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2007 Season Previews
New York Jets (Last Year: 10-6)
Veteran Additions:
QB Marques Tuiasosopo, RB Thomas Jones, DE Kenyon Coleman, DE David Bowens.
Draft Picks:
WR Chansi Stuckey, OT Jacob Bender, ILB David Harris, CB Darrelle Revis.
Major Subtractions:
QB Patrick Ramsey, RB Kevan Barlow, RB Derrick Blaylock, FB B.J. Askew, TE Zach Hilton, DT Rashad Moore.

Offense This Year: I named Eric Mangini the 2006 Coach of the Year because I couldn't remember anyone doing more with less talent. In fact, that was the first sentence of my analysis. The rest: "I'm not sure how he got the Jets into the playoffs; I just know we can expect bright things from him in the future." I predicted New York to finish 6-10 last year because the team lacked a legitimate running back, had nothing at the tight end position and was planning on utilizing a quarterback who had about 2,650 shoulder surgeries over the past few years.

Thanks to Mangini, the Jets flip-flopped my projected record to complete the 2006 campaign at 10-6, losing to the Patriots in the first round of the playoffs. However, my statements about the offensive holes were pretty much on target. Although Chad Pennington converted 64.5 percent of his passes, he threw almost as many interceptions (16) as touchdowns (17). The top running back on the roster gained 650 yards. Kevan Barlow, who began the season as the starter, rushed for only 370 yards at a 2.8 clip. There was nothing at tight end either; Chris Baker managed 31 receptions for 300 yards.

That said, things should be a lot brighter for New York's offense, even though the unit averaged nearly 20 points per game. Pennington will now be two years removed from his shoulder injury, so he should play a lot better than he did in 2006. Pennington will still have Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery at his disposal; the two receivers combined for 173 catches, 2,059 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. And despite left guard Pete Kendall's Alan Faneca impersonation, the Jets' offensive line will be together for another year. Pennington was sacked just 30 times in 2006, which signifies how talented New York's front is.

The Jets made one crucial offensive acquisition, trading their No. 37 pick in April's draft to Chicago for Thomas Jones and another selection. The move was a steal, in my opinion. Jones compiled 1,210 rushing yards with the Bears in 2006. He's an instant upgrade over anyone New York has at the running back position. Leon Washington, the Jets' lightning-quick back, will be a nice change of pace who will keep opposing defenses on their heels. Washington, who had 920 total yards from scrimmage as a rookie, is capable of taking one to the house whenever he touches the ball.

Defense This Year: Mangini is a defensive coach, so given that the Jets clearly overachieved and played beyond their collective capability, you would assume that he constructed some elaborate schemes to disrupt opposing offenses. You would be correct with that assumption; after an Oct. 8 loss to Jacksonville, New York surrendered just 14.8 points per game, limiting New England to 14, and Chicago and Green Bay to 10. The Jets were able to notch those statistics without a consistent pass rush and a reliable second cornerback.

One of the reasons I thought the Jets would finish 6-10 was the departure of John Abraham. Abraham, a renowned double-digit sack artist, signed with the Atlanta Falcons, leaving Bryan Thomas and Eric Barton as the rush linebackers in New York's new 3-4 scheme. Thomas played extremely well under Mangini, recording 6.5 sacks the final two months of the year, but no one else on the team was able to accumulate more than six sacks the entire season. New York signed David Bowens, who has averaged six himself the past three campaigns, to take Barton's spot in the lineup.

As for the cornerback dilemma, Andre Dyson's the clear-cut No. 1. However, injuries and ineptness forced Hank Poteat into the lineup late in the year. Poteat's a solid reserve in this league, but he should not be a starter. That's why the Jets picked Darrelle Revis with their top selection in April's draft. Hopefully Revis can assert himself into the starting lineup by September. If he does, he'll have the luxury of playing next to a pair of bright, young safeties. Free safety Erik Coleman is solid, but strong safety Kerry Rhodes is one of the most underrated defenders in the NFL. He barely gets mentioned, yet he's one of the top players at his position in the conference.

One thing I haven't mentioned yet was New York's inability to stop the run on a consistent basis; the team was ranked 26th in that category, permitting backs to rush for 4.7 yards per carry. Thus, you can understand why the organization signed defensive end Kenyon Coleman to a huge deal. Coleman will replace the aging Kimo von Oelhoffen, and will start right next to end Shaun Ellis and nose tackle Dewayne Robertson. The Jets will be hoping that their revamped front is able to interfere with the opposing offensive line enough to allow inside linebackers Victor Hobson, Jonathan Vilma and rookie David Harris to make plays on the ball.

Schedule and Intangibles: In his second season, Mike Nugent hit 24-of-27 attempts, including 6-of-7 from beyond 40 yards. He's clearly on his way to becoming one of the top place kickers in the NFL. ... For my money, Ben Graham is one of the best punters in the league. He averaged 44.2 yards per kick, placed 26 inside the opponents' 20-yard line and put a weird spin on the ball to make return-men muff the catch. ... Kick returner Justin Miller took two back to the house in 2006 after scoring once the year before. ... The Jets feasted on Tennessee, Detroit, Houston, Green Bay and Oakland last season. They won't have that luxury in 2007, as their schedule appears to be much more taxing; Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Dallas all loom large as non-divisional foes. That said, New York will surely beat up on Washington, Cleveland, Tennessee, Kansas City and the Giants.

Additional Reading: Endless Banter coming soon.

Positional Rankings (0-4 stars):
Quarterbacks
Offensive Line
Secondary
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams
Receivers
Linebackers
Coaching


Divisional Rival History:
Buffalo Bills: Although the visiting teams each won last year, this is a home-dominated rivalry; the host has claimed seven of the past nine.
Miami Dolphins: The Jets have dominated this series for years. Try 14 of the last 18.
New England Patriots: Despite the Jets' 17-14 victory in Foxboro last season, the Patriots have claimed eight of the past nine matchups.

Fantasy Football:
Chad Pennington: Chad Pennington threw for a career-high 3,352 yards, along with 17 touchdowns. Those aren't great numbers, and there's no guarantee his shoulder won't fall off. Stay away.
Projected Stats: 3,100 passing yards. 18 passing TDs. 105 rushing yards. 0 rushing TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 273.

Thomas Jones: Thomas Jones finally gets to have the starting job all to himself without some overrated, overpaid, cry-baby behind him on the depth chart.
Projected Stats: 1,200 rushing yards. 150 receiving yards. 11 total TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 201.

Leon Washington: Won't get enough touches to warrant him as a fantasy pick, but he's exciting to watch.
Projected Stats: 500 rushing yards. 400 receiving yards. 4 total TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 114.

Chris Baker: No fantasy value here.
Projected Stats: 300 receiving yards. 3 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 48.

Laveranues Coles: Broke the 1,000-yard plateau for the first time since 2003. Guess it helped to have a healthy Chad Pennington throwing to him.
Projected Stats: 1,025 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 138.

Jerricho Cotchery: Came out of nowhere to record 82 receptions, 961 yards and six touchdowns. There's no reason why Jerricho Cotchery won't stop improving.
Projected Stats: 1,010 receiving yards. 6 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 137.

Mike Nugent: Mike Nugent has become one of the top kickers in the game. He'll have more opportunities to hit from beyond 40 in 2006, based on probability alone.
Projected Stats: 25-28 FG (2-3 50+). 37 XP.
Projected Fantasy Points: 122.

New York Defense: I wouldn't start or draft them because they don't produce the stats you need to win in fantasy football. However, if you're planning on doing defense by committee, you can play the Jets against Miami (Weeks 3 and 13), Washington (Week 9), Cleveland (Week 14) and Kansas City (Week 17), if Brodie Croyle's starting.
Projected Fantasy Ranking: Spot-Starting Defense.

Analysis: Eric Mangini got New York to the playoffs despite having tons of holes on the roster. The Jets filled some of those missing links without really losing anything. Should be an interesting year at the Meadowlands.

Projection: 11-5 (2nd in the AFC East)


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