Jets and Giants Look to Grow During Offseason


The New York Jets and Ne York Giants have much work ahead in order to better shape rosters ready to compete in the upcoming season. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BARRY WISE VIA FLICKR)


After disappointing finishes to 2016, both the New York Jets and New York Giants are looking to revamp their rosters and make improving changes heading into the 2017 season. After making the playoffs, the Giants had their season end in the wild card round, while the Jets stumbled to a 5–11 record, coming last in their division. Both teams aren’t quite where they want to be as far as on-field performance, which looks to make this offseason an exciting one, with a lot of holes ready to be filled.

The most likely of the two to sniff the playoffs in 2017 would have to be the Giants, who will try to retain the big pieces that helped them win 11 games this year in new head coach Ben McAdoo’s first season. The 11 wins are the most the team has had since the team went 12–4 in 2008 under Tom Coughlin. This success came largely as a result of giving up the second-fewest points in all of the National Football League (NFL), second only to the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots.

Keeping that defense intact lies significantly on the team’s ability to sign two major impending free agents, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. If the Giants can keep their strong defensive front intact, they’ll be in good shape. The linebacker position seems to be a place where moves can be expected, as last year’s middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard appears to be on the move. The team will either give the reins off to second-year player BJ Goodson or seek outside help.

The secondary can be one of the brightest spots on this team if the Giants can avoid the injury bug. Strong safety Landon Collins and free safety Darian Thompson return to back up a very deep cornerback corps of Eli Apple, Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. All these players with the exception of first team All-Pro Collins landed on the injured list at one point or another in 2016.

While the defense looks to repeat its successful performance, the offense under coordinator Mike Sullivan will have to improve if the Giants hope of having a realistic shot at postseason success. It seems apparent they’ll retain two-time Super Bowl champ Eli Manning at quarterback, but perhaps there’s room for another weapon alongside superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and talented rising slot receiver Sterling Shephard. The room for such a player is undeniable, as the Giants just recently cut seven-year veteran and Super Bowl winner Victor Cruz, whose nagging injuries always seemed to get in the way of his undeniable talent.

The cut may have been caused partly due to his involvement in Beckham’s boat trip the week before the loss at the hands of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the wild card round, which ended the team’s season. Many have brought the excursion up as an indication of Beckham, Cruz, Shephard and the rest of the receivers squad choosing to arrive to the game without having prepared adequately. On the other hand, others consider the activities players pursue on a non-practice day to be unimportant and irrelevant to how seriously they take the game ahead.

Charlie Dixon, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’17, considered the outrage a case of scapegoating. “Boat trip or no boat trip, the whole team did not show up to play at an adequate level. You can’t fault them for issues that go beyond the wide receiving corps.”

With or without the off field distractions, the Giants look to be left with two spots where improvement is necessary: the offensive line and running back. Left guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg played more than well enough to keep their positions, but that leaves three spots that will have to be addressed. 2015 top 10 draft pick Ereck Flowers has disappointed fans for two years now at left tackle, and will need to improve or risks being replaced if the Giants have any hope of protecting Manning with some regularity. Right guard John Jerry’s contract is over and will also need to be replaced. Right tackle Bobby Hart may or may not be introduced to competition before training camp starts.

The running back position has been just as much of an issue for the Giants, and they must be looking elsewhere to find someone, as the cut of Rashad Jennings leaves Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa as the only two backs under contract, a tandem that’s far from ideal. Adrian Peterson, longtime Minnesota Viking, has had his name come up in talks with the organization several times this winter.

If returning general manager Jerry Reese retains Pierre-Paul and Hankins, while keeping his defensive backs healthy for what would certainly seem like the first time, the only glaring holes on this team are on the offensive line for the protection of Eli Manning. Once that’s addressed, the addition of a talented half back could open up the offense even more, making the Giants one of the most feared teams in the National Football Conference (NFC).

The Jets, on the other hand, have much more work to do to reach a competitive level. On the plus side, they will be returning with several strongly-skilled position talents with running back Matt Forte and receivers Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Quincy Enunwa and Kellen Davis. There’s a hole at left tackle after the team elected not to bring back long time starter Ryan Clady, but the biggest need to be addressed is at quarterback, where both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith are set to enter free agency.

Patrick Fuery, Gabelli School of Business at Lincoln Center (GSBLC) ’17, seemed to agree with most others that the Jets would be better served retaining neither, and pursuing a new quarterback on the market. “[Dallas quarterback] Tony Romo would be the ideal fit, and would be coming from a different division, but that’s dependent on Romo wanting to come to NY. Otherwise they could seek out a stopgap option in free agency such as a Nick Foles type, and in the meantime try to draft and develop a young quarterback.”

On defense, even more questions are in the air. Longtime star cornerback Darrelle Revis is now one year older at 31, and is finally starting to show his age. The Jets would be wise to look for replacements for him and Jordan Jenkins at the position, or at least would if they had the luxury of being able to focus on just one thing. On the back end, the safety tandem of Calvin Pryor and Marcus Gilchrist have struggled mightily in coverage, something that bodes very poorly.

Unfortunately, the Jets have just as many questions for their front seven as their secondary. Pass rusher Sheldon Richardson can only do so much when no one but he and defensive end Leonard Williams can consistently put pressure on the opposing quarterback. Muhammad Wilkerson and Steve McClendon both had a lot of trouble doing exactly that this past offseason, so it’s not impossible for the Jets to go that direction with the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft.

In the middle, linebacker David Harris continues to be effective, but rookie Darron Lee couldn’t ever seem to get anything going. Hopefully the 22-year old product of Ohio State can turn it around next season. With that said, defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers has to be wary about the hand he’s been dealt.

Overall, head coach Todd Bowles and the Jets simply have too many holes to fill. They don’t have a legitimate starting quarterback under contract and they don’t have any sort of offensive line to defend the incoming quarterback. Moreover, they had the league’s fifth worst defense as far as points allowed, and they’re already too pressed up against the salary cap to add without subtracting some of the bigger contracts. The Jets will just have to hope a weak schedule and some form of miracle from the quarterback position can bring them into contention.