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2017 Team Report: New York Jets

Offensive Philosophy

Sometimes "philosophy" is a luxury and offense boils down to doing what you can. Such was the case for New York, which saw its high-flying aerial attack from 2015 grounded in 2016 and instead turned things over to its backs, with both Matt Forte and Bilal Powell topping 1,000 yards from scrimmage. Entering 2017 with a quarterback competition that has far more questions than answers, the Jets will likely have to once again ask their running back duo to shoulder the load.

Quarterbacks

Starter: Josh McCown
Backup(s): Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg

Starting QB: Consider this an open competition, but for McCown to have the initial leg up. While not the long term answer for the Jets, he can be the bridge quarterback. McCown has played sporadically for the Cleveland Browns the last two years, partly due to competition and partly due to injury. Even if he wins the starting job, we believe the Jets will make at least one-if not more-quarterback change during the season.

Backup QB: Bryce Petty wasn't terribly impressive during his handful of starts last season. His decision making is average at best, his arm won't scare anyone and his upside screams "backup." As bad as the team was last season, throwing more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (3) isn't going to win you the starting job. The problem is nobody has any idea what the Jets have in Christian Hackenberg-including the team themselves. They refused to put him in a game last season and so we never got a legitimate look at the 2016 second round pick. Everyone knew Hackenberg was a reclamation project, but not to see him early this season, if not starting the season under center, would be concerning. The Jets need to see him as a starter this season to know how badly they need a quarterback in 2018. He has the physical tools, but it remains to be seen if he can improve on the many problems he had his last season at Penn State.

Running Backs

Starter: Matt Forte, Bilal Powell
Backup(s): Elijah McGuire (R), Brandon Wilds, Romar Morris
Fullback(s):

Starting RB: Forte is the starter, but expect plenty of Bilal Powell during the season, and Powell could still win that job before the season. Powell carried the ball about a third of the time the Jets handed it off, though that number is skewed a little due to a Forte injury. The wear and tear, injuries and Forte's age makes it even more likely to see a significant amount of touches for Powell as well. At 31 years of age, Forte doesn't withstand the punishment of a full season like he used to. So while at 28, Powell is no spring chicken, he's their safety valve for Forte's health. The biggest difference in the two runners is that Powell, at least last season, was more involved in the passing game. Powell was targeted 75 times compared to Forte's 43, resulting in 58 receptions for 388 yards compared to Forte's 30 catches for 263 yards.

Backup RBs: Of the backups the Jets currently have, rookie Elijah McGuire is probably the most intriguing. The former Louisiana-Lafayette back was one of the better receiving backs in the 2017 NFL Draft and has the athleticism and speed to be a danger catching balls out of the backfield. He was slowed by a foot injury last season, and also has many technique issues which could limit his role in the NFL. Brandon Wilds had injury issues in college, injury issues with the Atlanta Falcons and struggled with a hamstring injury last year with the Jets. Wilds grinds out yards on the ground, isn't elusive and struggles with consistency as well. If the backfield was better, we're not sure he'd make the team and he may not anyway. Romar Morris is a pretty undersized back who was picked up as an UDFA by the Jets, cut when he hurt his shoulder and spent last season on injured reserve. Morris has decent speed and good hands, but isn't a guy who brings anything special to the table, and like Wilds, a stronger selection in the backfield would likely mean Morris' tenure as a Jets back would be short lived.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Quincy Enunwa
Backups: Charone Peake, Quinton Patton, Jalin Marshall (susp), Robby Anderson, ArDarius Stewart (R), Chad Hansen (R), Myles White, DeShon Foxx, Frankie Hammond

Starting WRs: Quincy Enunwa basically replaced Decker in the slot last season and was a resounding success at it. His 857 yards led the receiving corps and the good news is that he should get a fair piece of the passes which went to Brandon Marshall last year now that the latter is gone.

Backup WRs: Charone Peake was pretty raw when he arrived from Clemson as a 2016 rookie, and it was evident when he stepped on the field-as rare as that was. He did prove himself to be healthy (he had two knee injuries in school) and his combination of size and speed is intriguing. With Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker gone, Peake could see more opportunities. Quinton Patton is arriving after a lackluster tenure with San Francisco, but his sure hands and solid overall ability could get him some work. His upside is pretty low regardless of quarterback, but given the shakiness of this group, his ability to make a good catch could warrant more snaps. Jalin Marshall is suspended for the first four games of the upcoming season and he may not be talented enough to overcome that. It wasn't enough to keep his spot as one of the top four receivers when he got hurt last year, and it may not be enough for him to make the roster. He's especially going to have a hard time beating out Robby Anderson, who finished sixth among rookies with 587 receiving yards last season. Anderson has the speed to be an outside threat and worked with Chad Johnson this offseason in order to improve his game. The Jets also selected a pair of rookies to come in and compete, and there's a chance both of them make the roster. ArDarius Stewart was a third round pick and he comes in with a tremendous aggressive demeanor and can both be a threat after the catch as well as stretch the field. Chad Hansen is more of a stretch, but his ability to move the chains is attractive to a team which will need to pass in order to get first downs. Myles White has bounced around the NFL since coming into the league as an UDFA with the Packers. He played a little with the New York Giants in 2015 but has been off and on practice squads since. DeShon Foxx was off and on the Seattle Seahawks practice squad before getting released with an injury settlement last September. He's undersized and an average-at-best athlete. Frankie Hammond was completely out of football last season after being cut by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2015. He's mostly a special teams player.

Tight Ends

Starters: Jordan Leggett (R)
Backups: Braedon Bowman, Austin Seferian-Jenkins (susp), Eric Tomlinson, Brian Parker

Rookie Jordan Leggett is a big, fast receiving tight end who can step in right away and catch the ball for the Jets. What he can't (and some critics say won't) do is block effectively. That could remove him from the field on some downs, especially with a questionable offensive line. Braedon Bowman looked great last summer in shorts but was too inconsistent to make the final roster with either the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets last season. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is suspended for the first two games of the season this year stemming from a DUI last season. A talented athlete, Seferian-Jenkins has been his own worst enemy with coaching issues in Tampa Bay and injury issues since. If he can stay healthy and focused, he should see work. Eric Tomlinson is a really good blocking tight end who won't see the ball much and Brian Parker will be a special teamer in the unlikely event he manages to make the squad.

Place Kicker

Ross Martin, Chandler Catanzaro: The Jets moved on from Nick Folk this offseason in a cost-cutting move, saving about three million dollars. Folk had his 2015 cut short due to an injury and missed two kicks under 39 yards along with two extra points in 2016. The team signed Chandler Catanzaro to a bargain basement deal in the offseason, and he will compete with Ross Martin to be the team's kicker. Martin was basically even with Folk in a training camp battle last year, and he should be a slight favorite to win this job because the team has a history with him. Despite their meager offense, the Jets have had at least 31 field goals in each of the last four years, so the winner of this battle could have some fantasy value if the Jets offense can get functional quarterback play.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Jalin Marshall (susp), Elijah McGuire [R]

Marshall was New York's top returner in 2016, though he often platooned with Nick Marshall and Jeremy Ross. Ross has left the team in free agency, and Nick Marshall was cut after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, leaving Jalin Marshall's role practically uncontested with no clear backups behind him. The Jets have to find a returner for the first four games of the season while Marshall is suspended for a performance-enhancing drugs policy violation. That spot could go to McGuire if he makes the team as a third running back over Wilds or a fourth running back because the team needs to develop talent behind their older players at the position.

Punt Returners: Jalin Marshall (susp), Brisly Estime [R]

Marshall was New York's top returner in 2016, though he often platooned with Nick Marshall and Jeremy Ross. Ross has left the team in free agency, and Nick Marshall was cut after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, leaving Jalin Marshall's role practically uncontested with no clear backups behind him. The Jets have to find a returner for the first four games of the season while Marshall is suspended for a performance-enhancing drugs policy violation, so that spot could go to undrafted free agent Estime, who was an excellent punt returner at Syracuse.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Kelvin Beachum, LG James Carpenter, C Wesley Johnson, RG Brian Winters, RT Brandon Shell
Key Backups: Ben Ijalana, Jonotthan Harrison, Dakota Dozier, Brent Qvale

The Jets' offensive line is in transition. The starters at left tackle, center and right tackle will be different this season compared to the start of last season. Kelvin Beachum arrived in free agency to replace Ryan Clady at left tackle. Beachum has not recaptured his Steelers' form yet but the team will be paying him for two seasons to see if he can. Brandon Shell looked like a ten year veteran in the four games he started at right tackle last year. Ben Ijalana will be the swing tackle, backing up both positions. Considering Beachum's health, Ijalana will probably start a few games. The interior is more stable with both left guard James Carpenter and right guard Brian Winters as solid starting options, both signed to big money contracts. Center Wesley Johnson was a second round RFA tender and he will be asked to replace Nick Mangold, who was an institution for a decade on this line. Jonotthan Harrison has starting experience and could also fight for the center spot. Overall the Jets' offensive line is a lower tier unit who could scratch their way to middle of the pack if the new starters settle into a grove.

Team Defense

Remember when the Jets had one of the best defenses in the league? You would barely recognize them now. They finished in the bottom 2-3 teams in fantasy leagues last year, and while they could improve, there is little reason to think they will return to prominence this year. The defensive line is still a strength, and they added Morris Claiborne to replace the declining Darrelle Revis, Jamal Adams will be an instant starter at strong safety after going #6, and 2016 first-round pick Darron Lee should make progress at inside linebacker. The Jets will go undrafted in almost every fantasy draft and they may go unclaimed for most, if not all of the season because their quarterback situation dooms their team to a losing season and their defense to lots of long afternoons.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, DE Leonard Williams, DE Sheldon Richardson
Backups: DT Steve McLendon, DT Anthony Johnson, DE Mike Pennel, DE Lawrence Thomas

Starting DL: The Jets are clearly in a rebuilding phase based on the overall talent level, but their defensive line remains a clear strength. Even though all 3 players are considered defensive ends, they will typically each see enough snaps to be considered a starter. Muhammad Wilkerson was bothered by a persistent ankle injury last year that led to some disappointing numbers across the board. He has a long history of proven production, however, and should bounce back this year. Leonard Williams led the team in sacks, QB hits, and finished second on the team in tackles last year. Sheldon Richardson also had a down year in 2016 with just 1.5 sacks, but he's strong against the run and still finished with more than 60 combined tackles.

Backup DL: Steve McClendon was signed a year ago to replace Damon Harrison at nose tackle, and posted solid numbers. Anthony Johnson was signed off the Patriots practice squad late last year, so he hasn't had a chance to show much yet. Mike Pennel was a key reserve for the Packers the past couple years, and will provide added depth. Lawrence Thomas was an undrafted free agent who showed promise in camp last year before going on I.R. by late September.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB Demario Davis, ILB Darron Lee, OLB Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB Jordan Jenkins
Backups: ILB Bruce Carter, OLB Dylan Donahue [R], LB Connor Harris

Starting LBs: The Jets re-acquired Demario Davis for safety Calvin Pryor and then released David Harris to create an opening in the starting lineup that Davis should fill. Darron Lee was a 1st round pick last year, and brings some much needed speed and athleticism to the interior of this defense. The Jets don't have anyone who can create consistent pressure off the edge, and that's been a key weak spot on this team for some time. Lorenzo Mauldin has flashed some potential at times, but has just 6.5 sacks in 26 games so he'll need to show more this year to become part of the team's long-term plans. Jordan Jenkins is more of a run stopper than a playmaker who they took in the third round last year.

Backup LBs: Bruce Carter is an experienced backup with 36 career starts, although his main contributions have come on special teams lately. Dylan Donahue was a highly productive player in Division II, so it will be interesting to see if he can translate those skills to the pros. Connor Harris was a UDFA, but the high motor small school wonder has a chance to make a mark long-term with the Jets looking for a player to lineup next to Darron Lee in the future

Defensive Backs

Starters: SS Jamal Adams [R], FS Marcus Maye [R], CB Buster Skrine, CB Morris Claiborne
Backups: CB Marcus Williams, CB Juston Burris, CB Darryl Roberts, S Rontez Miles

Starting DBs: The Jets selected Jamal Adams with the 6th overall pick and he figures to be a core piece in the rebuilding of this secondary. Adams will be a difference maker right away, thanks primarily to his instincts and range. Known as a physical thumper in run support, Adams also has the cover skills to match up with tight ends and slot receivers. Marcus Maye was taken in the second round and figures to compete for a starting spot right away. He's a natural free safety who excels in coverage so the two rookies should complement each other. The cornerback position is a huge concern, however, as Darrelle Revis saw a huge dropoff last year and was released. They will rely on Buster Skrine, a physical but undersized corner who is probably better suited to playing in the slot. Morris Claiborne was often injured during his time in Dallas, but he played very well in 2016 and should provide an upgrade over Revis.

Backup DBs: Marcus Williams has become a quality playmaker for the Jets (9 INTs in 34 games) and will likely compete with Skrine for a starting spot with the "loser" sliding inside to the slot. Juston Burris and Darryl Roberts are both young corners who will provide depth and compete for key backup jobs. The Jets traded away former 1st round pick SS Calvin Pryor to the Browns, leaving them with very little depth behind their two rookies. Rontez Miles is the most experienced depth option, but the team may look for a veteran upgrade some point.

Last modified: 2017-06-12 17:42:56