Kristian Dyer I think most Jets fans figured that this was a playoff-caliber team and one that could challenge for the AFC East, but that a 5-1 start was a bit more than most could dream of in terms of starts to the season. The most surprising aspect of the season has been the development of Mark Sanchez, from a good game manager last postseason into a true playmaker under center. On the negative side, the league's top defense last year has struggled at times, looking very vulnerable in the game in Miami and giving up too much in terms of ground yardage against Denver, the NFL's worst rushing team.
Bill: During the bye, Rex Ryan said he had his coaches put together a game plan to face themselves. In other words, the defense schemed for the offense and vice-versa. Put on your coordinators hat and tell us how to beat the Jets.
Kristian: Simple. On offense, play ball control. Attack the Jets with your tight ends and run, run, run . Eat up the clock, make them work. This is a good defense but they can be beaten with good, physical football. Run between the tackles and make them rotate along the line, where they are not strong.
The offense is a tricky specimen to scheme against, there is just so much balance. The offensive line has been prone to some bad penalties when blitzed, so I'd attack right up the gaps and force Sanchez to beat me over the top or force him into bad throws (see, for example, the first half in Denver two weeks ago).
Bill: The Jets run the ball about as much as any team but they got Santonio Holmes back from a suspension for their last game. Do they turn Sanchez loose a little or is he still too young and erratic to be trusted, especially with the way the run game is working?
Kristian: I think Sanchez is being turned loose and has been since Week 1. He has lots of targets to work with such as Braylon Edwards, who has been solid this year, and Dustin Keller, who is emerging as the league's best young tight end. With Holmes, they have a player who can stretch the field.
But Ryan is adamant that this is a run-first team, so expect the Jets to strive for a 55-45 balance in the ground game, with a little of their Wildcat mixed in.
Bill: Here's the one thing that would bother me if I'm a Jets fan and the goal is to win the Super Bowl this year. LaDainian Tomlinson is no spring chicken but he's carrying quite a bit of the load. He's obviously been terrific but what happens if he starts wearing down in Week 12 or 13 and starts to play like he did last year in San Diego? Shonn Greene looks overweight and ineffective to me. Then again, maybe I'm just a bitter fantasy football player who has my second-round pick on the bench.
Kristian: It's a great point, mainly because it is one that I made earlier this week. Tomlinson is carrying more than expected but he's just 31 years old. We're not talking about Social Security quite yet. He's on pace for 290 touches this year, one of the lowest totals of his career.
Expectations for Greene were way too high this year. He had less than a handful of 100-yard games in his rookie season, including the playoffs. He's not getting a load of carries, but his yards per carry is more than respectable. He'll get some more touches as the season progresses, but his role has become to run hard and soften up the defense for Tomlinson.
Bill: Everyone knows about Darrelle Revis. But what about the rest of the secondary, since I figure the Packers will continue their pass-happy ways and throw a steady diet of three- and four-receiver sets on the field. I thought Antonio Cromartie was a dog in San Diego — as did the Chargers. Drew Coleman is the third corner in place of demoted first-round pick Kyle Wilson, who I absolutely loved while spending the week at the Senior Bowl. The safeties seem sort of iffy, no offense to Jim Leonhard, the pride of Tony, Wis.
Kristian: I have to say that Anontio Cromartie is perhaps the best athlete I have ever seen in covering the NFL. He is a beast who can run, hit and move. He's been a nice pick-up for the Jets and, outside of some early-season struggles with penalties, is playing like a top-five cornerback in the league. He's more dawg than "dog" at this point.
Drew Coleman has stepped up the past two weeks with some big plays late in the last two games and he's solid enough as Kyle Wilson continues to learn and develop – Wilson will be good in this league. Jim Leonhard is a tough, gritty player but isn't a superstar. Watch out for Brodney Pool, who has been consistently good. Defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman told me in camp that if Pool matures as a person, the sky is the limit for this kid.
I also have been impressed with Dwight Lowery during practice this year as he adds another piece to the secondary. Eric Smith is a versatile safety who is, quite frankly, athletic enough to play cornerback in a pinch. He might be the most underrated player on the team not named Nick Mangold.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.