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Offseason Notes

It didn’t take the New York Jets long to get into the thick of the free agent market. General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan are trying to turn the Jets into Baltimore North, building the team around and aggressive defense and mistake-free offense, much like at Ryan’s former home with the Ravens, who rode that formula to the AFC Title game.
Bart Scott is a significant edition to the line backing corps. An inside combo of Scott and David Harris is as good a pair as any in the league. The two should be able to wreak havoc on the oppositions run game and greatly increase the effectiveness of the pass rush. Scott was the Jets target from the first minutes of free agency, as Ryan couldn’t wait to until daylight to get his former player on his new team. Ryan also brought in Jim Leonhard to play safety opposite Kerry Rhodes. Leonhard made an impression on Ryan in his only season as a Raven after three years in Buffalo, taking over the starting job three weeks into the season after Dawan Landry was injured for the season. The transition to a new style of defense will be made easier with Scott and Leonhard on the roster.
The Jets added another bird to their defense to fill a hole that has been vacant for a long time, trading for Philadelphia Eagles corner Lito Sheppard to line up opposite Darelle Revis. Sheppard has had some ups and downs, but he is a quality corner who will be a vast improvement over the likes of David Barrett, Ty Law, Hank Poteat, and Dwight Lowery.
The secondary and linebackers may be set, but the Jets still need to find a defensive end to help the pass rush. If the New York Giants are done snatching up defensive lineman, the Jets could go after former Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor or Igor Olshansky. If the Jets can’t develop a decent pass rush to keep opposing quarterbacks on edge, the rest of their defensive additions will be moot.
The Jets offense is still where it was at the beginning of the offseason. The Jets appear to be willing to let Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff battle it out for the starting quarterback spot. They will need to add a wide receiver now that Laveranues Coles is a Cincinnati Bengal. The landscape of the draft has changed significantly with the trades and signings of the early offseason. Kansas City is no longer in need of a quarterback, Seattle may not be looking for a wide receiver any more and everything in Denver is on hold until the coach and quarterback come to terms. If Detroit decides not to take a quarterback with their first pick, the first may not go until eight (Jacksonville) or ten (San Francisco) leaving the Jets to possibly get one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft. Or if they are looking at receivers, if Seattle passes on Michael Crabtree now that they have T.J. Houshmandzadeh, it could knock each receiver down a peg, leaving one of the better ones for the Jets.
One player the Jets probably won’t go after (nor should they) is recently released malcontent wide out Terrell Owens. He’s 35, on the downslope of his career, and the Jets don’t have the quarterback to contain his ego. If Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo couldn’t coexist with him, could Clemens or Ratliff or a rookie? Owens will land with a dysfunctional team like Oakland or Washington, or a desperate team like Chicago or New Orleans.
The Jets are better with Scott, Leonhard, and Sheppard on board, but Ryan needs to take a look at his offense if the Jets are going to make the leap to the postseason next year.

Jason Levy


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