I wouldn’t bank on Peyton Manning coming through that door, New York Jets fans. What I would bank on is General Manager Mike Tannenbaum doing everything in his power this off-season to prevent his franchise quarterback, Mark Sanchez, breaking in his make or break year.
The last thing Tannenbaum and this organization want to do is be forced to concede after this season that trading up for Sanchez was a mistake and then undergo the task of finding another quarterback to build around. The main priority for this off-season will be adding as much around Sanchez on offense as possible to help him have a productive season.
The hiring of Tony Sparano brings back the mentality of running the football along with a needed emphasis on protecting the quarterback. There is no way the Jets are sending Sanchez out there for another season with Wayne Hunter as a starter. Finding a competent starting right tackle is the first order of business this off-season. The free agent list isn’t crawling with them, which means the Jets may have to get creative in terms of swinging a trade.
Expect the offensive line to receive support through the draft in the middle rounds and for maybe a second veteran to be added for depth purposes. After what he saw last year and with Sparano now in house, Tannenbaum won’t short change himself at this position.
Supporting Sanchez goes beyond protecting him with the starting five offensive lineman. There are some rumors of Dustin Keller not fitting in with the new offense but his chemistry with Sanchez can’t be ignored. Instead look for the Jets to replace the hapless Matthew Mulligan with a quality blocking tight end who could also handle catching 20-25 passes. Keller’s role could be altered as he spends more of time split out or at H-Back than in-line at tight end but expect him back in a Jets jersey this year.
Along those lines, the Jets will likely add another running back and wide receiver to the mix. You can’t Ground and Pound with their current depth chart at running back and you can’t stretch the field for chunks of yardages with their current depth chart at receiver. There isn’t enough proven talent and durability at running back and there isn’t enough top end speed at receiver. Expect a veteran and a draft pick added at each of the two positions.
Finally, Tannenbaum needs to find a veteran to push Sanchez in training camp. Chad Henne makes the most sense on paper or somebody similar to him with recent starting experience.
We all know safety and linebacker are major needs for the Jets but don’t surprised when most of the focus this off-season is building around Sanchez on offense so he can flourish in Tony Sparano’s system.