The New York Jets ended the season with an exclamation point today in Miami, knocking their division rival Dolphins out of the playoffs with an impressive 20-7 victory. Basically immediately after the game, Owner Woody Johnson announced that Rex Ryan will return as the Jets head coach in 2014. We haven’t received word about a contract extension but it is likely the Jets will add a year or two on to his deal. There are also rumblings that the defensive coaching staff could be shook up a little bit, so stay tuned for further information on that front.
As for today, the most encouraging development remained the strong finish to the season for rookies Geno Smith, Dee Milliner and Brian Winters. Smith went 17/27 for 190 yards and rushed for 44 yards with a touchdown…and most importantly had zero turnovers. Over the final quarter of the season, Smith went 68/106, with 790 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs, 188 yards rushing and 3 rushing touchdowns…not too bad considering his supporting cast. With another off-season of working with the same offensive coaching staff and an improvement to the skill positions, Smith should be that much better in 2014.
Dee Milliner was beat for an early touchdown but responded with two second half interceptions and five passes defensed. His progress from battling with the likes of Josh Gordon and Mike Wallace the past couple of weeks has been encouraging and there is no reason not to expect improvement, particularly if he can stay healthy this off-season. Milliner is going to be an opening day starter at corner in 2014, the only question is who will be lined up opposite of him.
Brian Winters put together another solid game, avoiding any penalties or allowing any sacks. He also had a nice block on Geno Smith’s touchdown run. He is another guy who you should expect to see starting next season and who will only improve with a full healthy off-season in the same system.
After a slow first quarter, the Jets were relatively dominant on both sides of the football. Bilal Powell stepped in for an injured Chris Ivory and finished off a very strong all-around season with 76 yards on 21 carries. David Nelson led all Jets receivers with 5 receptions for 66 yards and Jeremy Kerley chipped in 5 receptions for 40 yards. Led by Smith, the Jets offense consistently moved the football and even dusted off a Wildcat pass from Powell that went for 30 yards to Jeff Cumberland.
Defensively, the Jets intercepted Ryan Tannehill three times, the previous two mentioned by Dee Milliner and one by Ed Reed. Tannehill finished an ugly 20/40 and the Dolphins only managed 92 yards rushing overall. The Jets have their issues on defense but they put together an impress overall performance today.
We know this, the Jets 8-8 as a rebuilding team led by a rookie quarterback is much better than the Dolphins 8-8 after they busted their salary cap this past off-season to supposedly “make a run.”
The Jets now head into the off-season with somewhere between 40-50 million of cap space and likely 12 draft picks. It should be an exciting off-season. Stay with us here at TOJ as we break down what the team needs to do to reach the playoffs in 2014 and keep you updated on as any off-season information trickles in.