NFL: 5 New York Jets That Must Step Up and Have a Productive Season
It is no secret that the New York Jets have been a very dysfunctional franchise for the past few years. However, this season looks much more promising with some exciting player additions and new personnel signings.
There were a ton of Jets players who underperformed last season that need to bounce back this year in a tremendous way. If not, there will certainly be major changes made around the organization, both during and after this season.
A Super Bowl is the goal for Gang Green. It is the only goal. Since Rex Ryan took over the reins as head coach, every season has been handled as "Super Bowl or bust." After repeated disappointments year after year, it is obvious that Ryan & Co. mean business, and have bigger and better plans for the future.
With offseason acquisitions like LaRon Landry and Tim Tebow, both the offense and defense will have a more refined look than past years. This year Rex Ryan will not put up with players not competing to their fullest ability. The Jets have a ton of depth, and whether it's a rookie or a veteran that is struggling or not giving their all, any player is replaceable in this organization.
In order for the New York Jets to make a Super Bowl run, and ultimately become world champions, it is crucial that the following players perform to the pinnacle of their abilities.
WR Jeremy Kerley
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2011-12 Season Stats: 29 receptions for 314 yards, 19 first downs and three touchdowns; five rushing attempts for 28 yards and one first down.
At only 5'9", 188 pounds, Jeremy Kerley is a fairly undersized wide receiver. His agility and awareness are what make him such a dynamic offensive threat. At TCU, Kerley made his mark on special teams, being named the Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Year two consecutive seasons (2009 and 2010).
Kerley was also one of three finalists for the Paul Hornung Award in 2010, honoring the most versatile college football player in the nation for that season.
Between his proven effectiveness on special teams and scary playmaking abilities on offense, Kerley has the potential to be a breakout player this season and a very productive player throughout his career.
S LaRon Landry
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2011-12 Season Stats: Recorded 48 total tackles (35 solo, 13 assisted), 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
The New York Jets haven't had much depth at the safety position in quite some time, but this offseason they aimed to change that by signing the hard-hitting LaRon Landry. Landry made his impact on the NFL immediately as a rookie for the Washington Redskins, recording 95 total tackles, 1.5 sacks and one fumble recovery.
Teaming up with Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis, Landry will add even more fright and terror to opposing offenses. By acquiring Landry, the Jets easily have one of the top three scariest secondaries in the NFL.
The past two seasons Landry only played a total of 18 games due to a tear in his left Achilles tendon, but before suffering the injury he was one of the most electrifying defensive players in the NFL.
Now fully rehabbed, Landry looks to make his return to glory for the New York Jets.
RB Joe McKnight
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2011-12 Season Stats: 43 rushing attempts for 134 yards (3.1 AVG) and eight first downs; recorded 13 receptions for 139 yards and seven first downs.
Joe McKnight seemed to struggle a bit in the beginning of his career, but year three should be the season he turns everything around. Only rushing the football a total of 82 times in his first two seasons, McKnight has been spoon fed so far.
Now that LaDainian Tomlinson has retired, McKnight will see an extreme increase in his offensive workload. Also, because of his intense speed, you can expect the USC product to return a bunch of kicks and punts this season.
Last season McKnight exhibited exactly what he could do if he gets the opportunity on kickoff returns. In 34 kickoff returns, McKnight returned the football for a total of 1,073 yards, with his longest return being a 107-yard sprint for a touchdown.
With the one-two punch of Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight, along with some extra help from second-year back Bilal Powell, the New York Jets running game should be one of the most dominant rushing attacks in the entire league.
CB Kyle Wilson
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2011-12 Season Stats: 41 total tackles (35 solo, six assisted), six pass deflections and two interceptions.
After two years of adjusting to the NFL and the New York Jets defense, it is time for Kyle Wilson to help establish this secondary as the best in the entire league. Between Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and LaRon Landry, Gang Green would be almost impossible to throw and score on in the air if Kyle Wilson can play as well as Rex Ryan and Co. think he can.
With all of the crazy defensive formations and schemes that Rex Ryan runs, Kyle Wilson will see a lot more action this season and have a chance to prove he can be that elite cornerback the New York Jets drafted him to be.
QB Mark Sanchez
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2011-12 Season Stats: Completed 308 of 543 attempted passes for 3,474 yards, a 56.7 CMP percentage, 26 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Ever since Mark Sanchez became part of this organization, he has received a lot of heat from NFL fans, football analysts and the media in general. But hey, that's exactly what's expected when you're the starting quarterback for a professional football team in New York.
Especially when the franchise isn't performing up to everyone's expectations and has continuous internal problems.
However, what they have all failed to give Mark Sanchez credit for is his constant improvement. Last season, only his third year in the NFL, Mark Sanchez improved in almost every major throwing category, including completion percentage, total yards thrown, touchdowns, fumbles and QB rating.
Now entering his fourth professional season, Mark Sanchez knows that his time is now. With the acquisition of Tim Tebow, the Jets have now made it a complete nightmare for opposing teams to prepare for their offense. With the necessity for teams to put emphasis on stopping Tebow when he enters the game, Sanchez may be able to fly under the radar and begin to really shock his competition.
Also, the possibility of Tebow lining up as receiver or running back could create a dual-quarterback situation where either player could throw the ball downfield. If run properly, this offense could revolutionize the way the game is played in the future. And, if any offensive coordinator is going to do so, Tony Sparano is that man.
Expect Sanchez to have a stellar year, despite the lousy preseason performances. As crazy as this may sound, do not be surprised if Mark Sanchez is in the MVP race late in the season.