Scott Salmon from Gang Green Nation dropped by to answer a couple of our questions heading into week 7!
1. More of a personal question than anything, but what is the general sentiment from Jets fans after the departure of Rex Ryan? It seems like Mike Maccagnan has done a fantastic job as general manager and that Todd Bowles has been a breath of fresh air at head coach.
It feels like the grown-ups are finally running the show. It's very easy to see why fans of other team mocked Rex Ryan now that his bombastic ways are up in Orchard Park. Bowles is, like you said, a breath of fresh air. I think, personality-wise, he has some similarities to Bill Belichick. He isn't as grumpy, but he's very measured, doesn't get too high or two low, and actually appears to be a head coach... not just a glorified coordinator. As he's said this week, this is any other game. If the Jets lose, the season isn't over. If they win, they aren't in the Super Bowl. Could you imagine Rex ever saying that?
2. The Jets seriously field three potential All Pros on their defense in Darrelle Revis, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Sheldon Richardson (who has recently returned from suspension). Rookie Leonard Williams has been monstrous. What key defensive player is flying under the radar that Patriots fans should know about?
I'll give you two, since they're connected. Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor. The Jets haven't had a decent free safety since Kerry Rhodes in 2009. Gilchrist is rated by ProFootballFocus as a top three free safety now. Pryor struggled last year, his rookie year, but he was playing out of position at FS. Now he's able to return to his natural position, strong safety, and he's looked significantly better.
3. On the flip side, is there a weakness in this top ranked defense?
It's absolutely the outside linebackers. Quentin Coples is barely playing anymore, and Calvin Pace is like 600 years old. I have not yet seen them exploited in particular, but they are definitely the weak link. Bowles has tried to counter this by playing more nickel and dime packages, which helps since the team has so many good corners. We've seen a good amount of 4-3 and 4-2-5 to limit their exposure.
4. On offense, Brandon Marshall has been a revelation at wide receiver and Chris Ivory is playing like one of the best backs in the entire league. Who is the secret superstar of this offense?
Those two guys really make the system work, but since you mentioned them, I'll throw out Nick Mangold. He's been playing as well as ever. The Jets actually lead the league in sacks allowed, only allowing two. In four out of five games this season, they haven't allowed any sacks. Mangold is the leader on the line, so I'll give him the credit.
5. The Jets offensive line used to be its calling card under Rex Ryan, but it fell to pieces in his final seasons. Has the unit improved? Is there any player that could be considered the weak link?
The offensive line has definitely improved. I think some of that is Chan Gailey using more blockers. Some is Ryan Fitzpatrick's surprising mobility, which has significantly reduced the amount of pressure he's seen. Some is Chris Ivory being a manchild. I'm not sure if there really is a weak link. It may be Willie Colon/Brian Winters at right guard, but they've held their own and not been responsible for the sacks and penalties both racked up last year.