In case you missed Part 1: The 2013 Offense, the link is right here. Today it’s all about the 2013 defense.
DEFENSIVE LINEBUY: Mo Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Kenrick Ellis – These three guys are going to be the foundation of the defensive line hopefully for many years to come. Wilkerson has established himself as one of the elite interior defensive linemen in the entire league, and we can’t say enough good things about the job he’s done this year.
Quinton Coples has been brought along slowly by this coaching staff, and while it’s frustrating to not see him out there as much as we’d like, it’s important to remember he’s just a rookie and he’s playing in a very complex defensive scheme. I expect a big time season in 2013 from him. As for Ellis, a knee injury derailed parts of his 2012 season, but he flashed some serious talent when on the field, and he is likely to be our starting nose tackle next year. These three are the only linemen on the team that we can say will be back for sure next season.
SELL: Sione Po’uha – He’s a fan favorite and by all accounts a great teammate, but 350 pound men that develop back problems usually don’t get better as they get older. With his somewhat high price tag for 2013, he has cap casualty written all over him.
BUY: Sione Po’uha being brought back on a reduced contract – There is no question Sione is getting released, but if he’s willing to take a 1-year deal at a reduced rate to come back, I could see the Jets doing that so that they don’t have to just throw Ellis into the fire full-time. I’m not so sure Damon Harrison will be ready to take on a meaningful role, so this could definitely happen.SELL: Mike DeVito – DeVito has been one of my favorite players for quite a while now, but he’s a free agent and Quinton Coples was clearly drafted to take his spot on the line. I’m sure the Jets would love to have him back, but they just won’t be able to afford the veteran run-stuffer. Look for a cheap veteran to be brought in to spell the starters, someone in the Jay Richardson or Marcus Dixon mold from this past training camp.
BUY: David Harris and Demario Davis – They are the only two linebackers you can say for sure will be back with the Jets in 2013. While Harris’s play has slipped this season, he’s still the best linebacker we have and his guaranteed salary means it will be difficult to find a trade partner, while releasing him would make no sense. As for Davis, he’s the future at linebacker in the green and white. He’s got rare athleticism and he’s already stepped up as one of the vocal leaders on the team. He’s one of the few players on this team that’s worth getting excited over heading into the future. Plus, he has a really hilarious signature:
SELL: Bart Scott and Calvin Pace – There was a time these two were the rocks of the defense. Now, not so much. I’ve crapped on Calvin Pace a lot in this space throughout the season, so there’s no need to say much more about his play. Cutting him will save an awful lot of money on the 2013 cap, and that’s the first time something involving Calvin Pace has put a smile on my face in over two years.Bart Scott is another sure cap casualty, and while many dislike him and his big mouth, I’m going to miss having him around. He’s something of an antiquated player in this new passing-happy NFL, but few linebackers are able to fill a gap and blow up a run play like Bart. When I think of Bart Scott, I’m not going to think of the guy pathetically chasing after Shane Vereen on Thanksgiving night, but rather the “Madbacker” who single-handily gave this defense a swagger and contributed a great deal to the 2009-10 teams.
BUY: Josh Mauga and Garrett McIntyre – The team needs solid backups who won’t cost much. These two guys have actually played well, especially McIntyre of late. He’s been our best outside linebacker the past few weeks, which is impressive until you remember who our other linebackers are. Still, he’s played well. Mauga was also a pretty solid player for us before he got injured. Look for him to come back next year and have a solid role with the team.
SELL: Bryan Thomas – The longest tenured Jet gave it everything he had this season and played surprisingly well as old-age and injuries started to take their toll on him. It’s sad to see a proud vet like Thomas end his career like that, but it’s over for B.T.
BUY: Signing 1 OLB, Draft 1 OLB – It’s imperative that the Jets bring in a reliable veteran who doesn’t lumber like Frankenstein toward the quarterback. There are several nice options available this year in free agency including my personal favorite Conner Barwin of the Texans, who can definitely be had. Beyond him, the market includes guys like Anthony Spencer, Paul Kruger (who has Rex Ryan connections), and Shaun Phillips. Garrett McIntyre will likely be back next season, but he’s best suited as a part-time player who can split reps with a rookie, so a good reliable veteran NEEDS to be brought in.
This 2013 draft is loaded at offensive line and with edge rushers. Those are two things the Jets badly need, especially the linebackers. The Jets should absolutely use their first or second round pick on an edge rusher to give Coples and Wilkerson help up front. Look at the difference guys like Von Miller, Aldon Smith, Bruce Irvin and Jason Pierre-Paul have made for their defenses in recent years. The Jets need an immediate impact pass rusher this year. If you get a good one with the first round pick, sign a veteran like Barwin, and supplement that with a guy like McIntyre and hopefully a late-round project player as well, we’re starting to see a potentially excellent defense being formed. I’m giddy just thinking about the Calvin Pace-less linebacking corps!
BUY: Revis and Cromartie – Many people are already starting to say the Jets should trade one of these two guys. Personally, I really hope the Jets don’t. We all know what we have in Revis, and even coming off his ACL injury, he’s arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. I just don’t think you should go and trade away future Hall of Famers. Cromartie has blossomed into arguably the second best corner in the league this year behind Revis. That’s a lethal combination to have in such a pass happy league. Let them both lock down their receivers next year, add a pass rusher or two, and this defense can easily become the best unit in the league again.
BUY: Kyle Wilson – I am not a Kyle Wilson fan, but we can do worse at the third cornerback spot. In fact, we have been doing MUCH worse lately with Ellis Lankster in that role. Wilson has a modest price tag for next year, won’t yield much in a trade and cutting him is pointless, so he will almost certainly be back. Hopefully it’s as the #3 corner and he doesn’t have to move up to the #2 spot if the aforementioned trade occurs.
SELL: Ellis Lankster – I didn’t really enjoy the Ellis Lankster era, I’ll say that.
BUY: Aaron Berry – I was hoping we’d get to see more of him this year, but injuries knocked him out for most of the season. I expect him back to compete for a spot next year, and I’d like to see him win it.
BUY: Yeremiah Bell – Bell has very quietly put together a very good season this year. He’s getting up there in age, but he’s not going to break the bank and he provides solid veteran leadership. If he doesn’t retire, I think he will return to the Jets for another season and that would be a great move for us.
SELL: Laron Landry – I love Landry just as much as the next guy, but I think he’s going to price himself out of the Jets range. Landry has had an excellent season, and if there’s a way they can squeeze him under the cap, I’d LOVE to see him for a full season with Revis and Cromartie locking down receivers on the outside. I just don’t think it’s going to be feasible. Damn.
If Landry does end up pricing himself out of the Jets range, there are several other very good safeties who will be free agents. The most intriguing of course would be Ed Reed, who has been fighting with Baltimore over his contract for the last two years or so now. He has ties to Rex Ryan and it would be interesting to see if Rex could woo him here. Also available will be Jairus Byrd, Dashon Goldson, and Kenny Phillips of the Giants.
SELL: Eric Smith – YES! FINALLY! Good-bye Eric Smith! Go rough the punter somewhere else next year.
BUY: Antonio Allen and Josh Bush – Bush has been one of the few Tannenbaum draft choices who hasn’t been cut at least once this season, so he will definitely be back next year and will likely get more snaps. If Landry does leave, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Allen play a much more meaningful role next season either.