The New York Jets offense was one of the worst in the NFL, ranking 26th in terms of yardage and 29th in terms of points per game. Its clear many of these struggles were due to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s disaster season but there are other areas on offense that need to improve as well. Let’s take a look at some potential solutions for the Jets’ offense this offseason.
Key Players: None
Problem: The Jets have nothing but questions at this position. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be released and, based on what we’ve seen, Bryce Petty might not make next seasons’ roster either. That leaves Christian Hackenberg as the only quarterback that will definitely be on next season’s roster. Though we haven’t seen Hackenberg play, its safe to assume he didn’t quietly turn into a solid NFL starter overnight. The Jets need to actively seek out a starting quarterback.
Solution #1: Free Agency
Players to watch: Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo), Nick Foles (FA), Matt McGloin (Oakland)
In free agency, the Jets have a few potential targets. Many have spoken of Mike Glennon and now even Kirk Cousins, but with the current state of affairs, the Jets should not be signing quarterbacks in free agency that have had such minimal experience and are difficult to evaluate. They should not be wasting money on “looks like a QB” type of players. If the Jets are going to pay $10+ million a year to a quarterback in free agency, the main target should be Tyrod Taylor. That’s assuming he is released by the Bills, which seems likely due to his contract and the strange way his season ended. With the increasing likelihood of Kirk Cousins testing the market, there’s a chance Taylor’s asking price would not be as high as. Price is the main reason why Cousins shouldn’t be considered a target. Cousins is a good target for a team that’s almost complete and that is certainly not the Jets.
If the Jets do miss out on Taylor, they could consider Nick Foles or Matt McGloin to compete with Petty and Hackenberg for the starting job. The Jets were rumored to be interested in Foles last year before Fitzpatrick resigned (team later denied interest). Foles is a veteran player who’s had average performances as a starter but more importantly has a reasonable sample size with 11 games as a starter in St. Louis in 2015 and 3 appearances and 1 start last season for the Chiefs as a backup.
Solution #2: 1st or 2nd round draft pick
Players to watch: Deshaun Watson (Clemson), Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech), Mitch Trubisky (UNC), Josh Dobbs (Tennessee)
Its an interesting year for the Jets to look to draft a quarterback. Its becoming more and more likely that the Jets will have a shot at drafting either Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky, or Patrick Mahomes with the sixth pick. The Jets already have so much inexperience at quarterback on the current roster, but if they are sold on either of these quarterbacks they’ll be likely to have to make that move with 6th pick.
Watson shined once again in primetime during the National Championship against Alabama, and throughout his career at Clemson. He still has plenty of detractors, but his workouts and interview should go a long way in how high he goes. Trubisky is only a one year starter and he’s showed some concerning flaws despite his intriguing positives. Mahomes is one of the more exciting prospects in the entire draft. He has an incredible ability to make unusual plays and throws from all sorts of angles. But with that, for scouts, comes the fear of miracles turning into turnovers. Mahomes, despite that fear, may have the highest upside of all the quarterbacks in the draft.
It would be risky but it wouldn’t be insane for the Jets to select a quarterback with the sixth pick. If they do, however, it would immediately be the focus of the entire 2017 season.
Key Players: Bilal Powell
The Jets need more depth and explosiveness from the running back position. Bilal Powell and Matt Forte combined for a quietly good 2016 season. But, Forte isn’t getting any younger and Powell clearly outplayed him last season. The Jets need to consider bringing in some young dynamic talent.
Solution: Mid to late round draft pick
Players to watch: Alvin Kamara (Tennessee), Wayne Gallman (Clemson), Corey Clement (Wisconsin), Jamaal Williams (BYU)
Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette have both been linked with the Jets in some mock drafts but for a team like the Jets, the first round is too early to be picking a running back. The Jets running game hasn’t been a major problem and the Jets don’t have the kind of offensive line the Cowboys had when it made more sense for them to select Ezekiel Elliott early in the first round in 2016. However, every draft has good running back talent available in the middle and late rounds like Kamara, Gallman, Clement, and Williams.
Kamara and Gallman are the more dynamic backs, gifted with impressive elusiveness and potential ability as receivers out of the backfield. Clement and Williams are more traditional backs who both had really successful college careers. Their running styles are a mixture of power, good vision, and acceleration. The Jets are likely to rely more on the run with uncertainty at the QB position. With the retirement of Zac Stacy and Khiry Robinson unable to stay healthy, adding any one of these backs in the later rounds would be ideal.
Key Players: Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson
The wide receiver position is one of the bright spots on the team. They do have a tough decision to make regarding their highest earners at the position: Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. The Jets need to shed at least one of them in order to free up cap space and give room for Enunwa and Anderson to develop.
Solution: Mid to late round draft pick. Release Marshall and/or Decker.
Players to watch: Chris Godwin (Penn State), Carlos Henderson (Louisiana Tech), Josh Reynolds (Texas A&M), K.D Cannon (Baylor), Stacey Coley (Miami), Ryan Switzer (North Carolina), Malachi Dupre (LSU)
This year’s wide receiver class in the draft is really impressive. It would be a shame for the Jets to miss out just because they want hold on to a receiver who massively underperformed and another one who the Jets don’t seem to be sure will be healthy for the season opener. If the Jets release one of them, the would free up a spot to bring in some competition for the other young receivers like Charone Peake and Jalin Marshall. Players like K.D Cannon, Stacey Coley, and Josh Reynolds could slide into rounds 4-5 and would be amazing value picks. Either of them would definitely raise the quality at the tail end of the group.
If the Jets decide to actually release both Decker and Marshall (which seems unlikely), they should definitely target players like Godwin, Henderson, and Dupre. Godwin and Henderson are starting NFL caliber receivers and if they somehow slip beyond round 2, it would be a heist.
Keep an eye on Ryan Switzer, as well. Switzer is a small wide receiver with precision route running skills, first class speed, and dependable hands. The Jets new offensive coordinator, John Morton, has been coaching a similar player in Brandin Cooks, for the last two years. Don’t be surprised if the Jets show significant interest in adding him, too.
Key Players: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
The Jets have had no idea what to do with the tight end position for the last two years. Now with a new offensive coordinator, the Jets are likely going to need to have a few actual NFL tight ends on the roster. They need to build depth either in front or behind Seferian-Jenkins.
Solution #1: Free Agency
Players to watch: Martellus Bennett (New England), Mychal Rivera (Raiders), Ryan Griffin (Houston)
Probably the best tight end likely to hit free agency is Martellus Bennett. Adding Bennett would certainly be considered adding depth in front of Seferian-Jenkins. However, because Bennett is the best on the market the Jets have to consider if they’re willing to spend the amount he’ll ask for on the tight end position, considering their other needs. Mychal Rivera and Ryan Griffin would be a safer/cheaper targets. Both could push Seferian-Jenkins for the starting spot in camp. Either way, they’d each provide valuable depth.
Solution #2: Mid to late round draft pick
Players to watch: Jake Butt (Michigan), Jordan Leggett (Clemson), Eric Saubert (Drake)
The Jets seem bound to take a tight end somewhere in the draft whether they sign a free agent or not. They probably won’t be in the O.J Howard/David Njoku sweepstakes. They are just way too high at pick six in the first round. Instead they should towards rounds 3-5. Jake Butt was injured in Michigan’s bowl game and has a long road to recovery. However, before the injury he was considered a round 1-2 type of player. If he recovers well, he would be a good value pick in the 3rd round. Eric Saubert is an interesting prospect. He definitely has the physical size (6’5″ 240+ lbs) and catching ability. The main concern is the competition he played at Drake. He’ll have a much bigger jump in competition than most in the NFL, particularly when it comes to blocking.
Key Players: Brandon Shell, Brian Winters, Wesley Johnson, James Carpenter
The Jets offensive line had plenty of struggles. The injuries did not help. However, they did get encouraging play out of Shell, Winters, and Johnson. Those three may need to be the foundation of the offensive line going forward. That means some difficult cuts, and an active eye in free agency and the draft.
Solution: Cut Mangold + Free Agency
Players to watch: J.C Tretter (Green Bay), Kelvin Beachum (FA), Ryan Clady (FA)
The Jets can clear up a good amount of cap space for other positions if they cut Nick Mangold. Wesley Johnson proved he can be a decent replacement in his time as a starter last year. The Jets also need to focus on left tackle in free agency. They have the possibility of re-signing Ryan Clady in free agency to a lesser contract than the one the Jets released him from. Or they can possibly target Kelvin Beachum who is probably the second-best left tackle available. The Jets should try to do their best to do be only drafting for depth when it comes the offensive line this year.
With so much new and in flux, its hard to predict what we’ll see from the Jets offense next year. They definitely have an opportunity to improve this offseason and we can only hope they make they right decisions. What move do you want to see the Jets make on offense?
Photo Credit: TexasTech.com