The TOJ Roundtable is back. Make sure to give everybody a follow on Twitter and to let us know your opinion down in the comment section below! Today’s question is…
Who is the biggest X-factor on offense and defense for the New York Jets this season?
Cole Patterson – The biggest x-factors for the New York Jets next year will be Antonio Cromartie and Geno Smith.
Mike Maccagnan spent a pretty penny this offseason to fill holes and upgrade the Jets roster. Arguably the biggest hole that needed filling was the cornerback position. To address the issue, Maccagnan dropped over $50 million in guaranteed money to reunite Darrelle Revis and Cromartie and acquire Buster Skrine. You know what Revis brings to the table and Skrine will man the slot admirably, but what can you expect from Cromartie? After a nagging hip injury (and resultant poor play) ended his initial tenure with the Jets, Cromartie cashed in a solid season with the Cardinals. However, consistency has never been his strong suit and the cornerback turned 31 in April.
The player opposite from Darrelle Revis plays a critical role in any defense. Before Cromartie solidified the back end, the Jets cornerbacks paired with Revis struggled to handle the all-world corner’s remains. If Cromartie reverts to his 2013 form, number two receivers could have their way with this Jet defense. The injured and unproven duo of Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougall are not comforting insurance policies.
Geno Smith is the obvious choice here. He may even be the biggest x-factor for the New York Jets success as a whole. Ignore the back and forth between Todd Bowles and Chan Gailey. Unless Geno has a heinous training camp, he will be the starter week one. It is in the team’s best interest, both long and short term, for Geno to succeed.
If Geno Smith can take advantage of the new weapons and cut down on his turnovers, the Jets offense could see a boon. Wider running lanes will open, drives can be sustained, and the defense will get some well deserved rest. If Geno has plateaued, or regresses, the whole team will stagnate. Opposing offenses can stack the box, the Jets will face numerous third and longs, and the defense will get gassed just trying to keep the team in games. In this writer’s humble opinion, the season hinges on the unknown that is Geno Smith.
Dalbin Osorio – The biggest x-factors for the New York Jets, on both sides of the ball, are the two guys that I believe have underachieved: Quinton Coples and Jace Amaro.
Coples has flashed and it is frustrating that he hasn’t done more. He is the Jets’ best pure pass rusher and would change the dynamic of the defense. The Jets opted to take an interior lineman instead of Vic Beasley, in part, because of Coples’ presence. It’s up to him to make them look good in this decision.
Amaro, despite his lofty draft status, struggled with lapses of concentration and was not the weapon he should’ve been early on. He showed enough that I’m excited for him in Gailey’s offense but I worry that those same issues will show up again. If he becomes consistent? The Jets offense becomes that much harder to defend.
Joe Malfa – My X-factors on both sides of the ball are Jeremy Kerley and Calvin Pryor.
For the first time in his NFL career, Geno Smith has two legitimate threats on the outside in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. However, don’t overlook Kerley, who will get a lot of looks in Chan Gailey’s offense. Having Marshall and Decker on the outside will allow Kerley to return to the slot full time. With the dearth of outside receivers, he had to play out of position over the last two seasons; that hurt his production. He has shown that he has what it takes to be a deadly slot receiver, and it is up to him to reach his full potential this season. If he can step up, this offense can be very productive.
NFL.com recently posted an article that listed the 10 best units in the NFL, and both the Jets defensive line and secondary were on that list. While Gang Green may have the best crop of corners in the league, there are question marks at safety. Calvin Pryor showed flashes of why he was a first round pick last season. He also whiffed hard on some plays that made you question how he was drafted so early. Todd Bowles should really help with Pryor’s growth, and if he can take that next step, this Jets secondary can surpass the Legion of Boom.