It’s a little late in linking to this, but a few of you had sent on a link to Hashmarks last week where they had five teams that were set to surprise in the coming season. Obviously, the Jets made the list:
They went from 10-6 and the playoffs in Eric Mangini’s first year as coach to 4-12 last season. Chad Pennington caught much of the blame, but the Jets realized the problems went way beyond the quarterback. That’s why the Jets were one of the league’s most aggressive teams in the offseason.
At the start of free agency, they spent a fortune to get offensive lineman Alan Faneca, defensive tackle Kris Jenkins and linebacker/defensive end Calvin Pace and they used their first-round draft pick on Vernon Gholston, who can play defensive end or linebacker. Jenkins, who once was the best defensive tackle in the league, is in shape, focused and happy after clashing with Fox in Carolina the past few years.
Pennington and Kellen Clemens will compete for the starting job in training camp, but either quarterback should be fine behind a rebuilt offensive line. New England still owns the AFC East, but the Jets should be better than Buffalo and Miami and in contention for the playoffs.
I do think that Jenkins play will set the tone for how improved this defense is, and is one that will have cascading benefits … it directly affects the the DEs and ILBs, and if the DEs have better seasons, so will the OLBs. As far as the QB, it’s something that a lot of national writers have used ink on in discrediting how ready this team is to contend for a playoff berth in 2008, but I’m in agreement with the sentiment that the reworked line will allow either QB to play substantially better at this point, and whoever wins the job will benefit from it.