EAST RUTHERFORD NJ - OCTOBER 11: Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets stands behind the line of scrimmage against the Minnesota Vikings at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 11 2010 in East Rutherford New Jersey. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mark Sanchez
Two teams that ended their 2011 seasons on down notes, two teams looking to climb back to the top of their respective divisions.
Two teams needing every win they can get to keep pace with an outstanding rival within their division.
The last few years, the Jets have been far more sizzle than steak. Marquee names have been added and while wins have come late in the season, they haven't put together much of a regular season showing. The addition of second-round pick, WR Stephen Hill, could give them a big boost in their sagging receiver corps, where former Steeler WR Santonio Holmes fell apart in 2011.
S LaRon Landry could give their already-talented secondary a boost from a run-stuffing perspective. He is a solid free agency addition, provided he can return from injury that derailed his last season in Washington.
The much-balleyhooed Tim Tebow isn't there to challenge QB Mark Sanchez (even if Sanchez isn't showing he's much better than Tebow has been), but he does give them a strong weapon in short yardage situations.
TE Dustin Keller is poised to join the elite receivers at the tight end position, and figures to be the team's main offensive weapon. Defensively, DE Quinton Coples could see action as a pass rush specialist, giving some life to a group that struggled to get after quarterbacks in 2011.
The removal of offensive coordinator (the only OC more criticized than former Steelers OC Bruce Arians) Brian Schottenheimer, who was replaced by former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano, theoretically suggests the Jets are looking to improve their running game, which dipped to dismal lows in 2011. Many of the problems they had were due to that lack of running strength, which removed their ability to sell a play-action pass.
They appear, right now, to be settling with the offensive tackle combination of D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Wayne Hunter, who both had miserable 2011 campaigns. It wouldn't be surprising if they looked in a different direction by the end of training camp for Hunter.
This series will go through each of the Steelers games slated on the 2012 NFL Schedule, and we'll evaluate how they stand post-draft and pre-training camp. We'll revisit this again in August, but for now, we're comparing where each team is compared to where they were last year.