Five Questions About The Jets Defense

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First a few updates:

1. Rich Cimini is reporting the Jets will sign quarterback Mark Brunell as early as this Thursday and there still remains a good chance defensive end Marques Douglas will be brought back before training camp. I am all for bringing Douglas back, who quietly had a very good 2009 season. As for Brunell, I would rather see him as the team’s #3 quarterback instead of their #2 but it seems like the Jets are ready to part ways with Kellen Clemens and let Brunell be Mark Sanchez’s primary backup.

2. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets)…good links today about Rex Ryan convincing Kris Jenkins not to retire, Woody Johnson’s opinions of the Jets contract problems, and a few season preview videos and articles.

Five Questions About The Jets Defense

As training camp rapidly approaches, here are five questions about the Jets defense that still need to be sorted out -

1. How large of an upgrade will Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson be over Lito Sheppard and Dwight Lowery at the cornerback position?

- I don’t think there is any question that Cromartie and Wilson will be an improvement over what the Jets had opposite Darrelle Revis at corner in 2009. Yet, Cromartie is coming off two relatively sub par seasons after a monster 2007 campaign. He was banged up those seasons and the Jets system should play better to his strengths, which should lead to improvements in 2010. However, it remains to be seen how close Cromartie can come to being the playmaker and shut down corner he was in 2007. The Jets are going to give him every chance to succeed with their style of play on defense and it sounds like he will get some reps at both kick and punt returner. If Cromartie can play to his potential, the Jets will have the best pair of starting corners in the NFL by a good margin. Kyle Wilson was considered by some to be the best corner in the 2010 draft and is an aggressive, physical player who will be asked to take over the nickel spot on the Jets defense. He is a rookie so there will be some bumps along the way but the upgrade of his physical talent over Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman last year should provide a huge boost to the Jets defense. This question really comes down to, exactly how dominant is the Jets pass defense going to be?

2. Will Kris Jenkins regain his 2008 form?

Photobucket- To be a little more accurate, will Kris Jenkins regain his form from the first 11 games of the 2008 season when he was the most dominant player on the Jets roster? He is coming off ACL surgery and is going to be 31 years old this season. The Jets need to do a better job of monitoring Jenkins reps this season to enhance his productivity when he is on the field and make sure he still has gas left in the tank when December rolls around. Fortunately, the Jets have a more than capable backup to Jenkins in Sione Pouha, who had a very good season last year after Jenkins went down with his injury. If the Jets can get the Jenkins from the first 11 games in 2008 this season, their defense is going to be that much better than it already is.

3. How much will Jason Taylor improve the Jets pass rush?

- The Jets didn’t have overly impressive sack totals in 2009 and they signed long time rival Jason Taylor to help change that. He had seven sacks for the Dolphins last season but Rex Ryan is confident with the Jets scheme, he can get Taylor back to double digit sack totals. Bryan Thomas is going to remain the starter at outside linebacker but Taylor will be used on third downs and in pass rushing situations. Ryan will also likely move him all over the formation to attack the quarterback. Don’t be shocked to see Taylor with his hand in the dirt on some plays or blitzing from an inside linebacker spot, to keep teams off guard. I still think Calvin Pace may end up leading the Jets in sacks but if Taylor can give them 8 – 11 himself, than signing him was the right decision.

4. How much of an improvement will Brodney Pool be over Kerry Rhodes at safety?

- Kerry Rhodes failed to live up to expectations in 2009. He had a tough time adjusting to no longer being a leader on the defense and was a little too concerned with his off the field lifestyle. Brodney Pool has spent his career on bad football teams and should be chomping at the bit to get his chance starting at safety for this Jets defense. The coaching staff has raved about Pool’s work this off-season and considering the type of season he has having before his injury in 2009, he could be in store for a big year. It won’t take much from Pool to be an improvement from Rhodes last year but hopefully he can bring some of the playmaking ability expected from the safeties in Rex Ryan’s system.

5. Will Vernon Gholston give the Jets anything this year?

- Outside of Sione Pouha, the rotation spots on the Jets defensive line off the bench are up for grabs. It would be nice if Vernon Gholston can turn into a competent backup defensive end, who can occasionally provide some type of pass rush. It is shame that is what we have to hope for now from the #6 pick in the draft but at this point it would be better than nothing. If players like Ropati Pitoitua and Matt Kroul are getting more reps than Gholston by the time 2010 comes to an end, that will be the end of Gholston’s career in green and white.

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