12 Pack of Jets Off-Season Thoughts – Edition #1

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We can’t just stop the 12 pack because the Jets decided to only play one half in the AFC Championship Game. On to edition #1 of the off-season 12 pack, but not before a friendly reminder to follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (@TurnOnTheJets)…check out that new Twitter bar on the side of the home page, not bad right? A special thanks to Will Horton who migrated TOJ off the Fanball server and on to our new one.

1. The Running Backs – I am certainly not against LaDainian Tomlinson coming back for another year with the New York Jets. He is a valuable outlet for Mark Sanchez and provides necessary leadership on the offensive side of the football. However, the Jets have to be careful to not let him stunt the growth of Joe McKnight and especially Shonn Greene. Due to Tomlinson’s strong start, Greene never really received the chance to develop into the number one back we all envisioned him as. Down the stretch when he started to play better, he still wasn’t getting enough carries because Tomlinson maintained a big role in the offense.

Joe McKnight wasn’t ready to contribute this past season but did show signs of hope towards the end of the year. The coaching staff apparently loves his skill set and the only way to see if he can become a part of this offense is to give him a chance. If Tomlinson returns, it needs to be in a reduced role that allows Greene to get 17-20 carries a game and McKnight to get 7-9 offensive touches himself at running back and receiver. The future of this backfield is Greene, McKnight, and John Conner at fullback and the future should start in 2011.

2. The Mark Sanchez Question – I am still amazed at how hesitant some people are to give Sanchez credit for the type of season he put together in 2010. There is no question he struggles with inaccuracy at times and hits stretches of inconsistency, however on the whole he threw 5 more touchdowns and 7 less interceptions, along with over 800 more yards than he did his rookie year. He took major strides forward in his second year as a starting quarterback and is developing into one of the best quarterbacks in the league at avoiding the pass rush and making a play outside of the pocket. Most importantly, he has the necessary intangibles to be a leader of a team and consistently plays well in big spots. The guy has four road playoff victories in his first two years and has a bright future as the Jets offense becomes more aggressive.

3. Changing Faces – Marcus Dixon, Marquice Cole and James Ihedigbo are three role players who I expect to see more playing time on defense in 2011. They all showed potential in limited reps and with at least a few defensive backs and defensive lineman leaving as free agents or being released, should get an opportunity to create bigger roles for themselves.

4. Bye, Vernon – Mike Tannenbaum made it pretty clear today that we shouldn’t expect to see Vernon Gholston back in 2011. Why would the team even bother at this point? Three seasons, zero sacks, and limitless hype and “Gholston is finally getting it” stories…it is time to move on.

5. Let’s Not Repeat – Let’s face the reality that Kyle Wilson showed signs of being a bust in his rookie year. He seemed overwhelmed by the NFL game and was out-played by Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery all season. Wilson will be given every opportunity to be at least the nickel back if not the starter opposite Darrelle Revis (if Antonio Cromartie leaves) and he needs to take advantage of it. Hopefully, he will learn from his rookie mistakes instead of losing confidence from his struggles.

6. Scary Stats Part 1 – Bart Scott has 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble in two seasons with the Jets. Drew Coleman had 4 sacks and 5 forced fumbles this season for the Jets…Bryan Thomas had less than 40 total tackles this season despite starting every game at outside linebacker…Dwight Lowery had the same amount of regular season touchdowns this season as Shonn Greene.

7. Preparing For Life Without Brad – We all want him back and we all know how valuable he is, but I have hard time seeing the Jets pay Brad Smith, Josh Cribbs type money in a year they have to pay David Harris, Antonio Cromartie, and Santonio Holmes. Joe McKnight needs to pick up the slack on kick return and as an option running the football. Patrick Turner can help fill the void at receiver and will get more playing time any way with Braylon Edwards likely leaving.

8. To Shaun Ellis and Mike Tannenbaum – Let’s have cooler heads prevail this off-season and work something out. Nobody wants to see Ellis finish his career in a different color jersey than Green and White and he would be a great mentor to whatever young defensive lineman the Jets draft this year.

9. Already Excited – New York’s current JV team (the Giants) at New York’s finest this season…you know that game has Monday or Sunday night football written all over it.

10. Plax and Aso – There has been plenty of chatter about both Plaxico Burress and Nnamdi Asomugha joining the Jets this year. However, I would say there is less than a ten percent chance of either happening. Asomugha is only coming here if he agrees to take much less than he is worth, which I doubt he will do. I could see the Jets exploring Burress but I’d be surprised to see them add another sideshow especially since there is no guarantee he’d be anywhere near the player he once was considering his time off.

11. Anybody Else – Been spending time wondering what would have happened if Ben Roethlisberger didn’t complete that third and six pass to Antonio Brown?

12. Video Therapy (Wide Receiver Edition) –

Enjoy your weekend…