Keeping up with the trend from the past two weeks, we'll be checking in with a blogger who covers one of the Patriots' AFC East rivals. Up this week is Jets Report.
1. How would you grade the Jets' season last year? How would you grade Mark Sanchez as a QB last year?
I would give it the season A- overall. I'd say the season was mostly a success, although the Jets fell short of their ultimate goal. Still, to rally to win two road playoff games for the second year in a row without key players such as Jim Leonhard, Kris Jenkins & Damien Woody deserves a lot of kudos. They had a joke of pass rush, yet continued to baffle opposing offenses on most nights.
I would give Mark Sanchez a solid B grade overall. He still had some growing pains as a second-year starter, but like he did as a rookie, he played his best football in the playoffs when it mattered most. In three road playoff games, Sanchez had a 95.5 QB rating, including a 127.3 in Foxboro, and a 102.2 rating in Pittsburgh.
2. What do you make of this whole NFL lockout situation? What side are you on and do you think we will play football in September?
I think it's ridiculous it's gotten this far. I would say I lean closer towards empathizing with the players over the owners, but I'm pretty peeved at both sides now. I have my fingers crossed that the season will start on time, but I really don't know. Your guess is as good as mine, but we're less than 3 weeks away from the draft and it's not looking good right now. Of course, that can all change pretty quickly. Let's hope it does.
3. What is the Jets' biggest need coming into the draft?
Pass rusher, pass rusher, pass rusher. The Jets outside linebackers were awful last season, and the Jets were fortunate enough to hide that fact deep into the postseason. But the OLB play cost them the AFC Championship, as they continually failed to pressure Ben Roethlisberger and inexplicably failed to keep outside contain numerous times against Rashard Mendenhall. A Terrell Suggs-like 3-4 OLB could be the missing piece the Jets need to get over the AFC title game hump.
4. What would be the ideal prospect to fall to NY in the first round in your opinion? Who is a guy the Jets could target in the late rounds?
I would love a guy like Von Miller to be a Jet, but there's no way he drops out of the top 5. A guy like Justin Houston or Cameron Jordan or Jabaal Sheard would be a nice fit for the Jets.
5. Out of the key FA's (Holmes, Edwards, Smith, and Cromartie), which ones do you see the Jets keeping?
I think Braylon Edwards is as close to a sure thing as there is. He seems like he does not even want to seriously entertain any other offers. He wants to be a Jet. Then again, all four of those free agents have expressed public interest in staying with the Jets. I think Edwards and Holmes stay. I wish Cromartie and Smith came back as well, but I'm less optimistic about those guys.
6. Does the AFC East belong to the Jets and Rex Ryan now?
Ask Rex Ryan and he'll say the same thing as I am. Not until we win it. The Patriots are defending champions, therefore the road to the Super Bowl still goes through New England. Despite the Jets playoff success and the Patriots losing their first playoff game the past two years, the Jets have had to do it on the road as a wild card team both years.
Until the Jets win the AFC East and get a home playoff game, the Patriots are still the team to beat in the AFC East. I believe that, and so does Ryan, believe it or not. For all of the press he gets for his mouth, Ryan has never disrespected Bill Belichick and the Patriots, and there's a good reason for that. He's a heck of a lot smarter than some people give him credit for.