Will Von Miller be able to lead the way for the Denver Broncos against the Buffalo Bills?
X-New England Patriots 13-3
It’s another year and once again the New England Patriots are the team to beat in the National Football League. The Patriots are coming off of their second Super Bowl Title in the last three years and their fifth since 2001. The Patriots were truly a team of destiny last season as they won the Super Bowl in dramatic fashion by becoming the first team in the history of the contest to overcome a 25-point deficit. Late in the third quarter, New England found themselves down 28-3 to the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, but they would finish the game on a 31-0 run which included seeing them score a pair of touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions in order to force overtime. However as good as things were for the Patriots in 2016, don’t expect Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to allow his team to dwell on what they did last season heading in to a new campaign.
As Belichick is arguably the best head coach in National Football League history, he has the luxury of possibly having the best quarterback in the history of the game working with him. Tom Brady has been New England’s starting quarterback since 2001 and it has been a heck of ride for him as well as the Patriots. Brady’s record as a starters is an impressive 183-52, while he is the only quarterback in NFL history to win five Super Bowl Championships along with four Super Bowl MVP Awards. Brady turned 40-years of age last month and he is not showing any signs of slowing down.
Brady is one of the most accurate quarterbacks that the game of professional football has ever seen as he combines that with intensity and precision. When Brady has the football in his hands, he is the equivalent to a maestro conducting an orchestra. Brady has an array of players to get the football to as he indeed knows how to spread the wealth.
Brady will not have the luxury of having wide receiver Julian Edelman this season as he suffered a torn ACL in the preseason. Edelman has been one of Brady’s most reliable receivers as he has a knack for the big play. But with the Patriots it is all about the next man up.
Unlike last year, New England will have a healthy Rob Gronkowski at tight end as injuries limited him to just eight games. At 6’6″, 265 lbs., Gronkowski is a freak of nature who should be very motivated to come back and show why he is the best tight end in the National Football League after the Pats were able to win the Super Bowl without him last February. And aside from getting Gronkowski back, the rich have gotten richer as Belichick has made sure that the Patriots passing attack won’t skip a beat this year.
The Patriots traded their first-round pick in this past spring’s National Football League Draft to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Cooks was a first-round selection of the Saints in 2014 and he was quickly becoming one of the better receivers in football. Each of the last two seasons saw Cooks collect at least 1,100 yards receiving, but he was becoming disgruntled with his role in the Saints passing game. And when the Saints decided that Cooks was no longer in their plans, the Patriots jumped at the opportunity to acquire him.
Cooks won’t replace Edelman’s contributions on the field or in the locker room. But what Cooks gives the Patriots is a receiver who’ll stretch the field, while he also has sure hands. And with a quarterback such as Brady getting the football to Cooks, he should be on top of his game, while his presence will make it tough for Patriots opponents to attempt to double team Gronkowski.
The Patriots lost tight end Martellus Bennett in free agency as he signed with the Green Bay Packers. But the Patriots who have become wizards in regards to having depth at the tight end position acquired tight end Dwayne Allen from the Indianapolis Colts.
Allen was a third-round selection of the Colts in 2012, but his time in Indy saw him consistently under utilized. Allen won’t be the focal point of the Patriots offense, but he’ll be a player who should thrive playing alongside of Gronkowski, while also becoming another dependable pass catcher for Brady in the red zone.
From 1982-2013, Dante Scarnecchia was on the Patriots coaching with his most notable duty being the team’s offensive line coach from 2000-2013. But in 2013, Scarnecchia decided to retire and without the Patriots offensive line did not have the same cohesion. Scarnecchia returned to the Patriots last season and the offensive line played with more precision. The offensive line for New England continues to be unassuming, but one player to keep an eye on is left tackle Nate Solder whose main job is to protect the blindside of Brady.
New England will miss the bruising running ability of LeGarrette Blount who after leading the team in rushing last year signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent, leaves a void for the Pats. And without Blount, speed will be the name of the game for the Patriots with running backs James White, Mike Gillislee, and Dion Lewis. And due to the fact that New England’s running backs are undersized, I foresee Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels using more screen and swing passes which will go down on the stat sheet as passes, but they could be just as effective as runs due to the fact that he’ll get his play makers the football in space.
Defensively the Patriots were eighth in the National Football League last year in total defense and they must replace some key players from the unit. Defensive end Chris Long only recorded 4 sacks last year for the Pats, but he was a veteran leader. And New England must replace another leader on defense in defensive end Rob Ninkovich who decided to hang it up after 11 years in the NFL.
New England still has stout players on their defensive line in defensive tackles Malcolm Brown and Alan Branch, while they have some versatile linebackers in Shea McClellin, Kyle Van Noy, and Dont’a Hightower, while linebacker Elandon Roberts is an emerging player for Belichick.
Big plays will be at a premium against the Patriots secondary. Cornerback Malcolm Butler is still one of the top players at his position in the National Football League, while New England was able to add to their depth at the position when they signed former Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a five-year deal that is worth $65 million. And once you add in free safety Devin McCourty who is coming off of his second Pro Bowl as well as veteran strong safety Patrick Chung who knows Belichick’s system, New England should once again be a force to be reckoned with defensively.
Kicker Stephen Gostowski still possesses one of the strongest and accurate legs in the National Football League, while wide receiver Matthew Slater is not only a captain for Patriots, but he is also continues to be a guru on special teams with his coverage skills.
As the defending Super Bowl Champs, the Patriots will be getting their opponents best effort on a weekly basis, but this is something that they are accustomed to. And even though that New England will endure a stretch during the second half of the season where they’ll play five of six games on the road which includes contest versus the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders, Belichick’s team will once again be battle tested when the playoffs roll around.
Y-Miami Dolphins 10-6
After a 1-4 start in 2016, the Miami Dolphins were well on their way to a ninth consecutive losing season until something remarkable happened. The Dolphins would reel off six consecutive victories, and after Miami finished the regular season with a record of 10-6, they were postseason bound for the first time since 2008. Dolphins head coach Adam Gase made believers out of some of his critics by leading Miami to the postseason in his first year with the club. But whereas the Dolphins were able to use the element of surprise in 2016, how will they do with teams better prepared for Gase’s team this time around?
If the Dolphins are going to make the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 2001, they are going to have to accomplish it without the services of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill was the Dolphins first-round pick in 2012, and after he struggled under several offensive coordinators, he was finally beginning to put it together under Gase. Late in the 2016 campaign, Tannehill suffered a leg injury which forced him to miss out on the Fins playoff game. Tannehill had rehabbed and was ready to once again be under center until he suffered a torn ACL earlier this month which ended his season before it even started.
And with the Dolphins in need of a quarterback for the upcoming season, Gase would reach out to an old friend in Jay Cutler.
In 2015, Gase was the offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears. And under Gase, Cutler had one of his best seasons in the National Football League. Throughout Cutler’s NFL career he has been known to throw interceptions in bunches due to his “gunslinger mentality”, however Gase convinced himself to not force the football field down the field as much, while utilizing his check downs to running backs.
After an injury filled 2016, Cutler decided to retire from the National Football League until he was convinced to the Dolphins to give it one try in 2017. But after Cutler appeared to be content in retirement, while he is also 34-years of age, how much left does he have to give?
Without Tannehill, the Dolphins offense still has the opportunity to be potent due to their ability to run the football. Last year Miami was ninth in the National Football League in rushing and there should once again be some paint swapping from this year’s team. Gase is committed to running the football which means that you can expect another heavy dose of running back Jay Ajayi. Last year Ajayi became the first Dolphins running back Ricky Williams in 2003 to carry the football at least 250 times. At 6’0″, 229 lbs., Ajayi is a big, physical running back who only gets better as the game goes along. Ajayi had two games last season where he was able to gain at least 200 yards on the ground, and while this ability will see him go pretty early in fantasy football leagues, he’ll also get the chance to close out games for the Dolphins.
But the biggest thing that Gase has brought to the Dolphins offense is balance as it isn’t all about their running game. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry is rapidly becoming one of the better wide receivers in Dolphins franchise history. Landry was a second-round pick by the Dolphins in 2014 and he has brought something to the franchise that they had lacked for quite some time which is explosiveness. Landry is extremely versatile and Gase will continue to find numerous ways to get him the football which includes reverses and wide receiver screen, while also using him on special teams on punt returns.
And if opposing defenses want to concentrate on slowing down Landry in the Dolphins passing game, Miami has several other viable options to get the football to in with receivers Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker as viable options, while tight end Julius Thomas who was recently acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars could be a sleeper this season in fantasy football.
The Dolphins defensive line is home to some guys that have high motors. Defensive end Cameron Wake has recorded 81.5 sacks in eight years with the Dolphins which is the second most in franchise behind the 131 of Hall of Famer Jason Taylor. Wake weighs 263 lbs., but he knows how to use leverage which gives him the advantage versus many of the right tackles that he lines up against in the National Football League. And because of that you can expect another double-digit sack campaign in 2017 from Wake.
In two seasons with Miami, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has only managed to record 11 sacks, but his presence on the defensive line has given some of his teammates more opportunities to make plays.
Miami’s linebacking unit received a boost this off-season when the organization signed a pair of veterans in outside linebacker Lawrence Timmons and inside linebacker Rey Maualuga. Timmons spent the first decade of his National Football League career with the Pittsburgh Steelers which included winning a Super Bowl Championship, while Maualuga brings eight years of experience with him following his stint with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Miami has been blessed with an easy schedule to begin the season as only one of their first eight opponents made the playoffs last season. And if the Dolphins want to contend with the New England Patriots for the top spot in the AFC East, they are going to need to win the games that they are supposed to which means that Cutler canno tplay hero ball.
Buffalo Bills 5-11
The Buffalo Bills have the current longest active playoff drought in the National Football League. You have to go back to the 1999 NFL season to find the last time that the Bills made the playoffs and once you analyze the dysfunction within the organization, you get a better understanding why the Buffalo has struggled so much. Since 2000, the Bills have had seven different general managers, ten head coaches, and 13 starting quarterbacks. And this constant turnover at these key positions let you understand why the Bills have only been able to record two winning seasons over that stretch.
The past 10 months have been no easier for Buffalo as with one game remaining in the regular season, Rex Ryan was fired as the head coach of the Bills. Ryan was on the cusp of just completing his second year with Buffalo, and thus the team was once again starting over. A few weeks later Sean McDermott was hired to be the Bills new head coach. However the man who hired McDermott in general manager Doug Whaley was fired following the conclusion of the 2017 National Football League Draft and he’d be replaced by former Carolina Panthers assistant general manager Brandon Beane.
The craziness doesn’t stop there for the Bills as the cloud of uncertainty still looms over the quarterback position for them. Tyrod Taylor spent the last two years as the Bills starting quarterback, however he isn’t “Mr. Popularity” within the organization. Taylor spent the last two years as the Bills starting quarterback, and although that he was able to put up decent numbers, he has been unable to help the Bills take the next step. Aside from Taylor, no quarterback on the Bills roster has attempted more than 134 passes in the National Football League. And if the Bills don’t feel that Taylor is the long-term solution for them at quarterback, they’ll once again be starting over at the most important position on the football field.
Ad the Bills flirted with parting with Taylor, they did trade his favorite target in wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams. The Bills moved up in the first round of the 2014 National Football League Draft in order to obtain the services of Watkins, however his time in Buffalo was marred by injuries and thus Buffalo decided to move on. After trading Watkins, the Bills would proceed to acquire wide receiver Jordan Matthews from the Philadelphia Eagles and it is paramount that he and Taylor are able to get on the same page.
After an injury filled 2015, running back LeSean McCoy bounced back last season to have one of the better years of his career. At the age of 29, McCoy still has plenty of explosion and any success that Buffalo intends on having in 2017 hinges on the strong legs and quick feet of McCoy.
But whereas McCoy can be a difference maker for Buffalo’s offense, the Bills don’t have too many impact players on the defensive side of the football. Last year saw linebacker Lorenzo Alexander enjoy the best year of his National Football League career as he was able to record 12.5 sacks. But at the age of 34, will the Bills and McDermott be able to back on Alexander being able to put together another quality season like that?
With the start of a new season right around the corner, the Bills are still searching for their identity as an organization. And because of that, 2017 will see the Bills add to there already mounting frustration of being unable to reach the postseason since 1999.
New York Jets 1-15
Following the New York Jets can be hazardous to your health at times due to the numerous head scratching moves that have been made by this club over the years. In 2015, the Jets went 10-6 and were in an eye shadow of making the playoffs. But since then the Jets have regressed and all signs point to them rebuilding as after they went 5-11, things appear ready to get worse.
This off-season has seen a roster overhaul as they’ve parted with veteran players such as defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. And although that the Jets weren’t a playoff team last year with these guys on the roster, more than ever they appear to be a rudderless ship.
Unfortunately for the Jets, they are still searching for the next Joe Namath at quarterback which is not going to happen. Last year the Jets used three different quarterbacks and none of them were able to complete 60% of their passes. The quarterbacking situation is not that much better for the Jets this season as they have a pair of inexperiences quarterbacks on the roster in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenburg, while this off-season saw New York sign veteran quarterback Josh McCown whose record as a starter in the National Football League is a paltry 18-42.
At 31-years of age, running back Matt Forte’s best years carrying the football are in the rearview mirror, but he is just 585 rushing yards away from being the 30th player in National Football League history to gain 10,000 career yards. However aside from Forte potentially reaching the milestone, there is not anything to get excited about in regards to the Jets offense as this unit has the potential to be historically bad.
Jets head coach Todd Bowles built his rep around the National Football League by coaching defensive football. And although that the stars are not alining for Gang Green to be good this year, two players to keep an eye on are defensive ends Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson who each could be in the mix to make the Pro Bowl.
It’s been some time since the Jets came into a season with expectations for them as low as they currently are. And because of that it would not surprise me to see the brown paper bags broken out by Jets fans at MetLife Stadium by Week 8.
Y-Wild Card Source:
New England Patriots
First-Round Pick: (N/A)
Best Pick: (N/A)
It was very difficult to give the New England Patriots a quality grade for the 2017 National Football League Draft due to the fact that they were not that active. The Patriots only had four selections in the draft as the result of trades or punishment by the NFL. The Patriots upgrades to their team came via trades and free agency as they acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints and tight end Dwayne Allen from the Indianapolis Colts, while also signing former Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
But of the Patriots four draft picks in 2017 which includes Youngstown State Penguins outside linebacker Derek Rivers and Troy Trojans offensive tackle Antonio Garcia who were each selected in the third round, they will be developmental players. And before you know it they could become key cogs in the wheel of the Patriots machinery.
First-Round Pick: Charles Harris-Defensive End-Missouri
Best Pick: Charles Harris
After the Miami Dolphins were able to break through last season for their first playoff appearance since 2008, the last thing that they want to do is to take a step backwards. And the best way for the Dolphins to keep building was for them to have a solid draft.
The Dolphins already have a solid pass rush, but if they are going to be able to give the Patriots a real run for their money in the AFC East, then they will need to stock pile as many quality pass rushers as possible. And with several quality pass rusher available in the first round of the 2017 National Football League Draft, the Fins zeroed in on Missouri Tigers defensive end Charles Harris.
Five of Miami’s first six selections in the draft came on the defensive side of the football which included taking Ohio State Buckeyes inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan in the second round and Clemson Tigers cornerback Cordrea Tankersley in the third round.
The only way to get past the Patriots is to slow them down, and the Dolphins are hopeful that they’ve plugged up all of their holes on defense in order to do so.
First-Round Pick: Tre’Davious White-Cornerback-LSU
Best Pick: Round Five-Nathan Peterman-Quarterback-Pittsburgh
The 2017 National Football League Draft turned out to be a train wreck for the Buffalo Bills in more ways than one. The Bills traded down from the tenth overall selection to the 27th as they made a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills would then select LSU Tigers cornerback Tre’Davious White to offset the loss of cornerback Stephon Gilmore who signed as a free agent with the Patriots. And aside from trading down, the Bills failed to find themselves an impact player in the draft which is bad news for a franchise that needs one since they have failed to make the postseason since 1999.
But things got wacky this past Sunday when general manager Doug Whaley and his entire scouting team were fired. Now this draft class doesn’t have a leg to stand on which gives you an idea as to why the Bills have the longest current playoff drought in the National Football League.
New York Jets
First-Round Pick: Jamal Adams-Safety-LSU
Best Pick: Jamal Adams
The New York Jets entered the 2017 National Football League Draft with several needs to fill on both sides of the football, but credit to general manager Mike Maccagnan for sticking to his guns and not overreaching at any point during the draft.
After coming off of a 5-11 season, along with possessing the sixth overall pick in the draft, it would have been really easy for the Jets to get caught up in the moment and select a quarterback. However Maccagnan stuck to his draft board and selected LSU Tigers safety Jamal Adams.
Adams fell slightly in the draft once the Chicago Bears decided to draft quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but he fills a need in the Jets secondary as they could be ready to move on from safety Calvin Pryor.
The Jets continued to find athletes from the Southeastern Conference as they took Florida Gators safety Marcus Maye in the second round and Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver ArDarius Stewart in the third which helps this organization being that they need more depth.
This draft class may not produce superstars for the Jets, but they might be able to get some quality role players out of it.
Just prior to the start of a new calendar year in the National Football League, the New York Jets find themselves in a very familiar position which is that of starting over. After the Jets went 10-6 in 2015 which was their first season under the regime of general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles, the level of optimism increased for 2016. But those hopes were quickly dashed when the Jets began the season with a record of 1-5 and things never got any better. New York would limp to the finish line with a record of 5-11 which marked their second losing season in the last three years. But credit goes to Maccagnan and Bowles for not attempting to patch up the Jets issues with spit and glue.
Recently the Jets released three veteran players in center Nick Mangold, cornerback Darrelle Revis, and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. The moves will save the Jets roughly $46 million in cap space, while putting them $33 million under the cap line heading into a new year.
Mangold has spent his entire 11-year National Football League career with the Jets which included him being a seven-time Pro Bowl selection. But at the age of 33, along with injuries beginning to catch up with Mangold, Maccagnan made the decision that it was time to move on. In 2015, the Jets acquired Marshall from the Bears and he became an instant sensation. In Marshall’s first year with the Jets, he set single-season franchise records for receptions (109), and receiving yards (1,502), while tying the mark of 14 receiving touchdowns. But injuries and drops marred Marshall last year as he only managed to tally 59 receptions for 788 yards and 3 touchdowns. Revis is arguably one of the best players in Jets franchise history. And it appeared that Revis would be a lifer with Gang Green until he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013. After winning a Super Bowl Championship with the New England Patriots in 2014, Revis returned to the Jets in 2015. However in 2016, Revis was showing signs of declining skills. It didn’t help Revis that he was recently arrested in Pittsburgh and charged with four felonies for his alleged involvement in a street fight as I am sure that this wasn’t the way in which he wanted to see his Jets career finish. These moves by the Jets are a clear indication that they are starting over, but Maccagnan still has plenty of work ahead of him.
Last season Marshall had an ongoing feud with defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. Marshall considered himself to be a “team leader”, but Richardson wasn’t a fan of his. Richardson has been a distraction for the Jets in his own right following his 2015 arrest which ultimately led to him being found guilty last year for reckless driving and resisting arrest. Richardson was also disciplined last season by the Jets for his Snapchat video in the team’s locker room, while also being suspended by the National Football League for one game after his conviction.
The Jets had a chance to move on from Richardson last season when they put him on the trade block. However the Dallas Cowboys were the only team that showed interest in him and since they were only willing to part with a third-round pick, Maccagnan decided against the trade. But as the Jets have parted way with key veterans, a malcontent such as Richardson needs to be shown the door as well.
The Jets are no closer to being a contender now than the day when Maccagnan was introduced in Florham Park as the team’s new general manager. The Jets only have two quarterbacks on their roster with Bryce Petty having four starts under his belt in the National Football League, while Christian Hackenburg has yet to see any action. In releasing Mangold and offensive tackle Breno Giacomini, along with the retirement of D’Brickashaw Ferguson last year, New York doesn’t have any quality experience on their offensive line. And with Jets owner Woody Johnson being named as the United States ambassador to Britain, all of this points to the Jets “starting over” once again as it has an eerie feeling for anyone who has followed this franchise over the years.
Ever since the Jets shocked the world and defeated the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl 3, they have occasionally showed signs of hope, only to be turned away at the gate of success. After the Jets made the AFC Championship Game during the 1982 National Football League season, they took a huge step backwards in 1983 to finish 7-9. In actuality the Jets have appeared in the AFC Championship Game four times, including most recently in 2009 and 2010, but they always fell short.
Now Maccagnan has waved the white flag for a team and to a fan base that has to live with “the fake spike”, “the butt fumble”, and the fact that Bill Belichick was the Jets head coach for a day, before resigning to become the head coach of the New England Patriots which has led to him winning five Super Bowl Championships mainly at the expense of Gang Green, New York will once again have to sell their backers on starting over. But as the Jets appear to be starting over will Bowles be able to survive?
As of right now it appears that the Jets will more than likely be fighting an uphill battle this season, and as Bowles heads into his third season, he has yet to get New York to the playoffs which is never a good thing regardless if he is in the midst of a rebuilding process or not.
Bowles and Maccagnan are good guys who have walked into a impossible situation which to turn the fortunes of the Jets around. The Jets are a franchise that is still waiting for the next Joe Namath, and that guy doesn’t exist. And with the upcoming National Football League Draft not littered with franchise quarterbacks, while veteran quarterbacks who could be available such as Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo or Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears are not the long-term fix that the Jets need, this franchise is stuck on Groundhog Day minus Bill Murray.
The Ides of March have yet to arrive, but the 2017 National Football League season already appears to be a wash for the New York Jets.
There is no way to discredit the athletic ability that New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson brings to the table. The Jets chose Richardson 13th overall during the 2013 National Football League Draft and it would not take him that long to show that he was the real deal. In 2013, Richardson had 42 tackles and 3.5 sacks as he was named as the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year. Richardson was a one-man gang as he was flying all over the field displaying a very rare form of talent which featured speed, strength, and agility from the defensive tackle position. Richardson would continue to make a name for himself around the NFL which saw him make the Pro Bowl in 2014. And along with defensive ends Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson, Richardson is a part of one of the best defensive lines in football that hearkens Jets fans back to the days of “The New York Sack Exchange”. But as good as Richardson can be, he can be equally as troubling.
In July 2015, Richardson was arrested in St. Charles County, Missouri after he was driving at speeds of up to 140 miles per hour. And to make matters worse, Richardson had a 12-year old child in the vehicle at the time. This past January, Richardson was found guilty of reckless driving and resisting arrest which resulted in him being fined $1,050, while also receiving two years of probation, and 100 hours of community service. Richardson would also miss the first four games of the 2015 National Football League season as the result of a failed drug test, while he was also made to sit out the first game of this season as the result of his conviction in Missouri. This past spring saw the Jets pick up Richardson’s contract for 2017, but it isn’t looking promising as far as him being with Gang Green for next season.
Richardson was benched for the first quarter of the Jets 27-23 to the Miami Dolphins in Week 9 by head coach Todd Bowles for missing a team meeting during the week. And Richardson has continued to pile on himself as before the Jets 34-13 home loss this past Saturday night, Richardson made a short Snapchat video that contained several expletives.
Bowles spoke to Richardson on the matter and decided to keep the discipline of his star defensive tackle “in-house”. But when Richardson was questioned by reporters on the matter, he wasn’t apologetic over the matter as he merely seemed to be upset that the video got out. Since Richardson’s less than stellar video debut, reports have come out that the Jets attempted to trade him earlier this season with only the Dallas Cowboys seeming interested. But now more than ever it is time for the Jets to move on from Richardson as the headaches that he causes far outweigh his play on Sunday afternoons.
Richardson only has one year left on his deal and if the Jets are willing to accept the fact that they might not receive a high draft pick in return for him, they could be in the market to ship him out of town, but to whom?
The Cowboys already passed on Richardson, but who is to say that they would not take a flyer on him for 2017? Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has long been known as a man that will turn a blind eye to a player’s off-the-field discrepancies in favor of winning games. And as Jones’ team is a Super Bowl contender this year, he might be more than willing to beef up the Cowboys defensive line.
There are other teams around the National Football League such as the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, and Baltimore Ravens that could use the services of a talented player such as Richardson on their respective defensive lines. But with Richardson it’s more about what he brings to a locker room as he needs to be on a team that has a very strong leadership presence within their facility.
The Jets currently don’t have that kind of presence in their locker room, and as Bowles publicly appears to be a laid-back head coach, Richardson illustrates the actions of a man who doesn’t understand how privileged that he is to play in the National Football League being that he needs to good old-fashioned tough love.
Someone will take a shot on Richardson this off-season as I do not see any scenario in which he takes the field for the Jets next season. But if Bowles and/or Jets general manager Mike Macaggnan decide to have Richardson remain in Florham Park, New Jersey next season, they could be running the risk of having dynamite with a short fuse as you never know what you’re going to get from the enigmatic defensive tackle. And if the Jets are attempting to change their locker room culture, it starts with giving Richardson a one-way ticket out of town on the first thing smoking.
For anyone that follows the New York Jets knows that this is a team that can toy with a fan’s emotions. After winning the Super Bowl in January 1969 as a member of the American Football League, the Jets have never been able to get back to the big game as they’ve been an organization that has lacked consistency. Recent history has seen that trend continue for the Jets as they began the 2015 National Football League season with a record of 10-5 and they only needed to defeat the Buffalo Bills in Week 17 to advance to the playoffs. But the Jets would lose to the Bills as the game was marred by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing 5 interceptions as New York was so close, yet so far from the postseason.
Heading into the 2016 National Football League season the Jets were looking to build off of their close call from 2015, but that has not been the case. The Jets lost their season opener to the Cincinnati Bengals 23-22 in a game that was mired by their miscues. Overall the Jets began this season with a record of 1-5 which included Fitzpatrick throwing 6 interceptions in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Right now the Jets are 3-8 and although that they are an extreme long shot to make the playoffs this season, they haven’t decided to waive the white flag yet which is rather alarming.
For some absurd reason Jets head coach Todd Bowles is sticking with Fitzpatrick as the team’s starting quarterback. The Jets signed Fitzpatrick in 2015 and he would go on to have the best season of his National Football League career as he passed for 3,905 yards, while he threw 31 touchdown passes. After the season Fitzpatrick would become a free agent as he was seeking a big payday. But the Jets nor any other team was interested in giving Fitzpatrick a long-term deal and just prior to the start of training camp, he and New York agreed on a one-year deal for $12 million.
However the magic that Fitzpatrick had displayed in 2015 is gone as he has thrown 13 interceptions in nine starts compared to throwing 15 last season. Fitzpatrick was benched against the Arizona Cardinals, but he would return to being the Jets starting quarterback when his replacement Geno Smith was lost for the season with an ACL injury. Fitzpatrick himself would suffer a knee injury during the Jets loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 9 and he would miss the Jets next game. In Fitzpatrick’s absence, Bowles used quarterback Bryce Petty the following week against the Los Angeles Rams, but he quickly decided to go back to Fitzpatrick.
The Jets aren’t going anywhere with Fitzpatrick under center this year or any other season. And the time is now for Bowles to give a serious look at Petty, or rookie quarterback Christian Hackenburg who was the Jets second-round pick this past April.
Fitzpatrick was quick to voice his displeasure when the Jets benched him earlier this season in favor of Smith. I understand that Fitzpatrick is a competitor, but he hasn’t done anything during his 12-year National Football League career to warrant him being a franchise quarterback as he is a journeyman which is evident by the six different teams that he has played for. The Jets don’t owe Fitzpatrick anything in regards to coddling his ego, and once their season end’s on New Year’s Day against the Bills, both parties will go their separate ways as he’ll be the latest quarterback that has fallen into the abyss while playing for Gang Green.
Petty was selected by the Jets in the fourth round in 2015 and he didn’t see the field as a rookie. In Petty’s one start he was 19-of-32 passing for 163 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception as the Jets lost to the Rams 9-6. Petty was able to display some potential, but Bowles decided to stunt his growth. Petty isn’t going to get any better on the sideline with a clipboard in his hand, and he cannot do any worse than Fitzpatrick has already done. The same can be said for Hackenburg as it’s time for the Jets to take the kid gloves off of their young quarterbacks and see what they can do.
The Jets struck fool’s gold last year with Fitzpatrick and they cannot afford to have him lose anymore games for them as they have one of the best defensive lines in football that includes the likes of Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams, and Muhammad Wilkerson. Darrelle Revis’ days as a starting cornerback in the National Football League appear to be numbered, and if the Jets don’t decide to move him to safety in 2017, his time with the team could be coming to an end as well.
With the exception of a road game against the San Francisco 49ers who are 1-10 in Week 14, the Jets don’t have too many winnable games left on their schedule as they are facing the possibility of selecting in the the top five of the National Football League Draft for the first time since 2006 when they selected offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson fourth overall. Under Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan, the Jets will need to have a solid draft and off-season overall as this team that has not made the postseason on their watch which should give them ample motivation to begin planning towards the future now. But unfortunately for the Jets fan base, Bowles is sticking with guys like Fitzpatrick who’ll see their time with the team come to an end in about a month.