Ever since finding success in the early 2010's, which saw the Jets' reach the AFC Championship two seasons in a row, the Jets haven't made the playoffs since. In the now six years from their last playoff berth, Jets' fans have seen a front office spend foolishly in free agency and miss time in and time out in the NFL draft. The 2015 saw the Jets' finish with a winning record. It looked as if the Jets' veteran filled roster could once again be playoff contender in 2016. 2016 brought disappointment however. Ryan Fitzpatrick went back to being Ryan Fitzpatrick. The offensive line and running game where both major flops and the secondary was amongst the worst in the league. This article will look back at the 2011-2016 offseasons for the Jets and find mistakes that still plague the franchise today. We will also be looking ahead to the 2017 offseason and how the Jets' can once again become respectable in the AFC.
2011 offseason: Fresh off an AFC Championship appearance, the Jets' looked to build it's offense. Brining in aging receivers Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason were supposed to add life to a mediocre Jets' offense. Mason only played in five regular season games for the Jets' before being cut. Burress played in all 16 games for the Jets' but was shipped to Pittsburgh following the 2011 regular season. Aaron Maybin a former first round pick, was cut in the 2013 offseason, a fitting end to a disappointing NFL career. The draft saw the Jets' select three players who are still on roster today. Jamie Kerley is a fantastic fourth wideout and special teamer for the Jets'. Bilal Powell has proved he can be an efficient NFL running back when given an opportunity. Muhammad Wilkerson has for long been a staple of the Jets defensive line. The 2011 draft was the best draft for the Jets' in the past six seasons. Coming into the 2011 season, expectations were high for the Jets', though a disappointing season would follow.
2012 offseason: After finishing 8-8 in 2011 the Jets' looked to get back to their winning ways. This was the offseason that saw Tim Tebow become a Jet. Tebow was let go after the 2011 season after making almost no impact at all for the Jets. Laron Landry was brought in to help revamp the secondary, it ultimately didn't work out. The 2012 offseason also saw the Jets' lose starting tailback Ladainian Tomlinson. Tomlinson was still a top back in the NFL and was a major kog to the Jets' offense. The 2012 draft was arguably the Jets' worse in recent history. Quinton Coples and Stephen Hill were both catastrophic busts in the NFL. Couples' lasted three season with the team before being released. Hill lasted a meager two seasons with the team before being released. Demario Davis has been a solid linebacker in the NFL for the past 5 seasons. However last season signed with the Cleveland Browns after failing to reach an agreement with the Jets'.
2013 offseason: The Jets' finished at 6-10 in 2012, yet another disappointing season for Jets fans. The 2013 offseason brought veteran players like Kellen Winslow to the team to help create more fire power on the offensive side of the ball. However, other than Chris Ivory, none of the veterans, like Winslow, made huge impacts for the team. They instead put the team in a bad salary cap situation, a common theme for the Jets' over the past five seasons. The Jets' lost it's best player at the time, Darrelle Revis, to the Buccaneers after failing to agree on a contract. Revis however, played only one season with the Buccaneers' before joining division rival, New England Patriots. Dee Milliner was taken ninth overall in hopes of replacing Revis. Millner was again another flop for the Jets'. The Jets' did however select Sheldon Richardson and Brian Winters who are regarded as two of the top players on the team. Geno Smith was taken in hopes of replacing Mark Sanchez who had struggled each of the past two seasons. Smith is still on roster but is regarded as one of the worst quarterbacks in the league.
2014 offseason: The Jets' finished with an 8-8 record in 2013 and were looking to make major upgrades to hopefully once again reach the playoffs. 2014 saw the Jets' bring in Mike Vick. After being released from prison, Vick had a phenomenal 2010 season. His career was once again in decline after having rough 11-12 and 13 seasons. The Jets' hoped Vick had enough left in the tank to guide them back to the postseason. This was not the case and Vick would not be retained prior to the 2015 season. Eric Dekker was brought in to replace Santonio Holmes. Dekker was arguably the brightest young receiver on the market at the time. Signing Dekker would supposedly help propel the Jets' offense. The 2014 draft wasn't the best for the Jets'. Other than safety Calvin Pryor, the Jets' failed to bring in any impact players. Jace Amaro was thought of as the answer to the Jets' tight end issues. Amaro was let go after the 2015 season.
2015 offseason: The Jets' 2015 offseason was looked at as potentially the best of the entire class. The Jets' brought back Darrelle Revis after a two year split and paid him an absurd $39 million in guarantees. Brandon Marshall was stolen away from the Bears for a small price to pay (a fifth round draft pick) and had a fantastic 2015 season. Marshall did struggle in 2016. Buster Scene was drastically overpaid. Paying a slot corner like a top 20 corner isn't a good idea. David Harris was given $15 million in guarantees and may be cut this offseason due to decline in play. James Carpenter and Marcus Gilchrist were both signed to four year deal and have been major flops. The one bright spot (at one point in time), was Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick greatly outperformed his deal and led the Jets' to their best season in almost five years. Leonard Williams was taken sixth and is one of the brightest young players in the league. Todd Bowles' was also brought in as head coach. Bowels' was one of the top coaching candidates available and was an upgrade from Rex Ryan.
2016 offseason: 2015 was a mirage for Jets' fans. After narrowly just missing out on the playoffs the Jets' brought in Matt Forte, and Ryan Clady to help improve the offense. Damon Harrison, the best nose tackle in the league, was let go for some reason. As was Chris Ivory, a younger, cheaper running back in comparison to Matt Forte. Darron Lee looks like he can be a capable player in Todd Bowles' defense. Christian Hackenberg is an awful NFL quarterback but was drafted to step in for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who the Jets' ultimately brought back. The 2016 offseason was not the Jets' best to say the least and their 5-11 record in 2016 depicts why.
What we can learn: The Jets' have timelessly spent millions on veteran free agents that simply haven't panned out. Examples such as Matt Forte, Darrelle Revis, and James Carpenter are all parquetry tables at this point. In terms of drafting, find players who will fit your scheme and are high character players. This offseason the Jets' will have roughly no cap space available. The 2017 class is a very talented free agency class, the Jets' should not however look to overspend. The following segments will dive into what moves the Jets' should make this offseason to once again be respected in the AFC.
Step 1: Make your decision on Todd Bowles
Todd Bowles' tenure as the head of the Jets' has had his ups' and downs'. 2015 saw Bowels lead one of the most surprising teams in all of pro football. 2016 saw Bowles' lead one of the most disappointing teams in pro football. Its' be a tale of two seasons for Bowels' but the Jets shouldn't give up on him so easily. Great organizations have stable coaching staffs. The Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Packers, and Seahawks have been some of the best teams' in the NFL over the past five seasons. They've all had one head coach. In order to have success in the NFL you need to find someone to lead your organization. Bowles is reportedly liked by players and needs to be given at least two more seasons to prove himself.
Step 2: Cut veterans
Cutting Darrelle Revis,David Harris and Nick Mangold may not be easy for the Jets. All three have been longtime members of the organization but have big contracts that both have failed to live up too. Releasing the three would allow the Jets' some financial leeway in the coming years. Marcus Gilchrist, James Carpenter, and Ryan Clady were all brought in two years ago (in Cladys' case one) and have failed to live up to their massive deals. Clady has struggled to stay healthy, something that has plagued him his entire career. While both Gilchrist and Carpenter have performed poorly. Buster Screen and Breno Giacomini would save the Jets around $14 million if they are both cut. Releasing these players would save the Jets almost $50 million dollars in cap space.
Step 3: Bring back Brian Winters and that's about it
Brian Winters didn't have his best season in 2016 but once again proved he's the Jets' best offensive linemen. Winters is only 26 and should have at least five or six quality seasons left in the tank. Bringing Winters back on a long term deal would be smart for the Jets. A 4yr, 26 million deal with 14 million in guarantees would be a fair deal. Other than Winters the only impending free agents who should be given a look are Bruce Carter, Wesley Johnson, and Marcus Williams. Carter is 29 so a long-term deal isn't the answer. It wouldn't come as a shock to see him go. Johnson is a capable starting center and is only 26. Williams was depadapley the Jets' best corner this season. Williams is 25 and should be locked up for the near future. (Projected deals, Johnson 2yr 4 mil; 1 mil in guarantees. Williams 3yr 9mil; 2.5 mil in guarantees). Re-signing all three players would leave the Jets with an estimated $37 million left in cap space.
Step 4: Look at your needs
1. QB, 2. CB, 3. OT, 4. RG, 5. RT, 6. TE, 7. WR, 8. OLB, 9. FS, 10. D-line depth 11. RB?
That's a lot of needs for a football team.
Quarterback: Geno Smith is not the answer neither is Bryce Petty (though he should have an opportunity to compete). This years' class isn't the best but it may be wise to find the future face of your franchise
Cornerback: Darrelle Revis is no longer Darrelle Revis. Buster Scene was horrendous. The secondary needs to be revamped.
Offensive Tackle: Ryan Clady didn't pan out. The class is weak on tackles so adding a veteran on a one or two year deal for minimal money would be smart.
Right Guard: James Carpenter is gone and it's time to find his replacement
Tight End: Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a fantastic athlete. Does have character concerns and was inconsistent in 2016.
Wide Receiver: Eric Decker couldn't stay healthy in 2016. The Jets may have found a gem in Quincy Enunwa but Brandon Marshall may be on his way out of town.
Outside Linebacker: Darron Lee projects as more of an inside linebackers. The Jets' need someone to help complement their defensive line.
Free Safety: Marcus Gilchrist was inconsistent and is no longer on the team. This is a fantastic safety class so it shouldn't be hard to find a replacement.
Defensive Line Depth: Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Leonard Williams need someone on the inside to take off the pressure.
Running Back: Depending on how you feel about Matt Forte this could be looked at as a need. Personally, Matt Forte is no longer the back he once was and should be replaced. This years group of running backs is very talented so finding a replacement should not be hard. Bilal Powell is also an option. Played well down the stretch for the team.
Step 5: Don't spend foolishly on your needs.
The Jets' have a long history of spending enormous amounts of money on positions of need. Adding a few nice pieces here or there would be a much more effective alternate rather than burning cap space on one or two big name free agents. Ricky Wagner played well for the Ravens this season and would make for a great addition. After taking Michael Ores job a few seasons ago Wagner has been one of the best right tackles in all of pro football. Depending on how much the Ravens are willing to give Wanger, he may be available. A four year deal that pays him around $32 million with $16 million in guarantees would be smart. Assuming Wagner is obtained the Jets' should look to address needs with young players who are cheap. Sterling Moore played surprisingly well for a Saints' secondary that was just awful in 2016. Moore can probably be signed for cheap (1 yr, 3mil). Moore would provide a number two corner that the Jets desperately need. The last signing I would like to see would be Dominque Easley. Easley has character concerns which ultimately led to his release in New England. Easley played well alongside Aaron Donald this season and would pair nicely with Sheldon Richardson on the inside of the Jets defensive line. Acquiring these three players would put the Jets at around $25 million in cap space.
Step 6: Trade Brandon Marshall
Brandon Marshall is a super talented player, there's no doubting that. Brandon Marshall will also be turning 33 in March and is coming one of the worst seasons of his career. Given Marshall's off the field issues in combination with his age Marshall needs to be traded. An ideal landing spot would be in Tennessee. The Titans' finished 9-7 in 2016 and just barely missed the playoffs. It's been speculated that the Titans are looking to add firepower to their offense and Marshall should have at least one or two quality seasons left in the tank.
Jets Receive: (2018 4th Round Pick, 2017 5th Round Pick)
Titans Recieve: (WR Brandon Marshall)
The Titans have plenty of picks thanks to the Jared Goff trade last season and will be willing to part with them if an offer is presented. The two picks would allow for the Jets to continue to build depth on a talent depleted roster.
Step 7: Don't mess the draft up
The Jets have the following picks in the upcoming draft
4th Round (Compensatory Pick from Damon Harrison)
2 5th Rounder
The Jets will have eight selections in this upcoming draft and should continue to address their needs. the first round should see the Jets take either a quarterback or cornerback depending on who's available. Chances are Mitch Trubisky will be off the board when the Jets are picking sixth. This leaves the Jets with either Deshone Kizer or Deshaun Watson. Kizer is regarded as arguably the most talented quarterback in the class while Watson is fresh of a national championship win. Drafting Kizer would be the move. Kizer has a fantastic arm and is accurate when throwing in and outside the pocket. He did struggle at times with decision making but Watson did as well. Given that Kizer's ceiling is higher than Watson, he's the play here at six.
The second round should see the Jets address the tackle position. Ryan Clady was awful in 2016 and Ricky Wagner is better suited to play right side tackle. Garrett Boles from Utah has garnered a lot of bus recently. A terrific athlete, Bowles is a fantastic pass blocker and is improving as a run blocker. May be the best tackle in the class but will fall due to character concerns (got kicked out of five high schools). Kevin King from Washington needs some refinement on his technique but has the makings of a potential shutdown corner in the NFL. King sports a 6'3 frame and under the guidance of Todd Bowles could become a very productive corner at the next level.
Devonte Fields from Louisville could provide pass rush, something the Jets struggled with in 2016. Fields stock may drop after not being invited to any college all star games. Fields has his own character concerns but is incredibly talented. Jake Butt from Michigan is expected to drop immensely after tearing his ACL in the Orange Bowl. Butt is statistically the best tight end in Michigan football history. Butt runs great routes and can even block a bit. Jamaal Williams from BYU would add more competition for a backfield that desperately needs it. Broke onto the scene in 2016. Possess great burst from the line of scrimmage, needs to be given a shot in the NFL. Greg Pyke from Georgia is a phenomenal run blocker and is getting better in the pass. Has the tools necessary to become a day one starter for the Jets. Finally, Delano Hill from Michigan wraps up the Jets draft. Hill almost plays like a linebacker. Can track the ball as good as anyone in the class and is continuing to improve in zone coverage. Potential steal here in round seven.
1: Deshone Kizer QB, Notre Dame
2: Garrett Boles OT, Utah
3: Kevin King CB, Washington
4: Devonte Fields OLB, Louisville
5: Jake Butt TE, Michigan
5: Jamaal Williams RB, BYU
6: Greg Pyke Georgia
7: Delano Hill FS, Michigan
Step 8: Don't freak out
Deshone Kizer will have his growing pains in 2017. The Jets still have one of the best young defenses in the league and if they can develop Kizer and build the offensive line, the Jets could be a dangerous teams in the following years to come. Best of luck Jets fans.
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