Earlier this week ESPN.com released its offseason NFL Power Rankings. The New England Patriots, as expected, were the highest-rated team in the AFC East at No. 5. But the rest of the division was abysmal.
Perhaps what was most interesting is the New York Jets were ranked No. 31 by our ESPN.com panel. Two voters -- Mike Sando of the NFC West blog and Dan Graziano of the NFC East blog -- voted the Jets dead last, the worst team in the NFL.
"I ranked the Jets last because there's such a malaise surrounding the team right now," Sando explained. "The head coach and quarterback are usually the two most important people when it comes to on-field success. Rex Ryan has entered lame-duck status. Mark Sanchez isn't the answer at quarterback, but the Jets are stuck with him. Darrelle Revis, the most important player on defense, isn't healthy or happy. I don't know if the Jets are really the absolute worst team in the NFL, but there might not be any teams' situations I feel worse about."
Are the Jets really that bad? The only team rated worst overall in ESPN.com's Power Rankings was the Jacksonville Jaguars.
New York’s biggest issue is it continues to tear down its roster from last year’s 6-10 team. The Jets have lost at least a half-dozen starters to cuts and free agency, including tight end Dustin Keller, tailback Shonn Greene, safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell and linebackers Bart Scott and Calvin Pace. New York has a tight salary cap and is trying to replace those players with bargain-basement options.
The quarterback issue, as Sando mentioned, also carries a lot of weight. With Mark Sanchez competing with David Garrard, New York has one of the NFL’s worst quarterback situations. Of course, that could improve during free agency and in the upcoming draft.
Finally, there is the Darrelle Revis factor. The Jets claim they are not shopping Revis, but most do not expect him to play for them in 2013. Revis will be an unrestricted free agent next year and the Jets probably can’t afford him. It would be wise for New York to get something for Revis now to boost its rebuilding effort. Even with Revis, the Jets will probably project to have another losing season.
This is the first and hardest year of New York’s rebuilding effort. Things are going to get worse for the Jets before they get better.