New York Jets Predictions
After reaching back-to-back AFC Championship games, the New York Jets took a big step back last season. They finished just 8-8 on the season and fell short of making the playoffs. The Jets were off to an 8-5 start and primed to get a wild-card spot, but would lose their final three games, including a 17-19 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 17.
New York made some noise this offseason when it decided to sign Tim Tebow to likely back up Mark Sanchez at quarterback. It’s not like they need any more media attention, but they’ll certainly get it this fall with Tebow on board. Here is a look at their offense and defense, as well as my prediction on where the Jets finish in the AFC East division in 2012.
The offense put up 23.6 points and 312 total yards per game last season. I look for Rex Ryan and company to get back to ground and pound after averaging just 106 rushing yards per game last season, which ranked 22nd in the league.
Mark Sanchez is coming off a sub-par ’11 campaign in which he completed 56.7 percent of his passes for 3,476 yards with 26 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. With the signing of Tebow, there’s already a QB controversy brewing in the Big Apple, and neither has even thrown a pass yet. The Jets are adamant that Tebow will have his own package, but if Sanchez struggles early, don’t be surprised to see Ryan make a change.
Leading rusher Shonn Green (1,054 yards, 4.2/carry, six TD) returns and figures to get more than the 253 carries he did a year ago. He’s an absolute beast and needs to get 300-plus carries. With the retiring of LaDanian Tomlinson this offseason, that paves the way for third-year RB Joe McKnight (134 yards, 3.1/carry) to get a legitimate chance to contribute. Each will be running behind the devastating blocks of FB John Conner, also known as ‘The Terminator’.
The receiving corps has its top two returning in TE Dustin Keller (65 receptions, 815 yards, five TD) and WR Santonio Holmes (51, 654, eight TD). Both Derrick Mason and Plaxico Burress are no longer with the team, leaving this unit as a question mark going forward. The Jets did draft talented rookie WR Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech) with the 43rd overall pick in the second round, and he should start right away. Hill is a big play threat, which is needed considering New York only had three passing plays of 40-plus yards last year.
After ranking 29th in the league in rushing yards per play (3.8) and allowing a whopping 40 sacks, the offensive line must play better. This unit does return five starters, including C Nick Mangold and LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who are two of the best linemen in the league. Also back is RG Brandon Moore, RT Wayne Hunter, and RG Matt Slauson. There is little depth behind these five, so it will be very important to stay healthy.
New York also took a step back defensively last season. It allowed 22.7 points and 312 total yards per game after yielding (19.0, 292) in ’10 and (14.8, 252) in ’09. Ryan takes his team’s performance on this side of the ball personal, and you can bet the Jets will be improved on defense in ’12.
The Jets went out and got the pass rusher they needed by selecting DE Quinton Coples in the first round. He’ll be opposite ’11 first-rounder Muhammad Wilkerson (49 tackles, 9 for loss, 3 sacks). These two will be able to focus on getting after the quarterback while NT Sione Pouha (58 tackles, 6.5 for loss) eats up space in the middle. DE Mike DeVito (34 tackles, 3 for loss) and NT Marcus Dixon (16 tackles, 3 for loss) add depth.
The linebacker corps features four returning starters that will be in their fourth year together. This unit is clearly the strength of the defense, led by LILB Bart Scott (66 tackles, 4.5 sacks), RILB David Harris (86 tackles, 5 sacks, four INT) and LOLB Calvin Pace (72 tackles, 11 for loss). ROLB Bryan Thomas (14 tackles, 3.5 for loss) returns healthy after missing all but four games last year with a torn Achilles.
The secondary has finished in the top six in the league in pass defense for three straight years. Its CB tandem of four-time Pro Bowler Darrelle Revis (52 tackles, 21 pass break-ups, four INT) and Antonio Cromartie (45 tackles, 12 pass break-ups, four INT) is one of the best in the NFL. Nickelback Kyle Wilson (41 tackles, six pass-break-ups, two INT) is a good one as well.
At safety, the Jets have made two key additions this offseason by bringing in SS Yeremiah Bell (Miami) and FS LaRon Landry (Washington). Bell has had 100-plus tackles for four straight seasons and will battle Eric Smith (89 tackles, five passes defended) for starting duties. Landry (48 tackles) played in just eight games for the Redskins last season due to injury, but when healthy, he’s one of the best in the business and adds toughness to the secondary.
AFC East Prediction – 2nd Place (10-6 Record)
Motivated from a poor ’11 showing, the Jets will get back to the postseason in ’12. They have made some excellent additions this offseason in Tebow, Coples, Hill, Bell and Landry. Aside from tough games at Pittsburgh and New England, their road schedule is very manageable. Plus, they get both San Francisco and Houston at home, which are the top teams in the NFC West and AFC South, respectively. I expect a double-digit win season and a wild-card berth.
Individual Team NFL Season Predictions
|AFC West||AFC North||AFC South||AFC East|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Pittsburgh Steelers||Indianapolis Colts||New England Patriots|
|San Diego Chargers||Baltimore Ravens||Jacksonville Jaguars||New York Jets Predictions|
|Oakland Raiders||Cleveland Browns||Houston Texans||Miami Dolphins|
|Denver Broncos||Cincinnati Bengals||Tennessee Titans||Buffalo Bills|
|NFC West||NFC North||NFC South||NFC East|
|Seattle Seahawks||Chicago Bears||Atlanta Falcons||Philadelphia Eagles|
|St. Louis Rams||Green Bay Packers||New Orleans Saints||New York Giants|
|San Francisco 49ers||Detroit Lions||Tampa Bay Bucs||Dallas Cowboys|
|Arizona Cardinals||Minnesota Vikings||Carolina Panthers||Washington Redskins|