It’s not a secret, folks. The New York Jets have vastly improved their roster this offseason, adding and retaining talent like a team that is seriously gearing up for a playoff run. Secondary, offensive line, running back corps, special teams; you name it, the Jets have improved it.
Last season, the Jets overachieved, coming out of the season with a record of 8-8. In this upcoming season, nothing less than a playoff berth is expected, and Rex Ryan’s job security will most likely hinge on such a berth.
First and foremost, to achieve this goal, Geno Smith needs to be consistent. Last season, he was anything but. One game, he would look confident, like a seasoned veteran. The next, his inexperience would show, as interception after interception was thrown as Jets fans cringed. I think we can chalk up his inconsistency to the major adjustment he had to make coming from college to the pros, but this season, barring injury, he will have no excuse.
Smith has to perform this season, and the expectations are higher than they were for him last season. Also, Dee Milliner will have to play much better than he did last season. He had many of the same problems Smith did with inconsistency and adjustment to the speed of the game, but this season, Milliner is expected to perform like a #1 cornerback. He has put the pressure upon his own shoulders, recently declaring himself the best cornerback in the league, a declaration no one believes, but Milliner himself.
He will have to consistently slow down the opponent’s best receiver for the Jets to make good on their playoff aspirations. If he cannot complete that task, the Jets may as well throw their playoff hopes out the window. He needs to perform, plain and simple, and a big part of the Jets playoff hopes may rest on his shoulders.
Lastly, though this is not a player, the offensive line will need to be stellar in the upcoming season. Last season, Geno Smith was sacked 42 times, which would be too many for a team with the playoffs in sight. The offensive line has been improved this offseason, no doubt, with the additions of Breno Giacomini in free agency and Dakota Dozier through the draft.
This new-look offensive line will need to deliver as well in order for the Jets to make the playoffs. Not only will the unit need to excel in the passing game, but they will need to open up holes for feature backs Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson in the new look running game.
The Jets rushing attack has the potential to be the best in the league, and attaining that distinction will rest mostly upon shoulders of the offensive line. For those reasons, the offensive line is extremely important to the Jets’ playoffs hopes. Realistically, the Jets can carve out a playoff berth this season, but only if Geno Smith, Dee Milliner, and the offensive line are consistently productive. That remains to be seen, and for now, all we can do is speculate.