Earlier today we ran TJ Rosenthal’s interview with Evan Silva, which painted a negative picture of the 2012 New York Jets. We disagree with big chunks of Silva’s opinion and have elaborated what type of team we think the Jets will be in 2012. Let’s look at where we specifically see flaws in Silva and others analysis who see the Jets as a team who will struggle to even crack .500 this season.
Offense – Generally, people remain way too down on Mark Sanchez’s ability to be a successful quarterback in the NFL. I define successful as the quarterback of a team who is consistently in contention as both a playoff and Super Bowl contender. There is no reason Sanchez can’t be a better version of the player he was for the 2010 team who went 11-5 and was 5 points from a Super Bowl appearance.
Silva refers to the Jets having a successful offense when they had Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes threatening vertically and Dustin Keller and Jerricho Cotchery working the seams, supported by a power running game led by a strong offensive line. The Mark Sanchez of 2010 led a run first offense yet consistently stepped up to make big throws when it mattered. There was nothing timid about his game and he clearly trusted his arm.
Why can’t the Jets replicate that type of offense? Holmes and Keller remain on the roster. Stephen Hill has the speed to threaten defenses deep (as does Chaz Schilens) and Jeremy Kerley showed signs of being a quality slot receiver last season. Yes, Damien Woody has been replaced by Wayne Hunter but don’t forget that Hunter played the entire stretch run and playoffs for an injured Woody in 2010.
It is fair to question the depth at running back. Shonn Greene is a fairly average back and the Jets don’t have a proven player behind him. The hope is that Joe McKnight can add a game breaking element to the running back position, which the team has lacked since Leon Washington was traded a few years back. Beyond that, let’s not forget what Tim Tebow should bring to the running game particularly in goal-line and short yardage situations.
The Jets offense has plenty to prove but there is enough talent to believe that with a new approach from Tony Sparano, they can match or exceed the 22 points per game they were scoring in 2010.
Defense – Most can admit that a minimum, the Jets will have a solid, productive defense thanks to the presence of Rex Ryan, Darrelle Revis, David Harris and Sione Pouha. A great defensive mind and an elite player at all three levels is a hell of a start. The Jets had a tough year in the points allowed category in 2011 but keep in mind no offense allowed opposing defenses to score more points than the Jets. If they cut back on the turnovers, which they are expected to under Tony Sparano, that number will drop significantly. Beyond that, the Jets have upgraded their safety position by adding two new starters in Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry and a new dime back in Josh Bush. They also improved speed at linebacker by drafting Demario Davis and upfront by drafting Quinton Coples. Players like Muhammad Wilkerson and Aaron Maybin will also be a year better in Rex’s system after having their first full off-season to work in it.
It isn’t a defense without flaws, as they still lack overall speed at linebacker and coverage ability at safety. However, they are deep at every position and have enough talent to be a top five unit, as they were in total defense the past three years. Karl Dunbar’s presence will also allow them to be more versatile as more 4-3 and 46 looks are expected to be worked in.
Schedule – There has been a bunch of talk about the Jets starting 1-4, leading to an inevitable Mark Sanchez benching/season long quarterback controversy. Without question, the hardest stretch of the Jets schedule is their first five games –
- Home vs. Buffalo
- At Pittsburgh
- At Miami
- Home vs. San Francisco
- Home vs. Houston
If you are going by pre-season expectations and past history, the Jets should come out at worst 2-3. The Sanchez failure analysis is flawed because he is 5-1 in his career against Buffalo, including a 20/28, 230 yard performance and a 4 touchdown, game winning drive performance last year. He has played very well in both his trips to Pittsburgh and both match-ups against Houston. The Jets will also be substantially better than Miami. A hard stretch…yes? A season crippling stretch? Not by any means.
After those five games the Jets don’t play a single team who made the playoffs last year, outside of New England. They also get to send their defense against such offensive juggernauts as St. Louis, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and Seattle along with getting Miami again at home.
Silva sees 7 wins as the Jets best case scenario, I see that as their worst case scenario. The 2012 Jets should be able to replicate many of the things that made them successful in 2010, along with adding a few new elements.