Should we really be surprised that the New York Jets have had plenty of drama during the offseason? Since Rex Ryan has come here, this team has been in the news for all kinds of reasons. The New York Jets are a beat writers dream with a coach who is constantly chirping, and players who are more than a little arrogant about their team’s chances.
The Jets had high hopes heading into 2011, but the team faltered down the stretch and finished 8-8. Rumors of issues in the locker room kept spreading throughout the season. Mark Sanchez threw seven interceptions in the final three weeks of the season, and many thought his time in New York may be ending soon.
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In March, the Jets surprised many by announcing that Sanchez had been signed to a three-year extension. It seemed the Jets had settled on “The Sanchize” being their man under center. Less than two weeks later the Jets threw another curveball by trading for Tim Tebow. It was easy to see that the next huge controversy surrounding this team would be who the starting quarterback will be in 2012. Tebow is one of the most popular players in the league, and there is little doubt that fans will be calling for him to be in the lineup as soon as Sanchez makes a mistake.
Why would a team make such contradicting moves so close to each other? They are the Jets, and this is what they do. Still, the Jets have lots of talent; and this team could make some noise in 2012. Let’s take a closer look at what the team has to work with this season.
How will Sanchez respond to the extra pressure on him from having Tebow right behind him? The team has made it clear that Sanchez will start the season as the quarterback, but there are no promises for how long that will stick. Sanchez actually had the highest quarterback rating of his career in 2011, but his struggles down the stretch in crucial games were concerning. Tebow will likely see action in special situations right away, and don’t be surprised if he gets some starts before this season is complete.
Coach Ryan has said in the offseason that he wants the Jets to go back to a “ground-and-pound” offense like they were a couple years ago. Shonn Greene should be getting lots of action in 2012 since his primary backup, LaDainian Tomlinson, has retired. New offensive coordinator Tony Sporano has indicated he would like Greene to get 350 carries this season. That’s unlikely to happen, but don’t be surprised if he gets 300 carries. Joe McKnight will start the season as Greene’s backup, and he’ll likely be used quite a bit on third downs.
New York is a little short-handed at the wide receiver spot. Santonio Holmes is a talented wide receiver, but sometimes it seems he is on a mission to cause team chemistry problems. He was reported to be out of shape in offseason workouts, and he won’t be a captain this year. Jeremy Kerley started to produce at the end of last season, and I expect him to get the chance to lock up the second receiver spot in 2012. Stephen Hill was a second-round draft pick who has a very high upside, but he isn’t quite ready at this point. Dustin Keller should get lots of action at the tight end spot.
The strength of the Jets offense is their offensive front. Nick Mangold is the best center in the game. He is the leader of this line, and he is a great guy to run behind on short yardage situations. D’Brickashaw Ferguson is one of the better left tackles in the league as well. The offensive front should be very good again this season.
No one in the NFL has the caliber of cornerbacks that the Jets have on their roster. Darrell Revis is the best shut-down corner in the league. Revis gave up only a 41.6 completion percentage on balls thrown his way last season, which is as good as you will find. Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson are also very high-quality corners. The athleticism of this group makes them extremely difficult to beat downfield. Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry were brought in to give the secondary more depth at the safety spot. It will be tough for anyone to get in a rhythm throwing the ball against this ultra-talented secondary.
The Jets front seven is solid, but they have struggled to get any pressure on the opposing quarterback in the past couple years. Even though the secondary is tremendous, it puts a ton of pressure on them when the opposition gets all day to look for open receivers. David Harris and Bart Scott are both terrific inside linebackers, but they specialize in stopping the run. If this defense is going to take the next step in 2012, it will need to get pressure from the front line. First-round draft pick Quinton Coples needs to be a force right away. Muhammed Wilkerson is a guy that the Jets are looking for a big year out of at the defensive end spot.
2012 New York Jets Schedule Analysis
The Jets start the season by hosting the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 9. The toughest stretch of this year’s schedule comes between Sept. 16 and Oct. 21. A game at Pittsburgh starts this difficult period, and a matchup in Foxboro with the Patriots will finish it off. The Jets bye will be Week 9, exactly halfway through the season.
If the Jets are in the playoff hunt, the end-of-the-season schedule appears favorable. In their last five games, the Jets should be favored four times. All in all, the Jets schedule appears a little easier than last season.
2012 New York Jets Futures Odds
JustBet lists the New York Jets at +1,200 to win the AFC Conference and +2,800 to win Super Bowl XLVII. Bovada puts the Jets at +600 in the AFC East. The Patriots are a huge favorite at -350 to win the division.
BetOnline lists the Jets season win total at 8.5 games (the “over” is priced at -135). 5Dimes lists the Jets as 3.5-point favorites in the regular season opener against Buffalo.
2012 New York Jets Predictions
New York is a team with some major strengths and some huge question marks. The offensive front is terrific, and so is the secondary. Other than those two areas, the Jets have a lot of areas of concern.
I don’t see the quarterback controversy helping the team any in the year ahead, and the lack of depth in the backfield could be a problem since they want to run it so often. New York is lacking playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. On defense, the front seven isn’t nearly as good as they were a couple years ago.
The Jets escaped 2011 without any serious injury trouble, but they still couldn’t have a winning record. It doesn’t seem like this team made any real upgrades in the offseason. The season win total number of 8.5 is pretty sharp, but I lean toward the “under.”
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