Following a 4-12 season, the New York Jets came into the off-season ready to clean house. Head Coach Rex Ryan and General Manager John Idzik were fired the day after the regular season ended. Ryan, who took the Jets to the AFC Championship game in his first two seasons, quickly found work when he was hired as head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Idzik, who’s firing was rejoiced unanimously by Jets fans, also found a job as a consultant for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After a long process owner Woody Johnson eventually hired Houston Texans Director of Scouting, Mike Maccagnan and Arizona Cardinals Defensive Coordinator, Todd Bowles. They inherited one of the worst teams in the league last season.
The first order of business was improving a secondary that had the third-highest passer rating against. In order for a Todd Bowles defense to be successful, he needs a talented secondary that he can trust as he dials up the pressure. Understanding this, the Jets spent $149 million on a revamped secondary. They added Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, Marcus Gilchrist, and superstar Darrelle Revis.
For Revis and the Jets, it’s a homecoming. Revis was drafted 14th overall by the Jets in the 2007 NFL Draft and was an integral part of the back-to-back AFC Championship teams. After a falling out with management over his contract, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prior to the 2013 NFL season. One season later, he was cut and signed with the arch-rival New England Patriots. After one season and one Super Bowl, he decided it was time to come home.
The Jets also made moves on the offensive side of the ball. They traded a fifth round pick for WR Brandon Marshall. Marshall should be able to help an offense that finished dead last in the NFL with 184 passing yards per game. They bolstered their offensive line by signing G James Carpenter from the Seattle Seahawks. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, like GM Mike Maccagnan, will be making the jump from Houston to New York.
Fitzpatrick, who is recovering from a broken leg, knows Chan Gailey’s system as the two were quarterback and head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2010-12. Fitzpatrick will be able to push third-year QB Geno Smith. Bowles has stated that Smith is the Jets’ QB, but given his struggles in his first two seasons, his leash will be short.
With all the moves they’ve made, the Jets will certainly improve. In today’s NFL though, it comes down to the quarterback position. Barring big improvement in year three, Smith doesn’t appear to be the answer for the Jets. Fitzpatrick showed last season he can keep a team in playoff contention, but given how aggressive the Jets have been, is that enough?