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New York Jets – Five Burning Questions

A successful Geno Smith can make the Jets a legitimate playoff contender.

Bo Marchionte



New York enters a new era in upper management with the hiring of general manager Mike Maccagnan. He enters year one with new head coach Todd Bowles leaving his post as the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals.

The Jets have not landed in the playoffs since 2010 and have fallen on hard times over the last few years winning less than six games twice since their last playoff run.

Quarterback questions will plague the team until it is proven their future quarterback currently is on the roster, but overall the team has pieces in place to make a quick turn around and possibly a playoff run.

If things fall into place (which they can) the 2015 season may be a surprise for Jets fans.


Five Burning Questions 

Will the Jets find continuity on offensive side of the football?

The Jets lack an identity on offense.

Over the last 10 seasons, 18 different players have combined to lead the Jets in passing yards, rushing yards and receiving yards. Six different players per category over the last 10 years shows the inability to find consistent and more importantly productive players at the position.

The turnstile of different players is a huge reason why the Jets find themselves coming off a 4-12 season and missing the playoffs the last four years.

Remember the “Triplets” in Dallas during the 1990s that included quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and wide receiver Michael Irvin. The Jets have had no trace of a combination like that in recent years and the results are in the team being unable to successfully move the football on offense.

There is hope in New York.

To their credit, the Jets are exhausting all avenues in upgrading their passing attack.

Bringing in Brandon Marshall via trade and adding Eric Decker through free agency shows financial commitment, and the team drafted tight end Jace Amaro one year ago.

Quarterback Geno Smith is still in the vortex of his career where he can salvage his early struggles and emerge to be a stable force offensively.

While he has performed poorly on many occasions entering his third season, he has some real talent around him and that may reveal the true grit and talent he possesses to be a starting NFL quarterback.

The running back position lacks flash and name recognition but they get the job done. The only drafted running back on the current roster by the Jets is Bilal Powell, taken in the fourth-round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Possibly no other team needs training camp more than the Jets to find a rhythm on offense.


Is Geno Smith the starting quarterback in 2016?

Smith was capable of not throwing an interception in only three of the 14 games he played in last year. Remarkably his 13 interceptions were eight fewer than in his rookie year (2013).

Is the cup half full or half empty?

Smith did in fact increase his touchdown production by one last year (13) while again, decreasing his turnover ratio by eight.

His last performance in 2014 leaves plenty of optimism moving forward. Smith was 20-for-25 passing for 358 passing yards, three touchdown passes and zero picks in a 37-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Ryan Fitzpatrick was signed to compete with Smith this offseason. Fitzpatrick is another journeymen type quarterback who will attempt to seize the opportunity when the opportunity to win the starting job is a player like Smith.

The front office has provided Smith the weapons necessary to compete and year three will be the final verdict if he can handle the nuances of professional football.

Quick question for you the reader to ponder – Who is the last great West Virginia Mountaineer drafted that dominated an offensive skill position?

Have fun with that!


Can the Jets defense keep opponents out of the end zone?


The New York Jets defense allowed the ninth most points (401) in the league last season.

However, they ranked 14th overall in defense and stymied offenses with their stout run defense ranking fifth-overall, allowing only 93.1 yards per game.

Only two other teams (Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears) allowed more touchdown passes than the Jets last season. Washington led the league with 35 with Chicago one behind (34) and the Jets giving up 31 touchdown passes.

This is where the story becomes very interesting in New York.

During the off-season the Jets revamped their secondary by bringing back perennial Pro Bowler Darrelle Revis. They also brought back Antonio Cromartie, who spent 2010-13 with the Jets.  Another key piece is former Cleveland Browns cornerback Buster Skrine, a former fifth-round pick out of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Skrine gives depth to the secondary and allows the Jets to boast one of the deepest and most talented cornerback positions in the NFL.

It appears that the recipe for success for New York is addressing the secondary with vengeance to go along with one of the best units up front against the run. Sprinkle in some of new head coach Todd Bowles defensive philosophy and New York could be a dominant force for teams to face on defense.


Can Brandon Marshall survive in New York? 

Maybe ‘New York’ should have been crossed out of the headline and replaced with Geno Smith?

Marshall demands the ball and deservingly so after posting five seasons with 100-plus catches and eclipsing 1,000-yards seven times. A player like Marshall will surely get frustrated if Smith is unable to make his reads and deliver a strike into the massive and welcoming hands Marshall possesses.

He signed a four-year contract with his previous team, the Chicago Bears last season, but as the season unraveled so did the organization’s tolerance for Marshall and his outspoken criticism during certain points.

Turning 31-years old helped aid the trade but we all know by know that Marshall can become irritable and wear out his welcome.  One reason a player as talented as Marshall is playing for his fourth team and entering his 10th season in the NFL.


Does Bryce Petty have a realistic shot at winning starting quarterback job?


In theory, of course he does.

In reality not so much and here is why.

Geno Smith was taken in the second-round of the 2013 NFL Draft. After two less than rewarding seasons in New York he is fighting for spot to be named one of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL. After two years in the league he played bad enough for John Idzik the General Manager who hired him to get fired along with former Jets head coach Rex Ryan.

Petty concluded his Baylor career at the 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl, where he threw for a career-high 550 passing yards, setting a Cotton Bowl record and in the process and being named the game’s offensive MVP.

He was drafted by the Jets in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He lacks polish and poise under center which is why he cherished his chance to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl earlier this year to show he can adapt and overcome his inefficacies.

One problem for Petty is the fact he was drafted in the fourth round. It is not to say he can not rise up and seize the job. We witnessed it in Seattle with Russell Wilson being drafted in the third-round by the Seahawks and beating out Matt Flynn in training camp the same year Flynn received a hefty contract in free agency to be their starting quarterback.

Odds of déjà vu happening in New York seem possible but…

When the 2015 NFL Draft concluded, seven quarterbacks were ticketed to the NFL over the course of the three day event in Chicago. The top two selections overall were quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. The next quarterback off the board was 73 picks (third round) later when the New Orleans Saints drafted Garrett Grayson. Fourteen picks after that the fourth quarterback (89th overall) Sean Mannion was taken in the third round. The final day of the NFL Draft that covers rounds four, five, six and seven had a total of three quarterbacks drafted. The list included Petty (fourth Round), Brett Hundley (fifth round) and Trevor Siemian (seventh round).

Assuming both Winston and Mariota start the year under center this season the NFL will have 22 starting quarterbacks selected from round one. Two more quarterbacks from the second round bring the total to 24 of the NFL’s available 32 starting jobs at the position hail from the first two rounds. The third round of the NFL Draft has currently produced three starting quarterbacks and the latest round currently to connect with a starting quarterback is the sixth round. One of the 31 quarterbacks starting in the NFL went undrafted (Dallas, Tony Romo).

No quarterback currently selected in the fourth-round of late has produced enough in camp or regular season to earn a starting job up to this point in the NFL.

Even if Petty would show glimpses of success this season, the end result would likely conclude with the Jets scouting department eagerly awaiting their opportunity to deem a quarterback in the first-round of the 2016 NFL Draft as their next quarterback of the future.

Petty would have to wow the Jets to secure his spot under center in the next year.

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.

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