Jets regular-season wrap-up

January, 4, 2012
1/04/12
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Final Power Ranking: 19
Preseason Power Ranking: 7

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Patrick McDermott/Getty ImagesMark Sanchez was unable to make progress in his third NFL season.
Biggest surprise: Guess who led the Jets in sacks this season? Aaron Maybin. Yes, that Aaron Maybin. The same Maybin who was a draft bust for the Buffalo Bills and cut before training camp. The Jets saw potential in Maybin and invited him to training camp. With a change of scenery and scheme, Maybin showed some of the things in New York that he showed in college to make him a first-round pick. Maybin briefly made New York's 53-man roster out of training camp. Then, he was released. When the Jets picked Maybin up again during the season he was ready. Maybin helped the Jets with a team-high six sacks, which should put him in consideration for the NFL's Most Improved Player.

Biggest disappointment: This was the year New York's coaching staff thought quarterback Mark Sanchez would make major strides. This was the year the offense would be put in Sanchez's hands and would finally catch up to New York's talented defense. But that plan didn't pan out. Sanchez wasn't ready to take the next step in his third season and coach Rex Ryan pulled back the reigns. The Jets went back to their ground-and-pound offense and tried to protect Sanchez. The offense was bland, predictable and Sanchez struggled. New York's offense was ranked No. 25 in the NFL. Sanchez's numbers slightly improved. But the team still had to protect him in his third season, and that's not acceptable for a top-five draft pick. Sanchez needs to make a lot of improvements next season to be considered among the upper-echelon quarterbacks in the NFL.

Biggest need: There are several reasons the Jets were inconsistent, but the biggest reason was the offensive line. The Jets need to upgrade the right tackle position immediately. Wayne Hunter draws too many flags and struggles in pass protection. The front office needs to find a better front-side protector for Sanchez. The offensive line as a group played a notch or two lower than it was capable of. The Jets need to add depth and competition at guard. Center Nick Mangold was fine, but D'Brickashaw Ferguson wasn't as good as previous years. Both made the Pro Bowl, although Ferguson made it more on name recognition.

Team MVP: I know it's early. But I feel pretty safe in saying that Darrelle Revis will be an all-time great. Revis put together another Pro Bowl year and is easily the team's MVP. Revis is dominating a position that is nearly impossible to dominate. The rules are tilted in favor of the offense and receivers to promote scoring. But Revis has found a way to consistently shut down opponents from the cornerback position. His ability to stick to and frustrate receivers is fun to watch. His hand-eye coordination is the best in the NFL. It's considered an event when a receiver catches a couple passes on Revis. Perhaps the biggest shame is that Revis, 26, is a unique talent in his prime, and the Jets are wasting those prime years by fumbling around in other areas.

Free-agent watch: The Jets have several interesting free agents. Offensively, New York has to decide whether to bring back starting receiver Plaxico Burress and/or backup tailback LaDainian Tomlinson. Burress was signed on a one-year rental to see if he has anything left after spending time in prison. Burress showed flashes, particularly in the red zone. But he will be 35 in August and struggles to get vertical. The Jets may need an upgrade opposite receiver Santonio Holmes. Tomlinson's role was reduced this year and he is considering retirement. Defensively, New York has to decide what to do with starting safety Jim Leonhard. He's an underrated player. It's evident as the defense fell apart this season when he was out of the lineup. Leonhard suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the year and has a long rehabilitation process ahead. That could impact and delay whether the Jets pursue him.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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