Elster's World

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Jets 2007 Season Preview

But first, how about the death - and then subsequent rebirth - of the Mets the last week and a half? First a four game sweep at the hands of the Phillies - just an absolute disaster on all levels. The starters were terrible, the bullpen were gas cans and the offense was nonexistent until the Thursday afternoon game.

The series against the Braves was a seasonal crossroads. If the Mets failed in Atlanta against their forever nemesis, they could have left Georgia in second place and sliding. Instead, the Mets opened up a can of Whup ass on the Braves - sweeping them in Atlanta. This included an improbable 6 inning one hitter from Mike Pelfrey and was followed by Sunday's Return of Pedro in a win against the Reds. All of a sudden, things don't look as bleak anymore.

All said and done, the Mets are now 5 games in first place and moving in the right direction.

And now, on to some football:

The Jets 2007 season opens in an interesting place. The Jets surprised the world last year and, under new head coach Eric Mangini, went 10-6 and made the playoffs (losing a horrible game to the patriots in the wild card). This season promises to be much tougher - the schedule is cruel and the world is now on notice that The Jets Don't Suck.

Let's take a look at a positional analysis and some final season predictions. My final ratings for each position will be on a scale of one to ten:

Quarterback - Chad Pennington, strangely, comes back a total mystery. Not because he is coming off shoulder surgery (he's actually not) or because he missed significant time last year with injuries (he didn't) but because he played so darned little in the preseason it's impossible to know how he is doing. While he was awful against the Vikings in the preseason, he has been used very little by Mangini (in one game he didn't even throw a pass). Assuming all things being equal, it's relatively safe to expect a similar season to last year - while his arm should be better, so will the defenses the Jets will be playing against. Kellen Clemens showed this pre-season that he's a capable back-up. Tuiasosopu provides nothing more than a warm body. The issue is whether a patchwork offensive line can keep the quarterbacks upright and allow the running backs to take off some of the pressure. Final rating: 7

Running Back - It's hard to evaluate the running backs without taking into account the offensive line. But let's try. Thomas Jones was a huge upgrade as the feature back and should provide stability and reliability (as well as over a thousand yards), assuming the calf is healthy. Leon Washington becomes the third down scatback and change of pace guy - a role he was born to play. Both can catch passes out of the backfield - giving Pennington another short rage weapon. Darian Barnes was brought in to make holes. Final rating (not factoring the O-line): 8

Wide Receivers - Laverneous Coles has a great return to the Jets and Jerricho Cotchery had a breakthrough season. Justin Mcareins came to camp recommitted to being a trustworthy number three as well as a deep threat. Brad Smith is probably still a year away from being a real factor as a receiver (but I'm not counting him out). Not sure we will be seeing too much of Chasney Stucky and Wallace Wright. The tight ends are pretty much all blockers except for the mediocre Chris Baker. Final rating: 7

Offensive Line - The offensive line is a huge problem. After the fiasco with their left guard, the Jets have huge holes to fill. Nick Mangold is a keeper at center and D'Brickashaw Ferguson is a work in progress, talented but uneven. After that it's simply a crap shoot. GM Mike Tannebaum should be scanning the waiver wires to find a replacement for Pete Kendall and/or shore up the right side of the line. Final rating: 4.7

Defensive Line - Robertson, Ellis, Coleman, Pouha, Mosly and Hicks - aka mediocrity personified. Jets need big seasons from Ellis and Robertson to make anything work. Final rating: 5.5

Linebackers - The Jets moved up to grab David Harris in the second round. he will be backing up Eric Barton and i assume eventually starting for him if things go according to plan. Jonathan Vilma needs to have a bounce back year but he's still too small to b a great inside guy in a 3-4 defense, especially without space eaters in front of him. Bryan Thomas had a strong year last year and needs to build on that. Victor Hobson, Bowens and Kassell add depth. Final rating: 6.

Backfield - Kerry Rhodes is an outstanding safety who made the Leap last year. Eric Coleman needs to improve at the other safety spot. Andre Dyson needs to stay healthy and David Barret is keeping the seat warm for Darelle Revis or Justin Miller. Drew Coleman, Eric Smith, Rashard Washington and Hank Poteat provide depth. In Mangini's defense, these guys will all get alot of time. Look for Revis early in nickel and dime packages. Let's hope he was worth the price of moving up. Final rating: 6.5.

Special Teams - Under Mike Westhoff you know the coverage teams will be good. Ben Graham has supposedly looked good in preseason and Nugent has looked good as well, even kicking off longer. Justin Miller led the league in average last season and the Jets have a lot of options at punt returner (Revis, Washington and Stuckey). Final Rating: 8

Coaching - This will be the key for the Jets in year 2 of the Mangenius. The schedule is brutal to start - home against the Pats then at the Ravens and their superhuman defense. It's not only conceivable that the Jets will start the season 0-2, but probable. Mangini is going to have to keep the team together and keep the atmosphere positive. The money is on him to succeed. Brian Schottenheimer did a really good job in his first year as offensive coordinator and Bob Sutton is more of a Mangini figurehead. Westhoff is still one of the best special teams coaches in the business. Ben Kotwica continues to astound as the defensive quality control coach. Final Rating 8.5

Predictions: As noted above, the season begins brutally. I expect the Jets to go 3-3 in the division, losing 2 to the Pats, splitting the Bills and continuing their trend of beating the Dolphins. There are tough games against the Steelers, Bengals, Ravens and Eagles. There are never any gimmes for the Jets but they have the Giants, Browns, Chiefs (the Return of Herm Edwards!!), Titans and Redskins. Dallas is a swing game. Final Prediction - 9-7 and outside looking in for the playoffs.

Note that this isn't meant as a doom and gloom prediction. The Jets play a number of tough teams this year who know not to take them lightly. The team is one upset away from being 10-6 or two heartbreaks away from 7-9. Things tend to break funny in a football season.