New York Jets Offseason Report (Part Two): Upgrades Abound!

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New York Jets Offseason Report (Part Two):  Upgrades Abound!
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The New York Jets added so many new players and subtracted so many old ones that it takes two columns just to mention everybody!

This is the second part of my two-column feature on all the moves the Jets made during their controversial off-season. Their transaction list is longer than Jay Leno’s chin. No team brought in as many high-profile players, and no team probably got rid of as many popular players, either.

Here is a look at the other players who have come and gone in recent months and what impacts their arrivals and departures will have on the Jets this upcoming season.

Leon Washington

Jets fans will always reserve a place in their hearts for this mighty mite. Whether he was returning kickoffs, catching screen passes, or running draws and quick traps on third-and-longs, Washington was the most exciting player on the team for the four years he donned the green and white.

But tragically Washington went from game breaker to bone breaker on one career-changing play. His leg was twisted like a crazy straw against the Oakland Raiders at the midpoint of last season and he was immediately placed on injured reserve. The image of Washington being carted off the field that fateful day is a horrible final memory to have of him.

Washington will supposedly be ready for the start of the 2010 campaign for the Seattle Seahawks, but there are as many question marks surrounding that as there are surrounding Ben Roethlisberger’s infamous trip to a public bathroom. If he was healthy New York could have netted a first or second-round draft choice for him, but the Jets were lucky to just move up two rounds in the draft for Washington considering his condition.

New York selected first-round talent Joe McKnight in the fourth round in what is shaping up to be a steal a kleptomaniac could be proud of. McKnight will be the new Washington—returning kicks, catching short passes, etc.—and the kid should have chemistry with quarterback Mark Sanchez since they played together for a year at USC.

Sanchez was outstanding during the playoffs without having a safety valve out of the backfield to throw to since Shonn Greene and Thomas Jones are stone-handed pass catchers. Giving him another option in the passing attack, especially one he is familiar with, can only help.

McKnight drew criticism after showing up to his first off-season workout out of shape and subsequently coughing up his Taco Bell all over the sideline, but hopefully he will learn his lesson and fill Washington’s shoes admirably once the season starts.

Fans will surely miss Washington and every quality he brought to the table, but be realistic, he is not irreplaceable. The Jets did just fine without him on their road to the AFC Championship game last year. Brad Smith returned the kickoffs, and the Jets just threw to their receivers and tight ends more in crucial situations. Washington was no longer a necessity.

Positive effects

Washington may not have been ready to play this season and was no sure bet to be the same breakaway threat he was. McKnight is injury-free and could actually be faster than Washington.

Negative effects

Just like with losing Thomas Jones and Alan Faneca, a solid citizen and team leader has been jettisoned, and you cannot yet quantify what that might do to this mish-mosh of personalities.

Brodney Pool

Kerry Rhodes will not be missed. From his disappearing like a ghost for the first 10 games of last season to his annoying, self-serving Tweats, he was a playmaker who did not make enough plays for his label and missed too many tackles to deserve multi-millions.

Enter Pool. The former Oklahoma standout safety was known as a hard hitter during his five seasons with the Cleveland Browns, but it wasn’t like he was Ronnie Lott, and it also wasn’t like he made a lot more plays than Rhodes. Pool only had 11 interceptions and four sacks in five years and was not always a full-time starter.

But Pool is built better for head coach Rex Ryan’s "46" defense than the flighty Rhodes was. Pool can crowd the line and offer extra run support, and he should cause more turnovers since he is away from one of the worst defenses in football and now part of arguably the best.

Pool is a wild card. You cannot guarantee how well he will perform because he has never been under a microscope like this, though because of the talent he possesses and because of the talent surrounding him, signs point to him being a solid addition.

Positive effects

the Jets now have a surer tackler on the last line of defense and someone who can be the perfect compliment to the other starting safety, Jim Leonhard, who is an undersized overachiever whose sneaky quickness helps on blitzes and coverage. And getting rid of Rhodes is addition by subtraction.

Negative effects

Pool’s spotty injury history is worrisome. So is the inconsistent play that marked his career. But the Jets signed him to a one-year, $1.3 million deal, so there is little risk for a player who could net a huge reward if everything breaks right.

Antonio Cromartie

This walking advertisement for birth control was known more for his interception returns than for his baby making a couple years ago when he was widely regarded as one of the better cornerbacks in football. He was instant offense on defense when he picked off 10 passes and scored three defensive touchdowns during his sensational sophomore NFL season.

But Cromartie’s stock dropped quicker than Lindsey Lohan’s over the past year. He was toasted by more receivers than Elvis Patterson ever was, he tackled like a matador on running plays and stopped grabbing interceptions and scoring touchdowns.

Cromartie’s cover skills have come into serious question. Despite his penchant for interceptions, San Diego played a lot of zone and did not make him cover man-to-man nearly as much as the Jets will ask him. Will he be prone to giving up 50-yard plays when he is on an island all alone without any safety help over the top when the Jets are all-out blitzing?

Positive effects

Cromartie is an upgrade over injury-riddled Lito Shephard, who was one of the main reasons why the Jets lost to Indianapolis in the AFC title game. Cromartie’s questionable cover skills shouldn’t be exploited a lot considering he will never line up against a team’s top receiver since that’s All-Universe Darrelle Revis’ job.

Negative effects

Cromartie will score a couple touchdowns thanks to New York’s pass rush pressuring quarterbacks into mistakes, but he will likely be torched a few times as well. Hopefully off-the-field distractions – like his babies’ mamas looking for child support – do not cause Cromartie to play in a disinterested way like they did in 2009 with the Chargers.

Jason Taylor

Taylor signing with the Jets is worse than Johnny Damon going from the Red Sox to the Yankees or Anakin Skywalker going to the Dark Side.

Taylor has disparaged the Jets and their fans for countless years, yet both sides came to the mutual understanding that a marriage could actually help out all involved. Taylor got a job, the Jets got a premier pass rusher. Business is business. Let bygones be bygones.

Positive effects

The Jets pass rush, the only weakness in their top-rated defense, gets a probable Hall of Famer to help sack quarterbacks. Taylor should be able to manage 8-11 sacks in this defense as long as he stays healthy. A 50-year-old Taylor would still be better than Bryan Thomas.

Negative effects

Taylor could turn heel on the Jets like Randy Savage did to Hulk Hogan and stab them in the back during a crucial game against the Dolphins late in the season. Father Time is not making Taylor any faster or stronger, either.

Nick Folk

I think I echo the sentiments of thousands of other Jets fans when I say Jay Feely was beloved. After years of watching shaky booters like Doug Brien and Mike Nugent push kicks right or pull kicks left at the most inopportune times, it was refreshing to have Feely bring stability to the position. Even better, he was the first kicker I have ever seen that didn’t hang back on kickoffs. He raced down the field like a greyhound and barreled into blockers like a bowling ball to help bring down return men.

Now Folk looks like he will be New York’s kicker in 2010. This prospect leaves some Jets fans queasy because Dallas released Folk towards the end of last season because he was a god-awful 18-for-28 on field goal attempts. But they cannot forget about the previous two seasons when he was a top-flight kicker who made 87 percent of his FG tries, scored 131 points in 2007 and connected on 12-of-13 kicks beyond 40 yards away in 2008.

Positive effects

Folk at his best is better than Feely. He has proven he has a powerful leg from 50 yards out and has had more great years (two) than terrible years (one).

Negative effects

The kickoff coverage is going to be worse without Feely sticking his helmet into wedges. Do not be surprised if Folk pulls a Brien and shanks a key kick in the playoffs that turns him into a modern-day Scott Norwood.

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