Mailbag: The future of the Jets’ offense


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Is the Powell-Ivory combination one the Jets should keep together for 2014?
– Rob, (Hoboken, NJ)

Inflexibility is never a good attribute for a front office to have. If the Jets can improve, go for it. Neither Chris Ivory nor Bilal Powell is quite good enough to stubbornly stick with no matter the situation. But that being said, Powell and Ivory make up a running-back combination that could be more than serviceable heading into next season and if the Jets don’t have any better options (either talent-wise or financially), keeping the duo together wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

This past season, the two backs combined for 1,530 yards on a respectable 4.3 yards a carry. They can both be overpowering at times, though Ivory is clearly the more powerful and physical runner. Actually, their styles can be relatively similar. Both Ivory and Powell are north-south runners. They’re not moving laterally all too much.

That’s a fine way to run. It’s an effective one, especially for Ivory, who ran for 699 yards in his final nine games of the season, but the Jets may want to look into finding another change-of-pace back to add to the mix. This year, that guy was supposed to be Mike Goodson, but – between legal issues and injuries – that was never going to work out in New York. So the Jets stuck with a similarly paired and sometimes-reduntant combination of Ivory and Powell.

Even though their two styles don’t play off each other intuitively, the running game worked and worked relatively effectively. The Jets could absolutely hold onto both backs for next season and it could absolutely be the right decision, but if that do they, they’ll ultimately need to bring in a third running back to fill the role Goodson was supposed to fill in 2013. If that third back is an effective one, the Jets could have a well above-average running game next season.

What does Geno Smith have to improve on most for next season?
– Brandon, (New York, NY)

Excelling in the short passing game. If the Jets do decide to bring Smith back as their starting quarterback in 2014, there needs to be some sort of systematic change in the offense. Naturally, we’re going to see that happen just from a quarterback’s progression from his rookie year into his second one. Still though, the Jets consciously need to monitor Smith’s offseason progression.

So what are some things we learned about Smith this season? He has a strong arm. He can get the ball down the field. He’s not the best decision maker. If a defense forces him to improvise, he’s physically capable of doing so, but not always mentally capable of reading the secondary correctly. Mentally, Smith may be better in a system that allows for quick, predetermined, accurate passes. Physically, though, going down the field is his game. So what does he have to do? He has to improve at least one of those weaknesses so that a mental strength can match up with a physical one.

Take a look at Smith’s pass chart breakdown from 2013:

(Courtesy of

It really does tell the story of Smith’s season. In all the short-throw zones, he is well below league average. When he throws the ball 10-or-more yards down the field, though, it’s a different story. Smith was actually productive in the long game. But in the future, it’ll be even harder for him to get those long tosses off if he can’t complete the short ones to set up those down-the-field throws.

Fred Katz is the managing editor of all things Jets at His work has appeared on ESPN’s TrueHoop Network, Bleacher Report, and RotoWire. Follow him on Twitter at @FredKatz or contact him at

To read some of the dumber Mark Sanchez tweets of the week, click here.

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