Jets Need Offense to Step Up This Season

The Jets are known for their defense, but Mark Sanchez and the offense will need to step up this year to make the team a viable Super Bowl candidate.

Last year, the offense was powered by the NFL’s best running game, led by over 1,400 yards from Thomas Jones. Even though Jones is gone, the Jets have plenty of wheels in the backfield.  Second-year standout Shonn Greene will take over the starting role and should continue to impress. Greene rushed for 540 yards on 108 carries during the regular season and 340 yards on 54 carries in the postseason.

If Greene ever needs a breather, possible future Hall of Famer LaDanian Tomlinson showed this preseason that he still has something left in the tank. Combine the tandem of Greene and Tomlinson with an excellent offensive line, and the Jets could have as strong a ground attack as last year.

The passing game, however, remains the indeterminate variable. While Sanchez showed promise against the Colts in the playoffs last January, Indy’s 24 unanswered points to close out the game indicate that he still has a ways to go.

This year, Sanchez will continue to build rapport with slot receiver Jerrico Cotchery and solid pass-catching tight end Dustin Keller. Plus, Tomlinson can be a dangerous weapon out of the backfield.

But the real wild cards on New York’s offense are the top two wideouts, Braylon Edwards and newcomer Santonio Holmes. If everything goes right, the two could transform Sanchez from a game manager to a gunslinger, making the Jets one of the sexier teams in the league.

On the other hand, Edwards could succumb to his ego, and Holmes could continue to have off-field troubles, which would really put a damper on the Jets. Holmes already is suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, so until he returns, Edwards needs to show he can be the go-to guy.

Holmes has looked fantastic in the preaseason, stretching the defense and making tough catches, which could be a sign that the rest of the offense will receive a generous boost. When he was with Pittsburgh, Holmes missed a total of four games in four years, and in those games, Ben Roethlisberger averaged a quarterback rating of 78.6 compared to his career average of 91.7.

Yet in the three games that Holmes played with a different quarterback, his yardage per game only dropped from 63.9 to 59.3, and he scored in two out of those three games. While the sample size for these stats is small, they still indicate that Holmes has the ability to play well with any quarterback and can increase a quarterback’s production (he has 20 touchdown catches in 60 career games). That bodes well for Sanchez and the Jets.

The main problem with the Jets’ offense is that there are a lot of “ifs.” If Holmes stays out of trouble, if Edwards fulfills his potential, if Sanchez and Greene mature, and if Tomlinson stays productive, the Jets will have a well-rounded team.

But if any of those of pieces never come to fruition, the Jets most likely will fall short like they did last year.

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