Season summary: Even by Jets' standards, this was an all-time stinker. At 5-11, their five-win falloff from 2015 is the second biggest one-year drop in franchise history. The Jets expected a playoff run in Year 2 of the Todd Bowles/Mike Maccagnan regime, but they were doomed by a flawed roster -- too many older, big-money players. Not only did they fail to deliver on the field, but they contributed to poor locker-room chemistry. There was no leadership. The offseason contract saga with Ryan Fitzpatrick set a bad tone, as the organization allowed itself to be held hostage by a middling player. The team was fractured by a locker-room altercation in Week 3, and it never recovered.
From there, the Jets were undermined by poor quarterback play (three different starters), an underachieving defense, an inordinate number of injuries and a tough early schedule that exposed every blemish. They were poorly coached in all three phases. Week after miserable week, they had nothing to hang their hat on. The Jets weren't good at anything, and that's the most damning thing you can say about a team. Even the vaunted run defense disappeared in the second half of the season, making the unit easy prey for mediocre offenses. Wait, it gets worse: The Jets were non-competitive in several games, as they lost five times by at least 21 points. The last time that happened was 1996, the year they went 1-15.
Biggest draft need: It's hard to pinpoint one need because there are holes everywhere, so let's go with two: cornerback and offensive line. Center Nick Mangold is a major question mark, right guard Brian Winters (shoulder surgery) is a free agent, and there are no proven tackles under contract -- not counting Ryan Clady (shoulder surgery), who probably will be released. If Darrelle Revis is released, a possibility, they won't have a No. 1 corner -- or a No. 2, for that matter. Quarterback can never be ruled out.
Key offseason questions:
Will Bowles shake up his staff? Bowles, who is expected to return for a third season, will make changes. Count on it. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, whose unit crashed after a terrific 2015, could be the sacrificial lamb. The offense was decimated by injuries, but it didn't perform well even when it was healthy in the first half of the season. Gailey is a pass-happy play caller who refuses to utilize tight ends. Bowles may look for a run-oriented coordinator whose philosophy meshes with his approach as a defensive-minded coach. The downside to change is young quarterbacks Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg would have to learn a new system. Norv Turner and Mike McCoy (if he's fired by the Chargers) would be coordinator options. Bowles also needs to take a hard look at his defense, which underachieved.
Who will be the opening-day quarterback in 2017? He's not in the building yet. It won't be Petty (shoulder surgery) or Hackenberg, the only two quarterbacks under contract. The Jets won't admit it, but they reached in the second round for Hackenberg, a major project. Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith (knee surgery) will be free agents, leaving the position unsettled. They absolutely must acquire a veteran starter, but who? They could opt for a cheap stop-gap (Josh McCown or Brian Hoyer) or invest in a young quarterback with some upside (Mike Glennon). If they want a proven vet, they could go for Tony Romo or Jay Cutler, but Romo is brittle and Cutler is an enigma. Yeah, the whole situation is a mess.
Which big-name vets will be shown the door? They will try to trade defensive end Sheldon Richardson, one of the biggest locker-room problems. He needs to go, pronto. They also should try to deal former first-round pick Calvin Pryor, a disappointment at safety. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall, linebacker David Harris, Revis and Mangold also could become cap casualties. The Jets have only one untouchable -- defensive tackle Leonard Williams. Just about every other player is fair game. They could create $50 million in cap room by dumping the dead wood, allowing them to start over.