Active Off-Season: What Jets Fans Have To Look Forward To Until Preseason

John Ewen@HashtagEwenningContributor IIIJanuary 27, 2011

Active Off-Season: What Jets Fans Have To Look Forward To Until Preseason

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    Fireman Ed leading Jets fans in a cheer.
    Fireman Ed leading Jets fans in a cheer.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    For the second straight year, the New York Jets found themselves on the losing end in the AFC Championship game.

    A little disappointing, yes, but fans have to take some pride in Gang Green's recent success. The Jets have made a name for themselves these past two years, and only look to strengthen their Super Bowl dreams this off-season.

    So what exactly can Jets fans look forward to until next Fall?

The Draft

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    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the 2010 NFL Draft
    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the 2010 NFL DraftJeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Yes, a no-brainer, but a possibility to fix any holes the Jets have.

    In his 2011 Mock Draft, Mel Kiper, Jr. has the Jets selecting Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson with the 30th pick. While another defensive tackle does not hurt, especially when looking Kris Jenkins' recent injury problems (He's only played in 7 games these past two seasons), Sione Pouha came up big this year, with 59 tackles and 3 fumble recoveries.

    The Jets biggest hole on the defense is in the form of Defensive Ends. Shaun Ellis is 33 and counting, and had 36 tackles on the last campaign.

    Mike DeVito was the other primary end this year, with Vernon Gholston making brief appearances throughout the season. The Jets can use their first round pick on a DE in order to strengthen a pretty solid defense.

Free Agency

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    Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes
    Braylon Edwards and Santonio HolmesAl Bello/Getty Images

    And less in the form of picking up players, but more in keeping the gang together.

    Immediately after the loss in Pittsburgh, focus shifted away from Dallas, and onto contracts.

    Brad Smith. Santonio Holmes. Braylon Edwards. Shaun Ellis. David Harris. Antonio Cromartie. Brodney Pool. Eric Smith.

    Do these names ring any bells?

    They should, as all played a role in what made the Jets season what it was, and more importantly, all have contracts expiring in March 2011.

    Those first three names are likely of primary concern for GM Mike Tannenbaum, but losing any of them leaves a big spot to fill. It will be interesting to see how many of these guys return next year wearing a Jets jersey.

    A thing to note: Former Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha recently had his contract voided after failing to meet certain incentives. If Cromartie doesn't return next year, would the Jets be willing to reach out to Asomugha and make one of the best cornerback squads in the history of the NFL?

The Drama

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    Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan
    Jets Head Coach Rex RyanNick Laham/Getty Images

    This years season was marked by conflict, controversy, and a hint of Favre.

    The Revis holdout, "Hard Knocks", Inez Sainz, Edward's DWI, the bold predictions, the trash talking, Jenn Sterger, and Rex Ryan's alleged foot fetish videos. The Jets had enough drama to make a MTV series.

    Knowing Rex, next year will not be quiet. Unless, of course, that whole lockout thing happens. In which case Ryan will still find a way to make a statement.

The Growth Of Sanchez

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    Jets Quarterback Mark Sanchez
    Jets Quarterback Mark SanchezNick Laham/Getty Images

    When it comes to receiving blame on NFL teams, quarterbacks are among the top of the pecking order.

    If it's not the coach coming under fire, it's probably the QB. Put that quarterback in New York, where fans and the media attack at the first sign of problems, and the pressure increases tenfold.

    Yet, Mark Sanchez still stands tall. He's had ups (the last second comebacks), and downs (45-3 at Foxborough? Sheesh), but the former USC star is developing into a decent NFL quarterback.

    The interceptions need to go down and the accuracy is not at the desired level yet, but Sanchez is well on the road to franchise quarterback.

The Status Of Schottenheimer

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    Jets Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer watches Mark Sanchez
    Jets Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer watches Mark SanchezNick Laham/Getty Images

    I'm not one for placing blame for a loss on one particular person, but Jets Nation is in agreement that the AFC Championship loss is because of Brian Schottenheimer.

    Several questionable play calls, highlighted by a stuff at the Steeler one-yard line, leaves Schotty's job security in question.

    They ran when they should have passed. They passed when they should have ran. Against the Colts in the Wild Card game, Schottenheimer told Sanchez to "do what you want." This of course led to the pass to Edwards, setting up the game-winning Nick Folk field goal that propelled the team into New England.

    There was no urgency in the play-calling, even when it was do-or-die time.

    The Jets playoff dreams for the past two years have ended in the AFC Championship game. Whether this is the same Schottenheimer curse that plagued his father Marty in San Diego, or just some bad luck, it is unlikely Schotty will be calling the offensive shots on the Jets sideline next year.