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2012 Team Report: New York Jets

Quarterbacks

Starter: Mark Sanchez
Backup(s): Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy

Starting QB: Mark Sanchez is at the end of his rope here. As he enters his fourth season, he is trying to bounce back from an at times awful 2011. In three years, Sanchez has yet to prove he can read a defense, check down his receivers accurately and quickly, or throw the ball wisely. There are times you see what the Jets were looking for when they traded up for him in the 2009 draft. His leadership and ability to win when it's all on the line have been seen more than once in his brief tenure. However, his mistakes continue to pile up and with Tim Tebow in town, the writing is on the wall for Sanchez -- get going or get out. It won't help that in some goal line packages he might be pulled for Tebow. He hasn't been helped in camp by the offensive line, especially Wayne Hunter at right tackle who gave up four sacks last week by himself. So far things don't look better for Sanchez.

Backup QB: The team can dress it up however they want -- Tebow can do punt protection, goal line shenanigans or sideline cheers - but if Sanchez struggles, it will be hard not to pull the trigger on a guy who did what Tebow did in 2011. Tebow did show some signs of life as a quarterback last year, and with the right situation, he might actually do better than Sanchez. Tebow is definitely a threat to run the ball and seems to inspire a tremendous amount of loyalty in players on both sides of the ball. So far though, all his glaring weakness have been on display and he hasn't taken any great strides forward. What do you have when you have two mediocre QBs? The Jets are finding out. Greg McElroy excited both the team and the fans before ending up on Injured Reserve last year. He lacks a great arm but is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league. With the right development, he could emerge as a very good back-up down the road.

Running Backs

Starter: Shonn Greene
Backup(s): Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight, Terrence Ganaway, John Griffin
Fullback(s): John Conner

Starting RB: Shonn Greene finally broke the 1,000-yard mark in 2011 after two years as a pro, yet he looked mediocre doing it. The Jets are claiming a move back to ground and pound, but two things stand out about that. First, the Jets have said this before with negligible results. This doesn't mean that this time it isn't accurate, but it's something owners should keep in mind as they think about the Jets' backfield. Second, though he finally broke 1,000 yards, Greene didn't look impressive doing it. He's an average back, no more, no less. He has a solid yard-per-carry average, but he doesn't look close to dominant. He hasn't looked improved at all during camp and the Jets haven't pounded the ball all that much in preseason games. Greene is an average back in what appears to be a below average situation.

Backup RBs: After a pretty unimpressive rookie campaign, Bilal Powell has had a very solid camp and overtaken a really lackluster Joe McKnight for the second slot in this backfield, and will be on during most third downs. Powell is still rough but has shown some good skills over the course of camp and has improved a ton. McKnight on the other hand, has slipped. He has struggled in camp, looked bad in preseason action and just generally gone backwards. It will be hard for him to see a lot of work if he can't correct course. Rookie Terrence Ganaway had some buzz to him early in camp but hasn't seen any real preseason work. A big, strong back, it may be some time before his role is defined in the offense and he even sees the field at the goal line--especially since the Jets intend to run Tim Tebow at the goal line a lot.

Fullback: John Conner has struggled in camp this year and looked mediocre in games. It appears as though he has really taken a step backwards--for every huge block he delivers, two or three miss their mark. With the line as questionable as it is, he needs to pick the pace up.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill [R]
Backups: Jeremy Kerley (PR), Jordan White, Patrick Turner, Chaz Schilens, Royce Adams, Wes Kemp, Chris Forcier

Starting WRs: Holmes hasn't had much of the camp--he's been hurt virtually the entire preseason. So it's really tough to gauge where he's at in this offense. We don't know if the chemistry is there with Sanchez (they say it is but we've no proof) and if he will continue his disinterested play from 2011. Further this is allegedly a ground and pound offense--if he was unhappy with his involvement last season, is it going to be any better now? Camp has given us no answers and his continued injury issues are a concern. Second-round pick Stephen Hill is a huge, raw receiver who will likely spend most of his rookie season running vertical routes as the rest of his game catches up to his potential, which is fine as the Jets are sorely in need of a vertical threat. He's had a solid camp and played well in his preseason appearances.

Backup WRs: Jeremy Kerley will remain primarily a special teams / Wildcat package guy, and like Santonio Holmes, has been hurt a lot this summer. He managed to get called out early in camp by head coach Rex Ryan--notable because Ryan doesn't tend to do that. His play has been far below what was expected and the Jets have been duly disappointed. Former Raider Chaz Schilens has been hurt often in his brief career so it shouldn't be a shock he's been hurt in camp. It can't be a good sign for his chances to have an impact when he's already not playing due to injury.Patrick Turner has stuck around through the changes, but he doesn't offer much in the way of ability--he is healthy, however, which is more than you can say for almost anyone else. He has been solid for Sanchez/Tebow. Jordan White is a big, tough guy who will go across the middle of the field and make a hard catch but has had injury questions. DaMarcus Ganaway was a small school phenom who was basically out of the league in 2011. Wes Kemp and Chris Forcier are camp bodies, no more.

Tight Ends

Starters: Dustin Keller
Backups: Jeff Cumberland, Josh Baker, Dedrick Epps, Hayden Smith

Keller had what was his best year yet as a Jet however it still fell short of the promise many feel he has. 2011 saw him lead the team in targets but the overall offense was such a mess that he still didn't break 1,000 yards. Keller's athleticism and skill seem to be ignored by the playcalling of departed offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, and perhaps the ground focused, short passing methodology of new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano might breathe some more life into the tight end. A new coordinator hasn't changed that yet in preseason, so we'll wait for proof before we call for a 'great season'. The rest of the tight ends are basically glorified blockers. Jeff Cumberland is coming off an Achilles injury, and was replaced by Josh Baker post injury. Cumberland has had an up and down camp and neither one has much upside. Dedrick Epps will return to the practice squad at best. Hayden Smith is intriguing, due to his rugby background. Smith is very raw and hard-working; he is attempting to replicate the freakish athleticism of Antonio Gates. Smith may be a long shot, but the team loves him. Overall, beyond Keller, this is a very inexperienced position.

Place Kicker

Nick Folk : Tanner Purdum is back for a third year at long snapper. The other two specialist roles were up for grabs and both incumbents held off the competition. At punter/holder, T.J. Conley kept his job over Travis Baltz. At kicker, the job was Nick Folk's to lose last year, and he kept it after a preseason draw with Nick Novak. This year he faced Josh Brown who was signed shortly after being released by the Rams. Brown is coming off a down year, and Folk has never repeated his pre-2009-hip-injury success. After ranking in the Top 10 in attempted kicking points two straight years, the Jets dropped to 23rd last year.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Joe McKnight, Antonio Cromartie

Running back Joe McKnight's 31.6 yards per kick return in 2011 was bested only by Percy Harvin, so don't be surprised to see McKnight get an even larger share of the kickoffs this year.

Punt Returners: Jeremy Kerley, Jim Leonhard, Joe McKnight

Combine McKnight's exploits with wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who last year was just inside the Top 10 in yards per punt return, and the Jets have a solid duo of returners for their special teams unit.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, LG Matt Slauson, C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore, RT Austin Howard
Key Backups: T Jason Smith, T Dennis Landolt, G Vlad Ducasse, G Caleb Schlauderaff

UPDATE: Wayne Hunter has been benched and Austin Howard takes his place at right tackle. Howard is a very talented athlete, former basketball player in college. Howard is still young and has upside. Hunter's confidence was shot this preseason and he is better suited at the swing tackle. This is a slight downgrade to cohesion but upgrade to talent for the Jets offensive line. Besides this situation, this offensive line is still one of the highlights of the anemic Jets offense, and they are still among the better units in the league, despite media reports to the contrary. PRESEASON OUTLOOK: The foundation of the Jets offensive line is center Nick Mangold. Mangold is a four-time Pro bowl selection, a three-time All Pro, and arguably the best center in the game. Other centers watch film of Mangold to improve their game. Left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson was selected in the same first round as Mangold and is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, most recently as a starter. Ferguson is extremely athletic and has grown into his lanky frame. Right guard Brandon Moore is known as the strongest member of the team and made his first Pro Bowl last year as an injury replacement. Wayne Hunter and Matt Slauson are marginal starters, and they will have to fight to keep their jobs. Hunter will see competition from former second-round pick Vlad Ducasse and Austin Howard. Caleb Schlauderaff and Robert T. Griffin will push Slauson. Slauson had off-season surgery on his shoulder, and that situation bears further attention. Should these incumbents win their positional battles, the Jets will be only one of three teams in the league to return all five starters at all five positions, and that cohesion plays a big part of their high rank. New offensive coordinator Tony Sparano is a former line coach and emphasizes the position more than most coordinators. With Sparano and the "Tebow-cat" package, expect a return to the ground-and-pound philosophy that Rex Ryan favors.

Team Defense

The Jets added more pass rushing skill this offseason by acquiring North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples. There are some questions as to whether Coples will show the same type of fire he did in the draft process and on a consistent basis. If anyone can get something out of Coples, it's Rex Ryan and so far it looks like it could be working as Coples has been good in preseason action. Ryan is taking over defensive playcalling duties which is a great sign that the Jets could be in for a breakout year on defense. Coples and Aaron Maybin will get some opportunity to rush the passer frequently as they rotate in and out with Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas or Muhammad Wilkerson and Marcus Dixon. The defense as a whole stepped back last year, but if the pass rush picks up again, there should be some excellent play in the secondary. The Jets corner tandem of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie continues to be one of the best in the league, though generating more turnovers is needed.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, DE Quinton Coples [R], NT Sione Pouha
Backups: DE Mike DeVito, DE Marcus Dixon, DT Kenrick Ellis

Starting DL: The Jets have rebuilt their defensive line in recent years. They missed big with Vernon Gholston back in 2008 but have tried to make up for that with the selections of Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples the past two years. Wilkerson is an ideal fit as a 3-4 DE and has enough quickness to double his sack total from last year. The Coples selection caught most fans by surprise. He is a talented pass rusher with enormous upside, but he was inconsistent in college and seems like a poor fit for the 3-4 front the Jets like to employ. Sione Pouha has developed into one of the elite run-stopping nose tackles in the league and provides a solid anchor inside. His fantasy production has also been better than expected for two years in a row, making him a viable starter in DT-required leagues.

Backup DL: Mike DeVito always gives full effort and is strong against the run, so he should continue to see regular playing time on early downs. Marcus Dixon and Kenrick Ellis are a couple of young developing players who should be ready to contribute more this year.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB David Harris, ILB Bart Scott, OLB Calvin Pace, OLB Bryan Thomas
Backups: ILB Demario Davis [R], ILB Josh Mauga, OLB Aaron Maybin, OLB Garrett McIntyre

Starting LBs: On a defense that has been somewhat devoid of fantasy value, David Harris stands out as a legitimate every-week starter. Although his tackle numbers have been underwhelming the past couple seasons, he makes up for that with his big play potential as he's averaged nearly five sacks and two interceptions per year. Bart Scott starts alongside him on the inside. He is a versatile player who contributes in a variety of ways, but his real-life value is generally much greater than his fantasy value. Calvin Pace is probably the best pass rusher on the team, but his sack totals have declined for the past two seasons. The Jets need him to contribute more if they want to become elite again. Bryan Thomas is coming back from an Achilles injury so his hold on the starting job could be tenuous.

Backup LBs: Three of the Jets' starting linebackers are over 30 and entering the last year of their contracts, so there could be some major changes coming soon. Demario Davis is a very interesting prospect the Jets added in the third round this year. He has great speed and intensity and has already drawn high praise from Rex Ryan, so don't be surprised if he replaces Scott in 2013. Josh Mauga is a young linebacker with some potential who has mainly contributed on special teams to this point, but he could be ready for a bigger role if called upon. Aaron Maybin was picked up off the scrap heap after being cut loose by the Bills. The former high draft pick is likely too small to play in a base defense, but he showcased his edge rush skills with six sacks last year and should bring more of the same in 2012. Garrett McIntyre is a journeyman linebacker who found a home with the Jets last year and contributed on special teams.

Defensive Backs

Starters: FS LaRon Landry, SS Yeremiah Bell, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Antonio Cromartie
Backups: S Eric Smith, S Josh Bush [R], S DeAngelo Smith, CB Kyle Wilson, CB Ellis Lankster

Starting DBs: The Jets may have found one of the year's better free agent values when they signed LaRon Landry to a one-year, incentive-laden contract. He hasn't quite been the same player since his Achilles injury, however, and there are reports that several teams passed on him due to medical concerns. They may have landed another bargain when Yeremiah Bell was cut loose by the Dolphins. Although he doesn't make many big plays and is getting up in age, Bell is a reliable veteran who is great playing up in the box and supporting the run. There's not much that needs to be said about Darrelle Revis at this point. He's the premier shutdown corner in the league and the type of player most quarterbacks will try to avoid, which does limit his fantasy upside. It was expected that Antonio Cromartie would see a lot of additional targets playing on the other side of the field from Revis, but it hasn't really helped his fantasy numbers much.

Backup DBs: The Jets do not have a lot of quality depth in their secondary at the moment. After spending much of his career as a backup, Eric Smith was given a chance to start last year and put up some solid production. His level of play was inconsistent though and the team may still look to in bring in some additional help. Josh Bush was a sixth-round pick who the team likes for his speed and cover skills. He could see time in dime packages right away. DeAngelo Smith is little more than a backup and is already on his fifth team after entering the league as a fifth-round pick of the Cowboys in 2009. Kyle Wilson was a first-round pick in 2010 out of Boise State who has been stuck behind Revis and Cromartie. Wilson has shown improvement, however, and should see plenty of time as the team's nickel corner. Ellis Lankster is a smaller corner who has been in the league for a few years but hasn't gotten any significant playing time.

Last modified: 2012-09-03 12:13:18

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