For the Jets, the decision between Michael Vick and Geno Smith may seem like the biggest lingering question to be answered. Smith had a rough rookie season as the team’s quarterback, but starting Vick over him may slow down his progress even further. Sure, it may seem like the Vick, Smith question is one that will determine the team’s fate in 2014 and beyond, but that’s not actually the case.
The bigger problem in New York is the continuous lack of offensive talent the Jets put on the field year in and year out. It looks like the 2014 edition won’t be any different. Vick was spotty in his time with the Eagles, and Smith was downright bad at times a season ago.
As far as targets, the addition of Eric Decker will certainly help some, but his big numbers a year ago came with Peyton Manning picking apart defenses, not Vick and Smith. He also had other legitimate threats running down the field in Denver to take pressure off of himself. That’s also something that will be sorely missed in New York. All this means Decker, while still a good receiver, won’t be seeing another 1,200 yard season this time around.
The Jets play a style of football that allows them to stay close despite not putting up many points. Still, the NFL is defined by teams that score points in bunches, and that’s not something the Jets could do last year, and there’s little to suggest that this year’s offense will be much better. It’s not enough to find an adequate quarterback and put the offense on autopilot. The team hasn’t done a good job putting weapons around Geno Smith that will help him succeed.
New York didn’t completely neglect Vick and Smith in the draft. They did select three wide receivers, but the first of that group came in the fourth round. Mid round selections are hardly reliable, especially when the quarterback dispersing the ball isn’t one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The addition of young talent may help, but those players have a big learning curve, and rookie receivers Jalen Saunders, Shaq Evans and Quincy Enunwa aren’t good enough to rely solely on their natural talent to find openings and catch the ball. That fact alone will limit their productivity early in their careers because it’ll take time for them to develop into steady targets.
Unfortunately, that’s not time the New York Jets have, at least not this regime. Rex Ryan and company got a vote of confidence from owner Woody Johnson last season, but without a playoff berth this year, it’s hard to imagine Ryan clinging to his job any longer. The Jets have reached a “do or die” scenario, and it’s one that they can only win with far more offensive production than they had last year. That’s a tall order for a team that’s not sure who will be under center week one and playmakers on offense.