PFF Preview 2011 – New York Jets

| August 29, 2011

They’re loud. They’re brash. They’re also extremely talented.
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Why they’re the New York Jets of course.
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After an eventful offseason, the Jets find themselves in a position remarkably similar to the one they were in this time last year. A deep roster with some pretty big question marks. Last year they threatened to drop some answers on us, and at times even delivered. But overall, they lacked the consistency needed to make the most of the NFL’s most talented roster.
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So what, if anything, has changed this year? Can they build on the AFC Championship games? Could they make life easier on themselves with an AFC East win? Let’s see some reasons to be concerned, and some reasons to be confident.
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Five Reasons to be Confident
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1. Revis Island Open for Business

As much as people may not admit it, last year wasn’t Darrelle Revis at his best. The hold out and an injury had a massive impacts on his first half of 2010, where he didn’t look anything like the All-Universe player he was in 2009. He wasn’t a sub standard cornerback by NFL marks, but for a player who may be the most talented at his position in the league, it was hugely disappointing compared to him at his best. Now free of injury and contract concerns, he can resume being the most dominant cornerback in the game – and that makes the Jets that much more formidable.
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2. Strength Up Front

When your face of the franchise is Mark Sanchez, and the voice of your franchise is Rex Ryan, some people are going to get overlooked. What kind of people? The ones who don’t put up eye catching numbers but just perform on a consistent basis to a high level. We’re looking at the guys up front, and in particular Mike DeVito and Sione Pouha. Those two men combined for a +44.9 rating against the run in all games last year, and can look forward to some defensive reinforcements courtesy of a draft where the Jets added some youth to the unit. The Jets can do so many things on defense because of guys like DeVito and Pouha.
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3. Our Top Offensive Line

In Nick Mangold the Jets have a once-in-a-generation type center. So good that over the past three years he has a PFF grade twice as strong as any other. Having one elite talent is nice, but the Jets aren’t done there with D’Brickashaw Ferguson one of the more underrated linemen in the league. Only Jake Long and Joe Thomas have higher grades over the past three years for a man who is a prototypical left tackle. Throw in another top talent like Brandon Moore, and you’ll understand why the Jets weren’t only our top offensive line in 2009, but also in 2010. Having a line like this makes life easier for all those skill position players.
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4. Can’t Wait

A short paragraph this one. Why? Well sometimes one of my colleagues writes an article so good there’s no point summarizing. The Jets are a great team because they have players like Bart Scott who contribute to the greater good. Here’s why he’s so good, and here’s him talking about the Jets. Must reads.
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5. A Receiver Underrated by All

Everyone knows Santonio Holmes is good. He makes big plays and has won it all. Yet when someone is asked the question of who the best receivers in the league are, how long is it before they mention the former Steeler? Maybe seventh, maybe eighth? Maybe outside the top ten. Holmes doesn’t have that one standout quality that sets him apart like other receivers, but he can do it all. Every quality you want from a wide receiver he has, as well as a few you could only ever hope for. Go back to the playoff game against the Patriots and watch his touchdown catch. The difficulty of making a catch like that is just one of the reasons he’s one of the best receivers in the game. With a season as a Jet under his belt, he should be even better.
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Five Reasons to be Concerned
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1. Live and Die by Sanchez’ Development

When you look at why the Jets aren’t steamrolling teams there’s one factor that stands out: the quarterback. As great as Mark Sanchez can look on one play, he can look just as bad on the next. That kind of consistency (or lack thereof) is a killer for any team, no matter how good the rest of it is. Last year Sanchez took a step forward but this year he needs to take another one. There are some O-line changes, so it seems fair to see possible an increase in pressure coming his way. He simply must be better in this regard than he was last year where he finished 32nd out of 34 quarterbacks in our gradings.
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2. Changes Up Front

We mentioned how good the offensive line has been, and the truth is it’s hard to see that changing. Even losing Damien Woody won’t stop it being one of the top groups in the league. But any backward step is going to hurt and cause some concern, so losing our top-ranked right tackle over the past three years is a regression, pure and simple. Wayne Hunter struggled nearly every time he saw action at right tackle last year, so the drop off could be steep.
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3. Pressure off the Edge

If you saw our 2010 Pass Rushing Productivity article you’d have noticed that the Jets didn’t fair so well with two guys in the Bottom 10. In fact, it’s fair to say that they had some big issues generating pressure without having to get extremely exotic with their formations, packages and blitzes. So what is the solution to this? Hoping Jamaal Westerman and his 138 career snaps can make the jump to pass rushing stud? Or hoping that Aaron Maybin can channel some pressure? It looks like the Jets are going to be over compensating for an inability to generate pressure without getting creative and leaving them exposed in coverage.
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4. Can Dustin Keller step up?

Right now you wouldn’t call Dustin Keller a bust by any stretch, but he seems like a big time case against ‘workout warriors’. The tight end just hasn’t ever been able to consistently impose himself as a weapon in the passing game; an absolute must when you consider how poor a blocker he is. If he wants to live up to his draft status he needs to put less balls on the floor (his nine regular season drops were the third most of tight ends) and catch more than the 59.1% of balls thrown his way. Tight ends who aren’t natural blockers like Antonio Gates (79.4%), Kellen Winslow (74.1%) and Jermichael Finley (84% on a small sample size) do, so why should the Jets expect less out of Keller?
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5. Can They Overcome the Pats?

It may seem a weird question given they beat them in the playoffs, but in beating the Patriots they’ve almost forced them to go out and make themselves tougher. The Jets have largely stood still, retooling their receivers and losing talent on the offensive line. The Patriots have found the kind of pass rush their defense was missing, both from the edge (Andre Carter) and inside (Albert Haynesworth). The Jets want to win a Super Bowl, but first they need to get that easier road and win the AFC East. You wonder if the Jets’ lack of consistency over the Rex Ryan years will ensure extra games come playoff time.
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Last year I wrote all about the Jets being reliant on the development of Sanchez. Not much has changed. He simply needs to take a step up if they’re going to avoid games like the Miami matchup from Week 14. If he can – and it should be noted he did take a leap forward from his rookie year – then this is a team that can backup its coaches’ chatter. They have as talented and deep a roster as any other, with their other shortcomings something they can overcome. So be positive Jets fans, but exhibit the kind of caution your coach daren’t. It’s going to be an interesting season.
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Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled … and be sure to follow our main Twitter feed as well: @ProFootbalFocus
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  • skerwood

    Im a Eagles fan from Philly so i didnt get to see any NYJ games yet how is Temple Muhammad Wilkerson doing there?