NFL Preseason 2012: 4 New Faces Besides Tebow Jets Fans Should Be Excited About
While new New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow has had a loud and dramatic introduction to New York and the Jets' roster, some of the fresh faces around him have been quietly having productive offseasons and are in position to make noise on the field this fall.
Here are four men whom every Jets fan should be interested in heading into the 2012 season.
In his first preseason game, he led the Jets defensively, playing with both the first and second units and recording three tackles for losses, one sack, one forced fumble, one batted pass and two quarterback pressures. In a real game that would be quite the highlight reel, but even in preseason it's an impressive night.
Seen as an enigma to many before the draft, Coples fell to the Jets at the 16th position in the draft, but he may have been one of the top defensive talents available. Now being compared by some to Jason Pierre-Paul, Coples is going to be an immediate impact player in Week 1.
Viewed as a raw talent, Hill has the opportunity to immediately become the No. 2 receiving option on the team, with Santonio Holmes being the only quality wide receiver and Dustin Keller potentially receiving less attention in Sparano's new offense, which hopes to make better use of blocking tight ends.
Perhaps most impressive to longtime Jets fans has been Hill's ability to match up against Darrelle Revis in practices. Hill still has a lot to learn and wide receivers rarely peak as rookies, but Hill may be the only real deep threat the Jets put on the field this season. Expect him to catch at least a few bombs from Sanchez and maybe even one from Tebow.
While no longer a rookie, Kenrick Ellis is still a new face to many Jets fans. The Jets snatched up this 346-pound force of nature with the 94th overall pick in 2011 when other teams shied away from him due to legal troubles. The threat of jail and/or deportation pushed him from the first round to the third, and the lack of an offseason prevented him from contributing much as a rookie.
However, this year the Jets expect big things from their second-year defensive tackle, both in 3-4 and 4-3 sets as a backup to Sione Pouha, who is dealing with minor injuries. The Jets' defensive unit performed much better last year than their points allowed would let on and Ellis is expected to serve an important role on an even stronger defense this year.
Sparano has received criticism himself, but little of it deserved. His NFL head coaching career began with quite a bang in 2008 when he turned around the Miami Dolphins from a 1-15 team to an 11-5 division winner in an all-time NFL record turnaround that earned him USA Today Coach of the Year honors in the process.
Due to poor management and the loss of Chad Pennington, the Dolphins roster got steadily worse over the next three seasons, resulting in three disappointing years for Sparano. Though he retained class and the heart of the locker room, he was fired in the middle of the 2011 season.
Jets fans should feel excited about Sparano's potential as a locker room leader and an offensive coordinator in 2012. His specialty is the offensive line, a weak point for the Jets, and he has always been able to command the respect of his players, something Schottenheimer was one of the worst in the business at.
In a few months time, Miami fans will hate Sparano. Not for the bad years he had in Miami, but because of the strong year he'll be having in New York.