If you’re like me, you’ve been tunnel-visioning the Detroit Lions all offseason. The rest of the league is irrelevant, because the only team that can get between the Lions and a championship is the Lions themselves.
Of course, that’s nothing but a bunch of coachspeak. The opponents matter, and so it’s time to do some informational cramming on the Lions’ Week 1 opponent. Consider this your cheat sheet to get you prepared for the Monday night season opener.
5-11 record (4th in AFC East)
24th in points scored, t-22nd in points allowed
Overall DVOA: 26th (25th on offense, 18th on defense)
The Jets made a bunch of coaching changes prior to the 2017 season, parting ways with their offensive coordinator (retirement), quarterbacks, running backs, defensive line, outside linebacker and defensive back coaches.
As a result, it was very much a rebuilding year for head coach Todd Bowles and the Jets.
Interestingly enough, of their five wins last year, three were against playoff teams: the Jaguars, Bills and Chiefs. But they also had some ugly, ugly losses, including a 25-point loss to the Raiders and a 23-0 skunking at the hands of the Broncos. All that being said, the Jets ranked 26th in point differential (-84).
Their problems were not limited to one side of the ball. Their offense was plagued by bad quarterback play (79.4 passer rating) and a subpar rushing attack (4.0 YPC). Their defense couldn’t stop the pass (22nd in pass defense DVOA) but was above average at stopping the run (11th).
Bowles, who won 10 games in his first year with the Jets, has now won as many games in the past two seasons combined. Given that, you’d think he’d be on the hot seat entering 2018, but the Jets actually gave him a two-year extension at the end of last season.
Key free agent additions:
QB Teddy Bridgewater (traded), RB Isaiah Crowell, WR Terrelle Pryor, C Spencer Long, LB Avery Williamson, CB Morris Claiborne, CB Trumaine Johnson
Key losses: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, RB Matt Forte, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, DE Kony Ealy, LB Demario Davis
2018 NFL draft picks:
Round 1, Pick 3 - QB Sam Darnold
Round 3, Pick 8 - DT Nathan Shepard
Round 4, Pick 7 - TE Chris Herndon
Round 6, Pick 5 - CB Parry Nickerson
Round 6, Pick 6 - DL Folorunso Fatukasi
Round 6, Pick 30 - RB Trenton Cannon
- Jeremy Bates promoted from QB coach to offensive coordinator
- Rick Dennison hired as offensive line coach, run-game coordinator
There’s little doubt that the biggest offseason get was first-round pick Sam Darnold. The Jets have been searching for a franchise quarterback for decades, and they certainly did their due diligence this offseason, not only drafting Darnold, but also adding Bridgewater, just in case.
But for 2018, the identity of this offense will still likely revolve around the running game. The Jets added an average center in Spencer Long to help replace the crater left by Nick Mangold. Their backfield is also above average with youngster Bilal Powell and free agent addition Isaiah Crowell.
But the rest of their offensive weapons are extremely underwhelming. Here are their wide receivers: Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, Terrelle Pryor and Quincy Enunwa. To his credit, Anderson did have 63 catches for 941 yards and 7 touchdowns, but still, that’s not exactly the kind of weapons you want to be handing a rookie quarterback.
Defensively, the Jets are in better shape, but they’ll have to cope with the loss of Wilkerson and their leading tackler Demario Davis. Their defensive front is still pretty strong and the Jets went out and tried to fix their backend this offseason.
They may have overpaid a bit for Trumaine Johnson, and Morris Claiborne is just an average No. 2 corner, but those two are undoubtedly an upgrade over last year’s talent. Expect the Jets overall defense to be better this year.
Outlook for 2018
Vegas win total: 6 wins
Gang Green Nation’s take:
“I say over for the sake of this regime. After back to back 5-11 seasons and plenty of investments to improve the team, it would be difficult to justify bringing back the general manager and head coach if the record doesn’t get better.”