After a fourth straight season without a playoff appearance last season, the Jets fired head coach Rex Ryan, who was later hired by the division rival Bills, and was replaced by first-year head coach Todd Bowles. QB Geno Smith was expected to be the team’s starter, but after requiring surgery after being punched by then-teammate LB IK Enemkpali — who was subsequently released and signed by Ryan’s Bills — he is out for up to 10 weeks, giving veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick the chance to get the starting nod to begin the season.
With the Texans last season, Fitzpatrick started 12 games, throwing for 2,483 yards and 17 touchdowns — six in one game — and a career-low eight interceptions. Smith, meanwhile, started 13 games in his second season in the league, throwing for 2,525 yards, 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. As the team’s leading rusher last season RB Chris Ivory ran for 821 yards and six touchdowns. WR Eric Decker will look to bounce back this season, coming off of his worst season since 2011 — coincidentally, the last time QB Peyton Manning wasn’t throwing to him; in 2014, he had 74 receptions for 962 yards and five touchdowns. The defense also had one of its worst seasons in several years, finishing the season ranked 24th in the league.
One potential bright spot for the Jets this season is the hiring of offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. He was the head coach of the Bills for part of the time Fitzpatrick was on the team, and Fitzpatrick had the best season of his career during Gailey’s tenure as his head coach. A reunion of the two could bring Fitzpatrick back to the types of numbers he put up during the peak of his career. The Jets tried to improve the receiving core this offseason, acquiring WR Brandon Marshall in a trade with the Bears; Marshall, however, is coming off of the worst season since his rookie year, when he started just one game, as he had just 721 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games last season.
The Jets begin their 2015 campaign with a home game against the Browns before hitting the road to visit the Colts. Ryan returns to his old stomping grounds in New Jersey when the Bills visit for a prime-time matchup in Week 10. The Jets face the team with whom they share a stadium, the Giants, in week 13 in what is considered a road game for the Jets. The Jets face what looks to be a tough three-game stretch to end the season in Weeks 15-17, with a road game at the Cowboys, home game with the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, and a visit to Buffalo to face the Bills. The Jets will improve upon their 4-14 record last season, but I don’t think they’ll win more than six or seven games this season. They look to have a fairly tough schedule overall, and I don’t know what kind of production they’re going to get out of the quarterback position.