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2013 New York Jets Team Preview: Jets' QB Situation Unsettled

David Ferris

David Ferris

Ferris covers the PGA Tour for RotoWire. He is an award-winning sports writer and a veteran fantasy columnist. He also is a scratch golfer.

State of the Franchise

The Jets went into last season with playoff expectations, but it turned into the worst campaign of the four-year Rex Ryan era. After finishing 8-8 in 2011, the team fell to a 6-10 record and was outscored by 94 points; summer's punch turned into winter's punchlines. To be fair, early injuries to a pair of signature players (CB Darrelle Revis, WR Santonio Holmes) didn't help.

New York's offense ranked a paltry 28th in points and 30th in yards, and even the vaunted defense allowed the 20th most points in the league, albeit it wasn't entirely the unit's fault. The Jets finished the year minus-14 on the turnover table, second-worst in the AFC. QB Mark Sanchez's comical fumble on Thanksgiving night will forever live in infamy.

Sanchez played just well enough to hold onto his job most of the year, but things fell apart in December (37.0 rating, 5.3 YPA, one touchdown, eight interceptions). The Jets seemed intent on not playing Tim Tebow no matter the situation, so Greg McElroy got his feet wet with a couple of late appearances, including one start. And when the season was over, the club finally accepted what so many outsiders already felt; that a new direction was needed at quarterback. Enter rookie Geno Smith. He'll still have to beat out Sanchez to secure the starting assignment, but not too many expect that to be much of a fight. Meanwhile, Tebow was cut loose by the team shortly after the team's selection of Smith.

Changes also came in the backfield. Plodding Shonn Greene signed on Tennessee time, while the Jets made a move to acquire Chris Ivory from the Saints for a fourth-round draft pick. Ivory has never had a chance to be a full-time starter, but it appears as though the Jets are ready to give him that opportunity. Unfortunately the team's wideout group hasn't been significantly upgraded; Holmes is still in town and the dropoff is significant after him.

Revis and the Jets seemed headed for a divorce all spring and the other cleat finally dropped in mid-April. The Bucs came calling for Revis (and gave him a healthy six-year contract extension) while the Jets grabbed a first-round pick in 2013 and a conditional 2014 pick in exchange for him. As terrific as Revis is, you can't blame the Jets for wanting to move on from a seven-year veteran defensive back coming off an ACL injury.  That said, the identity of the defense will have to be rewritten.

No one is expecting a lot from the 2013 Jets. They're not pegged to go to the playoffs and Smith is unlikely to take the league by storm like so many rookies did in 2012. There's enough talent here to avoid an embarrassing season, but your fantasy team probably won't feature a batch of Jets on it.


Offseason Moves

KEY ACQUISITIONS

Chris Ivory - RB, Saints
He's never had a chance to start at the NFL level, but he can run between the tackles, that we know.

Mike Goodson - RB, Raiders
Has shown flashes of big-play ability when given a chance to play, but off-field issues are a concern.

Geno Smith - QB, West Virginia
(Round 2, 39th overall)
No pressure kid, just save our franchise and do it as soon as possible.

KELLEN WINSLOW - TE, PATRIOTS
Should compete with Jeff Cumberland for tight end looks, provided his his wheels hold up. 

KEY LOSSES

Darrelle Revis - CB, Buccaneers
When healthy, Revis Island is without question the best cover corner in the game, but that sort of thing can go south in a hurry; go ask Nnamdi Asomugha.

Dustin Keller - TE, Dolphins
Viewed as a liability as a blocker and not really explosive as a vertical receiver; you need to do better at this position in today's NFL.

Shonn Greene - RB, Titans
Despite back-to-back seasons topping 1,000 rushing yards, he wasn't much of an outside runner or pass-catcher and his inside running was always overrated.

Tim Tebow - QB, PATRIOTS
Okay, the team isn't going to miss him, but the media will, for sure. The Jets never let Tebow play in part because they were afraid he might play well and really cause a problem.

Team Notes

NEW KID IN TOWN

While the Jets aren't going to hand Geno Smith the starting quarterback gig, they'll do everything to have him ready to go for Week 1. The organization has evidently decided that Mark Sanchez isn't the answer, and if Smith indeed takes the position in training camp, Sanchez could be headed out the door before Week 1. Smith showed incremental and consistent improvement in his four college seasons, with a dynamite final go-round at West Virginia (4,205 yards, 42 touchdowns, six picks, 8.1 YPA, 71.2 percent completion rate). Although he has the physical skill-set to pick up scrambling yards, he also focuses on pocket poise and making downfield connections. The man in charge of getting Smith up to speed is new Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, the right-hand man for so many of Andy Reid's fine offenses in Philadelphia. Jets fans would love to have faith in a play-caller once again after both Tony Sparano and Brian Schottenheimer fizzled out.

THE IVORY TOWER

Chris Ivory was a spare part in the New Orleans scheme of things, albeit a very interesting spare part. Ivory put up a zesty 5.1 YPC down on the bayou, making the most of a modest 256 carries over three seasons. It's one thing to run behind a Drew Brees offense, another to carve up defenses that are targeting you. Ivory also needs to show that he can play all three downs and handle the passing game. After all, he only has three catches as a pro to date. The depth behind him is nothing special (and Mike Goodson is coming off a spring of legal trouble), which pretty much guarantees Ivory will get every chance to make it as the team's lead back.

WITHER Santonio Holmes

For better or for worse Holmes is the only major downfield threat the Jets' passing game really has, and he's no sure thing either, as he continues to recover from a Lisfranc foot injury. While Holmes didn't show a pretty catch rate in his one month of action last year (a hair under 50 percent), he did manage to collect 20 passes in four games. He also averaged 68 yards a game, his best total since his Pittsburgh days. Whatever you make of Holmes off the field or at the interview podium, he's still a dangerous player between the lines. And he'll be needed plenty when you consider the other “name receivers” on this roster; start with Jeremy Kerley and then it goes downhill from there. Stephen Hill was an overmatched rookie in 2012 and Ben Obomanu was the team's top offseason addition at wideout.

Value Meter

Rising: Chris Ivory finally has a gig to call his own, and the Jets still have a respectable run-blocking group.

Declining: After recording a 13:18 TD/INT ratio in 2012, fifth-year pro Mark Sanchez faces serious job competition from a rookie second-rounder.

Sleeper: Santonio Holmes is coming off a major foot injury, but he's far and away the biggest receiving threat here and he wasn't bad in limited 2012 play.

Supersleeper: It's common for rookie quarterbacks to bond with their tight ends, so maybe Jeff Cumberland is looking at some cheap catches (and touchdowns) in 2013.

IDP Watch

David Harris - LB
He's carried an overrated tag for years, but the defense will steer tackles to him.

Muhammad Wilkerson - DE
He keeps getting better and better, especially in the hidden metrics. The world finds out about him in 2013.

Antonio Cromartie - CB
Teams don't challenge him as much as you might think. He picked off 10 passes in 2007, but has just 10 interceptions over three years as a Jet. 

TEAM DEFENSE

RotoWire Rank: 13