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New York Jets - Future Brighter than Present  

6-17-09

NFL Football Futures Betting
NFL SNEAK PEEK: NEW YORK JETS

Last year the Jets got off to an 8-3 record after 11 games, including a five-game winning streak that culminated in a win over previously undefeated Tennessee,  and Brett Favre, who was acquired from the Green Bay Packers in the off-season, was the toast of the town. Then things started to go south. The Jets lost four of their last five games, as Favre threw two TD's and nine interceptions, and at the end of the day, coach Eric Mangini was without a job, Favre was in "retirement" and the Jets were looking for a new coach and quarterback. They have both of those now, in the persons of Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez. What does the immediate future hold for these newcomers?

Let's take a look at the numbers:

NFL Odds To Win AFC East 

  • New England Patriots     -450
  • NEW YORK JETS         +700
  • Buffalo Bills                 +800
    Miami Dolphins            +800

The Brett Favre Era lasted all of sixteen games. Now the Jets are hoping that this is the Mark Sanchez Era.

Sanchez just signed a five-year, $50 million contract, with $28 million guaranteed, that will make him the highest paid player in the franchise's history. New coach Rex Ryan is saying that Sanchez is in a "dogfight" with Kellen Clemens for the starting quarterback job. I know Ryan would like to downplay the fact that Sanchez is being looked upon as the quarterback of the future from Day One, but if the Jets have to start the season with Clemens at the helm, they're going to be in very difficult shape, because Clemens does not have what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.

That's not to say things are going to be easier with Sanchez, at least not at first. This is going to be an adjustment season with a rookie quarterback, and there is no reason not to use him and get him started on his development. Plus, Ryan, who was the defensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens last year, saw how Joe Flacco took the reins as a rookie and guided the team into the AFC title game, proving that anything is possible. Of course, it is more possible when you have a bruising defense and running game, so the Jets still have a ways to go.

Ryan is installing his own 3-4 defensive alignment, and he's got a Pro Bowl player at the nose tackle position in Kris Jenkins. Ryan went out and got one of his players from Baltimore, Bart Scott, who will line up at one of the inside linebacker spots. There ought to be a pretty good cornerback tandem at Ryan's disposal, as Darrelle Reivis, who made the Pro Bowl, and Lito Sheppard, who's been there before and was unhappy in Philadelphia, man those positions. One of the big question marks, frankly, is Vernon Gholston, who was drafted out of Ohio State in the first round last season but was hardly a "can't miss" prospect. He missed last year, playing the whole season without a sack, and may turn out to be a dog.

Favre was not necessarily a leader with the Jets; he was somewhat distant and often dressed in a different room. The team gets to start fresh with Sanchez, who started only one full year for the USC Trojans and failed to beat out John David Booty for the QB spot the year before. Sanchez is going to have a pretty solid offensive line in front of him, so that's not really a worry. The concern is that there may not be enough weaponry. Laveranues Coles bolted the scene to ink a free agent contract with the Bengals. That leaves Jerricho Cotchery, a solid if not spectacular wideout, to line up opposite Brad Smith, the former Missouri quarterback who was converted to a "slash" type.

Dustin Keller, who had a good rookie season in 2008, will be the likely beneficiary of this. He's a coming star. Thomas Jones had a career year in '08, but why did it take him so long in his career to have one? And can he even come close to leading the AFC in rushing again? Leon Washington is a valuable all-around offensive threat, and Ryan promises that he is going to think of new and exciting ways to utilize him, more so than during Eric Mangini's tenure. The Jets are also hoping that Shonn Greene, who led the Big Ten in rushing in his only full season as a starter (at Iowa) is someone who can help take some of the pressure off Jones.

There are some solid people on both sides of the ball, and it was no accident that the Jets looked very much like division championship contenders last season, before Favre's star faded. Their difficulty this season is that they have to start somewhere with Sanchez, and it might as well be now, in Ryan's first season at the helm, while he still has something in the way of job security. That will slow the program down for the time being, for the sake of bigger gains in the future. This Jet team could find itself 0-5 coming out of the box. They could be a 6-10 or 7-9 team, and I doubt they have a better chance to win this division than the Bills or Dolphins.

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