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Bring on the Bucs

The 2013 New York Jets regular season is here. 

An interesting preseason reached its conclusion Thursday night at MetLife Stadium and little more than a week remains before the ball is kicked on Sep. 8.  There are a lot of things we know about this team and there are many questions.

"The one thing I'm extremely happy about is how I feel this team is coming together," said head coach Rex Ryan after his club closed its summer slate 3-1 with a 27-20 triumph over the Eagles.  "I think this team is really meshing together.   And as I said before, this is what you want as a football team — you want your whole to be greater than the sum of its parts, and I think that our team is, and we're going to need to be. We recognize that, but we have to be all in together, and I feel like our team is really coming together like that."

The Green & White could have one of the best defensive fronts in football with Muhammad Wilkerson leading the way.  Rookie Sheldon Richardson, a Missouri product who legions questioned when the Jets took him the No. 13 overall selection, had a mammoth summer with 18 tackles in three preseason games and possesses outstanding versatility.  How long will hybrid Quinton Coples be out and has Damon "Snacks" Harrison earned a starting job at the nose while Kenrick Ellis continues to battle a back injury?

Demario Davis steps into the spotlight next week beside David Harris at inside linebacker.  The secondary has talent, but it is a young group.  Cornerback Dee Milliner, who appeared in only two preseason contests, will be challenged immediately on opening day.  Dawan Landry is the grizzly vet and he'll be joined by either Jaiquawn Jarrett (who was all over the field against his former team) or the rangy Antonio Allen.

"I think it's maybe a little too close to call. We'll see," Ryan said of the young duo.  "Certainly, we'll evaluate it all on tape. We know we have a couple good football players there. Both guys had their moments today as well. So, we'll look at it, study who the opponent is and maybe it comes down to opponent-specific as well, but we're happy with both those guys."

Heading into the preseason finale, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg had the Green & White in the summer top five for scoring (26 points an outing), total offense (385.7 yards per game) and passing yards (301.7 a contest).  He is creative and finds the mismatches, using a variety of personnel along with multiple formations and shifts.

The Jets break in two new guards on the offensive line as veteran Willie Colon has a championship pedigree and Vladimir Ducasse really had a nice summer.  Tight end looks solid with the veteran Kellen Winslow Jr., an improved and more explosive looking Jeff Cumberland and a jack of all trades that is Konrad Reuland.

Wide receiver is not void of talent either and the Jets will get a major boost when Santonio Holmes returns to the lineup.  Jeremy Kerley is a magnificent route runner, Stephen Hill is more polished and Clyde Gates is a burner.  Roster cuts will be interesting at this position because Lehigh product Ryan Spadola (minus a fumble tonight) was productive and Ben Obomanu has a reputation for his special teams ability.

Speaking of special teams, Gates takes over Joe McKnight as the top kick return man.  New York's AFC representative brought in two veteran kickers — Billy Cundiff and Dan Carpenter — to challenge Nick Folk.  Will the incumbent hang on?

But the biggest question remains.  The situation at quarterback is unsettled.  Mark Sanchez wasn't perfect this summer, but he had a solid camp.  Yet Sanchez is day-to-day with a shoulder injury.  Rookie Geno Smith experienced plenty of ups and downs, suffering an ankle injury and also transitioning to a West Coast system that requires quick reads and progressions.  Matt Simms had a hell of a summer, Greg McElroy has been slowed by a leg injury and even Graham Harrell joined the fray.

The Pewter Pirates are coming to town and they're bringing No. 24 with them.  After four exhibition contests Off Broadway, the Jets are back on the big stage next week.

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