New York Jets 2010 Season Preview: Can Sanchez Succeed as a Sophomore?
For a team that was close to the Super Bowl last season, the New York Jets sure made a lot of high-profile additions in the offseason. They added LaDainian Tomlinson, Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie and Jason Taylor, in hopes that these veterans will give the Jets the needed spark to get over that last hump and into the league's title game.
Offense -- As a rookie, quarterback Mark Sanchez did exactly what he was supposed to do: limit mistakes and learn on the fly. He was a serviceable quarterback who will definitely see his playbook expanded in the 2010 season. If he can continue to keep his mistakes at a minimum, this Jets offense will take a much-needed step forward. After the Jets finished with the most rushing yards of any team in the league last year, they dumped Thomas Jones, who's now with Kansas City. Shonn Greene remains, and he is joined by Tomlinson, who should offer veteran leadership and provide Greene some support. The Jets knew they needed help at wide receiver, which is why they were willing to take a chance on Holmes, even though he'll miss the first four games because of a drug suspension. Braylon Edwards will hold things together until Holmes can return, but expect Sanchez to focus on tight end Dustin Keller quite a bit. Heat Index: 7
Defense -- The contract dispute between the Jets and Darrelle Revis continues to be a sideshow, to say the least. Assuming the team can get him signed, the defensive backfield could once again be considered among the best in the business. The linebackers -- already aging and declining -- were joined by the36-year-old Taylor, who could help with the pass rush, though he may have to step into a starting role in place of injured LB Calvin Pace. And as nice as it is to welcome Kris Jenkins back to the fold, the defensive line is also aging and has injury concerns. Head coach Rex Ryan will have his hands full just keeping the defense upright and on the field. if it can stay away from injuries, this unit can be good. If it can't, it could get ugly. Heat Index: 7
Special Teams -- When Nick Folk signed to replace Jay Feely as the kicker, even the coaching staff had its doubts. Folk followed up a great 2008 season with a horrible, injury-plagued 2009, but he says that's all in the past. He did nothing to garner respect and support by stinking up the place in minicamp and OTAs, but a strong training camp helped Folk get Ryan on his side. Ryan feels that Folk is back to Pro-Bowl form -- just know that he's already missed an extra point and two of nine field goals in three preseason games. The return game is still an area of question for the Jets. Anyone from Brad Smith to Joe McKnight to Kyle Wilson could handle the duties. Heat Index: 7
Coaching -- The Jets like to run the ball first, Ryan calls this "Ground and Pound." But he'll have his hands full maintaining this mantra while opening up the playbook for second-year quarterback Sanchez. Ryan has two extremely capable coordinators in Brian Schottenheimer (offense) and Mike Pettine (defense). Schottenheimer's job has already been laid out: keep Sanchez on the right track. Pettine has to maintain an aging defensive front seven and complement his head coach -- a defensive mind, to say the least -- any way he can. Heat Index: 10
Intangibles -- The Jets added an incredible talent in Wilson, a cornerback from Boise State. He's not going to start, but will (hopefully for the Jets) have access to one of the best shutdown corners in the game, Revis, to learn from, until he's on the field full-time. The biggest non-personnel decision in the offseason -- and it's a decision that has sparked much conversation -- was welcoming HBO's "Hard Knocks" to camp. Do we really want to see this much of Rex Ryan's persona? Heat Index: 7
Total Heat Index: 38/50 -- A lot could go right for the Jets this year. If the defense stays healthy and Sanchez can build on his rookie campaign, the team will make another deep playoff run. But, there is also a chance the wheels can come off of this bus. A few bad breaks -- both literally and figuratively -- could cripple the hopes of "the other" New York football team.