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5 Reasons Why The Jets Can Take the AFC East: Part 3

 

As a Jets fan, I often found myself pondering reasons for optimism for the NY Jets this year and what they would need to win their division.  Earlier this week I wrote part 1 which talks about the Jets additions that will immediately help reach that goal.  Then I wrote part 2 which was more about the team’s remaining holes and weaknesses.  It is time for the last and perhaps most important reason why the Jets have a shot at the division next year: an analysis on the competition.

Reason #5:  The AFC East is a weak and winnable division this year

Let’s take this opportunity to look at all the teams in the AFC East as they stand now:

New York Jets

Strengths: Defensive Line, Cornerbacks, Offensive Line, Defensive Coaching, QB Coaching

Biggest Holes: Quarterback

Also Needs To Step Up: Safeties, Wide Receivers, Pass Rush

May 10, 2013; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith (7) talks with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg (right) during New York Jets rookie minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s assume all before mentioned reasons in Part 1 and Part 2 of these articles happen as I predict they could.  We’re looking at a Jets team with a reupholstered offensive line with the depth to finally be able to stay fresh throughout the season.  We also have a new QB in Geno Smith, who on paper, looks like he should have somewhere between a Ryan Tannehill and Matt Ryan rookie season depending on the mentality he comes into camp with.  We know one thing; he’ll have good offensive line support.  That is probably the most quintincential thing a rookie QB needs for his first impression in the NFL.  It will strongly benefit his mental growth and composure.  Rex Ryan got it right this season and hired Marty Mornhingweg a coach who has been a head coach before and can take on 90% of the teams offensive coaching responsibilities while Rex focuses on his specialty, the defense.  Now the Jets lost Revis, but gained Sheldon Richardson and Dee Milliner.  While most don’t see Sheldon’s pick being relevant to the Jets needs, you have to remember Rex’s value as a defensive coach.  If a player is a top 4 overall player on his board, that’s something worth trusting.  Coples was drafted in 2012 for his athleticism and versatility so this season is where he has to show it, as Rex moves him into the 3-4 outside linebacker role.  Coples will be supported by Calvin Pace and a new free agency addition, Antwan Barnes, one of San Diego’s top pass rushers in 2011.  The linebackers aren’t the strongest point, but they also aren’t a problem area in the defense.  The Jets will surround them with an outstanding defensive line and cornerback group.  If Rex can just coach the safeties up, this is one of the best defenses in the conference.  The biggest piece IF in this Jets fan pipe dream is can Geno start by week 1 and can he approach the game and play like a 1st round pick, the more he can do that, the less pressure off the other areas of need for the team.  This season basically rides on Geno Smith this year for the Jets.

 

Miami Dolphins:

Strengths: Wide Receivers, Defensive Line, Linebackers

Biggest Holes: Cornerback, Offensive Line

Also Needs to Step Up: Quarterback

Dec 30, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) warms up before the start of the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Miami is my favorite to win the AFC East as it stands now, not the Patriots.  They gained Mike Wallace who has carried the Steeler offense on his back the last few years.  It helps that he really seems to be clicking with sophomore QB, Ryan Tannehill in camp.  Miami’s big hole is their CB situation.  They traded away Vontae Davis last year and let Sean Smith go to the Chiefs this offseason.   They drafted Boise State’s Jamar Taylor in the 2nd round who seems like a good prospect, but they’re going to need either him or 3rd round pick, Will Davis to be good enough to start to begin to close up the cornerback hole in their defense. They look to have a very strong defensive line with the addition of Dion Jordan and a good linebacking corps with the addition of Phil Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe.  Miami’s defense as of right now is about where the Jets defense is personnel wise (maybe a bit below with a big question mark at CB), but the Jets have one big thing the Dolphins don’t, and that’s an off season of Rex Ryan’s defensive development.  The Dolphins season rides on the play of the CBs, Offensive line and Ryan Tannehill.

 

New England Patriots:

Strengths: Quarterback, Runningbacks, Head Coach

Biggest Holes: Wide Receivers, Safety

Also Needs To Step Up: Health of Tight Ends, Defense as a Unit

 

Jan 20, 2013; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) sits on the turf after not being able to convert on a fourth down during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Pats are always a solid team with Tom Brady at QB.  It’s the hardest position to find a standout to play and they have a future hall of famer.  The only problem?  Just about every position other QB and RB on the Pats will be weak this year.  They had maybe one of the worst off seasons I’ve seen since following football, losing both Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd.  To accommodate for these losses the Patriots picked up injury prone Danny Amendola who wasn’t resigned to the Rams and drafted some off the radar wide receiver prospects in Aaron Dobson (Marshall, round 2) and Josh Boyce (TCU, round 4).  These seem to be decent prospects but I have a hard time seeing either of them replacing Brandon Lloyd.  The Pats, however have 2 tremendous tight end weapons in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski for Tom Brady to throw to, but both had injury problems this past season.  Each of Tom Brady’s proven targets this year were injured for 5 or more games last season.  That’s only issue #1.  The Patriots defense has been a struggling unit for years.  They started fixing it by adding Chandler Jones and Donta Hightower but it seems like the Patriots sidestepped on that defensive rebuilding project this off season, letting safety Patrick Chung go to Philadelphia without finding an adequate replacement.  Most of their draft picks are unfamiliar names to most and don’t seem to be likely immediate contributors to the Patriot defense which makes the unit as a whole look like its taken a step back from last season’s mediocrity.  If the defense can’t step up, it can mean critical games losses against the Jets and Dolphins, especially if Ryan Tannehill and Geno Smith are having good days.  Yes, I know you can never count out Tom Brady; but let’s just keep in mind that a far less talented Jets team took a far more talented Patriots team into overtime in Foxboro last year.

 

Buffalo Bills:

Strengths: Runningbacks, Defensive Backfield

Biggest Holes: Quarterback, Defensive Line, Offensive Line

Also Needs To Step Up: Linebackers

 

May 10, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel (3) talks to the media following rookie minicamp at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

There’s not much to say here.  The Bills seemed to be a good team on paper last year but did worse than the Jets.  They lost their #2 and #3 receivers in free agency as well as a pair of guards.  Their most note worthy pickup in free agency was Kevin Kolb.  They did have a decent draft offensively getting Robert Woods, a very talented WR out of USC in the 2nd round.  They should have a decent pair of outside receivers once they pair him with Stevie Johnson.  They also drafted Marquise Goodwin in round 3, the quickest receiver in the draft.  His big question is his lack of production and ability to beat defensive players in college.  He’s a big question mark but can be a threat as a possible slot receiver or kick returner for the Bills.  I’m not too high on EJ Manuel, he’s a much riskier prospect with an equal or lower ceiling than Geno Smith given his inferior production against weaker college competition.  The Bills need for him to step up in an even bigger way than the Jets need Geno to just to be competitive at all this year.  The Bills added a few linebackers both in free agency and in the draft, but it doesn’t look to be enough for them, unless their veterans can lead by stepping up this season.

 

One last BONUS reason: Good Timing with a strong NFC, weak AFC

Given all of the above info, the Jets can be in it, given the weakness of the AFC East this year.  In fact, the whole AFC conference is pretty weak outside of the Broncos, Bengals and Texans.  The NFC has a lot more teams that look good this season.  Look at teams like the 49ers, Packers, Seahawks, Falcons, Saints, Giants, Bucs and Vikings. Even the lower tier NFC teams like the Rams, Lions and Panthers look like they’d be favorites against all but maybe 3 or 4 teams in the AFC.  Having middle and upper level AFC teams like the Pats and Dolphins losing their NFC games will help level out the playing field and put more importance on the games where the Jets play them.  The Jets can pull out this division if they can win against the Pats and Dolphins which could be doable in 2013 with work and focus.

Topics: AFC East, Buffalo Bills, EJ Manuel, Geno Smith, Kevin Kolb, Miami Dolphins, Mike Wallace, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Rex Ryan, Ryan Tannehill, Tom Brady

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  • caltenn11

    Better not lose your job as a comic, although this is pretty good joke material!!

    • http://twitter.com/GoshCarter Josh Carter

      I don’t think comics can lose their jobs but thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/Trace_AVP Tracy Crum

    the NY Jets are gonna surprise people this year. People are overlooking the improvements this team has made. The players that left aren’t going to hurt this team as bad as people think. The Jets defense survived the loss of Revis last year, it was the offense that let the team down. They improved the offensive line and RB position, (despite Goodwin arrest). I think the WR corp is improved too.
    Geno will be the cherry on top.

    • http://twitter.com/GoshCarter Josh Carter

      yea, people seem to forget that the Jets had their best offensive weapon out all season in Holmes who will now be back. If Geno and Hill can step up, their offense will be decent enough to contend. I’m not picking the Jets to win the AFC East, just saying there are factors that can make it be a possible scenario

      • unclealfie

        One factor would be if the fins’ and Pats’ planes have a midair. That’s the only one I can conceive of!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001935634294 Peter Rocha

      Its crap shoot now.All the teams have made major changes see what happens on the field.Yeah iam a pats fan an who knows wtf their doing other than loosing welker we needed to make changes obviously it wasnt working

  • http://sbpra.com/paulvsuffriti Paul V. Suffriti

    WOW! A homer wrote this article. Let’s get back down to earth with a reality check. You list the Jets biggest hole as QB….Who do you think runs the offense? If you think a rookie like Geno is going to come in and turn around the offense, I have some desert land in New Mexico I would like to sell you. Jets will be lucky to reach 500 in the (weak) AFC EAST. The Pats have improved their defense from last year. They replaced Chung (someone who could not cover his mother in a pass play) with Safety Wilson from the Cards. They will have Talib and Dennard playing CB together for a whole season this year. Miami has greatly improved during the off season and the Bills….well they’re the Bills. The Jets still have to play the (strong) NFC teams that the rest of the division will play so I do not understand your point how the Jets will benefit from this.

    Early season prediction.

    Pats – 11-5
    Dolphins – 9-7
    Jets – 7-9
    Bills – 5-11

    Ryan will be leaving after the Jets finish below 500. Everyone around him leaves or gets let loose, time for him to take responsibility for the a mediocre team.

    • http://twitter.com/GoshCarter Josh Carter

      well yea, that’s easy to say, I’m just saying with work this dream scenario would be possible. The Pats corners are good on paper but for some reason can’t come together as a unit. we’ll see what happens this season. I think Geno is around Tannehill as a prospect so it is possible for him to start turning things around. The Jets won last year when Sanchez played average. they only need an average qb to win games with that rex ryan coached defense

      • unclealfie

        Can’t come together as a unit? This group HASN’T YET PLAYED AS A UNIT.
        Get a grip!

    • unclealfie

      The jests will by lucky to win five games this season and could be in the #1 draft pick competition very easily. The fins are improved but will be lucky to win 7. Wallace will be a massive bust.

  • Criostoir

    for your opinion/hope to materialize, everything would have to pan out for the jets and fall apart for new england.
    couples isn’t as good as jones, the pats have a better corner tandem than the jets one of the two receivers who you say losing weakened the bills signed with the pats
    oh and amendola is injury prone so is revis thats why the jets got rid of him

    basically your whole premise is like writing on a beach waiting on the tide.

    • http://twitter.com/GoshCarter Josh Carter

      Coples isn’t better than Jones but Wilkerson is. The corners on the Jets did better than the Pats corners last year without Revis PLUS their adding Dee Milliner the premier CB in the draft last year. That’s taking the Jets solid but depth weak CBs and adding a Patrick Peterson type prospect to it. I’d say it’s going to be one of the best in the AFC, forget the east

      • unclealfie

        FYI, the Pats will be featuring a overhauled defensive secondary with Dennard, Talib and their new FA from Arizona at strong safety. Milliner may be an elite draft pick but he’s yet to play a down in the NFL.
        Again, I’ve never heard such a pathetic jests homer.

  • NWBill

    You’re delirious about the Jets’ prospects in the division this season; as long as the mercurial and press-stealing Rex Ryan is your coach, your team will always be the dysfunctional Jets. The fact that you seem to think Geno Smith is better and has more potential than EJ Manuel tells us all we need to know about your ability to fairly discuss football talent. If Smith is the player you think he is, Buffalo would have taken him instead of EJ – they ARE the only team who drafted a QB in the first round, after all, and had their pick of anyone they wanted. Doug Marrone didn’t even take his college QB – but decided that Manuel was the future for the Bills instead. Smith really wasn’t even a part of the discussions here in Buffalo. I think he’s too much of a head case to come out of the gate playing well – in that light, he’s perfect for the Jets …. who seem to collect headcases by the bushel. Remember the Tim Tebow circus that ended recently? You guys couldn’t even keep one of the best CBs in the league – what makes you think you’re going to be better than the Pats at this point?

    This is still the Pats’ division, until somebody takes it away from Tom Brady and the Sweatsuited One …. and let me tell you, pal, the Bills are closer to doing that than the Jets!

    Get ready to hear the following a lot this coming season:
    “Manuel to ****** for the touchdown!” You’ll be groaning over the fact that he’s IN your division, but NOT on your team!

    • http://twitter.com/GoshCarter Josh Carter

      Yea you know because the Buffalo Bills are known for discovering and drafting superstars in recent years. I’m pretty sure Manuel won’t be the best qb taken this year, but we’ll see.

      • NWBill

        Of course, you’re speaking from the point of view that the New York Jets are the ABSOLUTE BEST team in the league at drafting and developing talent, right? Yeah, I must have missed THAT memo! At the end of the day, the draft is a crapshoot, my friend – witness the fact that TOM BRADY was a 6th round pick! You’re “pretty sure” about Manuel? Well, that opinion, and Barack Obama telling the truth about ANYTHING, will get me Jets tickets on the 50-yard line, I’m sure!
        Look, I understand the whole rooting for your home team thing, but seriously …. you need to revamp your ability to dispassionately view draft picks and other teams’ prospects; from what you’ve posted, you’re clearly someone who puts allegiance to your team ahead of an even-handed view.

        • http://twitter.com/GoshCarter Josh Carter

          haha not the absolute best but I trust their pick in Geno over the Bills in Manuel. Bills have drafted 1 pick that worked out big for them in CJ Spiller, but even that took a while to work out. I’ll also give you Gilmore although he’s only had his first season. They drafted Lynch but couldn’t even tell he was a star and let him go to Seattle without getting more than good year out of him. The Jets have taken David Harris, Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, Dbrickashaw Ferguson, Muhammed Wilkerson just to name a few standouts, that far outweighs Gholson and Sanchez.

          • NWBill

            You forgot a guy named Fred Jackson, who Marv Levy found via free agency. Marshawn Lynch was a headcase in Buffalo, and obviously didn’t want to be there … shown in his lack of effort at times and his weird behavior. When a player makes it clear that he doesn’t want to play well for you anymore, but is under contract, you have a situation like what happened with him. He’s a great talent, no doubt – witness him in Seattle – but I’m glad he’s gone. Would much rather have Jackson and Spiller than Lynch; Jack and Spill are standup guys who will go to war with you. Don’t compare draft results with Buffalo, or anyone else – no one knows how draft picks will work out … and if you’re claiming that YOU do, then you should get a job as an NFL GM. In the meantime, this coming season in New York, with the Jets, should reinforce something I think you need a healthy dose of: reality.

  • Pridenpoise

    It took you 3 posts to write this. I believe in backing my team or defending them, but wake up man, the only thing the Jets are going to be contending for is the top pick in the 2014 draft.

    • http://twitter.com/GoshCarter Josh Carter

      have faith my friend! the Bills will be worse so unfortunately we’ll be out of the Bridgewater contest, more reason to root for and have faith in Geno

      • Pridenpoise

        I’m not a Jets fan my friend, I’m a Raiders fan but I’m smart enough to know that they are rebuilding, and it’s going to be at least another two years before we see the playoffs. I’m ok with that, if the team is improving on the field from week to week, and playing competitive football. I’m not delusional and thinking that they are going to be challenging for a division title or even a wild card. There’s nothing wrong with having to rebuild, especially when the team sucks.

        • unclealfie

          Not only are they perpetually rebuilding, they just have a tradition of sucking. I think of NY as where top draft picks go to wither up and die (Vernon Ghoulston, Mark Sanchez, Dewayne Robertson, etc, etc.).

          Josh Carter is the typical delusional homer, intent on finding fault with other divisional teams while ignoring the sorry state of his own. The fact is that the Patriots have the best QB and coach in football, both bound for the HOF. They’re also the second youngest team in football and have won the AFC East 10 years out of the last 12.

          But, Josh believes that a rookie QB is going to change all that history in one year. Good Call I recommend that you bet the house on the Jest in the SB then, Josh!

          • Pridenpoise

            Until someone knocks the mighty Pats off their perch, they have to be the odds on favorite every year to win the division, like it or not.

          • http://twitter.com/GoshCarter Josh Carter

            name calling is un needed, especially when you don’t understand my article. I’m not calling the AFC East for the Jets, I’m merely giving an outline on what needs to fall in place to give the Jets a shot. If the O Line and Geno are as good as their saying in camp, Stephen Hill and the safeties steps up and everything rings true here, the Jets will be good enough to win more AFC games than previously thought and with luck can win the division

  • lyndon

    this guy is a joke…doesn’t know shit about football

  • Jack Johnston

    You are overlooking this. It is the Quarterback that is the most important player on any team. Patriots have Brady, and Fins have Tannehill which did fairly good as a rookie and is poised. So how do you think the rookie QB’s are going to do for the Jets and the Bills? Get over last years phenominal quarterback class that made Tannehill who has a very strong arm, height, and poise look average, that ain’t going to happen with this years class. It’s going to be Pats and Fins up top in what order I don’t know. Perhpas the year after we will see what happens, but it is not going to happen this year!

    • http://twitter.com/GoshCarter Josh Carter

      Geno has the potential to be a better rookie than Tannehill though, look at his tape, he played the same conference, better production, better combine and better pro day. He’s definitely a better prospect and wouldve gone before Tanny if it were last year (and I’m a big Aggie fan). We’ll see how it all pans out