The Jets public relations department had to work overtime in the past couple of months preparing press releases and scheduling news conferences. The news of free agency aquisitions, and the trades of both a popular player Jonathan Vilma and a high priced player in D. Rob (2 square pegs in Mangini’s round holes) had come non stop.
As far as the draft went Gholston was a no brainer. When your defense has problems putting pressure on the QB, and you are “on the clock” grab the best pass rusher available! However; their was one surprise to a lot of the Jet faithful, and that was moving back into the 1st round to select TE/H-back Dustin Keller.
I personally had a feeling that the TE position was going to be addressed early in this years draft and wasn’t surprised, nor disapointed in the selection. If you watch highlights of Keller you will see why. If he can make the transition to this level, he appears to have the ability to create mismatches that the Jet offense has been lacking at the TE position for over 20 years.
This regime also appears to have learned from last years mistake of not having a replacement for a disgruntled player. As one of the valued members of our forum (Timmy Lam Jones) has stressed in various posts, “we were 4-12 with you..we can go 4-12 without you”. Point is, don’t be shocked if Chris Baker doesn’t make it to training camp. In my opinion, a healthy and rejuvenated Bubba Franks, along with the aforementioned Dustin Keller will hold down the position just fine. However; if Baker does come to his senses, it will be an added bonus.
The teams parade of off-season moves continued to march on with the additions of NT-Kris Jenkins, LG-Alen Faneca, RT-Damien Woody, OLB-Calvin Pace, FB-Tony Richardson, TE-Bubba Franks, RB-Jesse Chatman, as well as “lower tier” players that possibly can use a change of scenery and make the squad in FS-Artrell Hawkins, CB-Andre Woolfolk,and S-Darnell Bing. and a draft class headed by OLB/DE Vernon Gholston, TE-Dustin Keller, and CB-Dwight Lowery. Lest we forget, a new and much deserved contract extension for team leader Kerry Rhodes!
Are these guys dealing with a different salary cap then the rest of the league? Obviosly not, but Tannenbaum has some talent to be able to get all these new contracts under the cap, especially without putting the team in future “cap hell”. Time will tell in a couple of months how well Mangini and his staff can get his “hand-picked” players to adjust to his system and perform at a high level that I’m sure he expects from all of them! No more “mulligans” for Mangini! It’s year 3, he now has “his players” and unloaded a great portion of the one’s that didn’t fit his system. Now its time to win games on a consistent basis.
The Jets are starting to look like a “potential” top shelf team. Granted their are chemistry issues to be concerned with when you add this many new players. But the Jets have added quality players, and what is going on in Hempstead (for the final season) should give even the most skeptical Jet fan a reason for hope in 2008.
In the “mostly” parity laden NFL, they certainly have to be considered a serious playoff contender that can make some noise once they get there. Even with the present uncertainty at the all important QB position, which I feel will play itself out just fine.
So as you can see, the Jets had quite a productive off-season. Now the real work begins in late July when training camp, aka “The Chemistry Lab” gets underway!