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Scouting the Schedule: Jets

Posted by Albert Breer  July 15, 2010 12:57 PM

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Who will replace nine-time Pro Bowler Alan Faneca at left guard? ... General Manager Mike Tannenbaum took a calculated gamble by breaking up arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. Faneca’s pass protection skills may have eroded, but he was still a solid run blocker. For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, this was a head scratcher. Rookie Vladimir Ducasse, who played at Division 1-AA UMass, will battle second-year pro Matt Slauson for the vacant spot. It’s a risky move, to say the least.
Which Nick Folk will show up? ... The Jets may also regret letting unrestricted free agent kicker Jay Feely walk if Folk struggles. How ugly did it get for Folk last year? Well, he missed a field goal in six consecutive games before the Cowboys had seen enough and released him. Folk had made 87 percent of his field goal attempts in his first two seasons before missing a third of them last season. Folk contended that he developed bad habits from hip surgery after the 2008 season.

This needs to happen to win big: Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene must stay healthy. ... Let’s face it: The Jets’ don’t have a viable No. 2 quarterback if Sanchez misses any extended period of time. It looks like they’re going to dust off soon-to-be-40-year-old Mark Brunell to mentor Sanchez. But does anyone actually think the lefty can still play? Erik Ainge and former college quarterback Brad Smith will likely round out a group that won’t scare many teams. Sanchez saved his smartest football during the Jets’ memorable post-season run. If he can build off that and take advantage of the receiving threats at his disposal, the Jets could be in line for another deep postseason run. Of course, he’ll have to drastically cut down on his 20 interceptions.
Greene steps into the No. 1 RB role with Thomas Jones out of the picture. The former Iowa star was eased into the offense last year before erupting for 263 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs. He’ll have to stay relatively injury-free this season – he had two different rib injuries and an ankle problem last year – or the Jets will be in big trouble. LaDainian Tomlinson could be an effective complement, but his days of carrying the mail are long over. Don’t expect rookie Joe McKnight to be the workhorse, either, if Greene is out.
There’s no “I” in Super Bowl. ... With so many key players looking for long-term extensions after the season, it’ll be pivotal for Ryan to keep everyone in line. Can Holmes and Edwards co-exist? Ryan insists potential chemistry problems are a media fabrication. Only time will tell.

Where they stack up:
The Jets are a trendy Super Bowl pick, but they’ll have a hard enough time getting past the Patriots (you know, the defending AFC East champions) and the upstart Dolphins. On paper, the Jets are loaded. Of course, football isn’t a two-dimensional game. If Sanchez can take a step forward and the new pieces make seamless transitions, the ingredients are there for another deep playoff run.  Prediction: 11-5

Yesterday: Bengals
Today: Jets
Tomorrow: Bills

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