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ESPN Insider take on the Jets

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ESPN Insider take on the Jets


Three Burning Questions

Have the Jets done enough to improve their running game?

Last season the Jets gained 108.1 yards rushing per game and finished 20th in the NFL. This offseason, the Jets wasted no time in acquiring RB Thomas Jones from the Bears prior to the NFL draft. Jones led the Bears in rushing last season with 1,210 yards and six touchdowns. Prior to joining the Bears, Jones was somewhat of an underachiever with both the Buccaneers and Cardinals. However, he has put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons over the past two seasons. Another under-the-radar signing was the addition of FB Darian Barnes from the Dolphins. Barnes is an effective straight-line blocker who can lower his shoulder on contact with an explosive force. He knows how to use his size and strength to create inside running lanes. With the cast of Jones, Leon Washington and Cedric Houston, along with Barnes, the Jets have really improved their running game this offseason.

Camp battle to watch

Right cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Justin Miller and David Barrett

The Jets may have found their future No. 1 corner in this year's draft with the selection of Revis in the first round. However, he will have to compete in camp for the starting right corner position opposite Andre Dyson. Revis is a tough, aggressive player with good size and athletic skills. He can be very productive versus both the run and pass. He is a perfect fit for the way Eric Mangini runs the Jets' coverage concepts and rotations. Barrett is a physical corner who is best suited from a Cover 2 alignment. He is a better player in zone than in man-to-man situations. He does have some versatility when aligning both on the outside or inside in sub-personnel groupings. Miller has the ability and skill set to be a starter in the NFL, but has been inconsistent when given the chance to play. Look for Revis to come out on top.

Can Chad Pennington get this team back to the playoffs?

For the first time in his career, Chad Pennington played in all 16 games in 2006. He finished the season with a quarterback rating of 82.6 and a completion percentage of 64.5. Can Pennington stay healthy and lead this team to an AFC East title? Pennington is a very smart, instinctive player who knows how to attack opposing defenses on the back end in coverage. He has suffered a lot of adversity over his career due to the multiple surgeries on his right arm, which has affected his downfield strength. However, he is still very effective in the short and intermediate areas of the passing game. He can move and avoid pressure in the pocket when finding passing windows. He is a tough, competitive player who knows how to win, but he will need a strong running game this season to be even more effective. If the Jets are to get back into the AFC playoffs and beyond, Pennington must continue to stay healthy and play within himself in the Jets' offensive system.

Can the Jets' front seven stop the run?

If the Jets are going to make a run at the AFC East title, they must improve their run defense. Last season, the Jets allowed 130.3 yards per game, ranking 24th in the NFL. After improving his technique, leverage and recognition skills, NT Dewayne Robertson improved his performance as the season wore on, adapting to the Jets' 3-4 system. Shaun Ellis is the Jets' best defensive lineman, while being productive in both regular and sub situations. Kimo von Oelhoffen is a great locker room guy who is on the downside of his career. Newly signed defensive end Kenyon Coleman should battle von Oelhoffen for the starting position. Coleman is a disciplined player who has experience in a 3-4 system. The linebacker corps improved with the addition of David Bowens, a high-motor player with pass-rushing skills. However, he must show good improvement when setting the edge versus the run. Bryan Thomas is a productive player that must improve his recognition skills and ability to get off blocks. Both inside linebackers -- Jonathan Vilma and Victor Hobson? -- must make more of an impact against the run.

Fantasy take

The Jets hope to stabilize their running game with the addition of Thomas Jones, who is coming off consecutive 1,200-yard seasons in Chicago. The Jets will use Leon Washington to spell Jones at times, but Jones shouldn't lose carries on the goal line. Make sure that is the case.

-- Nate Ravitz

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