Put it on your calendar, every Friday the rest of the off-season (however long that takes) for your 12 pack of Jets thoughts…
1. Backup Issues – It will be interesting to see how the Jets handle their backup quarterback situation in 2011. You can’t expect Mark Brunell back for another year. The Jets were lucky to make it through the season without an injury to Mark Sanchez because I still hold firm in the belief that Brunell isn’t capable at his age to hold the fort down for a few weeks if Sanchez was hurt. Kellen Clemens doesn’t appear to have the confidence of the coaching staff and I’d be surprised if they let him compete for the number two spot. The Jets need to find a quality long term backup for their franchise quarterback who has been occasionally banged up over the first two years of his career. Fortunately, it has now been revealed that Sanchez won’t need off-season shoulder surgery. It is never good when your quarterback needs surgery the first two years of his career.
2. Safety Decision – There is likely going to be a decision made at whom to keep at safety between Eric Smith and Brodney Pool. This isn’t necessarily an easy choice since both began to play better towards the end of the season. Smith has slowly developed into one of Rex Ryan’s favorite players after he was initially skeptical about him. He also has the advantage of being a core special team player. Pool might fit better alongside Jim Leonhard and did provide more big plays than Smith last year. I could honestly see this decision going either way but the reality is the Jets still need to finda bigger playmaker to pair with Leonhard long term.
3. Prime-Time – Despite not making the Super Bowl, I still wouldn’t be shocked to see the Jets end up with the most prime-time games of any team in 2011. They have become a national team and a running headline since Rex Ryan has taken over and there are plenty of intriguing match-ups to consider. Jets/Giants and one of the Jets/Patriots games both seem like prime-time locks. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets/Cowboys, Jets/Eagles, Jets/Ravens, or one of the Jets/Dolphins games were on a Sunday, Thursday, or Monday night.
4. Youth Movement – Remember how much panic there was last season when Alan Faneca, Thomas Jones, Leon Washington, Kenyon Coleman, Jay Feely, and Kerry Rhodes (well maybe not him) all left the team? I expect a similar reaction this year when the Jets inevitably lose a fairly sizable group of contributors from the 2010 team. You can’t keep everybody and that is why it is important for young players to step up and to draft well. This past year Wayne Hunter, James Ihedigbo, Drew Coleman, and Mike DeVito all stepped up in bigger roles. In 2011, players like Joe McKnight, John Conner, Kyle Wilson, Patrick Turner, and Jeff Cumberland may need to do the same.
5. Road Warriors – This is fairly obvious but the Jets need to find a way to win their division next year so they can get some home playoff games. They haven’t played one since 2002, which means they have played 8 straight on the road. There certainly wasn’t a home-field advantage defined by this team in the new stadium and until they can improve on their 5-3 home record, they will have to do the tough sledding on the road in the playoffs. Regardless of the past success of wild-card teams, it is such an easier road to have a bye and then host a playoff game instead of trying to string together 3 straight road wins.
6. Scary Stats – The Jets didn’t have a 1,000 yard rusher or receiver, a player with double digit sacks, or anybody with more than 55 receptions. They didn’t score a touchdown in any of their three home losses. My poor cousin went to three games this year since we split the season tickets and saw a grand total of 5 Nick Folk field goals as the Jets scoring.
7. Poetic Justice – I am pretty sure the Bart Scott post-game interview has exceeded Joe Namath’s “I want to kiss you” interview as the most popular in team history. I already have the auto-tune version on my I-Pod and if you think I won’t be celebrating every touchdown in my flag football league this spring with the airplane arms, you are crazy.
8. Super Bowl – Check out my Super Bowl XLV predictions on SeatGeek. SeatGeek is the leading ticket search engine that enables fans to discover the best deals for sports and concerts — Check out SeatGeek next season when you’re looking for NFL tickets.
9. 2011 Draft – In case you weren’t aware, the Jets have a draft pick in every single round this year except for the 2nd, which they lost in the Antonio Cromartie trade. They pick 30thoverall in the first round.
10. Under the Radar – A few players who don’t get a ton of press but put together very good years – Brandon Moore, who many thought would finally get a chance at a Pro-Bowl in 2010 due to his consistently high level of play…Sione Pouha, who has been rock solid filling in for an injured Kris Jenkins the past two seasons…Tony Richardson who held off John Conner all year and kept paving the way for one of the NFL’s top rushing attacks…Ben Hartsock who cut down on the penalties and is a key part of the running game.
11. Here is hoping Curtis Martin gets in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, like he deserves to…
12. Video Weekend Clips – Swaggerlicious edition