View Full Version : Offseason Primer: New York Jets

01-08-2008, 11:02 PM
As it tends to be with the bottom rungs of the NFL, quarterback is the question. Kellen Clemens has all of the tools, a big arm and good size the strongest of the two. But can he make the developments he needs to make to be a solid NFL quarterback? The stats in 2007 were badÖa 60.9 quarterback rating and five touchdowns to 10 interceptions. But next year is Clemensí year. The Jets are probably going to cut ties with Chad Pennington and will look to trade him, leaving the door finally fully open for Manginiís quarterback: Clemens.

Of course, the big rumor swirling is that Pennington could head to Kansas City to reunite with Herm Edwards. Weíll have to see, but I would expect that the Jets will try to ship Pennington out before the season starts.

Last offseason, the Jets signed Thomas Jones, who was coming off a huge year for the Chicago Bears on their run to the Super Bowl. He was less effective in a Jets uniform, but he still ran for 1,119 yards. The problem is, he only had one touchdown, his worst touchdown output in his entire career (He even had two as a rookie). The Jets really need to find a way to get him into the endzone. Leon Washington is a serviceable backup, but thatís what he is, a back up. If Jones were to go down, I donít think Washington could carry the load for more than a few games. Joe Kowalewski is a big, physical fullback that led the way for Jones this season, and most likely will next season, as well.

The Jets need some help at wide receiver, and sitting at No. 6 in the draft, donít be surprised if they grab Limas Sweed. Sweed is exactly what this team needs. At 6-5, 219, heís a big, possession receiver that the Jets havenít had since Keyshawn Johnson. Jerricho Cotchery is a solid receiver, but I donít think heís a No. 1 in this league. Laveraneus Coles will be 31 next year, but will be in his ninth season. Heís taken a real beating in this league and was on IR to end this year. Heís also small, at 5-10. Brad Smith is a talented athlete, but still not a starting wide receiver in the NFL. It would make a lot of sense to make a move at wide receiver for the Jets, and Sweed might be the guy. And with any team that has had trouble at the wide receiver position, there are free agents available, like Patrick Crayton, or Bernard Berrian.

The Jets have used the tight end position to primarily block, thus most of you probably donít even know who Chris Baker is. Hell, the only reason I know who he is, is because I looked it up. The Jets employ three massive tight ends Ė Baker, Sean Ryan and James Dearth Ė so looking for a pass-receiving tight end might not be a bad idea to help stretch the field for Clemens.

DíBrickashaw Ferguson is a beast. At 6-6, 312, Ferguson is the long-term answer, or should be, at left tackle for the Jets. Still, he needs to improve on his run-blocking and his mobility. Nick Mangold is a solid center and entering his third season, he gives the Jets a second piece to the puzzle. Guard Will Montgomery is another young cog along that offensive line. The left side of the line could be a very solid unit next year, and should help in the development of Clemens. On the right side, Anthony Clement will be entering his 11th season in the NFL, and his third season for the Jets, starting every game in both seasons. Brandon Moore is entering his sixth season, all with the Jets, and it will be his third as a full-time starter. In fact, the Jets are fairly solid along the line, talent-wise, and have even been healthy. Next year, they need to be more consistent.

The Jets are just finally adapting to Manginiís 3-4 defense, however, along the defensive line, the players arenít getting much younger. At the defensive end positions, Kenyon Colemand and Shaun Ellis arenít spring chickens. Coleman will be entering his seventh season and Ellis his ninth, yet both were still fairly productive this season. Coleman finally came into his own in the 3-4 defense this year, notching 83 tackles, by far his career high, but he did only have two sacks. Ellis had 49 tackles, one of his lower numbers for his career, but he did notch five sacks. It looks as though Ellis, a career Jet, is finally adapting to the 3-4. DeWayne Robertson was also fairly solid as the keystone of the 3-4 at nose tackle. Robertson had 57 tackles and four sacks. If the Jets make any moves along the defensive line, it will most likely be for depth.

At linebacker, the biggest question is what to do with Jonathan Vilma. Vilma played in just seven games this season, before getting injured, and never really has adapted into the defensive scheme. At 6-1, 230, heís a little undersized for the 3-4, but heís a definite talent. Rumors have swirled over his head for two years, and I wouldnít be surprised if this was the year he was finally moved. In 2005, the last in a 4-3, he notched 169 tackles, five pass deflections and an interception.

One of the big weaknesses on this defense was the inconsistent play at the inside linebacker position. Eric Barton will be entering his 10th season next year and his production saw a definitive drop off this season. Rookie David Harris replaced Vilma at the other inside linebacker position and notched 127 tackles. At 6-2, 243, he clearly has the size to fill that position for the Jets and probably will be starting next year, whether itís beside Vilma, or besides someone else.

At outside linebacker, Victor Hobson and Bryan Thomas notched just four sacks combined. The Jets are going to have to get a better pass rush from their outside backers. Hobson will be entering his sixth season, all with the Jets, and itís time for him to step up and be the guy at the right outside linebacker position. His production also dropped off this year, and itís definitely a spot that the Jets may take a long look at, and try to bring in some depth to challenge Hobson. Bryan Thomas is in a very similar situation, entering his seventh season next year, and also seeing his production drop. I donít see a lot of outside linebacker type talent in the draft, or free agency, so the Jets may have to get creative, or these two players may have to step up.

Darrelle Revis is a stud. The rookie cornerback was second on the team in tackles, notching 87, including an incredible 74 solo tackles (especially for a cornerback). He added 17 pass deflections and three interceptions. He clearly took to the various schemes that Mangini implemented and also kept the defensive secondary afloat. Heís got shutdown type ability and is a physical cornerback, a rare combination, that possibly only Champ Bailey displays. At the other corner position, Hank Poteat started nine games, and was somewhat effective, while David Barrett saw a lot of playing time as well. Donít be surprised to see the Jets bring in another young cornerback to try and push these two veterans.

Erik Coleman and Abram Elam both shared time at the free safety position, and both are going to have to improve their play to stay on the field next year, as well. Kerry Rhodes, another ball hawk on this defense, started at the strong safety position, and had 67 tackles, 10 pass deflections and five interceptions.

Mike Nugent and Ben Graham are decent kickers, and Nugent could be an excellent kicker, so both should not have to worry about their jobs going into next season. Nugent was 29-36 in field goals, and had nine touchbacks, a pretty solid performance for the third-year kicker, who had a lot of expectations on him as a second-round draft pick.

Leon Washington and Brad Smith provide good returners for the Jets, as does Darrelle Revis, although Revis is very valuable at his full-time position.

The Jets have a lot of good talent, but need to see more consistency from a number of positions on the field, of course, most notably, at quarterback. They have a few holes, that can be filled, but, again, playing in the AFC East is not an easy chore with the Patriots and an improving Buffalo Bills team.