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Thursday, September 1, 2011
Gruden, Jaws on Jets' chances vs. NE

By Rich Cimini

On Wednesday, ESPN analysts Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski were part of a conference call to preview the network's sixth season of "Monday Night Football." One of the questions was Jets-Patriots, whether the Jets finally can overtake the Pats in the AFC East.

Gruden: "They toppled the Patriots last year convincingly in the playoffs. They've done a lot certainly on offense. My only concern is, can the receiving corps, A, stay healthy, and, B, come together fast enough to propel this passing game to another level? I think the red-zone offense, their third-down offense and their passing game in general is an area that they wanted to improve.

"If Plaxico (Burress) can stay healthy and he's Plaxico, and if (Derrick) Mason can come in and go wire to wire for 16 weeks, I think they've helped themselves. I think that's a big question, though, given the amount of time that these men have missed with their short offseason and what not. But I do think the Jets have a good defense, and I think it's going to go wire to wire.

"I'm excited to see that finish, not to avoid your question, but I kind of lean toward New England this year, personally."

Jaworski: "This is certainly an excellent rivalry and two tremendous football teams. We know the Jets have a great defense. We had them a few weeks ago, and one concern I had was the offensive line. Now, again, Brandon Moore was out, (Nick) Mangold was out, they weren't all there -- although this seems to be a consistent feeling around the NFL, offensive line instability in training camp.

"But when those guys are healthy, they can come off the ball. And you know what the Jets want to do, they want to run the football. I know the explosive plays will come from (Santonio) Holmes, they'll come from Burress. You'll probably try to get plays to (Jeremy) Kerley on the outside with the bubble screens and get him in space, but I think the key is going to be the offensive line.

"If Bill Callahan can keep that group together, keep them healthy, I think they can surpass the Patriots."