The Jets just missed a playoff appearance last season with a 10-6 record. This offseason, they completed a long, drawn-out negotiation with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to return to the team this season following his career year in 2015. They also signed veteran RB Matt Forte to lead the rushing game, replacing departing RB Chris Ivory.
In his first year with the Jets, Fitzpatrick went 335-for-562 for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns, with 15 interceptions. WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker each surpassed 1,000 receiving yards last season. Marshall totaled 1,502 yards on 109 receptions and scored 14 touchdowns. Decker had 80 receptions for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns. With the Bears last season, Forte carried the ball 218 times for 898 yards and 4 touchdowns in 13 games, adding 44 receptions for another 389 yards and 3 receiving touchdowns. The Jets’ defense ranked ninth in the league with 314 points allowed and their 18 interceptions were the fifth-most in the NFL.
Looking ahead to this season, Fitzpatrick is going to be the key to the team’s success or lack of it in 2016. If he can’t repeat the season he had last year, it will be a blow to the offense. With his track record of — for lack of a better word — mediocrity, I don’t know if you can expect another season like 2015. The best thing Fitzpatrick has working for him is having two top-tier receivers like Marshall and Decker. On the other hand, the lack of a proven tight end is an offensive deficiency that the team didn’t address in the offseason. Forte has had good stats for much of his career, but he’s getting into the twilight of his career and could be on the decline.
The Jets’ schedule gets off to a tough start in the first several weeks, with a home game against the Bengals in Week 1, followed by road games at the Bills and Chiefs in Weeks 2 and3, respectively. It doesn’t let up from there, as the Seahawks come to MetLife Stadium in Week 4, then the Jets travel to the Steelers in Week 5 and the Cardinals in Week 6’s Monday night contest — that is five playoff opponents in the Jets’ first six games. Their next game against a reigning playoff team comes in Week 12, following a Week 11 bye, when the Patriots come to town on Sunday night for the first of the teams’ two matchups. The Jets then host the Colts on Monday night in Week 13. The Jets’ annual visit to Gillette Stadium and the Patriots comes in Week 16 before they conclude their season with the Bills in Week 17. Overall, it’s not an easy schedule for the Jets, who I am projected to have a significant regression from last season. I don’t expect them to come close to matching 2015’s 10-win season.