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Despite having a mistake-prone rookie quarterback at the helm in 2013, the Jets rallied to an 8-8 record behind a stout defense, and quite possibly saved head coach Rex Ryan’s job. Geno Smith didn’t stun anyone this past season, but he played just well enough to intrigue, given that he was holding few offensive weapons. The limited tools he had are now on their way out, with Santonio Holmes shaping up as a likely cap casualty, and the Jets’ top two tight ends are headed for free agency. Coach Ryan will always have his defense in top form, but he needs to get Smith some playmakers if he’s going to bring that passing offense out of the cellar.
1. Wide Receiver
The Jets ranked ahead of only Tampa Bay in yards gained through the air (2,932) last season, and finished dead last in passing touchdowns with just 13. To put that in perspective, Peyton Manning threw more than four times that many with his record-breaking 55. If the Jets want to give sophomore quarterback Geno Smith any chance at success at this level, they absolutely must get him some big-play threats to work with in the passing game.
In 2013, a need for safety help inspired the mid-season acquisition of Ed Reed, who has clearly lost a step, and was limited to certain packages in the defense. Reed will be a free agent, and even if the Jets do re-sign him, he’s shown that they cannot rely on him to carry a heavy workload heading into his 13th NFL season. At strong safety, Dawan Landry will be a free agent after next season, so it’s time to start stockpiling defensive backs, if Rex Ryan wants to keep one of the top defenses in the league moving forward.
3. Tight End
With Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow both heading for free agency, the Jets need to re-stock this position with a serviceable option for quarterback Geno Smith. Having a sure-handed tight end to check down to on short routes and seam patterns would help Smith improve upon his poor 2013 completion rate of 55.8 percent.