Early Stat Predictions for New York Jets' Top 5 Impact Players
After revamping their offense to some degree over the offseason, the New York Jets appear bound for a more statistically satisfying season in 2014.
The Jets' anemic offense ranked as one of the least efficient units in the NFL last season, averaging a defunct total of 18.1 points per game. That needs to change if New York is going to earn a playoff berth next season.
General manager John Idzik intelligently refused to make impulse acquisitions early in the offseason. While his seeming lack of activity on the open market spurred some hostility from Gang Green nation, Idzik had set forth a master plan that involves bolstering the team's offense without breaking the bank.
A simple glimpse at the Jets' pre-draft 53-man roster should give fans significant reason to be optimistic in 2014. Although the Jets remain distant from becoming a legitimate Super Bowl contender, they are certainly on the right path. Over the course of the past three seasons, the Jets' so-called playmaking ability on offense has been nonexistent.
That will change next season.
Three key free-agent signings on offense highlight Idzik's first enabled offseason as Jets GM. He added capable talent at quarterback, increased the viability of the team's receiver corps and also bolstered their big-play ability out of the backfield.
The following slideshow highlights early stat predictions for the Jets' top five impact players on offense:
5. Jeremy Kerley (WR)
As the Jets front office looks toward the draft to solidify the team's depth at wide receiver, certain in-house players remain capable of posting solid numbers for Gang Green in 2014.
Slot receiver Jeremy Kerley is no exception.
The 25-year-old wideout had a down year in 2013 after a breakout effort in the season prior. He was plagued by injury, playing in just 12 games while recording 43 receptions for 523 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 12.2 yards per reception, roughly 2.6 yards per catch fewer than in 2012.
Kerley is one of the Jets' most reliable downfield targets, especially on third down. His longest play from scrimmage in 2013 happened on QB Geno Smith's first completion as a pro in Week 1, a 26-yard gain on a deep out route. To compare, his longest gains of the two years prior were of 38 and 66 yards.
Over the course of three NFL seasons, Kerley has posted just one 100-yard receiving game, a 120-yard performance in a gutty Week 7 loss against the archrival New England Patriots in 2012. He's a gritty competitor, but must stay healthy in order to help propel the Jets offense toward competency next season.
2014 Stat Predictions: 51 receptions, 665 yards (13.0 yards per catch), four touchdowns
4. Chris Ivory (RB)
The Jets' "two-dreaded monster" of running backs Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson is going to wreak havoc on opposing defenses in the upcoming season. Ivory possesses the strength needed to wear down defenses in the trenches, whereas Johnson has the speed and cutback ability to get defenders on their heels.
Ivory satisfied expectations during his first season with the Jets, averaging 4.6 yards per carry on 182 attempts, a number that exceeded his previous career-high workload of 137 carries. The addition of Johnson will likely decrease the number of carries Ivory will receive in 2014, but he remains an integrated component of the Jets offense, nonetheless.
Ivory played in 15 games for the Jets in 2013, totaling 833 rushing yards to lead the team. He showcased his brute ability to tear apart defenses with a bruising 104-yard rushing performance on 34 carries in what became a controversial win over the banged-up Patriots in Week 6 last season.
The Jets remain a run-first team, despite their ongoing efforts to greatly improve their passing game, which ranked 31st in the NFL in 2013. Ivory will continue to average around 10 to 12 carries per game, a workload he's more than capable of handling.
2014 Stat Predictions: 160 carries for 784 rushing yards (4.9 yards per carry), five touchdowns
3. Michael Vick (QB)
The Jets' decision to sign veteran QB Michael Vick was perhaps the most pivotal free-agent acquisition of their offseason.
With respect to head coach Rex Ryan's comment about Geno Smith being "hard to beat," the Jets will be a much better team with Vick under center in 2014 than last year's second-round pick, assuming that the 11-year veteran is able to play at full strength.
Vick played in just seven games last season due to a lingering hamstring injury but provided leadership to ascending quarterback Nick Foles. He recorded 1,215 passing yards with five touchdowns, completing 54.6 percent of his passes, but he is talented enough to register more proficient numbers than that, barring injury.
At 34 years old, Vick is arguably the Jets' best option at quarterback. Smith was wildly inconsistent in his rookie season, despite leading the league with five game-winning drives. As Smith continues to develop his skill set, Vick will shine as a capable mentor. He owns an 80.9 quarterback rating over the course of his career, compiling a respectable 58-48-1 win-loss record in the process.
2014 Stat Predictions: 233 completions on 385 attempts (60.5 completion percentage) for 3,112 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 10 interceptions in 15 starts
2. Eric Decker (WR)
Former Denver Broncos' wideout Eric Decker was the first major splash the Jets made during free agency. Decker was widely considered the best receiver available on the open market this spring, although some pundits questioned how much of his success should be attributed to future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning.
Decker isn't going to post the gaudy-type numbers he registered in Denver as a member of the Jets, especially considering the team's run-first mentality. He figures to be a big part of the Jets offense, regardless, and is more than capable of having a very productive season in 2014.
Over the course of his four seasons as a pro, Decker has averaged 13.8 yards per reception. At 6'3'' and 206 pounds, he is a formidable red-zone target who will assuredly help the Jets offense exceed its league-worst 13 passing touchdowns in 2013.
One of the most underrated aspects of Decker's game is his ability to stay on the field. He's played in all 48 regular-season games since becoming a starting wideout for the Broncos in 2011. Most impressively, Decker has posted at least 85 receptions for over 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons.
2014 Stat Predictions: 71 receptions, 994 receiving yards (14.0 yards per catch), nine touchdowns
1. Chris Johnson (RB)
"CJ2K" immediately became the Jets' best offensive weapon upon signing a two-year deal worth $8 million, according to OvertheCap. Johnson is no longer the 2009 version of himself who gashed the NFL for a league-best 2,006 rushing yards on 358 carries, but he's still a viable playmaker.
Johnson figures to get a bulk of the carries for the Jets in 2014, but likely won't enjoy 17-plus carries per game like he did last season. The Jets will presumably split reps between Ivory and Johnson, combining power and speed to wear down defenses.
Johnson endured a disappointing 2013 campaign that saw him average just 3.9 yards per carry, the lowest mark of his career. He still managed to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau, marking the sixth consecutive season he was able to accomplish that feat. No other active NFL running back can make that claim.
The tandem of Ivory and Johnson has the potential to be lethal. Johnson could realistically average anywhere in between 13 and 16 carries per game, assuming he is indeed delegated the responsibility of being the Jets' lead back. He's also an outstanding pass-catcher, averaging more than 45 receptions per season, which means he's going to have a big impact both on the Jets' rushing attack and passing game.
2014 Stat Predictions: 240 carries for 1,032 rushing yards (4.3 yards per carry), 40 receptions for 280 yards (7.0 yards per catch) and 11 total touchdowns