New York Jets Fact Or False: Secondary Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly Fact or False, this week focusing on the New York Jets secondary

Chris Gross is back with his weekly Fact or False, this week focusing on the New York Jets secondary. Make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter

The New York Jets have one of the most intriguing defensive secondaries in the NFL. While they have, arguably, the greatest trio of cornerbacks in the league in (All-World) Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson, they have not been very strong at the safety position as of late. However, the Jets addressed this issue the best way they possibly could this offseason, by adding 4 newcomers. The two free agents, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, along with the two rookies, Josh Bush and Antonio Allen, have the chance to revitalize this position for New York, and officially give the Jets the best secondary in the league. Will these additions, along with the players already on the roster, combine to make such a secondary? Find out all you need to know in this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.

Kyle Wilson will emerge as a starter this season. False. Although I fully expect Wilson to improve greatly this season, as we witnessed a fairly decent leap in play from his rookie to sophomore season, he is still not ready to take over as a full time starter. Last season, Wilson ranked 59th among active cornerbacks in the NFL in completion percentage when targeted, as opposing quarterbacks completed 66.7% of their passes when throwing at the former first round pick out of Boise State. While this number is certainly a bit inflated due to the fact that Wilson is picked on as the nickel corner in the same secondary as Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, this number will need to decrease if Wilson is going to become a starter on this defense. Players are not selected in the first round to serve as situational/back up players, so look for the Jets to attempt to increase Wilson’s role in the defense, but only if he proves capable.

There is not one Wide Receiver in the AFC East that will escape Revis Island this season. Fact. We’ve previously gone over why Chad Ochocinco is no threat to Revis, but the obvious argument here is Buffalo Wide Receiver Stevie Johnson. Many feel that Johnson “owns” Revis due to the fact that over two games last season, Johnson caught 11 balls for 159 yards and a touchdown. While these numbers certainly are not Revis-like, let’s not put Johnson in that life boat just yet. Although he did beat Revis on a 52 yard catch down the sideline during their week 9 match up in Buffalo, the sole touchdown that Johnson has on Revis in his career was a clear case of miscommunication within the defense.

Prior to the 5 yard touchdown Johnson snagged off of a slant route, Revis was lined up in what appeared to be man coverage, as displayed by the rather tight alignment to the line of scrimmage. Just before the snap, though, an obvious check in the coverage was made as Revis bailed out just as the play began. Johnson hit the slant, which should have been covered by Calvin Pace, who was running around like a chicken with his head cut off, as he clearly missed the check. So, while Johnson did have his 5 seconds of fame against Revis, he by no means “beat” the All-Pro corner. This is not to say that Johnson is incapable of such a feat, but let’s see him gain some consistency against 24 before declaring him the victor in any such matchup.

The Jets will add another Cornerback before the season. Fact. While the Jets have arguably the greatest trio of corners in the NFL in Revis, Cromartie, and Wilson, there is not too much experience on the depth chart behind them. The five other cornerbacks currently on the Jets roster have played in a combined 31 NFL games. While Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant have contributed on Special Teams in the past, it would not be wise for the Jets to enter the season with this amount of inexperience at the position, particularly if none of them stand out in training camp. One name that has been discussed greatly among Jets Nation is former Jet Drew Coleman. A free agent, Coleman is coming off of a career year in Jacksonville last season with 46 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 9 passes defended. Coleman is also familiar with Rex Ryan’s scheme having played in it in 2009 and 2010. This would be a great fit for both sides if the Jets decide to add depth heading into the season.

Antonio Cromartie is unfairly criticized based on performance. Fact. While Cromartie’s tackling has certainly never been the strength of his game, his coverage numbers have been very good for a number 2 corner. Cromartie is typically criticized for poor play, however in his two seasons with the Jets, he has 7 interceptions with 29 passes defended. While he certainly gives up his share of catches, and misses more tackles than anyone would enjoy seeing, Cromartie has arguably the toughest job in football: playing opposite Darrelle Revis. It is nearly impossible for anyone who is targeted as much as Cromartie, due to the presence of his counterpart, to maintain a perfect resume. Therefore it should not come as a surprise to anyone to see him give up a few catches. Yes, the best ones prove to consistently shut down anyone that lines up against them, but how many corners are there like that in the league? About one, and he plays in the same secondary as Cromartie.

The Jets collectively have the biggest group of meat heads at the Safety position in the NFL. Fact. Although their coverage skills are going to be tested to their greatest extent this season, is there truly a bigger group of meat heads at this position than LaRon Landry (6’0″ 220 lbs), Yeremiah Bell (6’0″ 205 lbs), and Eric Smith (6’1″ 207 lbs)? While their play on the field is critical to the success of the Jets defense this year, there is no debating the fact that these guys get after it in the weight room. Besides the countless bone crunching hits we’ve seen from them in the past, this picture should put any argument on this issue to rest.

Bonus – Having no captains will hurt the Jets this season. False. The no captains policy that took effect at the conclusion of last season following the Miami meltdown has been blown out of proportion ever since Rex Ryan uttered those words at his year end press conference. Guard Matt Slauson summed it up perfectly when he said that not naming captains has forced players to step into leadership roles. Leadership ability is something that players either have or don’t have, it is not a quality that can be attained or taught. Appointing captains can sometimes hurt a team because it could place the wrong people in leadership roles that they are unfit for, while excluding players who are natural leaders from such a position (Brandon Moore anyone?). While captains have been important to sports, the title does not automatically make a player a leader. The focus on this issue is certainly being sensationalized. Regardless of whether or not players have the “C” on their jerseys, those who are leaders are going to lead, it is encrypted in their DNA. Expect to see players like Moore, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, Mark Sanchez, and David Harris step into those leadership roles this season, on and off the field, without being officially declared as captains.

TOJ 12 Pack: Under The Radar New York Jets

TOJ with a look at 12 critical players to the New York Jets upcoming season who aren’t receiving much press

A quick hitting 12 pack for your Friday afternoon, focusing on twelve New York Jets who will be critical to the team’s success in 2012 but aren’t receiving the same media adoration of Tim Tebow or media scorn of Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes.

1. Muhammad Wilkerson – Last year’s first round pick, who had a good not great rookie season. Wilkerson is steady against the run and showed flashes of being able to get after the passer. If he takes advantage of his first full off-season, the Jets pass rush will receive a needed boost in 2012.

2. Joe McKnight – A player who could be a huge factor on offense if used properly. We saw Reggie Bush flourish last year in Miami under Tony Sparano and McKnight has a similar skill set. He could also take advantage of the Jets using the Wildcat with Tim Tebow by having the speed to make plays on the edge of the defense.

3. Jeremy Kerley – Should be given the opportunity to flourish as the team’s slot receiver. Kerley has excellent quickness and began to come on strong at the end of his rookie season.

4. Austin Howard – Who? A guy who could be given the opportunity to become the starting right tackle if Wayne Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse play like they did last season.

5. Bilal Powell – If the Jets are going to be as run heavy as they indicate, there should be a role for Powell. The Jets spent a 4th round pick on him last season, so they might as well give him a chance. He didn’t look impressive at all when given a chance last season but maybe with a full off-season under his belt he could improve.

6. Josh Mauga – Even if Bart Scott hangs on to the starting inside linebacker job, Mauga will likely see time on passing downs. The Jets need to find a long term answer opposite David Harris. Can Mauga give any indications this year that he could be that guy?

7. Kenrick Ellis – He basically had a red shirt rookie season, if he can’t become a part of the regular defensive line rotation in 2012, it is certainly going to look like he was a wasted third round pick.

8. John Conner – You don’t hear much about The Terminator these days. It would be nice to see him become a consistent short yardage threat and a more reliable receiver out of the backfield.

9. Ellis Lankster – Somebody has to fill Marquice Cole’s role on all the special teams.

10. Jeff Cumberland – Showed flashes of being a valuable weapon in the passing game last year. Problem is, how many pass catching tight ends does Tony Sparano have use for?

11. Caleb Schlauderaff – If Matt Slauson isn’t ready for the season because of off-season surgery, Schlauderaff would step in as the starter.

12. Kyle Wilson – His role should continue to grow on Rex Ryan’s defense. Could we see him line up at free safety in a few looks?

New York Jets: The Good Guys

TOJ on the New York Jets who actually lived up to or exceeded expectations this season

Despite many players falling well short of expectations for the New York Jets this past season, not every player had a disappointing year. Here is a look at the guys who carried their weight in 2011 –

Darrelle Revis – The best corner in football played like the best corner football. Beyond being his usual lockdown self, Revis also made a number of big plays that led to victories. The only thing more you’d like to see from him at this point is a more assertive leadership role taken.

David Harris – This was one of the most productive years of his career. Harris is solid in both run and pass defense and remains a key part of the Jets 3-4 scheme.

Kyle Wilson – After a rough rookie season, Wilson took a step towards shedding the “bust” label by having a solid year as the Jets nickel back. I am not sure if he is ready to be a full time starter yet but he is moving in that direction.

Muhammad Wilkerson – The rookie had a good, not great year from start to finish. He started every game, was good against the run, and provided an occasional push against the pass. Look for a big jump from him in year two.

Sione Pouha – Pouha has established himself as one of the best run stopping defensive lineman in the league and took leadership over a position group that overachieved all season.

Marcus Dixon – He has turned into a quality rotational player that did an admirable job filling in for Mike DeVito when he was injured.

Aaron Maybin – The only player this year who provided some kind of a pass rush.

Brandon Moore – A Pro-Bowl caliber guard and a leader in the locker room who did the right thing by standing up to Santonio Holmes criticism of the offensive line earlier in the year.

Nick Mangold – The best center in football, who showed his true value by missing a few games this year.

Dustin Keller – His most productive season and one of the few Jets pass catchers who didn’t mope around at all this year.

Jeremy Kerley – One of the only explosive players on the Jets offense. He showed a ton of potential this year and should be a big part of the offense next season.

Joe McKnight – A Pro-Bowl caliber special teams player, who showed glimpses on offense. Is he ready to be a full time third down back?

New York Jets Defense: Can They Rise To The Occasion?

TOJ wonders if the New York Jets defense has the personnel to slow down Buffalo’s high powered offense

The Buffalo Bills have surprised this season led by a high powered offense. Running back Fred Jackson is playing as well as any back in the league and possesses the type of game breaking ability on the edges that has given the New York Jets defense fits this year. Ryan Fitzpatrick quarterbacks a spread attack that is built around his quick release and timing.

In terms of Buffalo’s passing attack, the Jets are built to stop them. They have the corners to match-up with their receivers, who have the ability to be physical enough with them to disrupt their timing and push them around the field. Aaron Maybin is going to lead a charged up pass rush that should have the ability to get after Fitzpatrick.

It is going to come down to stopping Jackson both as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield, if the Jets defense wants to have a respectable showing on Sunday. There still remains a chance Mike DeVito won’t play this weekend, which means the pressure will be on Muhammad Wilkerson and the rotation of Marcus Dixon and Ropati Pitoitua at end to set the edge, along with Calvin Pace at outside linebacker.

When it comes to covering Jackson out of the backfield, that is on the safeties and extra corners. I would expect the Jets to spend most of this game with 5 or 6 defensive backs on the field. Kyle Wilson and Brodney Pool should play the bulk of the game and need to help in run support, along with disrupting the short passing game.

The Jets defense played their best half of the season against San Diego. They now need to build on it against a better offense.

Young Pups Could Lead To Big Second Half For New York Jets Defense

TOJ on the development of the younger players on the New York Jets defense and how it could lead to a second half improvement

The New York Jets defense has problems and shortcomings, as any unit in the NFL does. However, thanks to Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine’s ability to gameplan on a weekly basis they can still come up with big time performances, which will allow the Jets to remain a playoff contender throughout the rest of the year.

One of the other reasons for optimism with the Jets defense in their final nine games is the development of their young players.

Let’s start with the defensive line, which has quickly been rebuilt for the long haul. First round draft pick Muhammad Wilkerson has put together a strong start to the year, particularly with his showings against Jacksonville, Baltimore, and San Diego. Third round pick Kenrick Ellis has shown potential in his limited role and should get more reps as the season moves on. Beyond that both Ropati Pitoitua and Marcus Dixon are quality rotational players to support Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito, who should still have their best years in front of them.

At linebacker, the Jets are sorely lacking speed. Josh Mauga and Jamaal Westerman are platooning as replacements for Bryan Thomas at outside linebacker and both have taken their lumps. Yet, Westerman has shown some of the pass rush ability the coaching staff has talked up with 2.5 sacks and Mauga should get better as the season progresses. Beyond that, Aaron Maybin has been a revelation with 3 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in only four games with very limited reps. His role will continue grow and he just may be the double digit sack guy the Jets have been looking for.

In the secondary, outside of Darrelle Revis putting together another monster season the most encouraging thing has been the growth of Kyle Wilson. The Jets 2010 first round pick is substantially improved in his second year and is turning into a very good nickel back, which is a key spot in Ryan’s defense.

In the long term, the Jets will need more young talent, particularly at safety and linebacker. However, they do have enough this year to make that run Rex Ryan talked about in his most recent press conference.

New York Jets: 10 Up, 10 Down

Ten New York Jets trending up, and ten New York Jets trending down

Up – Wayne Hunter

After an ugly start that had most of us clamoring for Damien Woody, Hunter has settled down and put together back to back solid performances, including a terrific one on Monday Night against Cameron Wake. Nobody ever expected Hunter to be a Pro-Bowl caliber player but if he can find some consistency and be an average starter, the Jets will at least have a year or two to find a long term replacement.

Down – Shonn Greene

I have always believed that if given the opportunity Shonn Greene could be a quality feature back. Through six games, Greene is making me reconsider that thought process. He needs to start breaking a few big runs, so his 21 carries for 71 yards could start looking like 21 carries for 115 yards. If he continues to be this sluggish, look for more carries for LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight down the stretch and then look for Mike Tannenbaum to make a strong play for Matt Forte or Maurice Jones-Drew this off-season.

Up – Joe McKnight

The new Brad Smith, who finds a way to make a few big plays each week either on offense or special teams. He should receive a bigger role as both a running back and receiver moving forward. When is the last time you heard anyone mention Leon Washington or Danny Woodhead by the way?

Down – Plaxico Burress

By everybody’s admission, he isn’t on the same page as Mark Sanchez yet which is somewhat understandable. However, the sulking on the field isn’t helping anyone. The question of if Burress is going to become a consistent weapon down the stretch, will go a long way to determining how serious of a playoff contender the Jets are.

Up – Aaron Maybin

His skill set is very raw, as basically all he could is speed rush. However, he is always going 100 miles per hour and has a natural ability to create turnovers as he seems to force a fumble every time he makes a tackle. He is a good project to continue developing in this defense and should create more plays as the season progresses.

Down – Matthew Mulligan/Patrick Turner

A symbol of Brian Schottenheimer’s problems as  aplay caller, as they are dead give aways to the Jets running the football. The problem is that neither seem to provide much of a threat as a pass catcher and the only impact plays I can remember from them is dropped passes by both them and the occasional holding call on Mulligan.

Up – Jamaal Westerman

He has finally broke through with 2.5 sacks in the past 2 games, providing the pass rush the coaching staff expected this off-season. However, Westerman still must become a complete player and set the edge better in the running game, as do all the Jets linebackers and ends.

Down – Mark Sanchez

Sanchez hasn’t been quite as bad as some will lead you to believe. Yet, his continued struggles with accuracy and slow starts remains frustrating to watch. The good news is that he has avoided turnovers the past two weeks but this offense needs more from him, especially in this critical upcoming three game stretch of games.

Up – Kenrick Ellis

The rookie third round pick was finally active last week and made a noticeable impact along the defensive line. Considering the Jets struggles stopping the run, expect to see much more Ellis moving forward. There is no questioning his talent but can he continue to improve in Rex Ryan’s system?

Down – Antonio Cromartie

He has been way, way too inconsistent this season. Cromartie should be as charged up as possible (no pun intended) for this Sunday, so hopefully he can begin to display some type of steadiness in the number two corner spot.

Up – Kyle Wilson

Wilson has quietly put together a much improved second year, highlighted by the job he did against Davone Bess in the slot last week. His role on the defense should only continue to grow and you feel like it is only a matter of time until he starts turning in some interceptions and sacks.

Down – Eric Smith

I am still not convinced he is anywhere near capable of being a full time starter at safety. His shortcomings in coverage are too much to overcome, particularly next to Jim Leonhard who already struggles in coverage.

Up – Nick Folk/TJ Conley

Nick Folk hasn’t missed a kick yet this year. Conley has been steady, which is saying something for the Jets punter position in previous years.

Down – Donald Strickland

It has been frustrating to see him injured again and not make much an impact when given the reps early in the year. With Wilson continuing to improve, I don’t see him having much of a role down the stretch.

Up – LaDainian Tomlinson

You have to expect a big game from Tomlinson this week against San Diego, right? LT has continued to be more productive with the football in his hands than any other running back on the team. If Greene continues to struggle, look for the Jets to lean more on Tomlinson down the stretch.

Down – Brodney Pool

I thought he could provide some support in pass coverage considering the shortcomings of Smith and Leonhard at the position. However, he hasn’t been much better and also been missing tackles all over the field in the running game.

Up – David Harris

So far Harris has been more active around the football than he was in 2010. Through six games, he has 33 tackles, an interception, 3 passes defensed, and 2 sacks.

Down – The Trips Wide Formation

There always seems to be a point in each game, where the Jets bunch three of receivers and split them out exceptionally wide. They proceed to always run the football out of the formation and opposing defenses know it. Once…I have seen the Jets run a bubble screen out of this for a 1 yard gain. It is time to can it.

Up – John Conner

The Terminator had been fairly quiet this year but has seen his usage increase in recent weeks. He had a crushing block on kick return to start the game last week and looked more efficient in the running game. Now, if he could only catch…

Down – The General Consensus On This Team

I think the win over Miami and the way it occurred may have put even more people down on this team than their three losses. They are now underdogs in their own building. Will it provide motivation?

Rex’s Pride and Joy Needs To Lead Way On Sunday

It is always about the defense. Ever since Rex Ryan has taken over, he really hasn’t made much of an effort to hide his biased love for that side of the football. The offense is his ugly stepchild who he will occasionally make an effort to give some affection to but in reality his pride and joy, his baby, is his defense.

It will be on that pride and joy to lead the way to a Jets victory Sunday. Starting with a Rex Ryan/Mike Pettine game plan that can slow down Tom Brady and his legion of wide receivers, scatbacks, and tight ends. Similar to the playoff game, it will take a mix of zone and heavy pressure combined with getting the most value out of the Jets top player on that side of the football, Darrelle Revis.

Revis needs to be everywhere on Sunday. I would guess he will spend the bulk of his time on Wes Welker, but there will be times to slide him over to either Deion Branch or one of the Patriots tight ends.  On the whole the Jets secondary needs to be physical, extremely physical. Welker, Deion Branch, and Chad Ochocinco need to be pushed around, jammed and drilled when they come over the middle.

It is all hands on deck in the secondary. Brodney Pool, Kyle Wilson, and Donald Stickland are going to spend the majority of the game on the field, not on the bench.  I don’t trust anybody outside of Revis to cover either Welker or Rob Gronkowski one on one, so the Jets better be ready to double whomever he isn’t on.

In the front seven, the Jets can’t go crazy sending 7 or 8 man blitzes because Brady will target away from Revis and dice up man coverage. Calvin Pace and newly acquired Aaron Maybin need to take advantage of their pass rush opportunities. Muhammad Wilkerson needs to build off last week and continue to get a push up front.

Brady can be susceptible to interceptions. He threw four against Buffalo a couple of weeks ago and we all remember how David Harris picked him off in the playoffs, along with the two times the Jets intercepted him in week 2 of the regular season last year. The Jets will need a turnover or two and to keep their offense reasonably in check. In both of their victories over New England last season, the Jets offense scored 28 points The Patriots averaged 17.5 points in those two games.

I would say if the Jets allow 24 points or less, they are giving the team a reasonable shot at a victory. Let’s hope Rex and his baby are up to the challenge.

End Of The World: Jets vs. Giants Preview & Predictions

Considering New York City has already dealt with an earthquake this week and will now be dealing with a hurricane of massive proportions this weekend, this could be an end of the world type preview. The game has been moved until 7 PM Monday night as the Jets will take the day off today. They will also now have to deal with only two days to prepare for their pre-season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles, which should be okay since the starters will barely play.

However, we are going to see plenty of both team’s starters on Monday, as they are expected to go well into the second half. The Giants are banged up in the secondary and have some questions at linebacker, yet their elite pass rush will provide a great test for the Jets offensive line, now finally fully healthy and playing together. Mark Sanchez needs to be aggressive if the Giants want to come after him and look to pick on their corners, as Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason, should all have favorable match-ups. The Giants have also traditionally had trouble covering backs out of the backfield, so don’t be surprised to see LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight targeted often.

On defense, Rex Ryan won’t hesitate to be aggressive, which will leave plenty of one on one match-ups for Eli Manning. Darrelle Revis versus Hakeem Nicks will be fun to watch, along with the Giants attempting to run the ball against the Jets stout front seven. I doubt we will see a hit that will top this but I do think the Jets can build some momentum heading into the regular season by having a strong performance against a quality offense.

Six Pack Of Predictions

1.Plaxico Burress is going to score a touchdown. As silly as it sounds, this the kind of the thing that Rex Ryan is going to push for in a pre-season game just to piss off the Giants. He will be in Brian Schottenheimer’s ear when they get into the red-zone to give him a fade ball or a slant.

2. The Jets starting defense is going to force at least one turnover. Yet, on the the flip side Mark Sanchez is going to commit his first turnover of the pre-season. Let him get it out of his system before the regular season starts.

3. Aaron Maybin will get work with the first unit in a few pass rushing situations, as the coaching staff will want to see if he can actually be a factor this year. His speed is hard to find but you have to worry about his lack of size.

4. Shonn Greene is going to get at least 10 carries as the Jets look to assert their running game after a poor performance against the Cincinnati Bengals. Joe McKnight will also get a few reps with the starting offense.

5. The starting offensive line is going to rise to the occasion against the Giants pass rush and keep Mark Sanchez clean for the bulk of the night. I’d be surprised if he was sacked more than once.

6. Greg McElroy is going to put together another strong performance, leading to questions if he should actually be the backup instead of Mark Brunell.

What We Need To See From New York Jets Starters On Saturday

The New York Jets starters are going to play into the third quarter this Saturday night against the Giants. Considering that this will be their last major tune-up before the regular season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, what are a few things we should to hope to see from the starters and top reserves?

Offensively, the consistency needs to improve, particularly in the red-zone and on third downs. Mark Sanchez has looked very good this pre-season but I’d like to see him be more accurate on third down situations and also take a few more shots down the field. Shonn Greene missed last week, so it is important for him to get 8-12 carries and put a solid performance under his belt. This is also the first time the entire starting offensive line will play together, so even though they are experienced , they will need to work out any kinks since they won’t see any kind of extended action again before the opener.

On defense, the pass rush still needs to kick into gear. Muhammad Wilkerson, Calvin Pace, and Jamaal Westerman in particular need to get after Eli Manning. In the secondary, Kyle Wilson needs to be able to handle either Domenick Hixon or Victor Cruz in the slot, while Darrelle Revis should get a good test against Hakeem Nicks. Bart Scott will be back on the field after missing last week and I can already see him and Brandon Jacobs yapping at each other.

On special teams, it will be interesting to see if one of the kickers can finally pull ahead. It has been a back and forth battle so far between Nick Folk and Nick Novak. It looks like TJ Conley will probably end up being the punter and Jeremy Kerley will be the primary kick and punt returner.

Most importantly, the Jets need to leave this game healthy. All you have to do is look at how banged up the Giants have gotten this pre-season to be grateful that the Jets haven’t suffered any major injuries.

Of course, it would also be nice to see Plaxico Burress score a touchdown and 75,000 Giants fans throwing up simultaneously as he does the Flight Boys celebration in the end-zone…

New York Jets: Roster Just About Done?

The New York Jets appear to be done making major moves to their 2011-2012 roster. Unless there is a major injury or surprising turn of events, the week one staters/key reserves are already in place.

On offense, improvement will be found by young players taking the necessary next step in their development, most notably quarterback Mark Sanchez who now enters his third year. He has clearly established himself as the unquestioned leader of the offense but now must find a higher level of consistency and accuracy on the field. A great season from Sanchez is going to mean the Jets offense will improve, regardless of the turnover at wide receiver.

Shonn Greene and Dustin Keller are two other players who need to fully realize their potential. Similar to Sanchez, Greene is also entering his third year. He failed to become the lead back the Jets drafted him to be last year but now with LaDainian Tomlinson a year older must become the workhorse to lead the “Ground and Pound.” We have seen what Greene is capable of when he gets going and if he can consistently receive 18-22 carries each week, there is no reason he can’t be a 1200 yard back.

We have heard about Dustin Keller’s potential since the day he was drafted, yet have never seen him put together a full season of being consistently productive. With Tom Moore now helping out on offense and the flux at the wide receiver position, Keller needs to become the Dallas Clark type weapon he is capable of being. He should develop into Sanchez’s security blanket and needs to become a bigger factor near the red-zone.

A higher level of productivity from Sanchez, Greene, and Keller will allow Plaxico Burress more time to get acclimated to the NFL again and put less pressure on Derrick Mason as he picks up the intricacies of playing slot receiver in the Jets offense. There is also the hope that Joe McKnight can become another weapon out of the backfield and promising rookie Jeremy Kerley can offer a few big plays at wide receiver.

On defense, the turnover hasn’t been significant. The biggest question mark is on the defensive line where first round pick Muhammad Wilkerson will immediately step into the starting line-up to replace Shaun Ellis.

Yes, I think the Jets did an awful job by letting Ellis walk to the New England Patriots and would like to see them bring back Trevor Pryce as a veteran mentor to Wilkerson. However, it doesn’t appear that is going to happen so Wilkerson must quickly become a key part of a largely no name and somewhat inexperienced defensive line rotation along with third round pick Kenrick Ellis, Ropati Pitoitua, and Marcus Dixon. Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito are quality blue-collar players who can lead up front and should help keep the Jets stingy against the run.

At linebacker, it is about time for Calvin Pace to give the Jets a 16 game season and become a 10 sack player. There is no excuse for him not to be in this scheme with his talent level. A contribution from Jamaal Westerman to the pass rush would be nice but Pace is still the team’s pass rusher and needs to produce like it.

In the secondary, Kyle Wilson will have the chance to grab the nickel back role and hopefully develop into the playmaker Drew Coleman was last year. If he can’t, Donald Strickland and maybe Marquice Cole provide good insurance.

On most teams you would be concerned about the turnover on special teams the Jets have seen this off-season, yet with Mike Westhoff leading the way, it is hard to see them not being one the league’s better units again.

Here we are, one week out from the opening pre-season game. Do the Jets still look like a Super Bowl contender to you? They do to me, but only time will tell if the way Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets front office handled this off-season properly.