A lot of NFL teams that were sub-par to mediocre last year enter the 2015 season with high hopes. New coaches, new players, the draft, free agency – a lot can change from year to year.
That certainly appears to be the case in New York.
“I’m telling you: My eyes keep coming back to the Jets because I’m really eager to see how things go with them,” Fox and NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Leonard Williams was not thought to be a place of need, a defensive tackle from USC who quote-unquote slipped. What did he go, sixth? And then all of a sudden, yup, guess what? That’s a great pick because one of our big hosses is gone for the first four games.”
That hoss would be Sheldon Richardson, who has been suspended without pay for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He can return to the team’s active roster on October 5 – the day after the Jets’ Week 4 matchup against Miami.
Williams, however, isn’t the only reason that Davis thinks the Jets, who went 4-12 last season, can make a little noise in the AFC East. They also brought back Darrelle Revis and hired a no-nonsense, defensive-minded coach in Todd Bowles.
Ultimately, though, the Jets’ hopes likely hinge on the play of Geno Smith, who has 25 touchdowns and 34 interceptions in his first two NFL seasons.
“Does Geno Smith seize the reins and reach his potential?” Davis asked. “Because if so, the AFC East has really jumped up. I think Miami is poised to make a leap. They’ve gotten better and better every year. Getting Suh on defense, all the Jonathan Martin stuff is well behind them now – they’re fully engaged in their chase of New England.”
The Bills, meanwhile, went 9-7 last season, finishing with a winning record for the first time since 2004 and winning at least seven games for the first time since 2008. Buffalo is still searching for its first playoff appearance of the 21st century.
“Buffalo, getting Rex Ryan, already had a tremendous defense, (but) they’ve got to figure out the offensive side too,” Davis said. “So it’s almost a race between the Jets and Buffalo. Who figures out quarterback? Who figures out offense to get really involved in the race to run down I say the second spot in the AFC East. Because I’m still giving New England – I don’t care what the Brady punishment is going to be – (the edge). Until further notice, New England wins the division. But can one of those other three be a second team and fight hard for a Wild Card? The Jets are extremely intriguing to me.”