Few teams were more aggressive this offseason than the New York Jets. They brought in a list of stars including Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall as well as a new coaching staff headed by former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. In addition to exciting the fan base, the moves made Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson very bullish on his team's potential.
"We strongly feel like we're going to be the top defense in the league," Richardson said during an interview on the Jets' website via NJ.com. "And [the] top team in the league, not just defense."
Richardson is part of a talented defensive line that also includes All-Pro Muhammad Wilkerson. Behind them is a veteran linebacker group that features the re-signed David Harris and emerging fourth-year player Demario Davis. The secondary has been almost completely revamped, with Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine taking over at cornerback along with newly signed safety Marcus Gilchrist.
Richardson is most excited about the new-look secondary, which was the weakest part of the Jets' defense a year ago. "It'll be a lot more coverage sacks, I'll put it like that," he said. Richardson is particularly happy to see Revis return after a two-year absence from the team. "My rookie year, [Revis'] first [four or five] games, that was the film I was watching," he said. "And I've never seen a man on one side of the field like that, no matter who they think they are." Richardson also sees Harris' return at inside linebacker as crucial to the team's success, explaining that it saved the team from having to break in a rookie at the position.
But defense hasn't been the Jets' biggest problem in recent years. The offense, with poor protection and no clear answer at the quarterback position, has held the team back from becoming a title contender.
On that side of the ball, the Jets invested in guard James Carpenter, traded for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and swapped out Percy Harvin for Marshall. Marshall provides the Jets with their first bona fide No. 1 receiver in years while Fitzpatrick is a steady hand at the most important position in the game.
That doesn't mean the Jets are done addressing the offense. Last week, Bowles mentioned that the team is looking for another quarterback to compete with the trio of Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Matt Simms. The team currently holds the No. 6 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, and it wouldn't take too much to trade up for Oregon signal caller Marcus Mariota.
But Richardson remains optimistic regardless of who starts the season under center. "This is going to be a great season," Richardson said. "I strongly feel like this is going to be a great season for us."