The 2016-17 New York Jets season was one to forget. Coming off an impressive 10-6 season in 2015-16, there were high expectations from the fans for a playoff birth. While they lost Damon Harrison to the Giants, the Jets were able to lock up Muhammad Wilkerson for the long term and eventually able to re-sign QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was coming off the best year of his career, after a lengthy standoff.
Unfortunately for the Jets, injuries and poor performances contributed to a disappointing season in which the team went just 5-11. Future Hall of Famer Darrelle Revis began to show his age, constantly getting beaten by the receivers he was assigned to shut down. He performed so badly that questions arose as to whether or not he would soon retire. By next season, we could very well see Revis move from cornerback to safety. Muhammad Wilkerson, coming off arguably the best season of his career in which he registered 12 sacks, struggled to stay healthy and effective throughout the 2016-17 season, registering just 4.5 sacks. Perhaps the biggest culprit for the disappointing Jets season was Ryan Fitzpatrick. After being acquired by the Jets in a trade with the Texans in the 2015 offseason, Fitzpatrick was promoted to the team’s starting QB when Geno Smith got his jaw broken by then-teammate I.K. Enemkpali during a dispute over money. Fitzpatrick ended up throwing for 3,905 yards and a franchise record 31 touchdowns. After a long holdout last offseason, Fitzpatrick and the Jets finally reached an agreement on a 1 year, $12 million contract on July 27, 2016. However, Fitzpatrick struggled in the 2016-17 season, especially after losing one of his favorite targets, Eric Decker, for the season after just 3 games due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. In the 2016-17 season, Fitzpatrick threw for just 2,710 yards, with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
Due in large part to Revis’s regression and Wilkerson’s poor season, the 2016-17 Jets defense regressed mightily throughout the season. After being ranked as the 4th best defense in the NFL in 2015-16, the defense dropped to 11th. The Jets went from 30 takeaways, tied for third in the NFL, to just 14, tied for last in the NFL.
As poor as the season has been for the Jets, there have been some strong performances by a few players. Bilal Powell and Quincy Enunwa seemed to be the best performers this past season for the Jets on the offensive side while Leonard Willams continues to show promise for the Jets defense. As the season went on, it felt as if Powell was used more often. While he did show in the 2015-16 season that he could do a good job as a receiver from the runningback position, he also showed that he could run the ball too in 2016-17. While he only had 131 rushing attempts, he ran for 722 yards, giving him an average of 5.5 yards per carry. He also tacked on 58 receptions for 388 yards. He would end up scoring a total of 5 touchdowns for the Jets. Powell could very well be a huge threat for opposing defenders in the near future thanks to his improving ability to run the ball as well as getting open for passes and turning them into big gains. Quincy Enunwa seemed to be much more dangerous early in the season, when the Jets still had Decker. Regardless, Enunwa still had a very good offensive season for a lackluster offensive team. He totaled 58 receptions for 857 yards, reaching the endzone 4 times. Assuming Decker and Marshall are back and healthy next season, and the Jets find a decent quarterback, Enunwa would present a huge threat to an opposing team’s defense that may overlook him for Marshall and Decker. Leonard Williams showed no signs of a sophomore slump in 2016-17. Williams tallied 7 sacks this past season, while also forcing two fumbles. While 4.5 of those sacks occurred in the first 5 games of the season, he nonetheless continued to provide pressure on the opposing team’s offense. He has shown the ability to be extremely dangerous when he’s hot. If Wilkerson can come back healthy and perform up to expectations next season, the Jets would have a powerful 1-2 punch on the defensive line.
There is still a lot of work to be done by Jets management over the upcoming offseason if they want a chance to be competitive next season. Another option that management has is to just rebuild the team over the next couple seasons. In the meantime, Jets fans need to follow their mantra: “Just Endure The Suffering.”