Let the games begin (Kostroun/AP)
The New York Jets are preparing to head up to Cortland, New York for their first training camp under coach Rex Ryan. Outlined below are ten questions that will need to be answered before the 2009 season begins.
1. Rex Ryan has talked the talk, can his team walk the walk? The new head coach has been outspoken the entire offseason, raising many eyebrows with his talk about the physical and aggressive nature of his football team. Will this Jets team be able to back up their new leader’s words? Can this Jets team raise the intensity of their game and adapt to a new style of football?
2. Can offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer implement an offense that can consistently move the chains? The Jets want to build their offense around a power running game but will need to be successful passing the ball in order to do so. Can Schottenheimer develop a productive passing game with an inexperienced quarterback and a relatively unproven wide receiver group?
3. Will Kellen Clemens play well enough to let Mark Sanchez sit and learn the ropes of the National Football League? In 2007 Clemens showed flashes that he could lead the Jets, will he show improvement in 2009 or concede the starting job to Sanchez? In the perfect world Clemens plays well enough to allow Sanchez to get acclimated to the NFL. Once Sanchez starts there is no turning back.
4. Will Mark Sanchez play well enough to earn the confidence of his teammates and coaching staff entering the 2009 season? It is no secret that rookie quarterbacks struggle in their first year. Can Sanchez speed up his learning curve?
5. Can the young receivers on the Jets roster make up for the loss of Laveranues Coles? Jerricho Cotchery is the only legitimate receiving threat on the Jets and will be the main focus for opposing defenses. Can Chansi Stuckey, David Clowney, Wallace Wright or Brad Smith become enough of a threat to loosen up defensive coverages?
6. How will the Jets handle their stable of running backs? Heading into training camp the Jets have potential contract issues with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. While many believe Washington will receive his much deserved extension, how will the Jets handle the disgruntled Jones? Will rookie Shonn Greene begin to take over goal line carries?
7. Do the Jets have enough talent at the linebacker position for their new aggressive style of defense? The suspension of Calvin Pace really hurts Gang Green’s defense and puts more pressure on Vernon Gholston. Can Gholston play well enough to make an impact on defense? If not do the Jets have a plan B? In addition can David Harris stay healthy enough to be a force in the middle of the Jets defense?
8. After having a productive rookie year, will Dustin Keller be able to take his game to another level in 2009? Inexperienced quarterbacks tend to look to the tight end as the safety valve while trying to decipher defenses. Will Keller be able to handle an increased role in the offense?
9. Do the Jets have a blocking tight end on the roster? It is no secret that Keller struggles a bit when it comes to blocking. Is there anyone on the team that can fill that role? In addition will that player have any receiving abilities in order to not give away the play?
10. Is Rex Ryan and his staff prepared to manage an NFL game? It is one thing to be an excellent play caller, it is another to be an effective game manager.