After over a month of myopic focus on the Cowboys and the opening matchup from their angle, it's time for some Jets perspective. We've asked five Jets oriented questions of Chris Celletti from SB Nation New York, focusing on the big picture for the opener. Chris discusses Mark Sanchez, New York's soaring expectations, Jets-Cowboys matchups and more. Enjoy:
SB Nation DFW: How much of a step forward does Mark Sanchez take this season? Is he ready to win a Super Bowl?
Chris Celletti: How much of a step forward Sanchez takes this season is partially dependent on if the coaching staff decides to take the shackles off him, as they have not done so through his first two seasons. Sanchez is now entering the all-important third year for a quarterback, and has to show marked improvement and development. Sanchez has all the physical tools - he can make every throw, he's athletic, can avoid pressure. You can argue that he has shown the mental abilities of a top quarterback as well, as he's won four road playoff games already. I think we'll see Sanchez take a big step forward, but it's very hard to say whether he's ready to win a Super Bowl. If the 2011 Jets defense is a dominant one, then yes, Sanchez can lead them to a title.
SBND: Who on the team do you expect to be the breakout player this season?
Celletti: I think the breakout player of the season will be linebacker Jamaal Westerman. Rex Ryan loves to blitz and Westerman will be used in blitz packages in passing situations, giving him plenty of sack opportunities. He could end the year with 6-8 sacks, which isn't a huge number by any stretch, but would be a very good amount for a team that hasn't sacked the quarterback quite as much as they should have in the past two seasons.
SBND: What else is better about the 2011 Jets?
Celletti: Mark Sanchez. He'll improve production and decision-making wise over last year for sure. Whether its good enough to win a Super Bowl is another issue, but you can mark it down that 2011 Sanchez will be better than 2010 Sanchez.
SBND: What's worse about the 2011 Jets?
Celletti: For a team that is projected by most "experts" to make the playoffs, the 2011 Jets actually have a few things that could be worse than last year's edition. First off, the offensive line is a question mark. Yes, it is anchored by Nick Mangold at Center and D'Briackashaw Ferguson at left tackle, two of the best in the league at their respective positions, but Matt Slauson struggled last year, and gone is Damien Woody at right tackle. In steps Wayne Hunter, who is a career backup. Couple that with a largely unproven Shonn Greene (has never had two good games in a row in the NFL, look it up.) and an aging Ladainian Tomlinson, the Jets' running game figures to be a bit less productive than last year's. There's also questions on the defensive line, with longtime veteran Shaun Ellis gone to the Patriots.
SBND: Looking at matchups Sunday night, Cowboys fans are most concerned with their young offensive line dealing with Rex Ryan's exotic looks and the depleted Dallas secondary containing Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, et al. What matchup will Jets fans be most concerned about Sunday night?
Celletti: I think there are two big concerns for Jets fans on Sunday. Number one being stopping DeMarcus Ware. I'm sure the Cowboys will mix up their looks and try to put him on different sides of the field and give him favorable matchups, and that could be a problem for a weakened Jets offensive line. Additionally, the Jets struggled mightily last season against tight ends, and Jason Witten is one of the best.
Thanks again to Chris for his Jets insight. Check back every week for a look at each Cowboys opponent from SB Nation's roster of informed observers.