Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My 2012 New York Jets Preview

They’re the most talked about team in NFL training camp history.

They have a brash head coach who could care less about what his critics think of him. They have a wide receiver that thinks he’s the offensive coordinator. They have one quarterback who led the league in turnovers last season and they have another quarterback that finished with the worst QBR in the league.

They are the New York Jets.

Yes, they can be called a circus. They have become the team that every fan loves to hate and in a way, they are like the New York Yankees, only not nearly as good. But, like the Yankees, every fan loves to see them fail and the Jets thrive on it.

Most teams take the mold of their head coach and Rex Ryan happens to be the cockiest coach in all of football. He guarantees his team is going to win it all every year. He expects it, and he expects his team to expect it and if they don’t expect it, they’re going to start expecting it or be expected to leave.

Santonio Holmes isn’t one of those players that goes about his business and keeps his mouth shut. There’s always a Keyshawn Johnson on an offense struggling to score through the air and Holmes is the Jets’ 2012 version of Keyshawn.

Holmes is a great player, but it’s never good when Rex Ryan is telling everybody on SportCenter’s Sunday Conversation that he didn’t bring Santonio Holmes in to be an offensive coordinator.

And if all of the Jets’ off-the field issues weren’t enough, they went out and signed him…

I thought to myself there’s no way it can be true. I knew it was between the Jets and the Jaguars, but thought that Jacksonville was too perfect for him and it was almost certain that was where he would be traded.

Plus I didn’t think the Jets would want to take on the media circus. They are already scrutinized because of the city the play in, there’s no way they would want to get involved with even more.

Then I found out it was true. The Jets signed the immortal Timothy Richard Tebow.

Now first thing’s first. Tim Tebow is nowhere near the quarterback Mark Sanchez is.

Mark Sanchez is the starting signal caller for the Jets, period. Tebow is a great football player. There’s no doubting that he is a winner and any organization should want him on its team.  However, he hasn’t proven that he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL for a long period of time. He’s proven he can make plays, but there’s more to the position than holding the ball for five seconds and breaking off for a 20-yard gain.

Although Tebow isn’t the starting quarterback, he is definitely going to be a huge part in new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s offense.

Sparano is perfect for both Sanchez and Tebow. His offense is based around play-action and Sanchez is one of the best in the game in that category. Sparano is also known as the inventor of the wildcat offense, an offense perfect for Tebow. It was almost genius to bring in both Tebow and Sparano and put them both around Sanchez. The three are perfect for each other.

The Jets have talent around the quarterback position as well. Holmes is a big-time playmaker and tight end, Dustin Keller, has proven to be Sanchez’s go-to guy in the middle of the field.

New York also has talent on the offensive line and in the backfield. Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson are two of the best offensive linemen in the game. Mangold is the perennial pick as the center for the All-Pro Team and Ferguson has been to multiple Pro-Bowls.

Shonn Greene will be the featured back in an offense built for a running back with his size and agility. He’s a mini version of Ronnie Brown before he got hurt and had to have a gimmick offense built around him.  He will have to pick up more of the load without L.T. taking carries too, but if he stays healthy he could have breakout year.

Now let’s talk about that physical Rex Ryan defense.

As a Jets fan, and one of the few in Oklahoma I might add, Rex has become one of my favorite figures in all of sports. I love his ‘I’m going to win and I’m going to tell you I’m going to win before I win’ attitude. Most of all I love what he has brought to the Jets’ defense.

His defense is based around confusing offenses and hiding a number of blitz packages that he created coming up under his dad, Buddy Ryan.

It’s deceptive. Are they going to blitz or are they going to fall back? I know that’s a question quarterbacks face with any defense. However, this defense is different. This defense only gives you one half of the field.

Revis Island…

Yes, those are cricket sounds.

Darrelle Revis is arguably the best defensive player in the game. Defense is simple. The best players on the defensive side of the ball are either pass rushers or defensive backs. It’s hard to judge whether Revis is better than DeMarcus Ware because they play two different positions. Revis is unlike any defensive player however. He takes away an entire half of the field. He’s the best cover corner in the game, but what makes him good is his ability to see the ball coming without seeing the ball coming. Quarterbacks rarely flirt with Revis Island because they know that one small mistake could lead to six points for New York.

That’s enough about my love for Revis Island. The Jets have other defensive players that can make an impact this year.

Linebacker David Harris is one of the best in the AFC. He’s as solid as they come. He’s a silent, lead by example leader, which is good because his running mate, Bart Scott, loves to talk trash. Scott is getting up there in age, but he’s a leader and has been through it all with Rex Ryan.

Kendrick Ellis and Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets’ young defensive linemen, will have to step up in a big way this season. They will be looked upon to stop the run, something the Jets have to improve on. Aaron Maybin is also something the Jets can throw at a team. He finally proved why he was a top draft pick out of Penn State. He is the pass rush that could be deadly for the Jets with Revis Island lurking in the backfield.

The AFC East is one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. The Patriots are the best team in the conference, proving that year after year with “Mr. Perfect”, Tom Brady and the cold dark scientist, Bill Belichick.

The Bills and Dolphins won’t be terrible this season either. In fact, the Bills should be a playoff contender. The Dolphins are obviously rebuilding, but they always give the Jets problems.

Outside of the East there are 9-10 teams that will contend for five spots in the AFC playoffs.

The Broncos, Chiefs, Chargers and Raiders are going to put on show in the AFC West. There’s no telling how that’s going to pan out.

The Texans and Titans are the only playoff contenders in the AFC South and it’s almost a lock that Houston will win the division.

The AFC North is as tough as it gets. The Steelers are always going to contend for the playoffs with Big Ben. The Bengals proved last year that they can play with anybody and the Ravens might be the AFC favorite to win the Super Bowl. That is of course, behind Mr. Perfect’s Patriots.

The Jets should finish second in the AFC East. They’re not in New England’s class, but they should be a little better than Buffalo. It’s going to take at least nine wins to get into the playoffs and the Jets’ schedule is very favorable.

New York plays the AFC South and NFC West, the two weakest divisions in the NFL. The NFC West has one playoff contender (San Francisco) and the AFC South has one team that can make a serious run at the Super Bowl (Houston).

There’s another aspect to the Jets’ schedule that could make things exciting at the end of the season. Their last three games are against three teams that should be battling for playoff spots: Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo. After two should-win games against Arizona and Jacksonville, the Jets should control their own destiny down the stretch.

It’s not going to be easy, but the Jets are going to be right there at the end of the season. Mark Sanchez is going to have a breakout year and the offense is going to be the best it has been under Rex Ryan. Ryan’s defense is going to be as solid as ever and with one of the easier schedules in the league in front of them, they should walk to the playoffs.

But it’s the New York Jets.

They’re not walking anywhere.

They will be a Wild Card contender, but as they proved in the 2010 and 2011 playoffs, they can get it done. Run the ball and play defense. It’s still the key to success in the NFL’s postseason and the Jets are primed and ready to start the ignition.

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