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Happy New Year

By Joe Brod

Yes! That time of year is now upon us. Friday marks the opening of the new NFL calendar year and this one looks quite different for Jets fans.

One year ago there were a boatload of question marks surrounding our beloved team and to be perfectly honest, there is still a boatload of question marks surrounding our team now. The only difference is, the questions have a much more positive slant to them.

Instead of “is our new head coach any good” we are asking “will Rex avoid a sophomore slump?” Rex Ryan defied his critics by breaking just about every rule of coaching etiquette and took a team with a rookie QB all the way to the AFC Championship Game. It’s going to be a blast to watch him coach this team now there are significantly higher expectations.

12 months ago, the Jets cut Brett Favre and we were wondering who our starting QB would be. Now, we are wondering if Mark Sanchez can improve off of a solid postseason performance. Has anyone ever had more of a rollercoaster season than Sanchez did? Think about it, the kid started out ridiculously well, seemingly completing every third down pass he threw in a road win against the Texans. He followed that up with a great second half in the first Jets home victory over the Patriots in what seemed like forever.

Then came the dark times: the two 3-game losing streaks, the 20 picks. Then he led the team to wins in five of the last six games and a playoff run that put the Jets 30 minutes away from the Super Bowl, that’s quite a lot for a 23-year-old to deal with. Assuming the Sanchez of January is the Sanchez we see in 2010, we’re going to be tough to beat.

Last year, we knew Thomas Jones would carry the load, being led through the hole by Tony Richardson, and we were hoping Leon Washington got more touches. This year, Shonn Greene is most likely to get the lion’s share of the carries while Washington returns from a compound fracture of the lower leg and we hope Richardson re-ups for at least one more year in green and white.

Thomas Jones gave this team four very solid years for pretty much no cost (thank you Mike Tannenbaum.) But at 32-years-old, with a $2.8 million salary and another $3 million due Friday on a roster bonus, keeping him just doesn’t make sense. Jones is two years overdue for a precipitous fall off in performance and there will be cheaper and younger options available both in free agency and the draft. With an offensive line as good as the Jets’ and Richardson potentially coming back (please G-d make that man want to play one more year) the Jets running game will be just fine. However, I would like to see Greene consult Tiki Barber on how to overcome fumblitis.

Last year, we had no idea who would be lining up opposite Jerricho Cotchery at WR. Now, we’re not sure if Braylon Edwards should be given a long term deal. Edwards has all the talent in the world. The guy can be one of the best in the business. He just needs to get consistent. It seems like Edwards can make all of the ridiculous, highlight reel grabs   but has a brainfart when the ball hits him in the numbers.

I would like to see Edwards sign his tender and play his ass off to earn a multiyear deal. I am confident he can do it. He should be as well. If Edwards can do this, we really don’t need another wideout right now. But we still need to draft one for depth and in case Edwards just can’t seem to overcome his issues.

12 months ago, we were praying that our new coach could work that Ryan-family magic and make our defense one of the best. Now we’d like to see him take them to that otherworldly level. Will Vernon Gholston finally do something? Can we find another CB to compliment Darrelle Revis? Will Kerry Rhodes be a Jet in 2010? Will Kris Jenkins comeback at 100% and stay healthy for 16 games.

Right now, the rumor mill has the Jets going hard after Antonio Cromartie to compliment Revis and that would be a pretty scary proposition for any QB to have to face. That and a healthy Jenkins could make the Jets D a holy terror in 2010. But if the Jets can find a pass rush somewhere (Vernon Gholston, I’m looking in your direction) they can be insane. It’s time for Gholston to step up. He’s got this opportunity at a third season because of his huge contract and he absolutely needs to make the most of it.

Well, those are just a few of the questions facing the Jets right now. I am sure the coming weeks will answer some of these as well create a few new ones. For right now, it’s a new year. Let’s just hope these guys don’t suffer from a playoff hangover.

You can discuss this in our New York Jets message board.

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