There have been many offseason stories since the Jets lost to Miami on the final game of the 2008 season. Let's recap: Brett Favre retired (again), Eric Mangini was fired as head coach, Rex Ryan was hired as head coach, Laveranues Coles was let go, the decision was made to move up in the draft to take USC star quarterback Mark Sanchez, nothing was done to resolve a lack of a true #1 wide receiver, and the team continued to be distracted by contract issues with key running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington.
However there are many "Under The Radar" stories that will ultimately make or break the NY Jets season under first-year Head Coach Rex Ryan.
I will attempt to break down my opinion of some of the biggest "Under the Radar" topics that will hopefully get resolved before the Jets open the season on September 13 in Houston.
Vernon Gholston has taken a ton of criticism and has been labeled by many as a "bust." In my opinion, he has all the tools to become a very good football player. He's got great size, speed, and athleticism. Many say he lacks football smarts and work ethic, though.
Rex Ryan recently gave Vernon a vote of confidence by naming him the starter at OLB, replacing Calvin Pace who is currently on suspension. A good friend of mine gave me his opinion of what Rex should do with Vernon: Unleash The Beast.
I'd have to agree. Let Vernon do what he does best. Rush the QB. If the Jets defense is lacking at anything, it's pass rush. They should literally just let him attack the QB. Don't worry about him stopping the run or dropping into coverage. Rex can scheme other players to make up for Vernon's lack of skill there. Just Unleash The Beast and let him rush the QB Gastineau style!
There has been much talk about how Rex Ryan is a defensive genius. Look at what he's done with the Ravens. Last year, the Jets had a pro bowler in Darrelle Revis and needed to rely on journeyman Ty Law. Kerry Rhodes was there, but the Jets seemed to juggle at the other Safety position.
This year, with the addition of Lito Sheppard and Jim Leonhard, the Jets should have one of the best Secondaries in the league. Lito brings much experience to the other corner position. With Revis on the other side, this should leave lots of room for Kerry Rhodes to roam the field.
If all stay healthy, I think Jets fans should be cheering mightily on game day with interceptions galore from these four!
When Eric Mangini was fired, there was a bit of uncertainty with Mike Westhoff. Many consider him to be head coach-ready. There is no questioning his tenacity and love of the sport. The guy has battled through bone cancer and often used a cane on the sidelines. The good news is that he's recovered and will continue to roam the sideline.
Considered to be one of the special teams coaches, look for the Jets to continue to excel at special teams with new punt returner Jim Leonhard, and Leon Washington wreaking havoc.
I've already touched on the importance of Mike Westhoff and special teams. I think one of the questions that does need to be answered during training camp is who the starting punter will be.
The Jets again played musical chairs with the punting position last year and during the offseason. They let Ben Graham going during the season. We all know where he ended up...playing on Super Bowl Sunday with the Cardinals.
Going into training camp the Jets currently have TJ Conley and Eric Wilbur on the roster...WHO? Conley is a rookie out of Idaho. Listed at 6'3", 220 pounds, he averaged a net of 47.4 yards last year for the Vandals. He is a 2nd Team All-Pro and led the nation in punting last year.
Eric Wilbur hasn't played since 2007, when he punted briefly for Jacksonville and Houston. Expect him to be at camp to compete, along with a veteran punter who I'm sure the Jets will bring into camp.
I expect Conley to get the job and kick his way into New York.
There have been many reported stories that the Jets are having a difficult time selling season tickets for the 2009 season. There could be many reasons for this.
We are obviously in a recession. Everyone's wallet has been affected and the expense of spending a lot of money on tickets, food, beer, and other merchandise tends to add up, and fast.
However, there seems to be a lot of truth to the fact that the Jets have a pretty hefty PSL program in place for the season ticket sale for the new stadium.
A "PSL" is a Personal Seat License. That, in essence, gives someone the right to purchase season tickets. The Jets are currently in the process of selling PSLs ranging from $4,000 to $30,000. That's on top of the price of the ticket, which ranges from $120 to $700. You can purchase non-PSL seats in the upper bowl of the stadium however.
The use of PSLs have angered many fans. Many fans have opted out of season tickets, or will, in turn, purchase game day tickets on an individual basis.
The question is, what happens if the Jets don't sell out? The stadium can ultimately look pretty empty this year. And wait till next year. It appears that the Jets are having a difficult time selling their most expensive club-level seats. Just turn the TV on and watch a Mets or Yankee game and you'll see what its like to have empty seats in the best part of the stadium...pretty embarrassing!
This one is for the guys!
The Jets have announced that the flight crew will be expanded from 22 members to 30 members. To me, that's great news. Having been a Jets fan all my life, the only Jets cheerleader that I can remember them ever having was Fireman Ed.
The Jets started the Flight Crew two years ago. The girls have expanded, and bring some life to the fans on gameday. Many consider it to be tacky to have the girls dress in skimpy flight crew attire. To me, it's fun. It brings a smile to Jets fans, who unfortunately, don't usually have much to smile about on gameday.