The Jets are definitely an improved football team heading into the 2014 season. There are several reasons to be optimistic the team will take a step forward this year. These reasons include the following:
Improved QB play - Geno Smith is immensely talented, but he clearly needed time to transition form the style of offense he ran in college to the style of offense he is being asked to run in the NFL. Ideally, he would have sat at least part of the 2013 to learn and develop as he transitioned into a starting role. We all know how that went though. The good thing is that he now has a full season as a starter under his belt. He gained valuable experience, and he clearly got better as the season went on. I expect his development to continue. If for whatever reason he should falter however, or even if he misses time due to injury, the fallback options are no longer the likes of Greg McElroy and Matt Simms.
Improved Skill Position Players - Those who were expecting the Jets to improve the talent at the offensive skill positions cannot be disappointed. Eric Decker, Chris Johnson, Jace Amaro, Jalen Saunders, and Shaq Evans should all contribute to some extent. Jeremy Kerley is rock-solid and reliable, and now he has some help. Also, look out for big contributions form David Nelson who I think is criminally underrated.
Defense, Defense, Defense - Yes, there are some questions about the secondary. This front seven is one of the best in the entire NFL, however, and while the secondary is young and largely unproven, it is a VERY talented group. Dee milliner seemed to finally begin to put things together down the stretch last season, and I truly believe he has the talent and skill-set to be a top cover corner which is exactly what this defense needs. Add Cal Pryor to the mix and I believe there is reason for optimism. The key is that they need to put pressure on opposing QB's (a healthy Antwan Barnes should help), and create turnovers. One of the main reasons the Jets managed to go 8-8 last season is because the defense kept them in games many people thought they had no chance to win. This year's defense should be even better than last year's. Despite the question marks, I think this defense has the potential to be an elite unit in 2014.