WR Aundrae Allison, DE Marques Douglas, NT Howard Green, CB Donald Strickland, ILB Bart Scott, CB Lito Sheppard, S Jim Leonhard, ST Larry Izzo.
QB Mark Sanchez, RB Shonn Greene, G Matt Slauson.
QB Brett Favre, QB Brett Ratliff, RB Jesse Chatman, RB Musa Smith, WR Laveranues Coles, TE Chris Baker, DE Kenyon Coleman, DE C.J. Mosley, ILB Eric Barton, ILB Cody Spencer, ILB Brad Kassell, ILB David Bowens, CB Ty Law, S Abram Elam, S David Barrett, S Hank Poteat, S J.R. Reed, K Mike Nugent.
2009 New York Jets Offense:
Everyone knows what happened last year. The Jets signed Brett Favre. Laveranues Coles got mad and decided to hang out in his hotel room with his Chad Pennington blowup doll. Favre led the Jets to an impressive 8-3 record, including back-to-back road wins at New England and Tennessee. And then, Favre completely collapsed down the stretch, throwing two touchdowns and nine interceptions in the final five weeks of the season.
The Jets, who averaged 25.3 points per game in 2008 (good for ninth in the NFL), went 1-4 in the final five contests because of Favre's struggles and failed to top 17 points in all but one occasion.
Things had to change, and New York's front office understandably had a major overhaul. Eric Mangini was fired. Favre was told he wasn't welcome back. Coles also wasn't re-signed. During the 2009 NFL Draft, the Jets robbed Mangini and the Browns, moving up from No. 17 to No. 5 for merely three bench players, in order to select Mark Sanchez.
Sanchez compiled 3,207 yards, 34 touchdowns and 10 picks last year at USC. He's coming out of a pro-style offense, so if given the tools, he should be successful in the NFL. However, Sanchez had just 487 attempts on the collegiate level, so I find it hard to imagine that he'll thrive right away, as "seasoned" rookies Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco did last year.
Sanchez will, in all likelihood, be the starting quarterback. Unfortunately, he won't have much to work with. Coles is gone, leaving Jerricho Cotchery and a bunch of unproven players in the receiving corps. Cotchery was expected to step up with Favre under center last year, but he disappointed with 71 receptions, 858 yards and five touchdowns. His production could continue to drop with an inexperienced quarterback and constant double teams.
Across from Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey and David Clowney will be competing for a starting job. Stuckey had 32 receptions for 359 yards and three touchdowns last season, while Clowney, perhaps the more talented of the two, has just one career catch. After an impressive 2008 preseason, Clowney broke his collarbone and was placed on IR.
Speaking of impressive, Dustin Keller garnered 48 receptions for 535 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie tight end. Most of his production came in the second half of the year; during one four-game stretch, he caught 27 balls. However, I wouldn't expect Keller to make a monumental leap in 2009, given that Chris Baker, the team's blocking tight end, signed with the Patriots. With Baker gone, Keller will be asked to do more blocking, which is why I have him relatively low in my 2009 Fantasy Football Rankings.
Things aren't completely bleak for New York's offense; the ground attack should once again be very effective. Thomas Jones shattered expectations by rushing for 1,312 yards and 13 scores in 2008. Third-round rookie Shonn Greene will steal some of Jones' carries. Meanwhile, Leon Washington will continue to function as the third-down back. In addition to his 448 rushing yards last year, Washington caught 47 passes for 355 receiving yards.
Unlike the Lions, the Jets can afford to play their rookie passer right away because they actually have a competent offensive line. After struggling his first two seasons, D'Brickashaw Ferguson surrendered just four sacks in 2008. Ferguson made up for left guard Alan Faneca's inability to pass protect; Faneca allowed seven sacks but blew open huge holes for Jones. In the middle, Nick Mangold is one of the top centers in the league. Mangold has yet to miss a start in his NFL career. Right guard Brandon Moore is an elite run-blocker who surrendered just two sacks in 2008.
The only liability New York has up front is at right tackle. Damien Woody, who surrendered 6.5 sacks in 2008, is 32 and unreliable, having missed 14 games the past three seasons.
2009 New York Jets Defense:
Eric Mangini foolishly transitioned New York's 4-3 defense into a 3-4 a few years ago. Most of his players were built for the 4-3, yet Mangini decided to switch over anyway. Three years later, the Jets ranked 18th in points allowed (22.2 ppg), 16th in yards surrendered and 17th against the pass (7.0 YPA). Mangini was predictably fired.
However, now that Mangini is gone, the Jets look like they're going to have a really solid year defensively. Isn't that ironic?
New head coach Rex Ryan has done a great job getting rid of Mangini's crap players (Eric Barton, Abram Elam, etc.) and acquiring superior athletes. The big acquisition this offseason was the signing of Bart Scott. Scott was one of the more dominant inside linebackers last season, and was consequently rewarded with a 6-year, $48 million deal. You could make the case that Scott was just a product of Baltimore's system, but Ryan was the one who ran that system. Scott should continue to play well, especially next to David Harris, one of the better young defenders in the NFL.
Harris missed five contests in 2008, but if he's healthy, he and Scott will be a huge force behind Pro Bowl nose tackle Kris Jenkins and talented 3-4 end Shaun Ellis. No one's going to run on the Jets.
As noted, stopping the pass was a bit of a problem for the Jets last season, which can be attributed to their problems at corner. It was so bad that they brought in Ty Law to play across from Darrelle Revis, one of the top players at his position. But I'm confident the Jets will improve in this area. Lito Sheppard, acquired from the Eagles, will be the team's new No. 2 corner. Sheppard is a talented player, but was relegated to Andy Reid's dog house after demanding a new contract. Sheppard's interception totals make him a bit overrated, but he's a huge upgrade over Law. Second-year Dwight Lowery will be an effective nickel.
At strong safety, Kerry Rhodes is one of the better players in the NFL at his position. The Jets had some problems at free safety, but that's no longer a concern with the addition of Jim Leonhard, yet another former Raven who played under Ryan. Leonhard isn't a great talent by any means, but he was effective in Ryan's scheme last season.
The Jets managed 41 sacks last year, a number which could actually improve in 2009. As a rookie, Vernon Gholston did nothing. He had a grand total of 13 tackles and zero sacks. However, moving into a 3-4 rush linebacking role is a bit taxing. With Ryan's coaching, I'm confident that Gholston will be more of a contributor this season. Gholston will have to jump ahead of either Calvin Pace (out for the first four games with a suspension) or Bryan Thomas to have more of an impact; Pace and Thomas had seven and six sacks, respectively. Ellis led the team with eight.
2009 New York Jets Schedule and Intangibles:
Aside from foolishly switching defensive schemes and alienating those around him, something Eric Mangini sucked at was playing on the West Coast. Last year, the Jets lost at 8-8 San Diego, 7-9 San Francisco, 5-11 Oakland and 4-12 Seattle. The Jets go to the Raiders again this season, so Rex Ryan will need to improve in this area.
No surprise Jets fans booed the selection of Mike Nugent when their team took him in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Well, they have to be thrilled that he's gone. Jay Feely handled the kicking duties last year, and was 24-of-28, including 4-of-5 from 40-49 and 2-of-2 from 50-plus.
Punter Reggie Hodges maintained a pedestrian 42.8 average, hitting just 14 kicks inside the 20.
Leon Washington is one of the better return specialists in the league; he has scored four special-teams touchdowns the past two seasons, including a 94-yard kick return in 2008. The Jets didn't allow a score.
The Jets begin the year at upstart Houston. They then host the Patriots and Titans before traveling to New Orleans. Sheesh, didn't the schedule-maker know that they'd be starting a rookie quarterback? Fortunately, with contests against the Dolphins (twice), Bills (twice), Jaguars and Buccaneers, things get a bit easier from then on. Unfortunately, the Jets close out the season against Atlanta, Indianapolis and underrated Cincinnati.
2009 New York Jets Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2009 New York Jets Analysis: Unlike last year, when Brett Favre was the talk of the town, the Jets will have to win with a far more conservative game plan. With a rookie quarterback and a pedestrian receiving corps, the running game and defense will have to lead this team to victory.
We saw the Ravens win with this formula in 2008, so can the Jets replicate their success? Well, Joe Flacco had a ton of collegiate experience. Mark Sanchez doesn't. I wouldn't count anything out, but I can't see New York qualifying for the playoffs with such a raw signal-caller and a possible 0-4 start to the season.
At first, I wasn't a big fan of the Mark Sanchez trade. When it was announced, I assumed that the Jets gave up way too much. Moving up from No. 17 to 5 should have commanded a future first-round pick.
When I heard the details of the trade, however, I quickly remembered how stupid Eric Mangini is. The Jets got away with robbery, and now I have to wonder if the Jets planted Mangini in Cleveland. You see this tactic in fantasy football all of the time; two owners will agree to share the winnings, so one guy trades all of his good players to the other. I wouldn't be surprised at all to discover that Mangini is receiving secret payments from the Jets.
All kidding aside, the Jets made a great move getting Mark Sanchez. I don't think Sanchez is ready to play right away, but he's the face this franchise really needed.
I liked the Shonn Greene pick as well; this is likely Thomas Jones' final year in New York, so the Jets need an every-down back going forward.
My only gripe is that the receiver position wasn't addressed. But considering that Sanchez will probably receive his first dose of extended action in 2010, the Jets can wait to get a potent wideout next offeason.
Grade given on 4/27/09: A
2009 NFL Draft Picks:
5. Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
I'm not shocked the Jet fans love this pick. Mark Sanchez is a big-name quarterback with a lot of upside. However, New York is not in a new regime and is ready to win now. The main reason the Jets took Sanchez is because the team is moving into a new stadium and the owner wants to sell ticket licenses. This move is all financial, and as a football fan, I don't like that. It's not a bad pick, but I'm not nearly as high on it as Jet fans are.
Note: when this move was made, I assumed the Jets gave up too much by trading all the way up to No. 5. Well, they didn't. They completely ripped off the Browns and found a face for their franchise. (Pick Grade: A)
65. Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa
Jet fans booed this pick, but it makes a lot of sense. This is likely Thomas Jones' final year with the franchise, so New York really needed a running back. Financially, this makes sense too; if Greene pans out, he'll help sell a lot of jerseys and tickets when the team moves into its new stadium in 2010. (Pick Grade: A)
193. Matt Slauson, G, Nebraska
Interesting that the Jets still haven't gone receiver. The Jets needed some offensive line help. (Pick Grade: B)
I harped on this extensively in my NFL Picks pages during the regular season, but the Jets peaked way too early. Coming off an emotional victory at Gillette Stadium over rival New England, New York had another tough road battle at Tennessee. They were supposed to lose that game, but instead, they handed the Titans their first loss of the year. Unfortunately, the Jets put way too much stock into that contest. They went 1-4 after that, as alleged savior Brett Favre tossed nine interceptions to just two touchdowns in those five games.
Vikings sign QB Brett Favre
Saints sign TE Martrez Milner
Buccaneers sign WR Mario Urrutia
Jets cut WR Mario Urrutia
Jets sign WR Aundrae Allison
Jets sign WR Mario Urrutia
Jets cut TE Martrz Milner
Jets sign TE Martrez Milner
Redskins sign RB Marcus Mason
Browns acquire DE Kenyon Coleman, QB Brett Ratliff, S Abram Elam from Jets
Jets sign CB Donald Strickland
Browns sign RB Noah Herron
Jets re-sign SS Abram Elam
Jets re-sign CB Ahmad Carroll
Jets sign DE Marques Douglas
Browns sign ILB Eric Barton
Jets sign NT Howard Green
Jets sign ILB/ST Larry Izzo
Browns sign ILB David Bowens
Browns sign S Hank Poteat
Lions sign ILB Cody Spencer
Browns sign DE C.J. Mosley
Jets re-sign K Jay Feely
Bengals sign WR Laveranues Coles
Buccaneers sign K Mike Nugent
Jets sign S Jim Leonhard
Jets acquire CB Lito Sheppard from Eagles for a 2009 5th-round pick and a conditional 2010 pick
Jets re-sign G Brandon Moore
Jets sign ILB Bart Scott
Patriots sign TE Chris Baker
Jets re-sign FB Tony Richardson
Jets cut RB Noah Herron
Jets cut G Brandon Moore
Jets cut WR Laveranues Coles
Jets cut TE Chris Baker
Jets cut ILB Brad Kassell
Jets cut ILB David Bowens
Jets announce retirement of QB Brett Favre
Jets cut S David Barrett
Jets hire HC Rex Ryan
Cornerback: The Jets were so desperate for corner help in 2008 that they brought in Ty Law to start. Ouch. Dwight Lowery had a solid rookie campaign, but New York needs someone more reliable across from Darrelle Revis. Vontae Davis could be an option at No. 17 in the 2009 NFL Draft. Traded for CB Lito Sheppard; signed Donald Strickland
Inside Linebacker: Free agent Eric Barton won't be missed. The Jets really need a stout linebacker next to David Harris. Signed Bart Scott
Strong Safety: More help for the Jets secondary. Strong safety must be upgraded. Signed Jim Leonhard; re-signed Abram Elam
Wide Receiver: The Jets have depth at wideout, but they lack a true No. 1 receiver. Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles were expected to step up with Brett Favre under center, but neither guy did. Signed Aundrae Allison
Guard: The Jets couldn't afford Brandon Moore, so they let him go. A replacement is needed. Re-signed Brandon Moore; drafted Matt Slauson
Right Tackle: Overpaid and overweight Damien Woody surrendered 6.5 sacks in 2008. He was also whistled for five penalties. The oft-injured 31-year-old is a tough run-blocker, but he's an abomination in pass protection.
Defensive End: This isn't a big need, but the Jets could use some help up front in their 3-4 defense. Signed Marques Douglas
Running Back: Thomas Jones just had a great year, but he turns 31 in August. Running back isn't a huge need, but if the Jets have the opportunity to draft Knowshon Moreno or Chris Wells, they won't hesitate. Drafted Shonn Greene
Punter: Reggie Hodges had a pretty meager punting average (42.8) for hitting just 14 kicks inside the 20.
2009 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Bart Scott, ILB, Ravens. Age: 29. Signed with Jets (6 years, $48 million)
A really good linebacker or the product of a great Ravens system? No one can really be certain, but one thing's for sure - Bart Scott is really entertaining. Asked to compare Chris Johnson and LenDale White, Scott said, "Let's see: a fat guy and the fastest guy in the 40... Not fat. I'm sorry. Plump."
Lito Sheppard, CB, Eagles. Age: 28. Traded to Jets
A talented corner, Lito Sheppard seemed to quit when the Eagles refused to trade him after signing Asante Samuel. Sheppard will be a good No. 2 across from Darrelle Revis.
Jim Leonhard, S, Ravens. Age: 26. Signed with Jets (3 years)
Jim Leonhard stepped in for an injured Dawan Landry and played remarkably well. Look for him to follow Rex Ryan to New York.
Howard Green, NT, Seahawks. Age: 30. - Signed with Jets
Donald Strickland, CB, 49ers. Age: 28. - Signed with Jets (3 years)
Marques Douglas, DE, Ravens. Age: 32. - Signed with Jets
Aundrae Allison, WR, Vikings. Age: 23. - Signed with Jets
Larry Izzo, ILB, ST, Patriots. Age: 34. - Signed with Jets
New York Jets Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Feb. 15): -$7 million
Brandon Moore, G. Age: 29. Re-signed with Jets (4 years, $16 million)
An elite run-blocker, Brandon Moore was cut because the Jets couldn't afford his $7 million bonus. He also gave up just two sacks in 2008.
Jay Feely, K. Age: 33. Re-signed with Jets (1 year)
Jay Feely hit 24-of-28 kicks in 28, including both of his tries from 50-plus. "See Me, Touch Me" Feely has actually been really sharp since getting shipped out of Atlanta in 2004; the past four years, he's 103-of-120 (85.8%) and 6-of-9 from beyond 50.
Tony Richardson, FB. Age: 37. Re-signed with Jets (1 year)
It's no coincidence that Thomas Jones just had one of the best seasons of his career. At 37, Tony Richardson can still get it done.
Brett Ratliff (ERFA), QB. Age: 24. Extended for two years
One of the bright young quarterbacks in the NFL, Brett Ratliff - not Kellen Clemens - is set to take over as the starting signal caller if Brett Favre retires. Ratliff will be retained for small money.
Laveranues Coles, WR. Age: 31. Signed with Bengals (4 years, $28 million)
Laveranues Coles had 850 yards and seven touchdowns last year. At 31, Coles has lost a lot of his explosiveness, but he's still a very solid No. 2 in this league.
Chris Baker, TE. Age: 29. Signed with Patriots
An excellent TE2, but as we've seen in New York, he shouldn't be a starter.
Divisional Rival History: Buffalo Bills: Traditionally a home-dominated series, but the Jets bucked that trend. They swept Buffalo in 2008. Miami Dolphins: The Jets have dominated this series for years. Try 17 of the last 22. New England Patriots: Poor Jets. The Patriots have beaten them in 11 of the previous 13 matchups.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2009 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)