And so ends the saga of arguably the most-watched 6-10 team in NFL history — the 2012 New York Jets.
Head coach Rex Ryan and owner Woody Johnson met the media to drop the curtain on a circus that had long since stopped being entertaining (unless, of course, you enjoy watching dysfunction). But amid the bluff and bluster came the news — not surprisingly — that the organization had fired offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
This means Gang Green will probably look quite different on both sides of the ball, beginning with a defense that failed to live up to expectations in 2013. Certainly an injury to Darrelle Revis didn’t help matters (Antonio Cromartie certainly picked up the slack on the other side), but the Jets did a poor job of pressuring opposing quarterbacks. New York finished the season with just 30 sacks as a team — tied for the sixth-fewest in the NFL. To solve this problem, Ryan says he wants to instill more of his own personality into the squad. The goal is to build a defensive unit similar to the ones he coached in Baltimore, or even the defenses that helped lead the Jets to the AFC Championship game in back-to-back seasons. It’s a job that could very well fall to Dennis Thurman. Certainly upgrades to the defensive line will make this group much more fantasy valuable. Then again, so will good health.
All things considered, that seems like the easy part. The hard part will be fixing an offense that was among the NFL’s most anemic in 2012. That should start with a focus on improving quarterback play. There’s no way around it: Mark Sanchez was atrocious this season. The veteran took a major step back in 2012, throwing 18 interceptions to just 13 touchdowns (and that’s before you take into account the eight lost fumbles, including the Buttfumble) before ceding his starting job to Greg McElroy. By the end, any semblance of offense for New York came from its Ground-n-Pound philosophy, featuring Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell.
Ryan, for his part, said the biggest reason the Jets featured the running game so heavily is because of their personnel. He added that he wants to offense to have a more attacking style in 2013 — even invoking the idea that they could occasionally run the Pistol. Regardless, that’s going to mean more consistent play from the quarterback. It will also mean making some major upgrades at the wide receiver position. Losing Santonio Holmes was a big blow to the offense, but he’s still not the kind of game breaker to move this offense into the ranks of the league’s elite. It’s not impossible to think the Jets can be a better offensive group than they were last season (it would be hard to get worse), but to think they will become a repository for fantasy options seems like a bit of a stretch, considering what they currently have to work with.
— Marcas Grant
Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG