This may come as a surprise to many people out there, but there are going to be 51 other players on this team come September that are not named Geno Smith or Mark Sanchez. I know, I know, that seems crazy based on the media coverage of this team, but believe me, it is true. And not only that, but those 51 players are going to have a major impact on the fate of the 2013 Jets. Of course, the way the roster looks today won’t be the way it looks when the fourth preseason game comes to a close, but we do have a pretty good idea of where things stand. Let’s go ahead and buy and sell some slightly under-the-radar Jets positions and players.
BUY: The Offensive Line – The work John Idzik has done to rebuild this offensive line has largely gone under the radar, but he has done a terrific job with this unit. The positive vibes started as soon as former coach/bumbling fool Dave DeGuglielmo was relieved of his duties and continued as former starters Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore were let go as free agency began. You’d think letting go of two long-time starters would be a bad thing, but in the case of the two guards, it was 100% the right decision to make. Slauson is unspectacular and is as average as average gets, while Brandon Moore has clearly seen better days. To replace them, Idzik signed former Steeler Willie Colon, Stephen Peterman, and drafted Brian Winters in the 3rd round of the draft. Colon and Winters are projected to start and both figure to be major improvements over their predecessors.
Beyond that, Idzik brought back improving Right Tackle Austin Howard for at least another year, and the depth from top to bottom has greatly improved. Oday Aboushi and William Campbell were both drafted in the middle rounds to develop for a year or two, and both have potential. Idzik has brought this unit a long way from the days of Colin Baxter and Caleb Schlauderaff, and deserves credit for that.
SELL: Tight End Position – The Jets tight end position currently consists of a 1-dimensional receiver who isn’t particularly good at, you know, receiving (Jeff Cumberland), a blocking specialist that isn’t a particularly good blocker (Konrad Reuland), and a rugby player (Smith). That’s it. I was all for the team letting Dustin Keller walk in free agency, but I was hoping they’d bring in somebody to replace him. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a worse group of tight ends from top to bottom on an NFL roster roster today. A reliable receiving tight end can be a young QB’s best friend, and the Jets have yet to fill that role. Let’s hope by September, Idzik manages to add a veteran to the group.
SELL: Mike Goodson – What an idiot. What a spectacular idiot. As we’ve all heard by now, Goodson was arrested this past week and found to have marijuana on him and presumably had a BAC level that was off the charts. Not only that, but guns were also found in the car that was FOR SOME REASON just stopped and parked in the left lane of a highway. Clearly, Mike Goodson is an idiot. What Mike Goodson may not be, however, is a criminal that deserves to be released from the team. It’s important everyone waits to hear the facts of the case before passing judgment and releasing the player that was expected to play a significant role on offense.
Let’s hope the only thing Goodson really ends up being guilty of is being a moron, because I don’t think anybody can feel safe heading into next season with Bilal Powel and Joe McKnight being one Chris Ivory injury away from being major players on offense. The Jets need Goodson to play that 3rd down back role, and I think he could help the Jets a lot more than he could some prison team going against the guards in the real life version of The Longest Yard or whatever.
BUY: Marty Mornhinweg – Words can’t even express what an upgrade Marty is over Tony Sparano from 2012. Already it seems as though the Jets have installed more of an offense than they did all of last year, and from what I understand, he’s even spoken to all of the players on offense, which is something Sparano apparently never got the memo about, if Joe McKnight is to be believed. Mornhinweg has a history of working with great quarterbacks and having top-10 offenses, so while it is unrealistic to expect the Jets to be amongst the top 10 or 12 this year, I also think they’ll fare much better than most expect them to in 2013. We can expect to see more big plays, more dynamic plays, and a more aggressive style than we are used to around here, and that is a major positive. Rex Ryan is basically handing the keys over to Marty, and unlike the last two offensive coordinators, he is more than capable of handling it.
BUY: Antwan Barnes – The signing of Barnes, who had double digit sacks just two years ago, could end up being the best move Idzik made all offseason and we hardly ever hear a word about him. For years and years (and years and years), this team has lacked a dynamic edge rusher and Barnes is more than capable of filling that role for the Jets in 2013. With players like Mo WIlkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Antonio Garay creating a push up the middle for quarterbacks to deal with, Barnes is going to see a ton of 1-on-1 rushing opportunities from the edge, and with his speed, that can easily translate into double digit sacks, even if he only plays about 50% of the snaps. I expect the 2013 Jets to be much better than people expect, and the much improved pass rush thanks to players like Barnes is going to be a major reason why.