New York Jets: Was Their Offseason Work Enough?
When it comes to New York football, the name synonymous with the city is spelled G-I-A-N-T-S.
Is it time to consider the city's other squad?
Consider that the Green and White have made big pickups in the free-agency market.
Kris Jenkins—A huge D-lineman and a proven run stopper. Jenkins will play nose tackle in Mangini's 3-4. I say this is a perfect fit.
Is Jenkins the biggest name on the Jets' roster? Absolutely not. Will Jenkins require a center and a guard to be blocked on any runs up the middle? Absolutely. The key to a good run defense is occupying all the blockers, and Jenkins takes two.
Calvin Pace—An athletic outside linebacker with the ability to play as a down lineman. The word for Pace's utility is confusion. No more Peyton Manning, pre-snap play changes because the defense is transparent. Pace lines up in a three-point stance on the outside. Is he coming or is he covering? One more thing for opposing quarterbacks to check.
Alan Faneca—The biggest name on the roster, Alan Faneca. The Steelers decided not to use the franchise tag on their perennial Pro-Bowler, so the Jets paid him big bucks to move. When the issue of how much is too much for a 31-year old lineman comes up, take into account that this guy is arguably the best guard in the game.
Tony Richardson—A blocking fullback. This guy opens holes more efficiently than a jackhammer, and couldn't be happier in this role. The added bonus is that this guy can play all aspects of the position: he can catch, he can get three yards into the endzone on a handoff, and he picks up blitzers.
Bubba Franks—Make the case that he was injured...so what? Doesn't change the fact that he is a menace in the redzone, catches everything, and blocks. The simple fact remains, when Franks went down, it deeply hurt the Packers' offense, an offense that was in the top five in the league last year.
Consider that the draft yielded two first-rounders for New York before the Giants even selected.
Vernon Gholston—As unproven as he may be, he was still the best athlete on the board at the No. 6 position this year. The criticism for Gholston is his lack of experience (He first began playing football his sophomore year in high school).
The guy is going on 22 years old, a 10th-grade entrance to the world of football gives him seven years of football knowledge, four of which were at Ohio State University. The fact of the matter is he, like Pace, can cover and play end. He is a threat to all opposing offenses, and shines on the big stage (three sacks in one game against Michigan, including a sack on which Vernon beat Jake Long one on one.)
Dustin Keller—Proper noun; see Dallas Clark. Well, the Jets sure hope so. Is he going to block blitzing linebackers? No. Will he be a legitimate coverage concern for opposing defenses? Bet on it. Keller's quick, has great hands, and runs flawless routes. No. 82 could prove to be quite the asset.
Other notable draft picks
Eric Ainge—Hey, he played like a champ at Tennessee. 35 TDs and 10 INTs in this past year's SEC is nothing to cavalierly discard. He didn't have the best combine and he may not be the guy, but a fifth-round shot in the dark never hurt anyone.
Dwight Lowery—A San Diego State record-setting CB. Worth noting, D1-AA football is, by no means D1-A. However, this guy has the smarts and the speed to cover anyone. The question for Lowery will be whether or not he can bring the hurt to running backs deciding to bounce outside. All accounts considered, he'll be interesting to watch across the field from Darrelle Revis, should Lowery get immediate play time.
Marcus Henry—Do not, I repeat, do not fall asleep on this wide out. Tall and fast, not to mention Marcus was a Kansas Jayhawk last year (A Kansas team that led the NCAA in passing offense by scoring in 2007). Henry may not be Plaxico Burress, but he can play the game up to NFL standards, and he should have a starting spot come late August.
For a team that has squandered opportunity after opportunity in the offseason over the years, the second-most famous team in New York has positioned itself to strike, and quickly.
There is only one issue with all of this. This is a team with no clear QB. Do they have a shot? Yes. Can they find a guy to get the ball in the right places down the field before opening day? We'll see.
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