Understanding that the NFL is a young man’s game, the idea that the New York Jets might be too old needs to be discussed.
By Robby Sabo
2015 was the quintessential New York Jets season.
After witnessing first-year general manager Mike Maccagnan spend like a drunken sailor during the offseason – seemingly erasing the hilarious cap space John Idzik created by failing to sign players – the Jets surprised everybody.
Finishing 10-6 above the likes of August darlings such as the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills, was highly unexpected.
Missing the postseason at 10-6 is why the season was so Jet-like.
Leave it to the Jets to shock the world by seemingly coming out of nowhere, just to have it fall short on a dreadful winter day in Orchard Park.
What’s worse is there are many reasons why missing the tournament in 2015 was crucially painful.
For one, the Jets faced a cake schedule. They were fortunate enough – just like the other three teams in the AFC East – to play the cupcakes in the NFC East and the AFC South. This setup brought eight easy games against easily the worst two divisions in the league. The AFC South featured a division champ who finished 9-7 (Houston Texans). The NFC East’s mighty squad also finished 9-7 (Washington Redskins).
More importantly, missing the playoffs was tough considering how locked-in these Jets are in committing to win now.
Make no mistake about it, these Jets are a win-now team, as they possess an extremely veteran-laced roster.
Heading into 2016, the only question more important than what’s going to happen with Ryan Fitzpatrick and the QB position, revolves around their age.
Is this roster too old to contend in 2016?
When thinking about Gang Green’s best players, most are near or over the age of 30. This number is a magic mark in the NFL.
This isn’t baseball. Athletes in the NFL don’t usually see raging success past the age of 30. Rarely do they have a regular Sunday party well into their 30s.
Jets Older Top Players:
- Nick Mangold, C, 32
- Brandon Marshall, WR, 32
- David Harris, ILB, 32
- Darrelle Revis, CB, 30
- Matt Forte, RB, 30
- Breno Giacomini, RT, 30
- Eric Decker, WR, 29
- Ryan Clady, LT, 29
This list is startling considering these are the best talents the Jets have to offer.
Fitzpatrick is 33 years old, but isn’t on the roster. Regardless, the QB is one of the few positions in which age doesn’t matter much.
Other Jets top players include Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams, James Carpenter, Calvin Pryor, and Darron Lee (depending on how quickly he splashes onto the scene). None of these players are over 27. Only one, Carpenter, is over 26.
Unless you’re completely unwilling to see it, the top players on this roster are all older.
Keeping it in perspective, though, this age shouldn’t hurt the Jets too much. Of all the candidates over 30, none seem to have a down year coming in the 2016 forecast.
Brandon Marshall wasn’t just good last year, he was a flat-out stud catching 109 balls for 1,502 yards and a career high 14 touchdowns. The only way B-Marsh will fall off the face of the Earth is if the QB situation reverts back to the mess it always was pre-2015.
Nick Mangold, until proven otherwise, is one of the best centers in the league. A one year difference shouldn’t change that.
We, just like the rest of the league, already know Darrelle Revis isn’t the same guy who locked down stud weapons during his first stint in New York. Todd Bowles and company will make that adjustment even further in 2016.
The main culprit in seeing production slide comes at the inside linebacker position with David Harris. However, the Jets are ready for it. That’s the important matter.
While Harris can thump with the best of them in the run game, he’s always been a sub-par coverage linebacker. With the addition of rookie Darron Lee, Jets fans will luckily be void of seeing Harris get torched continuously by the likes of Tom Brady.
Mikey Mac and Bowles made it so we won’t be able to witness Harris decline because of age.
Newly-acquired Matt Forte is the other candidate to worry about. Considering 2015 was probably his worst statistical output in his career, and the running-back position is never kind to players over 30. He, along with Harris, are the situations to look out for.
Even with all of those question marks, this age won’t be a factor when it comes to contending.
For the Jets to contend in 2016, they’ll need more than a few bumps in production from their young guys. They’ll need development to be the keyword should they have any designs of unseating the unseatable in the New England Patriots.
They’ll need a major bump in production from a guy like Devin Smith, just as we saw from Calvin Pryor a year ago. They’ll need a Brian Winters to improve upon his less than stellar pass protection. They’ll need Jace Amaro to stay on the field and provide the QB with a soft place to land against linebackers in the passing game.
Without that development, it won’t matter if a couple veteran players fall off.
If Marshall, Forte and/or Mangold fall off the face of the Earth, it’ll hurt. There’s no question about that. It won’t matter much as it relates to truly contending. Luckily, though, there’s no evidence it’ll happen.
Their age won’t stop them from competing and possibly contending in 2016. Their lack of development (if it goes down that way), will.