I’ve heard it all this offseason.
The Jets are loaded. They are going to the Super Bowl.
What is this — a fantasy team? The Jets have 7-9 written all over them.
This team is super confident with a great defense. Nobody can beat them.
Can these guys shut up? Can Rex Ryan stop talking?
Finally, after all the suffering, this is the Jets’ year!
I hate this @*&^ing team!!!
Welcome to New York Jets football in 2010. You either love them or absolutely cannot stand them. And Rex Ryan wouldn’t have it any other way.
And they will invade your television sets on HBO’s Hard Knocks all summer long.
They will make you laugh and make you cringe.
We examine the biggest issues, SCHEIN 9 style, for the most potentially explosive, dominant and combustible team in the NFL.
1. Rex’s mouth
The HBO cameras will be rolling nonstop. That’s the deal when you are all-access. Rex loves the camera. And though he is a bright guy, Ryan speaks his mind and certainly cannot help himself. You can book it. Rex will say something inflammatory about the Patriots, Dolphins, Kerry Rhodes, Kris Jenkins’ weight and anything else that pops up.
His players absolutely love and respect him. The Jets would do anything for Rex Ryan. But his comments this summer will make the omnipresent bull’s eye on the Jets’ collective back even larger.
2. The LaDainian Tomlinson factor
When I was talking to the legendary president of NFL films Steve Sabol, he acknowledged the “Hard Knocks” crew has legit interest in Tomlinson’s changing teams and chasing the elusive title. It’s juicy when you factor in Tomlinson still believes he is an NFL star.
LT is coming off of the worst year of his career (. In theory, Shonn Greene fits Rex Ryan’s power attack better. In reality, Tomlinson knows Brian Schottenheimer’s system inside and out from the San Diego days.
LT has never been known to be a quiet player. He says what is on his mind. And he can pout from time to time. I still think Tomlinson can play and will be much better behind a line superior to the one he had last year in San Diego. But I just don’t see Tomlinson’s being satisfied as a role player. This topic fascinates me, and LT’s attitude can equal sparks.
3. Running away from success?
What happens when you have the best rushing attack in the NFL? If you are the Jets, you change it up.
Thomas Jones to Tomlinson is a downgrade. Plus, Jones was the true team leader. I love Shonn Greene, but he got hurt in the Indy playoff loss and had a huge fumble in the Miami defeat at home. He still has something to prove. The team likes rookie Joe McKnight, but isn’t Leon Washington better? Alan Faneca defined leadership, though he was clearly the least consistent lineman. But will the line lose chemistry? Is Matt Slauson ready to replace Faneca? Vlad Ducasse?
I think the Jets will be worse running the football, which puts the pressure on …
4. Mark Sanchez, Year 2
When I talked to Sanchez at minicamp, he said he needs to even out his play. As he put it, “last year the mistakes mushroomed, and one pick turned into five.” Sanchez needs to improve greatly in two categories – third-down conversions and fourth-quarter efficiency. The Jets saw the signs in two playoff wins against Cincy and San Diego. Sanchez is smart and dedicated. I predict he cuts down on mistakes and has a much better sophomore season.
5. Nick “Freakin” Folk
I am going to predict that becomes his nickname. The Jets were in a ton of close games last year, and they had the reliable Jay Feely putting three on the scoreboard consistently. Feely wanted to come back to New York this offseason, but the Jets opted to let him go in favor of the unreliable Folk, so miserable last year that Dallas let him go before the playoffs. Special teams coach Mike Westhoff suggested Folk to management. I think the move for Folk, who missed a whopping 10 kicks last season, has disaster written all over it. I am not convinced he makes the entire season.
6. Revis wants new money
All offseason, Darrelle Revis, the best cover corner in the game, has complained about his contract. But with three years left on his rookie deal, the Jets truly don’t have any incentive to give him new money. Yet the Jets haven’t nipped this issue appropriately.
The Jets needed to simply tell Revis he wasn’t getting a new deal. Instead, you have Revis thinking he is getting new money. Following along here? Revis thinks he is entitled to new money making him the highest-paid corner in the NFL because Ryan is telling him how legendary he is.
This all came to an unfortunate head in minicamp, when Revis faked an injury to get off the field and make a sad statement. I think this is going to truly bubble over during camp in lovely Cortland, N.Y.
7. Mangold and Harris deserve new money
Nick Mangold is the best center in the NFL. He is a free agent at the end of the year. I am stunned Jets management hasn’t taken care of this amazing player and team leader, who throws his body around on every single play without a guarantee for the future. Mangold told me at minicamp that he will be following what the team does with Revis. You can’t give the player with three years left new money before you take care of the free agent.
And while David Harris hasn’t made a public stink (he’s a rare Jet who doesn’t like to talk, if you can believe that), the middle linebacker is a star and needs to get paid like it.
8. Braylon Edwards, meet Santonio Holmes
The Jets couldn’t resist trading for Holmes. Heck, the former Super Bowl hero came cheap after getting slapped with a four-game suspension. And you have to wonder how Braylon Edwards, he of the Manhattan-sized ego, felt about the deal. Edwards had a ball hit off his face mask last year in Toronto. Sanchez also tossed the vast majority of his picks in Edwards’ direction. Edwards really loves himself, which makes me wonder if he will appreciate Holmes invading his turf. Oh, yeah – both players crave contracts in their free-agent year and will demand the ball. This is going to be fun.
9. The No. 1 defense must get better
Even defensive coordinator Mike Pettine told me this summer that the Jets must do a better job closing games after blowing it in the fourth quarter against Jacksonville, Miami and Atlanta last season. Kris Jenkins told me on SNY that the locker room had its issues, and when pressed, he referenced the player (Kerry Rhodes) who is now in Arizona who was more interested in New York than the playbook.
I think the Jets are much better on defense, but …
Can Antonio Cromartie, he of the paternity payments eight times over, focus on football and get back to his Pro Bowl form?
Can rookie Kyle Wilson make an instant impact?
Is Brodney Pool, who replaces Rhodes, an upgrade? The coaches love him, but can the often-injured player stay healthy?
Is Vernon Gholston a complete and utter bust?
Will Jason Taylor be embraced by the Jets fans he so often has ripped? Can he sack the quarterback at least eight times?
Is a slim-downed Jenkins ready for a full season?
For the record, I think they all end up positive for the Jets, with the exception of the confidence-challenged bust that is Gholston.
Prediction: The Jets are talented enough and well-coached under Ryan, Pettine, Schottenheimer, Westhoff and company. I think they will be in the mix for the Super Bowl, whether you like it or not.
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