?The Jets won't be the same without nosetackle Jason Ferguson, a free agent who left for the Cowboys. He's one of the league's best. He kept blockers off the undersized Vilma. "He did the dirty work," Vilma says. "I got the glory." The dirty work will be done by committee now.
?The Jets will struggle with clock management. Last year they were so concerned about it that they turned one of their assistants, Dick Curl, into a clockologist, a time-study specialist. He stood next to Edwards on the sideline, and they still butchered the clock. They also made some weird crunch-time decisions, most of which involved playing it safe, being satisfied with a field goal rather than trying to win a game boldly, aggressively, the way a young team should. In the divisional playoffs against the Steelers, the Jets took a knee to set up a 43-yard field goal--and missed--instead of going for the winning touchdown, or at least a closer shot for their kicker. Whew!
The Jets can't help but be good, given their personnel. But which is it going to be? Very good, or pretty good? --P.Z.
Adrian Jones, a fourth-round draft pick in 2004, wasn't part of the offense last year. But after free-agent right tackle Kareem McKenzie left for the Giants in the off-season, Jones was plugged into that spot. "Really light on his feet," center Kevin Mawae says of the 6'4", 303-pound converted tight end. "His toughness? Well, every day in practice he goes against Shaun Ellis, and that'll toughen a guy up in a hurry." Says Jones, "I'd rather protect the quarterback than catch his passes."
AN OPPOSING SCOUT'S VIEW
They haven't drafted a player or acquired a free agent who's gone on to the Pro Bowl since the Bill Parcells era, which ended four years ago. Yet they keep making the grandstand play--trading way up for Dewayne Robertson two years ago, signing Ty Law this year. Law was a gamble they had to take, but he's old and he's coming back from a very bad injury for a cornerback. He's the ultimate mercenary, but when he's on the field, he plays his butt off.... Let's not be too critical. They've done a good job picking up talent at the second level and coaching it up to where some of those guys are really playing well.... I think Chad Pennington's shoulder will be O.K., but I'll bet early on they stay away from plays where he has to make a hard throw, such as a sideline route. The long throws down the middle aren't as tough on the arm.... I like their offensive line. Losing right tackle Kareem McKenzie wasn't as big a deal as some people think.... Victor Hobson and Eric Barton played better than I thought they would last year, and the Jets' secondary will be better now that they stopped kidding themselves with Terrell Buckley as their nickelback. He simply killed them.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP with 2004 statistics
2004 RECORD: 10--6