Things just keep messier in Florham Park. The New York Jets fired their general manager this offseason, lost a large amount of starters via free agency or straight release, signed a quarterback who hasn't seen a regular-season snap since 2010 and have their best player, Darrelle Revis, on the trade block. What are your expectations for the Jets in 2013?
Let me pull back the curtain. Our "Instant Debate" answers are supposed to be about 100 words or so. How can I talk about the Jets' expectations for 2013 with that constraint on me? I need 100 words just to talk about Yeremiah Bell. However, I'm throwing you a curveball. Because I really like what the Jets are doing, despite the fact that my official answer to this question is there will be No Expectations in Florham Park. No expectations is the best thing for this team. Coming off three straight years of Super Bowl talk, I think the Jets will play better with the pressure off.
We've seen the wave of the future in the NFL. It's not signing two or three stars to huge free-agent contracts. It's identifying talent and signing a bunch of it to smaller deals -- having this blossom in conjunction with drafting strongly. That's how teams like the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants are able to stay competitive year in and year out. Of the talent the Jets have lost so far, all of it was either needed or expected. Calvin Pace and Bart Scott were done. And I don't want to be the team on the hook for injury-prone LaRon Landry for four more years. Nor would I pay Shonn Greene for less than four yards per carry. So losing these players doesn't bother me as a Jets fan. They have enough cap space to get guys with potential and a lot to prove, like Mike Goodson. More will follow.
As for the quarterback situation, let's be realistic: it's not like the Jets lost out on Tom Brady and Drew Brees in free agency. They'll go into 2013 much the way Seattle did last year: Let's get quantity at the position and see if we can hit it with the right guy. It's the correct approach in a horrible QB market. They'll likely do it without Revis, whom the team seems determined to trade. And why not? Even if they had the cap space, I can't pay a cornerback $16 million a year no matter who he is. So if you recoup draft picks to help rebuild, awesome.
What do I see for 2013? A roller-coaster ride much like 2009, where the team has some ups and downs, but enters December around .500 with a chance at 9-7 and maybe the playoffs. Don't get me wrong: That's the absolute ceiling for New York, but there's a lot of daylight. Rex Ryan is a phenomenal defensive coach who's going to have that side of the ball set with his young playmakers when it's all said and done. After all, he's coaching for his job, too. They'll sneak up on people. And I think I'm just under 900 words for this.
I was one of the last holdouts to believe the Jets would be any good last season. I even thought they might make it interesting in December with a late playoff push. That has to do with my belief that Rex Ryan is a good coach, but I'm not contrarian or crazy enough to see anything more than six wins this season. Even that might be optimistic.
This has all the makings of a team "Clowning for Clowney" with a new head coach arriving in 2014.
It looks like the Jets are heading for a lottery pick. Sure, it is still early in the offseason, but it is hard to believe they can make up enough ground with all the needs they have.
On offense they have issues at running back, offensive line, tight end, wide receiver ... and of course, quarterback. It doesn't get any better on defense, which in the past had been the strong part of the team. Rex Ryan's unit now has major holes in the secondary, at outside linebacker and along the defensive line.
Nobody should expect anything from the Jets in 2013. New York is one of those teams where it should go into the season expecting the worst, wishing for the best and then being pleasantly surprised if the team somehow goes 8-8. And if this team finishes at .500, Rex Ryan is your Coach of the Year.