Thanks to their appearance in the AFC Championship game in what may become the final year of a salary cap in the NFL the Jets could find themselves playing under a stringent set of rules when it comes to finding the players necessary to take the next step towards becoming one of the elite teams in the NFL.
Just days before the beginning a new season on the NFL books the specter of playing the 2010 season without a CBA and a salary cap is looming and to the teams playing in both the Divisional & Championship rounds of the 2009 NFL playoffs that means operating under a completely different set of rules then the other 24 NFL teams.
The Jets areas of need are limited but obvious. The Jets need an edge pass rusher and a CB to start opposite of Darrelle Revis but there is a symbiotic relationship between the two needs. The better the pass rusher they sign the lesser the need for a top flight CB simply because the Jets won't have to blitz so much (57% of their defensive snaps) if they can acquire a QB killer. By blitzing less the Jets wouldn't be depending nearly as much on their CB's ability to cover opposing WR's without help.
Conversely if the Jets acquire a top flight CB, one who like Revis can take a starting WR away from the QB, then the Jets don't have to expend great resources to find a top flight QB killer.
Apart from needing both a pass rusher and a #2 CB the Jets also need at least one and perhaps two WR's. Regardless of whether or not you see Cotchery and Edwards as #1 or #2 WR's one thing is clear. The Jets need another WR to open up their passing offense. What practically leapt off the screen watching the SB was that the Saints defensive players were totally unafraid of making a defensive mistake against Peyton Manning because they knew if they did their offense could go right down the field and get that score back for them.
Having that kind of an offense allowed the Saints Terry Porter to jump the route for what became the game ending Pick-6. Porter knew that if he misread the pass and his mistake was returned for a TD that Brees could get that TD back. Those kinds of daring defensive gambles were not something we saw a lot with of the Jets this season because as good as Revis was last year he didn't take many chances out there because he knew mistakes with that Jets offense were at a premium.
For the Jets to begin to become that kind of a potent offense they must find another WR to compliment Cotchery, Edwards and TE Dustin Keller. The Jets also need to improve the depth at the WR position, preferably with a burner who can keep the defensive secondary honest while also giving the Jets offense a quick strike TD capability they so sorely missed. Having a dominant running game is a great thing to have, especially during the regular season in the Northeast, but it's a strong passing game that takes over once the playoffs begin, particularly the deeper you go in the playoffs.
The Jets needed to score their TD's as a result of long drives covering many yards way too many times last season, they need to have the capability to score quickly to better compliment their ground and pound running game. Knowing an offense can score in many ways from any spot on the field gives opposing defenses more options to cover, making things easier for 2nd year QB Mark Sanchez.
Later, we'll be looking at just who the Jets may go after and what steps Tannenbaum and the Jets may take this off season to get better under the current restrictions being placed upon them in the event of an uncapped 2010 NFL season.