6 Bold Predictions for the New York Jets' 2014 Season
The free-agent frenzy has come and gone, the draft has long since ended and rookie minicamp is in the book. Organized team activities, meanwhile, have just begun, which means we're just a few short months away from the 2014 NFL regular season.
The team had a busy offseason in which the front office acquired a boatload of notable free agents and used an unfathomable 12 draft picks.
But will all that action lead to on-field success?
Click through for six bold predictions for New York's 2014 season.
Geno Smith Throws for 3,500 Yards, Nearly 25 Touchdowns
I believe in Geno Smith.
Yes, Smith had a very rocky rookie season in which he ranked among the bottom of the league in passer rating and cost his team some games.
Yes, Michael Vick is a good enough quarterback to push Smith out of the starting job if he continues to struggle.
And yes, the West Virginia product still lacks offensive weapons, despite the front office's attempt to vastly improve the skill position players on the roster this offseason.
But Smith flashed glimpses in his rookie year. And he has the talent to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL.
Simply put, there's a reason Smith was considered the top quarterback prospect in the 2013 draft. He has the arm, underrated mobility and accuracy to make a big leap in his second year.
With a full offseason to learn the playbook and with an enhanced group of talent around him, I think Smith's decision-making and confidence improve significantly, and he breaks out in a big way, especially on the stat sheet.
Expect for Smith to struggle at times but manage to put together a very solid year in 2014.
Eric Decker Emerges as a True No. 1 WR
Smith's breakout season will be largely attributed to the improvement of his weapons, specifically Eric Decker.
Despite putting together back-to-back seasons of 1,000 yards and double-digit scores, Decker is not considered a No. 1 receiver by most fans and experts, as they believe him to be a product of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos offense.
However, I firmly believe Decker proves his doubters wrong and puts together a fine first season in the Big Apple.
The former third-round pick possesses great hands and route-running ability, underrated speed and a nose for the end zone.
With a boatload of targets sure to come his way, it's not out of the realm of possibility for Decker to rank among the league leaders in receptions and receiving yards and maybe even touchdowns.
Think of it this way: Decker managed to score eight touchdowns with Tim Tebow as his starting quarterback in 2011.
I think he will fare just fine with Smith.
Quinton Coples Continues to Struggle to Make an Impact
Quinton Coples excited both the front office and the fanbase with a promising rookie season in 2012.
The former first-round pick recorded 30 tackles and 5.5 sacks in in limited playing time. His pass-rushing skills appeared polished, and he entered the 2013 season with high expectations.
However, Coples was forced to move from defensive end to outside linebacker following the selection of Sheldon Richardson in the first round of last year's draft.
Coples struggled to adjust to the positional change, and he managed to record just one sack over the season's first three months, despite starting for the majority of the year.
However, the North Carolina product picked up his play late, recording 3.5 sacks in the last five games.
Despite Coples' late-season surge, I expect his struggles to continue in 2014.
Coples simply doesn't have the tackling or coverage ability to play in the linebacker role, and his pass-rushing moves still need development.
In a loaded front seven, Coples could easily be lost in the shuffle.
The 23-year-old has a lot of potential, but I don't see him cashing in on it this upcoming season.
Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson Combine for Nearly 1,700 Yards
Chris Ivory put together an extremely solid season in 2013 in his first year as a Jet, as he racked up over 800 yards on limited carries for a tremendous 4.6 yards-per-carry average.
The addition of Chris Johnson could lower Ivory's touch count, but I expect him to be as productive, if not more productive, in 2014.
Ivory and Johnson should form a dynamic backfield duo.
The pair perfectly complement each other with their opposite running styles. Ivory's a ferocious runner who rolls through tackles to pick up tough yardage. Johnson's a finesse back with limited toughness but outstanding speed and elusiveness.
If used correctly, Ivory can wear down opposing fronts with his beastly running style, and Johnson can use his home run speed to pick up huge yardage against a tired defense.
Expect each back to receive around 175 carries and to perform superbly, each racking up yards-per-carry averages that exceed 4.5.
The 'Sons of Anarchy' Emerge as the Best Defensive Front in Football
The Jets' defensive line established itself among the NFL's premier units last year, as Muhammad Wilkerson was a contender in the Defensive Player of the Year race for much of the season and recorded double-digit sacks, Richardson won the Defensive Rookie of the Year and Damon Harrison emerged as one of the game's top run-stuffers.
This year, expect the trio to take the next step and become the league's most dominant front.
With each player under 25 years old and still developing, there's no reason not to bank on the trio improving significantly in every facet in 2014.
The "Sons of Anarchy" will cause mayhem on every Sunday this upcoming season.
The Jets Win Exactly 8 Games for the Second Straight Year
Despite a staggeringly improved offense and a defensive line that ranks among the elite, the Jets will fail to qualify for the postseason for the fourth consecutive year.
New York still possesses an incredibly weak secondary, despite the addition of Calvin Pryor in the draft and the sure development of Dee Milliner. Opposing offenses, especially ones with good passing games, should pick the unit apart.
And that's the thing, the Jets play some of the game's most dangerous aerial attacks next year.
Gang Green must go head-to-head with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears, Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions, Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots twice.
Most of those games come early on in the season, so the Jets will likely start off the year on a big slide.
By my calculations, New York should only be favorites in two or three of their 10 contests before their Week 11 bye.
The Jets will be a better team this year, but the record will stay the same. Even the purest of Jets fans can tell you the team was lucky to win eight games last season.
2014 will provide New York with a competitive squad, but it won't be until 2015 when the Jets emerge as legitimate contenders.