Work in Sports
New York Jets
Groh faces ultimate comparisons to predecessor
The New York Jets, who had an unprecedented four first-round choices in April's draft, opened their 2000 training camp at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on July 13. Here are a few questions from Sports Illustrated's Dr. Z, followed by CNNSI.com's perspective on some of the issues facing the J-E-T-S this season. SI's season preview will post Aug. 23.
Dr. Z wants to know:
1.) Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells' longtime first lieutenant, chose not to coach the team with his old boss looking over his shoulder, so he moved to New England. Will Al Groh, another old Parcells' assistant, come to appreciate the wisdom of Belichick's ways?
2.) Can you replace Keyshawn Johnson by committee, and how serious, really, were the Carl Pickens talks, if there really were any at all?
3.) Can a pair of No. 1 drafts on defense, Shaun Ellis and John Abraham, solve the pass-rush problems all by themselves?
4.) How much will the Jets miss Belichick's defensive brainstorming?
The Jets can make the playoffs if ... Al Groh is as good a coach, motivator and disciplinarian as his predecessor, Bill Parcells; and if Jets players have gotten past the trade of Keyshawn Johnson and the three draft rounds it took the team to address it.
Pivotal games: Sept. 11 vs. New England, Sept. 24 at Tampa Bay. The Jets-Patriots rivalry heats up again for the Week 2 edition of Monday Night Football at the Meadowlands. Two weeks later, the Jets travel to Tampa, where they will take on former teammate Keyshawn Johnson.
On the hot seat: Sean Dawkins/Yatil Green/Andre Hastings/Carl Pickens, or whomever the Jets pick up to start where Johnson left off. Throwing Johnson the (damn) ball helped make Ray Lucas a top story in 1999, but one of the AFC's best receivers is now one of the NFC's best receivers. No one will fully replace "Key," and anyone given the chance to try will be criticized.
Up-and-comers: Receiver Windrell Hayes (fifth-round pick) made a good first impression on Groh and reports have said the former Trojan looked more comfortable running routes and catching the ball than did third-round, faster-than-Deion wideout Laveranues Coles. First-round pick Shaun Ellis' May mini-camp fight showed Groh ample intensity, but the coach said another fight would indicate Ellis was a "hothead." As early mini-camp progressed, the Jets continued to see their second first rounder John Abraham as a situational pass-rusher. One player who may get some more attention than he did under Parcells is fourth-year running back Jerald Sowell, who will compete for the job of backup to Curtis Martin.