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Taking the Pulse of Gang Green Nation: AFC Beast

We're interviewing Jets writers here to get a feel for the upcoming season. Next up is our own Xander Diaz. You know Xander as one of my cowriters here. You might not know that he runs his own Jets fan site also, AFC Beast. Here are the questions and answers.

1. If you could go back to January, would Rex Ryan be your first choice to coach to 2009 Jets. If the answer is no, who would you choose? Eric Mangini? Somebody else?

Emphatically, YES! Rex Ryan would definitely be my first choice if I were to go back. I admit that I was (just like most Jets fans I think) completely wooed by the idea of possibly seeing Bill Cower come to New York, but when I heard about Rex landing the job I was overjoyed to say the least. I love the swagger Rex brings with him and I really feel his lively, animated way of doing things is truly a breath of fresh air in Jets land. Things like the email he recently sent his team to fire them up about being picked to finished last in the division, just make me love him even more. We haven't played a single down for this man and I am already a loyal supporter.

2. What are your thoughts on the offseason the team had? What did you like? Is there anything you wish the front office had done differently?

Three things stand out for me looking back at this off-season so far; the firing of Eric Mangini paving the way for "Brag-O-Saurus" Rex, the selection of Mark Sanchez in the draft, and the failure to adequately replace Laveranues Coles & Chris Baker. It goes without saying that I am huge fan of both the Rex Ryan move and the drafting of Mark Sanchez. I believe both men will play a huge role in helping this franchise finally turn the corner. Both have brought a certain air and attitude with them that is infectious in exactly the way you'd like to see.
I'm still scratching my head over the moves we've made, or haven't made to be more accurate, in the WR & TE areas. I would love to believe we have the WR corps we need to not only be competitive but to win our division, sitting on the bench staring back at me but with Randy Moss in hated Patriots country and now T.O. bringing his talents over to Buffalo, I am not even in the same zip code as 'convinced'.
As for the TE situation, I feel the team has made some moves to try and address the hole left by Chris Baker, but I'm not entirely convinced we have the answer we would have hoped for here either. I take nothing away from Dustin Keller, who I believe is a legitimate star in the league but his blocking skills come into question repeatedly and with a stated commitment to pound the rock this year, I find this worrisome to say the least. Here's hoping Richard Owens has one heck of a year!

3. What scares you the most entering the season?

I think I've made it pretty well known by now that I am not so confident in the WR & TE areas but truthfully what scares me most is lack of depth in the lines. Last season I believe the O line went without major injuries and this is something I think would be absolutely incredible to see happen 2 seasons straight. With a brandy new QB at the helm and only the likes of Kellen Clemens/Eric Ainge to back him up, the thought of a major loss to injury on the O line jolts me awake at night. The D line is in pretty much the same boat. Look at the ripples sent through Jets fandom when it was announced that Calvin Pace would be suspended 4 games. Our lack of options on the depth chart is our biggest Achilles tendon without equivocation.

4. The biggest difference between the 2008 Jets and the 2009 Jets will be...

In a word...ATTITUDE! Win, lose or draw this team will no longer be 'the same old Jets'. I think Rex and company will go a very long ways towards changing the culture in the locker room and with fans. I will be very surprised to see this squad quit on a guy like Rex or on each other with the new attitude permeating the locker room now.

5. Will the Jets make the Playoffs if they stay healthy?

Absolutely. A lot of that will depend on the play of our QB's, that "swaggerlicious" defense we've been promised and, of course, no key injuries but I truly believe they can do it. The biggest factor for me is the new attitude. Will and desire can be the difference maker for any team. This is why we hear so much about "bulletin board" material and avoiding providing any for the opposing team...will and desire can be a dangerous threat for opposing squads. The AFC East is easily one of the toughest divisions in the league but I firmly maintain that the only real beast of the east is the J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS!