5 Reasons The New York Jets Will Exceed Expectations

Mike Donnelly with 5 reasons the New York Jets will exceed expectations

The New York Jets are expected to be amongst the worst teams in the NFL this season by most of the fans, experts, critics, writers, analysts, and whoever else out there that follows football. Well they thought that before 2009 also, and I think this year’s team has a lot of similarities to that team. I’m here today to give you a different kind of top-5: The Top 5 reasons why the Jets are actually underrated.

1. Lethal Defense – It was clear to anybody who watched the Jets since Rex Ryan took over in 2009 that last year’s defense was not up to standard. Despite excellent individual seasons from players like Muhammad Wilkerson and Antonio Cromartie, the unit was by far the worst that the team has fielded in four years. The reason for that were simple: Darrelle Revis missed nearly the whole season with an injury; Players like Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, and Sione Pouha all lost more than a step on the field and were shells of their former selves; Less-than-stellar players like Garrett McIntyre and Ellis Lankster were forced into much bigger roles than they should have been in. It all added up to a sad Rex Ryan. But all that is going to change in 2013.

Rex and John Idzik saw the writing on the wall and made many changes this offseason to that side of the ball. The former coordinator, Mike Pettine, was let go, and Rex is going back to his roots taking on a much larger role in coaching his defense, which is a major positive. The declining players were all let go (other than Pace, who is back in a reduced role) and were replaced by younger, more athletic players. Quinton Coples is now in a starting, full-time role as is linebacker Demario Davis, which are both major improvements. Davis is a potential star, and Coples has the potential to be amongst the top pass rushers in the league. Number 13 overall pick Sheldon Richardson was added to the defensive line next to stud Mo Wilkerson to cause havoc up front. Antwan Barnes was added to bolster the pass rush from the edge and Dee Milliner was drafted number 9 to help replace the loss of Darrelle Revis. Those personnel changes combined with Rex Ryan taking over the unit are going to give the Jets a young, hungry, and dominant defense, which will keep the Jets in all of their games, and even win a few on their own.

2. Improved Run Game – I defended Shonn Greene more than just about anyone, but midway through last season it became painfully clear that he just wasn’t a quality starting running back in the NFL and that the Jets badly needed an improvement. Enter Chris Ivory. The former New Orleans Saint has been extremely impressive in limited action throughout his career, and now he gets a chance to show what he can do full-time behind a pretty darn good run blocking offensive line. Lots of Jets fans apparently never watched Ivory play the last few years and have downplayed his arrival, which is a mistake. The guy is a flat out BEAST and is basically everything we ever hoped Shonn Greene could become. Idzik identified big “chunk plays” as an area of need, and Ivory and Mike Goodson definitely address that.

Over the last three seasons, Ivory and Goodson combined have had 16 rushes of 20+ yards and 5 of 40+ yards despite just 394 combined carries. By comparison Greene has had 8 rushes over 20 yards and 0 over 40 in the same time frame despite having 714 carries. That’s what you call an improvement. Ivory and Goodson, with Bilal Powell in reserve, and Joe McKnight in a flex sort of role form a pretty well-rounded and productive backfield, and that will be key to the Jets success in 2013.

3. Better Coaching – I touched on Rex Ryan taking over the reigns on defense earlier, but it’s worth repeating. Rex Ryan taking over full control of his defense like he did in 2009 and 2010 is a major improvement. Rex is perhaps the best defensive coach in the entire NFL (just ask him!), and he’s going to bring this unit back towards the top of the rankings this year. The reason he’s allowed himself to put more focus into the defense is due to the hiring of new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

Mornhinweg is a proven, successful NFL offensive coordinator and he is being given full control of the unit, which is a major, major, major, major, major step up from the past few seasons of Brian Schottenheimer and the disastrous Tony Sparano. Whether the Jets win or lose this year, we can at least rest easy knowing the offense will have an actual system in place with real game plans that they will attempt to execute as opposed to… whatever the hell that was last year. As a head coach, Rex deserves credit for recognizing his team is at it’s best with a solid offensive coach running that side of the ball while he handles the defense and oversees the whole team. The Jets will be much better off for it.

4. Not a Killer Schedule – Yes, there are some tough games on the schedule that the Jets are going to be major underdogs in, that is for sure. Going to Atlanta is a tough game for any team to win, as is in Baltimore, and of course in New England. But there is certainly reason to be optimistic elsewhere on the schedule. The Jets get to host the Steelers this year and don’t have to travel to Pittsburgh for a change, plus the Steelers are no longer the same force on the field that they were in years past. They also get to host the Saints, who are a far different team on the road on grass than they are in the friendly confines of their home dome. Traveling to Cincinnati is no picnic, but that’s certainly a winnable game as is the road game in Tennessee.

There are also of course two division games each against the Bills and Dolphins, and if the Jets are going to be playoff contenders, those are some games they would have to win. A sweep against Buffalo and their rookie QB and a split with Miami is certainly very possible. Week 1 against Tampa is extremely winnable as are late-season games against Oakland, Carolina, and Cleveland. If they can win the games they should win, pull off an upset or two, and hang strong for the weaker second half of the schedule, the Jets can definitely surpass expectations.

5. Better QB Play – I know it’s blasphemy to say anything remotely positive about Mark Sanchez these days, but I think most of us can agree on this point: It can’t get any worse than last year, right? With Mornhinweg here now installing his quarterback-friendly offense, with an improved run game that was mentioned above, and hopefully a season where all the wide receivers don’t get injured, Sanchez can’t possibly have a worse season in 2013. And if he does provide more of the same crap, then rookie 2nd round pick Geno Smith will be inserted as the starter to turn things around, which was something they didn’t have available last year. Clearly the Jets aren’t loaded with talent on offense, but there are some things for the QB to work with. Kerley is a reliable slot receiver, and the run game promises to be strong. If Santonio Holmes and Kellen Winslow stay healthy, and Stephen Hill manages to not drop a few passes here and there… well, don’t be surprised if the Jets surprise quite a few people this year.

Author: Mike Donnelly

Mike Donnelly is a Staff Writer and life-long Jets fan, who was previously a featured columnist at multiple other New York Jets and fantasy football websites. He lives and works in finance in the NYC area and will help lead our Jets and NFL coverage in 2013.

  • Dan Hills

    I couldn’t agree more. Great article.

  • KAsh

    This is a well laid out, even-handed article, especially on such a touchy topic. While I personally do not agree with all the points, I think the general spirit of the article – that the team has a brighter immediate future than thought possible – is right. Arguably, Rex had to shift back to the defense because he has a lot of experience on that side of the ball that he needs to compensate for, Ivory and Goodson need to prove they can handle the big load of the full season, Mornhinweg has a lot less to work with and an offense that does not seemed designed for a WCO, the schedule always surprises as teams improve, and you are hanging a lot on two QBs, neither of which has been hitherto great at handling pressure. But you can disagree with any of the points individually, but disagreeing with all of them is likely a sign of pessimism clouding your judgement.

  • Vic Wooten

    yes yes yes donnelly, you touched on everything i myself have been telling everyone who tells me the jets will be a non-factor. rex was able to get 6 wins from a team that was bad last year and people wanna think our squad can’t do nuthin with the many improvements that have been made? it makes me crazy. we’ll probably have to deal with those same naysayers the rest of july, through preseason, and even after we’ve won a few games in the regular season! i’m already predicting a home playoff game (very optimistic). J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS

  • JetOrange

    I am overly optimistic because I believe in Marty, his offense, Ivory and Goodson. I am concerned about the Jets ability to stop the run. It will be interesting to see if Pettin in Buffalo has a better defense than Rex, Rex and his gambling style can be great or disasterous.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    1. The defense has the potential to have the most formidable pass rush that we’ve seen in Rex’s tenure so far, & should be very exciting.

    2. I wonder if MM will utilize a RB-by-committee approach to reduce wear & tear on guys that have shown a tendency towards getting injured & to utilize the deepest & most talented group of skill players he has.

    3. My guess is that Rex has spent the entire offseason seething at the way he has been trashed by the media, as well as Pettine’s seemingly cancerous behavior last year & has been designing schemes that will best utilize his group of young, talented, versatile D-lineman.

    It’ll be interesting to see what the Jets’ O looks like. The passing game looks questionable, at best & it would seem MM will have to rely on the running game more than he has in the past. He should be an improvement over Schotty & Sporano, but that doesn’t really say much.

    4. While the schedule looks tough on paper, variables like injuries play an important role, so it seems silly to get overly pessimistic or optimistic based on perceived strength of schedule.

    5. Can MM & David Lee coax a serviceable season out of Sanchez? I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect anything more than that. If not, can they get Geno ready to play in the NFL as a rookie? I think its likely the QB play will be better than last year, if only because its almost impossible to be worse.

  • Jim G

    Good piece. One concern should be the number of games that Sanchez will be allowed to stink up before he gets the hook. It’s more probable than not that he will falter, just based on his track record. Will Rex stubbornly stick with the “he gives us the best chance to win” mantra? If his poor play causes them to drop the first 4 or 5 games before he is replaced with Geno, any realistic chance at the post season is pretty much shot. This team needs to start strong right from the beginning because there are stretches of the schedule that are brutal.

  • mark epstein

    I agree with a lot of what’s written but you the following statement is not based on fact, its being quite hopeful. I hope you are right but…

    Davis is a potential star, and Coples has the potential to be amongst the top pass rushers in the league.

  • Circles26

    Rex’ attacking style does not give up running yards. Sometimes it gives up big third down completions if the blitz gets picked up, but all his blitzes are designed to fill running lanes. Feel to go back to 2009-10 to check out our run defense.

  • matr dontelli iii

    wow, somebody more optimistic than myself. a home playoff game! can’t wait!

  • Mike Donnelly

    haha well I wouldn’t go buying those home playoff tickets just yet.. but 8 or 9 wins can happen

  • Q98

    Aren’t you being a little too optimistic about the offensisve line? The guard position is filled with either injury prone players or rookies. And then there’s Austin Howard.

  • Boomer

    Great article can’t wait to see that d line, just hope the offense can be productive

  • Mike Donnelly

    Q98 – I actually think the O-line will be much improved over a year ago. Slauson was average at best and Moore was on his last legs (he hasn’t even found a team yet). I think Colon is a major upgrade if he can stay healthy, as is Winters once he gets his feet wet and locks down the starting job. He will bring some much needed athleticism and toughness to the line.

    As for Howard, he’s a very good run blocker and you’d have to think he will improve Headimg into his second year as a starter.

  • kane

    I think you have to correct this

    “They also get to host the Saints, who are a far different team on the road on grass than they are in the friendly confines of their home dome.”

    Last I looked there is no grass field in MetLife stadium

  • __fense

    I know everyone still hates Ducause because he wasn’t a good RT, but it is actually a pretty good guard. The offense did better with him in than they did with Slauson, and he made very few mistakes all year, playing about the third of the snaps. If he isn’t the starter, it’s because the other guards are even better than him, not that he’s a terrible guard. This is probably the deepest O-line we’ve had since Woody was the backup, so I’m less worried about eventual injuries than I was last year.

  • Q98

    Let’s hope so. For the past 2 seasons our o-line has gone from shitty to shitty-er.

  • David

    I understand the basis of the article, but there is alot of it that is based on “hope and potential.” Yes, Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson could do well, or they could also show why they’ve been buried on the depth charts for so long.

    Yes, there is “potential” with Davis and Coples, but what if they are just average players?

    You are a lot more optimistic on the schedule than I am. Yes, I understand a lot can happen, but on paper, I could easily argue that the Jets could be 1-7 or 0-8 in October and November. I can see right now maybe 3 games where the Jets will be favored.

    And in terms of the QB, we better hope we find something in Sanchez or Geno, because otherwise, we are in the same boat as last year.

  • __fense

    You could make that article for every player for every team. What if Tom Brady starts to show his age next year? What if Russel Wilson ends up not being as good, now that there’s a full year of film on him? Dion Jordan has potential to be good this year, but what if he isn’t? Drew Brees was good last year, but unless he stops going all-or-nothing every snap, the saints are going to be in the same boat as last year, missing the playoffs.

    And those are some of the best players I can think of. Because the future is unknowable, I can come up with valid arguments why they could do badly next year. But is it really realistic to assume the worst for every player? Apparently it is if they play for the Jets.

  • John C

    I remember thinking it odd, a couple of years ago, that beat writers never seemed to connect the dots between Page Six sightings of Sanchez squiring two models into and out of his hotel in one evening (I think the early shift was Kate Upton), and the beginning of Sanchez’s demise. Then, last year, right around training camp, he get’s tied up with Eva Longoria (doomed to fail, and guaranteed to generate publicity). This year, I was hoping he’d realize how tenuous his status as a pro QB was, and try to keep a low profile. Now, he’s on video with two society nymphs in Cali, dancing ass naked. Sanchez should realize that if he cannot concentrate on football for once, he’ll be a third stringer, unable to score!

  • __fense

    I’m sorry, but if you think that Sanchez shouldn’t be allowed to have any fun during his time off, when he already spends so much extra time with football, you need to get over yourself. There has never been a question that he works harder than most, and he’s allowed to have a life.

  • John

    Great article as you backed up the reasons for optimism. I would maintain that one of the defensive concerns in stopping the run might be traced to a defense that had been blitzing less under Pettine and ironically declining against the run. Watch for Rex to change that in spite of the promises of being more aggressive. His defenses have always been known to stuff the run capably.
    Offensively, I’m not as concerned as most as I think Marty’s system will work with any combination of players. Watch out for McKnight in the slot and working out of the backfield in a two-back formation that Marty loves to run.

  • matr dontelli iii

    yup, sanchez’ problems definitely stem from always looking for a piece of ass. that’s why we had the buttfumble. he just can’t seem to keep his mind on football.

  • Wow… what is it with Jets fans? Your lot is the most gullible group of fans in sports… You HONESTLY believe that the Jets are UNDERRATED?

    Firstly, sure, the Jets DID improve their defense, and their running game… but so did every other team in the NFL. Can you honestly compare the Jets moves to other teams like the Dolphins? I would say outside of loosing Bush, the DOLPHINS HAVE GOTTEN MUCH better than the Jets. And The Bills should have no problem stopping our offense. face it Jets fans… we are not winning nothing next year. Anyone saying otherwise should be arrested for child abuse. Offenses this bad make defenses look better than they really are. we dont have revis anymore folks.

  • Wow… what is it with Jets fans? Your lot is the most gullible group of fans in sports… You HONESTLY believe that the Jets are UNDERRATED?

    Firstly, sure, the Jets DID improve their defense, and their running game… but so did every other team in the NFL. Can you honestly compare the Jets moves to other teams like the Dolphins? I would say outside of loosing Bush, the DOLPHINS HAVE GOTTEN MUCH better than the Jets. And The Bills should have no problem stopping our offense. face it Jets fans… we are not winning nothing next year. Anyone saying otherwise should be arrested for child abuse. Offenses this bad make defenses look better than they really are. we dont have revis anymore folks.

  • kc.

    the SCARY thing is even tho Revis didn’t play MOST of last season the Jets were still 2ND in the league against the pass and 8TH in OVERALL Defense.

  • Mfaller

    This entire article is unrealistically optimistic. When your argument for better signal calling is “It can’t get any worse than last year, right?”, you might want to reassess you expectations

  • John C

    I’m not saying Sanchez should be Tim Tebow, and I really don’t think he should be a monk or anything, but I also don’t think he spends a lot of “extra time” devoted to football. Sure he has his “camps”, but they don’t seem to do much good. I do believe he has concentration problems that affect his ability to be consistent. So would I if I was thinking about what model I was going to bed tonight, when it was third down in the red zone.

  • Brad

    While I agree with a lot of your points, I think improved health is the most important thing. If Holmes, Hill & Winslow don’t get healthy (or stay healthy) then the offense will still be terrible.

  • mike

    the argument that sanchez giving the d to beautiful women is somehow a bad football decision is a flimsy one. with the nfl being apparently full of murderers, rapists, gun nuts, and dog-fighters, you’d think a guy just out to have an old fashioned good time with his success might get cut a little slack.

  • matr dontelli iii

    not if he plays for the jets and especially not if his name is sanchez. just be glad you’re capable of more intelligent thought than that

  • grassynol

    tebow shouldve been the starter last year… the people in charge of this team might be LITERALLY retarted