No NFL preview would be complete without a few boastful predictions, and one of mine falls here. Look at that picture of Rex Ryan, downtrodden and hungry. That is exactly how I picture him for the duration of this season.WHY THEY'RE GOOD
-At the root of the Jets' newfound swagger is Rex Ryan. For all his hubris, he produced results; the man is a trans fat-infused dynamo of the coaching profession. Instead of letting the New York media slowly pick away at a team that could have been very bad, he became their lightning rod, and in turn the players responded. Ryan will be loud and obnoxious, but that's his camouflage and his source of power. He hides behind his boorishness while preparing extremely effective game plans. Everyone is just looking at his gut while he does so.
-Shonn Greene established himself as the number one option at running back during the playoffs; and the Jets' offseason jettisoning (eh?) of Thomas Jones backs that up. Greene didn't have twenty carries in a game until the playoffs, but his five yards a carry and explosive running style have him poised for a big year. Spelling him are LaDanian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight, who aren't grinders like Jones was, but will have to help Greene ease into his alpha dog role. The Jets ran the ball seventy percent of the time last season, if that continues then there will be enough yards for everyone.
-Kris Jenkins is back, and that's bad news for centers across the NFL. He's big and fast and his presence makes an excellent defense obscenely scary.
-On the defensive side, players like Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard tailed Ryan from Baltimore and then excelled with the Gang Green. They're back and will lead the NFL's best defense in 2009. Leonhard is one of Ryan's success stories, he couldn't get a cup of coffee with the Bills for three seasons before becoming a Rexy staple in Baltimore and now in New York.
WHY THEY'RE BAD
-The Jets waved off Alan Faneca, a nine-time Pro Bowler, in the offseason. He'll be replaced by Vladimir Ducasse, an enormous Haitian from UMass. Though Faneca is an elder statesmen of the sport, his departure casts a pall over a solid offensive line. Will New York still have the same push upfront they had with Faneca? And if chemistry is anything besides a subject I failed, will his absence stir up some timing issues on the front line? It's a reach, but I'm still noting it.
-Last season, Braylon Edwards was an enigma. He'd pop up for a quick home run play and then quickly retreat back into oblivion. The Jets gave up peanuts for him, but he's supposed to be a legitimate threat and safety valve for Mark Sanchez. Instead he's been aloof and inconsistent. With only six catches in the postseason, the connection between the two isn't there. Edwards has only one thousand yard season on his resume, maybe his current form should be what's expected.
-I don't think Mark Sanchez is a good quarterback, at all. The numbers back me up on this, his DYAR (like VORP, but for football; courtesy of Football Outsiders) was worse than Trent Edwards, Jake Delhomme, and Brady Quinn last season. Sanchez did manage to cut down on the interceptions in time for the playoffs, but when the run game was shut down and he was asked to shoulder the load, he faltered. Plus, they call it the "Sophomore Slump" for a reason. It happened to Matt Ryan last season, and in an offense similar to what the Jets like to run. The Jets offense will only be as good as Sanchez is, and I don't see it ending well.
-New York needs to get Darrelle Revis signed, soon. Their defense blitzes, a lot, and the success of a pressure defense is the secondary's ability to play man-to-man. Revis is arguably the best corner in the league, and without him the Jets are vulnerable when they go into kill mode. If he signs soon, knock this upstairs to the "GOOD" section, but right now Revis is detracting from the preparation necessary for an NFL defense to be successful.
INCORRECT PREDICTION: 8-8, THIRD IN AFC EAST, POSSIBLE NAMATH DRINKING BUDDIES
So to recap, here's how I think the AFC East is shaking out
1) Miami Dolphins (16-0, but more likely 11-5)
2)New England Patriots (10-6)
3)New York Jets (8-8)
4)Buffalo Bills (5-11)