The New York Jets enter the 2009 season as a team looking to head into a new direction. After a late season collapse in 2008, Gang Green decided to replace the robotic, military style ways of former head coach Eric Mangini with the exuberant, aggressive philosophies of Rex Ryan. In addition the Jets brokered a major trade in the NFL Draft to acquire rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, acknowledging the fact last year’s hired gun, Brett Favre, was a one-year plan at best. In many aspects, this season will begin a whole new era for the New York Jets.
Offense- QB Mark Sanchez, RB Shonn Greene
Defense- LB Bart Scott, CB Lito Sheppard, S Jim Leonhard, DE Marques Douglas
Offense- QB Brett Favre, WR Laveranues Coles, TE Chris Baker
Rex Ryan has made it no secret that he wants his offense to be built around a power running game. With a very strong offensive line and a talented backfield, including the likes of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, the Jets have the pieces in place for this style of offense. The only hitch in the system could be the ability for Gang Green to establish a consistent enough passing game to keep defenses from stacking the line of scrimmage to stop the run. With rookie quarterback Sanchez and a very inexperienced wide receiver group, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will need to be very creative with screen passes and formations to keep defenses honest. In addition, Mark Sanchez will need to play within himself and try not to press too much if the offense begins to struggle. If Sanchez begins to force throws and turn the ball over, the offense will have a very difficult time scoring points.
Attack! Attack! Attack! That is the mantra of coach Ryan and his defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Gone are the days of read and react as this new style of defense is all about putting pressure on the quarterback. The Jets, who had one of the best run defenses in the NFL in 2008, should drastically improve against the pass with this new approach. The off-season additions of former Ravens Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard and Marques Douglas will help the Jets speed up the learning curve in terms of communicating on the field.
The biggest challenge Gang Green’s defense could face is the suspension of two of their defensive leaders, Calvin Pace (4 games) and Shaun Ellis (1 game). Both veterans play a prominent role in the Jets pass rush and the team will have a hard time identifying ways to fill their spots. One hope is that the 2008 first round pick Vernon Gholston can pick up some of the slack in terms of pass rushing but he remains an unknown in terms of his ability.
The New York Jets have one of the best special teams coaches in the NFL in Mike Westhoff. Add in returners like Pro-Bowler Leon Washington and Jim Leonhard and the Jets are very dangerous in the return game. In terms of the kicking game, Gang Green has a major question mark when it comes to punter. The New York Jets have been through 3 punters in three days with free agent Steve Weatherfod now assuming the position. For a team that is going to rely on field position this situation is somewhat concerning. As for the placekicker, Jay Feely has been serviceable and has shown a propensity to make the long kicks. Feely has been fighting the injury bug throughout the preseason but appears to be ready for week 1.
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