The world of former player NFL analysis is hit or miss but when it comes to ex-Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason, he's typically dead on.
That's why we were a bit surprised when we had to disagree with his assessment of the 2016 team, which enters the summer without their presumptive starting quarterback and with their best defensive player embroiled in a contract dispute.
"It's unfortunate they didn't make the playoffs last year because they were a playoff worthy team," Esiason said, via the team's official site. "This is a team that is in it to win it and I think as a Jets fan you have to believe that they are heading in the right direction. They've touched all the right buttons."
To be clear, this isn't a shot at general manager Mike Maccagnan, who inherited a veteran-heavy, win-now type of team and decided to make a run at the AFC East when no one expected them to. Hopefully, the Jets give him time to build a new core.
At the moment, the team is presumably starting Geno Smith at quarterback. Their workhorse back will be 30-year-old Matt Forte and their top wideouts will be 32 (Brandon Marshall) and 29 (Eric Decker). Their left tackle, Ryan Clady, will be 30 early in the season and replaced franchise cornerstone D'Brickashaw Ferguson, who recently retired. Their other offensive line cornerstone, center Nick Mangold, is signed for 2016 and 2017. He just turned 32.
On defense, Darrelle Revis is still an elite corner, though he's entering a more tactical phase of his career. He promised to play until the "wheels fall off," but for a cornerback that could be anywhere between now and age 37.
The Jets' major strength, the defensive line, will surely undergo change after this season. Muhammad Wilkerson is still in a contract battle, Damon Harrison, a top-of-the-line nose tackle at just 27, departed to be an every-down player with the Giants. Sheldon Richardson had his fifth-year option picked up but could end up being another lineman that prices himself out of the Jets' market. "Headed in the right direction" is a difficult phrase to quantify, but isn't that typically reserved for a team like Jacksonville or Oakland -- or really, even Cleveland? Teams with a horde of young players under team control. Teams with loads of equity in home-grown talent.
There is nothing wrong with a veteran team. New England has thrived for more than a decade with a constant, rotating cast of forward-thinking, experienced players. The Jets have plenty of those, but are already struggling to keep the pieces in place. Are they in good shape for now? Sure. Crazier things have happened in the NFL and maybe Ryan Fitzpatrick gets this team to within a game of the playoffs again if he signs a contract. Would a GM fawn over this roster two years from now? Maybe not. That will be Maccagnan's challenge after the 2016 season. Only then can we determine if they're headed in the right direction.