A look at New York's philosophy, team needs and a key free-agent move
Offense -- This will be an interesting offense to watch as the season unfolds. We know that Rex Ryan wanted to have a run-oriented offense a year ago to complement his aggressive defense, but he did not have the personnel to get it done. Under former coordinator Tony Sparano this offense seemed to have little creativity and there was no flow to it. Ryan replaced Sparano with ex-Eagles coach Marty Mornhinweg -- which is an interesting choice because he is a West Coast proponent and Philadelphia's offense was probably 60-40 in the pass-run ratio.
However, what a lot of people don't realize is that Mornhinweg likes to run the ball a lot more than most West Coast offenses, so the Jets will likely have more balance than expected. He will throw a lot of underneath and crossing routes with occasional deep shots off play-action and misdirection -- and screen plays will have a role in this offense. But most importantly this will be a smarter, assignment-oriented offense.
Defense -- Dennis Thurman is the new coordinator, but this is still Ryan's defense and the scheme will be the same. It will be a basic 3-4 package with some 4-3 looks to occasionally fit better with the personnel. As much as Ryan has a reputation as a blitz-happy coach, the Jets do not attack as much as you might think; when they can drop seven defenders into coverage they are better off. They will play games up front, will line up in a lot of tight man schemes on the back end and they even have a 4-2-5 look that they can use as their base package at times. We might even see some of Buddy Ryan's old 4-6 schemes with some overload looks. They will confuse offenses with different alignments before the snap.
1. Outside linebacker -- In this 3-4 scheme the pressure is expected to come from the outside linebackers, but to Ryan's credit he has done it for years with smoke and mirrors. Can you imagine how much more productive this defense would be with edge pressure to complement its solid cover corners? The only real quality player across this entire front is defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. With so many needs on both sides of the ball and limited money to spend, the Jets should stay with their only recent recipe for success, which is to continue to build their defense and bring along the offense as fast as possible, which won't be easy. They Jets have almost nothing at this position right now and they need at least one, and possibly two, impact starters.
2. Quarterback -- This position has disaster written all over it and it doesn't look as though there are a lot of easy answers to fix it. Can the Jets live with Mark Sanchez for another year while they fix other areas of this team, or do they bite the bullet now and try a quarterback makeover in 2013? With a sputtering run game and limited passing weapons, the challenge for a productive quarterback position is huge. You would think that the Jets would much prefer finding a quality unrestricted veteran to either compete with Sanchez or replace him, but the financial restraints will make that tough to do.
3. Safety -- The back end of this defense will require some serious attention in free agency and the draft, especially with the Jets now actively shopping Darrelle Revis. The coaches got everything they expected out of veteran starters free safety LaRon Landry and strong safety Yeremiah Bell, but both guys are unrestricted free agents and both could be gone. Bell is 35 years old and near the end of his career and Landry will likely leave for a more lucrative deal than the contract the Jets can offer him.
4. Wide receiver -- This offense has virtually no playmakers for whoever is at quarterback, and the vertical passing game is almost nonexistent. There are names in this unit, but the Jets need a No. 1 speed receiver and none of their current receivers on the outside can create separation.
5. Offensive line -- Two-fifths of the line, center Nick Mangold and left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, is solid, but after that the Jets need youth and depth at either guard or right tackle. This unit is closer to needing a makeover than most people realize.
6. Nose tackle -- Age and injuries have caught up to starter Sione Pouha, and backup Kenrick Ellis failed to impress when he replaced him. This is a key position in this defense and right now the coaches can't count on either player.
-- Gary Horton
Key free-agent move
Victor Butler, LB, UFA
The Jets are in the midst of overhauling their roster and are constricted by a number of poorly constructed contracts that leave them limited in what they can spend this offseason.
Butler isn't a high-profile name, but he's a player ready to make starting contributions after playing behind DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer in Dallas for Rex Ryan's twin brother, Rob.
Butler has good quickness off the edge and was productive in a rotational role down the stretch in 2012, finishing with three sacks and three forced fumbles in the final nine games of the season.
He's just 25 years old and would give the Jets a natural rush player to help build their defense around. Quinton Coples should be improved in his second year, and the Jets will count on the continued development of other youngsters along the defensive front.
There's no shortage of offensive needs for the Jets, but landing a player in Butler who can help bolster a defense that slipped to 20th in points allowed in 2012 would be a feather in the cap of new GM John Idzik.
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Offseason Playbook: Jets ESPN Insider
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