The game: Jets at Kansas City (1:00 PM ET, Sunday, CBS)
As expected, during the Jets' 2005 offseason, the team's proposal for a new stadium on the West Side of Manhattan (and its subsequent rejection and abandonment) made for more headlines than the football franchise itself did. But thankfully, the football franchise did not sit on its heels in theoffseason, knowing it needed to make several necessary moves if there is to any hope of surpassing last season's 10-6 regular season, which culminated in a memorable AFC Wild Card win over the host San Diego Chargers before ending with a 20-17 loss in Pittsburgh in an AFC Divisional Playoff game.
Let's review some of the higher-profile changes and goings-on for the Jets since then:
- Starting QB Chad Pennington had to have his right shoulder surgically repaired after the season and went several months before throwing a football. Luckily, someone in the Jets organization picked up former Dolphin Jay Fiedler, who might have been the least expensive option for a relatively-proven QB on the free agent market. Brooks Bollinger looks to be third-stringer. There is and will be a lot of conjecture that suggests that the Jets will live and die by Pennington's health, but last season taught many of us that Pennington is not perfect.
- It was announced offensive coordinator Paul Hackett would not return, which seemed to have long been the primary objective of many columnists, radio hosts and fans. Head coach Herman Edwards immediately
- The team re-acquired WR Laveranues Coles, who was never utilized to his stud potential in two years in Washington (in exchange for WR/KR Santana Moss). Coles, said to have been QB Chad Pennington's favorite receiver when both were rookies six years ago, gives the team another sizable target who will look attractive in several situations. His emergence might be the most obvious difference between this season and the past. Coles would probably be a solid fantasy football selection, but those who care abut that knew that already, right? The loss of Moss should not be as big of a deal as one might think, since his lack of size gave the team fewer options in crunch time when in need of a short play over the middle, but it will alter the team's plans for returning kicks, which brings us to Justin Miller.
- Cornerback Justin Miller, a second round pick from Clemson) has looked like a rookie in preseason contests and may eventually be the starter, but right now his athleticism will be best utilized at kick returner. Jericho Cotchery should also be able to contribute on returns.
- Place kicker Doug Brien is gone, and some Jets fans might dare to say 'good riddance' after the tough time he had during crunch time against the Steelers in the playoffs last season. But in replacing him with second round pick Mike Nugent out of Ohio State, the Jets are taking something of a risk.
-Punter Toby Gowin is gone, replaced by former Denver Bronco Micah Knorr, who averaged 41.5 yards in the thin mile-high air.
-Backup RB LaMont Jordan left for big money with the Oakland Raiders, where he will be featured. Curtis Martin, who quietly joined the ranks of immortals at the position last season, is getting old by pro football standards and will now be relieved by Derrick Blaylock (539 rushing yards, 21 receptions 9 TD with Kansas City). Former Giant Delvin Joyce and selected Cedric Houston should also fit in the mix.
-Defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson looked like a terrific hire by the end of the season, but will have to absorb the loss of nose tackle Jason Ferguson (58 tackles, 3.5 sacks) to Dallas. James Reed, former Giant Lance Legree or rookie Sione Pouha (3rd round, Utah) will have to step up.
-The first name on many fans' lips this season was one of the Jets' final acquisitions this year - Ty Law. The four-time Pro Bowler, acquired as a free agent in early August, was a dominant member of the Patriots well before that was ever an utterable phrase. However, Law broke his left foot last October and missed the rest of the season for New England. He underwent surgery to repair ligament damage in January, and may not yet be fully healed.
- Rookie SS Kerry Rhodes, a fourth round pick out of Louisville who never started during the preseason and usually practiced with the second team, was abruptly named the starter for the season opener.
- Jonathan Vilma hopes to continue his emergence into a solid NFL linebacker.
- Wayne Chrebet is still around. Really?
- Former starting TE Anthony Becht has departed, and replaced by Chris Baker and former Raider Doug Jolley, both of whom are thought to have better hands than Becht. Then again, so is a stone statue. Kidding!
So how will the Jets do this season? There are several variables, but none of them going different ways would seem to suggest a dramatic departure from last year's 10-6 regular season. Gothamist says 11-5 sounds good for now, knowing that the team will be focused on the postseason and figuring out a way to dethrone New England. And maybe they will announce a move to Queens - like they should have in the first place.
On Sunday, things open up against the Chiefs, who had substantially less turnover in the offseason, but upgraded their defense. So for that reason only, Gothamist has to take the host Chiefs 27-23.
Photograph from the AP