On what will undoubtedly be an emotional night with pre-game ceremonies commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the New York Jets will try to get their 2011 season off to a good start when they host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.
There is a lot of buzz around the Jets heading into Week 1, and it starts with their boisterous (does that even cut it?) head coach Rex Ryan. Ryan of course never shies away from anything, including numerous proclamations that he believes the Jets are a Super Bowl contender. Ryan may want all the eyes on him, but many will be fixated on Mark Sanchez who begins his third season as the Jets starting quarterback. This is the year everyone expects (and the Jets and their fans hope) that Sanchez makes the big leap and becomes a consistent playmaker.
He'll likely get plenty of chances, as the Cowboys come into the 2011 season thin in the secondary thanks to a few key injuries. Number one corner back Terence Newman is out with a groin injury, and fellow corner Mike Jenkins is listed as questionable with a neck injury. Dallas' weak secondary will give Sanchez plenty of opportunities to go downfield to Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller. And many are eager to see how often Sanchez can utilize Plaxico Burress, who makes his return to professional football after spending two years in jail.
The Jets defense is again expected to be one of the top unites in football. The Jets defense matches up favorably in the trenches, as Dallas will be starting an inexperienced offensive line. Quarterback Tony Romo is at his best when he gets a lot of time to throw the ball, and the Jets hope they can pressure the Cowboys' quarterback into a few mistakes. The Jets also figure to handle the Cowboys' rushing attack fairly well. A key matchup could be Jets' cornerback Antonio Cromartie against Dez Bryant and/or Miles Austin. Darrelle Revis will likely shut down his man, and the Jets hope Cromartie can do the same. Additionally, Jason Witten is one of the best tight ends in the league, and the Jets struggled big-time last season in covering tight ends.
And so it begins, another year in Jets land. The past two season have been wild rides than came crashing on the season's second to last day. The Jets are talking a big game again, and their journey starts Sunday night.