New York Jets 2012: 6 Newcomers Who Will Make Immediate Impacts This Season
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The 2011-2012 season ended in disappointment for the New York Jets.
After two straight appearances in the AFC Championship game, the Jets finished 8-8 and failed to make the playoffs. The team's problems were not just their play on the field, as head coach Rex Ryan lost control of his locker room which culminated in an in-huddle argument between wide out Santonio Holmes and right tackle Wayne Hunter.
Over the offseason, Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum have made it a point to bring in guys who will help the team on the field and inside the locker room. I will give you six of these additions who will make an immediate impact for the Jets this upcoming season.
Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano
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Last season, former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's offense was predictable and relied far too much on underachieving quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Schottenheimer was fired and Ryan replaced him with Sparano, who can get the Jets offense back into the "ground and pound" first system. In his four seasons as head coach for the Miami Dolphins, Sparano's teams were ranked in the top 15 in rushing attempts each season, according to pro-football-reference.com.
Sparano is also famous for being the father of the unconventional Wildcat offense, which was a large part of the Dolphins' 11-5 season in 2008. Sparano's presence should also affect the production of running back Shonn Greene, who eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career last season.
Sparano should be able to get the Jets' running game back on track and can add another dimension to the offense with the Wildcat.
Defensive End Quinton Coples
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The first player who I expect to make an immediate impact for the Jets this season is rookie defensive end Quinton Coples.
Coples, a freakish athlete from North Carolina, was the Jets first-round pick in this year's draft. He recorded 114 tackles and 17.5 sacks in two seasons with the Tar Heels, and has an abundance of potential in the NFL. Coples is very versatile, and can rush from both the inside and the outside on the line.
There have been questions about his motor and his character, but Rex Ryan is a players' coach, and he always finds a way to get the best out of his defense.
If Rex can get the most out of Coples, his talent and athleticism will be a great asset to a defensive line that needs to improve in the sack department.
Wide Receiver Stephen Hill
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The next key addition to the Jets is also a rookie, wide receiver Stephen Hill.
Hill was the Jets' second-round draft pick and played in a triple-option offense at Georgia Tech. He only caught 28 passes for the Yellow Jackets, but did accumulate 820 yards and five touchdowns.
Although Hill had few opportunities to thrive at Georgia Tech, his potential is unlimited. Like Coples, he is an unbelievable athlete. He is 6'4", and ran the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.36 seconds. His raw ability allowed the Jets to overlook his lackluster statistics when they drafted him.
Hill will also have a chance to make it on the field right away. Outside of Santonio Holmes, the Jets receiving core is very thin, and Hill will have a great opportunity to play Week 1. His speed and height will make him a great target for Mark Sanchez, and will free up Santonio Holmes from getting double teamed by opposing defenses.
With his outstanding natural abilities and the weak group assembled at the wide receiver position, Hill not only can succeed, he must succeed.
Although the Jets will be a run-first offense, they must prove that they can throw the football. Defenses will load up seven or eight men in the box and dare Sanchez to make a play. Hill can be the playmaker that will keep opposing defenses honest and help the running game thrive.
Safety LaRon Landry
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The Jets defense is primarily known for their shutdown cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Adding hard-hitting safety LaRon Landry adds a physical side to the Jets' secondary.
Landry has racked up over 80 tackles three times in his five seasons with the Washington Redskins, but missed half of last season because of an injured left Achilles tendon.
When Landry is healthy, he is an absolute menace on the field. He is one of the biggest hitters in the league and is not afraid to drill someone. Although he has only four interceptions in his career, he can cause numerous problems for an offense and can prevent big plays with his excellent tackling skills.
Landry will fit in very well with the Jets' schemes and blitz packages. Ryan loves to pressure the quarterback, and has the luxury of blitzing defensive backs because of Revis and Cromartie. Landry has more sacks in his career than interceptions, and he could get multiple sacks for the Jets this season.
If Landry can stay healthy, the Jets could have the best secondary in the league. Although he does not get a lot of interceptions, he can force many turnovers with his hard hits and his relentless pass rush.
Landry has the ability to be the MVP of the defense if he can stay healthy and bring his tenacity to the Jets.
Safety Yeremiah Bell
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To find our next Jet who will make a big impact this season, look no further than LaRon Landry's partner at safety, Yeremiah Bell.
Bell, a nine-year veteran, is very much like Landry. He doesn't get a lot of turnovers, but he still affects the offense by what he can do on the field. Bell had over 100 tackles the past four seasons for the Miami Dolphins and also played every game in those four seasons.
Unlike Landry, Bell is very durable and will probably be on the field in every game for the Jets. Like Landry, he can cause havoc in the opponent's backfield with his excellent tackling and rare pass-rushing ability for a safety. In fact, Bell had as many sacks last season as Ray Lewis did (although Lewis only played in 12 games for Baltimore).
Because of Revis and Cromartie's presence, the Jets were able to grab two safeties who can be used more in blitz packages along with being the last line of defense in coverage.
Expect Bell and Landry to rack up the tackles and maybe even get three or four sacks this season, along with a couple of turnovers.
With Revis, Cromartie, Landry, and Bell, the Jets' secondary could be even better than it has been in the past few seasons, and in today's NFL, a good secondary is nice, but a great one can change games.
Quarterback Tim Tebow
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I hope I didn't get your hopes up about a New York Jets article that didn't have to do with Tim Tebow.
But Tebow is an impact player for an offense that desperately needs one. Even if Tebow does not land the starting quarterback job, he can still make a difference when he plays in the certain Wildcat formations that the Jets have created for him.
Tebow has definitely made an impact on the New York media, but how much of an impact can he make if he isn't getting the starting reps? It's bigger than you might think.
First off, Tebow can be a great red-zone quarterback because of his combination of size and speed and his nose for the end zone. When Tebow is in the game, he also can enhance the running game as a whole because defenses will have to focus on his abilities, which could free up Shonn Greene to run wild.
Most importantly, Tebow's presence could give Mark Sanchez the wake-up call he desperately needed.
Until this season, Sanchez never had a backup that could have threatened him for the starting position (unless you call Mark Brunell a threat). But now, with the ever-so-popular Tebow breathing down his neck, Sanchez's status as the starter is in great jeopardy.
And have you seen the Jets first five games of this season? Buffalo, @Pittsburgh, @Miami, San Francisco. and finally Houston. If the Jets get off to a slow start, Met Life Stadium could be chanting Tebow's name by Week 5.
Hopefully it does not come to that, but if it does, Tebow's role could be greatly enhanced. He would be the focal point of a below average offensive unit, but could steal the Jets some games in the fourth quarter, just like he did as a Bronco.
And this season, the Jets may need every miracle they can get.