Questions for Gang Green Nation

I sent five questions over to John B. at Gang Green Nation.  Be sure to check out this blog, like ourselves, they are new to the SBNation.  I was impressed by his answers, see what you think:

1)  Given that Jets management has laid out big money for free agents and paid for two number one draft pick contracts, is this Mangini's last season if he fails to make the playoffs?

While conventional wisdom suggests this might be the case for the
reasons mentioned above, I do not think Mangini is coaching for his
job this season. After all of the big offseason moves, the owner said
explicitly that this was not a make or break year for his coach or his
general manager. Eric still has two years left on his deal after 2008.
The team hired him at a young age without much experience. This did
not happen because he is a great coach. It was because with his
intellect and his pedigree, he has the potential to become one. The
Jets appear willing to let him grow as a coach. The ultimate goal of
this franchise is not to get to the Playoffs in 2008. It is to
eventually overtake New England in the AFC East. That will take time
and patience.

2)  The Jets first round draft choices (Gholston and Keller) do not seem to be having an impact early.  Given that this team was 4-12 last year, how much are fans questioning these choices?  Also the Jets rookie CB, Dwight Lowery is getting good reviews, how has he looked so far?

Fans are not overly upset with either Gholston or Keller at this
point. With Darren McFadden, Jake Long, and Chris Long off the board
when the team picked, most pundits said Gholston was the best value on
the board when New York picked. Had one of these guys been there,
there might be more unrest within the fan base.

One must also remember the position change involved for Gholston. He
primarily played with his hand down in college. He is now learning how
to play 3-4 outside linebacker on the fly. Because he was an
underclassman, he had to sit out rookie minicamp, which further
stunted his development. Everybody knew this would be a slow process,
which is why we have primarily seen him line up at end on obvious
throwing downs.

The fact that the guys who start at Gholston's position, Calvin Pace
and Bryan Thomas, have  played really well during the first two weeks
has taken a lot of focus off Gholston. Something similar can be said
for Keller. When the team took him, incumbent starter Chris Baker was
complaining about his contract and seemed to be forcing his way out of
town. He has since made peace with the organization and signed an
extension. Baker and Bubba Franks comprise a reliable tight end duo
and probably have taken some of the spotlight off Keller's
disappearing act.

Lowery has really impressed the coaching staff with his play and
intellect in camp, the preseason, and now the regular season. He had
several key plays during Week 1 in Miami. He has really stepped up to
provide a solid compliment to Darrelle Revis, which was badly needed.
Entering the year, this team did not appear to have any corner aside
from Revis talented enough to be an adequate NFL starter. Lowery's
surprising play has thus far solidified a position in a state of flux.


3)  Brett Favre hasn't looked sharp in his first two games; do you expect the offensive performance to dramatically improve as the team gets more time on the field together?

You have to remember that Favre did not become a Jet until preseason
was underway. He is still in an adjustment phase. He is still getting
down the playbook, getting used to his teammates, and even getting
used to living in a new area. As the season progresses, his comfort
level cannot help but grow, and he will be more effective as a result.

I will, however, dispute the assertion that Favre has not been good
thus far. He was very efficient against the Dolphins. Against the
Patriots, I blame his receivers more than anybody. The offensive line
gave him plenty of time, and Brett made good decisions with the
football aside from a five minute stretch in the third quarter. His
receivers just could not gain separation from an average New England
secondary, and the team's struggles in run blocking prevented any
diversity in the offense. The coaching staff also has been hesitant to
open up the offense, an issue I will deal with in the next question.



4)  What do the Jets need to accomplish in order to beat the Chargers this Monday?

The Jets need to get much more aggressive with their offensive play
calling. They have been hesitant to let Favre sling it all over the
field. Part of this is probably because Brett is still learning the
playbook, and part of it is probably because the coaching staff is
afraid he will make some of his trademark crazy throws. This cannot be
a concern this Monday. The Chargers are strong up front, but they have
been vulnerable to big plays through the air because Shawne Merriman's
absence has declawed their pass rush to a large degree. San Diego will
be used to the offense they are facing. New York's coordinator, Brian
Schottenheimer is a former Chargers assistant and mainly derived his
playbook from Cam Cameron's. He needs to open things up. The Jets just
released their punter this week and signed an inexperienced one so
they need to move the ball. This cannot turn into a special teams
battle.

Defensively the Jets need to keep doing what they have done right.
Kris Jenkins has been a monumental upgrade at nose tackle, constantly
drawing double teams and controlling the point of attack. If Jenkins
continues to play the way he has, New York has a legitimate chance of
slowing down San Diego's running game. The pass rush has looked like
the exact opposite of New York's 2007 pass rush so far. Bryan Thomas
has looked rejuvenated after what amounted to a one year vacation for
all of the impact plays he made a season ago. He and Calvin Pace have
applied constant pressure. Like any quarterback, if Rivers gets
pressured and hit, he will get uncomfortable in the pocket. Darrelle
Revis just blanketed Randy Moss a week ago. Because of his rapid
development, the Jets can essentially cut the field in half and force
opponents to rely on secondary targets.

These are the tangible goals, but the Jets really need to come out of
the tunnel ready to play. I fully expect to see the best out of San
Diego. The crowd should be revved up for a Monday night game their
team desperately needs. The Chargers are ticked off after having a
game stolen from them and know an 0-3 start would be potentially
fatal. If New York comes out flat and does not match the emotion the
Chargers will likely show, things could snowball very quickly. A lot
of teams get knocked out in the first five minutes of games like this.


5)  There were big changes in the Jets offensive line this year; does it appear to be significantly upgrade over last years group?

There is no question. Alan Faneca is a future Hall of Famer. The man
he replaced, Adrien Clarke, is practice squad material. The only
reason he started at left guard was that Pete Kendall forced a
preseason trade over his contract status. Chad Pennington and Kellen
Clemens probably could have had Clarke billed for their medical
expenses, and nobody would have raised an eyebrow. He had no
quickness, leverage, or power. Faneca is worlds better. He will also
make D'Brickashaw Ferguson better. The left tackle will no longer have
to cover for the mistakes of the guy next to him.

Damien Woody is also a big upgrade. He has played tackle for less than
a year. There are still signs of inexperience at the position, such as
when he neglected Adalius Thomas late in the Pats game and left Leon
Washington one on one with the versatile linebacker. He still controls
the point of attack much better than Anthony Clement did and is
quicker and more athletic in pass protection. An offensive line
functions as a unit. It is only as strong as its weakest link. The
Jets got rid of their two weakest links. As these guys get used to
playing together and Woody gets more comfortable at tackle, I expect
this to develop into a very good unit.

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