The New York Jets entered the 2016-17 NFL season full of promise. After all, they were coming off a surprise 10-6 season where they narrowly missed the playoffs. Then New York lost 6 of their first 7 games and things never got better.
What hope do the Jets have for a turnaround in the 2017-18 campaign?
Very little…in fact, they’re likely to be the league’s worst team. In comparison, the 2017 Browns could look like Super Bowl contenders.
The truth is that New York may not mind their position because they need a quarterback badly. And the prize for finishing last will likely be USC quarterback Sam Darnold in the 2018 NFL Draft.
What’s most shocking about the Jets’ descent is how quickly it’s happened. They poured $168 million into five free agents in the 2015 offseason – and it paid off in the form of a 10-6 record. Then everything went wrong in 2016 as they limped to a 4-12 record.
Things will only get worse because the team lost Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall, Nick Mangold, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Clady, David Harris, Eric Decker, and Calvin Pryor from last year’s squad. Harris and Decker were actually cut this month, showing that New York isn’t confident in their chances this season.
Jets fans will be in misery watching the team in 2017. That said, let’s go through the reasons why they’ll struggle so badly.
Overall Reasons why Jets will be so Bad
New York is tanking, and we can’t blame them. Even if they’d brought back all of their veterans, they’d be lucky to win 6-7 games. So why spend money on another below-average team?
As we’ll cover later, everything begins with the Jets’ quarterback situation. Without a decent signal caller, this squad has no chance to move the ball any better than they did last season.
The defensive line will be the lone bright spot in an otherwise lost season. Unfortunately, the rest of the defense – especially cornerback – doesn’t have much to offer. If New York is going to get sacks, few of them will be through coverage.
2017 Jets Offseason Moves
New York’s biggest moves include spending $34 million guaranteed to keep tackle Benjamin Ijalana and lure tackle Kelvin Beachum away from the Jacksonville Jaguars. They also signed respectable journeyman QB Josh McCown for $6 million and cornerback Morris Claiborne for $5 million.
These are good moves, but they don’t quite cover it.
The Jets tried for New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower, but he stayed put with the Patriots. They got a solid first-round draft pick in LSU safety Jamal Adams, but then they drafted safety Marcus Maye in the second round. Both Adams and Maye could end up being very good safeties, but these are curious picks for a rebuilding team.
2017 Jets QB Situation
Now we get to the worst of the worst – New York’s quarterback. They took Christian Hackenberg in the second round last season, despite concerns about his accuracy. Given that Hackenberg is hitting reporters with passes, things don’t look much better right now.
The Penn State product didn’t get any experience last season either. He had a poor preseason, then failed to get on the field, even when the team was losing badly. Perhaps he can still show signs of improvement this season. But if the 37-year-old McCown plays the whole year, then we know that Hackenberg is a failed draft pick.
Problems on the Horizon
Sheldon Richardson, an unrestricted free agent after this year, is coming off a broken leg and had just 1.5 sacks before that. Muhammad Wilkerson, who got a big contract extension last year, also played poorly. Both players were benched for a quarter in a game last year for being late to a meeting. Richardson and Wilkerson are expected to play better, which is a must if their D-line is to excel.
Quincy Enunwa as No. 1 Receiver
Brandon Marshall had a disappointing year after catching 59 passes for 788 yards and 3 touchdowns. Decker totaled just 9 catches for 194 before a season-ending injury. Both are gone, which leaves Quincy Enunwa as the unquestioned No. 1 wide receiver right now. He had 58 catches for 857 yards last season, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can top 1,000 as the go-to option.
Bilal Powell as the Feature Back
Bilal Powell has spent most of his career as a third-down back. However, last year he got a chance in an every-down role, and he did decent. Powell rushed for 722 yards and 3 touchdowns, while catching 56 balls for another 388 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was most impressive in the last four weeks of the season, rushing for 103 yards per game while averaging 4.8 YPC.
Will Todd Bowles be Fired?
Todd Bowles was a very good defensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals, and he had a great first season with the Jets in 2015. But coming off a 4-12 season, it’s easy to see Bowles taking the fall if New York is as bad as we expect. He’ll have to show that he’s excellent at player development this season to stay on because the Jets are unlikely to be any good. The other scenario is that Bowles wins far more than anybody expects – although this seems contradictory to what New York’s management has set him up to do.
Expectations for New York Jets’ 2017-18 Season
The best case scenario for New York is that they finish 1-15, secure the league’s worst record, and draft USC’s Sam Darnold (or whoever the top QB prospect is). Worst case scenario is that they go 6-10 and miss out on a potential franchise-changing quarterback.
This team isn’t set up to win and management knows it. They want the top pick in next April’s draft, and they want to develop young players this season. Chances are that the Jets will be worse than the Browns, 49ers, and any other contenders for the bottom. An Oct. 8 date with Cleveland could decide the top pick in 2018.
An unfortunate side product of this tanking is that Bowles is 80-90% assured of losing his job. But if the Jets are going to blow this thing up and start over, they’d better do it right with a terrible season.
Jets Week 1 Betting Line at GTBets.eu
NY Jets +6 (-105)
Buffalo Bills -6 (+115)