TANNENBAUM'Sbelief in developing players within the Jets' system mirrors his ownascent," reads the bio of Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum in thisyear's team media guide. Times change. Philosophies, too .. . unless you figurethat Brett Favre and a few tons of imported muscle along the offensive anddefensive lines pass for development within the Jets' system.
For many yearsthe club was known to avoid trades and free-agent pickups. ("Taking onother people's problems," Weeb Ewbank, their Super Bowl III coach, calledit.) Starting in 1970, the first year the AFC sent players to the Pro Bowl, theonly Jets who made that trip, for 23 years, were their own draft choices.
Now the big moneyhas gone to outsiders.
First the Jetstraded for Kris Jenkins, a Pro Bowl defensive tackle late of the Panthers, andplugged him in at nosetackle. Big name, new position. "Stay stout, let 'emcome. I should be able to handle it," Jenkins says. Realistically, they'recounting on him for 30 snaps a game.
August 31, 2008
They got rid oftwo O-line starters from last year and filled their hand with left guard AlanFaneca, a perennial Pro Bowl player who cost the team $21 million in guaranteedfunds, and right tackle Damien Woody, $11 million guaranteed, who made the ProBowl as a 25-year-old center six years ago. Since then he has bounced around,from the Patriots to the Lions and now to the Jets, from center to right guardto right tackle.
Calvin Pace, aformer Cardinals outside linebacker, also represents a change of direction, inthat he's fairly young at 27, and versatile. Think of Adalius Thomas heading tothe Patriots last year, and you've got an idea of Pace's projected role. NewYork brought in 36-year-old fullback Tony Richardson, a year younger than coachEric Mangini, and tight end Bubba Franks, Favre's 30-year-old goal-linereceiver at Green Bay.
And then kaboom!The foreign legion had a leader. Favre's move has been well-documented and willcontinue to be so until he finally packs it in. It has been a scene all right:the overloaded bleachers at practice, the cheering (no booing yet), theafternoon he ran a punishment lap because he fumbled a snap, his teammates'reaction—"He's just like one of us."
But what exactlydo we have before us when we examine this team that traditionally relied onhome cooking and now is dining out every night? Jenkins and Woody? Sturdypeople, but on the downside of their careers. Faneca? At 30 a few cracks werestarting to show last season with the Steelers. Not as light-footed as he usedto be but still a big upgrade for the Jets at the position. Richardson andFranks? Aging veterans.
Pace? Ah, that'sthe pickup old-timers in the know nod their heads and wink at. Might be thebest of the bunch. On the rise, active, aggressive. Can steer tight ends out oftheir routes, rush from the edge. Watch this guy.
And now Favre.When the Jets got rid of Chad Pennington, they were unloading the most accuratepasser in NFL history. But he couldn't zip the ball 65 yards on a line, asFavre did to tumultuous cheers at an Aug. 10 practice. Pennington's a terrificguy, but he's coming off a bad ankle in '07 and shoulder surgery before that.Favre's never missed a start.
The question is,how difficult will it be for Favre to catch on to the Jets' system, a versionof the West Coast attack. "It's not etched in stone," Mangini says ofhis offense. "It will be tailored to his talents."
Are we seeinghere a set of building blocks for the future, or a one-year fix for the Jets,two at the most? This might not be the definitive year to find out. Theschedule is soft, with only five games against teams that had winning recordsin 2007. New York will be better than last year's 4--12. A 10--6 playoff yearis not far-fetched. But after that, who knows?
PROJECTEDSTARTING LINEUP WITH 2007 STATISTICS COACH ERIC MANGINI (14--18 in NFL), thirdseason the Jets
Damien WOODY --New ACQUISITION
Brett FAVRE --New ACQUISITION
Tony RICHARDSON-- New ACQUISITION
Alan FANECA --New ACQUISITION
SACKS 2 1/2
Kris JENKINS --New ACQUISITION
SACKS 2 1/2
SACKS 1 1/2
Calvin PACE --New ACQUISITION
SACKS 6 1/2
2007 RECORD 4--12NFL RANK (Rush/Pass/Total): OFFENSE 19/25/26 DEFENSE 29/9/18
7 at Miami
14 NEW ENGLAND
22 at San Diego (M)
19 at Oakland
26 KANSAS CITY
2 at Buffalo
9 ST. LOUIS
13 at New England (T)
23 at Tennessee
7 at San Francisco
21 at Seattle
(M) Monday (T) Thursday
NFL Rank: 25
Opponents' 2007 winning percentage: .457
Games against playoff teams: 5
SI.com's NFL personnel expert Michael Lombardievaluates the Jets' units.
Grade will rise if Favre of '07 plays, fall if it's Favre '06.
Jones has not provided the expected boost.
If first-year wideout David Clowney is for real, depth improves.
Rookie Dustin Keller will be the needed pass-catcher.
Question is whether Woody can handle move to right tackle.
Tough and powerful Jenkins will anchor the middle.
Plenty of questions; with rookie Gholston, maybe one big answer.
Rhodes is a standout, but this unit must get deeper.
Solid kicking teams; excellent return man in Justin Miller.
What do you do with a 270-pound linebacker who canrun? Pace played end for three years with Arizona but in '06 moved to outside'backer. He's one of those intriguing types who can play up or down, inside orout. "Sometimes I'll be jamming the tight end," says Pace,"sometimes I'll rush from the edge." Perfect for the Jets' NewEngland--style system.
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EXCERPTED FROM SI
October 17, 1966
AS THE girls come by wearing their miniskirts, netstockings, big false eyelashes, long pressed hair and soulless expressions, hegrins approvingly and says, "Hey, hold it man—foxes." It is Joe WillieNamath at play. Relaxing. Night-timing. The boss mover studying the defensivetendencies of New York's off-duty secretaries, stewardesses, dancers, nurses,bunnies, actresses, shopgirls....
-- Dan Jenkins
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