New York Jets 2010 Draft Class Needs To Grow Up

This past season wasn’t a productive one for the Jets rookies. Mike Tannenbaum has hit on his share of picks since becoming the Jets GM but the early returns on the 2010 draft class weren’t very promising. Let’s take a look back at what they did but more importantly what they are going to need to do in 2011 for the Jets to remain a top team in the AFC —

Kyle Wilson – 21 tackles, 5 passes defenses, 7.4 yards per punt return, 300 pass interference penalties

Before the season started, Rex Ryan declared Kyle Wilson his starting nickel and top punt returner. In the summer, he said the Jets could survive without Darelle Revis because Wilson had shown so much promise…um, not exactly. Wilson struggled heavily in coverage and was eventually passed on the depth chart by Drew Coleman and he also never looked comfortable on punt returns. It is too early to call Wilson a bust but he clearly needs to re-adjust his game to the NFL level and learn how to play the football in the air.

I wouldn’t be shocked if Drew Coleman wasn’t back in 2011 and there is also a chance Antonio Cromartie might not return. Either way, the coaching staff is going to give Wilson another shot to at least be the full time nickel corner. The Jets need him to develop so slot receivers can stop slicing them apart in the middle of the field. Wilson also needs to pick it up as a punt returner so the Jets don’t have to risk Jerricho Cotchery (who could be a starter again if Braylon Edwards leaves) or Santonio Holmes back there.

Vladimir Ducasse – 1 King Ugly Runner-Up Award

Winning the King Ugly Runner-Up Award in training camp was about the most memorable moment of the season for Vladimir Ducasse. He clearly wasn’t ready to compete for the starting guard job in August and Matt Slauson held the position down well all year. There is a good chance Ducasse will have a chance to compete with Wayne Hunter for the starting right tackle spot this year, if the Jets decide to let Damien Woody walk. If Ducasse can’t win that job, you would hope he shows enough progress to at least contribute in their big packages and provide decent depth.

Joe McKnight – 39 carries, 189 yards, 3 receptions, 20 yards, plenty of vomit

Joe McKnight didn’t show up to rookie minicamp ready to play and it was really all down hill from there. He couldn’t protect the ball in the pre-season and was buried on the inactive list for most the year. McKnight did show some promise on special teams toward the end of the season and played well in the Jets regular season finale against Buffalo.

There is a good chance that Brad Smith won’t be back and also a small chance LaDainian Tomlinson won’t return in 2011. Either way, the Jets will need McKnight to take a bigger role on the offense and special teams. Tomlinson can’t handle as many touches on offense and McKnight needs to show his ability to be a dual threat as a runner/receiver the Jets drafted him for.

John Conner – 8 carries, 44 yards, 1 touchdown, 1,000,000 compliments from Rex Ryan

For a player who did so little this year, Conner gets a ton of hype. However, to be fair Tony Richardson put together another solid year at the fullback position and it is a good thing that Conner had a full season to be mentored by him. He did show a ton of potential in the pre-season and should be the Jets fullback for a long, long time or for at least as long as Rex Ryan is around. I am anxious to see him be a starter and hope he learned plenty from Richardson.

12 Pack of Jets Off-Season Thoughts – Edition #1

We can’t just stop the 12 pack because the Jets decided to only play one half in the AFC Championship Game. On to edition #1 of the off-season 12 pack, but not before a friendly reminder to follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (@TurnOnTheJets)…check out that new Twitter bar on the side of the home page, not bad right? A special thanks to Will Horton who migrated TOJ off the Fanball server and on to our new one.

1. The Running Backs – I am certainly not against LaDainian Tomlinson coming back for another year with the New York Jets. He is a valuable outlet for Mark Sanchez and provides necessary leadership on the offensive side of the football. However, the Jets have to be careful to not let him stunt the growth of Joe McKnight and especially Shonn Greene. Due to Tomlinson’s strong start, Greene never really received the chance to develop into the number one back we all envisioned him as. Down the stretch when he started to play better, he still wasn’t getting enough carries because Tomlinson maintained a big role in the offense.

Joe McKnight wasn’t ready to contribute this past season but did show signs of hope towards the end of the year. The coaching staff apparently loves his skill set and the only way to see if he can become a part of this offense is to give him a chance. If Tomlinson returns, it needs to be in a reduced role that allows Greene to get 17-20 carries a game and McKnight to get 7-9 offensive touches himself at running back and receiver. The future of this backfield is Greene, McKnight, and John Conner at fullback and the future should start in 2011.

2. The Mark Sanchez Question – I am still amazed at how hesitant some people are to give Sanchez credit for the type of season he put together in 2010. There is no question he struggles with inaccuracy at times and hits stretches of inconsistency, however on the whole he threw 5 more touchdowns and 7 less interceptions, along with over 800 more yards than he did his rookie year. He took major strides forward in his second year as a starting quarterback and is developing into one of the best quarterbacks in the league at avoiding the pass rush and making a play outside of the pocket. Most importantly, he has the necessary intangibles to be a leader of a team and consistently plays well in big spots. The guy has four road playoff victories in his first two years and has a bright future as the Jets offense becomes more aggressive.

3. Changing Faces – Marcus Dixon, Marquice Cole and James Ihedigbo are three role players who I expect to see more playing time on defense in 2011. They all showed potential in limited reps and with at least a few defensive backs and defensive lineman leaving as free agents or being released, should get an opportunity to create bigger roles for themselves.

4. Bye, Vernon – Mike Tannenbaum made it pretty clear today that we shouldn’t expect to see Vernon Gholston back in 2011. Why would the team even bother at this point? Three seasons, zero sacks, and limitless hype and “Gholston is finally getting it” stories…it is time to move on.

5. Let’s Not Repeat – Let’s face the reality that Kyle Wilson showed signs of being a bust in his rookie year. He seemed overwhelmed by the NFL game and was out-played by Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery all season. Wilson will be given every opportunity to be at least the nickel back if not the starter opposite Darrelle Revis (if Antonio Cromartie leaves) and he needs to take advantage of it. Hopefully, he will learn from his rookie mistakes instead of losing confidence from his struggles.

6. Scary Stats Part 1 – Bart Scott has 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble in two seasons with the Jets. Drew Coleman had 4 sacks and 5 forced fumbles this season for the Jets…Bryan Thomas had less than 40 total tackles this season despite starting every game at outside linebacker…Dwight Lowery had the same amount of regular season touchdowns this season as Shonn Greene.

7. Preparing For Life Without Brad – We all want him back and we all know how valuable he is, but I have hard time seeing the Jets pay Brad Smith, Josh Cribbs type money in a year they have to pay David Harris, Antonio Cromartie, and Santonio Holmes. Joe McKnight needs to pick up the slack on kick return and as an option running the football. Patrick Turner can help fill the void at receiver and will get more playing time any way with Braylon Edwards likely leaving.

8. To Shaun Ellis and Mike Tannenbaum – Let’s have cooler heads prevail this off-season and work something out. Nobody wants to see Ellis finish his career in a different color jersey than Green and White and he would be a great mentor to whatever young defensive lineman the Jets draft this year.

9. Already Excited – New York’s current JV team (the Giants) at New York’s finest this season…you know that game has Monday or Sunday night football written all over it.

10. Plax and Aso – There has been plenty of chatter about both Plaxico Burress and Nnamdi Asomugha joining the Jets this year. However, I would say there is less than a ten percent chance of either happening. Asomugha is only coming here if he agrees to take much less than he is worth, which I doubt he will do. I could see the Jets exploring Burress but I’d be surprised to see them add another sideshow especially since there is no guarantee he’d be anywhere near the player he once was considering his time off.

11. Anybody Else – Been spending time wondering what would have happened if Ben Roethlisberger didn’t complete that third and six pass to Antonio Brown?

12. Video Therapy (Wide Receiver Edition) —

Enjoy your weekend…

TOJ's Initial Thoughts On Jets 2011 Defensive Depth Chart

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First guess on the what the defense will look like 2011…

A much needed reminder to follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TurnOnTheJets) and Twitter (@TurnOnTheJets)

Defensive Line – Draft Pick, Free Agent, Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito, Kris Jenkins, Shaun Ellis, Ropati Pitoitua – I think Kris Jenkins will agree to take a major pay cut and give it another shot for the Jets. What other option does he have? Nobody is paying him with how much time he missed the past two years. I can see negotiations with Shaun Ellis getting ugly, the Jets letting him waver in free agency for awhile but then ultimately finding a way to bring him back on a cheap, short-term deal. Does he really want to go somewhere else after spending his whole career here? He is another guy who won’t get big money elsewhere. The Jets do need to spend an early draft pick at defensive end and should sign a veteran to replace Trevor Pryce. Hopefully, Pitoitua can contribute this year.

Linebackers – David Harris, Calvin Pace, Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas, Draft Pick/Free Agent, Jamaal Westerman, Josh Mauga – This is another area the Jets need to spend a draft pick in. I am not sure what free agency will look like in this area but it would be good to see them add some youth here. Jason Taylor won’t be back. Westerman and Mauga have shown potential in the past couple years and are developmental players. David Harris isn’t going anywhere, you can bank on that.

Secondary – Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Jim Leonhard, Brodney Pool, Kyle Wilson, James Ihedigbo, Marquice Cole, Dwight Lowery, Draft Pick – I think the Jets will find a way to get Cromartie back after dealing with Harris and Santonio Holmes. They can’t keep everybody so don’t be surprised to see Drew Coleman and Eric Smith leave, as they will want Kyle Wilson to have a bigger role and Pool’s play improved down the stretch. I am sure Rex Ryan will insist they spend another draft pick in the secondary, either at safety or corner.

Overall – I think the Jets will be able to get Jenkins and Ellis back on the cheap as they work younger players into the defensive line positions. The bottom line is that long term replacements are needed for Ellis and Bryan Thomas and the Jets aren’t loaded with draft picks, so Mike Tannenbaum needs to hit in the first and third round or get creative with free agency or a trade. Rex Ryan loves his corners, which is why I think after taking care of Harris and Holmes, the Jets next priority won’t be Braylon Edwards or Brad Smith, but will rather be Cromartie. Eric Smith, Drew Coleman, Jason Taylor, and Trevor Pryce are the major contributors who won’t be back.

TOJ's Initial Thoughts On Jets 2011 Offensive Depth Chart

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Just throwing it out there at the earliest possible point in the off-season on what I think the New York Jets line-up could look like on both sides of the ball in 2011, I will update this a few times before free agency starts (if it starts), for today here is the offense…

Offense

Quarterback – Mark Sanchez, Kellen Clemens, Veteran Free Agent – It is good to have a franchise quarterback in place and not be like the Dolphins and have to draft one in the second round every two years and then watch him play so poorly, you are talking yourself into Tyler Thigpen being a viable option. The Jets do need to address the backup situation, unless they suddenly found confidence in Kellen Clemens.

Running Backs – Shonn Greene, LaDainain Tomlinson, Joe McKnight – In the end, I think Tomlinson will be back for year two of his contract but he needs a reduced role in the offense. Did you see how Shonn Greene ran against Pittsburgh? He needs the chance to get 17-20 carries each week, every week from week one on. Joe McKnight also needs a bigger role in the offense, as long as he doesn’t spend his off-season eating McDonalds and playing NCAA on Playstation. Tomlinson has value as a pass catcher out of the backfield and getting 8-10 carries a game next year.

Fullback – John Conner – He had a full year to learn behind one of the best in the business in Tony Richardson…now it is his time to take over.

Wide Receiver – Santonio Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith, Patrick Turner – I hope I’m wrong but in the end I don’t think the Jets will be able to bring back both Holmes and Braylon Edwards. However, I do think they can get Holmes and Smith back. Patrick Turner has some size and potential and could be a steady contributor next year. Cotchery is more than capable of handling the number two spot.

Tight Ends – Dustin Keller, Ben Hartsock, Jeff Cumberland – The Jets kept Cumberland on the 53 man roster all of this year without making active once (excluding the Buffalo game), so you have to figure he will get a chance to factor in the passing game this year. As a matter of fact, I can already hear Mike Tannenbaum justifying let Braylon Edwards walk by saying they expect big things from Turner and Cumberland.

Offensive Line – D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Brandon Moore, Nick Mangold, Matt Slauson, Wayne Hunter/Vladimir Ducasse, Rob Turner – I am calling it right now that the Jets will re-sign Wayne Hunter and have him compete with Vladimir Ducasse for the starting right tackle spot, after making the tough decision to let Damien Woody walk. Matt Slauson will remain the starter at guard and Rob Turner will be the top backup at guard and center.

Overall – The Jets focus on the off-season will be on the other side of the football. They will attempt to save money on offense by letting Edwards and Woody walk and hoping that Turner and Cumberland can pick up the production at receiver/tight end and that Hunter or Ducasse can take over at right tackle full time.

Hope Dies: Jets Can't Overcome First Half Deficit

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You can’t expect to win games when you fall behind 24-0, nor when you can’t execute a hurry up offense because there is no communication between the sideline and quarterback, nor when you decide to keep LaDainian Tomlinson in the game when Shonn Greene is averaging nearly 6 yards a carry.

In the end, are you shocked our season ended on a slot receiver catching a pass? Too big of a hole…and the Jets were a miracle short in 2010. Unfortunately, we are turning into the Philadelphia Eagles of the AFC.

Two straight years of losing in the AFC Championship Game is tough to stomach right now. We know we have a coach and we know we have a quarterback (20/33, 233 yards, 2 TDs) but there will still be plenty of changes to the roster next year.

It could be a long wait until next season, so there is plenty of time to rehash this game, right now I have to realize this streak without a Super Bowl is going to continue.