By all indications, the New York Jets will not be a team that contends for a Super Bowl in 2017. Possessing a roster that holds major question marks in several vital areas, most notably the quarterback position, the team simply doesn’t have the pieces in place to make a run. That being said, the team can still have a successful season while rebuilding for the future. If the Jets can achieve the below three goals, the season will be an overwhelming victory.
Realistic Goals For the New York Jets in 2017
Find A Franchise Quarterback
It’s been quite a while since the Jets have had enjoyed longterm stability at the quarterback position. After a one year exodus from mediocre quarterback play in 2015, the Jets quickly regressed back to their old ways in 2016. After an impressive 2015 season Ryan Fitzpatrick threw seventeen interceptions in only 11 starts in 2016, and Bryce Petty added seven picks of his own in his limited time at quarterback.
Petty presented flashes of excellence, including during a riveting comeback victory against the San Francisco 49ers. Christian Hackenberg remained firmly entrenched on the sideline, even as the season quickly became a lost one. Fitzpatrick is now gone, replaced by fellow journeyman Josh McCown. At best, McCown will serve as a stopgap for a year as Petty and Hackenberg wait in the wings. At worst, he’ll be a second coming of 2016 Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Either way, at 38 years old, McCown won’t be the team’s longterm answer at quarterback. The Jets hope desperately that either Petty or Hackenberg will be able to serve that role, especially after exerting a large amount of draft capital on both players. If either one takes command in the upcoming season, and inserts themselves as the team’s franchise quarterback, 2017 will be a successful year for the New York Jets.
Muhammad Wilkerson returns to Form
After a disappointing, controversy-riddled 2016 campaign, it can be easy to forget Muhammad Wilkerson‘s former dominance. The defensive lineman has consistently performed as one of the game’s best players since being drafted 30th overall in the 2011 NFL draft, save for last year. A plethora of factors contributed to Wilkerson’s underwhelming 2016 season. A lingering leg injury hampered him for the better part of the season, and a woeful secondary undoubtedly affected his production. That being said, “Big Mo” doesn’t exactly receive a free pass for his dreadful season. His work ethic came under fire, and his unruly conduct ultimately necessitated a benching in Week 11. Four and a half sacks is unacceptable production for a player of Wilkerson’s caliber.
Desperate for star power, the New York Jets urgently need Wilkerson to rekindle his former prowess . If not, it could be Mike Maccagnan’s head on the chopping block. The general manager did, after all, sign Wilkerson to a monster contract just weeks removed from a broken leg. On a more uplifting note, if Wilkerson plays to the utmost of his abilities, he and Lenoard Williams could form one of the most formidable defensive tandems in all of football. The 2017 season will be a make or break one for Wilkerson, just one year removed from signing a five-year, $85 million contract.
Young Receivers Develop Into Stars
In a season plagued by disappointment, receivers Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa emerged as beacons of hope for the future. Enunwa transitioned from being a fringe roster player to an explosive deep threat. The third-year man from Nebraska caught 58 passes for 857 yards, even in an offense muddled by ineptitude. Anderson, an undrafted rookie from Temple, recorded 37 catches for 471 yards, both good for seventh among all rookies.
Enunwa and Anderson have proved their value in the offense. Now, the Jets can only hope the tandem ascends into true stardom. If the Jets have two pro-bowl level receivers to couple with Eric Decker and Bilal Powell, their offense just might stand a chance in 2017.