TOJ Roundtable: Strongest and Weakest Position?

Welcome to the TOJ Roundtable, where a collection of our writers debate a pressing Jets question of the day –

What is the strongest position on the Jets current roster? The weakest?

Joe Caporoso: The strongest position on the Jets roster is cornerback. I would go with offensive line but I am little concerned about Brandon Moore missing so much time this pre-season, while they are breaking in a new full time right tackle in Wayne Hunter. The offensive line is still strong and if Hunter is anywhere near what Damien Woody was the past few years and Matt Slauson continues to improve, this will be their strongest unit. Yet, their corners led by Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, the league’s top starting duo in my mind, takes my vote at the moment. Let’s not forget nickel back Kyle Wilson was a first round pick last year for a reason and veteran Donald Strickland provides excellent depth if Wilson struggles. Marquice Cole has also shown flashes on defense and is more than capable of stepping into the nickel role for a few weeks if necessary.

Backup quarterback is the weakest spot on the Jets roster. If Mark Sanchez misses an extended period of time, you are kidding yourself if you think Mark Brunell is capable of taking over. He hasn’t played a meaningful snap since NFL Quarterback Club was the video game of choice. Greg McElroy is only a rookie and would be in over his head if pressed into immediate action.

TJ Rosenthal: Strongest Position: The offensive line. It contains two All-Pros in D’Brickshaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. The entire unit is intact from the 2010 playoff run. Few teams can boast of that continuity. No unit is as essential to the success of what the Jets want to do offensively as the guys in the trenches are.

Weakest Position: The backup quarterback position. If Mark Sanchez goes down for any extended time, we can’t say that we are comfortable with Mark Brunell, in his 19th season, running the show for any EXTENDED period of time. The backup quarterback should be a capable functional player with some NFL experience, especially given how physical the AFC East may be up front this year with the addition of Marcell Dareus to Buffalo and the new parts of the Patriots defensive line. The Jets are skating on thin ice at the ultimate security position.

Rob Celletti: The strongest position on the Jets’ roster in my opinion is cornerback.  Anchored by one of the best players in the entire league in Darelle Revis, it is an all-around solid unit.  With Antonio Cromartie out to prove something this year, and the ever-improving, aspiring Revis-clone Kyle Wilson at third on the depth chart, it is safe to say the Jets are going to be very difficult to throw on this season, at least to wide receivers.

The weakest position, and really the key to the season, is the defensive line.  The Jets will have a serviceable line under Rex Ryan’s tutelage, no question, but it is a point every fan and journalist has been harping on since the start of training camp: are the Jets relying too heavily on unproven commodities (Mo Wilkerson and Kendrick Ellis) alongside solid role players (DeVito and Pouha) without any real dominant force?  It is hard to call the position “weak”, but it definitely raises the most questions.

TOJ Roundtable: This Year’s Breakout Player?

TOJ Roundtable: where a collection of our writers offer a quick opinion on a pressing Jets question of the day.

Who will be this year’s breakout player on the New York Jets?

Joe Caporoso: I have faith in Rex Ryan finding ways to get after the quarterback so when he names a player his “Designated Pass Rusher” as he did yesterday with Jamaal Westerman, I tend think we could see a major leap in production from him this year. The Jets need Westerman to fill Jason Taylor’s role from last year and hopefully at least give them 5-7 sacks and create a few big plays. I think he steps up and becomes a valuable part of their defense after being a special teams player the past two seasons.

Rob Celletti: I don’t want to jinx him, but I’m going to go ahead and say Muhammad Wilkerson.  After the abject failure that was Vernon Gholston, I think the Jets would be very, very careful about speaking too highly of rookie front-7 players.  Considering the heaps of praise from Rex Ryan as well as the New York media in the first few days of camp, early returns on Wilkerson seem to be very good.  The Jets need to find ways other than all-out blitzes to generate a pass rush, so maybe Wilkerson will be the guy to help them achieve that.

TJ Rosenthal: Joe McKnight. We see him as the a Jamaal Charles type. If a game presents itself where there is ground to gain outside, he may break out and become a serious part of the rotation. Another breakout player, Calvin Pace, It’s time. The Jets have waited since he arrived to take over as a pass rushing threat. Now more than ever, the Jets could use one as the defense inches closer towards completion. Pace CAN have that breakout year, provided that he finally can stay healthy over a full season.

Chris Celletti: Is it possible to be one of the highest paid players in the league at your position and be eligible as a breakout player? Well, for Calvin Pace, it is now or never. He’s never had double digits in sacks in his career, and the only area the Jets are really lacking is consistently pressuring the quarterback. Pace needs to be the one doing so and I think (and hope) he will this year. I think in 2011 he finally reaches the double-digit sack plateau.

TOJ Roundtable: Expectations For Plaxico?

TOJ Roundtable: where a collection of our writers offer a quick opinion on a pressing Jets question of the day.

What type of production should we expect from Plaxico Burress this year?

Joe Caporoso: The Jets don’t need Burress to start the season off giving them 60-70 snaps a game. He can roll through with Jerricho Cotchery at the number two spot as he gets more comfortable back on the field. The biggest place he can make an impact is in the red-zone where the Jets have struggled the past couple of years. You can bet new offensive consultant Tom Moore will be drawing up pages of plays to get the ball in his hands inside the 20 yard line. I wouldn’t be shocked if Burress only had 40-50 receptions for 600-700 yards, yet as long as he adds 7-10 touchdowns, this move will be well worth it. The size and reputation he brings to the offense will also create more favorable match-ups for Santonio Holmes, Cotchery, and Dustin Keller.

Rob Celletti: It’s too difficult to try and project raw numbers, but in the end, this can only help the Jets as a team and Mark Sanchez in particular.  A young quarterback with spotty accuracy can only be helped by a big target with great hands, and that’s what Plaxico Burress provides.  The Jets’ red zone woes have been well-documented, so hopefully this signing puts them on track to get that corrected.  Hard to not dream about Plax catching a big touchdown on Christmas Eve against the Giants.

TJ Rosenthal: I’m not worried about Burress in terms of numbers. I want to see Burress simply grow into re establishing himself as a threat. In the red zone he can be a killer. The great hands and ability to leap make him a very likeable target for any QB.  Plax was a game breaking killer for Big Blue. We don’t expect him to pick up where he left off in mid 2009, now two years later we simply hope that as he gets his game speed back, he becomes a player that needs to be accounted for at all times. That way, the Jets won’t lose a beat on offense with the loss of Braylon Edwards who did a very good job in New York.
 
When both are at the top of their games though, Edwards is second to Burress in most phases of the position. We expect very good things from the new #17. He has alot to prove. That inner motivation may also bode well for the Jets who cant afford a drop off in production at the position.

Chris Celletti: I think you can expect Burress to take a little time to get back into football shape. He may even be the third option behind Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery until about the halfway point of the season. But I think as the year goes on, he’ll become a go-to for Mark Sanchez, especially in the red zone. While I think he may rank behind Holmes and maybe Dustin Keller in receptions, he may lead the team in receiving TDs when all is said and done.