Thursday, July 31, 2008
Gang Green - Offense
The New York Jets had no offense whatsoever last year. It honestly seemed as though nothing clicked for any sort of substantial period of time at any point during the season, and it seemed that way simply because nothing clicked for any sort of substantial period of time at any point during the 2007 season. Dang it! Let's take it apart piece by piece and see what we can expect in this rapidly approaching '08 season.
First, unfortunately I need to talk for a second about therewillbesports favorite: Brett Favre! Sorry Gir and others... I do not think that the Jets will get Favre. I really don't. Do I hope for it? Yeah, I think right away people would be talking about us as potential contenders if we got Brett, but I really, really don't think it'll happen. That said, if it does happen then all of this post is pretty worthless. If the most important single position in all of sports is to be taken over by one of the best all-time at that single position then of course that would change EVERYTHING. I'm going in to this post assuming that we will not get Favre, as I see it being extremely unlikely, so let's see what we can do without him no matter how good he looks in green...
Secondly, f*** 2007. How long can I harp on how bad our offense was last year? I'm sick of it. Here are some numbers for you Jets haters to feast on and then I'm done talking about last years' terribleness. 26th in yards per game, 26th in time of possession, 20th in turnover differential, 25th in passing ypg, 26th in passing touchdowns, 28th in sacks allowed, 19th in rushing ypg, 30th in rushing touchdowns and most importantly, 25th in points per game... Let's get positive ladies and gents...
Ooooooooookay O-line. So Jets fans, get prepared for a new season and lets thank our management for going insane. Last year we found glaring holes at right tackle and left guard, but this year there are no holes. That's right. None. Not the best o-line in the league but no holes. Most teams cannot say that.
From left to right you start with D'Brickashaw Ferguson (one of two first round picks in 2006). He is coming into his third year. His rookie year he was extremely awesome, for a rookie, but last year he hardly improved and that was a little bit of a disappointment. The good thing about all that jazz is that D'Bricks knows that he was disappointing last season. He spent all of the off-season getting harder, better, faster, stronger (no... really). He put on some serious muscle and all reports coming from training camp have said that he is noticeably much stronger and looking phenomenal. Yes!
At left guard you find our biggest off-season acquisition, from the Steelers: Alan Faneca (I believe they like to run the ball in Pittsburgh). He is a seven time pro-bowler and is a big time leader on and off the field not to mention he is replacing the dreadful Adrien Clarke. There is no doubt that Faneca will spend a lot of time with the younger Jets helping them grow. He is already making a noticeable difference this training camp, helping the line with communication which is an essential part of a working o-line. With hundreds of different possible looks a defense can give you, you gotta be talking. As for helping out with pass protection and the running game? Well he is a monster and he is going to be huge for us in both aspects of the game. I cannot wait and I'm sure that I'm not the only one.
Our center is Nick Mangold (our other first round pick in 2006). Nick is amazing. He has been getting better and better game by game. It is so exciting to have him, Faneca and D'Brickashaw owning the left side of the line for several more years. Having a strong o-line is absolutely paramount to offensive success and a great center like Mangold is essential to any line.
At right guard we will be featuring our pleasant surprise of last year, Brandon Moore. Moore was stationed at right guard last season and was very good. He will continue to be good there and have good chemistry with the rest of the line like last year. Moore really emerged as a leader last season in the locker room for the younger guys and that makes him more valuable then just a good guard.
At right tackle last year we had Anthony Clement and he was worse than bad. He constantly got beat by opposing teams' ends and he really hurt both our passing and running games. There isn't really anything good to say about Clement at all. Well, peace Tony, and now enter Damien Woody. Woody has played every position on the offensive line in his career except left tackle which you have to like in terms of versatility. He has a lot of experience all over the place and will be a big, big improvement over Clement. I doubt you'll see Woody in Hawaii after this season but he is a very solid and capable player on what will be a good, potentially great, o-line which means he is good enough. Last year the line was a big weakness and now it is a strength.
Backs (full ones and half ones!)
The potency for a dominant rushing attack doesn't stop with the o-line. Here comes yet another new guy in the green and white: Tony Richardson. If you do not know who Tony Richardson is then you A. don't play Madden and B. underrate the full-back position. Who is T.R.? Here is an excerpt from a fan-house article I was reading not too long ago:
"If you don't know who that is, let me help you a bit... he's the dude who has cleared holes for fantasy beasts Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson, Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson. You don't need me to tell you three of those four have been elite fantasy players. Find each runner's best fantasy season and Richardson was leading the way."
Yes, the except is referring to fantasy, but what he means by monster fantasy seasons is tons of yards and tons of touchdowns. Well, that just so happens to correlate perfectly with running back monsters in real life. Seeeee! Sometimes fantasy can be a good indicator of real life success!
Our #1 half-back and the guy that will definitely finish the year with the most carries on the team is Thomas Jones. Sir Jones is coming off of the worst year of his career where he averaged only 3.6 yards per carry and finished with only ONE rushing TD. Ugh... It was tough to watch, but I'm confident in Thomas this year. He is still capable of being a very good back. He finished last season with 1119 yards ranking him 10th in the NFL! I'll take that for my back's worst career year. Thomas will find this upcoming season much easier and much more fun as he looks up to find glaring holes provided by our o-line / Richardson and finally opportunities to lower his monstrous shoulder to lay out opposing secondaries. Mow the lawn Thomas.
The next three backs on the list are Leon Washington, Jesse Chatman and Musa Smith. Leon is sick. In only 71 carries last year he averaged 5.0 yards per carry and he also caught 36 passes for 213 yards. The only problem in Leon's game is that he cannot single handedly break through tackles because he is a smaller guy who relies on very good speed and elite agility to deceive defenders. All of these features are on full display when Leon is returning kicks, where he finished last season tied for first for kick-off return TDs and fourth in average yards per return. He will find this new o-line a big help when seeking out holes and catching screen passes. Every time he touches the ball he is capable of scoring six so watch out for an awesome year full of highlights from Leon this year.
Jesse Chatman and Musa are career back-ups, but good ones. Chatman had the most carries of his career last year in Miami and finished with a solid 4.0 yards per carry. Musa Smith who has been apparently having an awesome training camp is known to be a great blocker, passing and running, and an above average pass catcher. Look for Musa to pickup some key first downs for us with his versatility and come in for blocking on passing downs to give the workhorses a rest.
At this point it is really unknown what Chris Baker is trying to do. He is acting like a bitch and everyone is sick of it... just shut up Chris.
We moved up in this past draft in order to get Dustin Keller and I think he is going to be a stud. He is insanely athletic and the only complaint I've heard is that he may be a little small for a tight end at 6'4" and 240lbs, but some of the elite pass catching and game changing tight ends in the NFL are similar sizes (Cooley, D. Clark, Gates, Kellen). If size is his only "downside" well then fellow Jets fans, get prepared for something special. Keller has also been lining up some in the slot and in the #4 WR spot this training camp.
Bubba Franks and Chris Baker are both pretty average TEs and neither will be "featured" in the offense, but both of them are more than capable of helping the team in short third down conversions and in the red-zone.
Laveranues Coles is coming into the season as the number one WR for us for good reason. Lavern has posted some awesome numbers in his career and is one of few Jets that can regularly beat defenders deep for six. That said, with age settling in Laveranues is no longer the go to guy for us. Helllllooooooooooo Jerricho Cotchery.
Jerricho had to put the receiving unit on his shoulders last year when Lavern went down and he blossomed in his second full season (15 games started, two of those injured) finishing with 82 catches and 1130 yards. In the last four games of the season Cotchery averaged 7 catches and 100 yards per game. Sweet. He does not have elite wide receiver speed or jumping ability but he has great strength, route running and hands to make-up for it. He can also take a hit as Jets fans frequently see Jerricho crossing over the middle for 10-15 yard gains and first downs.
Our third and fourth WRs last year were both bad. Brad Smith who is a converted QB seemed to drop as many passes as anyone I can remember and Justin McCareins was actually single handedly involved in us losing two games last season. Ugh. Well, Justin is now gone and Brad is fighting for his spot.
There have been a lot of names mentioned so far in training camp as guys that may emerge to be our third wide out, but the guy that I like the best is Chansi Stuckey. Stuckey exploded onto the scene with an amazing training camp before last season and then hurt his foot and was out for the season. Coach Mangini and others have talked extensively about Chansi this training camp because he has excelled every one's expectations. He is known for superb hands and serious YAC potential which is pretty ideal for a slot receiver.
Wallace Wright is another guy to take note of. He has been having a great training camp thus far for us. But who is going to be throwing all of these guys the rock? Who will be playing, like I said before, the most important single position in all of sports? It's easy: Chad Pennington.
I wonder what percentage of people reading this hate Chad Pennington and/or think he sucks. If I had to guess... 98%? Whatever. I really couldn't care less and nor could Chad. He has gotten over trying to be someone he is not on the football field. He will gladly go back to being the most accurate QB of all-time (check the numbers punk). People constantly harp on the fact that he lacks elite Jamarcus Russell or Brett Favre superman arm strength even though he is more successful then most QBs in the NFL. In 2002 he led the Jets from a 1-4 record when he took over to a 9-7 record which was good enough to win the AFC East division. In 2004 we came two Doug Brien field goals away (f****** idiot missed both obviously) from making the AFC championship. In 2006 Chad won the NFL comeback player of the year award leading us to the playoffs despite two shoulder surgeries. Chad is at his best when the play-action is part of the offense and we should see a lot of that this season with a much improved rushing attack. He has play-makers around him and I can't wait for him to get criticized all season despite success... as usual. Do it Chad. Lets go Jets.