Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
In 2017, the Jets outperformed most preseason projections, many of which considered them to be the league's worst team with some even suggesting they'd be historically bad on offense, and would struggle to win a game as a result.
Although the season ended with a whimper after Josh McCown's season ending hand injury in December, the Jets still won five games. Even so, they found themselves last in the AFC East for the second straight year.
With New England dominant as usual at 14-2 and the Bills finally breaking their playoff drought with their first postseason appearance since 1999, the Jets have plenty of ground to make up. However, they were only one game behind the third-placed Miami Dolphins.
With all the moves they've made, the Jets must have significantly upgraded their roster since they were the subject of such scorn and ridicule 12 months ago. However, holes are still apparent, and they are still going to be forced to rely on players who they perhaps can't count on being able to contribute all season due to injury concerns, off-field issues, or inexperience.
So, where are they improved and have they made any ground on the rest of the division? Taking a look at the depth chart, the obvious places where they should be better are in the secondary, and on the offensive line.
In the defensive backfield, the addition of Trumaine Johnson provides an immediate upgrade at cornerback, and the Jets will be hoping that safeties Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams can build on a promising rookie season together. Even so, the Jets were still apparently also in the mix for EJ Gaines and Tyrann Mathieu, so perhaps they aren't satisfied yet.
Bringing in Spencer Long enables the Jets to replace their apparent weakest link from 2017 - center Wesley Johnson - which the team will hope has a knock-on effect on the rest of the line. Both guards struggled last year, but the team will be hoping that they perform better with the more experienced Long in between them. This is especially true for Brian Winters, who was struggling with an injury most of the season.
While adding Long doesn't represent the wholesale changes many hoped to see on the offensive line, it should be a more effective group than last season with him in the mix.
Other than those two areas, what the Jets have done is add security in terms of their skill positions to hopefully ensure those units perform at least as well as they did in 2017. Signing Terrelle Pryor and Isaiah Crowell adds depth as a hedge against players missing time through injury or legal issues, and means they don't have to rely on young, inexperienced players to step up. Bringing back McCown and upgrading the backup position with Teddy Bridgewater is another example of the team securing a more favorable situation than last year, regardless of what happens in the draft.
The team could still benefit from adding a veteran starter at defensive end, tight end, and in the rush linebacker position. But these are moves which might be addressed if some veterans are made available after the draft.
Any comparison with the rest of the division is always going to start by looking up at the Patriots. They've lost several key contributors, including Nate Solder, Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis. However, given their history with getting contributions from unheralded players, you can probably expect new signings Jeremy Hill, Adrian Clayborn and Danny Shelton to step up.
Although Tom Brady is another year older with reports of cracks starting to appear in the organization infrastructure, the Patriots look to be the team to beat, as usual. Still, the Jets played them tough at Metlife Stadium last year, so they'll be hungry to take that next step.
Of course, LeSean McCoy and Cameron Wake are also a year older, which could factor equally into the other AFC East teams' chances.
Buffalo replaced Tyrod Taylor with AJ McCarron, and also lost their best offensive lineman in Cordy Glenn. However, they shored up their front seven with Star Lotulelei and Trent Murphy, and have options in the uncoming draft - including the possibility of leap-frogging the Jets to acquire the No. 2 pick. They have their own concerns about a key receiver after Zay Jones' apparent meltdown last week though.
Miami seems to be positioning themselves for a rebuild after the departures of Ndamukong Suh, Mike Pouncey, and Jarvis Landry. Robert Quinn should give them a formidable option across from Wake, but the additions of a few veteran linemen and receivers, highlighted by Josh Sitton and Albert Wilson seems unlikely to offset the talent they've lost.