New York Jets: Enough Blaming, Time to Fix the Problems Heading into 2012 Season

Danny Paskas@DannyPaskasSenior Analyst IJanuary 4, 2012

New York Jets: Enough Blaming, Time to Fix the Problems Heading into 2012 Season

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    Finishing a very disappointing 8-8 and out of the playoffs, Rex Ryan may want to try reverse psychology on his New York Jets and the rest of the world.

    He should come out and proclaim how bad his team sucks, how horrible his QB is and how his defense can't stop a replacement team led by Shane Falco throwing to the 7up yours guy.

    As for statements on the playoffs, maybe Rex should bring in special guest Jim Mora to repeat his catch phrase.

    I understand this team is in disarray but I refuse to believe an extreme makeover is in need. I also believe that it is too early to give up on Mark Sanchez. I do think it may be a smart move to get a capable backup, just in case.

    There is plenty of blame to go around and it should not all lie on Sanchez, a third year QB who led a team to back-to-back AFC Championship games.

    Sanchez is 4-2 in the playoffs, with his four victories coming on the road. An NFL QB just doesn't win four playoff games on the road by accident, or because he was lucky. If so, it would happen more often.

    Sanchez is currently tied for the NFL post-season record for road victories, accomplishing this in his first two seasons. 

    Here is an offseason to-do list to get the Jets back in the right direction;

Draft or Sign a Running Back

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    The supposed heir apparent, Shonn Greene, did not get it done this season. LaDainian Tomlinson is on the verge of retiring and if Joe McKnight was anything more than a special teams player, he would have shown in it by now.

    Greene could be a good change of pace back or part of a dual backfield. He did rush for over a 1,000 yards this season with limited carries and behind a makeshift offensive line, so he is worth it to keep around for next season.

    The big RB prize in this year's draft is Alabama's Trent Richardson, but he will be gone before the Jets draft at 16th. If the Jets want him, they are going to have to give up a lot.

    Other options could be Virginia Tech's RB David Wilson, Oregon's Lamichael James or Wisconsin's Montee Ball.

    In free agency, Marshawn Lynch, Peyton Hillis, Michael Tolbert and Michael Bush are all unrestricted and may be willing to switch teams for the right price. 

Offensive Line Help

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    We all saw just how bad this once dominant offensive line has become when center Nick Mangold was out for two games with an ankle injury.

    In his two-game absence, the line looked lost, giving up four sacks with seven QB hits to the Oakland Raiders and allowing the Baltimore Ravens to get to Mark Sanchez enough to force four fumbles.

    The offensive line began its decline in the 2010 offseason when the Jets cut Faneca, a major contributor, in order to save money and drafted Vladimir Ducasse in the second round of the 2010 draft to replace him.

    This was a costly move—Ducasse turned out to be a bust. He is still with the team but has not secured a starting role and every time he plays, he seems to make a crucial mistake.

    At the start of this season, veteran leader Damien Woody was cut, leaving the once-powerful offensive line weak, with no depth.

    While Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Brandon Moore remain very productive on the offensive line, the Jets need more. They need more depth. They need to draft O-linemen—trade for them or buy them.

    It may be best to go through free agency or trade for a veteran since rookies may take longer to find their place and this team is in a win-now mode.

    Former Jet Karreem McKenzie, New Orleans Saints' Carl Nicks and Buffalo Bills' Demetrius Bell are all out there, among many other offensive linemen who can provide an upgrade. 

Can't Wait to Draft Vontaze Burfict

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    Is there a more perfect fit for Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict than the New York Jets?

    Burfict would be perfect, (I know, corny, but it had to be said) for the most likely soon-to-be-cut Bart Scott.

    Scott's production is just not what it used to be. Since coming to New York in 2009, Scott went from 92 tackles to 81 to this season's 66. It's time to move on.

    Burfict has the same attitude that Scott once had, only he has the the skill set and motor to back it up.

    Burfict is a highlight reel waiting to happen. This season he had 69 tackles, one interception and five sacks.

    He is rated as the second-best linebacker in the draft and if he slips to the Jets with the sixteenth pick, New York will regret passing him up.

    Drafting Burfict can produce immediate results similar to the cases with other linebackers who are drafted high, as seen this season with the Denver Broncos' Von Miller.

    Akeem Ayers, the Tennessee Titans' early second round pick and the second-rated LB in last year's draft, finished his rookie season with 76 total tackles and two sacks.

Receiving Corps

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    Let's get the gang back together. Braylon Edwards never wanted to leave in the first place, and with him coming off an injury-riddled season, he may be the best, cheapest option for the Jets.

    Edwards had good chemistry with Mark Sanchez. In 2010, he was the Jets' leading receiver with 53 catches for 904 yards with seven touchdowns.

    If healthy, Edwards can come right in and contribute immediately. Santonio Holmes never had a problem playing with him either.

    Edwards would be a better route to go than drafting a receiver who would take time adjusting to games on Sundays.

    As for Holmes, the Jets are going to have to forgive and forget his behavior this season. He is too costly to cut, too talented to give up on, and trading him will not return equal value.

    Sanchez and Holmes might have to go to couple's therapy to kiss and make up to get back the same romance, where they connected 52 times for 746 and six TDs just a season ago. 

    If general manager Mike Tannenbaum is able to free up enough money and wants to make a big splash, Marques Colston, who played his college ball at Hofstra, might be intrigued to return to the area. Vincent Jackson may be too high-priced.

    Cheaper options available are Mario Manningham, Early Doucet, or even Pierre Garcon, among others. 


Safety Problems

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    There is going to be a big hole left at the strong safety position with both contracts expiring for starter Jim Leonhard and the backup Brodney Pool.

    I would also not be surprised if starting free safety Eric Smith is cut as he has failed to impress.

    In free agency, there isn't really any major upgrade other than LaRon Landry, who is going to be out of the Jets price range.

    New York should look as early as possible to draft a safety if it makes sense, since it is their most pressing need.   

    If the Jets want to match up better with their rival New England Patriots they may want to get a taller, bigger safety than the 5'8'', 188 lbs., Leonhard who simply does not have the size to stop their Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez-powered offensive attack.

    Harrison Smith out of Notre Dame who is 6'2'', 215 lbs., or Sean Richardson out of Vanderbilt, 6'2'', 220 lbs., may be intriguing in the mid-rounds of the draft. 

QB Situation

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    While I believe it is too early to give up on Mark Sanchez who is entering just his fourth season, his first with missing the post-season, there should be a better backup plan in place other than Mark Brunnell or Greg McElroy.

    There is no way the Jets should use a first round pick on any QB other than Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. If Kellen Moore or strong-armed QB Nick Foles out of the University of Arizona is available in the third or fourth round, New York should pounce.

    Drafting a QB in the mid-rounds would provide two benefits. One benefit would be that the fans would not be calling for the third or fourth round QB to start like they would if a QB was drafted in the first round, which in turn would ruin Sanchez. The second benefit would be that it would provide just enough pressure for Sanchez to improve more because he would slightly be looking over his shoulder.

    With hardly any pressure on the third or fourth round QB, they would be able to slowly learn the system if Sanchez fails to produce.

    Besides, Sanchez can't be that much of a loser, isn't he dating Kate Upton? His Upton relationship should earn him at least one more season, right?

Keeping Up with the Patriots

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    The New England Patriots have shown just how productive two pass-catching tight ends could be.

    Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are Tom Brady's second and third leading receivers on the league's second-ranked offense. 

    Gronkowski is second in the league with 18 TDs and has 90 receptions for 1,327 yards, which ranks fifth for all receivers.

    Hernandez has 79 receptions for 910 yards with seven TDs.

    The NFL has proven to be a copycat league as evidenced most recently by the wildcat and the dual running back backfield. With the Patriots dual tight end having so much success, it may be be time to emulate it.

    With Dustin Keller already on the roster, why shouldn't the Jets draft another pass-catching tight end?

    Gronkowski was a second round pick while Hernandez was a fourth round pick. New York should be on the lookout for their own version of a Gronkowski or Hernandez.

Outside-the-Box Thinking

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    With the New York Jets right up against the salary cap and with maneuvering to be done just to free up money to spend on free agents, how about looking into trading Antonio Cromartie?

    While Cromartie is still productive, as he had four interceptions, 12 passes defended and a forced fumble on the season, he can get back a good return.

    Cromartie often gets burned and is caught on too many pass interference penalties. In addition, he is a high-priced duplicate to second-year CB Kyle Wilson, who put up similar numbers in limited minutes with two interceptions and six passes defended.

    If Cromartie can get the Jets a starting wide receiver, he should be dealt. Maybe the Green Bay Packers will be willing to give up one of their receivers for him?