Originally Published: September 1, 2013

Mark SanchezDebby Wong/USA TODAY SportsJOHN CLAYTON QB RANKING (31): Mark Sanchez is looking to bounce back from a forgettable 2012. He completed only 54.3 percent of his passes and accounted for 26 turnovers.

Experts' Picks (Consensus: fourth)

Intelligence Report

Five things you need to know about the Jets:

1. Conflicting agendas: Rex Ryan is coming off two straight nonplayoff seasons and has only two years remaining on his contract. In other words, he's on the hot seat. New GM John Idzik has the luxury of thinking long term. This could develop into a now-versus-tomorrow tug-of-war as the Jets navigate what could be a difficult season. There are no outward signs of a rift between Ryan and his new boss, but one could manifest itself with regard to the quarterback situation. Ryan isn't interested in developing Geno Smith for the next coach. He needs a quarterback who can win games -- now.

2. Stockpiling big bodies: The Jets have drafted a defensive lineman in each of the past three first rounds -- Muhammad Wilkerson (2011), Quinton Coples (2012) and Sheldon Richardson (2013). Coples has been moved to outside linebacker, but he'll still have some defensive-line responsibilities when he returns from a fractured ankle, giving Ryan his youngest, most athletic line in five years with the team. The secondary used to be the strength of the defense; not anymore. It's now a front-heavy defense. And we failed to mention Kenrick Ellis, a third-round pick in 2011. Talk about investing your resources in one position.

3. Tricked-up offense: How's this for irony? A year ago, the Jets advertised their plans for Tim Tebow in the Wildcat but never got around to using him -- an embarrassment for everyone involved. Tebow is gone, but the plan remains intact. No, really, the Jets will use the Wildcat. With Wildcat guru David Lee on the coaching staff, they will use RB Bilal Powell and WR Jeremy Kerley behind center. Many folks around the league believe the Wildcat is a dinosaur, but Lee still feels it can be effective. They also could use read-option plays for Smith and, yes, some variations of the Pistol.

4. Rex's D: Ryan is returning to his defensive roots. He's back to being the de facto coordinator, running meetings, preparing game plans and calling plays. He ceded many of the responsibilities in 2011 and 2012 to former coordinator Mike Pettine, but there was friction and Pettine ended up making a lateral move to the Buffalo Bills. Ryan will bring back the aggressive mentality, so look for the blitz numbers to soar. The question is, will he become so consumed with the defense that he'll forget to coach the rest of the team?

5. Spoiled rotten: Since the mid-1990s, the Jets have been blessed with a great run of running backs, from Curtis Martin to Thomas Jones to LaDainian Tomlinson -- albeit the twilight version of Tomlinson. In fact, this marks the first year since 1994 they've opened a season without a back who has rushed for 1,000 yards in a season. They'll be relying on talented but unproven players such as Chris Ivory and Powell. It's imperative that they establish a running game because it will take pressure off the quarterback, whether it's Mark Sanchez or Smith. New coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is a pass-oriented coach, so it'll be interesting to see whether he stays committed to a ground game.

-- Rich Cimini, ESPN.com

Inside The Numbers

The Jets made the AFC Championship Game in Rex Ryan's first two seasons as head coach using a ground-and-pound style of offense. The Jets called designed rushes on nearly 53 percent of their plays in those two seasons and averaged 4.4 yards per rush.

In the past two seasons the Jets' rushing game deteriorated. Not only did the Jets rush less frequently (under 44 percent of plays), they rushed less effectively as well, averaging 3.8 yards per designed rush.

Part of the problem has been an inability to run through contact. The Jets ranked 26th in average yards after contact on rushes the past two seasons after ranking eighth in Ryans first two seasons.

In the offseason the Jets traded for former Saints running back Chris Ivory and allowed Shonn Greene to hit free agency. The move could help return the Jets to a run-first mentality.

Although he has only 256 rushes in his career, Ivory has shown an ability to get extra yardage. Ivory has averaged 2.4 yards per rush after first contact in his first three seasons, the fifth-highest rate for any running back with 200 attempts since 2010. Last season Ivory averaged 3.6 yards after contact on 40 rushes.

During that same time, Greene averaged 1.7 yards per rush after contact, never eclipsing a 2.0-yard average in a season.

If Ivory can translate his success to a full workload, the Jets could run their way back into contention.

-- ESPN Stats & Information


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