Sunday, 30 December 2012

The New York Jets Season Review
Three Up

1. Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples
Rex has made New york a factory for the defensive line in recent years, and 2012 was no exception. The two first round picks both made their presence felt, Wilkerson especially emerging as one of the premier players at his position. He was stout and disruptive in the run game, while both players made impacts rushing the passer down the stretch. Coples, whose motivation had been questioned, proved his passion by making plays even after the Jets season had collapsed and all eyes were alredy on 2013.

2. The Secondary
Even after the injury to Darelle Revis, which would have crippled many teams, the Jets secondary balled out all year. LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell played consistently around the line of scrimmage, blitzing and crowding the box with impunity, safe in the knowledge that Cromartie, Wilson, Lankster and Trufant were all steppting up their game behind them.

3. Jeremy Kerley
A steal in the fifth round, Jeremy Kerley has emerged as a legit big play wide receiver. He's shown that he can play outside and in the slot, and has earned a big role in the offense going forward. With over 800 receiving yards in the league's most dysfunctional wide receiving corps, imagine what he can do if we can get the rest of the unit in order.

Three Down

1. Mark Sanchez

After years of infuriating inconsistency, Mark Sanchez finally got into a steady and consistent rhythm of fumbles and interceptions. Asked to execute gameplans that involved massive overestimations of our ability to run the ball, and then told to make big plays to scrubs on the outside, Mark's confidence finally collapsed and he regressed to making the rookie-est of rookie errors on an incessant basis. He's performed so badly this year that even an $8 million cap hit doesn't guarantee him a starting gig next year. With Sparano on his way out, the Jets could be relying on a new OC to spark an Alex Smith type revival, but there is a lot of pressure for them to start fresh, meaning Sanchez would have to wait for a starting gig elsewhere. Either way, the ship has finally sailed on Sanchez living up to his promise in a reasonable timeframe.

2. Mike Tannenbaum

Tannenbaum's star was pretty high two years ago, but in a few short hours he's likely out of a job or demoted. His drafts in recent years have actually been consistently good, but the systemic error of drafting the QB and then spending three consecutive picks on defense has ultimately caused his downfall. He became too reliant on Rex for backup on the draft, and Rex only loved the defensive players, so he went years without drafting a blue chip player or immediate contributor on the offensive side of the ball- the horrible lack of depth there leaving his coaches with the unenviable task of developing a young QB with a mixture of volatile divas, late round picks and street free agents. While the defensive pieces he put in place will allow the team to be competitive in the years to come, the Jets have learned the hard way that defense is not enough.

3. The Linebackers

A steady and consistent force throughout Rex's tenure, the Jets' linebackers finally started showing signs of decline. Bryan Thomas struggled to get on the field, and Calvin Pace now offers literally nothing in the form of pass rush. Scott and Harris showed well down the stretch, but both were uncharacteristically inconsistent and missed far too many tackles. Only Harris will definitely return, but the Jets only have Demario Davis in place to come in. The others may return on reduced deals, but in truth the Jets need to turn their attention to finding younger and more disruptive players to play on the outside.

Quick Hits

Decision no.1 for the offseason in terms of players is what to do about Dustin Keller. The cap-strapped Jets probably can't justify the franchise tag for the Tight End, especially since he struggled with injuries in 2012, but can they really afford for their only proven weapon to leave?

Another player who might not return is running back Shonn Greene. Though he posted his second consecutvie 1000 yard season, Greene makes few big plays and offers little in the passing game. With Powell and McKnight still on their rookie deals and poised to make an impact as complementary backs, the Jets will likely let Greene walk in a strong draft for more rounded power backs.

The Jets have some big question marks around the position of offensive guard. None of Matt Slauson, Vlad Ducasse or Brandon Moore are guaranteed to return next year. While Moore has had an all-pro calibre year, the annual cap contortions could force the Jets to go with less expensive options such as re-signing Slauson and Ducasse or rolling with existing backup Caleb Schlauderaff.

Another postion with a lot of uncertainty is at safety. Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry are 38 and a free agent respectively. Bell may finally hang up his boots, while Landry will likely be able to attract a better deal on the open market than the Jets can afford. Will the Jets let late round picks Josh Bush and Antonio Allen take over? Could they make a play for former Jet Jim Leonhard in free agency?

Right tackle Austin Howard should be re-signed. He's played well enough to justify another year as the starter, but not so well that he'll be overly expensive.


A number of coaching changes are imminent. Tony Sparano is on his way out, and there are a number of good options for his replacement likely to hit the open market. The potential house cleaning of the Bills, Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles and Browns will see a lot of respected offensive minds in line for new jobs, and the Jets would like to acquire a playcaller with a good record of developing young quarterbacks. Mike Westhoff is retiring, so assistant Ben Kotwica will take over and attempt to get the traditionally strong special teams unit back on track after a tough season. Defensive co-ordinator Mike Pettine turned down a contract extension early in the season in order to keep his options open, and could move on if he feels he needs to emerge from Rex's shadow to build a head coaching resume. Like Westhoff, he's more likely to be replaced in house, with defensive backs coach Donald Thurman the heir apparent.

Front Office

All signs are pointing to a major restructuring of the front office, with Tannenbaum likely to be re-assigned or fired. Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta is the obvious choice if a powerful new GM is needed, since he's worked with Rex before aswell as emerging from the respected tutelage of Ozzie Newsome. However, he will likely have his pick of jobs elsewhere, so he won't relish the split responsibilities if Tannenbaum is retained elsewhere in the organisation. If Tannenbaum is retained for his cap dexterity, one intriguing hire to bolster the scouting department could be Gene Smith, who will imminently be fired by the Jaguars. Prior to flaming out as the Jags GM, Smith was a respected college scout, and could be a valuable asset in that area. Another possibility is former Jets VP of scouting Joey Clinkscales, who has worked with everyone in the building before and could be tempted to return from Oakland with the promise of final say on personnel decisions.

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