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The New York Jets failed to make the postseason last year and finished their season with a three game losing streak. The losing streak culminated in Santonio Holmes taking himself out of the final game of the year against Miami. Ever since then, the Jets have made more offseason headlines than their in-state rival Giants, who happened to be Super Bowl champions.
First, the Jets gave Mark Sanchez a three-year contract extension. Next, they shocked the league by trading for Tim Tebow. The Jets also fired offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, and replaced him with former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano with hopes of revitalizing the "ground and pound" mentality on offense.
The Jets defense continued to be the backbone for the team last season. Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie anchored the Jets secondary. David Harris is one of the league's best linebackers and along with Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, the Jets have one of the better linebacker units in the NFL.
Offense: There are a lot of question marks that the Jets have yet to answer offensively. The first one is Mark Sanchez. Sanchez threw for 3,474 yards and 26 touchdowns but failed to find much consistency throughout the season. The big difference between this season and Sanchez's first three seasons are that he never had a quality backup behind him. This year is the complete opposite as Tim Tebow will be gunning for Sanchez's spot. If things get ugly early, fans could be clamoring for Sanchez's benching.
The next question is whether Tony Sparano can get the running game back to what it used to be a couple of seasons ago. Shonn Greene rushed for just over 1,000 yards last season but hasn't convinced many people that he can handle the starting job.
Outside of Santonio Holmes, the Jets have little firepower at the wide receiver position. The Jets drafted Stephen Hill out of Georgia Tech and hope that he can provide a play-making ability that the Jets desperately need. The Jets also will rely on Dustin Keller to build off of a good season and be a nice weapon up the middle for Sanchez.
Defense: The Jets defense is still one of the strongest in the league. The Jets ranked fifth in the league in average yardage per game given up. They did give up about 22 points per game but some of that can be blamed on the offense. David Harris anchors the front seven and Sione Pouha provides a big plug up the middle on the line.
The Jets were fifth in the league in sacks and although not one player had more than 90 tackles, the Jets did have 10 players with over 40 tackles. The Jets also were excellent in the turnover department, forcing 31 turnovers which ranked tied for second-best in the league with Buffalo.
The Jets' biggest advantage on defense is their excellent cornerback play. Darrelle Revis is the best shutdown corner in the league, and Antonio Cromartie is in the top 25 if not higher.
These two defensive backs allow Rex Ryan to blitz, and blitz often. Ryan's schemes are some of the most ingenius in the sport and the Jets defense almost always keeps the offense within striking distance.
The Jets made some improvements to their defense by drafting defensive end Quinton Coples and by acquiring safeties Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry. Bell recorded 107 tackles and an interception for Miami last season, while Landry missed half the season due to injury. If Landry can stay healthy, he can provide a hard-hitting component to the Jets secondary and I'm sure Ryan has come up with some schemes that involve Landry rushing the quarterback.
Prediction: The Jets will be one of the most interesting teams to follow this season. The defense will be just as good if not better with the additions of Coples, Landry, and Bell. The offense is what stops me from giving this team a better record.
I don't trust Sanchez, or Tebow for that matter, to carry this offense week after week. The receiving core is bad, and unless Stephen Hill or Jeremy Kerley becomes a threat, then Holmes and Keller's production will decrease. The running game is questionable but I think Shonn Greene will have a solid year as the starter.
The Jets' schedule is favorable and they only have five games against playoff teams from last season. If Sanchez can play exceptionally well, then this team is much better than the record I am about to give them. But I just don't see it happening.
The Jets will have an up and down season but will finish the year 7-9.