However, a condensed training camp has given new players almost no time to learn the playbook, most importantly Plaxico Burress, the former Giant star who spent 20 months in prison for shooting himself in the leg. Nevertheless, the Jets’ success hinges on him regaining his Super Bowl XLII form.
The Jets brought in Plaxico and veteran Derrick Mason to solidify their wide receiving corps, and re-signed Super Bowl XLIII MVP wideout Santonio Holmes. Burress, 34, and Mason, 37, take over from former Jets receivers Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards, who were younger and in sync with quarterback Mark Sanchez.
With Holmes constantly double-teamed, Plaxico must haul in Sanchez’s sometimes errant passes. He will use his 6’5” frame and his strength to his advantage, but the question remains, does he still have the agility?
The Jets’ lack of offensive depth remains a major concern, one that Burress and Mason don’t fully address. A relatively easy schedule appears to be the one thing going for them. Two games each against Miami and Buffalo, and games against the horrid Redskins, Broncos, and Raiders all but guarantee them a playoff spot. However, two games against the Patriots and games with the Eagles and Ravens will test the Jets’ resolve and Ryan’s coaching abilities.
David Harris, the defense’s play-caller, re-signed, making the linebacking corps one of the league’s best, with Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, and Bryan Thomas alongside. Behind them stands an outstanding secondary led by Pro-Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, while in front squats Sione Pouha and two unproven defensive ends, including rookie Muhammad Wilkerson.
The front line could be a weakness, especially since the Jets have had trouble rushing the quarterback with Rex Ryan as coach. Overall, though, the Jets, despite losing out on star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to the Eagles, have a stellar defense that will carry them to the playoffs.
How far into the playoffs will the Jets travel? With a top defense, a solid offense, and a fiery coach, the answer is only as far as Mark Sanchez takes them. Their defense can put the team on its shoulders, but cannot singlehandedly win the Jets their first championship in 42 years. It is Sanchez, along with Burress, who have the keys to the season in their hands.