After last season's tumultuous ending, it seemed there was not going to be much to look forward during the 2012 New York Jets' season. Somehow, through a series of moves, the Jets have been able to bring themselves back and put themselves amongst the list of AFC contenders.
They started off by parting ways with former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, then adding Tony Sparano, former head coach of rival Miami Dolphins. Through the draft they added dynamic players such as Quinton Coples, Stephen Hill and Demario Davis, all expected to make some sort of impact during the season.
With that, training camp is just a couple of weeks away and it seems as if the Jets are moving in the right direction for once. So let's take a look at some of the positive developments of the New York Jets' offseason.
As always, feedback is welcome. Enjoy!
For the last six years the Jets had a questionable offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer. Prior to 2011, the skill level he had on the different offenses overshadowed his horrible play calling ability. But when he was given an arsenal of weapons in 2011, it was evident that he could be given that caliber of offense.
In order to remedy the situation and try to get Super Bowl ring before the window closes, the Jets added Tony Sparano to their offense. After the first few weeks of Sparano working with his new offense, it seems he was just the man the Jets needed at offensive coordinator all along.
One thing Sparano does, which Schottenheimer failed to do, is bring identity to the offense. For the last three years the Jets' motto was "Ground & Pound," and last year all Jets fans heard was about getting back to that system of offense—something the team never did. Sparano has already made it clear through his work with other teams in the past that he is a "Ground and Pound" kind of man and expect him to do the same to the Jets in 2012. With an offensive line and backfield like the Jets have, there is no reason why Sparano should not be utilizing them.
Not only will Sparano bring back the aspect of the offense that made the Jets so successful in years like 2009 and 2010, his great work ethic has been felt throughout the team. During minicamp Sparano made sure to keep the offense's tempo going, while mixing his play call, which would help the offense in high-pressure and time-sensitive situations, while keeping the defense on it's toes and working, something Schottenheimer did not do last season, allowing the defense to become complacent during practice.
So far, the Tony Sparano addition to the offense has done nothing but shine a positive light on the New York Jets and show that the unit is moving in a positive direction.
In any organization, the teams attitude does not really begin with its players or the fans. It begins with the front office and the coaching staff. If that group believes the team is not going to win then the team will not believe they are going to win.
Rex Ryan is a coach who goes by this philosophy. Although he makes outlandish guarantees that the New York Jets are going to win the Super Bowl year in and year out, he does so that the team will believe the same.
Rex is also known for some other antics, but this year he is trying to show that he means business. So far Rex has done so by trying to shed of his big man appearance by losing some weight in the offseason. During minicamp and OTA's he also began to have morning press conferences. While they are small footsteps towards progress, it all starts up top, especially with the coaching staff and Rex Ryan is finally beginning to seem like the head coach the Jets need and with the supporting cast around him, this could be the year he leads his team all the way.
I have been raving about this guy since the draft. Coming into this year's draft, Demario Davis was an underrated prospect, coming out of Arkansas State, he did not receive the same media attention as other prospects, but he sure looks like a great pick up for the Jets.
The Jets snagged Davis in the third round of this year's draft. His versatility is going to make him such a great player to have, whether it is on the first team defense, special teams, or backing up David Harris and Bart Scott.
Last year, one of the problems the Jets had was keeping tight ends on lockdown. For the Jets, the safeties usually took care of the tight ends, which brings up the question of why this is coming up when I am talking about a linebacker. Davis' skill set allows him to play in the Jets' sub package, covering the tight ends and taking them up to the safeties, which should help limit the damage they cause. Players like Rob Gronkowski and Brent Celek tore the Jets apart last season.
Not only can Davis cover, he has the burst and power to get through offensive lines and sack opposing quarterbacks. Rex Ryan, Mike Pettine and the Jets' defensive crew are going to have fun moving Davis around the field to give him the best look to do whatever they need him to do, whether it be come up with a big sack or keeping the big tight end from getting a third-down conversion.
Last season—especially in the final minutes—it was evident that the Jets were not meshing as a team. Towards the end of the Jets' Week 17 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Santonio Holmes and Wayne Hunter got into an argument in the huddle, which the CBS cameras were able to capture, thus putting a spotlight on what was going on within the Jets locker room.
Anybody who plays sports knows that chemistry is needed in order to win, and it was obvious in Week 17 that the Jets did not have much. Luckily for the Jets' organization and its fans, the players want to win and have been taking advantage of the free time they have during the offseason to try and regain the chemistry they used to have.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes did this earlier this year in April when the two worked out in Florida for a week with one another and a few other NFL players. Per usual, Mark Sanchez is also hosting his Jets West Camp at his old high school. Jets West allows him and several other skill players to get together, practice and become closer. Sanchez has been running the "camp" since the 2010 offseason.
This year there is a twist though, showing how serious the players are getting about the upcoming season and eliminating outside distractions. While the players train at Mission Viejo, there will not be a day for media or fans to spectate as there is armed security guarding the facilities so that the players can focus on their work. Considering how the condition of the team last season in terms of chemistry between one another, nothing but positive signs on this end.
Coming out of the first round of this year's draft, the Jets' defense was not looking as good as it does right now. With their first-round pick (16 overall) the Jets selected University of North Carolina's Quinton Coples at defensive end, rather than a guy like Melvin Ingram (a versatile outside linebacker).
Little did most fans know at the time, the Jets were planning on switching up their defensive game-plan and bring in 4-3 scheme for the 2012 season. For those who may be a little lost, in simple terms, a 4-3 scheme means four defensive linemen and three linebackers. On this new look defensive line, the Jets will have rookie Coples playing opposite last season's first-round pick Muhammad Wilkerson, putting two young defensive ends on the edges to attack the quarterback.
With Sione Pouha and another defensive tackle (most likely Kenrick Ellis) complimenting Coples and Wilkerson, the Jets should have a talented and forceful defensive line, something they lacked in 2011. One of the things Rex Ryan's defenses are known for is creating pressure and getting to the quarterback. The Jets failed to do that often enough in 2011, which really hindered them.
The new look on defensive line is one of the best the Jets have had in a while and if they produce at the level they are expected to, it could be a great turning point for the defense.
Something that is somewhat troubling when looking back at last season yet makes someone optimistic about this season is what Plaxico Burress said about Mark Sanchez last week. In an interview Burress spoke about how Sanchez is a talented player, but he dealt with shoulder injuries last season that not many people outside of the New York Jets' organization knew about.
Sanchez was sacked 39 times last season, which could explain how he retained a shoulder injury. Now onto the hope that was mentioned. While it wasn't a magnificent season, if Sanchez performed the way he did in 2011 with an injured shoulder, imagine what he could do with his shoulder at 100 percent.
With the pressure of having Tim Tebow right behind him, primed and ready for the moment Sanchez messes up, plus having a healthy shoulder, it could propel Sanchez to the next level. In most cases, Mark Sanchez has shown his ability to be clutch and perform when the pressure is on. In 2010 he led his team to three "walk-off" victories. Don't forget 2011 when he also led the Jets to four fourth-quarter comebacks, orchestrating a game-winning drive during each of those victories.
This could be the season Mark Sanchez proves all of his haters wrong as the Jets finally start to remove the training wheels, so stay tuned during the 2012 season to see if Sanchez gets the job done.
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