Based on the New York Jets' offseason moves, their window is not very big, and their ability to maximize that window is tentative at best.
With one move after another to acquire veteran talent, the Jets took one step after another toward pigeonholing themselves into a situation where they have no choice but to win a Super Bowl within the next two years. The problem is—unless the Jets think all those pieces can come together in one offseason, and unless the Jets think their quarterback play is going to take a dramatic step forward after last year—they are probably still at least one year away from contending for the Lombardi Trophy.
According to Pro Football Focus (via ESPN.com), the Jets were eight above-average players away from Super Bowl contention before the 2015 offseason began. By adding cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Devin Smith, defensive lineman Leonard Williams and outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin, the Jets added six above-average players to their roster.
Simple math would suggest that the Jets are now two above-average players away from being a Super Bowl contender, but that's if you prescribe to the idea that the offseason is about collecting talent, not building a team.
The Jets may very well have assembled a contending team, but the whole may not necessarily equal the sum of the parts. It's up to all those individual players to come together as a unit, and it's hard to get that many new pieces on the same page in one offseason.
That's also assuming all pieces are weighted equally, but we know they're not, and we know which pieces deserve more weighting than others. Particularly, the quarterback position is the one spot that is the most important to any team's chances of winning a Super Bowl, and it just so happens to also be the position where the Jets have the most significant question marks.
|Geno Smith, 2014|
|Games||First 10||Final 4|
Of course, those question marks could fade into the background if Smith is able to continue riding the wave of success he enjoyed at the end of the 2014 season, but this is the second consecutive season in which Smith has finished on a high note. He didn't continue that high level of play at the beginning of the 2014 season, which was a major contributing factor in the Jets' seven-game midseason skid that knocked them out of the playoff picture.
Head coach Todd Bowles is inclined to give Smith the inside track to winning the starting job this coming season, but even if he chokes it away to veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Jets may still not be in line to contend for a Super Bowl. Fitzpatrick has been successful in Chan Gailey's offense in the past, but to say he's Super Bowl material would be a stretch, to say the least.
We've only even touched on the quarterback position here, but there's far more to the equation.
The Jets still need to install new systems on defense and offense—and although the new defensive scheme may not differ much from the old one, the demands on the players and the priorities will be a little different.
Again, getting all those new pieces on the same page in one offseason would be a difficult task if we were only even talking about getting them ingrained into systems that were already in place. Now we're talking about installing new systems and getting everyone on the same page at the same time in a three-month span.
The Jets probably aren't going to look like a bumper-car rally on the field during the 2015 regular season, but if the transition isn't 100 percent smooth, it won't be hard to figure out why.
Improved play at quarterback and a quick transition to new systems should bring the Jets much closer to Super Bowl contention, but to say they have already arrived on that scene would be drawing a premature conclusion. Too many teams have won in the months of March and April and failed to win in September through December. The Jets could buck that trend, but it would be no small feat.
There are a few things working against them: their lack of a stable quarterback situation, the installation of new systems and the number of new pieces that must come together as a unit. If all of those things turn out in their favor, the Jets could contend for a Super Bowl in Year 1 of the Bowles era.