The next team up on our Gridiron Blitz is the New York Jets
Music to listen to: Rock Box by Run DMC
Being a New Yorker, I can go so many directions with this music choice. The city has roots in every musical genre imaginable but I choose Run DMC and Rock Box for several reasons. First, the Jets used to play at Shea Stadium in Queens, N.Y. where Run DMC is from. Furthermore, this was my favorite rap song of the 1980’s and combined my two musical passions, rap and rock. When I get to my New York Giants preview, I’ll have something even better.
Current State: The hype machine is in full effect. After finishing last regular season 9-7 and barely making the playoffs, the Jets won consecutive road postseason games at Cincinnati and San Diego before being one half away from making the Super Bowl before falling the the Colts at Indianapolis in the AFC Championship game. With the addition of veteran talent and the bravado of head coach Rex Ryan, the Jets have expectations to be on the short list of teams to win the Super Bowl this year.
Biggest Change: Four risky additions to the squad, two on offense and two on defense, may ultimately determine how far the Jets ultimately go.
On offense, they added LaDanian Tomlinson to bolster the running back corp. After losing 1,300-yard rusher Thomas Jones and second-year Shone Green now the starting running back, the addition of Tomlinson (as a Giants fan, I refuse to call him LT) was a low-risk move for the Jets. If he can provide anything, it would be nice. The Jets really need their running backs to combine for 2,000 yards to be successful and they may actually do it. The other addition on the offensive side was the troubled former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes. He has a lot of talent but has character issues. In fact, due to violating the substance abuse policy of the NFL, he will be suspended the first four games of this upcoming season. If Holmes can keep his head right, he may be a Pro Bowler this season.
On defense, the Jets added Jason Taylor who gives the team depth on the defensive line. The more impact addition was cornerback Antonio Cromartie, a guy who has top-five defensive back talent in the entire league but has struggled with consistency. With the holdout of All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis in full swing, Cromartie’s worth has increased greatly.
Uniform Grade: The Jets have a solid combination of green and while, even though I’m not a big fan of the all-green home look. As long as they don’t go back to the New York Titans look, I have no complaints. Grade: B
Best Player: The most talented player on the roster is Revis because his lockdown of top receivers allows the entire Jets defense, especially the front seven, to play an aggressive style that puts pressure on all aspects of the offense. Without him, the defense will be solid but not arguably the best in the NFL.
I think that Revis will ultimately play this season. He won’t participate in any part of the training camp and may not even play a preseason game but when he starts to miss game checks, he will be back.
Most Important Player: Revis is very important but if the Jets truly have Super Bowl aspirations, Mark Sanchez has to be the main man at the quarterback position to get them to that level. Behind the elite defense and solid running game, the inexperience of Sanchez was hid and the Jets made a nice run. That time is over and defenses will make Sanchez win games for New York.
Best Case: Sanchez continues his development. Revis comes back focused. All four of the additions make a major contribution to the team. The pressure doesn’t get to the team. Win the AFC East, get a first-round bye and get revenge on Indy in the AFC title game to reach the Super for the first time in over 40 years.
Worst Case: The expectations are too much for the team. The Revis situation becomes a major issue that distracts the team. Rex Ryan explodes after a three-game losing streak. Finish with a record of 7-9.
Coaching: Rex Ryan is an interesting character. He’s loud, arrogant, annoying but maybe the best defensive mind in the entire league. His bravado has rubbed off on the entire team and that confidence is a good thing. However, you have to look at the reality of them being an average regular season team that won two road playoff games. The first one was against a decent Cincinnati squad and the always overrated Chargers.
For his team to reach the next level, he has to get the offense going.
Also, the major elephant in the room is how will the team react when they start losing some games, which will happen. Will his personality, or more importantly his team be able to handle adversity?
First memory of team: The first times that I remember seeing the Jets was in the early 1990’s during the Ken O’Brien era.
When you grow up in an NFL city with two franchises, what usually happened was that one team would play the early game and the other one will play the late game. What this meant is that the Giants would play the early contest and than the Jets would be the next game. So while I always watched the Giants contests, I saw about 75%% of the Jets games.
The Jets would always try hard but couldn’t seem to get over the hump. They were also in the same division as the Bills when that squad was the best in the AFC and also hadd to deal with a competent Dolphins group. The worst era I’ve ever seen for an NFL team up close was when Rich Kotite was coaching the team. The ineptitude of that team was sad to see and actually made me feel compassion for the Jets.
Non-New Yorkers always ask me if I don’t like the Jets since I’m a Giants fan. Not at all. In fact, there was a time when I rooted for both teams. They were in different conferences and really didn’t have an impact on each other. It’s a fun rivalry to have with your buddies but it wasn’t like my intense dislike for the Eagles, Redskins and Cowboys.
Schedule: They have to deal with New England, Miami and Buffalo in the division.
As far as home games, they get Baltimore, Minnesota, Green Bay, Houston and Cincinnati. Not impossible but no pushovers. The road slate is a little more forgiving with Denver, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Chicago.
The first four games will dictate the rest of the season. They host Baltimore, New England, at Miami and at Buffalo. If they go 3-1 during this stretch, than some good things can happen.
City Nicknames: So many to choose from but only two matter. Gotham City and The Big Apple.
Fantasy Focus: The defense is definitely going to be salty so it would be a solid pick later in the draft. As far as skill players, I would stay away from all of them because you don’t know who’s going to get the majority of runs and the receivers are trying to figure out the rotation as well.
Overall Outlook: The hype machine is massive for these guys but the talent is there. If Sanchez can give them anything on offense, than a division title is within reach. However, the trip to the Super Bowl probably isn’t happening.
Final Record: 7-9
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