New York Jets: 2014 Early Bird Team Info And Predictions.

Key Players Returning:

QB Geno Smith, RB Chris Ivory, WR/KR Jeremy Kerley, WR David Nelson, TE Jeff Cumberland, C Nick Mangold, G Willie Colon, G Brian Winters, T D'Brickashaw Ferguson, DE Sheldon Richardson, DE Muhammad Wilkerson, NT Damion Harrison, LB Quinton Couples, LB DeMario Davis, LB David Harris, LB Calvin Pace, CB Dee Milliner, CB Kyle Wilson, FS Dawan Landry, KR Joe McKnight, K Nick Folk, and P Ryan Quigley.

Key Players Departing:

QB Mark Sanchez (Eagles), FB Lex Hilliard (free agent), WR/RS Josh Cribbs (free agent), WR Santonio Holmes (free agent), T Austin Howard (Raiders), CB Antonio Cromartie (Cardinals), and S Ed Reed (free agent).

Key Players Arriving:

QB Michael Vick (Eagles), RB Chris Johnson (Titans), WR Eric Decker (Broncos), WR/KR Jacoby Ford (Raiders), T Breno Giacomini (Seahawks), and CB Dimitri Patterson (Dolphins).

2014 Draft Picks:


Round 1 - Pick 18 - FS Calvin Pryor (Louisville)  |  Round 2 - Pick 49 - TE Jace Amaro (Texas Tech)  |  Round 3 - Pick 80 - CB Dex McDougle (Maryland)  |  Round 4 - Pick 104 - WR Jalen Saunders (Oklahoma)  |  Round 4 - Pick 115 - WR Shaq Evans (UCLA)  |  Round 4 - Pick 137 - T Dakota Dozier (Furman)  |  Round 5 - Pick 154 - LB Jeremiah George (Iowa State)  |  Round 6 - Pick 195 - CB Brandon Dixon (NW Missouri State)  |  Round 6 - Pick 209 - WR Quincy Enunwa (Nebraska)  |  Round 6 - Pick 210 - DE IK Enemkpali (Louisiana Tech)  |  Round 6 - Pick 213 - QB Taj Boyd (Clemson)  |  Round 7 - Pick 233 - LB Trevor Reiley (Utah).

Misc. Team Info:

2013 Record:  8-8  |  Home:  6-2  |  Away:  2-6  |  Division:  3-3  |  Conference:  5-7  |  NFC:  3-1  |  Head Coach:  Rex Ryan  |  @NYJets:  42-38  |  Career:  42-38  |  Playoffs:  4-2.

Returning Statistical Leaders:

Passing:  Geno Smith 247-443, 3046 yards, 55.8%, 6.9 avg., 12 TD, 21 Int.  |  Rushing:  Chris Ivory  182 car., 833 yards, 4.6 avg., 3 TD  |  Receiving:  Jeremy Kerley 42 rec., 523 yards, 12.2 avg., 3 TD  |  TDs Scored:  Geno Smith 6  |  Sacks:  Muhammad Wilkerson:  10.5  |  Tackles:  David Harris 124  |  Interceptions:  Dee Milliner 3  |  Pass Deflections:  Dee Milliner 17  |  Tackles For Loss:  Sheldon Richardson 12  |  Forced Fumbles:  Jarrett/Pace/Wilkerson 2  |  Kick Returns:  Clyde Gates 9 ret., 209 yards, 23.2 avg., 0 TD  |  Punt Returns:  Jeremy Kerley 13 ret., 115 yard, 8.8 avg., 0 TD  |  Kicking:  Nick Folk 33-36 fg/fga, 92%, 27-27 xp/xpa, 126 points  |  Punting:  Ryan Quigley 72 punts, 3278 yards, 45.5 avg., 21 in20.

Projected Offensive Starters:

QB:  07  Geno Smith
RB:  28  Chris Johnson
FB:  40  Tommy Bohanon
WR:  87  Eric Decker
WR:  84 Stephen Hill
TE:  88  Jace Amaro
OC:  74  Nick Mangold
LG:  67  Brian Winters
RG:  66  Willie Colon
LT:  60  D'Brickashaw Ferguson
RT:  68  Breno Giacomini
KR:  19  Jacoby Ford
PK:  02  Nick Folk

Projected Defensive Starters:

LE:  96  Muhammad Wilkerson
RE:  91  Sheldon Richardson
NT:  94  Damon Harrison
LOLB:  98  Quinton Coples
LILB:  56  DeMario Davis
RILB:  52  David Harris
ROLB:  97  Calvin Pace
CB:  27  Dee Milliner
CB:  24  Dimitri Patterson
FS:  35  Calvin Pryor
SS:  26  Dawan Landry
PR:  11  Jeremy Kerley
PT:  01  Ryan Quigley

Team Depth Grades:

Quarterbacks:  C
Running Backs:  B
Wide Receivers:  B
Offensive Line:  B
Defensive Line:  B
Linebackers:  A
Secondary:  B
Kick Returners:  B
Punt Returners:  B
Kickers:  A
Punters:  A

Offensive Overall:  B
Defense Overall:  A
Special Teams:  B

Team Depth Grade:  B
2014 Schedule Strength:  52%

Projected Offensive MVP:  Chris Johnson
Projected Defensive MVP:  Muhammad Wilkerson
Projected Special Teams MVP:  Nick Folk

2014 Schedule:

09/07  OAKLAND RAIDERS  |  New York trails the series 11-19-1.  The Jets are 7-10 since 1993.

09/14  at Green Bay Packers  |  New York leads the series 8-3.  The Jets are 3-2 since 1994.

09/22  CHICAGO BEARS  |  New York trails the series 3-7.  The Jets are 2-4 since 1994.

09/28  DETROIT LIONS  |  The series is tied 6-6.  The Jets are 3-3 since 1994.

10/05  at San Diego Chargers  |  New York leads the series 13-10.  The Jets are 5-4 since 1994.

10/12  DENVER BRONCOS  |  New York trails the series 8-14.  The Jets are 4-6 since 1994.

10/16  at New England Patriots  |  New York trails the series 48-49-1.  The Jets are 15-27 since 1994.

10/26  BUFFALO BILLS  |  New York trails the series 46-49.  The Jets are 22-18 since 1994.

11/02  at Kansas City Chiefs  |  New York leads the series 12-11-1.  The Jets are 5-3 since 1992.

11/09  PITTSBURGH STEELERS  |  New York trails the series 4-19.  The Jets are 3-8 since 1994

11/23  at Buffalo Bills  |  The Jets last series road win at Buffalo (27-11) was in 2011.

12/01  MIAMI DOLPHINS  |  New York leads the series 50-46-1.  The Jets are 22-18 since 1994.

12/07  at Minnesota Vikings  |  New York leads the series 8-1.  The Jets are 5-0 since 1994.

12/14  at Tennessee Titans  |  New York trails the series 14-15-1.  The Jets are 5-6 since 1994.

12/21  NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS  The Jets won last season's home meeting, 30-27.

12/28  at Miami Dolphins  |  The Jets won last season's meeting in Miami, 20-7.

Prediction:

11-5  (1st in AFC East)

New York added some dynamic play makers to their offense this offseason.  Geno Smith will be mentored by Michael Vick, and with his influence, Smith should see his numbers improve drastically next season.  Aside from mentoring Geno Smith, the addition of running back Chris Johnson gives the Jets a back that can open the field for the passing game.  Chris Ivory is a great fallback plan should Johnson get injured or fail to perform to expectation.

Eric Decker gives the Jets a top tier receiver.  A good portion of Geno Smith's bad throws were attributed to having a very weak receiving unit.  Decker gives Geno Smith a go-to target down field, and this connection along with Stephen Hill being more free in coverage, should help the running game by stretching the field.  The player to watch next season is rookie tight end Jace Amaro, who has the hands, speed, and size that Rex Ryan loves having at the position.

New York's defense has really improved over the past two seasons, and this season the Jets field my second rated defense in the league.  Muhammad Wilkerson is a beast off the edges, but doubling him off is a problem, because Sheldon Richardson is another beast pushing through the line or off the corners.  Damon Harrison hits the gaps hard, and he gets a good jump off the snap.  This trio finished last season with 21.5 combined sacks, 207 tackles, and 25 tackles for a loss.

The defensive line received help from the Jets explosive linebacker core.  Quinton Coples has struggled somewhat since being drafted, but he does have the talent to raise his performance for the Jets next season.  DeMario Davis and David Harris make up one of the more dangerous interior linebacker duos in the NFL.  They combined for 231 tackles last season.  Added to this mix is linebacker Calvin Pace, who finished second on the team with 10 sacks last season.  Their speed, size, agility, and experience gives the Jets a very dangerous front seven next season.

New York's secondary is another area that has improved over the past two seasons.  There was a fear amongst the fans that the team may come to regret dealing Darrelle Revis to the Buccaneers.  However, rookie corner Dee Milliner held his own last season, and slowly quieted the loss of Revis.  He helped swat down 17 passes, and picked off three during his rookie season.  He has big play abilities, and he is still growing as a player.  To aid in pass coverage, in addition to mentoring Dee Milliner, the Jets signed veteran corner Dimitri Patterson.  Rookie Calvin Pryor will have a solid rookie season.  He has good field vision, and his ability to react to the ball was the best in the draft amongst safeties.  Dawan Landry is another safety with solid field vision, along with a good reaction to the ball.  He reads the quarterback eyes like a corner, and should a back squeeze through the line, he's usually there to shut the play down.

The Jets special teams will have more upside next season.  The addition of Jacoby Ford gives the Jets a dangerous returner that can whip down the field on any given return.  Jeremy Kerley will handle the punt returns next season, and he's another player that can hit the jets (no pun intended) very quickly.  Nick Folk is one of the best kickers in the league.  He's automatic from within 50 yards, but he can also drill them from beyond 50 yards.  Folk went 3-3 on kicks longer than 50 yards last season.  Ryan Quigley has a cannon leg, but he also knows how to finesse the ball.  Quigley has excellent corner kill skills, and dropped 21 inside the opponents twenty last season.

The Jets face a favorable schedule.  They open three of their first four games at home (Bears, Lions, Raiders).  They finish three of their last four games on the road (Dolphins, Titans, and Vikings).  They split the remaining eight games with four at home (Bills, Broncos Dolphins, and Steelers), and four games on the road (Bills, Chargers, Chiefs, and Patriots).  Overall, this is a schedule the Jets can take advantage of next season.   The Jets might have to fight until the last two weeks of the season to clinch a birth, but they are my current favorite to win the AFC East title.

Please note this is an early bird (training camp) edition of my annual team notes and predictionsI will begin posting my "official" team predictions during the final week of the preseason.

You can follow me on Twitter @TheeSethJC.  I welcome all feedback.  Your opinion is important!


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