NEW YORK JETS - Pre-Training Camp Report
Jets look to continue to build on last year.
by Ajitpaul Mangat
Bills Daily Correspondent
July 8, 2002
Regular Season: 10-6 (Wild Card Playoff Team)
Post-Season: 0-1 (Lost To Oakland Raiders in AFC Wild Card Game)
This upcoming season for the Jets will be their 3rd under head coach Herman Edwards, who was brought in after the retirement of Bill Parcells. Edwards has been trying to mold this team into his and make fans forget about the Parcells era. Last seasonís playoff berth and this off-seasons changes, over 20 key players were added or lost via free agency, went a long way towards doing that. Surprisingly the brunt of the changes came in a place of strength, passing defense, while the key area of weakness, passing offense, was left unchanged. The Jets obviously donít believe in the motto, ďIf it ainít broke donít fix it.Ē DRAFT:
Quarterbacks: Vinny Testaverde, will begin the season as the starting QB for the Jets even though he did not have a great 2001 campaign. Testaverdeís passing yards, completion percentage and touchdown numbers were all down from last year which translated to the passing offense being ranked 29th in the league. These numbers look even worse when you consider the rushing offense was so good, injuries were not a major problem and the offensive line played very well. Testaverde will need to have a better season and see eye to eye with offensive coordinator Paul Hackett or he could be replaced with the young but talented Chad Pennington. Pennington, drafted 18th overall in 2002, has had two full seasons to learn under Testaverde but it is still uncertain whether he is ready to take the next step, becoming a starting QB.
Running Backs: With all the problems the Jets have had passing the ball the running game has remained solid, specifically Curtis Martin, who has been dominant to say the least in his 4 seasons with the Jets rushing for nearly 5500 yards. This has taken a toll on Martin who is nearing the age when running backs seem to hit a plateau. To prevent that from happening the Jets must use Lamont Jordan, last years second round draft pick, to spell Martin anywhere from 5-10 plays a game. Jordan was brought in to do just that but has been forgotten at times, by Hackett, which can not happen if the Jets want Martinís career to last longer than a couple more seasons. The Jets are also very strong at fullback, with Richie Anderson. Anderson is a better receiver than blocker and runner but can do all jobs quite well which is the reason he was selected to the Pro Bowl two seasons ago.
Receivers: The Jets will have a good battle for the two starting wide receiver spots between incumbent Wayne Chrebet, last seasonís breakout player Laveranues Coles and last years first round pick Santana Moss. Chrebet has been overcoming hurdles his entire career, including his lack of size and Keyshawn Johnsonís ego but has succeeded, becoming one of the better possession receivers in the league. Coles was a huge find for the Jets, a former 3rd round pick, exploding for seven touchdowns last year. Moss was drafted to take over the number two wide receiver role but with his injury last season and Colesí emergence Moss will likely be the 3rd receiver which should keep him fresh for his punt return duties. The TE position will be handled by Anthony Becht who is at his best in the red zone, catching five touchdowns last year.
Offensive Line: The offensive line is arguably one of the best in the NFL, finishing 4th and 2nd in run blocking and sacks allowed, respectively. That play will be tough to duplicate with the loss of two starters, right tackle Ryan Young (Texans) and left guard Kerry Jenkins (Buccaneers). Daze Szott was brought in through free agency to replace Jenkins, which appears to be a downgrade as Szott was not that good for the Redskins last season. The tackle positions are up in the air as Kareem McKenzie tries out each side of the line. Veteran Jason Fabini will play the remaining tackle position not filled by McKenzie. The right guard and center positions are set with Randy Thomas and Kevin Mawae, two pro bowl caliber players. Depth is a major concern as each position has no clear favorite at backup. The best backup appears to be versatile J.P. Machado.
Overall Grade: B
Key Offensive Player(s): Vinny Testaverde. Testaverde is nearing the end of his career, as proven by last yearís performance. Testaverde will need to play at the level of two years ago or the passing game could be in trouble with inexperienced Pennington the only legitimate backup QB.
Defensive Line: The d-line is a tale of two opposites with the end position loaded with talent and the tackle position with almost no talent. DE John Abraham had a monster year in 2001 registering 13 sacks and generally reeking havoc on opposing quarterbacks. At the other end position is Shaun Ellis, drafted in the same year and round as Abraham. Ellis will look to regain his rookie form which eluded him in a sub-par 2001 campaign. This years first round draft pick, Bryan Thomas will spell Ellis on passing downs which is when Thomas is at his best. Thomas is a one-dimensional pass rusher who seems unable to play run defense but should help the Jets improve on their lowly 33 sack total of last year. The starting tackle jobs will go to Jason Ferguson and Larry Webster. Webster brought in from the Ravens is past his prime but will give the Jets a good 25-35 snaps per game. Backing up at the tackle position will be Riddick Parker and Harper.
Linebackers: The line backing position is the strength of the Jetsí defense. Former injury prone but talented Bills LB Sam Cowart was brought in to play the Weak Side position replacing departed James Farrior (Steelers). Cowart, when healthy, is a tackling machine but is still a risk for the Jets who will pay him over $5 million per year. The other two positions are set with MLB Marvin Jones and SLB Mo Lewis who will look to duplicate their excellent 2001 seasons. James Darling, Kelvin Moses and Jason Glenn will backup with Darling the best of the bunch.
Secondary: The secondary was hit hardest in the off-season as ĺ of the starting lineup have departed. The starting cornerback tandem of Aaron Glenn and Marcus Coleman were both taken in the expansion draft. Glennís departure will hurt the most as he was the best cover man on the team. Donnie Abraham will replace Glenn and should fit in right away because of his previous experience playing under Edwards from his Tampa Bay days. Aaron Beasley will replace Coleman and should not be too big of a drop-off, in terms of talent. CB Ray Mickens is the top reserve and will play in nickel packages. The final starter lost in the off-season was S Victor Green who will be replaced by Sam Garnes, a talented player coming off a sub-par season. The only returning starter is S Damien Robinson known mainly for an incident with Kyle Turley in a game last season vs. the Saints and for being found with a machine gun in the back of his car before a game by stadium security. Robinson is a poor player who will start by default.
Overall Grade: B
Key Defensive Player(s): Donnie Abraham, Abraham will be replacing Glenn a top notch defensive back. Abraham will be looked upon for leadership and interceptions which he has shown a knack for getting, averaging 5 per year over the past 5 seasons. SPECIAL TEAMS:
Kicker: K John Hall proved to be solid in the clutch, booting the game winning field goal vs. Oakland which sent the Jets into the playoffs.
Punter: P Matt Turk is one of the best in the league.
Kick Returner: RB Chad Morton, RB LaMont Jordan and WR Craig Yeast will battle for two starting jobs.
Punt Returner: Moss couldnít prove himself because of injury in 2001 but should bounce back with a solid season.
A playoff berth is not out of the question but to do get back to the playoffs many things must go right; Tesetaverde must play better, Cowart must be healthy and the Jets must pressure the QB with more stunts and blitzes. OVERALL GRADE: A-
Projected Record: 8-8
Look for the BUFFALO BILLS - Pre-Training Camp Report in the coming days. The Bills preview will be more in depth and detailed than the three previous installments.
Patriots Pre-Training Camp Report
Dolphins Pre-Training Camp Report
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