Jets' Playbook Sees Major Changes in 2009
The Jets now have their own version of Earth Wind and Fire. Earth can be represented by Shonn Greene, who weighs in at 227lbs. He is the power back for whom the Jets have been looking. Greene will most likely be used to pick up the tough yards on third and short, as well as goal line situations.
Thomas Jones is the Jets version of wind. His slashing style will make him the feature back. Jones led the AFC in rushing yards last season. He may lose some fantasy value with the addition of Greene, but look for Jones to maintain a big role in the offense this year.
The back representing fire is Leon Washington, who has the ability to burn defenses, whether it be on Special Teams, swinging it to the outside, or catching screen passes from whomever the starting quarterback turns out to be in week one.
That question brings us to the Jets' biggest acquisition of the 2009 draft. They stunned New York City when they traded up in the first round to nab Mark Sanchez out of USC. Fans who criticize this pick should look at what the Jets actually gave up to acquire their possible franchise quarterback.
Eric Mangini wanted some of his role players from last year included in the deal, with whom Rex Ryan was more than willing to part.
The acquisition of safety Jim Leonhard from the Ravens means that Abram Elam would most likely not have been a starter opposite Kerry Rhodes. Kenyon Coleman had a total of two sacks in two full seasons with the team as a full time starter.
The Jets also gave up their second round pick, but ended up moving up again to take Shonn Greene. When you look at the overall value of the trade you have to like the move whether or not Sanchez meets expectations.
Sanchez is joining a Jets squad that has both an improved running game and an improved defense. The Jets answered one of the biggest questions they had going into the offseason of who would be starting opposite standout corner Darrelle Revis by acquiring Lito Sheppard from the Eagles for a fifth round pick.
This gives the Jets two legitimate shutdown corners to start the year. Swipe Lowery now moves into the nickel coverage and is probably better suited there, anyway.
Bart Scott solidifies the middle linebacker spot that was vacated when Eric Barton left. Rex Ryan’s philosophy is to have the linebackers provide pressure on the quarterback from the outside while the defensive line focuses on stopping the run.
It will be interesting to see if he can develop Vernon Gholston, the Jets' first round selection from a year ago in a legitimate pass rushing threat.
The loss of the effectiveness of the pass rush towards the end of the season last year was one of the main factors that Mangini lost his job. The Jets lacked a passion and fire on defense. This is something Ryan preached in Baltimore for years. Jets fans can expect their team to play hard for all 60 minutes this year.
Look for Brian Schottenheimer to enact his own version of Marty Ball on the offensive side. With three legitimate threats on the ground, Kellen Clemens and Mark Sanchez will be frequently handing off the ball. The receiving core is thinner this year due to the loss of Laveraneus Coles.
Jerricho Cotchery is a legitimate No. two possession receiver, but the inability of the Jets to stretch the field will be a weakness if they can not find a big time No. one. Plaxico Burress has been rumored to be in their sights, but his legal issues obviously make the chances of starting week one in 2009 slim at best.
Other free agents include Brandon Lloyd, Jerry Porter, and Joe Jurevicious. All of whom are coming off unproductive, injury plagued seasons.
If the Jets choose to forgo the deep threat and focus on the short passing game, Reggie Williams could provide a big target in the red zone along with Dustin Keller, who is looking to improve on last year’s stats.
A good running game and a solid defense are a quarterback’s best friend, so Sanchez should be very popular in 2009. Comparisons to Joe Flacco are not out of the question. Sanchez does lack the cannon arm that Flacco has, but the only stats that matter in the NFL are wins and losses. If Sanchez can lead the Jets to a playoff birth, his season will be a success.
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