How Will the NY Jets Finish in the AFC East?

Until something changes, the AFC East will go through New England. The Patriots had won the division 12 of the previous 13 seasons with their only unsuccessful campaign coming when Tom Brady missed the whole 2008 season.

The Pats have – 200 odds to win the AFC East at the end of the day.  That is the second biggest favorite to take down a division outside of the Carolina Panthers in the NFC South. New England will be without Tom Brady for the first four games of the season as he serves his deflate gate suspension.  However, this is probably the best time of year for the star to miss.  The Pats will be at home for three of those four games, and two of them will be against teams that finished under .500 last season.

The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills both arrive in a +475 with the lines makers. The Jets made some canny moves amid the offseason – especially catching Ryan Clady from the Broncos – yet at the same time have no quarterback.

The Bills went hard after the NFL draft and landed Reggie Ragland and Shaq Lawson.

Finishing off the division, there are the Miami Dolphins. The Fins figured out how to seize one of the best names in the coaching world by inking Adam Gase, who will have his work cut out for him with Ryan Tannehill. He needs to take the next step if he wants to remain a starter.

On paper, the Jets have the most recommendable defense in the AFC East. New York has the most complete defense in the division, while the Dolphins (linebacker), Patriots (cornerback) and Bills (security) have clear gaps.

Nevertheless, it’s not a one-sided game and the offense is going to struggle .I anticipate that New York will have to deal with some bumps in the road early.  New York’s drowsy offense and inadequacy at quarterback won’t do the Jets’ defense any favors. Quarterback Geno Smith, on the off chance that he wins the first job, has 44 turnovers in 30 games. That is going to put a huge amount of pressure on the other side of the ball.

Now, the New York Jets did increase their win total by six from 2014 to 2015, so Bowles has shown he can make some improvements.  He’ll need to keep this team moving in the right direction in 2016.  Last year it was simple.  A Week 17 win over Buffalo would have gotten the team into the playoffs.  But, they couldn’t get the job done and had to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers slide into their spot.

Fans remember things starting off hot for Rex Ryan too.  He was 9-7 and then 11-5 in his first two seasons, but things fell off after that.  He missed the playoffs the last four seasons.  The reason, his offense could never move the ball well enough to compete.  Bowles needs to figure that out.  The good news, he added running back Matt Forte in the offseason.  That should help him build up some momentum and get the Jets offense back on track and into the postseason.

A Look at the NY Giants in 2016

The NFL 2016 season is mere weeks away. While there is still plenty of uncertainty, a clearer picture of the NFC East is developing. The schedule works in the New York Giants favor as they have rank in the bottom 5 according to strength-of-schedule assessments. That being said, the Giants need to pack their cold weather gear because it is going to be mighty cold for the Giants when they call on their opponents from the AFC North this year. The big question at the water cooler this year is who will win the NFC East? To be honest, the odds are not with the Giants and here are some reasons why.

The Dallas Cowboys are a significant threat this year as well as being a favorite to win the division. The Cowboy’s biggest weapons are on offense. A healthy Tony Romo will dramatically improve the offense and a healthier Dez Bryant will make his presence known. The offensive wild card is Ezekiel Elliott, first round pick and stand out player for The Ohio State University Buckeyes. If Elliot gets comfortable early, this will be a great season for the Cowboys.

The Washington Redskins won the division last season; not the largest accomplishment since the division was simply abysmal. Kirk Cousins showed that he might have the right stuff to be a ‘face-of-the- franchise’ type of quarterback. Barring any injuries, he should have a solid season this year. Gruden needs to stay the course the Redskins followed last season. It won’t likely lead to a championship season, but a solid season for sure.

Philadelphia Eagles really need to pick up their game in so many areas before they can think about winning the NFC East. Carson Wentz was a great college quarterback but, he is still untested and will need time to adapt to the NFL system. This essentially leaves the Eagles with no legitimate starting quarterback. Add to this the spotty defense and new head coach and you have a recipe for mediocrity.

The New York Giants do deserve a most improved by free agency award. They have put together a solid defense that should prevent the late in the game losses which plagued the team last season. There is no question at the quarterback position; Eli Manning is poised and ready to go. The biggest challenge Manning will face is playing behind an inexperienced offensive line, and having a serious deficit in the running back position. It is likely that running back Rashad Jennings, who led the team in rushing yards with 863 yards last season, will be Manning’s go to back. Odell Beckham Jr. will be Manning’s favorite target down field, especially if Victor Cruz is still rehabbing his knee and calf injuries. The Giant’s pick of Sterling Shepard in the second round gives them a bit of insurance if OBJ goes down.

The biggest question mark is the man who holds the clipboard, Ben McAdoo. He is a first year Head Coach and has surrounded himself with a twenty man coaching staff. Hopefully having many minds to draw on will make the transition to Head Coach a smooth one for McAdoo.

I definitely don’t see a gloom and doom forecast for the New York Giants. All things considered, they should have a solid season. Maybe even grab a wild card berth. Look for the Giants to go 9-7.

New York Jets 2016 Draft Recap

The New York Jets concluded the 2016 NFL Draft with seven selections.

Arguably the most polarizing pick was their first round selection in Darron Lee, a linebacker out of Ohio State. Lee out-ran the majority of the receivers at the combine, proving that he has incredible speed. Additionally, his experience as a quarterback in high school allows him to see breakdowns in the O line and explode through gaps. Despite his lack of size, I expect Lee to fit in well with this defense given his skill set which allows him to drop in coverage if need be.  I think he’ll help the Jets win games this season.

Christian Hackenberg, a QB out of Penn State, was taken in the second round with the 51st pick. While playing under a lot of constant pressure at Penn State, Hackenberg’s numbers were not outstanding. However, the upside for him is tremendous given he will be able to learn from a relatively seasoned vet in Geno Smith and potentially Ryan Fitzpatrick. I look for Hackenberg to get a few reps this year and have a successful career as he is being labeled a top prospect in this year’s draft.

Jordan Jenkins was selected with the 83rd pick in the third round. An outside LB out of Georgia, Jenkins appears to be more athletic that people believe. I look for Jenkins to be a consistent presence in the near future with a potential to become a great pass rusher.

NC State’s Juston Burris was taken with the 118th pick. Burris, a CB, is a highly physical player who the front office seems to believe has a solid skill set that can be molded and trained to reach much greater heights. Being the reliable corner that he was in college, I look for Burris to bring a new look to this aging defense and become a dependable asset to the Jets’ cover schemes.

The Jet’s traded up to get OT Brandon Shell in the fifth round which many people questioned. A strong body with lengthy limbs, Shell started three out of his four years at South Carolina showing his ability to play on both the left and right sides. I’m not expecting to see Shell start any games this year, but I believe that he will be able to keep up with the best of them as the years carry on.

Lachlan Edwards, a punter out of Australia was selected in the seventh round. Edwards, a former Australian football player, set the records for both the longest punt (70 yards) as well as most punting yards in a single season (3,525) at Sam Houston State. The Jets were in desperate need of a punter as their special teams unit struggled tremendously last season and I believe Edwards is the right fit for them, assuming he lands the starting spot.

With their final pick in the 2016 draft, the Jets took Charone Peake, a WR out of Clemson. I’m expecting Peake to have a marvelous rookie season, resulting in him being a steal for the Jets in the seventh round. Standing at 6’3, Peake ran a 4.37 40 at the combine while proving to have large contributions on offense the last couple of years at Clemson. Additionally, he possesses a skill set that can help the struggling special teams unit while being a big time contributor in the slot.

New York Giants 2016 Draft Recap

The New York Giants left the 2015 season with a disappointing season and record of 6 and 10.  That ending up getting Tom Coughlin, their head coach, fired. While the team was beleaguered by numerous injuries on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, the offensive was at least competent and was able to put points on the board with quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham. There was also significant growth on the left side of the offensive line with recent draft picks Erik Flowers, Weston Richburg, and Justin Pugh all developing into solid starters. The right side of the line and depth at the wide receiver position were clear needs after the 2015 season.

The Giants had many more gaping holes on the defensive end of the ball. The defensive side of the ball was particularly decimated by injuries to the defensive line and backfield. While Jason Pierre-Paul was able to contribute after his fireworks accident on July 4th, he was nowhere near his former dominant self on the field. However, even after considering these injuries it was fairly obvious that the defensive side of the ball lacked the talent to be a good defense in 2015 and new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was often outmatched, despite having his players in position to make plays few players were able to make the needed tackles.

Free Agency Pickups and Remaining Needs

The Giants picked up some major pieces on the defensive side of the ball during free agency including Miami Dolphins defensive end Oliver Vernon, St. Louis Rams corner Janoris Jenkins, and Defensive Tackle Damon Harrison. The offensive side of the ball was mostly ignored during free agency as GM Jerry Reese worked on solving the league’s worst defense.

Heading into the 2016 draft the Giant seemed to need a starting offensive tackle and guard, a second wide receiver in case Victor Cruz didn’t finally return from his 2014 ACL tear, starting free safety, and depth at cornerback and on the defensive line.

The Picks:

While there was discussions that the Giants were targeting linebacker Leonard Floyd or Jack Conklin for the tackle position, the Giants ended up selecting cornerback Eli Apple as cornerback. Eli Apple will serve as the team’s third cornerback, but in a passing league like the NFL he should have significant playing time in year one and may be pressed into a starting role with an injury to either Cromartie or Jenkins. Apple appears to be NFL ready, has ideal size, and good speed to play at the NFL level and will likely be a solid starter for years to come.

The Giants second round pick was Sterling Shepard who is will serve as the team’s number two or three receiver depending on Victor Cruz’s return. Sterling is a natural slot receiver and has a similar style of play as Cruz which would be a liability on any team but the Giants who use a west coast offense that he is perfect for and have star receiver Odell Beckham to stretch defenses, which should allow Sterling plenty of chances to be open early and often and help him to develop as a receiver.

The third pick in the draft was Darien Thompson who seems well equipped to fill the free safety role that is open next to 2nd year player Landon Collins who seemed ill-equipped to play the free safety role last year and is much better equipped as a strong safety. Thompson is known as a leader on the field and will fill the role of a center fielder. His talent, and the Giant’s lack of talent at the free safety position will put him in service early and often and their rebuilt defensive line will help to limit the time he needs to cover receivers. Further, he is well built to cover tight ends who have been shredding the Giants defense for years. Thompson seems like a good fit for the team.

The Giants were once acclaimed as having dominant linebackers with Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks, but have recently fell on hard times after the team has deemphasized the position since they moved to a 4-3 defense. While the Giants have invested some free agency money into the position they generally try to make do with late draft picks, few of which pan out. BJ Goodson seems to be one who may and has been described as a hard-hitting general on the floor who will take a leadership role and help to man the defense in a way that has not had such a leader since Antonio Pierce during the team’s famed Super Bowl runs.

Summary

Overall the Giants seem to have addressed some real major pieces in the draft with both starters and depth and have helped to address their major needs with contributors who can develop into starters and stars. While the right side of the offensive line is still a weakness, the Giants team seems poised to have a breakthrough season and possibly find themselves on top of the NFC and in the NFC playoffs for the first time in three years.