By Tyson Rauch – Part One (Offense)
With training camp only a couple of weeks away the evaluation process has begun for all of the teams in the National Football League. The New York Jets are a team that has gone through significant changes from the head coach to the starting quarterback. Rex Ryan takes over Gang Green replacing head coach Eric Mangini while Kellen Clemens and rookie phenom Mark Sanchez attempt to replace Brett Favre. The early predictions are that the Jets will be a team that will contend for a playoff spot, but lets take a look at how the 2009 team has been put together. The first installment of the team evaluation will cover the Jets offense.
Rex Ryan has stated that he wants to have an “all-weather” offense that is built around a power running game. In order to establish this offensive identity the New York Jets will rely on their offensive line, arguably one of the best in the AFC. Gang Green returns all five starters on their offensive line, providing a very strong foundation for the offense. In terms of running backs the Jets have a three-headed monster in Thomas Jones, leon Washington and Shonn Greene. Jones and Greene will give Gang Green the ability to grind out yards, while Washington will provide the explosion and break away threat out of the backfield.
In terms of the passing game the Jets could struggle establishing one strong enough to keep defenses honest. The New York Jets are going to be starting a young quarterback in either Kellen Clemens or rookie Mark Sanchez. Will these quarterbacks be able to decipher defenses quick enough in order to keep opposing teams from stacking the box to stop the running attack? In addition, with the departure of Laveranues Coles, Gang Green has only one proven wide receiver on the roster in Jerricho Cotchery. Will the young receivers on the roster be able to provide enough of a threat to free up Cotchery and consistently move the chains? As for the tight end position, the Jets have the emerging Dustin Keller who gives defensive coordinators nightmares with his receiving abilities. The only problem is that Keller is not known to be a proven blocker. This leaves the Jets with a huge hole when it comes to a blocking tight end.
While the Jets have all of the pieces in place to establish a very strong running attack, the success of the offense will come down to the quarterback position. Opposing defenses are going to force the young quarterbacks to beat them, especially early on in the season. The lack of proven pass catchers could make this task a bit more challenging, putting even more pressure on the position. It will be interesting to see how Brian Schottenheimer, the Jets offensive coordinator, handles this situation especially if the offense struggles. I would not be surprised at all if Kellen Clemens starts off the 2009 season as the starting quarterback, primarily due to his familiarity with the offense. Either way I think the Jets will start out very slow when it comes to putting points on the board. The combination of young quarterback and inexperienced receivers is never a good formula in the NFL.
Part two of the New York Jets evaluation will cover the defense, with the third installment covering special teams.