New York Jets 2009 Preview

ChiCitySports .ComCorrespondent IJuly 6, 2009

2008 Summary:
Following the conclusion of a miserable 2007 season, the Jets entered the 2008 offseason with little fanfare and extremely low expectations. As was probably expected given the fact the Jets had just completed a 4-12 season and generally looked and played like one of the worst teams in the league.

Then, abruptly, everything changed. Future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Brett Favre decided to channel his inner Michael Jordan, held the Packers hostage and forced his way out of Green Bay much to the delight of Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum who quickly sent a package over to the Packers for the rights to his services.

Suddenly, longtime Jet Chad Pennington was shown the door and would later sign with division rival Miami - a move that would eventually come back to haunt the Jets at seasons end.

However at first, the Favre honeymoon seemed to be taking off as well as anybody could have hoped for. The Jets began the season on the road against Pennington's new squad, and Favre led his new team to a hard fought six point victory.

After dropping their next two games, the Jets would go on a roll. They won six of their next seven games capped off with an impressive showing on the road against the hated Patriots and the undefeated Tennessee Titans.

Brett Favre looked like he was on the verge of becoming the savior of the Big Apple. With a Patriots squad playing the season without their MVP quarterback, the division was ripe for the taking. The Jets were 8-3 and the schedule was opening up very favorably for them down the stretch. The only road games remaining on the schedule were west coast trips to floundering San Francisco and Seattle, the rest of their home slate was against AFC opponents with two of those games coming against division opponents.

On paper it appeared the Jets would be favored in every single game the rest of the way, and be in position to swipe home field advantage from the Titans and Steelers and make the road to Super Bowl XLIII come through Giants Stadium.

And then..... as has happened many a time to the Jets faithful, without warning, the walls came crashing down. The Brett Favre that was so good early on would begin to implode before everyones eyes.

With each passing week, the Jets would find new ways to lose. Favre would be the catalyst for the collapse, throwing 9 interceptions to just 2 touchdowns. The Jets would slowly get away to what them so good early on to begin with, their rushing attack of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. And a secondary that relied on 35 year old Ty Law as a starter, would give up big play after big play, sending the Jets to a skid in which they would lose four of their last five games.

A skid that could have easily been a five game losing streak had Bills quarterback J.P. Losman not gift wrapped a win for the Jets with a costly fumble that'd be returned for a touchdown in the final minutes of the game.

And almost fittingly, while the Favre era would kick off with a win over the longtime starter of the Jets, the one-year experiment would be put to rest once in for all by the guy that was quickly cast away for Favre.

Chad Pennington would lead his young Dolphins into Giants Stadium, and like he had done so many times before, he wasn't flashy, he wasn't putting up highlight reel plays, he was just quietly efficient and headed to the playoffs at the same time.

2009 Free Agency Additions:
LB Bart Scott (Baltimore)
S Jim Leonhard (Baltimore)
DT Howard Green (Seattle)
CB Donald Strickland (San Francisco)
DE Marques Douglas (Baltimore)
WR Mario Urrutia (Cincinnati)
LB Larry Izzo (New England)

2009 Trade Acquisitions:
CB Lito Sheppard (Philadelphia)

2009 Offseason Departures:
DE Kenyon Coleman (Traded to Cleveland)
QB Brett Ratliff (Traded to Cleveland)
S Abram Elam (Traded to Cleveland)
WR Laveranues Coles (Cincinnati)
TE Chris Baker (New England)
LB Eric Barton (Cleveland)
DE C.J. Mosley (Cleveland)
K Mike Nugent (Tampa Bay)
LB Cody Spencer (Detroit)
S Hank Poteat (Cleveland)
LB David Bowens (Cleveland)
RB Marcus Mason (Washington)
RB Noah Herron (Cleveland)

2009 NFL Draft:
1-5. Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
3-65. Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa
6-193. Matt Slauson, G, Nebraska

2009 Outlook:
After the collapse in 2008, coach Eric Mangini and staff were let go and former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan was brought on board to be the new man in charge for the Jets.

It was expected that Brett Favre would retire following the season, so the Jets knew they would be starting a new quarterback in 2009. Due to the fact the Jets were not sold on their two young quarterbacks Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff, they struck a deal in the draft with Mangini's new squad - the Cleveland Browns - to land highly touted quarterback Mark Sanchez out of USC.

Sanchez will likely start from day one for Ryan's Jets, and will be under no shortage of scrutiny given the aggressiveness of New York's media. However, the Jets hope Sanchez can give them the same type of lift that Joe Flacco was able to give the Ravens and that Matt Ryan was able to give the Falcons - and he definitely has the talent to put together such a season.

However, the Jets free agents basically all fled to Cleveland, including the most productive receiver during the Chad Pennington era, Laveranues Coles. Sanchez will instead be throwing the ball to the young trio of Jerricho Cotchery, David Clowney and Chansi Stuckey. Tight end Dustin Keller will also figure to be a major part of the Jets passing attack.

But given the youth and relative inexperience of most of the Jets wide receivers, the Jets will likely rely heavily on their rushing attack headlined by starting running back Thomas Jones. Jones pieced together an outstanding 2008 season, rushing for just over 1300 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year. However, Jones will be 31 at the start of the season, so questions abound at how long he will be able to hold up this season. This likely makes Leon Washington a very valuable asset to the Jets offense, given his versatility in the rushing and passing game and could very well be the starting tailback by seasons end.

The Jets offensive line will once again have the solid left side of D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Alan Faneca to open up holes in the rushing game and probably more importantly - protect their new franchise quarterback. Nick Mangold will return as the Jets center with Brandon Moore and Damien Woody flanking the right side of the line.

On defense, Rex Ryan's impact as head coach was immediately felt in free agency when he brought over three former Ravens in linebacker Bart Scott, safety Jim Leonhard and veteran defensive end Marques Douglas. Scott's addition to the Jets is obviously the biggest name of the three, and he will fill a major role on the Jets defense as they assimilate into the new 3-4/46 hybrid attack that Ryan ran so well while in Baltimore.

With the new change in scenary, last years first round pick for the Jets Vernon Gholston will figure to be a major part of Ryan's scheme given his supreme athleticism and pass rushing skills. The rest of the linebacking corps looks very solid as Calvin Pace, David Harris and veteran Bryan Thomas will all log minutes on defense and should all contribute with Ryan's aggressive style of play.

The defensive line will be anchored again by tackle Kris Jenkins and 3-4 end Shaun Ellis with the aforementioned Douglas being in the mix at the other end position.

Perhaps the biggest achilles heel on the entire Jets squad was in its secondary as they were gouged early and often en route to posting the 29th overall rating defending the pass. In an effort to repair this, Ryan went out and acquired Lito Sheppard from Philadelphia to play alongside the very talented Darrelle Revis. Young safety Abram Elam was moved to Cleveland as part of the deal to land Mark Sanchez, so Kerry Rhodes will return as the starting free safety where he will be joined by former Raven safety Jim Leonhard.

Jay Feely will be the new full-time Jets kicker after Mike Nugent left via free agency to compete for the starting spot in Tampa Bay.

2009 Schedule:
Sun 9/13at Houston
Sun 9/20New England
Sun 9/27Tennessee
Sun 10/4at New Orleans
Mon 10/12at Miami
Sun 10/18Buffalo
Sun 10/25at Oakland
Sun 11/1Miami
Sun 11/15Jacksonville
Sun 11/22at New England
Sun 11/29Carolina
Thu 12/3at Buffalo
Sun 12/13at Tampa Bay
Sun 12/20Atlanta
Sun 12/27at Indianapolis
Sun 1/3Cincinnati

2009 Prediction:
The Jets finished 2008 in a disastrous fashion as they lost 4 of their last 5 games and finished the season 9-7 after starting it 8-3.

Jets fans experienced the same Brett Favre implosion that Packer fans had grown to accept with their future hall-of-fame QB, and now their hopes will lie with a 22 year old signal caller out of USC with a very light resume as a starting quarterback.

Sanchez could very well duplicate the efforts of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco if he had a better supporting cast than he does now. Ryan had the benefit of a great running game and fantastic young receivers while Flacco had the same benefit of a solid running game and outstanding defense.

While the Jets defense should improve, the offense has many question marks .. particularly at wide receiver where it's hard to pencil in Jerricho Cotchery as a #1 wide receiver in the league.. barring the Jets adding another veteran wideout before the start of training camp, the Jets will take their lumps behind a rookie signal caller and likely struggle with an overall tough schedule.

Predicted Finish: 6-10, 4th place AFC East
Hassellbeck - VSN Writer


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