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Five Concerns For 2008

By TomShane – Guest Columnist 

5. Bob Sutton Remains Employed:
Bob sucks, plain and simple. He is constantly out-matched by opposing offensive coordinators and he continually needs to be bailed out by Eric Mangini at half-time and, as we’ve seen, at the mid-point of each season. No longer can Eric wait until the Bye Week for Sutton to figure out what the hell is going on with his defense. How he remains on the staff is a mystery, especially considering he all but conceded last year that he’d be fired after the season. Just a poor, poor hire and a true liability to the franchise and its future.

4. There Is Zero Speed On Offense:
Bad offense with young QB’s can be bailed out by a back or a receiver going to the house on his own, and that requires actual speed at those positions on their team. Outside of the occasional Leon Washington scamper, the Jets have nothing on offense to challenge a safety. Coles and Cotchery are 4.6 guys at this point in their careers, Thomas Jones is only slightly faster than Curtis Martin right now, and Chris Baker couldn’t stretch a seam if he was wearing a pair of of lycra aerobic pants. Hopefully the draft produces two to three legitimate playmakers on the offense, or else Clemens, and the Jets offense, is doomed.

3. We Have a Bunch Of Stop-gap Players At Key Positions:
Specifically, Brandon Moore at RG, Abram Elam at FS, David Barrett at RCB, Bryan Thomas at OLB, Bubba Franks and Chris Baker at TE, and Brad Smith at WR. Every team has holes, but when you consider how relatively weak the Jets are at almost every other position, these holes become craters if not properly addressed. Quite frankly, the Jets aren’t good enough to overcome having guys like these serving at fairly crucial positition. What good is having Calvin Pace rushing from the weak side if Bryan Thomas gives you nothing on the strong side? What good is it to have a young stud corner in Revis if teams can just throw all over Barrett? How are slow, small receivers like Cotchery and Coles going to get open if there is no middle-of-the-field complementary threat at TE or in the slot? These are huge, huge problems, IMO.

2. Does a Slow Start Bring Early Dissension?
Coming off a 4-12 season, Mangini’s and Tannenbaum’s blood is already in the water. Untouchable after their 10-6 playoff appearance, you’d have to think that they are vulnerable now. Coles has already been firing his mouth off about the big FA dollars going around and Kerry Rhodes still hasn’t gotten his money. These guys are two of the big leaders, er, “leaders” of this Jets team. If the Jets get off to a rough start, particularly likely if Clemens starts at QB, will this team stay together, or will they finally turn on Mangini? There are several elements that can really tear this team apart:

a. the big FA’s: It may be hard for Jets veterans to digest having such big dollars tied up in guys who don’t score touchdowns. It’s easier to accept a guy making huge dllars when he’s catching alot of balls or rushing for alot of yards, but will it be easy to deal with Faneca and Woody rolling up in Bentleys for blocking for Thomas Jones? Will they understand that Jenkins is driving a Range paid for by his ability to take on blockers? If Calvin Pace doesn’t have 10 sacks by Week 8, what effect will that have?

b. the highly-paid draft picks: If Mangold and Ferguson, surrounding Faneca, don’t improve markedly and Thomas Jones still struggles, and Mangold still gets bullied by Vince Wilfork, how how deleterious is this to the team psyche? If Clemens gets pancaked by Adalius Thomas going around Ferguson, how big a problem will this be? Add to this that the Jets, in all likelihood, are going to draft an expensive, young player at a position where they already have an expensive player–RB (McFadden), DE (Long), or OLB (Gholston). This is not a great scenario, is it?

c. the young coaching staff v. the veterans: The Jet players had to be absolutely horrified at the way Pete Kendall was treated last season, and now they can’t like that Vilma was given away for scraps. Mangini, Schottenheimer and Sutton don’t exactly have the track records to point to that could quell an all-out mutiny if things start going bad and add to that the hard-ass Bill Cunningham (who was run out of Oakland by his players), and there are all the ingredients here for a revolution. Along with their confidence and savvy, Mangini and Tannenbaum have also displayed alot of bravado (if not arrogance) in dealing with their players. Could this be the year it comes back at them?

1. Clemens v. Pennington v. Who Cares?
Starting Pennington sets the franchise back five years. He was an okay QB–gutty, smart, but limited. In short, he was Steve Beurlein. FOr mostly sentimental reasons, many of you want to see him get one final go-round as the Jets QB. But for what reason? To try and eek out ten games? To not challenge the Pats on defense at all? To beat up on losers like the Chiefs and Dolphins and not compete offensively with the better teams in the league? Chad’s arm is absolutely shot; there is nothing left in that shoulder, and everybody except for a few delusional Jets fans know it.

As for Clemens, let’s face it: he showed us very little. He, too, was gutty, and was great in the fourth quarter against some very, very physical teams (Baltimore, Steelers). However, he also showed you, in too many instances, the one thing that the good QB’s can never, ever show no matter how young or inexperienced they are: fear. Clemens played scared against the Pats. He played scared against the Bills. He played scared against Dallas. Completely unacceptable. You can tell me all you want about his lack of an offensive line, about “rookie jitters,” about his injured wideouts, but the bottom line is that Clemens showed very little ability to compose himself when he was rattled. Hopefully, what I saw as fear was only those jitters, and he’ll show up this year with alot more confidence and alot more swagger, or else we’ll be looking at a very, VERY long year with no QB and a roster full of expensive spare parts.

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