The short answer is: not much. With a new coaching staff and an oft-injured quarterback, the Jets will keep the pain in growing pains. Their offense includes more holes than the defense, so if improvement comes under first-year head coach Eric Mangini, it will come on that side of the ball. But in a division including two playoff-caliber teams in New England and Miami, the Jets may find it hard to show progress this season.
The offense: Unfortunately for the Jets, their playmaker won't be able to make plays because he isn't complemented. Laveranues Coles would scare defenses if there were more than space-fillers in the other parts of the offense. But Chad Pennington will always be a question mark, and people wonder whether he'll be around when this team is a contender again. Curtis Martin -- a Hall of Fame back whom Jets fans took for granted -- might have played his last game, and the replacements won't replace him. Derrick Blaylock was hurt most of last year, and Kevin Barlow -- acquried in a trade from San Francisco, is not a huge upgrade. The Jets' first-round pick in this year's draft was spent on D'Brickshaw Ferguson, and the rookie left tackle will try to prove himself.
The defense: Mangini's background comes from the defensive side of the ball, and he'll implement a 3-4 defense to take advantage of linebackers like Jonathan Vilma. No one should expect Mangini to be as good as his mentor, Bill Belichick, but they can expect him to shape this unit -- albeit slowly -- into an effective one. Heck, he might even have some ideas on how to stop Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Special teams: After placekicking cost the Jets a berth in the AFC Championship game two seasons ago, the Jets drafted Mike Nugent and hoped for an automatic result each time he lined up. He wasn't automatic, but it was his rookie season, and Jets fans know that his kicking didn't cost his team a chance at a magical season. Ben Graham made a nice transition from Australian Rules Football last year, so the frequent Jets punts will travel a long way.
Overall, the Jets might morph into a team that could play spoiler by the end of the season like the Dolphins did last year. No one is expecting anything but slow growth from this team, and that's all that's going to happen.