The opening kickoff of the 2015-2016 NFL is just a few weeks away and my two favorite teams, the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings, have some very exciting pieces.
The Jets are looking to rebound from a four-win season in 2014-2015. I would say that they are off to a good start, but Geno Smith got his jaw smashed in by a former teammate over $600. Some players say he deserved it, but I say that the act of a third-string linebacker breaking the jaw of the team’s starting quarterback is repulsive.
Despite that, the Jets added and brought back a lot of new faces — Brandon Marshall (trade), Darrelle Revis (free agency), Antonio Cromartie (free agency), Leonard Williams (draft), Buster Skrine (free agency), and Devin Smith (draft).
Rex Ryan is gone, and I have to say I am happy about that. I was getting tired of his act. His replacement is Todd Bowles, a level-headed, nose-to-the-grindstone type of coach who prides himself on getting things accomplished and improving every single day.
I’m disappointed with Sheldon Richardson. Not only will he miss the first four games of the season, but he might also be suspended for the entire season for his most recent run-in with the law after he was caught going 143 miles per hour with a 12-year old in the car, a loaded gun, and marijuana. Come on, man. Are you that dumb? It’s a good thing the Jets drafted Williams because he figures to see a lot more playing time now.
I’m very excited to see that defensive line go to work. Between Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, and Williams along with the versatility that Quinton Coples brings, the defense should be one of the best in the NFL behind Bowles, the former Arizona Cardinals’ defensive coordinator.
I still have my concerns about the offense. Even though Smith isn’t the best quarterback, I was excited to see how he would fair with Marshall, Eric Decker and tight end Jason Amaro, who I think, is going to have a big season.
The Jets’ schedule isn’t too tough, in my opinion. I could see the Jets winning 8-9 games this season, which is clearly a significant improvement from last season.
Now, to the hometown 11. There is a lot of excitement around the Vikings this season. The growth of Teddy Bridgewater last year was a lot of fun to watch. With Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph back, and the prized addition of Mike Wallace, Bridgewater should be even more effective this year.
Mike Zimmer did wonders with the defense in his first year. Anthony Barr was fabulous in his rookie season, but an injury kept him out of the last few games of the season.
Cornerback Trae Waynes was the Vikings’ top draft pick in the 2015 draft. However, it might be difficult for him to get consistent playing time with Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman, Captain Munnerlyn, and Marcus Sherels. However, Waynes’ aggressiveness is something that Zimmer loves so he might crack the rotation sooner than people think.
The defensive line should be solid with Everson Griffin, Sharrif Floyd, and Linval Joseph patrolling the trenches. The linebacker position has a lot of depth besides Barr. Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges, and rookie Eric Kendricks can all be moved around and all will see playing time as Zimmer plans on shuffling through a lot of players. I want to see this defense force more turnovers this season.
The offense should be more explosive with the return of Peterson and Rudolph. The deep-threat of Wallace should help Bridgewater stretch the field. There has been a lot of hype around Charles Johnson this offseason. He played in 12 games last season and caught 31 passes for 475 yards and two touchdowns. He could emerge as a solid No. 2 receiver. Lost in all of this is Cordarrelle Patterson. I expect him to have a rebound season, due in part to the return of the other offensive weapons. He was extremely disappointing last season. Jarious Wright and Stefon Diggs will also be in the mix at receiver.
Looking at the Vikings’ schedule, I think the Vikings are good for nine victories. Achieving 10 victories, or even 11, isn’t out of the question. However, the offense will have to be explosive and the defense will have to hold up, which I think it will (the defense, I mean).
It will be an interesting football season and I can’t wait for it to get started.