The 2008-2009 New York Jets were not so much a team as they were a traveling circus. The team acquired "retired" quarterback Brett Favre from the Green Bay Packers in a move that was supposed to propel the Jets into the playoffs. We Jets fans can all remember Favre's grin at the press conference that looked more like "What have I done?" than "Happy to be here, folks!" and deep down we all knew that Favre just wanted to show the Packers that he was still a winning quarterback.
We didn't care. We just wanted to win.
We signed Calvin Pace, Alan Faneca, and Damian Woody, while trading for Kris Jenkins. We drafted Vernon Gholston out of THE Ohio State University. We were supposed to be set.
Then the season started, and after Week One all Jets fans were ecstatic. Brady hurt his knee and the Pats season was called over before Game Two. Favre had a so-so game against the Dolphins and former Jet Chad Pennington, but we knew he would come around. The Jets went on to beat the Pats in Foxboro and the Titans in Nashville to go to 8-3 on the season.
Then the wheels fell off.
Favre had apparently forgot what the Jets jersey looked like, throwing for nine interceptions in the last five games. Mangini called games like Bizarro Superman: Going for it on 4th-and-5 in the first quarter while punting or going for a field goal on 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter. Vernon Gholston was given the nickname "Casper" by myself and other Jets faithful for his friendly ghost-esque play on the field. The team finished 9-7, missing the playoffs on the last game of the year.
This offseason saw its fair share of changes. Gone is Favre and his "awe, schucks" persona and prima donna attitude. In is Mark Sanchez, the talented former Trojan and his high-wattage smile. The kid has had more exposure than the quarterback who was drafted before him, Matthew Stafford.
Out is Eric Barton. He was a tackling machine last year, accumulating 119.
In is Lito Sheppard. Take that however you want to.
Out is Chris Baker to the hated Patriots. That's fine because the team has Dustin Keller, who can block and catch.
In is Bart Scott, a hard-hitting linebacker from the Ravens who leads by example.
The biggest change is the firing of Mangini, aka Mangenius, aka Boy Wonder. Mangini was supposed to be the savior of the Jets—and the team did go to the playoffs in his first year. However, conflict with players and management, along with the fact that the media and fans couldn't stand him in New York, made Mangini expendable.
The Jets replaced him with Rex Ryan, a fun-loving guy who was the defensive coordinator in Baltimore. He brought Bart Scott, safety Jim Leonhard (who will take over for the traded fan-favorite Abram Elam) and DE Marques Douglas with him.
What will all these changes mean to the team? I have five quick predictions and questions for the 2009-2010 season.
1). The Rookie That Saved East Rutherford
Alright, the title isn't catchy. However, the Jets are trying everything they can to expose their new, young QB to the masses. Photo shoots in GQ, a QB "battle" that lasted two games into the preseason, and putting his face on everything from pop-up ads and baby wipes (alright, I made that up) have seen him dubbed him "The Next Joe Namath."
As long as he brings the Jets to the playoffs, we don't care. Just don't turn into Akili Smith or Ryan Leaf.
He has a good arm, makes good decisions and is the first real new hope for the Jets since Pennington was drafted. Sure he got "happy feet" in the pocket against Baltimore, but he bounced back and had a great game against the Giants the next time out.
The knock on Sanchez was that he didn't face any real competition at USC and was always surrounded by so much talent that Pete Carroll could have thrown Abe Vigoda back there and won. Also, he was only the starter for a year at USC, and never heard the scrutiny that he'll hear after just one bad game as a Jet. Only time will tell how he'll handle everything.
2). Do the players make the coach or vice versa?
Rex Ryan comes over from a Ravens team with two future Hall of Famers in Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, along with bruising NT Haloti Ngata, CB Samari Rolle, and LB Terrell Suggs. They did have more, but Ryan brought three of them to the Jets.
The Jets team he inherited is talented on D...but nowhere near that level. David Harris is a beast (much like JONATHAN VILMA WAS, MANGINI!), Darrelle Revis is a top five corner in the NFL, and Jenkins played like a Pro Bowler until he was worn out by the end of last year.
How will Ryan improve the defense as a whole? Did the players make the coach, or was Ryan really that good in Baltimore? Sadly I'm in the group that believes that, in this case, Ryan was not the reason behind that group exceeding the way it did. However, that does not mean that I think Ryan will be a bust.
He implemented schemes and blitzes into the defense that made it difficult for opposing teams to pick up. He knew other teams weaknesses and, even more important, his own players' weaknesses.
Most of all, he seems to know how to handle the New York media, which "He of the Bill Belichick Regime" never seemed to care to learn.
Ryan looks like a good fit for this team, although I will go on the record and state that I did want the team to go harder after Steve Spagnuolo.
3). "So, I can only thow to one side, right?"
If ever there was a term that needed to be invented because another term was overused beyond belief, it would be here. The term "One-sided" can best describe the Jets cornerback situation. I'm electing to use the new phrase I just created called 'Deionistic".
DEIONISTIC: ADVERB; ADJECTIVE. TO DESCRIBE A TEAM AND/OR EVENT AS ONE SIDED IN SUCH WAY THAT TO GO AGAINST THE GRAIN WAS TO MEAN CERTAIN DEATH.
ORIGIN: ENGLISH; MODELED AFTER FORMER 49ERS, FALCONS, COWBOYS, REDSKINS AND RAVENS CORNERBACK DEION SANDERS. "The game was so Deionistic they didn't have to repaint half the field for the next game."
Revis is a shutdown corner, but so much more since that the Jets have ABSOLUTELY no one on the other side. Dwight Lowery is slow and short, which makes an amazing combination for a cornerback. Drew Coleman? Exactly.
The Jets traded for Lito Sheppard from the Eagles in the hopes he could give the Jets more than one decent cornerback for the first time since the Jets had Aaron Glenn, Marcus Coleman, and Victor Green. Hopefully, he'll be able to recover to his Pro Bowl form.
4). "So, I can only throw to one side, right?" Part II
It's like having a horrible nightmare just to wake up and get punched in the face. The same exact problem we just talked about before is doubled here. Sanchez has Jerricho Cotchery to throw to...but little else. All-Pro Leon Washington can catch passes out of the backfield, and Justin Keller can catch passes from the TE position, but the Jets have one of the worst WR corps in the league.
Last year, the Jets had Laverneus Coles to go along with Cotchery. Now, though, Coles is catching passes from (insert anyone but Carson Palmer) in Cincinnati.
After Cotchery, it becomes a crap-shoot. Chansi Stuckey is the second-best wide receiver. I'll repeat this, so you have the joy to full understand this:
CHANSI STUCKEY IS THE NUMBER TWO RECEIVER ON AN NFL TEAM THAT IS NOT AN EXPANSION TEAM.
After this is Brad Smith, who isn't too bad but very inconsistent. He's so inconsistent that his inconsistency is very consistent. So he has that going for him.
I really have no idea how this will pan out. I just thank God that Keller can catch.
5). PREDICTIONS! PREDICTIONS! PREDICTIONS!
I look at the schedule and I get acid reflux. I can easily see this team winning just three games this year. New England is back and will probably take both games. Buffalo has gotten better and could win both games. We also face an improved Texans team, the Saints, Carolina, and Indy. Thankfully, we also face a rebuilding Tampa Bay team, Cincy, and the lovable losers known as the Oakland Raiders.
Best case: 10-6
Worst case: 3-13
What I believe: 8-8
Sanchez: 2,850 yards 19 TDs 14 INTs
Thomas Jones: 950 yards 8 TDs
Washington: 800 yards 6 TDs