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.
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.
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.