Three weeks into the season, the New York Jets have started off the same way they did last year, sitting at 2-1. While they may have started off in similar fashion, there is a key difference between the team of 2010 and 2011, this year's team is better.
Just like many other teams, the Jets added new weapons to their team, only after they dropped a few key players from their 2010 roster. Some of those players include: Braylon Edwards, Shaun Ellis, Jericho Cotchery and Brad Smith.
Amid all of these losses, the Jets have returned in a stronger fashion than what most people have expected. With new additions like Donald Strickland, Plaxico Burress, Jeremy Kerley and more, the Jets look to make another playoff appearance and hopefully win a Super Bowl.
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Once the lockout came to an end, the Jets decided to make some critical switches at the wide receiver position, and with the exception of Santonio Holmes, brought in a whole new core of receivers.
Last year, the Jets had Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith, and Braylon Edwards at the receiver position. To replace those players, the Jets decided to go with cheaper, yet efficient alternatives in Derrick Mason, Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Kerley.
So far, the new receiving core has worked to the Jets advantage. Plaxico Burress is going to be the go-to guy when the Jets are in the red zone and need to make passes. He has already made some pretty big catches, like his touchdown catch against Dallas during Week 1, which helped fuel the Jets great comeback. Also, Burress has been a great blocker, and often times his blocks have helped on big gains.
The 15-year veteran Derrick Mason is being looked at as Jericho Cotchery's replacement, and so far, he has been a great acquisition by General Manager Mike Tannenbaum. Mason has not had and probably will not have big plays like Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes will as the season goes on, but he is a great receiver when it comes to extending drives. He works for the extra yard and still has great hands, which could be seen when he made a great one-handed catch against the Raiders, which gave the Jets a first down.
Prior to training camp it seemed like the Jets were taking shots in the dark when they signed Burress and Mason to their roster, but the new receivers mixed with Santonio Holmes make for a dynamic trio that produces a very threatening aerial attack.
In April the Jets declared that their defensive line is a priority when they used their first round pick to select a defensive end. Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson has already made an impact as a Jet and will continue to make impact for years to come.
Against Jacksonville during Week 2, he was able to get into the backfield on a three-man rush and sack Luke McCown for a safety, which gave the Jets a 9-0 lead; a lead they never relinquished as they went on to win 32-3. Wilkerson is a great fit for Rex Ryan's defensive scheme and fans should expect big things out of him for a while.
Some other young players on the defensive line who are also veterans are defensive tackle Mike DeVito and Sione Pouha. Both players fly under the radar as great defensive lineman in the league, but that is because they are selfless. In the Jets scheme, players like Pouha and DeVito are used to occupy the offensive lineman, allowing linebackers David Harris and Bart Scott to make the plays, which has worked well and will continue to work well. That is not to say that they do not make plays at all though. Whenever teams try to run the ball, Pouha is a force and is able to prevent any holes from opening up for opposing running backs. Meanwhile, Mike DeVito is responsible for the miraculous fumble Tony Romo had during Week 1 of the season, his forced fumble that was recovered by the Jets helped to spark their 14-point fourth quarter that led to a great 27-24 victory.
The Jets defensive line has gotten a face lift after getting rid of veterans like Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce, but that does not mean they are lacking skill. The younger players have answered the bell well, and will continue to improve and make big plays for the Jets as the season continues.
Not many people give Mark Sanchez, but the reality is, the kid's got talent and he keeps getting better. In his first two years, Mark Sanchez has led the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances, yet he still gets criticism saying he is not good and should not be playing in the NFL.
Sure, his statistics are not the greatest, but if you are a good quarterback in the National Football League, you are not playing strictly for statistics, you play to win the game, and that is something Mark Sanchez knows how to do well. Last season, the Jets were put in tough situations three games in a row as they went into overtime in the first two against Detroit and Cleveland and had to make a comeback in under a minute against Houston.
In all three of those games, Sanchez performed in high pressure situations and led his team to victory.
This year, Sanchez has played well even though he has thrown 6 touchdowns, but 4 interceptions, three coming in the last two games. Critics will make a big deal about the interceptions, but they are only a result to some misjudgment by Sanchez, which has been his only real problem this season. The interceptions that Sanchez has thrown this year all come from the same situation, he is trying to fit the ball into a tough spot and instead of throwing it away or checking it down, he tries to make the big play and in his case, it rarely works. If you look at the interception he threw in the endzone against Oakland, he was trying to fit the ball in a crowded area instead of throwing it away. On that play he should have thrown it away since it was first down, but the small mental errors that Sanchez has been making on these interceptions can and will be fixed if the Jets coaching staff recognizes it.
Mark Sanchez may have not had standout years his first two years in the National Football League, but he is on the rise and each week he continues to improve.
One of this season's standout players for the New York Jets has been Dustin Keller. This should come as no surprise as the versatile tight end had a similar hot start last season but cooled down once teams learned how to lock him down, forcing the Jets to take advantage of the other weapons they had.
Thus far, Keller leads all of the Jets receivers as he has 16 receptions for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Several of his catches have helped the Jets move the ball down field, especially when they trick the defense using play-action passes.
Since Mark Sanchez's first year, Brian Schottenheimer's use of play-action passes have been one of his successes as each time the Jets run it and Sanchez finds Keller, they usually get the first down and possibly more.
If the Jets continue to utilize Dustin Keller's strengths there is no telling how well he can do this season, he has definitely improved since last season.
Last season, LaDainian Tomlinson proved that he could still run the ball really well, despite his bitter departure from San Diego, which made people believe he would not play as well in 2010. This season, Tomlinson has proved that he can still be a vital part of this offense even though he will not be the feature back.
Using Tomlinson out of the backfield on third down pass plays has proved to be a great new scheme as he has converted so many first down for the Jets this season. Not only can he convert third downs when needed, he can still turn on the jets like he did on the two long screen passes he has had this season against the Cowboys and Raiders.
There is no doubt that Tomlinson will continue to make clutch plays throughout the season, with this new strategy, the acquisition of Tomlinson continues to get better for the Jets.