We’re back with another edition of the TOJ Pick Six. This week, we’re focusing on the 6 biggest non-QB questions heading into training camp. Next week, I will be back to answering your questions. The 6 I answer will be taken from next week’s TOJ Facebook Live segment. Now, let’s take this one back…
1. What can the Jets realistically expect from Jace Amaro?Honestly, Amaro is the biggest X factor for a Jets offense that was really predictable last year. The offensive touches ran through Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and Chris Ivory with passing opportunities incorporating Bilal Powell as the season went on. The Jets, while productive overall, need to vary their offensive approach if they want to improve upon what was a pretty inconsistent season in the sense that the offense struggled through the first few games, found their footing mid season, only to then struggle again towards the tail end of the season.
It wasn’t just the Bills games, but the offense sputtered against Houston, Dallas, Jacksonville early on, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis as well. Amaro goes a long way towards rectifying those kinds of games because in his limited time, he has proven to be a chain mover. He eats in the middle of the field and can win one on one matchups on the outside. The Jets will wisely use Decker and Marshall in the slot and, if they’re smart, will use formations where the outside receivers are Amaro and Quincy Enunwa. This will create favorable matchups for Marshall and Decker underneath, and let Amaro win his one on ones against smaller cornerbacks. Realistically, his ascension coupled with the continued development of Enunwa will go a long way towards determining how good this offense is next year.
2. What can we expect from the Jets defense?
I think Darrelle Revis will win defensive player of the year next year. There, I said it. I think he’s heard the talk that he’s lost a step and that there are corners better than him (spoiler alert: there aren’t) and will return extremely motivated to shut some people up. The defense, personnel wise, is better equipped to play Todd Bowles’s defense. The additions of Darron Lee, Bruce Carter, and Jordan Jenkins make the front 7 faster. Replacing Antonio Cromartie with Buster Skrine makes the secondary better. An additional year of experience will make Calvin Pryor an All-Pro next season, and it will help the defense improve upon the blown coverages and miscommunication that contributed to this team not being in the playoffs. They are still stout up front, and now have the speed to match the brute force. They also have depth, which is vital to a team that uses so many different defensive looks. They will be the best defense in the league next year barring injury.3. Who is the most important offensive player for the Jets?
The most important player on the Jets offense is Left Tackle Ryan Clady. We saw last year that Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are very dependent on each other; in the Philadelphia game, Decker’s absence was felt and Marshall’s impact was felt whenever he had to come out. The Jets are deep at RB, so Matt Forte’s importance isn’t as vital to this team and the offense still moved well at times without Chris Ivory. If Clady goes down, the depth behind him doesn’t exist. The most underrated aspect of D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s tenure with the Jets was his availability, and the Jets need Clady to bring that same level of availability just because the next man up isn’t very good. If Clady is healthy for 16 games, he becomes the most important player for the offense this year.
4. Who is the most important defensive player for the Jets this year?
This may sound like hyperbole, but the most important person on this defensive unit is strong safety Calvin Pryor. Value and importance are two different things and, while Revis still represents the most valuable player on this defense, Pryor is more important. Similar to Clady, you notice a drop off after Pryor despite my love for Rontez Miles. When Pryor went down with his ankle sprain, his absence coincided with the Jets defense playing their worst stretch of the season. With Pryor playing closer to the line, the Jets were able to utilize his closing speed and sure tackling to drop ball carriers and receivers behind the line of scrimmage with relative ease. Pryor sets the tone for a Jets defense that prides itself on intimidation. A full 16 games of Pryor like play will help the Jets defense be more consistent.5. How does Todd Bowles get better?
One of the often overlooked aspects of last year’s 10 wins is that a couple of adjustments by Head Coach Todd Bowles could’ve had the Jets as division champions. For example, not giving Revis help against Sammy Watkins surely cost the Jets two games. Not utilizing more 4-3 looks to get all of his DL on the field was another head scratcher. Lastly, the criminal under utilization of Chris Ivory despite him being the best RB in the AFC all year was another bone headed move in what was otherwise a successful first year. It is Bowles’ improvement in those aspects as head coach that really will ensure that the Jets found the right guy for the job. He’s already learned how to let his coaches coach as he is the guy that oversees everything, but he needs to improve his two minute offense philosophies, coverage decisions in regards to Revis as his career winds down, and the whimsical use of timeouts that plagued his predecessor in order for the Jets to be successful.
6. Where do the Jets rank in the AFC right now?
Pro Football Focus released their predictions and it had the Jets at 11th out of 16th in the conference. Ranked ahead of the Jets, in order, were the Steelers, Patriots, Raiders, Bengals, Broncos, Chiefs, Texans, Ravens, Bills and Jaguars. Only the Chargers, Colts, Titans, Browns and Dolphins trailed New York. There are 3 teams that you could argue the Jets are better than: Buffalo, Baltimore, and Houston. This would put them as high as 8th, which is right in line with where they finished last year just about. On paper, they are better than Buffalo even if Buffalo beat them twice. The drafting of Shaq Lawson at 19 was questionable even before the shoulder injury that will cost him almost all the season was discovered. Houston signed Brock Osweiler but would’ve been better giving that money to Ryan Fitzpatrick honestly.
Baltimore is good (I expect them to be a playoff team) but almost all of their key contributors are coming back from injury and there will be an adjustment. I can even argue that they are better than Jacksonville on paper, as they have continuity whereas Gus Bradley hasn’t proven he can field a good defense in Jacksonville during his tenure. 7-9 is as possible as 11-5 regardless of the QB, in my opinion, and PFF has the Jets ranked too low. I think they’re the 7th best team in the AFC.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com