Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comOver the next few days, we’re going to take a look at some key Jets players this season centered around a themes. First up, we’ll look at five veterans who will need to have an important impact for this Jets team to fly high in 2014.
D’Brickashaw Ferguson (LT) – Ferguson came under fire for his play last year, but it bears mentioning that the Jets didn’t field a strong group of blocking tight ends to Brick’s left side and opponents were pinpointing attacking the left guard position on Ferguson’s right side. Brick was exposed in an effort to help Vlad Ducasse and then Brian Winters. Once Winters started to get his feet under him (literally) Ferguson demonstrated that he is still capable of great play, as his November 2013 game against the Bills Mario Williams. If the Jets can settle in with some solid play from Winters at the left guard spot, it might go easier for Ferguson. If they promote a backup like Oday Aboushi or Dakota Dozier, it might go harder for Brick.
Dawan Landry (S) — Landry might not start for the Jets again this season, but we expect that he will still be a key contributor to the team in both the meeting room and as backup and package player. We wrote extensively on what the Jets might do with the Big Nickel this year, and we expect that Landry would play the more traditional strong safety role while Antonio Allen would flex out into the hybrid linebacker/safety spot that would better counter the two tight end and spread style offenses that are increasingly popular around the league.
Calvin Pace (DL/LB) — Pace had 10 sacks a year ago, the first time in his long career that he’s ever hit the double digit mark. Pace’s impact this year has much less to do with his sack totals. We expect players like Quinton Coples or Antwan Barnes to pick up more pass rushing duties, but it comes back to his traditional area of strength, setting the edge for the defense. A few months ago, Chris Nimbley wrote an excellent article for Jets Insider in which Bart Scott explains how valuable Pace was to the defense. It is a must-read for anyone who struggles with understanding how crucial Pace’s role has been to this defense.
Dmitri Patterson (CB) — New to the team this year, Patterson is the likely second starter at corner across from Dee Milliner. Rex Ryan has always stressed the importance of good press cornerbacks and this will be Rex’s first season without both Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie as parts of his scheme. The Jets look like they have solid depth at corner and Milliner played some scorching football in December of 2013, but at present it looks like they lack that lockdown player for the first time in five years. Can Patterson hold the fort for the Jets? Can he stay healthy?
Chris Johnson (RB) — Johnson might be closer to the end of his NFL days than the beginning, but his durability and productivity despite playing for one of the league’s worst offensive lines in the last five years makes us think that the Jets buying CJ on the margins might have been a wise investment. Johnson has the potential to be a productive runner, but also adds a dynamic pass-catching element out of the backfield the Jets haven’t had since LaDainian Tomlinson. Tight ends and running backs are a young quarterback’s best friends when the signal caller gets into trouble.
Beyond Johnson’s potential for boosting the Jets offensive production from the backfield, the former Titan also makes it harder for opponents to scheme the team’s other offensive weapons (like say Eric Decker) exclusively. Johnson’s addition added an element of “pick your poison” for opposing defensive coordinators that has been missing from the Jets offense for more than three years.