By all accounts, the New York Jets overachieved by a substantial margin last season. While prognosticators spoke of a 2-14 season – 4-12, tops – the Jets finished a respectable 8-8.
Of course, if their offense had been even mediocre, they would have made the playoffs. Instead, the Jets finished 25th in total yards, 29th in scoring (18.1 points per game) and 31st in passing (183 yards per game).
And still, there is hope.
“I really feel strongly about the way we finished the year last year,” Jets wide receiver David Nelson said on The Morning Show. “We won three of the last four and really felt like we found ourselves (offensively) and started to get some consistency going and really started to build for this year.”
Yes, there’s actually a sense of optimism entering 2014 – in part because of the Jets’ busy offseason.
“I think what the front office did – adding some key pieces, some dynamic playmaking ability with Chris Johnson and (Michael) Vick and Eric (Decker) – I think they added some huge components,” Nelson said. “I think that we’re building off what we did last year. I think a huge thing for us this year is consistency. Last year, you never knew which offense was going to be on the field. One week we looked like a top-five offense, and the next week we looked like a bottom-five offense. So we’re making a point to make sure we come out every single week and be a top-five offense.”
Nelson is indirectly referring to the erratic play of Geno Smith, who was typically solid in wins and typically atrocious in losses. Smith, 23, hopes to improve after a rookie season in which he threw for 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
Nelson believes he can.
“I see a young quarterback stepping into his own and really finding himself and really saying, ‘Okay, you know what? This is my team. This is my offense,’” Nelson said. “He’s getting really comfortable with the offense and getting a solid grasp of what (offensive coordinator) Marty (Mornhinweg) has for him and what he’s trying to put on his plate. He started to get really comfortable at the end of the year when we did a lot of no-huddle stuff, but I think he’s trying to take the next step this year and say, ‘You know what? I can be the guy. I want to prove that.’”
That reduces Vick, 34, to more or less a bandaid.
“I agree with that,” Nelson said. “I do. For all of us, it’s Geno’s team. And from what we’ve been told and what we’ve been working toward, it’s Geno’s team, and Mike’s coming in to kind of (fill) a supporting role. If anything happens to Geno, we have a proven starter and a proven winner backing him up. That’s the direction we’re moving.”
Johnson, meanwhile, hopes to be a key cog in Rex Ryan’s ground game, which finished sixth in the league in yards last year. Johnson has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in all six of his NFL seasons, but he also turns 29 in September and is coming off a knee injury.
What can we expect from him this year?
“To be completely honest with you, I can’t give you too much,” Nelson said. “He didn’t practice in OTAs (because) he had the issue with the knee, (but) from my understanding, he’s going to be completely cleared and good to go in training camp. Just from the little bit I saw, the guy has an incredible, incredible amount of burst. Even with the injury and his limited ability, just his initial burst out of the backfield was something to respect. There’s still something there.”