Week 4 Recap: Jets Hit New Low in Rex Ryan Era

Final Score:
49ers: 34
Jets: 0

Disgusting.  Awful.  Pathetic.  To be honest, those words don’t really do it justice.  I want to invent a new word to describe just how bad today’s game was – any suggestions?  It was so bad, that it’s not even worthy of a full recap.  No pictures, no witty remarks, no breakdown.  Take that, Jets.

For me, this loss should be pinned on 3 people – Rex, Tannebaum, and Sanchez.  And in that order.

Rex gets the blame for clearly not having his team ready to play today.  They were outcoached (and out wild cat’d) and outplayed, and looked disinterested for half the game.  The offensive “gameplan” – if you want to call it that – was non-existent.  I know they had an uphill battle to start and the odds of winning were low, but 34-0?  Perhaps even worse, his vaunted defense (best he’s ever had in New York, supposedly) gave up 245 yards rushing.  245.  Rex should be embarrassed.

Tannenbaum gets the blame for not providing the offense with the playmakers it needs to be credible.  Jeff Cumberland?  Epps? (I don’t even know if he has a first name).  Patrick Turner?  But Keller and Hill are hurt you say….big deal…half of these guys wouldn’t even start on a college team.  This team’s depth has been exposed in a big way.  And if you look at their last 3 drafts, you would be hard pressed to find non-1st round draft picks that are making meaningful contributions (Kerley is the only one I can think of).

And then finally, to Sanchez.  Even with the lack of weapons, he was still just awful. 13-29 for 103 yards  with 1 INT and 1 fumble.  The fumble was completely avoidable and took away a sure 3 points at the end of the 1st half – that in fact may have been the play of the game as the score went from what should have been 7-3 to 10-0 and the 49ers never looked back.  He was off all day – badly missing receivers, throwing tentatively.  It was a giant step back for a player who was meant to take a giant step forward this year.  They have NO chance of doing anything this year if he plays like that.  I know you will hear the calls for Tebow this week, but this still comes down to Sanchez.  They’ve pinned their hopes to this guy, and it’s looking increasingly like they will go down in flames with him.  Game 1 in Buffalo must have been a mirage because he has been just plain bad since then.  And I’ve been one of his biggest supporters and fans, but this was just not good.

Adding insult to injury, their best offensive playmaker, Santonio Holmes, appears to be lost for an extended period of time with a foot injury.  Another non-contact injury to one of their top players.  The football gods are not smiling upon us my friends (the fact that he fumbled the ball on that play which was then run back for a TD, was just comical.  That could only happen to the Jets)  I don’t see how they can muster any chance of winning without their two best players on both sides of the ball.  This season could be over before it’s really begun, sadly.

It would take a turnaround of monumental proportions at this point to turn things around.  This is a team with no identity, and more alarmingly, little talent.  The injuries have really exposed how thin the roster is.  There is just no depth behind the starters, and in a violent sport like football, that is a recipe for disaster.  It’s not looking good for Gang Green.

But hey, look on the brightside, we get to play the 4-0 Houston Texans on Monday Night Football next week….dare I say it….Same Old….

Advertisements

Revis Island – Population: Zero

That thud you may have just heard was the Jets’ season crashing down to earth.  The loss of Darrelle Revis for the year to an ACL injury can not be overstated.  He means everything to this team – physically and emotionally.  Knowing you have the best defensive player in the League behind you does so much for your swagger and confidence as a defense, and the same for the offense.  Sanchez and co. knew they wouldn’t have to put up 20+ points every game to win, because Revis and the defense could be counted on stop the other team and quite often, score themselves.  That all changed on one very unfortunate (non-contact) play.

Here are a few stats that put things into perspective, courtesy of Rich Cimini at ESPN.com

Last 2 year with Revis – Jets D: 15 TDs, 23 INTs

Last 2 years without Revis in – Jets D: 5 TDs, 0 INTs

This season with Revis: Opponents 54.1 pct completion rate, 1 TD, 4 INTs

This season without Revis: Opponents 62 pct completion rate, 4 TDs, 0 INTs

That about sums it up.   And the predictions are flowing in from everywhere.  James Walker of ESPN says the Jets season is over.  Adam Schefter of ESPN says that according to 10,000 computer simulations of the 2012 season, Revis’ injury drops the Jets’ chances of making playoffs to 37 percent from 54 percent.  One player!   And the odds makers have made them as 3.5 point underdogs at home to SF this weekend.

The optimist in me says that this is one man on a field of 22.  He can be replaced with new strategies and better effort from others.  But this isn’t just one man.  Revis is one of those rare players that fundamentally changes the other team’s strategy.  Nobody in the NFL last year had a lower completion rate of passes thrown his way than Revis.  If you’ve ever watched him, he’s one of those players that just looks better than everyone, even on TV.  He’s quicker, doesn’t miss tackles and is smart.  Beyond the impact he’ll have on the season, I’ll just miss watching the man perfect his craft, week in and week out.

At 27, he’s still in his prime, and seems like the type of athlete that will bounce back.  That said, ACL injuries are tricky, and you never know.  He’s also entering the last year of his contract in 2013, so there will be a very difficult decision to be made by the Jets’ management.  Do you invest 10MM+ a year in a guy who has just come off a major ACL injury?

Rex Ryan has the coaching challenge of his life on his hands.  This team is flawed in many ways, but with Revis, they could still win, as they did yesterday, despite those flaws.  That will no longer be the case.  I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet on the season; there is still a lot of talent on this team.  But the challenge just got a whole lot steeper.

Get Well Soon (like, really soon)!

Week 3 Recap: Jets Win the Battle…

Final Score (OT):
Jets: 23
Dolphins: 20

…you know the rest.  This was an ugly and costly win for the Jets.  A win is a win is a win, as they say, but this one came with a price.  All-world CB Darrelle Revis left the game in the 3rd quarter with what looked like a serious knee injury, and the Jets defense looked very ordinary after that.  Sadly, ordinary is still much better than the Jets’ offense, which was sloppy, undisciplined and just plain bad.  Ugh.

Oh Sh*%^t

To the recap…

Offense

QB: This was not one of Sanchez’ finer performances – 21 of 45 for 306 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs.  That said – give him credit, he was resilient in the clutch, leading two big drives at the end of the fourth quarter and in OT.  It was nice to see him regain a connection with Santonio, but that was about the only bright spot.  He missed two easy TD throws, and continually threw behind receivers, especially when under pressure.  I don’t fault him for the two INTs as they were primarily due to receiver mistakes, but he needs to clean things up if this is the year he really steps forward.   As for Tebow…well, another quiet game for him.  This is what I don’t get – why don’t they let him throw the damn ball?  If he’s only a glorified RB, then put McKnight in.  They need to at least keep defenses honest by having him throw a pass here and there.  Right now the Wildcat is just useless and often counterproductive.  Let’s see some creativity Sparano.

RBs:  My prediction – Bilal Powell will be the starting RB by week 5.  He looked faster and sharper than Greene and had good blocking as well.  I think its clear that Greene is not an every down RB – let’s make that change.  And please for the love of god, give Joe McKnight some carries or at least a screen pass or two!  He’s one of your fastest players and true playmakers – get him in the game.  Keeping him on the sideline is just bizarre.

Receivers:  Great game for Santonio – he still had some key drops, but overall, his best game as a Jet.  Unfortunately he was the only receiver worth talking about.   Stephen Hill dropped an easy TD and was otherwise a non-factor.  Kerley had a big catch in the 3rd quarter and the go-ahead TD, but disappeared for long periods of time.  There was a Chaz Schillens sighting.  No impact, but I really wanted to write Chazzzzzzzz (how long until the Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson rumors start?).   And once again the absence of Dustin Keller was huge – his replacements were just awful.  Jeff Cumberland?  Konrad Reuland?  Who are these dudes?  I can tell you what they are not – NFL calibre Tight Ends.  They are having a huge impact on the game – poor blocking, wrong routes and just plain terribleness.  Keller – come back soon.

This Guy Starts for Us!

Offensive Line: Pass protection was good, but not great.  We knew this would be a tough day running the ball (Dolphins are one of toughest run Ds in league), and they played better as the game went on, but this is a far cry from “Ground and Pound” as Marv Albert loved to point out.  I think he just enjoyed saying “Ground and Pound” (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Defense

If this is truly one of the best defenses Rex has ever had, well that doesn’t say much for every other defense he’s coached.  Even before the loss of Revis, they were not impressive.  Outside of the two turnovers in the 3rd quarter – and that was a masterful pick 6 by Landry – they were just mediocre.  This was a rookie QB they were playing and yet he  had them in a position to win the game in OT.  A truly stellar D stops the Dolphins at the end of the 4th quarter, or OT for that matter.  The loss of Revis had a huge knock-on effect.  Cromartie was forced to cover the top WR, and got burned on a big play in OT.  Wilson was flagged for a big (but very questionable) pass INT call in the 4th quarter.  And the Jets rarely blitzed, which was a problem since the D line created very little pressure. This is a very, very mediocre D without Revis.

Special Teams

Great call on the fake punt with Tebow – his most meaningful play as a Jet.  Kerley had a nice bounceback game and kudos should go to the punter, Robert Malone, who placed a few inside the 10 – that really helped with the field position.  And of course another solid game from Nick Folk who nailed the game winner (although his first kick was blocked just after the Dolphins called timeout – Doh!).

Ladies & Gents, Your MVP

Coaching

We are not approaching Brian Schottenheimer territory yet, but some of Sparano’s calls were questionable.  Tebow in the red zone has to stop for now – they only seem to go backwards when he’s in there.  They called a great screen pass in OT that went for a big gain, but where was it the rest of the game?  And as mentioned earlier, get McKnight in there for a few downs.   On the defensive side, they seem to have abandoned the blitz this year.  I don’t get it – that is always a hallmark of a Rex Ryan D.  Let’s get back to being aggressive.

And the Rex Ryan weight watch is back on – anyone notice that he was wearing that lame black sweater vest…in 85 degree heat Miami?  He was clearly trying to sweat out some extra poundage, amateur boxer style.  I appreciate the effort, Rex.

On a side note – did anyone notice how empty the stadium was?  Apparently the game was blacked out because they couldn’t sell it out.  That’s terrible – your team is 1-1 with a top draft pick at QB, facing your most hated rivals, and you can’t sell out?  And those that were there looked like they were dressed for a redneck Mardi Gras party vs. a football game.  I know Miami is a terrible sports town (Heat fans are notorious for leaving early, just another reason to hate the Heat), but c’mon Miami – show some interest.

The Jets were very, very lucky to walk away with a win.  If not for two missed field goals, we would be looking at a loss.  And this is not a good Dolphins team – they have a rookie QB and were playing without their best player, Reggie Bush, for much of the game.  It shouldn’t have been close.   I called it a “must win,” but I was told by my fellow season ticket holder, that it was not.  A short summary of our texts during the game (this also give you some insight into the stress I endure during every game):

Me:  We can’t lose this game:

G: Don’t panic.  There is never a must win in week 3.

Me: With SF and Hou next?  We need this.

G:  Meh.  Week 3.  (Tannehill throws long bomb in OT to set up FG)

Me: Can we trade for that guy?

G: I would trade QBs in a second.  I’m serious.  (Carpenter misses 2nd FG)

G: This is the sad bowl.   (Folk goes on to kick game winning FG)

Me:  I’m exhausted.  And a little sick.  That was terrible.

A little insight into the mind of a deranged, obsessed Jets fan.  I hope you enjoyed that.

Next up…San Francisco.  The Jets best get healthy and clean things up otherwise we are looking at 2-2, in my opinion.   Until then…J-E-T-S.

You Know The Drill…

Overpaid Jets in a “Must Win”

An article came out this week in Forbes listing the Top 10 Most Overpaid players in the NFL – 3 Jets were on the list, including David Harris in the no. 1 spot.  I thought the article was a little unfair, as it didn’t evaluate salaries in terms of the total value of a contract.  Yes, at $12MM this year, David Harris looks overpaid.  But in past/future years, his annual salary has been much lower – the average annual salary across the 4 year deal is just over $7MM – hardly overpaid for one of the top inside LBs in the league.   On the flipside, Darrelle Revis earned over $32.5mm in the last 2 years, but is making just under $8MM this year (fellow CB Cromartie is actually earning more this year).   Is he underpaid this year? (some would make a case that he’s underpaid no matter how much he earns)  I say not – you have to look at the average value of the annual salary in a contract, including guaranteed vs. non-guaranteed money.  For Revis that’s just under $12MM a year across his 4 year deal.   My take – this is just another example of sensationalist reporting that’s short on facts and long on hyperbole.  Shame on you Forbes, you’re better than that.

In more interesting news, the best defensive player on the planet will be back on the field this week for the Jets.  That changes everything.  The Jets can now roll extra coverage to the other side of the field, or most probably, will use the flexibility to blitz the Dolphin’s rookie QB, Ryan Tannehill, on a regular basis.   There is really one key to this game and that’s stopping Reggie Bush.   He’s off to a career year (it’s also a contract year for him – coincidence?) and possesses the outside speed that has given the Jets’ D trouble in recent years (C.J. Spiller was the latest to exploit that in week 1).   But with few other offensive weapons (Brian Hartline?), the Jets would be wise to concentrate all of their activity on shutting down Bush and then rattling Tannehill.

On the offensive side of the ball, look for Keller and Holmes to have a big game.  The Dolphins’ run D is very good, so I suspect we’ll see a lot of short passes to Keller and Holmes to open that up a bit.  The Dolphins know how to defend the Wildcat, so I don’t think we’ll see a huge game from Tebow once again.

With undefeated San Fran (who most agree is the best team in the NFL right now) and then undefeated Houston up next after this game, this is a “must win” as Revis agreed.  I think if the Jets can end at 3-2 after this brutal 5 game stretch to open the season, they would be very happy.  On paper, this is a game the Jets should win.  But Miami hasn’t been kind to them recently, so anything can happen.  My prediction: Jets 23, Dolphins 13.

Oh, and in case you missed it:

This Never Gets Old

Week 2 Recap: The Jets (and I) are no-shows

(This post was written by guest blogger Phil S., a childhood friend and fellow doomed Jets fan.  Big thanks to Phil for covering for me while I’m away!)

The storyline before the start of this game was key defensive injuries for two elite defenses. Darrelle Revis was out with a concussion and the Steelers didn’t have James Harrison or Troy Polamalu healthy enough to fly around the field and generally wreak havoc with hard hits and beautiful, dandruff free hair. It made me wonder if this could possibly turn into the most unanticipated QB shootout in recent memory. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t elite by any stretch of the imagination, but the Steelers basically don’t have a running game right now with Rashard Mendenhall sitting out, so maybe Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown could coax Ben to throw downfield a bit? And while it could just be irrational exuberance on the part of long suffering Jets fans, didn’t Mark Sanchez look solid last week throwing to Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes?

Like most Jets fans, I am afflicted with unjustified hope. The shootout I wanted to see between Sanchez and Big Ben, as unlikely as it sounded, wasn’t meant to be. Instead, we got a classic reversion to the mean, a return to form for a Jets team that almost didn’t score a touchdown in the pre-season, and for a quarterback whose schizophrenic inconsistency regularly drives Jets fans mad.

QB

Sanchez didn’t do much after a nice opening drive that ended in a Santonio Holmes touchdown. In fact, at one point during the game he had only 3 completions in the prior two hours of real time – although it felt much longer. It would have been a lot to ask of Sanchez to repeat last week’s performance, but to say this was a disappointing setback would be an understatement.

However, it was nice to see Tim Tebow become a factor when he came into the game in the third to lead a drive; apparently he gets paid a few mill a year for more than just leading the post-game prayer. Call me crazy, but, with the exception of Jeremy Kerley, Tebow looks like he may be the Jets most explosive offensive player…Rex should be thinking about how to get him on the field more, as long as it’s not at the Quarterback position. Sure there are risks to playing him in the backfield, but it not like he’s brittle; dude can take a hit or two.

Mandatory Tebow Shot

O Line

Sanchez was only touched twice last week against the Bills, but the Steelers D is a bit of an upgrade over Buffalo. Lamar Woodley took advantage of Austin Howard on the end and made him look bad, particularly on a sack early on the 3rd where he got beat like the proverbial red headed stepchild.

Other Offense

Shonn Greene is one lackluster mother f*cker, so I wasn’t too upset when he was briefly taken out of the game in the second period for a head injury. But even though Greene is a number 2 back on many teams, Bilal Powell is just plain shitty. They should put McKnight in when Greene is out and send Bilal to the CFL. The running game needs to improve for a run first offense; it’s too bad Khalil Bell got re-picked up by the Bears after Matt Forte got injured.

The lone bright spot from ‘Tone

And Stephen Hill, the rookie wide receiver who had a few nice catches last week and a touchdown, was targeted only twice and didn’t catch a pass all game. He seems to have some talent, but is going to have good weeks and bad weeks as he matures across his first season in the NFL. It’ll help when Sanchez decides to throw in his direction instead of repeatedly hitting Jeff Cumberland in the back of the helmet with the ball.

Defense

This is a very different defense when Revis isn’t on the field. LaRon Landry seemed to be pressing a bit and got called for two personal fouls within 3 quarters…Mike Wallace made Cromartie look silly on the touchdown thrown in the third quarter. The pass rush was average at best…besides a few plays where Roethlisberger was forced to dance around a bit, he looked as comfortable in the pocket as he is in college bars.

Beastly, but careless

Special Teams

We saw a few nice kick returns from McKnight, but nothing like the fireworks we saw last week from Kerley. And Kerley’s flubbed punt return late in the third, after a good coach’s challenge call by Rex, was definitely a momentum gift to the Steelers.

Next Week

So what does this mean for next week against the rival Dolphins in Miami, who won their game this week in convincing fashion against Oakland? After week one I would have said it was a lock for a road win, and with Revis and Dustin Keller back in the starting lineup they have a good chance, but not if they play the way they did this afternoon. That said, there’s always hope, and I think the Jets take it in Miami 20-17.

(I’ll be back next week for what I hope will be a more encouraging recap)

Week 1 Recap: DOMINATION (I totally saw that one coming)

Final Score:
Jets: 48
Bills: 28

Yes, you read that correctly – 48 points.  The highest point total for the Jets in their history on opening day.  And probably about 41 more points than most analysts were predicting they would score.   With the exception of 2 or 3 Buffalo drives, it was complete domination on all sides of the ball – offense, defense, special teams and even coaching.  You could not have dreamed up a better start to the season for Gang Green.  And I totally predicted it (sort of).

Offense

QB – After a rocky start and a terrible INT, Sanchez settled down to have one of his best games as a Jet.  He was confident and poised, and appeared to be throwing the ball with more power and zip.  He made smart decisions and wasn’t sacked once.  But what was most impressive was how well he handled the presence of Tebow, who was in from the first snap.  The Jets used Tebow more than I thought he would, and while his direct impact on the game was minimal (no passes and just 11 yds rushing – the Wildcat was not very wild), he did enough to throw the Bills’ D off-balance.  But QB controversy…not this week.  Tebow was even booed at one point when he came in at the end of the 2nd quarter and couldn’t move the ball.  This was a statement game by the Sanchise.

They really do like each other!

RBs – Solid game for Shonn Greene.  No big runs, but he seems to always pick up positive yardage.  Give the Jets credit – they said they would get back to “ground and pound” and they did – 27 carries for Greene and one TD.   That said, they only gained 118 yards on the ground in total, so there is more work to be done there.

Receivers – Welcome to the NFL, Stephen Hill!  The rookie who dropped numerous passes in the preseason had an amazing first game – 5 catches for 89 yards and two TDs – just the 5th player in history to do that in their first game. He’s big and fast and will be a major factor this year (Plaxico who?).  Jeremy Kerley went from the proverbial “doghouse” to the “penthouse,” becoming the first Jets receiver to catch at TD and return a punt for a TD in the same game.  Phenomenal performance for Kerley.  And let’s not forget about everyone’s favorite captain, Santonio Holmes – solid game for him with a couple of key first downs.

Captain-like?

O-Line – the unsung heroes of this game.  Sanchez had great protection all game and wasn’t sacked.  Game ball should go to Austin Howard – the undrafted starting Right Tackle was matched up against the $100MM man and biggest offseason prize, Mario Williams and held him to one tackle – yes, tackle – all game.  Wow.   Great start for the big men.

Defense – I’ll group these guys together because it was a pretty dominating performance, especially in the first half.  Revis picked up right where he left off with a beautiful INT on the Bills’ opening drive.  And on the other side of the field, everyone’s favorite father of eight had a pick 6 of his own, ending it with a flip into the end zone.  Laron Landry was all over the place, and levelled a vicious hit on Fred Jackson that knocked him out of the game.   On the downside, the front 4 never really generated any real consistent pressure on Fitzpatrick (Coples was very quiet) and they gave up a couple of very big plays that exploited their lack of speed in the middle.   This could be a trend to watch.

Dominant, as always

Special Teams – Kerley’s punt return TD was the highlight of the game, but kicker Nick Folk should be commended for putting nearly every kickoff (and there were a LOT) into the back of the end zone.

Coaching – Big kudos to the coaching staff, especially new O-coordinator Tony Sparano.  He called a really balanced game, getting almost everyone involved, and found a way to incorporate Tebow into the game without disrupting the flow.  Unlike last year, I never found myself questioning the playcalling, or more importantly, yelling at the TV.  Let’s see how long that lasts….

Off his diet?

So far I’m perfect on the season with my predictions.  This was a must-win in my opinion as things get much harder next week on the road at Pittsburgh, followed by another road game against Miami and then two tough home games.  The Jets will need to replicate their defense of the first half, and put-up another near turnover free game to have a chance against Pittsburgh in their home opener.  Here’s hoping my initial prediction was wrong…

1 game down…15 more to go….great start.  J-E-T-S!

Obligatory Tim Tebow Pic

JETS – 2012 Season Preview!

So the 2012 season is finally upon us.  Another “quiet” offseason and preseason has come to an end, and it’s time to make that elusive Super Bowl run that us Jets fans have been craving for a lifetime.

I’ve purposely stayed quiet during the preseason.   Call it ignorance – I call it self-preservation.  There will be enough angst across the next 4 months – why waste it on a bunch of meaningless preseason games?

So instead of looking back, I choose to look forward with my position-by-position preview and my game-by-game predictions.  Feedback, as always, is welcome….

Quarterback – So, did anything change with the Jets’ QB situation this year?  Right.  I’ve said from the very first day they acquired Tebow, that Sanchez was still the man.  They did not draft him in the 1st round and give him a big extension for him to be a back-up.  This is his team, and I think (hope), his year.  The man has won more playoff games at this point in his career than many other acclaimed QBs (Eli, Brees, etc.) and has proven that he can succeed in the cauldron that is New York.  I’ve been so impressed by the way he’s handled himself since TebowMania descended upon us, and all of the preseason reviewers say he looks confident and poised with improved footwork and mechanics.

The key for Sanchez this year is turnovers.  He will not be asked or expected to win many games on his own this year.  The Jets gave up over 60 pts last year when the offense was on the field.  That’s nearly a touchdown every other game.  If Sanchez makes smart decisions, and limits the turnovers, I think they will be very successful.  The defense is not going to give up a lot of points – I think 17 points will win a lot of games for Gang Green.  It may not be fun to watch, but as long as they win, who cares?

As far as Tebow goes…well, I think you know what you are getting.  A supreme athlete, a hard worker, a ridiculously likeable guy, and a terrible passer.  We are all eagerly awaiting the unveiling of the Wildcat on Sunday…I say he gets 10 snaps total.   And if Tebow is the starting QB at any time this season for non-injury reasons then I think it means the season is close to over.

Because I Had To…

Running Back – What was once a strength for the Jets is now a question mark.  Shonn Greene had a decent year last year, and it is now firmly his job.  Backups Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight have shown some flashes, and the early word is that Powell could have a breakout year.  But no one in this crew causes opposing defenses to quiver.  Either way, we will be seeing a lot of these guys as the Jets get back to “Ground and Pound.”

Receivers – It’s boom or bust with this crew.  You could see Holmes returning to his Pro Bowl form, Kerley blossoming into a real slot and 3rd down threat, and Stephen Hill becoming the gamebreaker they drafted him to be.  On the other hand, you could just as easily foresee Holmes remaining the distraction he was a year ago, Hill dropping many passes as he did in the preseason, and Kerley on the sidelines with injuries.   Hey, at least there’s Chaz Schillens…..

Tight Ends – Every year I hear that this is the “breakout year” for Dustin Keller.  I’m not buying it – he disappears for long stretches and doesn’t break enough big plays.  He’s solid, but not a star.   But there is NO depth behind him, so he’ll be counted on a lot.

O-Line – It’s amazing that the Jets sent 3 players to the Pro Bowl last year, yet finished near last in rushing and gave up a ton of sacks.  Gone is Santonio’s best friend and target of Jets fan’s ire, Wayne Hunter, and in is Austin Howard and Jason Smith.  My money says that this line returns to the dominating form we saw 2 years ago – there’s just too much talent there – 3 First round picks in Brick, Mangold and Smith along with proven veterans Slauson and Moore.  Tannenbabum smartly added some depth here as well.

D-Line – Probably the most improved unit of the team.  First round pick Quinton Coples looked beastly in the preseason, and last year’s 1st round pick Mo Wilkerson  (it’s amazing what a near-death car accident will do to you) and 3rd rd pick Kenrick Ellis (its amazing what jail time will do to you) have both really stepped up and will make meaningful contributions.  Throw in vets DeVito and Pouha and you have the makings of a deep and talented unit.

Linebackers – While still a strength, this is an aging unit that is the weakest part of the D.  David Harris remains one of the most underrated players in the league, and he’s flanked again by the Mad Backer, Bart Scott and Calvin Pace.  Word is that Scott is playing like a man possessed, and he better as they drafted DeMario Davis to take his place.   This is a veteran unit that lacks speed however, and they will get exploited in the middle of the field by the league’s better Tight Ends (i.e. Gronkowski twice a year).

Secondary – The best corner in history and the most virile corner in history are both back.  They are joined by two newcomers at Safety – LaRon Landry (former 6th overall pick) and Yeremiah Bell, who takes over for the oft-injured and now departed Jim Leonard as the QB of the defense.  This unit could be one of the best in the league if they stay healthy.

Special Teams – Do you really care what I have to say about special teams?  If you do, then you are either a bigger Jet nerd than me, or you just love special teams.

Coaching – Rex is back, with less talking, and less weight.  Have you seen him?   Tony Sparano takes over the offense – all eyes will be on him the first few weeks for sure.

HOT DAMN REX –                                           YOU LOOK GOOD!!!

So, onto the predictions…..

Week 1 – Bills – Win.   Jets have dominated the recent series and despite the Bills’ additions on defense, they are still coached by the awful Chan Gailey.

Week 2 – @PIT – Loss – Jets have won once there – the must win game to get into the playoffs 2 years ago.  I don’t see it happening again.

Week 3 – @MIA – Win – Tannehill looks good, but there is a severe lack of talent on that team.

Week 4 – SF – Win – Alex Smith played out of his mind last year.  He’s not that good.  SF travelling cross-country never bodes well.

Week 5 – HOU – Win – At home on Monday night football.  Texans have a history of choking against the Jets.  Revis shuts down Johnson and Jets Run D shuts down Foster.  They matchup well

Week 6 – IND – Win – Andrew Luck’s first visit to New York.  Rex has a history of tormenting rookie QBs.

Week 7 – @NE – Loss – They look even better than last year.

Week 8 – MIA – Win – see above.

Week 10 – @SEA – Loss –  cross-country trip after a bye week = letdown loss.

Week 11 – @STL – Win – Jets vs Schotty.  Rams might be the worst team in football.

Week 12 – NE – Win – short week – Thursday night of thanksgiving.  Crowd will be fired up.

Week 13 – ARI – Win – Cardinals are not good.  East coast trip in December never bodes well.

Week 14 – @JAX – Win – I’m not buying Blaine Gabbert.

Week 15 – @TEN – Loss – Monday night football on the road in December – not a good combo.

Week 16 – SD – Win – Sunday night football and Chargers never do well on the East Coast in December

Week 17 – @BUF – Loss – I hope I’m wrong and I hope we don’t need it but Dec. 30th on the road in Buffalo is a brutal draw.

Total: 11-5….too optimistic?  Maybe…feel free to pick it apart.  But then I remembered this article and I really started to believe (BTW – some of the best writing on the Web right now is happening on Grantland.  If you don’t read it, I encourage you to give it a try – brilliant writers, great topics, lots of fun).

Kick-off is now less than 24 hours away…my Revis jersey has been pressed and cleaned, ready for another year.  The boys’ jerseys are ready to go.  8 months of peaceful Sundays are over – my wife is officially depressed.   Let’s Do This.

J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!