Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Jets regular-season wrap-up
By Tim Graham
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.
Final Power Ranking: 8
Preseason Power Ranking: 9
Linebacker David Harris led the Jets with 119 tackles this season.
Biggest surprise:LaDainian Tomlinson was supposed to limp into the sunset when he left the San Diego Chargers. The Jets were criticized for dumping their 2009 MVP, Thomas Jones, and picking up an older player with lower expectations. But Tomlinson showed he still had plenty to offer. He took over the lead duties from Shonn Greene and carried the Jets to a 5-1 record at their bye. He had 490 rushing yards with five touchdowns and averaged 5.3 yards a carry at the time. But more importantly he took pressure off sophomore quarterback Mark Sanchez. When Tomlinson's production waned after the bye -- he hasn't rushed for more than 55 yards in a game since -- Sanchez became more of a liability. Tomlinson finished with 914 yards and probably would have eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark had Rex Ryan not rested him for Sunday's game against the gracious Buffalo Bills run defense.
Biggest disappointment: If you drafted the Jets in your fantasy scandal league, then you ran away with the title. They led the league in NFL investigations, including Brett Favre's sexting scandal with Jenn Sterger, the Jets' admitted mistreatment of female reporter Ines Sainz and $100,000 in fines over setting up a sideline wall that led to strength coach Sal Alosi tripping Miami Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll. They drew even more unwanted attention over Ryan's purported foot-fetish videos and Braylon Edwards' DUI arrest. ... Purely from a football standpoint, Ryan's defense didn't live up to the hype. Top cornerback Darrelle Revis' contract standoff and hamstring injury caused a negative ripple effect. Season-ending injuries to nose tackle Kris Jenkins and safety Jim Leonhard were damaging.
Biggest need: The Jets will have some difficult roster decisions to make over the offseason because so many players have expiring contracts. The biggest holes might not reveal themselves for a while, but upgrading the offensive line will be a priority regardless. Jenkins has undergone reconstructive knee surgery two years in a row. Sione Pouha was an admirable replacement. Overachiever Mike Devito was solid at defensive tackle, and Shaun Ellis was one of their better quarterback chasers. But Ryan's defense needs to be more dynamic up front, especially if Jenkins doesn't return. Ellis will turn 34 and Pouha 31 before next season. Their top backup at defensive end is Vernon Gholston, the sixth overall draft pick in 2008 who has zero NFL sacks.
Team MVP:David Harris, inside linebacker. Other Jets might have played like bigger MVPs for segments of the season -- Tomlinson through the first six games, Santonio Holmes in November -- but Harris was the most constant and consistent presence. Harris led the Jets with 119 tackles and 14 quarterback hits. He had three sacks, one forced fumble and one recovery. Harris also is one the Jets' quieter personalities, which earns him bonus points for 2010.
Yardage by committee: The Jets' offense features several decorated players, but none of them reached the 1,000-yard barrier and none scored more than seven touchdowns. Tomlinson came closest, but Greene appeared to supplant him toward the end of the season. The Jets had five players with at least 41 receptions, but none with more than 55. Tight end Dustin Keller, Edwards, Holmes and Tomlinson finished within three catches and two touchdowns of each other.