The New York Jets couldn’t do much right last year, highlighted by lackluster quarterback performance and a good defense that gave up a lot of points. However, the Jets look to start over again, having flipped their coaching staff. The vocal Rex Ryan is out, and Todd Bowles is getting his first full season at head coach. With the old regime out, can the Jets make a significant leap to a playoff contender?
5 Burning Questions for the New York Jets in Training Camp
Will the quarterback play improve?
Last year, Geno Smith really struggled to establish himself as a franchise quarterback. While he started the majority of the season, Michael Vick got a few starts and was always looming around. Now, Ryan Fitzpatrick will backup Smith, and the Jets clearly are not afraid to make a quarterback change if Smith doesn’t play well. This may be Smith’s last chance, so he certainly must play better than last year. With a strong defense, they don't Smith to be a superstar; he just needs to be consistent and keep them in better position to win games. However, there are some silver linings: The Jets acquired Brandon Marshall to be the premier wide receiver, and Smith threw for a perfect passer rating in his last game last season.
How will Brandon Marshall help the offense?
Geno Smith only had one true wide receiving target in Eric Decker in 2014, but the Jets significantly upgraded this corps by trading for Brandon Marshall. This move provides a much-needed player to a depleted group and weapon-less quarterback. Marshall now gives them two solid redzone threats, an area in which they struggled to get passing touchdowns. Instead of having one option, there are now two outside options to attack the endzone. It’s also important to note that they drafted speedster Devin Smith, who can also help stretch the field.
What will the Jets running game look like?
The Jets don’t have a true, great primary running back. They do have plenty of depth at the position, with five currently on the roster. After splitting time last year, Chris Ivory will probably get the starting job. However, with his inconsistency, there will be a mix of backs playing. At the top of the backup options will be Zac Stacy and Stevan Ridley, who is recovering from an ACL and MCL tear. They will both get plenty of carries, but will any of the running backs separate from the rest of the field? With obvious questions at quarterback, similar questions at running back have to be concerning. The Jets need something on offense to be successful to carry this team, but which will it be?
What will the impact of Sheldon Richardson suspension be?
The Jets have some great talent on defense, and Sheldon Richardson is among the best players on the entire team. Well, they’ll have to play without him for the first four games, serving a suspension for violating the substance abuse policy. The Jets still have a great defense, but losing a player of Richardson's caliber has to have a fairly significant impact. Richardson gets to the quarterback quickly and had among the most quarterback knockdowns last year. Muhammad Wilkerson and Richardson formed a great tandem on the outside of the defensive line, but Wilkerson will be doing it without him for some time. The Jets need a great start to the season, but losing Richardson will hurt.
How will the Jets fare under new coaches?
It was time for the Jets to change their coaching staff, especially as Rex Ryan never lived up to his extremely high expectations. Now they’re handing the reins of the team to Todd Bowles, who has never been a full-time head coach. However, he was among one of the league’s top coordinators the past few years and won't bring the kind of unnecessary attention that Ryan garnered. The Jets outfitted Bowles with Chan Gailey as offensive coordinator and Kacy Rodgers as defensive coordinator. While Rodgers was a solid choice, Gailey is a head-scratcher for sure: He hasn’t coached since 2012, when he was fired as the head coach of the Bills. And his stint before that in 2008 with the Kansas City Chiefs ended shortly after a lackluster year. The offense needs to improve the most, but they didn’t hire a strong candidate for the job.