New York Jets: Ranking Remaining Offseason Priorities
With both free agency and the draft in the books, New York Jets fans are left waiting, counting down the days until Week 1 of the 2014 regular season.
However, while the headline-grabbing events of the offseason are over, John Idzik and co. still have a lot to do in order to be ready to compete this upcoming season.
The front office must address player roles, the depth chart, the salary cap and much more.
Click through to see New York's biggest remaining offseason priorities, ranked in terms of importance to the team's success both this year and beyond.
5. Figure out What Role the Rookies Will Have
The Jets' coaching staff has much to do over the next few months, as they must groom a league-high 12 draft picks into serviceable NFL players.
With so many holes on the current roster, though, New York really needs several unproven rookies to step up and be major contributors from the get-go.
Rex Ryan and his staff have to use the offseason, particularly the rookie minicamp and training camp, to figure out what role each rookie will play in 2014 and beyond.
Players like Calvin Pryor and Jace Amaro are bound to play major roles immediately, but questions remain about the extensiveness of their playing time.
Will Pryor be an every-down player? Will he completely dethrone Antonio Allen or Dawan Landry from the starting lineup?
Can Jace Amaro block well enough to play on running downs as well as passing situations?
The Jets need answers to these questions and more about several late-round draft picks, and they'd benefit significantly from addressing them sooner rather than later.
4. Determine How Touches Will Be Split in the Backfield
I've previously questioned how Chris Johnson will fit into a backfield that already consists of Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, and I stick by those concerns.
How can Marty Mornhinweg use his new three-headed monster most effectively, as well as give each of the runners enough touches to keep them happy?
The offensive coordinator needs to solve that question over the next coming months.
Obviously, each of the Jets' backs has a completely different running style.
Chris Ivory is a ferocious runner who thrives as the game goes along.
Bilal Powell is a between-the-tackles back who contributes as a blocker.
Chris Johnson, on the other hand, is weak in short-yardage situations but possesses the lightning-quick speed and elusiveness to break off a huge run on any given touch.
Marty Mornhinweg is a creative mind with a knack for utilizing players to fit their strengths, but he has a tough job at hand in solving New York's running back situation.
3. Find the Most Effective Starting Offensive Line
After possessing one of the best offensive lines in franchise history in the beginning of the Rex Ryan era, the Jets have grown weak in the trenches in recent seasons.
Alan Faneca, Damien Woody and Brandon Moore have long since retired, Matt Slauson and Austin Howard have departed in free agency in each of the last two offseasons, and D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold are not the same Pro Bowl-caliber players they once were.
So instead of the offensive line being one of the team's main strengths, it's among one of the biggest weaknesses.
With a young, developing quarterback at the helm, that's not a good thing.
To maximize the offensive line's performance, the coaching staff needs to find the right mixture of players to start.
Breno Giacomini is likely the favorite to start at right tackle, but can he stop committing so many costly penalties?
Is fourth-round selection Dakota Dozier or second-year man Brian Winters the right man to start at right guard?
And is Willie Colon, coming off of season-ending surgery, healthy enough to start?
The Jets have to find the right group of players to man the trenches, or they risk severely impeding Geno Smith's development.
2. Address Muhammad Wilkerson's Contract Situation
This priority doesn't really affect the present, but it matters dearly to the franchise's future.
Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets' 2011 first-round pick, isn't due to become a free agent until after the 2015 season, but John Idzik would be smart to lock up the team's best defensive player as soon as possible.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York, Wilkerson wants a contract extension, but he's willing to wait for it.
However, the Temple product's price tag is only bound to get higher as he continues to perform like one of the best defensive ends in the league.
The 24-year-old is a franchise cornerstone who will continue to lead one of the game's strongest front sevens as long as he wears green and white.
New York just needs to pull the trigger on an extension, hopefully before the regular season commences.
1. Officially Name the Starting Quarterback for 2014
I've been stressing this since the Jets signed Michael Vick months ago—the offseason is not even close to being over until New York names the team's starting signal-caller this upcoming season.
The franchise's success, both in 2014 and for years to come, could be determined by this decision.
Right now, Smith is the de facto starter.
However, a lot could change in the coming months, as Vick obviously signed with the Jets knowing he would at least have an opportunity to win the starting job.
For the third consecutive year, the Jets have a quarterback controversy on their hands.
It's up to the front office to make the right decision, but at the current moment, nobody knows what that is.
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