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2006 Team Report: New York Jets

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Starter: Chad Pennington
Backup(s): Patrick Ramsey, Kellen Clemens [R], Brooks Bollinger

Starting QB: Chad Pennington is on his third offensive coordinator in three years and his second rotator cuff surgery in two offseasons. In other words, Penningtonís fantasy stock may be lower than ever. On offense, the Jets got old fast. Anchors on previous playoff teams like Kevin Mawae and Jason Fabini are gone and Curtis Martin is now 33 years old. The Jets wide receivers are still below average and Penningtonís health will remain a question mark until he plays a full season.

Backup QB: Between Patrick Ramsey and Chad Pennington, the Jets have 10 seasons out of two quarterbacks, but neither has ever played a 16-game schedule. Ramseyís problem has generally been when heís on the field, as opposed to staying on the field. While heís got a terrific arm, Ramsey has never been able to put all his tools together into a productive NFL or fantasy football season. Strong-armed rookie Kellen Clemens shows promise and some productive collegiate numbers. With guys like Pennington and Ramsey ahead of him, Clemens may end up seeing the field this year.

Running Backs

Starter: Kevan Barlow
Backup(s): Derrick Blaylock, Cedric Houston, Leon Washington [R], Curtis Martin [Inj]
Fullback(s): B.J. Askew

Starting RB: Curtis Martin has been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, meaning that he will miss at least the first six weeks of the season. It is currently unknown whether he will be able to return and play in the second half of the season. In the meantime, Kevan Barlow, recently brought over in a trade with the 49ers, appears to be the favorite to begin the season as the starter. Barlow looked quite promising early in his career, but has failed to live up to expectations since becoming the 49ers' starter in 2004. He'll get a chance to start over in New York.

Backup RBs: If Barlow doesn't lay claim to the starting job, look for a true committee approach featuring Barlow, Blaylock, and Houston. Derrick Blaylock is the most versatile of the incumbent backups, while Cedric Houston is a bigger back who is well suited to being a power runner. Rookie Leon Washington is the same height and weight as Blaylock, but is a faster and more explosive player.

Fullback: B.J. Askew was largely in Jerald Sowellís shadow his first three years with the Jets. With Sowellís departure, Askew seems ready to emerge as the next jack-of-all-trades FB. From Brad Baxter to Richie Anderson to Jerald Sowell, the Jets franchise has always had a fullback that could do more than just block. Askew is a capable receiver, runner and special teams ace. Heís also a very proficient blocker.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery
Backups: Justin McCareins, Tim Dwight, Brad Smith [R], Reggie Newhouse

Starting WRs: Laveranues Coles is a young veteran entering what should be the prime of his career. He is the Jets' best receiving option, but he has not shown the explosiveness he did earlier in his career before playing through a nagging toe injury. After averaging over 14 yards per reception in each of his first four seasons in the league, he has averaged only 10.6 and 11.6 yards per catch in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Starting opposite Coles, as of the third week of preseason, is youngster Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery was the star of the Jets' offseason program, and outplayed Justin McCareins during training camp to move into the starting lineup. Cotchery has excellent size and good hands, but does not have the speed to be a big-play threat.

Backup WRs: After Justin McCareins was demoted from his starting position, rumors began to circulate that he may be traded. McCareins showed up to training camp out of shape, and the play of Tim Dwight, Brad Smith, and Reggie Newhouse may make him expendable. Dwight lacks size, but always plays at full speed -- and Tim Dwight's full speed is very fast. The former NCAA track star has unreliable hands, but is a terrific runner after the catch. Brad Smith has never played wide receiver before, although his physical tools are impressive.

Tight Ends

Starters: Chris Baker
Backups: Doug Jolley, Joel Dreesen

Baker was a reliable blocker and a capable receiver for the first half of 2005 before breaking his fibula against San Diego in Week 9. The Jets offense figures to use both Baker and Jolley for a number of reasons. Both HC Eric Mangini and OC Brian Schottenheimer come from teams that prominently factored the tight end into the offense, Baker and Jolley are athletic TEs, and the Jets arenít that strong at wide receiver (and donít have any great pass catching RBs). Obviously Bakerís going to have to stay on the field, but if healthy he should get some opportunities and a large percentage of the goal line targets. Jolley had a shaky first season in New York and seemed to lose his confidence. Heís an intriguing player to watch and see how he responds to a new head coach. Heís faster than Baker and is the more natural receiver, although he dropped a fair share of passes in 2005. Dreesen, like most third-string TEs, is a special teams player that doesnít figure to see the field very often barring injury.

Place Kicker

Mike Nugent : As a coveted rookie, Nugent left room for improvement. He ended up with 22 of 28 FGs (78.6%) and scored 90 points. On a hopeful note, his misses decreased in the second half of the year while the Jets provided him with a few more scoring opportunities at the same time. Despite that, the Jets finished only 29th in kicker scoring, after having ranked in the teens for six straight years. One area that did not improve with time was his kickoffs. During the first half of the year he averaged 64.9 yards and had one touchback. During the second half he dropped to 55.8 yards and zero touchbacks.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Justin Miller; Tim Dwight; Jerricho Cotchery; Derrick Blaylock; Cedric Houston

CB Justin Miller followed up his NCAA leading kickoff return average during his final year at Clemson with an excellent rookie year in the NFL. He scored on one of his 60 returns, his 26.3 yard average ranked 14th, and he ended up as the 7th ranked fantasy returner. If he goes through a sophomore slump, newcomer WR Tim Dwight can take over (10 returns, 25.0 avg. with the Patriots last year). As a backup, WR Jerricho Cotchery averaged 26.3 yards last year and 27.8 in 2004. Derrick Blaylock was injured part of last year and saw few return opportunities in Kansas City behind Dante Hall, but he can also be an effective KR.

Punt Returners: Tim Dwight; Jerricho Cotchery; Justin McCareins; Justin Miller

Tim Dwight led the Patriots in punt returns last year (32 returns, 8.5 avg.), and has three career TDs. He has been successful on both punt and kickoff returns with each of his three prior teams (Atlanta, SD, & NE). Dwight will very likely take over the primary role for the Jets from incumbent Jerricho Cotchery, who had 23 returns and a 7.9 average last year. Justin McCareins has served as a backup the last two years (5 returns, 5.6 avg. in 2005), after having led the Titans in 2003 (11.4 avg., 1 TD). Justin Miller failed to carry his success on kickoff returns over to punts (6 returns, 1.5 avg.).

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: RT DíBrickashaw Ferguson (rookie), RG Brandon Moore, C Trey Teague, LG Anthony Clement (SF), LT Adrian Jones
Key Backups: C Nick Mangold (rookie), T Scott Gragg, G Scott Morley

The Jets offensive line lost two key starters this season in center Kevin Mawae and tackle Jason Fabini just one year after losing tackle Kareem McKenzie to the Giants. However the young talent here offers excellent hope for the future and they should improve as the year wears on. Tony Wise was brought in to coach this unit but he struggled as the Dolphins OL coach from 2001 to 2004. The Jets first two draft picks were offensive linemen, both of which could have great careers ahead of them. DíBrickashaw Ferguson who slot in as the starter at right tackle immediately and give the Jets a great pair of young bookends. He has tremendous athleticism and his footwork is out of this world. Center Nick Mangold is the other rookie and he is a tenacious, bright player that will likely learn behind veteran Teague for a year. You may see either he or Teague slot into the left guard position as well though as Anthony Clement isnít a natural fit at guard and probably isnít the answer there. Steve Morley will push him for playing time. Adrian Jones and Brandon Moore are young, talented linemen who have potential to be very good at the NFL level. Jones started all sixteen games last season at left tackle and didnít look out of place while Moore also started all sixteen games and displayed a lot of heart on the field. Both players have an edge to their games and bring good athleticism to the table. There will be a learning curve with this club but what a difference the draft can make and now there is excellent hope for the future with four young, talented players.

Team Defense

To replace Herm Edwards, the Jets signed Eric Mangini from the Patriots, who is only 35 years old and has just 1 year of experience as a defensive coordinator. Defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson is also gone and will be replaced by LB coach Bob Sutton. Given Manginiís background in New England, the Jets are expected to transition to a hybrid defense that uses both a 3-4 and 4-3 front, but it will take some time for them to find the right personnel. The Jets have some quality young talent to build around, primarily MLB Jonathan Vilma and safeties Kerry Rhodes and Erik Coleman. The trade of John Abraham to Atlanta, however, has left them without a dominant pass rusher, and Dewayne Robertson is a poor fit as a 3-4 nose tackle. Ty Law had a great season, leading the league with 10 interceptions, but he will not be back this year. The remaining cornerbacks are adequate, but only Justin Miller has the potential to emerge as a difference maker. Bottom line is this will almost certainly be a rebuilding year for the Jets as they adjust to a new system and a new coach, but Nick Saban showed in Miami last year that the transition can sometimes happen quicker than expected.

Defensive Line

Starters: RDE Kimo Von Oelhoffen, NT Dewayne Robertson, LDE Shaun Ellis
Backups: DT Monsanto Pope, DE Trevor Johnson, DE Dave Ball, DT Matt McChesney, DT Sione Pouha,

Starting DL: Kimo Von Oelhoffen is 35 years old but was signed from the Super Bowl winning Steelers and has a ton of experience playing DE in the 3-4. His career best is 8 sacks in 2003, but heís unlikely to reach anywhere near that type of production in New York. The Jets traded up to select Dewayne Robertson with the #4 overall pick in the 2003 draft. Although he hasnít quite lived up to expectations, he has shown steady improvement. The new defensive system, however, appears to be a poor fit for his abilities as heís too slow to play DE and is more of a 1-gap DT than a traditional NT. Shaun Ellis looked like he was becoming one of the elite power defensive ends in the league with 23.5 sacks in 2 years, but he had perhaps the worst season of his career in 2005 and finished with just 2.5 sacks. He has played both DT and DE in the past so he shouldnít have too much trouble adjusting to the 3-4.

Backup DL: Monsanto Pope was signed from the Broncos and should provide added depth on the defensive line at either DE or DT. He has started 21 games during his career, but was inactive for 14 of 16 games in 2005. Trevor Johnson was a 7th round pick in 2004 who got a chance to play late last season. Heís undersized to play DE in the 3-4 at just 260 lbs but heís also more of a run stopper than a pass rusher, so he might have a hard time finding playing time. Dave Ball was a very productive pass rusher in college at UCLA who the Jets signed from the Chargers practice squad late last year. Matt McChesney was an undrafted free agent last year who worked his way onto the Jets active roster at the end of the season. Sione Pouha is a huge run stuffer drafted in the third round last year who is expected to miss this season after having knee surgery early in the preseason.


Starters: ROLB Victor Hobson, RILB Eric Barton, LILB Jonathan Vilma, LOLB Bryan Thomas
Backups: ILB Brad Kassell, OLB Matt Chatham, ILB Darrell McClover, OLB Jamar Enzor, ILB Anthony Schlegel

Starting LBs: The Jets linebackers are still a strength of the team but they arenít a great fit for the 3-4. Victor Hobson is a former 2nd round pick who does a good job stopping the run and has the size to play OLB but lacks speed and athleticism. After not missing a game for 4 straight seasons, Eric Barton suffered an ankle injury and then a torn triceps that kept him out of all but 3 games in 2005. A healthy return for him will help solidify the LB unit. Jonathan Vilma was regarded as one of the better LB prospects to come into the league since Ray Lewis and he has done nothing so far to dispel that notion. There are some concerns that he has trouble disengaging from blockers and that he may be too small to play inside in a 3-4, but a player with his speed, instincts, and work ethic should be fine. He will continue to play in every situation and should put up big fantasy numbers regardless of the system. Bryan Thomas is a former 1st round pick at defensive end who will likely be moved to rush linebacker in the 3-4. His career got off to a slow start and many people thought he was going to be a bust, but heís shown steady improvement over the years.

Backup LBs: Brad Kassell was an undrafted player who had a breakout season for the Titans in 2004 but regressed in 2005 and was let go. Kassell adds depth at inside linebacker for the Jets and also gives them some flexibility in case they decide to keep Eric Barton on the outside. Matt Chatham spent the past six seasons as a backup LB for the Patriots so he knows Eric Mangini and the Jets new defensive system well. Darrell McClover was a 7th round pick last year and a former teammate of Vilmaís at Miami who was active in all 16 games of his rookie season, playing mostly on special teams. Jamar Enzor is an undersized LB who was added to the Jets practice squad late last year after entering the league as an undrafted free agent. The Jets spent a 3rd round pick on Anthony Schlegel, a tough run defender from Ohio State who may be a liability in coverage.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Andre Dyson, CB David Barrett, SS Kerry Rhodes, FS Erik Coleman
Backups: CB Justin Miller, CB Drew Coleman, CB Bruce Thornton, SS Rashad Washington, S Andre Maddox, SS Eric Smith, CB/S Derrick Strait

Starting DBs: Ty Law spent one season with the Jets and wound up leading the league in interceptions with 10. To replace him, the Jets went out and signed Andre Dyson from the Seahawks. Dyson isnít a very physical CB, but he demonstrated his playmaking ability with 6 interceptions in 2004 while playing for the Titans. He wound up missing 6 games to injury in 2005 and didnít make much of an impact when healthy anyway (apart from the two TDs he scored against Philly), so the Seahawks released him. David Barrett is a good tackler and was a great fit for the Jets old system that had the CBs play a lot of zone defense, but heíll be pushed by 2nd year player Justin Miller for the starting job. Kerry Rhodes was drafted in the 4th round of the 2005 draft and wound up starting every game, finishing with the 3rd most tackles among rookies in the entire league. Erik Coleman had a similar impact his rookie season when he finished with 4 interceptions and 2 sacks. Colemanís big play numbers were down in 2005, but he ranked among the league leaders in tackles by a DB. The Jets now have one of the best safety tandems in the league and both will be just 24 years old when the season begins.

Backup DBs: Justin Miller was given a first round grade by some draft experts, but the Jets were able to take him with the 57th overall selection due to some concerns about his character and work ethic. Miller is a physical player who has the size, speed, and athleticism to develop into a shutdown corner. He should compete for a starting job this year and be the nickel back at a minimum. Drew Coleman is an undersized but aggressive corner with good instincts who the Jets added in the 6th round of the draft this year. Bruce Thornton got some playing experience with the 49ers last year and was picked up off waivers. Rashad Washington was a 7th round draft pick in 2004 who has contributed mainly on special teams during his first two years. Andre Maddox was a 5th round pick in 2005 who wound up missing his rookie season with a knee injury. Eric Smith was drafted in the 3rd round this year and should contribute on special teams right away. Derrick Strait came into the league as a very polished CB out of Oklahoma. While not very physical, he has good coverage skills and instincts and is a very good fit as a #3 or #4 CB.

Last modified: 2006-08-30 16:40:59

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