Jets camp preview: Upgraded o-line will go long way
Editor's note: These camp previews are up to date as of the start of preseason games. For the latest changes since then, check our updated rankings, projections and profiles.
Good for the New York Jets. Here's a team that won only four games in 2007 yet has to feel good about its offseason. Fantasy owners used to be scared to draft players from this team. Who wanted Thomas Jones? Jerricho Cotchery had numbers, but he'd be selected far later than others with similar production. And don't even ask about who was slingin' the ball, the tight ends or the team defense. Is there any other team that was more ignored in fantasy last season than the Jets?
Brett Favre is going to change all this, along with Alan Faneca. The team's two biggest offseason pickups will alter everything for the Jets and fantasy owners. The former Packer has a cannon for an arm, and the former Steeler is a rock at left guard. They make the entire offense better, and their work ethic should help the team all-around. They improve Jones or, if Jones can't handle the role, someone else in the backfield. And they help the perception of the Jets, the 4-12 team that could jump right to playoff contention. All thanks to a quarterback and left guard.
New York Jets
Two big additions to the offensive line should improve Thomas Jones' TD numbers, but the passing game is still a question mark.
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Fitting in: Thomas Jones doesn't need to have a great training camp because he's the starter, but coach Eric Mangini does have options in case Jones falters. Jesse Chatman bolted Miami for East Rutherford, and Musa Smith was picked up from the Ravens as well. What must Leon Washington be thinking? Anyway, this cannot be good for Jones, unless the reason he was allergic to the end zone last year was motivation. It wasn't. Blame the line. Jones was actually 10th in the league in rushing yards, so he's not done yet. Watch to see how Chatman and Smith fit in, and what this means for perennial sleeper pick Washington, who might not even keep his third-down role. And don't assume any one of these running backs pulls double duty at fullback; Tony Richardson was given big money to handle that job, -- yet another reason to think Jones is a solid bounce-back option, if people want to take the chance.
On the line: We've addressed this a bit already, but let's name more names. Faneca will play next to Ferguson, and while he can't add weight to the third-year underachiever, he has to have an effect. Nick Mangold is yet another former first-rounder who needs to be pushed. Damien Woody is the new right tackle. It's one thing to give big money to Faneca, but when the Jets went after Woody as well, it was another sign of how badly the team needed to upgrade and how it needed credibility. Mission should be accomplished.
There will be quite a few new faces in Jets camp this summer, and they'll definitely be under the microscope. The line still needs to jell as a unit, and Brett Favre must quickly pick up the offense and be effective to keep defenses from crowding the box against Jones. Mangini did more with less in 2006, sneaking the Jets into the playoffs. Watch him mold this team together fast, and I'm guessing Jones will move up draft lists slowly with all the positive words coming from Hofstra University later this month.