Prospect Watch: Cameron Heyward

As far as needs are concerned, defensive line is at the very top of the Jets list this year.  Depth and youthare both concerns on the inside and outside of the line, and after skipping over the position the last two drafts, it is time Mike Tannenbaum pulls the draft day trigger on a defensive end.

The first Big Ugly we are going to take a look at is Cameron Heyward, a strong defensive end who has had a ton of hype throughout his college career but did not have as strong of a senior season as he might have hoped for.  Not lacking in experience, Heyward has started on the defensive line since his Freshman year.  Additionally, he is the son of Craig “Ironhead” Heyward. Lauded for his off the field leadership, Heyward has become a perennial run stopper, yet has never fully developed into a dominant pass rusher.  While he shows flashes of dominance, Heyward gets beat by seemingly inferior talent at times, especially when he cant get initial contact.

Heywards biggest strength is his size and….strength.  At 6 foot 6, 287 pounds he is pretty much already ideal size for a 3-4 end.  He has very powerful hands and is able to extend his long arms and create space when he makes initial contact.  Heyward has above average instincts, which comes from him playing all four defensive line positions at one point while in college.  He is able to stay low at the line and drive, which helps him on double teams, something he will see a lot of while at the 3-4 end spot.  All of these traits make Heyward a force to be reckoned with stopping the run, however his pass rush has never fully developed and will need some work, especially at the next level.

Perhaps the biggest concern with Heyward is his lack of athleticism.  He is pretty much a one trick pony, he engages and reads the play, a process that is far to slow to translate to the NFL.  Aside from his lack of pass rush moves, he doesn’t seem to move fast enough to get to the QB.  The combine should be huge for Cameron as he has the chance to show he is quick enough to pick in Round 1, or slow enough to wait for the second day.  Aside from that, Walter Football’s evaluation states he takes entire games off, which is never a good sign.

I don’t think taking Heyward with the 30th pick would be a good move for the Jets.  His name has been linked to the Jets because of their need for DE, but as we have seen, Rex does not put a premium on 3-4 ends, especially ones who can’t get to the QB.  If the Jets had a 2ndround pick I would use it on this guy, but the front office has pressure on them to get 2 rounds worth of value with their first pick, and getting a run stopper akin to ­­­Mike Devito would not be great value.  The Jets first pick must be able to make an immediate impact, Heyward needs to be coached up, and his immediate impact would be just as much as a Rent-A-Veteran while costing the team a lot more.

12 Pack of Jets Off-Season Thoughts – Edition #4

Yes, the 12 pack is back to kick off your long weekend. Read it, learn it, love it…and then buy some tickets off our TiqIQ widget on the side.

Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter

1. Cro A No Go? – Look at that rhyming…I have been surprised by how many Jets fans want to keep Braylon Edwards over Antonio Cromartie (based on the assumption Santonio Holmes will be brought back before both of them). I wouldn’t argue that Edwards had a better year than Cromartie or that he is even a better player. However, Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller are capable of taking on bigger roles in the Jets passing game, which isn’t what drives their offense in the first place. Kyle Wilson and Drew Coleman aren’t capable (at least yet) of taking on bigger roles in man to man coverage, which is the driving force of the Jets defense.

2. Won’t Bury Him Yet – I don’t buy any line of thinking that believes last season demonstrated Shonn Greene can’t be a lead back. Perhaps I am being stubborn but I think he was victimized by a slow start and a surprisingly good year from LaDainian Tomlinson. He only received more than 20 carries, one time all season. Can we see what this guy can do with 20 carries in the three or four straight weeks?

3. Sanchez in 2011 – What are realistic expectations for Mark Sanchez as he enters his third year in the NFL and third year in this offensive system? I think he needs to get over 20 touchdowns, while keeping his interceptions in the 9-11 range. However, the key is to get his completion percentage up to or right below 60 percent…also it will be important for him avoid 17 year olds.

4. Hard Knocks Follow Up – There is no way the Jets aren’t repeating on Hard Knocks right?

5. Can’t See It – Even with the uncertainty surrounding the CBA, I can’t see a scenario where the Jets get Nnamdi Asomugha to join their team. You can’t expect him to take that type of a pay cut to come to New York. Beyond that, I am not sure how much sense it makes to have the two highest paid corners in the league on your team because it will cause neglect at other positions…then again, the Jets might be able to survive with me rushing the passer with those two guys in coverage. Keep in mind Vernon Gholston still doesn’t have more NFL sacks than TOJ.

6. On the Other Hand – I am starting to warm to the idea of Plaxico Burress getting a one year deal from the Jets if Braylon Edwards leaves via free agency. I would much rather take a shot on Plax (no pun intended) than Terrell Owens or Chad Ochocinco. Burress will come on the cheap and should be on best behavior for at least one year. The guy is also a proven winner and clutch player, something TO and Ocho aren’t. Another thought…what about Randy Moss? Only if you could get him on the cheap and on a one year deal (doubtful) but you have to think that guy has a ton of regret for forcing his way out of New England and would love a shot to play them twice in one year.

7. Breather For Basketball – You may have noticed a few basketball links here in the past week and that is going to continue in the coming months. I cover the NBA (primarily the Knicks) for SB Nation at times and have free reign to write about whatever I want at Gunaxin, so keep an eye out for a few non-NFL related links. If you don’t approve, just don’t click on them. I can promise there will never be a shortage of Jets material here.

8. Good Luck to the Big Man – There was some press this week about Kris Jenkins rehab and all you can do is wish him the best. The Jets are obviously going to require a major pay cut from him, which hopefully he will agree to considering the past two years. It would be a tremendous story and boost to the Jets defensive line if Jenkins could return to anywhere near his 2008 form.

9. Playmakers – The only way the Jets are going to become an elite defense in the NFL is if they start creating more sacks and turnovers. A playmaking safety wouldn’t hurt but I don’t know where the Jets are going to find one. It is too bad Kerry Rhodes decided to stop being a good football player after the 2006 and 2007 season.

10. Tip of the Hat – Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson for starting every single game since the Jets drafted them both in the first round before the 2006 season.

11. Not News – It is no longer a news story when Rex Ryan guarantees the Jets are going win the Super Bowl.

12. Weekend Video Clips – Cromartie Edition

Antonio Cromartie Not Coming Back in 2011?

Mike Lombardi of the NFL Network reported last night the New York Jets are planning to not resign cornerback Antonio Cromartie and will instead focus on bringing back both Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. This report hasn’t been contradicted strongly by any of the beat writers, with ESPN’s Rich Cimini saying by reading the “tea leaves” of Mike Tannenbaum’s end of the year press conference, it makes sense. Manish Mehta of the Daily News said a decision hasn’t been reached yet/ Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post wrote today Cromartie returning is still an option but the Jets will focus on getting their three wide receivers back first.

Personally, I would think Santonio Holmes would be the top priority now after taking care of David Harris with the franchise tag. After him, Cromartie should be the next priority and I still have a hard time believing the Jets are going to focus on Braylon Edwards or Brad Smith before him.

Why?

Nobody is saying Braylon Edwards wasn’t very good for the Jets last year and that Smith isn’t a valuable weapon. However, it isn’t a question of those players. It is a question of who is going to have an increased role if they leave via free agency.

The Jets can survive on offense without Edwards and Smith. Jerricho Cotchery is capable of being a starting receiver and Dustin Keller can be very productive with an enhanced role, as we saw last year before Santonio Holmes returned from suspension. Smith is a nice gadget player, who the Jets should still be able to bring back with Cromartie if Edwards leaves but either way their offense can survive without him and yes, so could their special teams.

If Cromartie leaves, are the Jets really prepared to hand the starting cornerback job to Kyle Wilson? Did he do anything last year to make you believe he can handle that role? Rex Ryan has consistently and profusely expressed his love for cornerbacks and considering the Jets aggressive man to man scheme, I can’t see them putting Wilson and Drew Coleman opposite Darrelle Revis and hoping for the best.

The decision to bring Edwards and Smith back before worrying about Cromartie or potentially letting him walk would signal a shift in the Jets philosophy. It would indicate they are embracing a more offensive approach and that they are going to rely more on their passing attack in 2011. If you are going to spend that type of money at receiver, it means you are expecting Mark Sanchez to be able to lead a more wide open, aggressive offense. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing because look at the last two Super Bowl champions and how they won. However, the Jets defense is going to suffer. They still lack a pass rush to compensate for weaknesses at the number two and three corner spot.

I will believe a Rex Ryan led team bringing back three receivers before one cornerback, when I see it.

Turn On The Jets 2010/2011 Report Cards – Bart Scott

Today we continue our series of evaluating how each player on the Jets performed this past season, along with looking forward to what their role on the team will be next year…up today, linebacker Bart Scott –

Stat Line – 81 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble

Playoff Stat Line – 9 tackles, 1 pass defended, 1 all-time interview

Best Moment – Is there even a question? I prefer the auto-tune version…

Best Game –Scott didn’t have any that really jumped off the page. He is more of a steady, consistent player who doesn’t really fill up the stat sheet but is a key component of the Jets run defense. He did have a particularly strong stretch in week 8 and 9 against the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. Over the course of those two games, he had 13 tackles and one sack.

Overall Evaluation – Scott doesn’t make big plays in this defense and probably talks more than his productivity merits. However, he is an emotional leader on the defense and is very good in run support. Don’t underestimate his overall importance just because of his low sack totals or because he doesn’t lead the team in tackles. (B)

Future: Scott got a monster contract before the 2009 season and isn’t going anywhere any time soon, which is good for the Jets run defense and for reporters covering the team.

Random Update — I tweeted Peter King of Sports Illustrated today to prioritize Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Antonio Cromartie if he was Mike Tannenbaum…he responded “Cro-Holmes-Bray, remember Rex LOVES cbs“…take it for what you will but he makes a good point.

Looking Back on 2010 New York Jets Predictions Part 1

Before the season began, I made 40 predictions for the 2010 New York Jets. Let’s see how I did in my first 20…I never claimed to be Nostradamus and I have a feeling this article will show that I am far from it

1. Despite potentially missing up to four games, Calvin Pace will still lead the Jets in sacks this season with 8.5. David Harris and Jason Taylor won’t be far behind with 6.5 each. WRONG — Bryan Thomas led the team with 6 sacks, Pace only finished with 5.5. Harris finished with 3 sacks and Taylor ended with 5. Can we get a pass rush?

2. Darrelle Revis won’t begin playing at his 2009 level until around week five. However, that doesn’t mean he still won’t be very, very good the first few weeks. WRONG — Revis was good week one against the Ravens but hurt himself in week two. He didn’t start playing at his 2009 level until around week 7 or 8.

3. Antonio Cromartie will lead the Jets in interceptions with 7. RIGHT…Kind of — Cromartie did tie Dwight Lowery for the team lead in interceptions, but it was only at 3, not 7.

4. Kris Jenkins will benefit from having Sione Pouha spell him and from his weight loss this off-season to put together an All-Pro year. WRONG — Jenkins was lost for the season in the first quarter of the Jets first game this year.

5. Vernon Gholston will finally record his first NFL sack at some point during the 2010 season and prove to be a decent part of the defensive line rotation. WRONG — Gholston never recorded a sack and never became a consistent contributor on the defensive line.

6. Mark Sanchez will throw for more touchdowns than interceptions in 2010, finishing with 19 TDs to 14 INTs. RIGHT — Sanchez did throw for more touchdowns than interceptions, finishing with 17 touchdowns to 13 interceptions…not bad TOJ…not bad.

7. LaDainian Tomlinson will finish with 950 total offensive yards and 8 total touchdowns. WRONG — Tomlinson finished with 1,282 rushing yards and 6 total touchdowns, exceeding most of our expectations.

8. Shonn Greene will lead the Jets in rushing yards with 1200, and also add on 6 touchdowns of his own. WRONG — Tomlinson led the Jets with 914 rushing yards, Greene finished with 766. I still want to see what Greene can do with 20+ carries in more than one game next season.

9. Joe McKnight will make no significant contributions to the Jets offense this season. RIGHT — Bingo…no week 17 doesn’t count.

10. Jerricho Cotchery will lead the Jets in receptions, Dustin Keller won’t be far behind him and lead the team in touchdown receptions. WRONG — Dustin Keller led the Jets in receptions and Braylon Edwards led the way in touchdown receptions. Cotchery had a fairly disappointing year.

11. Motivated by not being the only member of the Core Four who didn’t get paid, David Harris will put together his best career season and get Patrick Willis type money next off-season. TBA — It is hard to say whether Harris had his best career year, statistically he certainly didn’t but he was voted Team MVP. He just received the franchise tag, which gives him the average pay of the top five linebackers in the league and there is still a good chance he will get a long term deal.

12. Kyle Wilson will put together a strong rookie year as the Jets nickel back and will eventually become the primary punt returner. He will have two interceptions and two sacks in 2010. WRONG — Wilson struggled on defense and special teams, finishing with zero interceptions and zero sacks.

13. Shaun Eliis will have a quiet but productive year with 4 sacks, in what will likely be his final season in green and white. RIGHT — Sounds about right to me as Ellis finished with 4.5 sacks but was still strong in run support. Let’s hope he comes back to finish his career in New York.

14. Brodney Pool will get his feet under him in the Jets defense after the bye week and finish the season strongly, proving to be an upgrade over Kerry Rhodes. RIGHT — It took a little longer than I thought but Pool did play better after the bye week and finished the season especially strong. I would argue he was better than Kerry Rhodes was for the Jets in 2009.

15. The Jets will go 4-2 in their six games prior to their bye week. WRONG — The Jets went 5-1 in their six games prior to their bye week, not far off though.

16. The Jets will finish 7-3, en route to a 11-5 record and AFC East title. — RIGHT…kind of, I know they actually finished 6-4 in these games but I still got the final record right despite them not winning the AFC East.

17. The Jets will split with Miami and New England. RIGHT — They split with both teams.

18. The Jets will avoid their yearly letdown against the Bills and sweep them in 2010. RIGHT — Yes, he is heating up…

19. Braylon Edwards will start the season strongly and remain a big play threat for the entire year. Yet, there won’t be enough touches for him to approach 1,000 yards receiving or have any more than 5-6 touchdowns. RIGHT — I am giving myself this one, Edwards started the year strong and was a big play threat all season. He didn’t reach 1,000 yards, finishing with 904 and ended with 7 touchdowns.

20. Santonio Holmes return will be a major boost to the Jets offense in week 5 and he will develop into their unquestioned number one receiver during the stretch run and into the playoffs. RIGHT/WRONG — Holmes was a huge boost to their offense and even though you would hesitate to say he was their unquestioned number one receiver during the stretch run and into the playoffs, he did lead the team in receiving yards in weeks 9, 10, 11, and 13 and led the team in receiving touchdowns during the playoffs.

Check back tomorrow to see how I did in the last 20…

Turn On The Jets 2010/201 Report Cards – Sione Pouha

Today we continue our series of evaluating how each player on the Jets performed this past season, along with looking forward to what their role on the team will be next year…up today, defensive lineman Sione Pouha –

Stat Line – 59 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 passes defended

Playoff Stat Line – 14 tackles, 1 sack

Best Moment – Two moments jump out to me when thinking about Pouha’s season, first was his fumble recovery when Joe Flacco was sacked on the Jets first defensive play of the season and second was his sack of Tom Brady in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Best Game – Despite coming in a losing effort, Pouha had a monster game against the Miami Dolphins in week 14 (sounds similar to Brodney Pool, know?). He racked up 10 tackles and a sack and the crowd got more into their “POOO-HA” chants than usual.

Overall Evaluation – Similar to 2009, Pouha stepped in for an injured Kris Jenkins and did a more than admirable job. He is a quality starter in the NFL and a very good fit for Rex Ryan’s system. I would love to see the potential of this defensive line if Jenkins could actually stay healthy for a season and have Pouha playing alongside him. Pouha’s tackle totals for a defensive lineman are particularly impressive and emphasize how solid he is against the run. (B+)

Future: Pouha will be back with the team next year and probably will be given the starting role as Kris Jenkins works back from yet another injury. If Jenkins can recover, it will be interesting to see how much work Pouha gets at defensive end alongside him. Regardless of how healthy Jenkins does get, Pouha is now at the point where he is going to play plenty of reps no matter what.

Look at the big fella with the scoop

A New Member Joins the TOJ Team

As always, follow us on twitter at, www.twitter.com/TurnOnTheJets and on facebook at www.facebook.com/TurnOnTheJets to get your up to the minute TOJ news.

TOJ would like to welcome a new member to our writing team, AJ Malvisi from Bucknell University, making the Patriot League well represented here (I went to Lehigh for graduate school). AJ will be leading our coverage of the NFL Draft, but first here is a chance to get to know him a little better…

My name is AJ, and I’m going to be the new contributor at TOJ, I’m really excited about this opportunity to talk New York Jets football in the coming weeks with you guys, but first let me clarify a few things.  No, that isn’t a young Darrelle Revis you see on your screen, that’s me, and the beginning of my sometimes great, sometimes miserable life as a Jets fan.  The gang green gene was passed down to me from my Dad, and I have been bred to a life in Green and White (and Blue and Orange, unfortunately). How many years have I been rooting for the Jets? That’s hard to say, there are real time years, and then there are Jets fan years (rough conversion 1yr=2.25 NYJ yrs) so while I still may be in glorified summer camp college, I feel like I am having my mid life crisis as a Jets fan.

My first memory related to the Jets was nagging my dad in his room one morning as I was attempting to conceptualize how any fully functional human being could root for a team that had only won 1 game the entire season.  As he climbed into bed he looked at me and said, “Son, I just don’t know how we do it.”  But such is life when rooting for the Jets, they make you scream at your TV, rip your hair out, bite your finger nails, and start chain smoking, but when they win, when they give back the effort and passion that you give in each and every day, its euphoric.  It is the Yin and Yang of being a Jets fan, for every time Doug Brein misses two game winning kicks with less than two minutes to go in a playoff game leaving you sitting dumbfounded holding hands with your uncles asking God why you go to church on Sunday; Shonn Greene runs over Chargers FS Eric Weddle and into the end zone in the divisional playoffs prompting you to start screaming and hugging random people at a bar in Spain where you are the only Jets fan within a 4,000 mile radius; but I digress.

The decision to write on this blog was an easy one, I’m passionate about my team and I’m relishing the chance to talk to other smart, enthusiastic, and opinionated fans.  Until the end of April, I will be bringing you NFL draft coverage to feed you your off season needs.  I cant wait, see you next time.