New York Jets Don't Care About Geno
By Joe Sorensen
It was obvious last season that the New York Jets offense needed help. Their leading receiver was wide receiver Jeremy Kerley with 43 receptions for 523 yards. Backup tight end Jeff Cumberland led the team with four receiving TDs. This all makes sense when you realize that rookie quarterback Geno Smith started all 16 games and the team ranked sixth in rushing yards per game.
This is where the draft and free agency comes in. This offseason should have been the time for the Jets to stock pile assets and revamp their offensive attack, especially their passing game. Granted, the team did sign former All-Pro running back Chris Johnson and QB Michael Vick to help bring the best out of Geno. They also signed former Denver Broncos WR Eric Decker (87 catches, 1,288 yards, 11 TDs), but they need someone on the other side of the field and it does not look like third-year wideout Stephen Hill is going to be the answer.
With the 18th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Jets had a group of receivers that they could have taken to star opposite of Decker. Potential suitors could have been Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin, or USC’s Marquise Lee. Instead, they stacked their defense with safety Calvin Pryor from Louisville. Although Pryor is a hard-hitting athlete, he is not going to be catching any passes while lining up next to Decker. This pick helps their defense but leaves Geno without any weapons.
They did, however, draft some offensive weapons in the later rounds. Tight end Jace Amaro (Texas Tech), wide receivers Jalen Saunders (Oklahoma), Shaq Evans (UCLA), and Quincy Enunwa (Nebraska) were all brought in. They also used a sixth-round pick on Tajh Boyd out of Clemson, as a potential replacement for Smith and Vick. None of these receivers, except maybe Amaro, has shown that they have the ability to be stars in the NFL. Unless one or more of them proves that statement false, it may be another long season for Smith.
In his rookie season, the Jets did what they have successfully done for several seasons under head coach Rex Ryan. The team is going to play tough defense and run the ball on offense. Their biggest problem was turnovers; they turned the ball over at an alarming rate and could not force turnovers on defense. When the running game was shut down and they were forced to put the ball in the air, Smith threw 21 interceptions. Together, these two problems allowed the team to finish the season with a minus-14 turnover ratio.
So the big question still remains: Did the Jets do enough this offseason to help Geno Smith in his second season in the NFL? On paper, the answer appears to be no. They bring in another RB; a potential replacement for their starting QB; and a WR that may have been a product of QB Peyton Manning. None of the incoming rookies are expected to have a huge impact in 2014. It will be up to Smith to show that his work in the offseason will be enough to keep his starting position and, potentially, lead the Jets back to the playoffs after a three-year absence.