Today's absurd prediction:
Despite a more difficult schedule, the Jets improve on last year's 10-6 mark.
The Jets are perhaps the only AFC team who had an easier schedule than some NFC teams. They got the Browns, the Raiders, the AFC South (including the Titans when Kerry Collins was starting), and the NFC North. Still, they had to play four games against teams who went on to play in conference championships (two vs. the Patriots), which is no cakewalk. And last year was Chad Pennington's first healthy year in some time, Eric Mangini's first as head coach, and it was the rookie year for two starting offensive linemen. With another year under each belt, improvement is expected.
Here's the breakdown for the New York Jets:
Coaching Changes: N/A
Brian Schottenheimer decided he wasn't interested in the Miami coaching job, which interestingly enough went to his father's old offensive coordinator instead. Mangenius returns, of course, once again eager to do battle with his old team the Patriots. And Bob Sutton returns to coordinate the defense for the second year. He's been with the team since the beginning of the millennium, and was the man who molded Jonathan Vilma into a superstar.
Kudos to them for being the first team willing to trade up (the Falcons' trade was part of the Schaub deal and happened before the draft). The goal was obvious - get to Darrelle Revis before his hometown Steelers snatched him up. I like it when a team clearly wants a guy that much, though it sometimes inflates the player's ego. He's a solid returner as well as a cornerback who won't let you beat him deep. ILB David Harris is another good pick, bolstering the linebacking corps. Then they didn't pick again until the sixth round. They already had a good, young bench, so it's not a huge deal, but it's hard to get a good draft grade with only four picks.
Player Movement: B
The big pickup was Thomas Jones, traded from the Chicago Saps for a mere swap of second-round picks. This, of course, makes the loss of Kevan Barlow and Derrick Blaylock irrelevant. The running game should be much more stable this year with Jones and Leon Washington carrying the load. They also depleted the glut of quarterbacks, losing Patrick Ramsey, and bringing in Marques Tuiasosopo. Now the QB hierarchy is perfectly clear: Pennington, Kellen Clemens, Tuiasosospo. They brought in a DE from a division rival, David Bowens of Miami, who had almost as many sacks (5) as tackles (9, according to SI.com) last year. Other than that, not a lot of changes, but for clearing up the two positions that caused a lot of confusion last offseason, they get a B.
They have to face the NFC East and AFC North, nowhere near as easy as last year. I always look forward to a Redskins-Jets game, with all the player-swapping that's happened between the two over the years (the Jetskins - Patrick Ramsey, Santana Moss, Laveranues Coles, John Hall, Blaylock, Jason Fabini, Chad Morton, even Art Monk). The Jets also draw the Titans and a very exciting end-of-season matchup vs. their old coach, Herman Edwards, and his Chiefs. If that game ends up having playoff implications, it's a must-see. They get a nice late bye in week 10, which should rejuvenate them for the playoff stretch.
G Pete Kendall is having an ugly contract dispute that is causing distractions. The huge contracts signed by offensive linemen has drastically increased the market value of guys such as Kendall and Pittsburgh guard Alan Faneca. I feel that Kendall is certainly worth more than 1.7 million, but that was a number he agreed to just last year, and I don't like the way he's handled the situation. I wouldn't be surprised to see him become the next Jetskin, if Dan Snyder makes an offer good enough. They could use a Derrick Dockery replacement. Really, the Jets need Kendall and should just pay him. After all, he only wants another million. And before you go off on diatribes about how you only make 35K for a family of five and you're not playing a game for a living-um, get over yourself. These guys made it in a highly competitive field that pays a lot of money, and they want market value. That's capitalism.
The Record: 11-5
Yes, it's ridiculously optimistic for a team that still has a lot of holes and needs more experience. But I really like the chemistry of the passing game, and now that Schottenheimer has a real running back to work with, the defense won't have to work quite so hard. And while the record only shows a slight improvement, in truth this team is vastly better with a couple of extra pieces added and more experience all around.