It is hard not to feel good about the New York Jets defense this year, or any year where Rex Ryan is the head coach. There has been a few minor changes and they will need a handful of young players to contribute, like Kyle Wilson, Jamaal Westerman, and Muhammad Wilkerson but on the whole they should be one of the league’s top units again. However, the Jets still have plenty of question marks on the other side of the football, where there could be issues with Mark Sanchez’s supporting cast.
Rob already raised the valid questions about the Jets backfield yesterday and now even more questions surround their group of wide receivers. Derrick Mason still hasn’t signed a contract with the Jets, so at the moment we are a Plaxico Burress rolled ankle away from Patrick Turner starting opposite Santonio Holmes with rookie Jeremy Kerley or journeyman Logan Payne in the slot.
Mason coming on board would add some stability but the guy is 37 years old and Burress will remain a question mark until we start see him producing on the field. I don’t care how good a player like Kerley, Payne, or Scotty McKnight looks in practice, they are all completely unproven at the NFL level and you can’t expect anything out of them until they do it in a regular season game. Do you remember how good Kyle Wilson looked in camp and pre-season last year?
The overall instability of the receivers around Mark Sanchez isn’t a good thing. It now becomes critically important that Santonio Holmes becomes the veteran leader of the group and a reliable safety valve for Sanchez on top of being a big play threat. There should also be a ton more targets going Dustin Keller’s way as he should be the receiver Sanchez is the most comfortable with. He must respond by giving the Jets the Pro-Bowl caliber year he is capable of, talent-wise.
Don’t forget the Jets are also breaking in a new full time right tackle in Wayne Hunter.
If the Jets are going to be back to competing for a Super Bowl, the overwhelming majority of these questions need to be answered “Yes” –
- Can Mark Sanchez take another step in his development and improve his completion by at least 4-5 percentage points?
- Can Santonio Holmes give the Jets the production of a true number one receiver for a full year?
- Can Dustin Keller finally meet his potential for a full year?
- Is Shonn Greene ready to be a lead back?
- Can Wayne Hunter make sure there isn’t a substantial drop off from Damien Woody?
- Can Plaxico Burress stay healthy and produce at a reasonable level for a number two receiver?
- Can the Jets find a number three receiver, if Derrick Mason walks on them?