This offseason the Jets hired JOHN MORTON, the Saints' receivers coach in 2015 and '16, to be their offensive coordinator. This will be the first time Morton, 47, has directed an NFL offense, and it's imperative that he incorporate New York's running backs into the passing game. Not only are the Jets bereft of quality wide receivers, but they're also playing with the same tight end group that last season combined for 18 receptions and 173 yards, by far the worst totals in the league at that position.
• When you lack dangerous receivers, your passing game must rely on play design. The effective designs exploit mismatches, but with the Jets' roster, running back versus linebacker is the only chance for a favorable one—and that's if MATT FORTE, 31, can still get the job done. He caught 102 balls for the Bears in '14 but just 30 last year. Forte might be reaching the point where his receiving contributions are restricted to routes coming out of the backfield, which means he's not offering much more in that regard than 28-year-old backup BILAL POWELL.
• With the right players, coach TODD BOWLES schemes aggressively with matchup coverages and designer pressures—preferably those that attack up the middle, in the quarterback's sight lines. Bowles knew he couldn't run his full scheme last year, perhaps as early as Week 1. That's when the Bengals' A.J. Green toasted Darrelle Revis and Bowles realized he no longer had a corner who could shut down top receivers one-on-one. This offseason New York replaced Revis with free-agent signee MORRIS CLAIBORNE. The ex-Cowboy is intriguing, but not the kind of stopper who travels with No. 1 wideouts. And opposite Claiborne the Jets have penalty-prone veteran BUSTER SKRINE.
• Safeties can create disguised pressures and coverages; the more versatility you have there, the more multifaceted your D can be. In Bowles's matchup zone, the safeties must cover tight ends man-to-man and be able to stay with wide receivers who enter their zone and then go vertical. Given these demands, it's no surprise New York used the draft to shore up the position, picking JAMAL ADAMS from LSU in the first round and MARCUS MAYE from Florida in the second.
"THE JETS ARE BEREFT OF QUALITY WIDE RECEIVERS, AND THEIR TIGHT ENDS CAUGHT ONLY 18 BALLS LAST YEAR."
SI'S 2017 PREDICTION
2016 RECORD 5--11
ANDY BENOIT'S 400 MMQB ON.SI.COM/400
74 LEONARD WILLIAMS DE
93 MUHAMMAD WILKERSON DE
105 SHELDON RICHARDSON DE
350 MORRIS CLAIBORNE CB
395 QUINCY ENUNWA WR [OUT FOR SEASON]
OUT FOR SEASON