Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with fellow Fansided editor Alan Schecter of one of our sister publications, thejetpress.com. The Carolina Panthers play their first road contest of the 2012 preseason at New York this Sunday night so I asked Alan what’s going on with the Jets right now. Here is what Alan had to say:
1) Everyone knows by now of the Jets’ struggles on offense so far this season and Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano seem to be of the same mind on offensive strategy. What is the most glaring problem that you see standing in the way of getting the Jets’ offense to finally lift off? That runway is getting awfully short…
A.S.: That is very clearly the offensive line. The offensive line is not giving either quarterback time to throw, or for the Ground and Pound to start working. The Jets averaged under 2 yards per carry last week against the Giants, and that just isn’t going to fly. The biggest culprit is Wayne Hunter, everyone’s favorite whipping boy here in NY. He allowed 3 sacks on Saturday night, and a 4th nullified by penalty. The quarterbacks have 2 seconds tops to throw right now. The offensive line must get better, otherwise the offense will never get out of the gate.
2) Tim Tebow always seems so polite and gracious in interviews, and Mark Sanchez wasn’t happy with the team signing him. Can Tebow help make Sanchez better or is he going to wind up being relegated to punt protection and the Wildcat this season assuming Sanchez stays healthy? Do the two guys get along or is Tebow a distraction they could do without?
A.S.: My readers know how I feel about Tim Tebow, I don’t, and never did, want him here. The two of them get along quite well, they appear to be quite good friends actually. They both are terrific with the media, and are handling the situation quite well so far. I say so far, because there will be all the clamouring for his job if Sanchez doesn’t look good early. That is why they didn’t need him. I think he will push Sanchez to be better, but having the most popular backup quarterback in the league wasn’t the way to go about it. He will be the Wildcat QB, and work on punt protection, as far as we know so far. We haven’t seen the Wildcat yet, so we don’t know exactly how it will look. As long as Sanchez plays well Tebow can make the team better. But if Mark folds, I do not believe Tim Tebow can lead the team, so the distraction will overtake the team at that point, and the season will go down the toilet.
3) Who are some lesser-known players that have looked unexpectedly good or on the flip side, that haven’t yet played up to expectations so far in the preseason? How will the better ones factor in to the game plan?
A.S.: The starting offense, not scoring a TD so far, has been as a whole, quite disappointing. They haven’t been able to get out of their own way, because of the offensive line in my opinion. The whole thing breaks down when the offensive line does. Some players to watch for include Demario Davis, rookie linebacker from Arkansas State. He is starting to make his presence felt in the pass defense packages. He should have a big role this year. On the offensive side, look for Jordan White, rookie receiver taken with their last pick. He caught 140 passes last year in college, and is making a push to be the slot wide receiver. Bilal Powell, second year running back, has made a lot of noise in camp, and began to play better in the last preseason game. He is battling with Joe McKnight to be the change of pace running back behind Shonn Greene, so he will be interesting to watch as well. Watch also for Damon Harrison, undrafted nose tackle. He is proving to be a tough guy to block, and having an outstanding preseason.
4) Does Ryan have the weapons on the front seven to play that “4-6″ style defense his dad popularized with the Eagles and Bears? If not, will he stick it out in hopes the players will adapt or will he start using more hybrid schemes?
A.S.: I really believe he does Ken. As little depth as we have on the offensive side, that IS the depth that we have on the defensive front seven. Mo Wilkerson is being counted on to have a huge season, and he seems primed to do so. Quinton Coples has had a huge camp, and Bart Scott is ready to return to his form of previous years. Aaron Maybin has made a strong claim to be on the field every down. Karl Dunbar being added as the defensive line coach is a brilliant move, as is the transition to the 46 defense.
5) Are there any rumblings about Rex Ryan’s job from the fans yet? New Yorkers have a reputation of being boisterous and impatient when it comes to their teams winning. Did the Giants’ Super Bowl win put Rex in the hotseat if the Jets have a sub-.500 season?
A.S.: Actually, the guy in the crosshairs right now is GM Mike Tannenbaum. We have spent two years without depth on the offensive side of the football, and people are screaming for Mike’s head. Anything is possible here in NY, and if the Jets season really blows up, I think Rex could find his way to the hot seat. For now, though, Tannenbaum is the one.
Alan’s insights gives we Panthers fans some ideas of places and some players to watch for this Sunday night.
Alan Schecter is the editor of thejetpress.com and a great guy. Check out ALL our team sites here on Fansided – there’s something for every fan!