New York Jets Primer For The Preseason

Frank IrizarryContributor IAugust 27, 2009

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - MAY 02:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets throws a pass during minicamp on May 2, 2009 at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)


With the first half of the NFL preseason behind us and two games to go, the picture and prospects for the New York Jets 2009 season are starting to come into focus. 

While the Jets have answered some questions regarding the upcoming season, there are still issues that have yet to be resolved.  With two preseason games remaining (Giants and Eagles) the jets still have time to answer some questions before the regular season opener. 

In my humble opinion, the following are the top 5 questions the Jets need to answer as the regular season approaches:


1) Is Sanchez the man? 

I know Rex Ryan has named him the starting quarterback and I know the team paid him big money after moving up to draft him but when push comes to shove, is Sanchez ready to produce on the field?

Sanchez started 16 games in college against PAC-10 defenses so who knows how he will handle the pressure of NFL defenses.  Watching Sanchez against the Ravens, he showed flashes of brilliance but also made rookie mistakes.  I know his TD pass to Leon Washington was sweet but I'd like to see him make that throw with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in the game.  Sanchez is the most hyped QB the Jets have had since the days of Joe Willie.  We can only hope that he plays like Joe Willie.


2) Will the Jets receivers be the Achilles heel of the offense? 

Arguably the biggest question mark offensively is whether or not the Jets can replace Laveranues Coles and his play as the #1 WR.  Coles' departure means Jerricho Cotchery (71 receptions, 5 TD) moves into the role of #1 WR.

As good as Cotchery can be, he will certainly draw double-teams unless a solid #2 WR emerges. Right now, Chansi Stuckey (32 receptions, 3 TD) looks like the best option but don't sleep on ex-Missouri QB Brad Smith (12 receptions, 113 rushing yards) or even David Clowney (1 reception) moving up and challenging for the #2 spot.  No matter how you look at it though, Jets fans can't feel too settled about the WR position.


3) Will the Jets unleash their version of the "Wildcat" offense? 

It still surprises me that the NFL has gone totally gaga for an offensive style that was being used by programs like Army and Cornell in the early 20th century but the Wildcat is the craze right now and it seems every team is working on their own version of the ramped-up single wing package. 

The Jets are no exception. 

Dave Hutchinson of the Newark Star-Ledger reported that the Jets spent the majority of their practice on Monday, August 17 working on a wildcat package that featured Leon Washington taking snaps with the first team and ex-QB Brad Smith taking snaps with the second team.  factor in the role that Thomas Jones can play in the package and you may have a chance to see one of the more dynamic versions of the Wildcat this season.


4) Will the real Vernon Gholston please stand up, please stand up? 

Newly acquired Bart Scott and David Harris will do a fine job at inside linebacker but the big question for the jets will be at outside linebacker.  Calvin Pace (80 tackles, 7 sacks) did a great job last season as an edge rusher, but he'll spend the season's first four games on the shelf after violating the NFL's steroid policy. 

That means Bryan Thomas (57 tackles, 5.5 sacks) will occupy one OLB spot and the other spot should be taken by, you guessed it, Vernon Gholston. 

Gholston was more like "GHOSTon" during his regrettable and forgettable rookie season.  Gholston did not start a game and finished the season with five tackles. He certainly did not live up to his draft position. 

The NFL Draft has had many famous and infamous picks at #6.  Richard Seymour was a #6 pick as was Pacman Jones.  lets hope Gholston's career trajectory begins to resemble the former rather than the latter.  If Gholston can break out this season, it will be just like getting a second #1 pick this year.


5) Is Rex Ryan ready to be a Head Coach? 

I know players win games but coaches matter.  Ryan has spent many years in the game but you never know how career assistant coaches will turn out when they get their first head gig.  All indications are that Ryan should be a good fit for the team and the city but only time will tell on this point.