New York Jets Attempt to Fly in Preseason

Michael IelpiCorrespondent IAugust 26, 2009

BALTIMORE - AUGUST 24:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets talks to teammates in the huddle during a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on August 24, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

On Monday night, the New York Jets passed the halfway mark of the preseason. The Jets are 0-2 in the preseason. The Lions went undefeated in the 2008 preseason, so that tells what a preseason record means.

Today, in a surprise to almost no one, Rex Ryan named Mark Sanchez as the opening day starter for the Jets.

Sanchez did not show much to win the job, it was more that Kellen Clemens did not show enough to make anyone say that he deserves to still compete for the starting quarterback spot.

Ready or not, Sanchez is under center for the first snap in Houston.

The biggest fear for any franchise is to see its star player, especially a quarterback, go down. If Sanchez should miss time, he will most likely be missed as much as any superstar quarterback in the league. The depth of the roster is at a kiddie pool level.

Sanchez had 16 career starts at USC. He will need to equal that number in one season in the NFL.

Kellen Clemens is not showing much. Clemens is in his fourth season and should be showing more rhythm than blues, but it just is not there for him and it makes one wonder what the Jets really saw in him.

The real quarterback battle is for the number two spot. Erik Ainge, in his second year, has looked slightly better than Clemens. It is tough to truly judge Ainge’s performances because they have come against some players who will not be collecting full NFL paychecks this fall. But, I think he could at least equal Clemens’ performance on the field. 

The Jets should look to grab any veteran backup they can find. Does Vinny Testaverde still have another year left in him? 

Leon Washington should never leave the field. I think Washington would even contribute on defense if you put him in the secondary. He is that much of a playmaker.

He is in a contract dispute with the Jets, but the more I see his effort, the more I want the Jets to become Teddy KGB from Rounders and say, “pay that man his money."

David Clowney is averaging 27 yards per reception in the two preseason games. He needs to see action with the first team against the Giants on Sunday. Clowney has great speed, but I really want to see it in action against a first team defense. 

The number-two wide receiver position still appears open. Chansi Stuckey has it presently and Brad Smith is right behind him, but Clowney should see more time and should be the home run threat in this offense.

Dustin Keller will be the primary target. Many rookie quarterbacks tend to find their tight end to save them as the pocket shrinks and the time they used to have in college to throw the ball elapses.

I think we can expect around five catches per game in the 2009 season for Keller. He can get open and take a 10-yard pass and turn it into a 20-yard pass.

The Ghost has been precisely that. Linebacker Vernon Gholston has one solo tackle and two assisted tackles in two games.

With Calvin Pace missing the first four games of the season due to suspension, you would think that Gholston has a great opportunity to shake the bust label. From what we have seen in the preseason, Gholston has looked a little slow and a little bit lost. His ability to shed blocks must improve for him to be an integral player on defense. 

The undrafted rookie from Rutgers, Jamaal Westerman, is having a very nice training camp. He should not only make this team, but should contribute down the road.

The Jets currently have three players from Rutgers. They are Westerman, linebacker Brandon Renkart, and tight end Kevin Brock. Rutgers ranks tied for tenth in the number of players from one college playing in the NFL. That says quite a bit for a team that only eight years ago lost three games to West Virginia, Miami and Virginia Tech by a combined 184 points.

On special teams, Jay Feely has been 3-for-3 in his field goal attempts. Reggie Hodges has done well punting the ball and should be the starting punter.

The Jets do not have their full lineup like most teams because of some nagging injuries. Kris Jenkins, Shonn Greene, Darrelle Revis, and a few others have missed either a preseason game or some practice time.

And that is your in-flight entertainment for August on New York Jets Flight Number 2009. Currently, this plane has just left the hangar.