The New York Jets are going to have a much different feel in 2017, and most fans probably aren't lamenting that fact after last year's 5-11 debacle.
If the team's offseason was a movie, it would be The Purge. Gone are quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (contract voided), wideout Brandon Marshall (cut), center Nick Mangold (cut), tackle Ryan Clady (cut) and cornerback Darrelle Revis (cut), among others. The team is littered with question marks all over the roster, none bigger than quarterback.
General manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles unquestionably come into the year on the hot seat. And with the New England Patriots improving, the Miami Dolphins coming off a playoff year and the Buffalo Bills remaining a decent team, it's hard to imagine the Jets as anything but a cellar-dweller in 2017.
Of course, all is not lost in New York. Leonard Williams has established himself as one of the top young defensive linemen in football. The team signed cornerback Morris Claiborne, who was very good for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016. And they certainly cleared plenty of cap space.
Still, who is the quarterback? Josh McCown? Christian Hackenberg? A rookie the team will draft? It's hard to predict good things for the Jets when it's hard to even predict who will start at quarterback in 2017.
But it was obvious in 2016 that the Jets weren't headed in a positive direction. In the long term, the organization took several much-needed steps to begin the rebuild. In the short term, however, the Jets are probably facing another tough year.
Below, we'll take a look at the schedule they'll face this year and break down the team's biggest matchups.
|2017 New York Jets Schedule|
|1||Sept. 10||at Buffalo Bills||1 p.m.||CBS|
|2||Sept. 17||at Oakland Raiders||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|3||Sept. 24||vs. Miami Dolphins||1 p.m.||CBS|
|4||Oct. 1||vs. Jacksonville Jaguars||1 p.m.||CBS|
|5||Oct. 8||at Cleveland Browns||1 p.m.||FOX|
|6||Oct. 15||vs. New England Patriots||1 p.m.||CBS|
|7||Oct. 22||at Miami Dolphins||1 p.m.||FOX|
|8||Oct. 29||vs. Atlanta Falcons||1 p.m.||FOX|
|9||Nov. 2||vs. Buffalo Bills||8:25 p.m.||NFL Network|
|10||Nov. 12||at Tampa Bay Buccanneers||1 p.m.||CBS|
|12||Nov. 26||vs. Carolina Panthers||1 p.m.||FOX|
|13||Dec. 3||vs. Kansas City Chiefs||1 p.m.||CBS|
|14||Dec. 10||at Denver Broncos||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|15||Dec. 17||at New Orleans Saints||1 p.m.||CBS|
|16||Dec. 24||vs. Los Angeles Chargers||1 p.m.||CBS|
|17||Dec. 31||at New England Patriots||1 p.m.||CBS|
The Jets don't face an easy slate in 2017, with seven games against playoff teams from last season. Additionally, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers nearly made the postseason last year, and the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton will likely bounce back from a rough 2016 season. Plus, a trip to the Superdome to face the New Orleans Saints is never an easy contest.
Facing the AFC West this year means brutal matchups against the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos. Facing the NFC South means a home game against the Super Bowl runner-up Atlanta Falcons. And while the Jets will be expected to steal at least a win or two against their AFC East rivals, a few matchups out of the division are probably the team's best chance at securing a few victories.
Contests against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers and Cleveland Browns should all be winnable, as each team appears to be in the process of rebuilding. Those games will likely have implications for the 2018 draft order more than anything else, however.
As always, the Jets and their fans will want to fare well in the division. Two of their five wins came against the Bills in 2016—a result the team will hope to replicate in 2017. The Bills head into next season with their own share of question marks and will be in the first year of new head coach Sean McDermott, so it isn't crazy to think the Jets could take at least one game in this rivalry.
After going 0-4 against the Patriots and Dolphins last year, however, the Jets likely will struggle against the playoff contenders again next season. No team has been more active in improving this offseason than the Patriots, who added Stephon Gilmore, Brandin Cooks and Dwayne Allen, re-signed Dont'a Hightower and should get a healthy Rob Gronkowski back in the fold.
The Dolphins didn't make any major moves, meanwhile, but should still be a dangerous team and tough opponent for the Jets.
Additionally, winnable home games against the Jaguars and Chargers will both be vital. While the Jaguars have promising young talent on the roster—and improved this offseason by signing Calais Campbell, Barry Church and Earl Watford—they are in a period of transition under new head coach Doug Marrone.
The Chargers, meanwhile, are moving to Los Angeles and had a relatively quiet offseason. For a team that went just 5-11 last season and lost a weapon like Danny Woodhead, 2017 could be a rough year for the Bolts, and the Jets could capitalize.
Finally, a road game against the Browns is a game the Jets will expect to win. The Browns may be the only team in the NFL with more holes on their roster than the Jets heading into next season.