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|2002 RECORD: 9-7
TEAM RANK (NFL): Defense (24th); Offense (22nd)
Free agents -- WR Phil McGeoghan (Broncos), G Tom Nutten (Rams), WR Curtis Conway (Chargers), K Doug Brien (Vikings), P Dan Stryzinski (Chiefs), DB Tyrone Carter (Vikings), WR Albert Johnson (Dolphins).
Draft picks -- 1. DT Dewayne Robertson (Kentucky); 2. LB Victor Hobson (Michigan); 3. RB B.J. Askew (Michigan); 5a. S Derek Pagel (Iowa); 5b. DT Matt Walters (Miami); 6. QB Brooks Bollinger (Wisconsin); 7. OT Dave Yovanovits (Temple).
S Damien Robinson (Seahawks), DE Steve White (released), K John Hall (Redskins), P Matt Turk (released), FB Richie Anderson (Cowboys), LB James Darling (Cardinals), OG Randy Thomas (Redskins), WR Laveranues Coles (Redskins), KR Chad Morton (Redskins), QB Todd Husak (released).
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Will they be able to overcome yet another year of drastic personnel moves?
It's becoming tougher because the odds are working against Herman Edwards. He's done a remarkable job of motivating in back-to-back playoff seasons, but the AFC East title of a year ago has come back to haunt the Jets. They have the league's toughest schedule because of their first-place finish. They face teams with a 137-117-1 records, including 12 games against squads that had .500 or better records. They are doing it with a thinner team. Curtis Conway has to replace Laveranues Coles, who had 89 catches and 1,264 yards, and the three-receiver offense doesn't have the luxury of having an injury. Special teams are a little shakier with the departures of return specialist Chad Morton and kicker John Hall. Doug Brien has to be as effective as Hall. Still, don't ever count out the Jets. Edwards made the playoffs with Chad Pennington taking over for Vinny Testaverde at quarterback and Curtis Martin not having his best season in 2002. Dewayne Robertson should add excitement to the defensive line. Linebacker Sam Cowart should be that much more of a factor in his second season in the defense. The schedule and the loss of players to the Washington Redskins have just cut down the margin of error and made the challenge tougher.
What they've added?
The biggest offseason acquisition the Jets made was drafting mammoth defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson from Kentucky. Robertson has been compared to Bucs All-Pro Warren Sapp, and the Jets traded up to snatch him, swapping their No. 13 and No. 22 picks in the first round with the Bears for the No. 4 selection.
The Jets will miss the receiving production that Laveranues Coles provided. He had a breakout season last year with 1,264 yards, helped by great chemistry with quarterback Chad Pennington. The Jets signed Curtis Conway to replace Coles, but he won't put up the same strong stats. Conway is strictly a deep threat while Coles is a versatile receiver who runs effective short, medium and deep routes. The Jets will also depend on third-year wideout Santana Moss to help compensate for the departure of Coles to the Redskins. Since Conway has missed 12 games in the past four seasons, he's an injury risk, too. Look elsewhere for a starting fantasy receiver.
-- Roger Rotter, ESPN.com Fantasy editor
What they're missing?
Pennington is missing a go-to guy, at least for now. Coles came into the league the same year as Pennington and had developed a strong chemistry with him. It remains to be seen if Conway can fill that role. Wayne Chrebet is a third receiver whose production has declined in recent years. And much-heralded former first-round pick Santana Moss showed flashes last year, but still had only 30 catches. Coles had more receptions for more yardage than Chrebet and Moss combined last season.
What it all means?
The Jets will get an opportunity to go right at the Redskins, the team that poached so many of their players away, on the opening night of the NFL season, Thursday Sept. 4. They go on to play a tough schedule, in perhaps the most competitive division in football. It won't be easy to return to the playoffs, let alone repeat as division champs.
Kieran Darcy works for ESPN The Magazine.