014 season was ruined in October when he tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee. He underwent surgery in November. Ridley's playing style is similar to Ivory's, but he has the better resume thanks to that one plus year. In his career, Ridley has run for 2,817 yards and 22 scores on 648 carries. He has just 23 catches in his career for 146 yards and no touchdowns. Ridley has enough talent to be a major part of New York's committee backfield, but he'll need time to regain his previous form following that brutal knee injury. The Jets expect him to be ready for training camp.

Injury Status: Out - Knee

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Marshall is coming off his worst NFL season since his rookie year of 2006, due in part to a lack of explosiveness needed to make plays downfield. His 2014 season began with eight catches for 71 yards and a score in Week 1, but he suffered what appeared to be a high ankle sprain late in that game. Brandon tried to play through the injury over the next four weeks, but he was mostly a decoy (11 catches on 25 targets for 117 yards and four TDs). His game showed a spark starting in Week 6 when he caught six passes for 113 yards on nine targets. From Week 6 through Week 12, Marshall hauled in 39 passes for 470 yards and three touchdowns on 65 targets. But his season ended in Week 13 when he suffered broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Marshall has five 100-catch seasons on his resume, all of which came with Jay Cutler as his QB. He owns seven seasons with more than 1,000 receiving yards as well. He has 65 career TDs in 120 starts. Last year, the Jets completed only 164 passes to their wide receivers for 2,098 yards and eight touchdowns combined. Brandon will certainly raise the value of New York's passing game, but there are only so many targets to go around in this run-heavy attack. Based on the Jets' usage of their wide receivers in 2014, Marshall will be hard-pressed to catch even 85 balls this season unless Geno makes some huge strides. Still, Marshall is a great WR who hasn't finished with fewer than 80 receptions in any full year since 2006. Let's set the bar at 85 catches for 1100-plus yards and seven TDs, which would make Marshall a strong WR2 in fantasy.

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In a way, Marshall will experience the same transformation that Decker experienced in 2014 after leaving the Denver Broncos for the Jets. Eric caught 172 passes between 2012 and 2013 for the Broncos for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns. In his first season on the Jets, he caught 74 balls for 962 yards and five TDs in just 15 games. With that one missed game added back, Decker should have accumulated about 80 catches and more than 1,000 total yards. That's still well off his Denver pace and shows the value of playing with a top quarterback in a well-oiled passing offense. Eric had six games with double-digit targets in 2014. However, he didn't post his first 100-yard receiving game until Week 15 against the Tennessee Titans as he caught seven passes for exactly 100 yards. His best game of the season came in Week 17 against the Dolphins (10 catches on 11 targets for 221 yards and a score). He gained 431 yards through his final four games of the year, but most of his fantasy owners were probably out of the playoff race by that point. The addition of Marshall will allow Decker to see weaker coverage, but it will also hurt his value unless the Jets throw the ball more. Overall, his 2015 results should fall in line with his 2014 stat line, just with a few more yards and TDs. I believe he'll gain more consistency from week to week.

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With each receiver that's added to New York's offense, Kerley's level of opportunity slides down a notch. Jeremy has seen his catch total decline in his each of the past two years after setting career highs in catches (56), yards (827) and targets (95) in 2012. Last year, he caught 38 of his 75 targets for 409 yards and one touchdown. The Jets really need a deep threat to complement Marshall and Decker now on the roster, and that's not Jeremy's strong point. Kerley is low-level replacement player who has scored just seven receiving TDs in 58 career games.

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Smith will be the Bishop in the Jets' passing game with Marshall being the Queen and Decker being the Rook. Devin can't make every move, but he can beat you in the blink of an eye if overlooked in coverage. Smith has 4.40 speed with questionable strength. Last year at Ohio State, he averaged 28.2 yards on his 33 catches and scored 12 times. Over four years in college, Devin caught 121 passes for 2,503 yards (20.7 yards per catch) and 30 TDs. He averaged one touchdown for every four catches in his career. Smith could add some value in the return game, but his lack of strength hurts him when he's trying to break tackles. This same issue will hurt him in press coverage. Overall, Devin needs to improve his route-running and get stronger. He has no real value in fantasy this year other than catching the occasional home run ball.

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The Jets gave Folk 75 field goal chances over the past two years. He made 86.7 percent of those tries and hit six of nine attempts from at least 50 yards out. That's significantly more accurate than his 73.9 percent conversion rate from 2009-12. For his career, Nick has made 80.6 percent of his field goal chances. His fantasy value has been harmed by the Jets' inability to score touchdowns over the past two years; they scored 27 in 2013 and just 23 in 2014. The Jets scored on only 56 of their 186 possessions in 2014. The Jets' offense will score more often this season -- which might lead to fewer field goal attempts. Folk is a borderline top-12 fantasy kicker option.

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The Jets will face two teams with strong rushing attacks: the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans. The Bills' stats make them look like a weak rushing team, but they have LeSean McCoy now. New York's defense will get what appear to be soft matchups against the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans. New York will also play four teams with below-par aerial attacks: Cleveland, Oakland, Houston and Jacksonville. Conversely, they will have their hands full trying to stop the Philadelphia Eagles and the Indianapolis Colts. The New England Patriots and the New York Giants won't be easy tasks either.

The Jets ranked fifth in run defense last year, allowing 1,489 yards on just 3.8 yards per carry. Their success was spearheaded by two elite run defenders: defensive ends Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson. According to Pro Football Focus, they rated as the second- and third-best defensive ends in the league, respectively, trailing only J.J. Watt. That duo combined for 16 sacks, 24 QB hits and 49 QB hurries. When you add in top-notch nose tackle Damon Harrison and rookie defensive end Leonard Williams, the Jets could possibly have the league's best front four and a dominant run-stopping unit. The Jets recorded 45 sacks last year, sixth-most in the NFL, but they also allowed 31 passing touchdowns and picked off just six throws. The cornerback position gets a huge upgrade with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie now back on the roster. New York has its top four linebackers returning; David Harris, DeMario Davis, Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples combined for 22 sacks last year, although Davis was the only one of the group who was a force against the run. The Jets may be weak at the strong safety position, but this defense has strength in two areas, and the upside of the defensive line should lead to improved play from each level of the defense. I expect the Jets to pick up more turnovers, but they may lack the playmakers to turn those mistakes into defensive touchdowns. The Jets were one of the worst defenses for fantasy purposes in 2014. They have the talent to finish inside the top 10 in fantasy this year.