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Sunday September 7, 2008 8:59 am

NFL Preview: New York Jets

Posted by Dennis Velasco Categories: NFL,

Brett Favre brings hope to the New York Jets

2007 RECORD: 4-12

Overview: Brett Favre is a Hall of Fame quarterback thanks to his topping the charts in the most important quarterback statistics. Unfortunately for the New York Jets, those numbers and a Super Bowl ring came when Favre was wearing a different green for the Green Bay Packers.  Can the soon-to-be 39-year-old overcome his age as he has the past few seasons and elevate, not only his own play, but that of his teammates this season in New York?  Obviously, he won’t be able to do it on his own, but all of New York is anticipating some big things from Brett the Jet.

Offense: Obviously, Favre will be the touchstone for the offense and the sooner he gets comfortable with the plays, which uses terminology different from that of the Packers’ offense, the sooner he’ll be paying off dividends with W’s.  But, as said before, he won’t be able to do this by himself and luckily for Favre, he’ll have one of the top offensive lines to protect him.  The Jets signed All-Pro LG Alan Faneca away from the Pittsburgh Steelers to join third-year lottery pick, LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson to help guard Favre’s left (blind) side.  They also signed RT Damien Woody, formerly of the New England Patriots protecting the right side with the steady Brandon Moore and third-year player Nick Mangold manning the middle at the C position.  There is a good blend of old and young here and Faneca should make a big difference off and on the field.  So, who does Favre throw to?  The WR1 spot belongs to the veteran Laveranues Coles, who may be past his prime, but maybe knowing Favre will be throwing him the ball, Coles can play rejuvenated and play as tenaciously and effectively as he did during his first stint with the Jets before he left to join the Washington Redskins.  However, probably the player that benefits most from Favre at the QB spot will be Jerricho Cotchery who should be able to improve on last season’s career numbers of 82 catches and 1,130 receiving yards.  A player that could breakout is Chansi Stuckey.  At tight end, there is the sure-handed Chris Baker who has some really good receiving skills, as well as Favre’s old tight end from his days at Green Bay, Bubba Franks.  However, the one with the most talent and potential at the position will be rookie Dustin Keller, who already has caught a TD from Favre during the preseason.  He could be a special player, especially if Favre makes him the number one dump down option.  The running back situation should be a lot better with the improved offensive line, as well as the signing of Tony Richardson at fullback.  If you’ll recall, Richardson played with the Minnesota Vikings last season and helped that Adrian Peterson guy, as well as backup Chester Taylor, find some lanes and openings to run through.  Expect Thomas Jones to have an even better season than last when he rushed for 1,119 yards, but only one score and an okay 3.6 yards per carry average.  The diminutive Leon Washington is a change of pace back, but when he does get the call, he too should succeed with the improved line and blocking.

Defense: The Jets run a 3-4 defense, which head coach Eric Mangini brought over from his days as the New England Patriots’ defensive coordinator.  There is a lot of schemes to get to the passer and zone coverage in the secondary.  Leading the front seven will be Kris Jenkins, former Carolina Panthers DT, whom the Jets hope can keep his weight down and adjust from the 4-3 he played with the Panthers.  Jenkins is a big body and at the very least, should be able to stuff the run.  Shaun Ellis and Kenyon Coleman join Jenkins on the D-line as the bookends of the front three.  Behind the D-line, the Jets lost talented backer Jonathan Vilma, who left for the New Orleans Saints, but hope rookie Vernon Gholston from Ohio State can fulfill his college stud status at the NFL level the way Vilma did.  Gholston, however, might be playing behind Bryan Thomas, who fell off to 2.5 sacks in 2007 from his 8.5 sacks of 2006.  Calvin Pace was signed to help the Jets get to the quarterback as he had 6.5 sacks last season for the Arizona Cardinals.  Second-year backer David Harris filled in nicely as a rookie after the Jets lost Vilma in the middle season.  He showed a knack for getting to the quarterback and playing solid inside. The secondary might be the best part of this defense thanks to CB Darrelle Revis, who has shutdown ability, as well as S Kerry Rhodes, who can do it all and is indubitably the top playmaker for the defense.

Rookies: The Jets are hoping that Gholston can be consistent at the NFL level because despite his physicality, he had two big games and one good one in his last season at Ohio State, but otherwise just took up space.  Will he produce as a first round value?  The Jets are praying.  Also in the first round, Gang Green selected Keller as a tight end that can make big plays and receives and runs after the catch like a receiver.  Fourth rounder, Dwight Lowery should add to the secondary as he fits the Mangini mold - smart, competitive, and ready to get your hands dirty.

Prediction: The New England Patriots are too strong of a team to NOT win the AFC East, so the Jets have to hope for a second place finish in the division and a playoff wild card beth.  Look for Favre to lead the way and get the team to the postseason with a 10-6 regular season record.



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