More Questions than Answers by Marc “Razz” Rasbury

As we head into the first National Football League (NFL) Weekend, the New York Jets and New York Giants have more questions than answers.  In my humble opinion, I expect both teams to be in the thick of the playoff mix.  However, that is if they can address some major issues.

Hakeem Nicks might be one of the key to the Giants season.

Hakeem Nicks might be one of the key to the Giants season.It is time for Sanchez to raise his game.The Jets are hoping that Plaxico Burress makes plays like this for Mark Sanchez

(All photographs by Marc Rasbury)

The Giants have more concerns than the Jets.  However, the big question surrounding
Gang Green is centered around their third-year quarterback, Mark Sanchez.  Will this be the year that he takes the next step and become an elite quarterback?  He has given us glimpses of greatness, but has shown the knack for poor decision making.  The Jets
have built a great team around him and have given him the playmakers that will make most signal callers envious.

They resigned wide receiver Santonio Holmes and brought in former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who is still taking shots, no pun intended, at his old team.  They also brought wide receiver Derrick Mason into the fold.  Expect tight end Dustin Keller to have a break-out season.  The running game, led by Shonne Greene, will take
some pressure off of Sanchez, but it’s time to take the training wheels off of Sanchez and open up the playbook.  That will be the difference in the Jets going 13-3 or 10-6, in addition to advancing to the Super Bowl.

We know that Sanchez has the tools to make every throw.  In two years, he has already won more playoff games than any other quarterback in franchise history.  The kid has more charisma than the law allows.  But all that will not amount to a hill of beans if he can’t lead us to the big game at the end of the year.  It may not be fair, but that is
the reality.

There are questions about the offensive line, but when you have Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and Brandon Moore anchoring that unit, they will be fine.  And some are concerned about the lack of a strong pass rush.  They still have been one of the best defenses in the NFL since hurricane Rex Ryan blew into town.  So relax folks, as far as
those issues are concerned.

The Jets success will not be based on whether or not the defensive or offensive lines step up to the plate.  These units will answer the bell.  It all boils down to Mark Sanchez raising his game.  The Jets need him to make plays, and not just manage the game trying to avoid
mistakes.

As far as the Jets’ MetLife Stadium roommates, injuries have literally crippled the New York Football Giants.  One would think that some Voodoo Lady down in Philadelphia was sticking pins in a Giants’ doll chanting, “Another one bites the dust!”  It is getting to the point where I do not want watch or listen to a sports report regarding Big Blue because I don’t want to hear about another injury.

They have already lost five defensive starters for the season, including defensive back standout Terrell Thomas and middle linebacker Jonathan Goff.  Defensive end Osi Umenyiora is still a couple of weeks away from rejoining the team after his preseason knee surgery.  Now defensive end Justin Tuck’s neck is still bothering him after getting his bell rung in the third preseason game against the Jets.  It appears that second-year pro Jason Pierre-Paul could hold down the fort, but he is going need some help. Let’s hope that the offense can carry the load until the defensive unit starts getting some of their studs back.

If the Giants had resigned wide receiver Steve Smith and tight end Kevin Boss, they would have been my sleeper pick for this season.  Smith and Boss were quarterback Eli Manning’s security blankets for the past three seasons.  Now that they lost the duo to free agency, the young receiving core must answer the bell.  Wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are on the verge of earning trips to the Pro Bowl, but they must stay
healthy and consistent.

Giants General Manager Jerry Reese released offensive linemen Shaun O’Hara and Rich Seubert as soon as camp opened, leaving Big Blue with a huge void in the offensive line, which used to be a foundation of this team.  However, if the wide receiver corps can step up, the Giants still have enough weapons, including running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, to put plenty of points on the board.

I expect Eli Manning to cut down on the interceptions this year, while even raising his touchdown totals.  Expect him and his starting receivers to be on the same page this campaign and perhaps all three will be in Hawaii in February.

If the Giants can get off to a decent start with a relative easy first half schedule to kick off the season, then they can contend for the NFC East.  I’m not sold on the Philadelphia Eagles, despite all of their off-season signings.  Remember, the Giants presented the League with a blue print to stop Michael Vick.  Unfortunately, they did not
execute it for four quarters.

The Jets are expected to make the playoffs.  Some feel that it will be a reach for Big Blue  to make it.  I’m of the opinion that both local teams will make it if they can answer most of the major questions that surround the them.

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