Blogger vs. Blogger: Running Backs, Hard Knocks, Mark Sanchez, & More

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First a few updates:

1. If you haven’t seen it yet, the press conference announcing the Jets being on Hard Knocks is up on www.newyorkjets.com and is pretty entertaining stuff. Plenty of zingers from Rex Ryan and Steve Sabol and definitely worth the twenty minutes to watch.

2. A few key quotes from Ryan on Leon Washington from today’s press conference pulled off the Jets official web site:

“We have the No. 1 facilities in the country, we have a great medical staff, a great medical team and we have the best strength coach in the country. Leon knows this and that’s what’s disappointing,” said Ryan when writers huddled around the head coach. “Wherever he’s at might be good, but it’s not the best. I want what’s best for him and the New York Jets and this is a time there’s team building. This guy is a great young man — I love Leon — but it’s still disappointing he’s not here.”

PhotobucketDo we expect him to come back from the surgery? Yeah. And you’re going to put him in there instead of Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson? Maybe you would, but I’m not comfortable with that,” he said. “Let’s see where he’s at. I’m not just going to give him the ball 20 times a game coming off of that. He has to be ready to take that kind of role. If he’s ready to take an expanded role, then obviously we can see that. Third down is the most important down you have on offense and that would be an ideal situation for him. We have three great backs.”

I do believe that Leon will be on the Jets next year. There isn’t a team in the NFL who is giving up a second round pick for a guy coming off that type of leg injury. It is going to take him some time to adjust this year. He isn’t going to come flying out of the gates in week one as the Leon of 2006-2008, but hopefully by the middle of the season he can start approaching the role he had before he was hurt in 2009. It could be a stretch to hope for that but I am sure Washington is motivated to prove to the coaching staff he is more than a third down back and returner.

3. Speaking of third down running backs/kick returners…keep an eye out for Conte Cuttino out of Stony Brook to be added by the Jets after the draft as a UDFA.

4. Bart Scott expressed some skepticism about the Jets being featured on Hard Knocks in this article (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/sports/football/25jets.html?ref=sports)…he makes some fair points, but it is up to him and the other leaders in the locker room to make sure the team isn’t distracted.

Blogger vs. Blogger: Running Backs, Hard Knocks, Mark Sanchez, & More

Welcome to our first installment of the new TOJ series, Blogger vs. Blogger, where myself and a fellow Jets blogger will share opinions on four current issues surrounding the team. Today our featured blogger is Jeff Capellini who runs The Green Lantern over at (http://wcbstv.com/capellini) and is also a senior producer for WCBSTV.com…Jeff had no shortage of opinions, some of which I agreed with and some of which I had differing viewpoint on.

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Question #1 – Rex Ryan recently made headlines by saying LaDainain Tomlinson would receive 15 carries a game and Leon Washington would be relegated to a third down role, do you buy into what Ryan was saying or was he just pandering to the recently signed LT? Also, if you were Brian Schottenheimer how would you divide up the carries among Shonn Greene, LaDainain Tomlinson, and Leon Washington?

Jeff Capellini – I was a big fan of the decision to sign LaDainain Tomlinson. Thomas Jones struggled down the stretch last year as displayed by the rapid decline in his yards per carry. I think most in the organization were alarmed by how quickly his play went downhill and I think Kansas City is going to find out the same thing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jamaal Charles end up being the lead back for the Chiefs. I don’t think Tomlinson is done. Yes, he has lost a step but he can still be a productive back who can handle 15-20 carries a game. San Diego was so focused on the passing game last year that they did a poor job of using both Tomlinson and Darren Sproles. They had the league’s 31st ranked rushing attack and Tomlinson has become the scapegoat for that, not the way the Chargers offense was ran or their offensive line who was built for pass protection.

Tomlinson can be more than a change of pace back for the Jets. He is capable of taking over for multiple series at a time. Leon should be a third down back until he can prove he is fully  healthy. He should be used in passing situations and for screen passes primarily, although Brian Schottenheimer can’t be predictable and have him just do that or be the only back who is catching passes.

I think the Jets will play the hot hand but in most weeks Greene will get slightly more carries than Tomlinson. Yet, when the Jets are inside the 5 yard line, it will be LT getting carries. I don’t think Ryan was lying and that Tomlinson will be around 15 carries each game. The Jets need Leon to step up as their primary kick and punt returner because he is better suited for that role than Brad Smith, Jerricho Cotchery, or Jim Leonhard.

PhotobucketJoe Caporoso - I have to say I disagree with most of your thinking on this issue Jeff. While I do believe Tomlinson will be an improved player behind the Jets offensive line and still has something left to give, I would have rather kept Thomas Jones for another year. He was a leader in the locker room and I think a large part of his late season decline was a knee injury that was worse than the team let on. I think he could have gave the Jets at least one more productive season splitting carries with Shonn Greene.

I have always been a huge Leon Washington fan and spent the entire off-season last year writing articles imploring the team to give him the ball more, which they did up until his injury. I understand the reasoning of easing him back into the lineup and do think he will begin as primarily a third down back but I am hoping he can return to a 8-10 carry a game guy by the end of the year.

When the Jets signed him, I never pictured Tomlinson as a 15 carry a game guy or somebody who could ever get more carries than Shonn Greene. I was thinking Tomlinson could be a guy who takes a series or two per half, gets short yardage and goal-line carries, and is involved in the screen game. If I was Schottenheimer, I’d start out giving Greene 20-22 carries a game, Tomlinson 10-12, and Leon 4-6 and then gradually move Tomlinson and Washington’s carries closer together as the season goes on.

Question #2 -What do you think of the Jets taking part in Hard Knocks?

Jeff Capellini – (Note Jeff wrote a great article on this topic at The Green Lantern, which is worth checking out at the link at the top of this article)…I am normally not a proponent of any type of chaos around the team, which usually turns into a negative. However, I think the Jets have a strong enough locker room to overcome any distractions from the show. The Jets have been a second class citizen in this market for so long that they deserve the attention they have earned by putting together a quality team that should be good for the next few years. They are a compelling team and HBO knows it.

Joe Caporoso – It is hard not to be extremely excited as a Jets fan about our team being featured on this show. Hard Knocks is a terrific show that any true football fan should love and now with the Jets featured on it, I am that much more excited about it. I do agree that the Jets have a strong enough locker room to overcome any distractions and don’t see the extra attention at training camp having any negative impact on their on-field production. There are so many compelling story lines around this team that I think all NFL fans will truly enjoy watching the Jets.

Question #3 – How much progress do you think Mark Sanchez will make in year two?

Jeff Capellini – I like what I am hearing about Sanchez spending 8 hours a day at the complex. He is the type of guy who is completely dedicated to his job and hasn’t got too caught up in the New York scene. I think you will see a smarter Mark Sanchez in 2010 who does a much better overall job of protecting the football. Late in the season last year he did a better job of throwing the football away and I think that will carry over. Next year, I could see him being a 3000 yard guy with more touchdowns than interceptions, and hopefully a QB rating somewhere near 90. Sanchez has all the physical tools to be a very good quarterback in this league.

Joe Caporoso – I agree that one of the most encouraging things you hear about Sanchez is how dedicated he is to improving. He isn’t Matt Leinart, this is a guy who is a gym-rat and spends his days in Brian Schottenheimer’s office breaking down film. I think you will see a substantial improvement over the 20 INTs to 12 TDs and 53.3 completion percentage he had last year. Nobody is saying he is going to be a pro-bowl quarterback but I could see him with 17 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and 57-59 completion percentage.

Question #4 – If you were Mike Tannenbaum would you pursue a trade for Brandon Marshall?

Jeff Capellini – Marshall is obviously a game changing player. I know he has off the field problems but as we saw from Braylon Edwards just because a guy has problems in one city, doesn’t mean they can’t become a good soldier in another city. I do believe the Jets need another receiver but I don’t want to see them part ways with a first round draft pick for Marshall or even Braylon, who I think is developing good chemistry with Sanchez. If the Jets could find someway to acquire Marshall without giving up Braylon or their 1st round pick then I would be for it, but beyond that I wouldn’t make the deal. The Jets have holes to fill at pass rusher and in the secondary so they can’t be parting with a first round pick.

Joe CaporosoPhotobucketI have to admit it would be hard to pass on Marshall’s talent if the Jets could get him for something besides their first round pick or Braylon Edwards but I doubt that is possible. Overall, I think it is best for the Jets to stay away from Marshall, whose off the field problems go deeper than most people. Yes, Braylon might have punched LeBron’s small friend or Antonio Cromartie never learned about contraceptives but Marshall is a guy who has been the target of a gang hit, beat his girlfriend, and has had some other very serious issues. I like our top three receiving targets right now. People underestimate Jerricho Cotchery and I think Dustin Keller has the potential to be a pro-bowl tight end.

I Know That Was A Lot Of Reading So Here Is Some Comedy To Reward You At The End