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Preseason Power Rankings No. 18: New York Jets

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No one around the Jets are talking about winning the Super Bowl this offseason.

Going 8-8 and missing the playoffs can do that to a team. The Jets ended last season fighting with each other more that the opposition, leading to a coaching change on offense, Rex Ryan’s pledge to get more involved with all quarters of the team and a headline-grabbing trade for a backup quarterback/punt protector by the name of Tim Tebow.

This Jets team doesn’t look much better than the one that limped to the finish last season. There are serious questions almost everywhere you look and a lingering suspicion that the locker room hasn’t been cleansed of the toxicity of last year. Some of the same things that took them to two straight AFC titles are in place, though, and they went 8-8 with just about everything going wrong.

Same glass, two ways of looking at it. It shouldn’t take long to figure out which one is right.

Strengths.

Simplicity has been the common thread of the successful moments of Mark Sanchez’s career with the Jets. The simpler the offense has been, the more successful Sanchez has been at running it so the switch to Tony Sparano looks good on that front. It might not say much that Sanchez often looked frazzled running Brian Schottenheimer’s multiple looks, but you might as well work to what the guy does best.

All the chatter about a potential Darrelle Revis holdout has resonance because the Jets would be mightily lost without him on defense. His ability to lock down one side of the field is essential to making the entire scheme work, especially if the Jets continue to struggle to generate pass rush. If Antonio Cromartie can tighten up on the other side, the Jets will be able to take more risks up front.

As long as you exclude right tackle Wayne Hunter, the Jets are in good shape up front. Center Nick Mangold and right guard Brandon Moore are strong in both phases and left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson rebounded from a bad first half of the season in 2011. They’ll all have to be very good for the Jets to pound the ball on the ground the way they’ve talked about doing this offseason.

Weaknesses.

You have to start at quarterback, don’t you? Sanchez appeared to regress at times last season and there were calls to bring in real competition for him this offseason. The Tebow trade and a contract extension for Sanchez were the answer to those calls, complicating matters all the more. Every throw of the offseason was tweeted to the world, which portends a circus on every drive this season unless Sanchez comes out of the gate on fire. It’s probably safer to bet on the circus.

It would help if the Jets had a few more skill position players capable of making things happen. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes and tight end Dustin Keller are about as exciting as things get and neither one seems particularly well suited to the kind of grinding offense Sparano’s been pitching.

We mentioned the pass rush while discussing Revis, but the need for it to be better is worth mentioning twice. Outside of Aaron Maybin, the Jets didn’t generate much without sending the house and their blitzing was less effective than it was in Ryan’s first two years. The hope is that first-round pick Quinton Coples and 2010 first-rounder Muhammed Wilkerson will bring more heat from defensive end while different looks lead to mismatches.

 Changes.

It’s fitting that the biggest change for the Jets this offseason is one that they’ve talked about without yet putting into action. The locker room meltdowns last season led to promises of a more hands-on approach from Ryan and the elimination of captains in favor of more diffuse leadership on the team. The idea that talent wasn’t a huge part of the reason for the Jets’ slide is silly, but that doesn’t mean more accountability is a bad idea.

Second-round pick Stephen Hill has the potential to be a deep threat in an NFL offense, but it is unclear if the Jets offense will be able to make use of his skills this season. Their wide receivers are short on athleticism, though, so Hill will get plenty of chances to fill that role in the coming season.

The Jets reshuffled their safeties, adding Yeremiah Bell and LeRon Landry while saying goodbye to Brodney Pool and probably Jim Leonhard as well. That can be an upgrade if Landry is healthy, but that’s a big if for a player with his injury history. Even if Landry isn’t 100 percent, it will be hard for the safety play to be much worse than it was last season.

Camp Battles.

The biggest battle will be for everyone watching the Jets during camp to resist the notion that there’s a full-blown quarterback controversy. The Jets have said that Tebow’s not an option to start, but they consistently hedge those statements by saying it remains to be seen exactly what role Tebow will play on the team.

It would be nice if the Jets had a running back to push Shonn Greene, but Joe McKnight isn’t suited to the task and Bilal Powell has almost no experience. It’s not unthinkable the Jets could add a veteran during camp, especially if Greene looks as sluggish as he did last season.

Bart Scott will start alongside David Harris at inside linebacker, although his ultimate playing time will have something to do with rookie Demario Davis. The third-round pick is better suited to pass coverage and if he is able to handle more of the job, he could move Scott into the background sooner than expected.

Prospects.

The Jets are hoping to pare things back so that they can win with defense and a grinding offense that is effective enough to overcome deficiencies at skill positions. It worked out well for them in Ryan’s first two years, although even those teams had more dynamism on offense. It’s their only chance at winning, though, so that’s the path the Jets will be traveling.

There are so many things that can go wrong for the Jets this season, from dysfunction in the locker room to Landry getting hurt to the lack of a consistent edge rusher, that it is hard to feel too bullish about their chances of pulling it off. It doesn’t help that there’s so much uncertainty at quarterback and early struggles for Sanchez will send the team directly into a full-blown quarterback controversy.

We should know what we’re getting from the Jets pretty early in the season. Four of the first six games are at home, providing some comfort amid early matchups with the Steelers, 49ers, Texans and Patriots that will test the offense’s ability to move the ball well enough to win games. If the Jets don’t handle the early stretch, the second half will almost certainly be full of questions about how much longer Ryan will be in charge.

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18 Responses to “Preseason Power Rankings No. 18: New York Jets”
  1. cooklynn17 says: Jul 16, 2012 9:17 AM

    No wonder Rexy isn’t guaranteeing another Superbowl. This sorry Jets team isn’t even in the top half of the league.

    Ouch!

  2. raideryan88 says: Jul 16, 2012 9:30 AM

    I cant wait to see sanchez benched and tebow run the sporano offense. 3 and outs and 3 points all day baby!

  3. realnflmaster says: Jul 16, 2012 9:34 AM

    Fair ranking. Let us EARN the #1 spot. We’re coming for you.

    Starts week 1 with an inevitable beating on the lifeless, clueless, bills squad.

  4. truthhurtstoo says: Jul 16, 2012 9:34 AM

    Ranked WAY too high. Ground and pound won’t score enough points to keep up in today’s NFL. This team still lacks a starting QB. That coupled with the bad personal mix = 4-12 in 2012.

  5. FinFan68 says: Jul 16, 2012 9:42 AM

    The Jets can be a decent team. They have to control the “me” guys in the locker room. As long as those guys taint the team there will be problems. Their QB situation is not as bad as many think as long as they use them effectively. I don’t see that from Sparano. I like the guy but he hasn’t shown the ability or will to tweak his offensive scheme toward his players strengths. The issue I see is how Sanchez reacts to adversity. If he does his whiny kid routine it’s over for him in NYC. Tebow is not a very good QB from a passing standpoint but he brings leadership and a will to win. His presence in the locker room could be very good–or it could simply make those malcontents (Holmes) worse.

  6. buddysguys says: Jul 16, 2012 9:45 AM

    they will finish last in the East…fact

  7. 561bengal says: Jul 16, 2012 9:56 AM

    18 seems generous.

  8. theandy59 says: Jul 16, 2012 10:08 AM

    18th is about right for this team. They’ll be on the fringe of contention for a wildcard spot with Buffalo, Denver, San Diego, and the Titans, but will probably come up short. To win with that offense, the Jets would need a dominant defense and I just don’t see that with this group – they have the potential to be a good defense at best. They could easily start the season 1-4 and if that happens, the team could quickly implode and be looking at a 5 to 7 win season.

  9. leonbryte says: Jul 16, 2012 10:29 AM

    Can’t.
    Wait.

  10. myeaglescantwin says: Jul 16, 2012 10:38 AM

    10-to-1 that the bills destroy them in week one..

    stevie johnson is the only WR that can score on Revis,,,, explain that to me please cause thats gotta be some transuniversal paradox.

  11. LoCoSu@%s says: Jul 16, 2012 10:40 AM

    The Jets are in the “show me” stage. They could move up if they dont implode and Sanchez plays better.
    But its always been the defense that carried this team, so better defensive play will keep this team in the hunt.

  12. billythebuffalo says: Jul 16, 2012 10:55 AM

    Strengths (described in the article):

    1) 3 Offensive Linemen

    2) Revis and good-days-Cromartie

    3) Sanchez & new offensive system (how can Sanchez ever be considered a strength!?! It’s unproven + Sanchez is an average QB at best, so it should be a wash and not a strength.)

    Based on those strengths (and #3), the NY Jets are not better than the Buffalo Bills.

  13. RexCanCoach says: Jul 16, 2012 11:03 AM

    Jets will need to define themselves this season and that will take a few weeks.

    Adjusting to a new OC usually takes 1/2 season to a full season.

    Jets have talent defensively to compete, but the question remains, can they create offensive consistency, can they run the ball, can Sanchez step up finally???

  14. patriots123456 says: Jul 16, 2012 12:25 PM

    If Revis doesn’t show up you can revise their ranking to about 28th.

  15. rockthered1286 says: Jul 16, 2012 12:37 PM

    I’ll say this: if they fall short of the playoffs again this year, Rex’s job is in jepoardy. If they fall flat on their face and stumble out of the gates to a 2-6 start, Rex will be gone before the season is over and they’ll gut the team. Not to say he hasn’t been an above average coach, but since he’s joinged the Jets, they’ve become a non stop circus with more off the field conversation that on the field. Too many characters and me-first guys out there. Let’s see how this season plays out…

    My prediction: 8-8 again with Tebow coming in because Sanchize gets hurt. And he’ll also suck it up.

  16. buffalowned says: Jul 16, 2012 4:42 PM

    the jets suck and most of their rational fans know it. i can’t wait for the bills to smash them week 1 and get the sanchez/tebow controversy rolling

  17. kev86 says: Jul 16, 2012 6:44 PM

    Jets can finish behind the Pats with or without him. Sell high.

  18. tyreeshelmet says: Jul 17, 2012 8:44 PM

    We’re going to be better than the Giants for the next 10 years, that’s just a fact .

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