The New York Jets have been laughed off by most already in regards to the 2013 NFL season, but the current roster is actually close to being the team that Rex Ryan wants. Rex Ryan is looking to build an all-weather team that plays physical, suffocating defense, can run the ball effectively, make big plays through the air and is great on special teams. That's the formula he believes in, and one that has worked for him in the past. Despite a lack of big names, the Jets have the ability to fit that bill this season and could be a surprise team.
The New York Jets have upside this season. They decided to make a few no risk signings, such as Willie Colon and Kellen Winslow, Jr., players that have excelled in the past but have struggled with injuries recently. The Jets added young talent along the offensive and defensive fronts, as well as in the offensive backfield. Santonio Holmes is expected to return after a season-ending injury last year.
It all adds up to the potential for a competitive team. The Jets are expected to be very good defensively once again, despite the loss of Darrelle Revis. With Muhammad Wilkerson returning, Quinton Coples seeing more playing time, plus the additions of Antwan Barnes and Sheldon Richardson, the pass rush should be improved from last season. Demario Davis will add some speed inside, with David Harris hoping to return to form. The secondary should also be solid, with Antonio Cromartie returning as the team's top cornerback and Dawan Landry combining with Antonio Allen to give the Jets a solid tandem at safety. If Dee Milliner is healthy, the secondary should have little drop off compared to last season.
Offensively, the Jets have addressed their biggest issue. Contrary to all the cries about a lack of playmakers and the inability to make plays through the air, that issue was the offensive line and running game. By adding Brian Winters and Oday Aboushi in the 2013 NFL Draft, as well as Willie Colon in free agency, the Jets have created a deep group up front that should surpass last year's front five. With new additions Mike Goodson and Chris Ivory providing more talent in the backfield, the running game figures to be much improved from last season.
That's huge for Mark Sanchez. He was used to a strong rushing attack his first two seasons in the league and floundered when the burden of moving the football rested on his shoulders. An improved ground game will give him opportunities through play-action to make some easier reads and big plays. The Jets are underrated at wide receiver, especially if Stephen Hill can find himself in year two. Santonio Holmes was off to a great start last season and Jeremy Kerley is developing into one of the better slot receivers in the NFL.
While it's not exactly tough to be underrated when everyone already has you penciled-in for the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Jets don't look to be the cellar dwellers most expect them to be this season. This group has the potential to be a tough, competitive football team that could end up somewhere in the middle of the pack.