We recently had the opportunity to pose five questions to Erik Boland, who covers the Jets for New York Newsday (click here to read some of his coverage). He gave us some great insight into the Jets for the upcoming season, and not only on Brett Favre. He also discussed players such as Jericho Cotchery, Thomas Jones and so much more, so let’s not waste time and see what he had to say:
1) This is a two part question regarding the Jets QB situation. First of all, we all know Brett Favre will be the man here, but how well do you think he will be able to adjust to a new system. Second, given the reports that Bret Favre is suffering from “fatigue” and Chad Pennington is no longer on the roster, do you have confidence in Kellen Clemens if he needs to take over at some point this season?
Erik Boland: Based on what we saw Saturday night, Favre’s “adjustment” period will be minimal. Will he have the entire playbook at his disposal by the opener in Miami? No, but I’m not sure he’ll need all of it. Jerricho Cotchery probably put it best after Saturday’s game: “We felt like everything that we were going to run was going to work.” When’s the last time a Jets offensive player said that and meant it?
As for the second part of the question, Brett Ratliff is making an extremely hard charge at taking the backup job from Clemens. Clemens was hurt by four drops Saturday but Ratliff was impressive again – as he was against the Browns in the preseason opener – going 13-for-19 for 148 yards againt the Redskins. I’d call the battle for the backup neck-in-neck right now, with Clemens slighly ahead only because he has more “real” game experience, based on startinig eight games last year.
2) Last year Thomas Jones posted his third consecutive 1,000-yard season, but managed to get into the end zone just 1 time all season. How do you see this changing in 2008?
Erik Boland: No one, besides Favre, will benefit from the offensive line upgrades more than Jones. I thought Jones actually had a somewhat underrated season lin 2007 based on the fact he was running behind one of the worst O-lines in football. With the additions of Faneca and Woody and one more year’s experience for Mangold, Ferguson and Moore, there should be actual holes this season through which Jones can run. I see a big year for Jones.
3) Like Jones, Jericho Cotchery had a very good season, yet failed to get the ball in the end zone, scoring just 2 TD’s. Do you see him becoming more of a threat in the Red Zone, and if not, who do you see being the main target there?
Erik Boland: Cotchery, in only a week, seems to have established a rapport with Favre. In terms of yards AND touchdowns I think Cotchery is going to be the guy this season for the Jets. I felt that way before Favre arrived and feel even stronger about that now. Keep and eye on Keller in regard to that as well. (I know that is question No. 5 as well).
4) Laverenous Coles has had most of his best seasons of his career with Chad Pennington behind center. How do you see him adjusting to Brett Favre and how productive do you see him being?
Erik Boland: I’m starting to get a bad feeling about Coles for this season. Not because he hasn’t talked publicly since Pennington was cut [whether he talks to the media is irrelevant], but because he’s been injured. He missed some practices at the start of camp and sat out the Cleveland opener. After getting back on the field, he pulled up lame during a mid-week practice last week and missed Saturday’s game against the Redskins. Healthy, I see Coles benefitting tremendously from Favre’s presence but his health is a question mark right now.
5) What role do you see Dustin Keller filling for the team this season?
Erik Boland: The ease with with Keller got open on his 4-yard touchdown reception Saturday vs. Washington tells me this rookie isn’t going to be limited in terms of field position. I’m not sure he’ll be “the” option on the goal line this season but he’ll be an option for sure. And that’s not even addressing the vertical threat Keller has shown himself to be in practice and on a 22-yarder he caught against the Redskins. Keller also carries himself with a confidence – though not cockiness – you don’t see often with rookies.