Jets offense never lived up to expectations

The Sports Xchange
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Within a span of a few days last August, Plaxico Burress predicted the Jets' offense could score 28 to 30 points a game, and coach Rex Ryan said he believed slot receiver Derrick Mason could finish the season with 80 to 90 receptions.

Well, much like Ryan's Super Bowl promises, those predictions didn't come close to coming true. Mason had only 13 catches in five games before being banished to Houston in a trade on Oct. 11. And the Jets scored more than 27 points only four times, and averaged 23.6 per game.

Despite the presence of big names such as Burress and wide receiver Santonio Holmes, the Jets offense underachieved, finishing 25th in the league in total yardage. Worse yet, although he threw a career-high 26 touchdown passes, third-year quarterback Mark Sanchez seemed to regress.

Still, the Jets' brass has said Sanchez will be the opening-day starter in 2012, although they have indicated they likely will bring in a veteran backup to be the second-stringer.

In training camp, Ryan and the offensive assistant coaches all claimed that Sanchez understood the offense better than anyone on the team, yet they eliminated some plays during the offseason after the 2010 campaign. Translation: they dumbed it down.

Even so, Ryan said in a recent interview that some of the "verbiage" in the offense was too complex for Sanchez to comprehend. Presumably, new coordinator Tony Sparano's system will use easier nomenclature.

Certainly it will be more run oriented. While Sparano was Miami's head coach for three years, the Dolphins used a lot of Wildcat plays, and also featured a controlled short passing game. Yes, they took some shots downfield, but mostly off play-action.

The Jets had three offensive linemen selected for the Pro Bowl, left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, center Nick Mangold and right guard Brandon Moore. Yet Sanchez was sacked 39 times and the running game was inconsistent at best. Right tackle Wayne Hunter struggled at times in his first season as a full-time starter, but the Jets did not cut him by Wednesday, which means his 2-12 salary is guaranteed.

Still, Hunter likely won't be penciled in as the starter immediately. He likely will compete with Vladimir Ducasse, a 2010 second-round pick who, thus far, has had a difficult time adjusting to the speed of the pro game. He definitely was hurt by the lockout because he could have benefited from extra teaching during the spring.

Holmes is owed $15.25 million in guaranteed money, $7.75 in guaranteed 2012 salary, and a $7.5 roster bonus that kicked in because he wasn't cut by Wednesday. So unless the Jets can find a team willing to obtain Holmes in a trade, which is highly unlikely, they will be stuck with him in 2012. Ryan must get Holmes to be a productive, unselfish member of the offense, or the locker room again could be as toxic as it was last season.

Burress was productive in the red zone, but not a factor elsewhere on the field. Both sides appear ready to move on, which means the Jets will be in the market for another starting wideout, either in free agency or the draft.

Tight end Dustin Keller is entering the final year of his contract. He was the Jets' most consistent receiver in 2012, but the question becomes whether he can block well enough to fit into Sparano's offense. Shonn Greene, entering his fourth season, again will be the feature back. Joe McKnight is expected to step into LaDainian Tomlinson's role as third-down back. Tomlinson, whose two-year contract has expired, is not expected to return.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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