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Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Are the Jets contenders or pretenders?


The New York Jets are a fashionable pick to reach the Super Bowl this season.

They're also commonly dismissed as overrated.

ESPN's "First Take" tackled the topic Tuesday. Resident provocateur Skip Bayless was joined by Sports Illustrated writer Jim Trotter and San Diego Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips for the discussion.

Skip Bayless: They're going to be pretty good, but I do not think this team will be able to live up to its preseason, "Hard Knocks" hype. So I'll say they're not a Super Bowl contender.

I just think they're going to miss Thomas Jones. That was a big mistake to me because I'm not sure Shonn Greene can carry the load and stay healthy the whole year, and I'm not sure your favorite player, LaDainian [Tomlinson], can pick up that slack. That means too much will fall on Mark Sanchez. I'm not sold on him. I'm sorry. I think he'll press. I think he'll struggle. I think he'll have some bad games last year.

I remind you they lost six of seven in one stretch last year, and everybody wrote them off. They took a lot of teams by surprise all the way up to [the second-round playoff game against the Chargers].

Jim Trotter: How do you take someone by surprise when you talk the way the Jets talk? Come on.

SB: Because everyone said it's "Talk, talk, talk." It's big mouths.

Shaun Phillips: They back it up. They have a really, really strong defense. With a defense like that, you always got a chance to win. Obviously, they're strong up front. The secondary's good.

SB: Who's their pass-rusher?

SP: Who's the pass-rusher? Calvin Pace.

SB: But he's not good enough. He's not a big-time. He's not a Shaun Phillips.

JT: They have big-time guys. They get back [Kris] Jenkins in that lineup. You add [Kyle] Wilson. You add [Antonio] Cromartie ...

SB: I like the defense, but I don't love defenses that consistently need their DBs to blitz the quarterback, and they do. That's what they do for a living, and there's a way to beat that and beat it big.

JT: How do you beat it big when you have a cornerback like [Darrelle] Revis over there? Why wouldn't you try and blitz your corners on the other side? Who did it?

SP: The Ravens were able to win a Super Bowl with a defense doing that. They blitzed their secondary and their corners a lot. So it can be done.

I'm not going to pick them to win the Super Bowl, but they are contenders. You have to give them a bit of respect. They made it to the playoffs last year with the same players they have out there. They're missing Alan Faneca and Thomas Jones, but they brought in LT and Jason Taylor to help them out.

JT: My issue with the Jets isn't so much personnel, but chemistry. They had a great chemistry going down the stretch last year. When you take out locker-room favorites like Thomas Jones, Alan Faneca, Leon Washington, to me, that's huge. They've got to show that they can all mesh and they can be one. That's what some players said to me when those guys were let go: "How are we going to deal with that?"