QB Mark Brunell, RB LaDainian Tomlinson, WR Santonio Holmes, DE/OLB Jason Taylor, ILB Lance Laury, CB Antonio Cromartie, S Brodney Pool, K Nick Folk.
CB Kyle Wilson, G Vladimir Ducasse, RB Joe McKnight, FB John Conner.
RB Leon Washington, RB Thomas Jones, G Alan Faneca, NT Howard Green, CB Lito Sheppard, CB Donald Strickland, FS Kerry Rhodes, K Jay Feely.
2010 New York Jets Offense:
The passing game is paramount in today's NFL, but don't tell that to the Jets. They were able to advance all the way to the AFC Championship thanks to their No. 1 ranked running game and defense.
Thomas Jones rushed for 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2009. The amazing thing is that Jones wasn't even that good despite what his stats indicate. Both Shonn Greene and Leon Washington were both superior runners when they were on the field; Jones simply benefited from the best run-blocking line in the NFL.
Jones is gone, but there's no reason Greene can't pick up where he left off in the playoffs. Greene trampled the Bengals and Chargers for 263 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 44 carries. He could easily win the league's rushing title in 2010. Just don't buy into the speculation that LaDainian Tomlinson will take Green's carries; Tomlinson is in New York as a reserve and third-down back only. He had a poor red-zone conversion rate in 2009, so Greene is the heavy favorite to be the goal-line back.
Four of the offensive line's starters are back. The only missing player is Alan Faneca, who was cut following the 2010 NFL Draft. Faneca made the Pro Bowl in 2009, but was easily the worst starter on the Jets' front. Still, the fact remains that Ryan and the front office thought so highly of second-round rookie Vladimir Ducasse that they deemed Faneca expendable. Ducasse will start in between D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. Brandon Moore and Damien Woody will man the right side.
New York's running game is terrific and overpowering, but as stated before, the NFL is a passing league. If the Jets want to take the next step and beat the elite teams like the Colts and Saints, they'll need Mark Sanchez to mature. Sanchez threw just 12 touchdowns to 20 interceptions as a rookie, but remember that he didn't have much experience at USC prior to entering the NFL.
Sanchez's upside is enormous, and considering how young he was, he played tremendously in the playoffs. At Cincinnati, he was 12-of-15 for 182 yards and a touchdown. After a mediocre performance at San Diego (12-of-23, 100 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), he was highly impressive at Indianapolis, going 17-of-30 for 257 yards, two scores and an interception.
In addition to possessing more experience, Sanchez will also have a new weapon to work with in 2010. The Jets traded a fifth-round pick to the Steelers for Santonio Holmes - a ridiculous bargain considering how talented Holmes is. Holmes is suspended for the first four games, so he'll offer the same bonus as a mid-season addition that Braylon Edwards did last year.
Edwards is really talented and opens up the offense as a deep threat, but his awful hands are a lost cause. Jerricho Cotchery will play out of the slot once Holmes returns in Week 5, while tight end Dustin Keller figures to be an even greater part of the aerial attack after a strong postseason (12 catches, 181 yards, 3 TDs).
2010 New York Jets Defense:
It should not be surprising that a Rex Ryan defense ranked first in almost every category last year. As an example of how dominant the Jets were, they surrendered 153.7 passing yards per game. The No. 2 team versus the pass (Bills) allowed 184.2. New York also limited opponents to just 14.8 points per game.
Ryan's exotic packages were great, but it all worked because of Darrelle Revis. Revis was easily the top cornerback in the NFL, as he effortlessly shut down the likes of Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Chad Ochocinco and Steve Smith. He erased half of the field every week so efficiently that the mayor of New York named an island after him.
What's scary is that New York's secondary might be even better in 2010. The team somehow obtained Kyle Wilson at the bottom of the first round this April, despite the fact that many NFL Draft analysts listed Wilson as the No. 1 corner in the class. If Wilson's half as good as advertised, where are opposing quarterbacks going to throw?
Wilson wasn't the only acquisition the Jets made to their defensive backfield. They traded for Antonio Cromartie, a physically talented playmaking corner. However, the knock on Cromartie is that he whiffs on tackles and doesn't appear interested in playing football at times. Perhaps a new venue and coaching staff will change that. If anything, he's quality depth.
New York also signed Brodney Pool, a skilled safety who has unfortunately suffered one too many concussions in his career. He'll play in 2010, but another blow to the head could end things permanently for Pool. He'll start across from Jim Leonhard, who was solid at strong safety in 2009.
Something that would help the Jets' secondary even more is a consistent pass rush. The team had just 32 sacks on the year, as no player had more than eight (Calvin Pace). New York curiously didn't address the rush linebacker position in the 2010 NFL Draft. The front office signed Jason Taylor earlier, but Taylor has just 10.5 sacks the past two seasons and is coming off shoulder surgery. He'll play behind Pace and Bryan Thomas.
Vernon Gholston, once considered the franchise's pass-rusher of the future, has been moved to the defensive line. It's an odd move considering that Gholston is 6-3, 264, but Ryan praised Gholston during minicamp. Ryan certainly knows what he's doing, so it'll be interesting to see how that experiment pans out. Meanwhile, the starting line is comprised of ends Shaun Ellis and Sione Pouha, and nose tackle Kris Jenkins. Pouha had a tremendous 2009 campaign at nose tackle once Jenkins was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Jenkins has been practicing, so it looks like he's good to go.
Pouha and Jenkins will eat up space in the trenches, allowing stud inside linebackers David Harris and Bart Scott to make plays. Scott was awarded a 6-year, $48 million contract last offseason and didn't disappoint, though he suffered an ankle injury in the playoffs and wasn't on the field much during the AFC Championship. Like Scott, Harris will be the recipient of a huge deal soon; his contract expires after this season.
2010 New York Jets Schedule and Intangibles:
Kicker Jay Feely had a great year with the Jets, but he signed with the Cardinals this offseason. In response, New York added Nick Folk, who was 46-of-53 in 2007 and 2008, but really struggled last season, going just 18-of-28 before the Cowboys released him.
Punter Steve Weatherford maintained a pedestrian 42.0 average, hitting just 25-of-80 kicks inside the 20.
Brad Smith proved to be an effective kick-returner, averaging 31 yards per attempt with a touchdown. Jerricho Cotchery, meanwhile, was solid on punt returns. The Jets allowed two special-teams scores - both of which occurred in the same game (vs. Miami).
The Jets have a pretty balanced schedule. They have to battle the likes of the Ravens, Steelers, Packers, Vikings and Texans outside of their division, but they also get to beat up on the Browns, Lions, Broncos and Bears.
2010 New York Jets Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2010 New York Jets Analysis: New York essentially has the same team that advanced all the way to the AFC Championship. Only now, Mark Sanchez has more experience and a sure-handed Pro Bowl receiver by his side. The Jets are unquestionably one of the Super Bowl favorites.
The best teams shouldn't be able to get the best players. That's not how this process is supposed to work. But don't tell that to the Jets - with two of their picks, they acquired the consensus No. 2 cornerback prospect in this class and Santonio Holmes via a trade.
New York had just three other selections, but it made the most of them. Vladimir Ducasse is expected to step in right away for the overrated and expensive Alan Faneca, who was released on Saturday. John Conner projects as a terrific blocking fullback. And Joe McKnight, a great weapon for Brian Schottenheimer, will replace Leon Washington, who was shipped away to Seattle. McKnight isn't projected to be better than Washington, but keep in mind that Washington was coming off a nasty leg injury and was asking for a contract extension. McKnight is a cheaper and healthier solution.
I wanted the Jets to upgrade their front seven, but I can't really argue with the players they obtained in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Overall 2010 NFL Draft Grade given on 4/26/10: A
2010 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
29. Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
How did the Jets obtain one of the top cornerback prospects in the 2010 NFL Draft at No. 29? Insane. (Pick Grade: A)
61. Vladimir Ducasse, G/OT, UMass
This is not a need at all, but it certainly will be down the line when Alan Faneca moves on. Vladimir Ducasse fits the range and can play multiple positions up front. Another good pick. (Pick Grade: A)
112. Joe McKnight, RB, USC
Great value, as Joe McKnight was a Round 2-3 prospect. LaDainian Tomlinson is old and Leon Washington is coming off an injury. The Jets had no sure thing behind Shonn Greene. (Pick Grade: A)
139. John Conner, FB, Kentucky
A very good blocker, John Conner should be a quality fullback in New York for years to come. (Pick Grade: A)
Key Undrafted Free Agents:
Charlie Tanner, G, Texas
Donovan Warren, CB, Michigan
Mick Williams, DT, Pittsburgh
I loved the fact that the Jets traded up for Mark Sanchez and gave up almost nothing in the process. I liked their acquisition of Shonn Greene. And I was in favor of the Rex Ryan hire. Having said that, I never would have imagined New York reaching the AFC Championship in Sanchez's rookie season. To me, the Jets were a year ahead of schedule, and their fans have to be thrilled with the young nucleus their front office has assembled.
Jets re-sign WR Laveranues Coles
Jets sign QB Mark Brunell
Cardinals sign G Alan Faneca
Seahawks acquire RB Leon Washington from Jets for 5th- and 7th-round picks
Jets cut G Alan Faneca
Vikings sign CB Lito Sheppard
Jets sign DE/OLB Jason Taylor
Redskins sign NT Howard Green
Jets re-sign RB Leon Washington
Jets re-sign CB Drew Coleman
Jets re-sign QB Kellen Clemens
Jets acquire WR Santonio Holmes from Steelers for 2010 5th-round pick
Cardinals sign K Jay Feely
Jets sign ILB Lance Laury
Jets re-sign OT Wayne Hunter
Jets re-sign WR Braylon Edwards
Jets re-sign WR/KR Brad Smith
Jets re-sign S James Ihedigbo
Jets re-sign WR David Clowney
Jets re-sign SS Eric Smith
Jets re-sign FB Tony Richardson
Jets sign RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Chargers sign CB Donald Strickland
Jets sign FS Brodney Pool
Patriots sign DE/OLB Marques Murrell
Chiefs sign RB Thomas Jones
Jets re-sign TE Ben Hartsock
Cardinals acquire FS Kerry Rhodes from Jets for 2010 4th-rounder and 2011 7th-rounder
Jets acquire CB Antonio Cromartie from Chargers for conditional 2011 third-round pick
Jets cut CB Donald Strickland
Jets cut CB Lito Sheppard
Jets tender CB Drew Coleman
Jets tender S James Ihedigbo
Jets tender RB Leon Washington
Jets cut RB Thomas Jones
Jets sign K Nick Folk
Rush Linebacker: The Jets' No. 1 priority this offseason has to be upgrading the pass rush. They can't afford to blitz Peyton Manning and expose their secondary. They need to find some way to consistently get to the quarterback without sending tons of blitzers. This position will likely be addressed in the first two rounds this April. Signed Jason Taylor
Cornerback: Lito Sheppard isn't a very good cornerback. New York needs a solid guy across from Darrelle Revis. The 2010 NFL Draft is loaded at this position. Drafted Kyle Wilson; traded for Antonio Cromartie; signed Donovan Warren
Defensive End: Shaun Ellis is a 33-year-old player coming off a knee injury and entering his contract year. Marques Douglas is a 33-year-old free agent. An injection of youth and talent is needed up front. Jared Odrick is an option with the No. 29 pick this April.
Free Safety: Kerry Rhodes used to rank among the top safeties in the NFL. However, he has become too lethargic, and it doesn't seem like he gives a damn anymore. If he's traded this offseason, this position will need to be addressed. Signed Brodney Pool
Slot Receiver: The Jets are set at wideout with Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery, but they could use an upgrade in the slot. This is not a pressing need. Traded for Santonio Holmes
Backup Quarterback: Kellen Clemens embarrassed himself when he replaced Mark Sanchez for a game and a half late in the season. A veteran backup could be added. Signed Mark Brunell
Inside Linebacker Depth: If either David Harris or Bart Scott goes down, the Jets are in trouble. Signed Lance Laury
2010 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Nick Folk, K, Cowboys. Age: 25. Signed with Jets
I love how kickers aren't allowed to have a bad streak of games, yet players at other positions are. Folk was 26-of-31 in 2007 and 20-of-22 in 2008. In his career, he's 5-of-9 from 50-plus. He's a really good kicker who's just going through a mental slump.
Brodney Pool (RFA), FS, Browns. Age: 26. Signed with Jets (1 year, $1.3 million)
Brodney Pool is a very talented free safety who is great in coverage. He would be ranked higher, but he has suffered four concussions in his career. One more could finish him off as an NFL player.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers. Age: 31. Signed with Jets (2 years, $5.2 million)
LaDainian Tomlinson is done - as a feature back. The reason I've given him a 2.5-star rating is because he would be one hell of a goal-line back for some team. Just ask Houston fans if their team would have made the playoffs with Tomlinson getting some chances from the 1-yard line. Unfortunately, Tomlinson is a bit delusional and may overprice himself instead of just accepting this new role.
Jason Taylor, DE/OLB, Dolphins. Age: 36. Signed with Jets (2 years, $13 million)
Jason Taylor had seven sacks last year, but at 36, he obviously doesn't have much left in the tank. He can be a nickel rusher, but that's it.
Lance Laury (RFA), ILB, Seahawks. Age: 28. -- Signed with Jets
Laveranues Coles, WR, Bengals. Age: 32. -- Signed with Jets
Mark Brunell, QB, Saints. Age: 39. -- Signed with Jets (2 years)
New York Jets Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Feb. 14): No cap.
Jay Feely, K, Jets. Age: 34. Signed with Cardinals (2 years)
Jay Feely was 27-of-33 in 2009 and has hit 4-of-4 in his last 50-yarders in the regular season, but missed two kicks in the AFC Championship.
Divisional Rival History: Buffalo Bills: The Jets have defeated Buffalo in three of the past four battles. Miami Dolphins: The Jets had dominated this series for years - try 17 of the last 22. However, Miami swept New York in 2009. New England Patriots: Poor Jets. The Patriots have beaten them in 12 of the previous 15 matchups (though New York won its home meeting this year).
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2010 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)