The 2013 NFL regular season is right around the corner. With that being said, it’s time to launch our team previews. FOXSports.com contributor Taylor Jones will answer important questions for every franchise.
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NEW YORK JETS
2012 Record: 6-10. Missed playoffs.
Who is under the most pressure?
Especially after his bizarre press conference this past weekend, the answer to this question is quite obvious. Rex Ryan. He has always been a good sound bite for the media, but now he just comes across as a coach who has completely lost it. Just two weeks ago, he blasted Geno Smith in the media and then this week forced Mark Sanchez into the game late into the fourth quarter behind an offensive line stacked with players that probably won’t even make the team. He has yet to name a starter and has instilled zero confidence in whomever he does decide to go with.
The Jets are coming off a 6-10 season and Rex Ryan is just 34-30 as a head coach. Eventually this circus act is going to catch up with him and if he isn’t winning, there is no reason to continue the madness. To make matters worse, Ryan is entering this “must win” season with two brand new coordinators and six other coaching changes. Maybe that is a good thing based on the Jets performance last year, but it is tough to build chemistry between the coaches and the players and the coaches themselves when the staff turns over so much each offseason.
What must the team accomplish to consider the season a success?
To continue the theme from above, I believe the Jets much at least make it to the playoffs to save Rex Ryan’s job, and depending on which side of the fence you sit, that may or may not even be considered a success. Ryan is entering his fifth season as head coach and after making it to back-to-back conference championship games in 2009 and 2010, his teams have steadily digressed ever since. The 2011 Jets finished at 8-8 and 3-3 in the division and the 2012 Jets won just six games with two of those wins coming in the AFC East. Additionally, Rex Ryan has lost four straight to the New England Patriots, including a 49-19 shellacking in their last meeting.
What is the team’s biggest obstacle?
It’s never been a strong suit for the Jets, but the passing game is a major area of concern heading into the 2013 season. We have already talked about the quarterback situation but it’s not like the wide receivers are making it any easier. In 2009, Mark Sanchez’s rookie season, the Jets lined up David Clowney, Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith as the starting receivers on the Week 1 roster. In 2013, the Jets have done very little to improve on that. Remember on "Hard Knocks" when Rex Ryan was all smiles about Santanio Holmes and although he was suspended the first four games that season, Coach Ryan often reminded his staff that “help is on the way.” Well in Holmes’ three seasons with the Jets, he has averaged just 41 receptions and has missed 16 games due to suspension or injury during that time. While the Jets are optimistic he will start the regular season opener, he has yet to play in the preseason and just returned to practice this week. He himself isn’t even optimistic about his return saying, “doctors still have to evaluate me….I’m not putting any timetable on it.”
Opposite Holmes, the Jets will most likely start Stephen Hill, who caught just 21 passes after starting eight games last season. Hill is a big-bodied speedster that has the capability to blow the top off of defenses, yet he averaged just 12 yards per reception last year and is averaging less than that on his seven catches so far this preseason. This has been a less than impressive group during Rex Ryan’s tenure and it appears that tradition will carry on in 2013.
Which rookie stands the best chance to succeed?
Well this is tough because I do think Dee Milliner is a very talented rookie, and looking beyond the fact that he is replacing quite possibly the greatest shut down corner of this generation, he has the skills to develop into a cornerstone of this defense. Still, it may be a tough first year for him. Antonio Cromartie is no slouch on the other side and, quite frankly, he is the one that will be filling Revis’ role on this defense, but because of that, teams are going to test Milliner early and often. Rex Ryan’s defense puts a lot of pressure on the corners to be able to cover one-on-one on the edges and have little or no help based on the blitz packages. Milliner is going to make some amazing plays, but he is going to give up some bad ones too.
What is the outlook for 2013?
As it stands right now, I consider the Jets to be one of the three worst teams in the NFL and neither of the other two are the Buffalo Bills. When looking at their schedule, all but one of their toughest games are before their Week 10 bye and that includes games at the Patriots, at the Falcons and at the Bengals. I think they limp into their bye week at 3-6 and are lucky to win another three after gaining little confidence or momentum to start the year. I think it’s another 6-10 season at best and a last place finish in the division for the Jets in 2013.