Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New York Jets: Early AFC Favorites

Today's breaking news in the football world isn't any sort of break in the Roethlisberger case.  Instead, it involves yet another New York Jet signing.

Future Hall of Fame defensive end/OLB Jason Taylor has become the newest Jet, signing a two-year deal within the past half hour.  Adam Schefter of ESPN was told Taylor could receive as much as $3.75 million in his first season with the team.

As a rookie head coach last season, former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan took the Jets to the AFC Championship.  New York, led by rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, fell 13 points shy of its first Super Bowl appearance 1968.
 Rex Ryan's defensive-oriented demeanor toughened the AFC's road to the Super Bowl.  After finishing the season with a 9-7 record, New York was awarded the first Wild Card spot (fifth seed), and was forced to play three road playoff games.  Ryan's top-ranked defense allowed New York to stroll through the first two weeks of the playoffs despite having the 17th-best scoring offense with an inexperienced rookie under center.

The organization has showed no signs of slowing down this off-season, willing to throw money around to bring in highly-praised players on both sides of the ball.

Last year it seemed the one thing New York was lacking was veteran leadership.  They had the young, talented guys such as Sanchez, running back Shonn Greene and shutdown corner Darrelle Revis, but they didn't seem to have the guy who could push them the extra inch.

Yes, they did happen to have an all-hype head coach in Ryan, and they had a couple vocal locker room guys such as Bart Scott, but adding Jason Taylor, Santonio Holmes and Ladainian Tomlinson may have been what they were looking for.

There's a whole lot of talent in those three guys alone.  So I don't care if you are one to believe that just because you stack a team with talent doesn't mean you're going to win.  This is exactly why the Jets hired Rex as head coach last season, he has the ability to bring a team together and win games.  That's just what he did last year with Sanchez.

New York killed two birds with one stone with the Taylor signing.  Not only does he bring the leadership and will to win, but Jason is also one of the game's best pass rushers.  New York got to the quarterback just 32 times last season, good enough for 22nd in the league.  Taylor's presence, alone, could give the Jets around five or six more sacks.  If he plays to his ability, Taylor could put up double-digit sack totals.  Another great pick-up for the league's best defense was the signing of former San Diego Charger Antonio Cromartie to play opposite shut-down corner Darrelle Revis.

On the offensive side of the ball we should see a matured Mark Sanchez who just so happens to have a couple more weapons, plus plenty of protection (sacked just 30 times last season).  The addition of play-making wide-out Santonio Holmes will do wonders as a second option for Sanchez, despite the four game suspension.  Thomas Jones parted ways, but the team did manage to bring back Leon Washington and add All-Pro Ladainian Tomlinson, which gives probable starter Shonn Greene at least a mentor.

All these factors lead me to believe Rex Ryan's Jets will be, in the least, division winners in the East in 2010.  I mean, the Pats are certainly on a downturn and Buffalo and Miami still may have a couple of rebuilding seasons.

Early BOLD Prediction: Jets earn first division title since 2002 and make a second consecutive AFC Championship appearance.

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