The Jets got a bargain on USC QB Mark Sanchez but if he doesn’t work out, he will be very expensive—he will cost Coach Rex Ryan and the entire organization their jobs. They have pushed all the chips to the middle of the table and bet their future on him.
Nothing can destroy a new coaching staff faster than making a critical mistake by taking a QB that flops with your first ever pick. Just ask the 1999 Browns organization that picked Tim “I’m on the” Couch. A mistake on a 1st round QB will set the franchise back 5 to 6 years. Given the lack of experience in college and the question about Sanchez not being able to beat out Booty and the Jets have in effect doubled down on the bet.
The Jets will give Sanchez every chance in the world to claim the starting position this year. The Jets will never beat the Pats for the division title with Kellen Clemens at the helm. My feeling is that Sanchez is not Matt Ryan (Atl) or even Joe Flacco (Bal). He will be servicable but not ever become the superstar that the Jets hope.
Adding to the risk on the QB, the WR corps will be FL Jerricho Cotchery and anybody that can catch a cold on Broadway in January. The long time starter and under rated Laveranues Coles. Brad Smith started when Coles went down last year and has the inside track to start. David Clowney has the speed but inconsistent hands. Chansi Stuckey is an inside receiver and will play the slot. The TE is Dustin Keller. He is a receiver but not much of a blocker yet.
The running game will be on life support after 09. RB Thomas Jones is unhappy about his contract but is in a contract year and needs to produce to prove his value for his next deal wherever that may be. FB Tony Richardson is outstanding but in his last year or two. If there is a work stoppage in 2010, Tony won’t play again. The Jets believe that Leon Washington is starting quality. I don’t think so. He is a change of pace back but I am not sure he can carry the load in a run first offensive. Shonn Greene was a steal in the 3rd round and could be the guy if Jones fails to produce.
The entire O line is back. The players all have pass and run blocking ability but did not play up to their potential last year in pass blocking. They did help Jones win the AFC rushing title. D’Brickashaw Ferguson is among the top LTs in the league. LG Alan Faneca and RT Damien Woody are more than solid. Nick Mangold is a little inconsistent at C but getting better. The surprise last year was RG Brandon Moore. He is a former FA DT.
Defense is in the blood stream of the Ryans. That is the place that needs the biggest improvement overall. The Jets gave up more points that the Browns did last year. Ryan will be more aggressive than Mangini’s D was last year.
The D line is OK but not great. Kris Jenkins moved from DT in a 4-3 to NT in the 3-4 and stuffed the run. But age and back problems mean that the Jets will have to rest him more this year. Jets sent last year starting DE Coleman to Cleveland because he did not provide the pass rush that Ryan was looking for. Ex-Raven Marques Douglas takes that spot. He played for Ryan there. The other end is up in the air because of the possible suspension of Shaun Ellis. There is very little on the bench so any suspension will be a big problem.
The LB group was hit with a suspension. OB Calvin Pace is out for the first 4 games. Last year’s 1st pick Vernon Gholston will replace him and had better perform. This administration has no loyalty to him and up to now he has been less than expected. OB Bryan Thomas improved over his 07 season and IB Bart Scott played near pro bowl level last year. He still has room for improvement. David Harris starts opposite him inside if he is healthy. There is not much on the bench after Gholston.
CBs Darrelle Revis and Lito Sheppard are the strength of the D backfield. Revis is going to be a star. Both SS Jim Leonhard and FS Kerry Rhodes have to be more productive. The new scheme should help. More pressure will allow more picks. Drew Coleman, CB Dwight Lowery, CB Ahmad Carroll, and CB Donald Strickland all have some experience.
OVERALL: If the Jets were in another division,… Just kidding. The Jets will battle the Bills for 3rd. Neither team is talented enough to beat the Dolphins or Pats consistently. They are a middle of pack team that has the potential to be good if Sanchez works out and the D gets the pressure Ryan wants. If not, they will be OK and around 8-8.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .