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Around The AFC East: New York Jets

Time for part 2 of this week's installment of ATAFCE.

And now we welcome in Brian Bassett of The Jets Blog:

Matty I: I was just checking in at your site and I saw you defending the idea that the Jets can win 10 games in '08.  Personally, I see the Jets at 8-8 (at best).  So make your case to me and to Dolphin fans as to why the Jets can win 10+ games this season.

Brian B: Well ... they go to the playoffs in every even numbered year, so they're due!  :)  Seriously, I'm no Ben Matlock, but I'll do my best to make my case here. 

In 2006, the team that had an easy record and went to the playoffs still had many needs: 

1) A shutdown corner
2) A better linebacking corp (inside and out)
3) Another legitimate receiver to eventually replace Coles
4) Mid-term upgrades to the offensive line
5) Building a true 3-4 line rather than a 3-4/4-3 hybrid that could stop the run

Since then the team has

1) Drafted Darrelle Revis in 2007, an emerging shutdown corner
2) Drafted David Harris in 2007, who's projected numbers last season as a 16 game starter would have been better than Patrick Willis' along with adding free agent linebacker Calvin Pace and 2008 draftee Vernon Gholston
3) Drafted TE (not a traditional blocking TE though granted) Dustin Keller in 2008 creating a mismatch in the slot/flank without displacing Laveranues Coles ... yet.
4) Added LG Alan Faneca, arguably the best non-franchised free agent in 2008 along with Damien Woody to replace the abysmal Anthony Clement at RT
5) Added Kenyon Coleman to the RDE in 2007, along with Kris Jenkins in 2008 at Nose Tackle.

Last year the loss of LG Pete Kendall ... just one player ... but "the last straw" exposed a lot of the Jets' weaknesses, which continued to spiral the situation out of control.  The team's foolish contract dispute with Pete Kendall over a million dollars got Pennington injured in Week 1 against the Patriots, which caused the offense to sputter (not enough first downs) and which exposed the transitioning defense horribly, where they stayed on the field too long (not enough third down stops) without sustained drives from the offense helping them out.  The team eventually went to backup Kellen Clemens to give the kid QB more experience, and it got even worse for a time, while he scrambled from pass-rushers, and got knocked around more than most any QB in the league last season.

Over the past three offseasons, the organization has spent a lot of resources putting the players in place to reflect their desired team through the draft, free-agency, cutting and trading players, etc.  This offseason has now put a team in place that the front office has felt the most confident in for the first time in three years.  There's a few things to note first stats-wise.  The Jets lost 7 of their 12 games in 2007 by less than 7 points, and coupled with that, the team reversed their 2006 numbers around converting third downs (sustained drives) on offense and defense (third down stops). 

With upgrades at five starting positions on the team from last season, the third down conversion trend could change in 2008, leading to more sustained drives and defensive stops, leading to closer games, leading to more wins.  I'm no numbers guru, but if the team's upgrades can cause just half of those close games to be wins, that puts them at 7 wins already on that fact alone.  It's the other 2-3 wins that will be harder to come by.

Looking at the schedule, with the roster moves made in the offseason, I see the team as slight better than .500, with a chance to stretch it slighty.  I'd say that playoffs aren't out of the question, but things have to fall right.  Most notably:

  1. Starting off the season well.  The team faces NE & SD in Weeks 2 & 3, they need to win one of those weeks to be a contender.
  2. The team needs to at least .500 in the division ... no small feat with the Patriots coming off a 16-0 season, along with a strengthened Buffalo and Miami teams from last season.

My Take: I follow Brian's logic here and it makes a lot of sense.  But football doesn't follow logic.  A lot of times prior to the start of seasons, I'll do the same thing Brian did above but for the Dolphins.  And I make solid, logical cases as to why the Dolphins will have a record of "x-x."  However, the season never seems to play out that way.  Instead, it's usually my gut which is more accurate.  Like last year, I could make a case for the Dolphins to go 8-8.  Hell, they won 6 games th year before.  So why not, right?  But my gut was warning me all along and I failed to recognize it.  As it turns out, my gut (which screamed 5-11 at best) was much more accurate than my logic.

So with the Jets, my gut is screaming 7 or 8 wins in 2008.  And if I do my own logic, I could probably find a way to get to those 8 or 9 losses that my gut is telling me.  But that's the fun in all this, at this point in the offseason.  This is when we got to discus and debate and argue all we want.  So I think Brian for really giving us a solid explanation of why he thinks the Jets can win 10 games.

And be sure to head over to The Jets Blog for my response to his question.

Back with the conclusion in a little...