Ranking the New York Jets' Biggest Needs on Offense, Besides Quarterback

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Ranking the New York Jets' Biggest Needs on Offense, Besides Quarterback
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets need to surround Mark Sanchez, or whoever their quarterback is for 2013, with talent.

Cornerback Darrelle Revis has been critical of the New York Jets front office in the past and has also supported quarterback Mark Sanchez in the past.

He did both in one fell swoop in an interview on "The Real Rob Report," an online sports show:

"We want guys for Mark Sanchez to throw to, some deep threats. [...] Yes, Mark Sanchez can get it done, but we need to put the right weapons around him for him to be successful. I think that's always been a thing with Mark, and that should be our focus for Mark Sanchez, put the right players around him." 

This begs the question, how close are the Jets to putting the right pieces around Sanchez, and what's left to be done?

First, let's look at what the Jets have on the roster.

The Jets have a lot of free agents coming up for contracts and may not be able to keep everyone. In addition to retaining those players, the Jets would also like to improve in a few areas.

Keep in mind that the Jets are sitting roughly $8.2 million under the roughly $123 million cap. 

Where do we even begin? Let's go position by position to see what the Jets need to do to equip the offense for 2013 and where the different needs rate.

 

1. Tight End

Elsa/Getty Images
Keller may have fallen out of favor with the Jets.

Free agent tight end Dustin Keller has been a prime target for Mark Sanchez throughout his career, but how important is he? He doesn't contribute outside of the passing game, but there could be a place for him in Marty Mornhinweg's offense. With the Jets cap constraints, though, it may be hard to bring him back.

Keller isn't the only free agent tight end; in fact, Konrad Reuland is the only tight end on the roster who's not set to hit the open market on March 12.

Jeff Cumberland was a good multi-purpose tight end, but according to ProFootballFocus.com he spent more time blocking (276 run blocking snaps, 40 pass blocking snaps) than running routes (292 pass routes run). There's a role for a tight end like that, and the Jets couldn't expect to get much more out of a backup tight end than they got out of Cumberland.

Dedrick Epps was regarded as a solid blocker throughout his career at Miami but has caught just one pass in his NFL career, on a play in 2012 where a defender hit his knee. While it may not be the death knell on his career, it certainly doesn't help when transitioning to a brand new offense.

They could be in line for a complete turnover at tight end. 

One Non-Jets Free Agent I Like: Browns TE Ben Watson

One Draft Prospect I Like: Rice TE Vance McDonald

 

2. Running Backs

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Shonn Greene could be on his way out of New York.

Perhaps no back in recent memory has had such underwhelming back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons as Shonn Greene in 2011 and 2012. In fact, with just over four yards per carry, Greene's average is the lowest for any back with 500 or more carries over the past two seasons.

Greene has taken significant steps back since bursting onto the scene in 2009, so the Jets would be wise to move on. Behind him, though, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight provide an unproven one-two punch of hard running and athleticism.

Mornhinweg has enjoyed some athletic backs with the EaglesBrian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy, to name a couple—and he might enjoy having at his disposal a running back with McKnight's skill set. That being said, we've yet to see his skill set transition at the NFL level in an area besides special teams. Any resounding success he has on offense will be his first.

The same goes for Powell, who has played running back full-time for five years after ditching his role as a part-time defensive back at Louisville. He played well in a small role last year, and could see that role expand. 

The Jets have learned their lesson about forcing the ball into the hands of a particular back, but they should look to create a competition at running back, whether with a top or mid-level option. A three-man rotation could be in the cards.

One Non-Jets Free Agent I Like: Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall

One Draft Prospect I Like: UNC RB Giovani Bernard


3. Wide Receiver

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets wide receivers are a patchwork group.

Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Braylon Edwards. At first blush, that list doesn't look so bad, right? Despite the names on the list, it's hard to feel great about the Jets receivers.

Holmes and Hill are both coming off major offseason surgeries. Braylon Edwards didn't do much of anything to prove he's better than the receiver who floated around for a few years as a backup before landing back with the Jets.

Kerley is the only sure thing at wide receiver for 2013.

There's also the question of how the receivers on the roster will transition to the West Coast offense. Hill isn't exactly known for his sharp route-running abilities. Holmes and Kerley look like fits for their ability to create yards after the catch and to catch passes over the middle of the field.

They need to add some depth to avoid the pitfalls they endured last season, and they need a legitimate downfield threat in the event that Hill doesn't grow in his second year on the job. Health depending, though, this is a group they could roll with if only to see how everyone fits in the West Coast offense. Beyond that, though, it's tough to predict greatness for this unit in 2013.

One Non-Jets Free Agent I Like: Rams WR Brandon Gibson

One Draft Prospect I Like: California WR Keenan Allen

 

4. Changing of the Guard?

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Brandon Moore is 32 years old, and both he and Matt Slauson are set to become free agents. Could it be time to address the interior offensive line?

Moving to a West Coast offense may also mean moving to a zone-blocking scheme on the offensive line, which would call for the Jets to move away from the bigger, stronger offensive linemen like Slauson

D'Brickashaw Ferguson is still a very good left tackle and Austin Howard is worth giving the starting job on the right side. If the Jets don't find an answer for the interior offensive line this year, they may have a sticky situation on their hands this time next year.

One Non-Jets Free Agent I Like: Raiders G Cooper Carlisle

One Draft Prospect I Like: Alabama G Chance Warmack

 

Conclusion

Revis' comments were made about surrounding Sanchez with talent. If we're taking the quarterback out of the equation—which could be foolhardy, given that the Jets have talked to USC quarterback Matt Barkley—the Jets' needs become clear.

Which non-QB position is the most important to address this offseason?

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Still, the Jets are still too close to the cap to be a big player in the free agent market. Thus, they really only have two options at any position: Address it through the draft or target mid- to low-level free agents. 

How do you think the Jets should address their ailing offense? Vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments.

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.

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