By Brad Carroll
It's rather obvious the main reason why Rex Ryan is coaching the Buffalo Bills instead of the New York Jets right now, and why John Idzik will never become a general manager in the league again, is the complete failure to put together an offense capable of winning games. It started with the incapable Geno Smith at quarterback and included an offensive philosophy than made no sense on a week-to-week basis. It was a recipe for failure from the get-go.
The Jets have some pieces to work with on offense, including Chris Ivory at running back, Eric Decker at wide receiver and an older but still capable pair of offensive linemen in Nick Mangold and D'Brickahaw Ferguson. Beyond that, the Jets don't have much to brag about on the offensive side of the ball. There are a ton of holes to fill for new general manager Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles this offseason, and how well they accomplish filling the roster will determine just how long the Jets will continue to struggle to win games.
Those decisions will come into focus in the coming weeks and months, but there's nothing stopping us from playing GM of the Jets and determining who should stay and who should go, or more to the point, Pay Him or Slay Him from the current group of offensive players. Read our defensive breakdown here.
SLAY GENO SMITH: Don't be fooled by his perfect passer rating against the Dolphins in the season finale, Smith will never be a good starting quarterback in the NFL, let along a great one. Remember, too, Smith ended his rookie season on a high note, setting the stage for him to go into his second year as the clear-cut starter, despite the arrival of Michael Vick. That mini-spurt cost Ryan and Idzik their jobs. Smith is worse than Mark Sanchez ever was, and that's saying a lot. It's not going to be easy finding a starting quarterback in free agency, and we'll break down the possible Jets targets on the website soon, but anything is better than Smith at this point. (And, no, it won't be Sanchez). Cut bait on Smith and move the franchise forward.
SLAY MICHAEL VICK: He came to the Jets a year too late, older and without the talent to play the position at a high level anymore. It's too bad, because the Jets might have made the playoffs with him under center last year instead of Smith as a rookie. The Jets would have been a whole lot better, however, with Vick at quarterback this year instead of Smith, which, again, says a lot about Smith. Now, if the Jets strike out in the draft and around the league with adding a quarterback, Vick would be an intriguing option to bring back as starter. Maybe Vick would be more invested if he knew he'd be the starter, unlike last year where he was more than happy to be a backup.
SLAY MATT SIMMS: The biggest complaint we might have with certain Jets fans is the clamoring for Simms to be the starting quarterback. It most likely has everything to do with his last name. But the fact is nobody else in the league wants Simms, as he was released by the Jets before being placed on the practice squad this past season and not one team put in a claim for him. Simms has the name but no starting quarterback talent.
PAY CHRIS IVORY: One of the problems with the offensive game plan this past season was not giving Ivory the chance to beat opposing defenses up with his pounding running style, setting the stage for, in theory, a big fourth quarter on offense for the Jets against a tired defense. But former offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg would watch Ivory get huge yards on one drive, only to leave him on the bench for the next two. It made absolutely no sense and is one big reason why Mornhinweg couldn't find a coordinator job this offseason. Ivory has all the tools to be a feature back. That doesn't mean a player like Bilal Powell or CJ Spiller wouldn't be needed, as the Jets have to have a change-of-pace, home-run hitting runner, but Marshawn Lynch has proven power backs work in the NFL. Ivory's not the running back Lynch is, but he's not that far off either.
SLAY CHRIS JOHNSON: His moments of greatness were few and far between, making Johnson yet another mistake by the old administration. There's young, better and cheaper options for his role, one who is already on the roster, Powell, and another, Spiller, the Bills running back who has a good relationship with new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
PAY BILAL POWELL: Under a new coordinator, maybe we'll finally get to see Powell handle the more ball than during garbage time. He's not a feature back, at least not yet, but is valuable as a second or third option in the running game.
PAY ERIC DECKER: With a true No. 1 quarterback, Decker could be a No. 1 wide receiver. He did well enough with Smith and Vick throwing him the ball in his first season in New York. Decker had 74 catches for 962 yards, including a season finale where he caught 10 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown, to give the Jets a legitimate receiving option. This offseason, the Jets will again be in the market for another wide receiver, this time to compliment Decker.
SLAY PERCY HARVIN: The only question you have to answer on Harvin is would you pay $10.5 million and give up a fourth-round draft pick to have him on the Jets next year. I don't think anyone could realistically say yes. Harvin was on his best behavior with the Jets and played well as a receiver, running back and kick returner, but wasn't nearly good enough to validate the price tag and compensation.
PAY JEREMY KERLEY: And maybe he won't become a missing man again. Kerley was nowhere to be found on offense last year, which was puzzling because he was given a contract extension by Idzik at midseason. Kerley is the perfect slot receiver, but if he can't find a role next year with a new staff, the end may be near for a fan favorite.
PAY GREG SALAS and CHRIS OWUSU: Both had their seasons end with injuries, but showed promise along the way. Salas averaged 20.1 yards per catch on eight receptions this year and added a 20-yard touchdown run. Owusu had a 36-yard catch and a 23-yard touchdown run in the season finale against the Dolphins, but was injured on the run. The Jets need to develop some young players.
PAY JACE AMARO: The rookie had his ups and downs, finishing with 38 receptions for 345 yards and two touchdowns. He has to get better catching the football, as he had way too many drops, but the only way to go is up from here.
PAY JEFF CUMBERLAND: He has the ability to come up with big plays, but next season he'll be a nice complimentary backup to Amaro.
PAY NICK MANGOLD and D'BRICKASHAW FERGUSON: The two stalwarts of the offensive line will be a year older and a year closer to retirement, but both are playing at a high level and there's no reason to look in another direction. Sooner or later that will change, but Mangold, a Pro Bowler, and Ferguson still have a lot left in the tank.
PAY BRENO GIACOMINI: The free agent from Seattle wasn't great, but more than good enough not to worry about the right tackle position for at least another season.
SLAY WILLIE COLON: He brought a toughness to the offensive line when he was brought over from the Steelers, but Colon commits way too many penalties and doesn't have what it takes to be a dependable starter at guard anymore. The Jets have the cap space to find a better option.
PAY ODAY ABOUSHI and BRIAN WINTERS: Both get one more year to prove themselves as capable starting offensive linemen, and both should battle for one starting job. If both have the opportunity to start, at right and left guard, the Jets will be in real trouble. So, pay them both, but the Jets need at least one new offensive lineman from the draft or free agency and maybe even two to truly turn that unit around.