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The New York Jets Heading into the 2013 Preseason: Not Much Optimism, But No Longer Thinking 4-12

geno smith mark sanchezThe Tim Tebow circus left New York months ago. Whew. But unfortunately, so did the best defensive player in franchise history, Darrelle Revis. And there’s a QB “controversy” between the incumbent (who had two great playoff runs but has turned into an overpaid turnover machine) and the rookie whose agent is Jay-Z.

Their blustery, once-portly leader is coaching for his job. Their skill position players are unlikely to strike fear into opponents.

Why should anyone be remotely excited about the 2013 New York Jets? Here are my thoughts headed into their first preseason game tonight against the Lions:

1) The last time there was this little interest in the Jets was the year after the Favre circus left town – they’d just drafted a QB (Sanchez) and had a new head coach (Rex Ryan). Amid little preseason fanfare, the Jets reached the AFC title game. Maybe they surprise some people in 2013?

[RELATED: The Jason McIntyre Show: Manish Mehta of the Daily News and Judy Battista of the NYT Talk Jets, Tebow and Sanchez]

2) The defense, which was overrated last year – stout against meek opponents, shredded by anyone with a pulse – has massive holes in the secondary (rookie corner, two new unproven safeties) and questions linger at linebacker, too. I’m still perplexed as to why Quinton Coples, who had a very productive rookie year, was moved from DL to LB. Yes, they need him rushing on the edge, but they have Calvin Pace on the other edge of the 3-4. Do they plan to bull rush the ends and then stuff the middle with Wilkerson (who excels chasing QBs), Ellis and the rookie Richardson? Will the Jets play a lot of 4-3? Neither Coples nor Pace will be effective any dropping back to defend tight ends. After Revis, the second most-important defensive change is Coples. All of this sounds troubling. Here’s the only thing I’ve got: Rex Ryan confused offenses with defensive gimmicks in his first two years with the Jets. Then, defenses caught up. Maybe Hopefully he has something creative coming in 2013.

ivory-stiff-arm-11-11-123) I think the most important player to the team’s offensive success this year is RB Chris Ivory. The potential is clearly there for a big year, but he’s a walking injury. And if he’s unable to go – Ivory is scratched for the opener tonight – New York is going to rely on Mike Goodson (Raider castoff who had a legal issue this offseason) or Bilal Powell, who went to Louisville and has the look and feel of a #3 RB. If Ivory manages to play 16 games – unlikely, but let’s put on the optimistic hat for a moment – then a 1,500 yard season isn’t out of the question. If he’s not, I’m not confident Goodson/Powell can carry the ground-and-pound load. I actually believe Ivory’s health could mean a 2-win swing.

4) Let’s be honest – the Bills and Dolphins aren’t playoff contenders, and the Patriots won’t be as formidable as they have been in recent years (especially if Gronk misses the first six weeks). I think the Patriots are a 10-win team. The Bills and Dolphins are in the 5-8 range. Combined, I think the Jets should strive for 2-4 or maybe even 3-3 in the division. They were 2-4 last year en route to a 6-10 campaign.

5) Ah, the QB controversy. I don’t really think there is one. You start Sanchez. It’s his final year with the Jets. For me, it’d be too painless to have all that money sitting on the bench as a backup and throw a rookie out there with no Santonio Holmes and a pretty weak group of pass-catchers. Sanchez should be OK through the first four games until he gets annihilated on MNF in Atlanta. Then, Smith – who will pout, I’m sure – can take over. Here’s my problem with Geno Smith – I liked him at West Virginia. I think he’ll be a credible NFL QB. But, I would have held out for getting a QB from the 2014 draft class, which is stacked. I believe, right now, you could have at least five QBs in next year’s class who will be better pros than Geno. Couldn’t they have just picked someone in the later rounds to be the backup, like Mike Glennon or Matt Barkley?

mcelroy geno smith mark sanchez

Right now, prior to the 1st game of the preseason, I have re-adjusted my earlier, post-draft 2013 projection. I’ve gone from 4/5 wins to 6/7. With so many factors at play over the next four weeks – the health of Ivory and Holmes, chiefly – I could bump that up to eight before the first game. Or, if Holmes is slated to miss the season (like Sanchez, he’s gone after this year), and Ivory plays half the season, rock bottom could be 3-4 wins and an 8-game losing streak from October through the first game of December.

Previously: The Jason McIntyre Show: Actor Jerry O’Connell on the Jets, Movies and TV Shows
Previously: New York Jets 2010 Preview

 

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