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New York Jets: 2017 preview

This season is shaping up as one to forget for the Jets, but maybe the end result will be something quite good


The New York Jets come into 2017 with expectations of misery and despair. They spend the offseason purging the roster of veterans and come in with perhaps the worst quarterback competition the NFL has ever seen. How did we get here?

2016 recap

12 months ago there was some buzz about the Jets. They were the last team eliminated from playoff contention in the AFC after a 10-6 season in 2015, losing a tiebreaker to the Steelers on win percentage in common games. And then it all went downhill.

A potential win turned into a loss against the Bengals, and while they took a Week 2 game in Buffalo on the back of some Fitzmagic, it was the last dose they would get all year. Kansas, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Arizona all steamrolled the Jets, who soon dumped Ryan Fitzpatrick for Bryce Petty, but the losses kept coming. They played a part in the worst game of the season, a 9-6 loss to the Rams, before getting trampled by Indianapolis. They did pick up two wins in December, but by then it was far too late.

Offseason moves

InOut
Kelvin Beachum, OTBrandon Marshall, WR
Josh McCown, QBEric Decker, WR
Morris Claiborne, CBNick Mangold, C
Corey Lemonier, OLBDarrelle Revis, CB
Quinton Patton, WRMarcus Gilchrist, S
Lucky Whitehead, WRRyan Fitzpatrick, QB
Jonotthan Harrison, CGeno Smith, QB
Jamal Adams, S (Draft)CJ Spiller, RB
David Harris, ILB

That’s a lot of big names on the “Out” column, and a bunch of scrubs on the “In” column. The Jets cleaned house of their expensive veterans, whether they were productive or not. For every wise dollar saved by releasing Darrelle Revis, a bad one was saved by cutting Nick Mangold.

The Jets have made a shrewd investment here and there though. Bringing in Morris Claiborne and Lucky Whitehead were low-risk gambles, and while Whitehead will miss time following foot surgery, Claiborne may have something to offer.

Jamal Adams was a great pick in the Draft at #5. He showed incredible range and instincts during his time at LSU and will have a chance to make a real impact as teams try to take advantage of weak corners deep.

2017 schedule

WeekOpponent
1@ Buffalo Bills
2@ Oakland Raiders
3Vs Miami Dolphins
4Vs Jacksonville Jaguars
5@ Cleveland Browns
6Vs New England Patriots
7@ Miami Dolphins
8Vs Atlanta Falcons
9Vs Buffalo Bills
10@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
11BYE
12Vs Carolina Panthers
13Vs Kansas City Chiefs
14@ Denver Broncos
15@ New Orleans Saints
16Vs Los Angeles Chargers
17@ New England Patriots

You’d think with a last-place schedule comes an easy ride, but there is no such luck for the Jets this year. Their two strength of schedule games, the Browns and Jaguars, are fairly winnable, but they have to face the highly competitive NFC South and the ridiculously tricky AFC West, not to mention they have the joy of facing the Patriots twice. Basically, every game is tough for the Jets, but they could easily go winless after their bye.

Three players to watch

There is so much unknown about the Jets going into 2017 and basically every spot in up for grabs, so who should you be watching?

Leonard Williams, defensive end

The defensive line is the one strength of this Jets team, and in Year 3 in the NFL this is Williams’ time to establish himself as a truly dominant force in the NFL. In his two years he has 10.0 sacks, however that doesn’t really do his level of play justice. To those 10 sacks he has added 18 tackles for loss and a massive 40 QB hits. He is a consistent, menacing presence regardless of where he lines up and if there was any reason to watch the Jets this year, it’s to see Williams evolve.

Jamal Adams, safety

Adams was one of the most highly touted prospects in the Draft this year, and while the Jets had many needs, he probably fills the most. Not only does Adams possess the kind of speed and reading of the game to cover the deep center field position, but he can also get across to the sidelines and protect the cornerbacks.

Similarities to Earl Thomas were dropped at lot during the Draft build, which is high praise indeed, and while he may not reach those heights, he could be a frighteningly good player for many years to come.

Sam Darnold, quarterback

Ok, so he’s not actually on the Jets, but he probably will be by this time next year. Darnold is currently plying his trade in USC and is expected to be the #1 pick at the 2018 Draft. Our draft expert Rebecca Rennie had this to say about him:

From a physical measurables standpoint, Darnold has size at 6’3”, 225lbs, and is a dynamic athlete that adds to to his playmaking ability when the play breaks down.

His throwing mechanics are unconventional and elongated […] but the motion is fast and the ball is released with velocity; the arm strength is very much there. The touch on the deep ball isn’t consistent yet, but he has the ability to fit the ball into the narrow windows and his overall accuracy is a plus.

That sounds very much like a player the Jets need. So if you’re not going to watch the Jets on a Sunday, watch USC on Saturday.

Prediction

Let’s just say that two wins would be both a success and a failure for the Jets this year. They have set themselves up to get the #1 pick, and not doing so, and thus losing a free shot at Darnold, could halt the rebuilding project before it really gets off the ground.

The lack of talent across the roster is grim, and it’s safe to say this is the worst collection of players in the NFL right now. I hope the front office understand this and give Todd Bowles a bye for this season. He is a good coach, especially on defense, and getting fired because the team he was handed to work with was terrible would be a real shame.

Elsewhere there is a chance for players to really shine, from Kenbrell Thompkins to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Devon Still to put together some tape and impress people in far more snaps than they would have seen at another team. That doesn’t mean they will be any good though.

This is a team waiting for 2018, and I expect the fan base will do the same.

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Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.

 

I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

New York Jets: 2017 preview

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