SI's Banks: Jets' First 5 Games Are 'Brutal'

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The Jets Radio airwaves continue to be as busy as ever. Less than 24 hours after NFL announced its 2009 schedule and just 10 days out from the NFL draft, I was joined by SportsIllustrated.com's Don Banks on "the Drive."

The most recent article for Banks, who's covered the NFL beat for SI.com since 2000, was on the schedule. I was curious to see what he thought of the Jets' early slate, which appears tricky on paper.

"It's a brutal first five games for the Jets," he told me. "They have to go 2-0 at home against the Pats and the Titans and that's no small feat, obviously.

"And then they're going to have to hope to pick off at least one of the road games — at Houston where the Texans are tough and a lot of people are looking at them as a team that's going to take the step to 10-win territory this year, at New Orleans, which is always a challenging environment with the noise and obviously with the passing game of Drew Brees, and then at Miami.

"They need to come out of there 3-2 but even at 2-3, if New York can get to 2-3 during that stretch, the schedule does turn a little easier, not drastically, but a little easier after those first five games," he added. "They might be able to set up nicely for a midseason run at that point."

Playing in Buffalo in December isn't easy and the Jets have avoided that situation for another year. Instead of facing Terrell Owens and the Bills in Western New York, the Green & White will move indoors at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada, for what could turn into a neutral site game.

"I think it's a break for New York," Banks said. "It's a somewhat static environment and obviously you can take the weather elements out of it as well. I think that's a bonus considering anytime that you have to go to Buffalo in the second half of the season, it's challenging."

In his latest mock draft on SI.com, Banks has the Jets taking Florida WR Percy Harvin with the No. 17 overall selection. He views the wideout position as "a high-profile need" of the Jets but says they should have plenty of interesting options to start the second half of the opening round.

The local papers were abuzz Monday with quotes from Southern Cal QB Mark Sanchez, who indicated he had a great meeting with the Jets. Banks and I spoke at length about the Jets' quarterback situation and he had an interesting answer when I asked him who in 10 years are we going to say was the best overall player in this '09 class.

"I supposed if I had to put my money on one guy right now, I might go with Sanchez," Banks said. "I think he's got the bigger possibility of an upside. The teams I talk to that like him more than [Georgia QB Matt] Stafford seem to really think he'll fit the pro game a little bit better and he does a few more things well. But he has such a clean slate because of only 17 collegiate starts."

You can listen to the complete interview now on newyorkjets.com.

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