Itís just hours away from Jets Football 2005 and we thought it would be fun to survey the sports experts on staff and a few outside the staff to see how they feel about the Jetsí upcoming season.
In addition to predictions from our own staff, we surveyed several sports experts in the Print, Radio and TV community. Here is what they had to say about the 2005 NY Jets.
MARK CANNIZZARO: Jets Insider.com/NY Post Jets Writer
The Jets will take the next step in Herman Edwards' program and win the AFC East with an 11-5 record and advance to the AFC Championship game.
Chad Pennington will stay healthy for the firs time in his career and help the Jets to a strong start despite a more difficult schedule than the team faced a year ago.
Curtis Martin will again seem ageless and rush for close to 1,500 yards. Receiver Laveranues Coles will again have that special synergy with Pennington and have a big year, as well receiver Justin McCareins have a better 2005 under new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger. Look for receiver Wayne Chrebet to have a rebirth under Heimerdinger and become a third-down threat again.
Defensively, look for linebacker Jonathan Vilma to emerge as the leader of the group, if not the team. A slimmed down Victor Hobson will be better in space at linebacker.
With success come more challenges. Look for the Jets to very possibly lose defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson to the head coaching ranks after the season after a second consecutive highly-ranked Jets' defense draws much attention.
KEVIN NEWELL: Jets Insider.com Senior Writer
Following the Jets-Giants inter-squad practice, a day in which Gang Green took some liberties with Big Blue, Giants coach Tom Coughlin called the experience ďa lesson in intensity and speed.Ē
For long suffering Jets fans, those two words must have seemed foreign. Never have intensity and speed been part of a word association with the green and white. Inept and slow have been more like it. But that has all changed under the direction of Terry Bradway and Herman Edwards as they enter their fifth season at the helm. Say hello to Jets Version 2005.
Having come this close to advancing to the AFC Championship Game, the Jets enter this season with some unfinished business and Super Bowl aspirations. The AFC is wide open what with the two-time defending champion Patriots losing both their coordinators and several key players. But like virtually every other team in the NFL, the Jets have question marks of their own on the road to Detroit.
First and foremost, as every Jets fan knows, is the status of Chad Penningtonís right shoulder. Opposing defenses will test him early and often to make the deep throws so crucial in new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdingerís system. Mentally, Pennington may not have complete grasp of the offense for several games. So it will be interesting to see how the team, particularly the defense, responds. Remember, the Jets offense held the fort last season until the defense fully familiarized itself with Donnie Hendersonís philosophy.
Curtis Martin remains the linchpin of the offense. Coming off an NFL rushing title, Martin will be hard-pressed to duplicate the feat. The right side of the offensive line, where Martin likes to run, will get on-the-job training. Second-year tackle Adrian Jones has big shoes to fill with the departure of Kareem McKenzie. Tight end Chris Bakerís blocking will be every bit as important as his pass catching abilities. The Jets can ill afford a couple of injuries on an O-line lacking depth.
Wide receiver Justin McCareins should flourish as he is reunited with Heimerdinger from their days with the Titans. And Pennington can take solace in knowing that old reliable, Laveranues Coles, will once again be his go-to-guy.
Defensively, the team is still searching for someone to fill the void left by Jason Ferguson on the interior line. What makes that even more pressing is that Dewayne Robertson, who appears to be on the verge of greatness, will be playing on a gimpy knee for the remainder of his career. Hopefully John Abrahamís prolonged preseason holdout will result in him staying healthy for a full 16 games and provide a formidable pass rush with Shaun Ellis.
In Jonathan Vilma, Victor Hobson, and Eric Barton, the Jets may possess the best linebacking corps in the NFL. They will have to be all of that and more as the team works All-Pro corner Ty Law and rookie safety Kerry Rhodes into the secondary. Rookie kicker Mike Nugent and first-year punter Ben Graham will have a big say in the teamís success and could be the difference in winning an extra game or two.
It says here Gang Green will post an 11-5 record. The keys will be an early start against three quality opponents in the first four games and drubbing the Pats in two late season games. If the Jets can win the division and secure home field advantage in the playoffs, the skyís the limit.
PETER SCHWARTZ: 1050 ESPN Radio Jets Beat Reporter
The 2005 Jets have a chance to be special with the key word being chance. There are plenty of experts who are pegging Gang Green to unseat the Patriots as AFC East champions. That certainly could be the case if things break there way, but I think the Jets still have some question marks.
The first is obviously Chad Penningtonís right shoulder. How will he bounce back from off-season surgery and how will he adjust to Mike Heimerdingerís offense? We probably wonít see the best of Chad until the midway point of the season. The good news for him is that he will be re-united with Laveraneus Coles. Can they duplicate the magic of 2002? I think so at some point.
John Abrahamís return was expected but how good will he be early and how many plays will he take part in? Also, can he stay healthy for a full season? Thereís no question the Jets are a better team with him on the field so keeping him fresh will be important. The emergence of Bryan Thomas last season means that the Jets can actually take their time with Abraham. Will his contract problems be on his mind? I donít think so. Abraham is a proud player and he will play his butt off because he wants to win.
The Jets made a great deal picking up Ty Law. There isnít a lot of guaranteed money involved and if Law only come close to what he was before the foot injury, the Jets defense will be awesome. But thatís a big if!
All things considered, the Jets are a playoff team. If everything comes together, they will challenge the Pats, but my pick right now is for Gang Green to go 10-6 and be an AFC wild card team. Look for them to go one step further and reach the AFC Title game.
BOB HERZOG: Newsday Staff Sports Writer
Hereís how I see the 2005 NY Jets:
Strengths: Exceptional skill players on offense (Martin, Coles, McCareins) plus three-fifths of a veteran O-line, but need a healthy Chad to make it all work. Defensive ends Ellis and Abraham (again presuming good health) plus linebackers Vilma, Hobson and Barton could make it D as in Dominating. Herm has the coordinators he wants on both sides of the ball.
Weaknesses: We wonder about Adrian Jones at RT, the other DT opposite Robertson and will be the secondary be Law and Disorder? Two rookie kickers are bound to provide some anxious moments.
Prediction: 10-6 at least, a solid second behind New England but a dangerous wild-card team once again.
CJ PAPA: News 55 Long Island Sports Anchor
The Jets will go as far as Chad Pennington and offense takes them.
I do not put much stock in Week 3 of the pre-season when Pennington struggled against the Giants. Chad should thrive in this offense which features the shotgun under Mike Heimerdinger. The burden is on Pennington to play the game instinctively instead of thinking his way through a game. If he can do that the Jets will be fine.
Defensively, Dewayne Robertson must stay healthy. He ties up blockers on the inside and frees up John Abraham and Shaun Ellis who will become more effective as the season goes on.
The Jetsí defense will give up some long plays because of their aggressive style, but this unit will also make big plays too.
Prediction: Even with a brutal final five weeks of the season the Jets will go 11-5 and eventually be playing in Detroit this February.
JAMIE STUART: News 12 Long Island Sports Reporter
The pre-season optimism surrounding this year's Jets reminds me of the optimism entering the '99 season. One half and one torn Achilles tendon later, that season was over.
But this year's Jets should live up to the hype. The defense is the best it's been since the days of the NY Sack Exchange. The offensive line is good, so are the receivers, and yup, so is the coaching staff. Curtis Martin will rush for at least 1,200 yards and if Chad Pennington stays healthy, he'll have a rejuvenated season under new coordinator Mike Heimerdinger.
So what troubles me about Gang Green? In no order, these are the major question marks:
John Abraham's durability.
Ty Law's foot.
The play of tackle Adrian Jones.
With the addition of Heimerdinger and Mike Nugent, the Jets may have shored up their two biggest areas of concern.
Can the Jets win the whole thing? With a break or two, yes.
My prediction: AFC East Champs (12-4) and an eventual loss in AFC Title Game at Indianapolis
JUSTIN PALEY: Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
STRENGTHS: RB Curtis Martin is an ageless wonder and entering his 11th season doesnít show any signs of slowing down. After winning the NFL rushing title last year, Martin should have another good season.
-The starting offensive line led the way for Martin last year and despite the loss of RT Kareem McKenzie, should be solid again this year.
-WR Laveranues Coles and QB Chad Pennington have a connection that neither can quite explain. The two will hook up often throughout the season and Coles is not afraid to go over the middle.
-LB Jonathan Vilma has a year under his belt and will be the leader of the talented linebackers core.
-K Mike Nugent is a rookie and will struggle at times but had a solid preseason and is used to big pressure situations coming from Ohio State. Nugent will make more than his fair share of big kicks.
WEAKNESSES: Pennington is 100% after rotator cuff surgery but he has had to learn a new offense with limited practice. Pennington has said he is not as comfortable with the offense as he thought he would be and coordinator Mike Heimerdinger will have to adjust for Pennington.
-Rookie CB Justin Miller had a difficult preseason as a returner and if his struggles continue during the season, WR Justin McCareins and WR Jerricho Cotchery will be used more.
-The secondary is probably the biggest question mark on defensive coordinator Donnie Hendersonís defense. No player in the secondary has been with the Jets for more than a year. Rookie Kerry Rhodes will start at strong safety after winning the job over Oliver Celestin and Rashad Washington. If CB Ty Law plays a Pro Bowl level, the secondary has the potential to be very good.
PREDICTION: The schedule is tougher than last year but with all the talent the Jets have, they should finish 9-7 and make the playoffs as a Wild Card. Theyíll win the Wild Card game before falling in the divisional playoffs for the second straight year.
JAMES PARZIALE: Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
Take a gander at the names: Chad Pennington, Curtis Martin, Laveranues Coles and Kevin Mawae on offense, to name a few.
Defensively the list continues with John Abraham, Shaun Ellis, Jonathan Vilma and Ty Law. Not bad at all.
The Jets are an upper echelon AFC team and have as good a shot as any to make it to Detroit for Super Bowl XL. But their weakness is the depth behind those marquee names. Every team in the NFL has depth problems, but the Jets play in a bruising division that is the toughest in the League. Plus the Patriots are still the team to beat in the East, let alone the AFC.
The new offense needs time to gel and the Jets end the season at Miami and home with the Patriots and Bills. By then the kinks should be out and we will know how Pennington has adapted to Mike Heimerdingerís offense. The defense, barring any injuries, should be upgraded with a healthy Law and Abraham.
Prediction: 10-6, AFC East Champions and players in the AFC Championship.
SEAN DEEGAN: Jets Insider.com Publisher
As the eternal Jets optimist, itís hard for me not to be excited about the prospects for this 2005 squad. The team has a ton of talent on both sides of the ball as well as intense, aggressive coordinators in Donnie Henderson and Mike Heimerdinger running the show. Itís enough to make a Jets fan giddy!
With Pennington and his favorite target Laveranues Coles back together and healthy, the offense, guided by freak of nature Curtis Martin, will score points. The depth on the offensive line is a bit of concern but yesterdayís signing of T Scott Gragg will make me sleep easier this fall. Overall, it should be a very productive and exciting unit. Chadís shoulder is not a concern. The only problem I see the possibility of him taking a while to get comfortable in Dingerís offense but based on his history, he should be fine.
On defense, the Jets have many studs. Veterans Shaun Ellis, John Abraham and now Jonathan Vilma can single handedly change a game and will make a lot of plays for Henderson. DT Dewayne Robertson came into his own last year and is on track for an AllĖPro season in 2005. Perhaps the best pick up for the Jets last year was LB Eric Barton who seemed to be involved in almost every big defensive play last season. He again should have a solid year.
If there is any concern on defense itís obviously in the secondary. With two youngsters starting at safety in second year FS Eric Coleman and SS Kerry Rhodes there may be some growing pains. However, if Rhodes progresses the same way Coleman did last year, the Jets defense could be downright dominant. Henderson is hoping that the addition of Ty Law to the secondary and his leadership abilities will be a big help to the young safeties.
Overall, the team is loaded. And with all of the changes up in Chowd Town, there has never been a better time to overtake the Champs. I think this is the year the Jets make the most of their opportunity. Look for an 10-6 record (AFC East Champs) and Gang Green going AT LEAST one game further than they did last year and possibly a ticket to Detroit.