Better Than Expected: Jets Who Will Surprise in 2010

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 First a few updates:

1. I’d like all the TOJ fans to know that I am blogging through injury right now, almost like Curt Schilling in the ALCS if he was actually hurt and didn’t put ketchup on his sock. Anyway, I was out in Morristown and felt something stuck on the bottom of my shoe so I reached to pull it out, unfortunately I forgot how my friend had hands like Sinorce Moss and dropped a beer near me about 15 minutes earlier so yes, I pulled glass out with my bare hands, which apparently makes you bleed..alot. Fortunately thanks to the brave soldiers of the Morristown volunteer ambulance corps, I am now typing with a heavily bandaged left hand which is impacting my typed words per minute. I just wanted to make sure everybody appreciated the extra time this article took, which has delayed my plans for the night. The plans? Either playing Tecmo Super Bowl for SNES or starting to watch The Wire on DVD.

2. Very disappointing effort by the Lakers last night. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett might as well have been in wheelchairs and Boston still found a way to win. This feels like a seven game series.

3. Highly recommend Get Him To The Greek.

4. The Jets minicamp practices will be open to the public next week. On Monday you could go watch at Florham Park and on Wednesday they will be practicing in the new stadium starting at 11:30 AM free of admission. However, you still have to get a ticket in advance to show at the door, even though the ticket is free.

5. The Jets are the fourth highest rated team in this year’s version of Madden…oh how far we have come. They are behind the Colts, Saints and Ravens.

6. Chris Mortensen is reporting that it is basically a done deal that quarterback Mark Brunell will join the Jets in mid-July. It will likely logically follow that Kellen Clemens will be cut, and leave Erik Ainge and Kevin O’Connell to battle for the #3 spot.

Better Than Expected: Jets Who Will Surprise in 2010

I am not sure I have heard one person who analyzes the NFL say that LaDainian Tomlinson will have a good year for the Jets in 2010. Everybody has already jumped on the bandwagon that the Jets were ill-advised to sign him and he will continue his rapid decline this season. It is more than fair to question Tomlinson’s ability to be productive because of how he played towards the end of last season. However, I wonder if at this point the expectations are so low for him around the league that he now has a chance to surprise a good deal of people by giving the Jets a quality year. Nobody is saying the guy is going to run for 1,000 yards but a highly motivated future hall-of-famer, now playing behind an offensive that actually knows how to run block and for a coach who is committed to running the football, Tomlinson could do better than expected this season. If he can get his yards per carry up in the 3.9-4.2 range, continue to excel in goal-line situations, and remains the quality receiver out of the backfield he always has been the Jets will have got their money’s worth. 550-650 rushing yards, 200 receiving yards, and 6-8 total touchdowns and I’d be satisfied with Tomlinson’s production and at that point it would be hard to say he was a bust for the team. Who else will exceed expectations on the Jets in 2010?

PhotobucketBrodney Pool – He has received a little press recently but is still frequently lost in the shuffle when people talk about the Jets new acquisitions. Pool isn’t a big name guy like Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, Jason Taylor, or Tomlinson but that doesn’t mean he can’t have a big impact on the Jets defense. Unless he suffers an injury, he will be the opening day starter at safety in Kerry Rhodes old spot. Pool won’t shy away from contact like Rhodes and has already impressed the coaching staff with his study habits, enthusiasm, and willingness to do whatever the coaching staff asks him. Don’t forget Pool was having a very good season last year (5o tackles, 1 sack, 4 INTs in 10 games) before his season was cut short by an injury. It will be exciting to see how Rex Ryan uses him in the Jets scheme and if he can produce the big plays Rhodes failed to last season.

Calvin Pace – Another player who gets lost in the shuffle alot when people talk about the Jets defense. Pace had 55 tackles and 8 sacks in only 12 games last season, after missing the first 4 because of suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. When discussing who could get double digit sacks in 2010, most conversation centers around Jason Taylor while forgetting to recognize Pace could easily get in the 10-12 sack range in his second season playing in Rex Ryan’s system.

Joe McKnight – The amount of pessimism around McKnight is pretty laughable at this point. It sounds like everybody is ready to give up on the guy because he threw up a few times during rookie OTAs, forgetting another fourth round scatback dropped so many punts and fumbled so many balls in his first few weeks of practices that he logged 87 miles of Mangini penalty laps and turned out to be pretty decent.

Similar to Washington and Shonn Greene last year, look for a somewhat slow start followed by McKnight becoming a big factor in the Jets offense during the second half of the season.

Brad Smith – So you are a defensive coordinator trying to stop the Jets…Shonn Greene  is gashing you behind Nick Mangold and Brandon Moore, Mark Sanchez is spreading the ball around to Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery, and Dustin Keller, LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight (if you can’ tell yet, I really enjoy listing all of the Jets skill position players) are catching screens and swing passes out of the backfield, and now Brad Smith checks in at quarterback to run the “Tiger” formation. Is he running option? Is he going to handoff to Greene or McKnight coming in motion or fake the hand off and keep the ball around the end? Is he going to pull up and throw the football for a big play down the field? Don’t forget about Smith as a guy who could create some huge plays for the Jets this year.

Saturday Morning Breakfast: Kris Jenkins, Fantasy Football, Dustin Keller, David Clowney

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A few of plates of Jets talk for you to digest before you start your Saturday

People are always quick to point out concerns about the depth of the Jets defensive line and it is a fair point. Shaun Ellis is a graybeard but he has still been productive the past few seasons. Mike DeVito is unproven as a starter. Yet, can we not forget that Kris Jenkins is coming back this season? Do you remember how this guy was playing the first 12 games of the 2008 season? He was the best player on the Jets defense and was completely unblockable. Yes, he is coming off major surgery but if the Jets are smart and limit his snap count, he can be a beast in the middle for them. Beyond that, he has the versatility to slide out to the defensive end position, as does Sione Pouha who had a very good season last year after Jenkins was hurt. Basically, what I am saying is that even though the Jets are thin at defensive end (unless Ropati Pitoitua or gasp…Vernon Gholston develops into a solid player) they have two quality defensive tackles and Rex Ryan can get creative to use them to compensate for any shortcomings at the end position.

The Jets are never a popular target for fantasy football owners and despite some big name acquisitions this off-season, I don’t think that will change too drastically. First off, Mark Sanchez can’t be relied on as a fantasy starter until he becomes more consistent. Second, they have three very good receivers but they all will be splitting receptions, which means each week it could be a different player who has a big game. Third, while Shonn Greene should be the lead back, it remains to be seen how many goal-line carries he is getting compared to LaDainian Tomlinson. Manish Mehta just wrote a good piece over at The Jets Stream about Dustin Keller potentially being in for a big season and I think he may be the most reliable fantasy starter you could have from the Jets. He should be a quality fantasy tight end, especially because of the looks he will get in the red-zone.

David Clowney was initially in low spirits after the Santonio Holmes trade. However, the reports are that he has looked good in OTAs and he has dedicated himself to becoming a core special teams player for the Jets. The team needs somebody like him to step up on special teams to help fill the void left by Wallace Wright and even though Clowney might not get a ton of looks at receiver after Holmes returns from receiver, he still could be a valuable member of the team. He has also been kicking ass with his charity work this off-season, which has included trips to Haiti and Ghana.

New TOJ TV

Jets Thoughts To Take You Into The Weekend

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First off, get yourself excited for the 2010 Jets despite Revis skipping OTAs yesterday by enjoying a new episode of TOJ TV…don’t worry if you hate my acting, this is a highlight video to get fired up for next year by producer James Corbett.

Second, relax a little about the Revis negotiations (and this is also a note to myself). John Geiger, who is Revis’ best friend and manager said encouraging news could be coming for Jets fans today. I doubt something gets done in the next few hours but it still shows there is progress being made. How long could Tannenbaum really let this go on, despite holding all the cards since Revis has three years left on his deal and stands to lose out on up to 20 million dollars if he starts skipping mandatory practices? If I am the Jets or Revis, I want this behind us before training camp and then let’s move on to addressing Nick Mangold’s contract. Get creative, Tannenbaum.

Third, the Jets signed fifth round pick fullback John Conner today, which means it will only be four years until there is a potential contract problem with him.

Fourth, interesting question to throw out for Jets fans, if you could only have one player spend the rest of his career with the team would it be Nick Mangold or Darrelle Revis? I think I am going with Revis. You just don’t see legit lock down corners like him in the NFL.

Fifth, what would be the worst Jets jersey to buy this season? My vote is for Jason Taylor or LaDainian Tomlinson. They are going to on the team for no more than two years and really, how could you get a Taylor jersey? If you buy a Tomlinson jersey, you look like a bandwagon fan. Other nominees include the collection from the under 15 dollar bin at Wal-Mart, featuring:

  • Kellen Clemens
  • Vernon Gholston
  • Nick Folk (who will inevitably be cut before week 1)
  • Dwight Lowery (marked down after the AFC Championship Game)

Finally, if I could change one thing about Mark Sanchez, who I am a huge fan of, it would be his soccer-esque celebrations after touchdowns. I want him to make the switch to the Jordan/Kobe single fist pump and hold or break out the “you can’t see me” face wave directed to the opposing sideline.

Watch It, Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets), Check out the Podcast (see tab on top of page), and be prepared for TOJ: The Store

Pay The Man

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Unless you lack access to technology, you have heard by now that Darrelle Revis skipped the Jets OTA today because of dissatisfaction with his contract situation. We knew there was a chance this could happen but Bart Hubbuch of The New York Post is reporting that Revis is “furious” with the recent offer he was presented with. He is also accusing the organization of leaking the 20 million per year number to make him look bad. According to Hubbuch the Jets recent offer was “pitifully low.” By the way…Nick Mangold also spoke today about potentially holding out if his contract discussions don’t pick up soon. Mike Tannenbaum spoke today and did his normal “speak in circles and say nothing” routine. He said the Revis negotiations were tough because of the uncertain future of the CBA and yada, yada, yada…

We all remember how things went with Pete Kendall, Chris Baker, and Laveranues Coles and I am sure it is weighing in the minds of Revis, Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and David Harris. We all like how aggressive and creative Tannenbaum can be as a GM but he needs to demonstrate that he is willing to take care of his own. He became the team’s GM in 2006 and since then his major draft picks have been Mangold, Ferguson, Revis, Harris, Vernon Gholston, Dustin Keller, Mark Sanchez, and Shonn Greene. Keller, Sanchez, and Greene won’t be problems for a few years in terms of a contract but the core four are rightly looking for their pay day now. Tannenbaum is already 0 for 1 in the “taking care of your own” category because of how the Leon Washington situation went. It is time for him to set a precedent by taking care of the Jets version of the “core four.”

This is no time for posturing. It is time to pay the best corner and best center in the NFL. They are the cornerstones of your team. They have been great both on and off the field. They are everything you want a member of the Jets organization to be. I don’t care about the uncertain future of the CBA, get these contracts done before the season starts. This team doesn’t need the distraction of their best offensive player and their best defensive player being disgruntled. If you want to build a championship contender year in and year out, you start by making sure Mangold and Revis are around for the long term…then you move to locking down Ferguson and Harris.

Need I Say More?

Three Offensive Question Marks For The Jets

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First a few updates:

1. It is always fun to rile up Dolphins fans. A big thank you to everybody from Miami who took the time out of their day to visit my site to criticize my article on their delusional beat writer and team.

2. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

3. Episode number 2 of TOJ: The Podcast is now up and running, as you could see in the story below this one and from “The Podcast” link on top of the page. Give it a listen, as me and Dan Donohue debate the Jets and Giants records in 2010 and where LeBron James will end up.

4. The Jets have OTAs today and tomorrow, followed by ones on June 8th and June 10th.

5. NBA Finals – I am having a real tough time making any type of prediction in this series. It should be a 6 or 7 game battle that is very evenly matched. This series is huge for Kobe Bryant, who could cement himself as one of the five greatest players in NBA History in my mind, if he could beat the Celtics (who embarrassed him last time) and win his second title without Shaq. The major differences between this match-up and the 2008 match-up is that the Lakers now have Ron Artest “Say Queensbridge!” to guard Paul Pierce, Andrew Bynum can give them some minutes in the middle, and on the other side Rajon Rondo has turned into arguably the best point guard in the NBA. I respect what the Celtics have done this year but that doesn’t mean I can’t stand them and their constant whining at the officials…plus I have a natural hate of Boston sports teams. So let’s get it done Black Mamba…I am taking the Lakers in 7.

6. More charity work being done by one of the classiest guys on the team, receiver Jerricho Cotchery. http://bplolinenews.blogspot.com/2010/04/bpl-to-host-score-big-with-new-york.html

Three Offensive Question Marks For The Jets

In reverse order of importance…

Number Three – The Running Backs

PhotobucketThe Jets had the number one ranked rushing attack in the NFL last season, when they racked up 2756 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. An extremely large chunk of that came from Thomas Jones who ran for 1402 yards and 14 touchdowns. Leon Washington also chipped in 331 yards before his week 7 injury. Jones is now in Kansas City and Washington is now in Seattle. Shonn Greene will be replacing Thomas Jones as the number one back and LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight will be combining to replace Leon Washington. I doubt the Jets production will match what is was in 2009 because they are going to throw the ball more and because they will miss Jones and Alan Faneca’s run blocking. That being said, while there are some fair questions about Greene’s ability to be a number one back, he did come on very strong at the end of last season and did show he can carry the load in two playoff games. If he is healthy for all 16 games, he should be a 1100-1200 yard back in this offense. Tomlinson will be relied on to score a big portion of the touchdowns Jones did last season, as he will likely be the team’s goal-line and short yardage back. He will also have to spell Greene a series or two each half and hold down the third down back spot until McKnight is ready. The quicker McKnight can learn pass protections, the quicker he can become a contributing part of the offense.

Number Two – Left Guard

Alan Faneca was probably the Jets fifth best offensive lineman last season. However, he was still a very good run blocker and provided plenty of intangibles and veteran leadership. Despite talk of a competition between this year’s second round pick Vladimir Ducasse and second year player Matt Slauson, it looks like the job is Ducasse’s to lose. He will be making a major jump from Division I-AA at UMass to the NFL. Fortunately, he will be supported by playing in-between two Pro-Bowl players in Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson and he has one of the NFL’s best offensive line coaches in Bill Callahan. Look for the Jets to primarily run the ball behind Brandon Moore in big spots to take pressure off the left guard but either Ducasse or Slauson still has to hold up in pass protection and when the team needs to run to the left side.

Number One – The Quarterback

Well, obviously. It is encouraging that the Jets made it to the AFC Championship Game with Mark Sanchez throwing 12 touchdowns to 20 interceptions and having a 53.8 completion percentage but the team needs more from him in year two. If Sanchez can play the way he did in weeks 1-3, both Dolphins games and the playoffs, the Jets are going to be a 12-4 or 13-3 team and I truly believe that. He needs to find some level of consistency in year two, do a better job of protecting the football, and be more accurate. There isn’t a team in the league with a better top four targets than Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery, and Dustin Keller…Sanchez has to take advantage of that.

No Questions At Receiver

Turn On The Jets: The Podcast Episode 2

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(http://web.me.com/turnonthejets/Site/Podcast/Entries/2010/5/31_TOJ_-_The_Podcast_-_Episode_2.html)

Joe Caporoso and Dan Donohue talk New York football as they go through the Jets and Giants 2010 schedule and predict the record of both teams. Will the Jets meet their lofty expectations? Can the Giants make the playoffs in the always competitive NFC East? The strengths and weaknesses of each team after this off-season are also discussed. At the 30 minute mark, the conversation shifts to the NBA as we debate where LeBron James will end up. Can the Knicks recruit him or is he a better fit with the New Jersey Nets?

(http://web.me.com/turnonthejets/Site/Podcast/Entries/2010/5/31_TOJ_-_The_Podcast_-_Episode_2.html)

Armando Salguero: A Dolphins Beat Writer Living In A Fantasy World

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Since the beginning of the Rex Ryan era, one of my favorite beat writers to read has been Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald. It is always entertaining to get a cheap laugh from the nonsense he has to say in relation to the New York Jets and their rivalry with his Miami Dolphins. It is clearly bothering Armando to be working in a JV sports town like Miami. You know Miami, the city that puts less people in the seats for a Heat game than a WNBA pre-season match-up, despite having a perennial playoff team and one of the best players in the league? The same city that has more fans in green and white than orange and blue during Jets/Dolphins games in their home stadium. We can only hope D-Wade moves on to a real sports town, where his talent can be appreciated and The Miami Herald soon hires a Jets beat writer to cater to all the team’s fans in the area.

Anyway back to Armando who recently wrote a gem of an article entitled “Miami Dolphins Are Not Concerned by New York Jets’ Moves.” He decided to beat the old drum about the Jets crowning themselves as champions in the off-season. Don’t you remember this story from last year when Miami was attacking the Jets for having the same attitude? I remember and I also remember how that attitude brought them within one half of a Super Bowl appearance with a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach while the Dolphins enjoyed the Miami weather with some golf and relaxation. Their off-season started when the regular season ended, while the Jets played until the end of January.

PhotobucketArmando didn’t like how Mark Sanchez said he was confident his team would return to the White House in February, after he returned from a visit himself when he was invited to meet Mexico’s President and his wife. I don’t mind seeing our young quarterback having confidence in his team, instead of spending time criticizing the abilities of college players who are heading into the NFL Draft. Don’t you remember Chad Henne saying he didn’t think Tim Tebow could cut it at this level? Obviously, Henne is an authority on what it takes to be an NFL quarterback considering his 75.2 QB rating last season and his 14 interceptions to 12 touchdowns.

I know, I know those stats are better than Mark Sanchez’s last season, right? Sure they are, but last time I checked Sanchez got better when the games counted more while Henne got worse. I seem to remember Sanchez leading a 4-6 team to the playoffs with big wins in November and December, followed by winning two road playoff games. I also remember Henne having Miami in position to grab a playoff spot at 7-6, before he finished with a 0-3 record leading his to team to a quite impressive 7-9 finish.

Armando also didn’t like Bart Scott talking about the Jets striving to be the greatest defense in NFL history. Why set such high goals, right? The problem is that Scott just can’t say he wants the #1 defense in the NFL, because the Jets already did that last year. Armando has never liked the Jets boasting and bragging. He likes to paint them as a low character team, led by a buffoon of a head coach who flaps his gums too much.

My favorite part of Armando’s latest article was who decided to use for quotes. He went to Jason Ferguson…the guy who is suspended for 8 games this season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. High character indeed. Starting corner Sean Smith was also cited with a few laughable quotes about winning his battles against Braylon Edwards last year. Don’t you remember Smith? The guy hanging on to Edwards for dear life as he carried him into the end-zone during their week 8 match-up. As Manish Mehta of The Daily News recently pointed out on his blog, Edwards had 9 catches for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Dolphins last season. I hope Sean Smith remains satisfied with his level of play because I am sure the Jets would take those numbers again from Braylon.

But back to the picture Salguero like to paint of the Dolphins. The high character team, with no issues to speak of unlike the Jets. Nobody is saying the Jets brought in a bunch of choir boys this off-season but let’s not ignore Miami signing Richie Incognito one of the NFL’s dirtiest players…actually maybe the NFL’s dirtiest player. The guy has had four games in three years, where he had two personal foul penalties in a single game. He also got into a screaming match on the sideline with his coach last season, which was followed by a $50,000 fine by the league and him subsequently being cut.

What about last off-season when four Miami Dolphins were arrested? Ronnie Brown, DUI. Will Allen, DUI. Randy Starks, assaulting a police officer. Tony McDaniel, domestic battery. All of them are still on the team. Oh and don’t forget about Brandon Marshall who was recently acquired and who has a record of quitting on his team, beating up women, and getting involved in gang fights. What about GM Jeff Ireland who was kind enough to ask Dez Bryant in a pre-draft interview if his mother was a prostitute? High class, all the way around in Miami.

PhotobucketSalguero wrote in his article “Miami Dolphins Have True Character, While Jets Are Full of Characters” last November that “The Dolphins are a team with character. The Jets are a bunch of jerks.” Very eloquent and mature writing, Armando…you would think Bart Scott and David Harris took his lunch money or something. Salguero also scripted up these zingers…

“The Jets? They are a beaten, battered bunch…go for it Rex. Have your locker room filled with big talk and so little in the form of results. Have a locker room that drips sarcasm when a little humility is more appropriate.”

He went on to praise the “resilience” and “character” of the Dolphins. Funny enough, after their November match-up the beaten and battered Jets went to the AFC Championship game while the resilient Dolphins finished with a 3-5 record. The Jerks from New York found a way to get the job done.

Salguero has never been too fond of Rex Ryan. He took a cheap shot at him on Twitter the other day, when he praised Tony Sparano for losing 30 pounds this off-season…without the help of a lap-band. Another mature and professional comment. Way to attack a guy who is trying to get healthy and who has attempted to lose the weight without a medical procedure but has now been forced to use that option so he could be around for his family and his football team.

When Salguero discusses Sparano and Ryan, you would think the Dolphins coach has a glittering record of accomplishments. I actually do think he has done a pretty job in Miami but let’s not forget in two seasons, he has zero playoff wins while Ryan has two wins in one season. Sparano made the playoffs once but was smacked around by the Baltimore Ravens, who were led by Ryan on defense, to the tune of 27-9. Salguero must have been cringing with each of the five turnovers Ryan’s defense forced that day.

The final Salguero piece I need to touch on is another funny read “Miami Dolphins, Jets similarly matched despite offseason boasts” from May 16th. Armando seems to be convinced the Jets and Dolphins are basically even on both sides of the ball heading into this season.

PhotobucketThe last time I checked both of Miami’s starting corners would be battling to be a nickel back on the Jets. Their big time acquisition at receiver, Brandon Marshall, will be taken out of the game by that Darrelle Revis guy, leaving the likes of Davone Bess, Greg Camarillo, and Brian Hartline to get open on Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson. Somehow I don’t think Rex Ryan is losing sleep over that. The Jets have a substantial advantage on the offensive line, even without Alan Faneca which compensates for the Dolphins having more talent at running back. Beyond that, I am fascinated to see how Miami plans to cover Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes (in their second match-up), Jerricho Cotchery, and Dustin Keller with their collection of defensive backs. Finally, the Jets have a clear advantage at both outside linebacker and inside linebacker. You couldn’t find a GM in the league who would take Channing Crowder, Karlos Dansby, Cameron Wake, Charlie Anderson, and Koa Misi over Bart Scott, David Harris, Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, and Jason Taylor.

How does Salguero expect the Dolphins to beat the Jets without Ted Ginn Jr. on the roster? The only reason Miami beat the Jets twice last year was for some reason the first round bust decided to actually produce against the Jets. Without Ginn’s heroics against the Jets in 2009, the Dolphins would have been a 5-11 team.

Keep on writing in your fantasy world, Armando and if you ever want debate Jets/Dolphins, I’d love to make an appearance on your radio show.

Did You Win This Battle, Sean?