This will be a work in progress with a new quarterback and a new set of receivers. Out go Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, and in come Josh McCown, Jermaine Kearse, Robbie Anderson and a host of others. The Jets’ rebuilding process led to the ouster of much of last year’s starting offense, although running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell are back, along with guards James Carpenter and Brian Winters. Veteran offensive linemen Nick Mangold and Breno Giacomini were caught up in the roster purge. The Jets hope for a big season from tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but he’ll miss the first two games because of a suspension related to a DUI last September. Former Giants tight end Will Tye was claimed off waivers and should see plenty of time. McCown is a veteran who has been in plenty of unusual circumstances, but this one might top them all, considering the sweeping turnover from last year’s team. Adding to the challenge is the fact the Jets are now running the West Coast offense under first-year coordinator John Morton. Considering all the changes and the mass exodus of talent, the Jets will be hard-pressed to score 20 points in just about any game this year.
The front seven is considered the strength of the team, and if rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, the team’s first two draft picks in 2017, develop quickly, they’ll add plenty to the defense. Leonard Williams is an emerging star along the front line, and he joins Muhammad Wilkerson, who last year signed a long-term deal. The Jets dealt the once promising defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who had been suspended twice the previous two years, but what they miss in talent they won’t miss in potential locker room distractions. Linebacker Darron Lee is expected to make a jump in Year 2 after showing flashes last year, and he’s joined in the middle by Demario Davis, who was reacquired in a trade with the Browns. But they’ll be hard-pressed to make up for the leadership of David Harris, who was released in May. Outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin missed most of training camp with a back injury, and the Jets hope rookie linebacker Dylan Donahue can add to the pass rush. Mo Claiborne, signed as a free agent from the Cowboys, and Buster Skrine start at corner. All in all, a decent group, but one that will be challenged by a weak offense that is certain to put pressure on the defense.
Kicker Chandler Catanzaro won a training camp competition with Ross Martin, but the former Cardinals kicker was good on only 75 percent of his field goals and missed four extra point kicks last year. Consistency will clearly be an issue, especially on a team with no margin for error in terms of points scored. Punter Lachlan Edwards, a seventh-round pick in 2016, is back off a decent rookie season in which he averaged 43.1 yards per punt, although only a net of 37.3. The punt coverage team was mostly excellent in the preseason, which might be a good sign. After all, given the lack of firepower on offense, this team will be punting a lot this season.