5. Contract extension for Nick Folk
K Nick Folk deserved a pay raise in 2014. The Jets would have been at best a 5-11 team in 2014 if he had not set franchise records for Game Winning FGs and accuracy. But to offer him a long-term deal instead of giving him a one-year franchise tag was a bad move that may come to bite the Jets.
There are certain positions that are not worth investing long-term in because there will always be someone younger, cheaper, and (often enough) better than the guy you have – and FG Kicker is the main one. Folk’s FG% with the Jets is only 81.1% – one of the lowest in the league today. Without his great 2013 season, that number drops to 76.9% – an unacceptable number in the league.
Folk’s value comes from his ability to make a game-winning kick is second to very few in football, but outside of that he statistically is one of the worst kickers in the NFL. And in a league where every FG can be difference between gaining momentum and losing it, Folk is not the person the Jets should have invested their hopes with.
4. Replacing Austin Howard with Breno Giacomini
The old saying “Going with the devil you know over the devil you don’t know” applies to the Jets Right Tackle position moreso than any other they addressed in free agency.
Austin Howard was very effective as the team’s starting RT from 2012 to 2013. Former Seahawks RT Breno Giacomini was about the same but on a much better overall offensive line. Instead of offering Howard money similar to what Oakland offered, the Jets let Howard walk and instead signed Breno for cheap.
The Jets already knew exactly what Howard was capable of as a member of the offensive line. Breno joins as a relatively unknown commodity who certainly does not look like he can exceed what Howard was able to do as a starting RT.
The Jets will regret swapping Howard for Breno – especially against the Mario Williams of the Buffalo Bills, who Howard blanked for four straight games.
3. Over-reaching for Dexter McDougle in the 2014 Draft
Without passing judgment on Maryland CB Dexter McDougle’s resume or abilities as an NFL CB, the Jets will likely regret taking him with the 80th overall pick when the following players were still on the board: Phillip Gaines (considered a much better CB prospect than McDougle), Guard Gabe Jackson, DT Louis Nix, WR Donte Moncrief and RB/WR Dri Archer.
While McDougle may be a viably starter in the NFL – if he can stay healthy – all of the other players mentioned before have far more starter potential and athletic ability, and all at positions of great need for the Jets.
The Jets over-reached on McDougle and considering that he may now be only the 4th best CB on the team (behind Dee Milliner, Dimitri Patterson and Darrin Walls), the Jets may regret this move sooner rather than later.
2. Only taking Eric Decker as their big receiving target in free agency
Eric Decker may have been the best free agent WR available, but the Jets had plenty of cap space after cutting Mark Sanchez, Antonio Cromartie and Santonio Holmes to get one other receiver who could make a big impact on the offense. Desean Jackson was one, Emmanuel Sanders, Hakeem Nicks and even James Jones were others – but instead the Jets went small and signed Jacoby Ford, a speedster who specializes more on returning kicks than catching passes.
The Jets wanted to do everything in their power to make sure their QB in 2014 – be it Geno Smith or Michael Vick – had all of the tools to succeed. It is hard to see that they did considering how few proven starters the team has now.
1. Not pursuing a better, young CB in free agency
To say that Dee Milliner is not ready to be starting NFL CB would be unfair. Despite his struggles in his rookie year he finished very strong, recording 3 INTs in the last two weeks of the season and earning Defensive Rookie of the Month honors in December. But the Jets whiffed terribly in free agency despite having over $20 million in cap space by not spending a little more money to get a top flight free agent corner like Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, Brandon Browner, Alterraun Verner and of course their former All-World superstar Darrelle Revis.
Now the Jets starting CBs are expected to be 2nd year Dee Milliner and frequently injured veteran Dimitri Patterson – who has not played a 16 game season since 2010. If the Jets had acquired one of those great cover corners – for a price that most likely would not have broken the bank in 2014 and beyond – the Jets defense would be much more credible than it is now.
The Jets had 3 games where the team allowed over 300 yards passing in 2013 (the most in any year with Rex Ryan as head coach) and need to get that passing defense to perform like it did from 2009 to 2010 in order for the team to have any chance at returning to the playoffs. A Milliner and Patterson CB tandem doesn’t look like it can get it done.