By Tyson Rauch
The New York Jets entered the 2014 season as a team full of promise and potential as the organization tried to build off an 8-8 campaign. The hopes were high in Jets nation, as many believed that the team could compete for the postseason with a lucky break or two.
Unfortunately, things did not go as planned for the Jets and their loyal fan base as Gang Green endured a dreadful season, finishing off with a record of 4-12. If it could go wrong, it did go wrong for the Jets, and the results cost both general manager John Idzik and head coach Rex Ryan their jobs.
It was another disappointing season from the Jets offense, as they were statistically one of the worst units in the National Football League. New York was ranked last in passing, 28th in points scored, and 22nd in total yards. The Jets were also rated low in terms of third down conversions and red zone efficiency.
There were several contributors to the Jets offensive problems including inconsistent line play, questionable play calling and pre-snap penalties, as well as mediocre performances from the quarterback.
If you are looking for positives on offense, the rushing attack led by running back Chris Ivory was ranked third in the NFL. Ivory remains a powerful force in the backfield that you can build your ground attack around.
Wide receiver Eric Decker was an excellent free agent addition, compiling 74 receptions and 964 yards while battling injuries throughout the season. Rookie tight end Jace Amaro had a promising season with 38 catches for 345 yards.
This was not your typical Rex Ryan defense as the unit was absolutely decimated by injuries, especially in the secondary. Defensive backs Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle were lost for the year due to injuries while veteran Dimitri Patterson was released prior to the season. Rex and his staff had to defend the pass with a “smoke and mirrors” approach in the secondary.
The defensive line, led by Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, was fairly dominant throughout the season. Linebackers David Harris (6) and Quinton Coples (6.5) achieved career highs in sacks.
The expectations were high for Geno Smith as he entered his second NFL season. Unfortunately for Smith and the Jets, the young signal caller had a very inconsistent campaign. Geno often struggled with his decision-making and pocket awareness, which usually resulted in turnovers or negative plays. Smith was benched in favor of veteran Michael Vick, but the results on the field did not improve.
Rex Ryan and his staff had their hands full in 2014, as there were several obstacles to overcome on and off of the field. Defensively, Ryan had to deal with a secondary that was completely undermanned and quite inexperienced. On offense, coordinator Marty Mornhinweg had to work with a struggling quarterback along with an inconsistent offensive line.
There were times when the coaching staff came up with creative game plans, twice against New England for example, and there were games that were a complete mess (San Diego, Buffalo). Overall the Jets staff did an average job, which was just not good enough for a young, rebuilding team.
John Idzik took several calculated risks in the offseason, with only a few truly working out. The signing of Eric Decker and the trade for Percy Harvin were bright spots, but were offset by the failure to significantly improve the secondary. Idzik’s draft class is a relative unknown as only two of his 12 picks played extensively in 2014.
If you were going to give John Idzik a grade it would be an incomplete, which is unacceptable for a general manager that had plenty of resources (cap space, draft flexibility) to work with.
The 2014 version of the New York Jets have to be considered a disappointment. The team was competitive in most games, but always found a way to self-destruct. The decision to fire both Rex Ryan and John Idzik was the correct move, as the team desperately needs leadership in place that will enforce accountability and discipline. Going forward, the organization will need an influx of talent to help bring the Jets back to respectability.
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Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.