I have been listening to a lot of 1050 ESPN Radio, and 660 The Fan lately. One reoccurring question I keep hearing is, "Are the Jets better or worse than last year?" It's a hard question to answer, and it's made even harder by the fact that we haven't even seen them in a preseason game yet. With that said, we still have a good idea of what this team is going to look like.
More after the jump...Defense: It's my opinion that we have gotten better on defense, even though we did miss out on Nnamdi. The only real person we have lost so far, is Shaun Ellis. I am a huge Ellis fan, and would love for him to finish his career as a Jet, but Wilkerson has been anointed the starting position. That's what he was brought in to do... taking over for Ellis is his purpose.
Kendrick Ellis might be the biggest addition to our defense, and he won't even be starting. The guy's playing style, makes him looks like Jenkins reincarnated. Pouha is great, but he doesn't always demand as much attention, and push the pile like Jenkins did. If Ellis pans out, our pass rush will be just fine, even without a new OBer.
The Jets have also gotten organically better. I heard that term used on the Michael Kay Show, to describe the Green bay Packers getting better by getting healthy. We will be getting back a healthy Jim Leonhard (The QB of our secondary), a 100% healthy Calvin Pace, and a healthy Ropati Pitoitua. With these guys healthy in addition to bringing in our new draft picks, our defense has taken a small step in the direction of getting better.
Offense: On offense, things are a little more up in the air. We have pretty much gutted, and renovated our entire receiving core. We have to worry about Plaxico being able to contribute the amount we need him to. Now that Cotchery is gone, we don't have a safety net behind him. As John said in a previous post, Mason would be a decent replacement for Cotchery, and might even be an improvement. If we sign him, I would also sleep easier knowing we have someone to step up if Plaxico falters. Kerley is looking like an amazing pick so far, but we will need to wait and see how he pans out.
Our o-line is still a beast, even without Woody. Hunter is a decent replacement, and might even be a little better than Woody in pass blocking. Vlad gets another year to get comfortable, and could probably move back inside to replace Moore in the future.
What matters the most on offense is the improvement of Mark Sanchez. If he doesn't take steps forward, the offense will surely struggle. He needs to learn how to take his playoff heroics, and replicate them in the regular season. It's Mark's 3rd year. This is where QBs are are expected to show why they are being paid so much. If Sanchez struggles, it won't matter if we sign another WR to back up Plaxico. Sanchez is the key to our offensive success.
Are we a better team? Even though our defense has taken small strides towards being better, the offense will be the ones that decide on if the team as a whole will be better. As of right now, we aren't there yet. I suggest everyone get on your knees and pray to the football Gods. Ask them to let the talent inside Sanchez click on day one, and not once the playoffs start. While you're at it, pray for Mason to pick us.