Training camp starts next week, and with off-season additions just about complete and rosters almost set, we preview the opponents the San Diego Chargers will be facing this season. Each team has made different moves in order to improve their roster, and this series will help you become more familiar with each opponent.
In other words, KNOW YOUR ENEMY...
The 2013 New York Jets finished with a better record than many expected, even with a rookie QB in Geno Smith. Their Head Coach Rex Ryan had his job in question to start the year, after missing the play-offs the previous two years, along with a new General Manager in John Idzik, but was eventually granted a contract extension back in January. Even though their offense ranked 29th in points scored and 25th in total yards, the defense managed to finish 11th in total yards allowed and 9th against the run, according to Pro Football Reference.
Offensively, the Jets biggest question for this season is whether Smith can be the QB of the future for this franchise. After throwing for 3046 yards and 12 TD's, to go along with 21 interceptions and 8 fumbles, an improvement from him and his 55.8% completion percentage is needed if the Jets look to get better on this side of the ball. With all the additions on offense, the pressure will now be on Smith to succeed, otherwise, we might see a different signal-caller under center once this match-up comes around.
Defensively, this unit will once again be strong against the run, with Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson both wreaking havoc upfront. Dee Milliner struggled to start his rookie year, but had a strong second-half, and with Antonio Cromartie gone, a bigger second year from him will be needed, considering the lack of depth behind him, along with the less-than-desirable pass-rush that Rex Ryan has to operate with.
Additions: Eric Decker, Chris Johnson, Breno Giacomini, Michael Vick
Losses: Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes
The Jets made a push to improve the offense, going out and signing Decker to a big deal, and now he will be a focal point of this unit. Bringing in the former Seahawk, Giacomini, should also help stabilize the line. Vick will be backing up Geno Smith, however, if Smith happens to endure a sophomore-slump, Vick will be ready to take the reigns of this offense. Re-signing Calvin Pace seemed a priority, after recording 10 sacks last year, however he's entering his 12th season, and it's the first time he's reached double-digit sacks in his career.
18. Calvin Pryor S Louisville
49. Jace Amaro TE Texas Tech
80. Dexter McDougle CB Maryland
104. Jalen Saunders WR Oklahoma
115. Shaquelle Evans WR UCLA
137. Dakota Dozier G Furman
154. Jeremiah George LB Iowa State
195. Brandon Dixon CB Missouri State
209. Quincy Enunwa WR Nebraska
210. IK Enemkpali DE Louisiana Tech
213. Tajh Boyd QB Clemson
233. Trevor Reilly OLB Utah
Drafting Pryor fills an immediate need for the Jets, who currently roster Dawan Landry at safety, and no one else of mention, so adding this ball-hawking safety will help create some turnovers. Drafting four different pass catchers to add to the stable will help, with Amaro the most likely to make an impact in the receiving corps. The 12 draft picks the Jets had this year will help create competition at a lot of different positions that improvement is needed, however, with a question still at QB, this offense is not poised to draw attention.
This match-up is one, that historically, favors the Chargers, with San Diego leading the all-time series 21-14-1, however, the Jets are 2-1 against the Bolts since Ryan took over as coach in 2009, while Philip Rivers is 2-2 against them in his career.
The Jets defense fell out of the top 10 last year, specifically due to their lack-luster secondary, which ranked 22nd in passing yards allowed last year. Add in a pass-rush that is banking on a repeat performance from Pace, and an improvement from their 2012 first-round pick, Quinton Coples, their secondary might have another tough start to the season.
With the Jets ability to stop the run and force teams to rely on the pass, the key to this game could be how the offensive line performs. If the Chargers can find a way to stop the Jets pass-rush, while allowing the Rivers to attack the secondary, the Bolts passing attack could have a productive day.
The biggest question regarding this game is who will be playing QB for the Jets. Training camp should settle who starts the year, but if the offense happens to struggle, there might be a different one under center come week 5. If that's the case, Rex Ryan and John Idzik might be asking themselves this exact question next year.