The New York Jets ended their 2005 season with a New Year's Day victory. Only hours later the slate was wiped clean and 2006 began. A dramatic transformation continues three months later. The coaching staff is full of new faces and there have been a number of roster alterations as the team rounds into shape.There is a sense of excitement here within the halls of Weeb Ewbank Hall and fans are already looking forward to the '06 season. Eric Mangini, the club's first-year head coach, will need both the spring and the summer to get his troops ready for fall, but we can look ahead at the upcoming schedule…New York's AFC representative will open the season in Tennessee against the Titans on September 10, marking the fourth time in five seasons the club will begin its journey on the road. Tennessee, winners of just four games in '05, should be vastly improved this fall. They hope former Jet Kevin Mawae will return to form and anchor their line. The addition of wide receiver David Givens (59-738-2TD) was a nice pick-up and linebacker David Thornton brings great speed to the linebacker position. The Jets have won both their meetings with the Titans.
Inside the division, the Jets attempt to break a six-game losing streak to the Patriots. They'll get their first shot at the home opener on September 17 at 4:15 p.m. The return match-up will be in Foxboro on November 12 at 1:00 p.m. The Pats have taken their hits in free agency with the departures of G Tom Ashworth (Seattle), LB Matt Chatham (Jets), WR André Davis (Buffalo), WR Tim Dwight (Jets), TE Christian Fauria (Washington), Willie McGinest (Cleveland) & K Adam Vinatieri (Indianapolis). But they still have a Hall of a Fame quarterback and a Hall of Fame coach, so the Patriots will remain contenders. It will be fun watching Eric Mangini match wits with mentor Bill Belichick.
For the past three seasons, the Jets and the Bills have each held serve at home. The Bills host the Jets on September 24, and then will visit the Meadowlands on December 10. Both games will kick-off at 1:00 p.m. Buffalo is not sold on second-year QB J.P. Losman, so there is a three-man competition between Losman, Kelly Holcomb and Craig Nall. The Bills are high on Nall, a fourth-year player who has thrown 33 career passes and most recently backed up Brett Favre in Green Bay. This is a team who still needs to get better up front on both sides of the ball and will probably add a defensive tackle with the eight overall selection. Buffalo was a respectable 4-4 at home last season but just 1-7 away from Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Fortunately for the Jets, they'll face the Colts at home on October 1. But on the other hand, Indianapolis won of seven of its eight away contests this past season. The Colts lost one of their triplets in free agency when free agent running back Edgerrin James moved onto Arizona and will play for the Cardinals. But the Horseshoes still have Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and Reggie Wayne, and the Colts defense continues to make strides. The Colts haven't faced the Jets in New York since they were humiliated 41-0 on Wild Card weekend in 2002. Click Here for the ScheduleEntire NFL Schedule
The Jacksonville Jaguars, perhaps the league's most physical team, will play host to the Jets on October 8 at 4:05 p.m. Jacksonville won 12 games a year ago, including a 26-20 overtime road victory over the Jets last September. The Jets offensive line will surely be put to the test against the best defensive tackle tandem in the business – Marcus Stroud (6'6", 312) and John Henderson (6'7, 328).
New York and Miami split their two meetings last season. Their first confrontation this fall is slated for October 15 at the Meadowlands with a 4:15 p.m. start. Then on Christmas night (ESPN's Monday Night Football), the Jets visit South Florida for a return engagement. Miami, who won its last six games in 2005, was in need of an upgrade at quarterback so the Dolphins traded for Daunte Culpepper. The 6'4", 260-pound Culpepper is still recovering from major knee surgery and may not be ready for full contact in September. Look for the Dolphins to add another signal caller in the coming weeks. This is a team that made major strides under Nick Saban, and he hopes to continue that forward progression in '06.
Detroit jumps out of the NFC for a Meadowlands contest with the Jets on October 22. The Lions have four quarterbacks - Jon Kitna, Shaun King, Josh McCown and Dan Orlovsky – who weren't first string quarterbacks last season. Expect Kitna, a 10-year veteran who has passed for 18,259 career yards, to be the number one for rookie coach Rod Marinelli when the Lions visit New York. It will be interesting to watch Mike Martz coordinate an offense that was less than consistent in last season's 5-11 campaign. On the defensive side of the ball, Donnie Henderson moved to the Motor City and would like to parallel the success he had in his first season with the Jets when he orchestrated an impressive turnaround. The Jets have won four of their 10 regular season meetings with the Lions.
In the final week before a bye (October 29), Coach Mangini will see a few familiar faces in Cleveland when the Jets take on the Browns along the shores of Lake Erie. Mangini, who won three rings with the Patriots, worked as a defensive backs coach in New England from 2001-'04 under current Browns head coach Romeo Crennel. Mangini took over the defensive reins from Crennel last season following Crennel's departure. Two former Patriots - offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi and linebacker Willie McGinest - also were key contributors on those championship teams. The Browns lead the all-time series 10-7-1, but the Green & White won the last meeting, a 10-7 comeback victory at Cleveland in 2004.Chicago will play a road game against the Jets for the first time since 2000. The November 19 start time is 1:00 p.m. The Bears, coming off an 11-5 season, won the NFC North in '05 despite posting just a 1-3 record against AFC opposition. In need of a quality backup quarterback, the Bears added veteran Brian Griese to the roster in March. Rex Grossman remains the starter and says he supports the acquisition of a passer who has thrown for 16,344 yards and 103 TDs in eight NFL seasons. The Monsters of the Midway still win with defense, yielding a league-low 202 points a year ago. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is a difference maker and just produced an 121 tackle, six sack season. The Bears lead the all-time series 5-3.Houston is another team in transition mode as former Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak takes over the Texans. Kubiak will lead his crew to the Jets' New Jersey home on November 26. Reggie Bush, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner, probably cemented his status as the number one overall selection with an outstanding Pro Day. He ran a sub 4.4 in the 40-yard dash and also looked solid in position drills. The Texans own the number one overall selection and will add Bush unless they receive a gargantuan trade offer. Houston also traded for Buffalo wideout Eric Moulds and the Texans could field a very formidable offense against the Jets with the likes of QB David Carr, WR Andre Johnson, Bush, and Moulds. The Jets have won both meetings with the Texans and hope to gain the trifecta at the Meadowlands against a Houston team that did not win a road game last season.
Will Brett Favre play one more year with the 'Pack? Nobody will be able to answer that question until the Future Hall of Famer makes a decision. The Jets make a Midwestern trek to Lambeau Field on December 3 and hope to gain another win over the Packers. New York's AFC representative has won seven of nine meetings in the series, including a thrilling 20-16 decision in 2000, the last time these two teams faced off at Green Bay. Who will soon forget the Jets' 42-17 thumping of the 'Pack in '02? That victory gave the Green & White their second AFC East title. The Packers won just four games a year ago, but they will be improved under first-year head coach Mike McCarthy. We love the offseason addition of run-stuffing nose tackle Ryan Pickett who should team up well with Nick Barnett, the Packers outstanding middle linebacker.A rare trip to Minnesota is on deck for Mangini's crew on December 17. The Jets have played just three times in Minneapolis and brought home wins on two occasions. The Vikes had seen enough of Daunte Culpepper and decided to ship the talented passer to Miami. Brad Childress, yet another rookie head coach, moves to the Twin Cities following a successful stint as offensive coordinator in Philadelphia. His new team doesn't figure to play as much high-risk long ball and scored a major free agent in Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchison. Defensively, the Vikings have an impressive front but will need to add to their linebacker corps.
For the second consecutive season, the Raiders are forced to make the cross-country trip to New York. The old AFL rivals will have a New Year's Eve collision at the Meadowlands. Owner Al Davis re-hired Art Shell to lead a Raiders team that has compiled an abysmal 13-35 record over the past three seasons. Aaron Brooks could be the man behind center for the Raiders, and he is a good downfield passer who must establish chemistry with Randy Moss. Defensive end Derrick Burgess, entering his sixth-year from Mississippi, led the NFL in '05 with 16 sacks.