Turn On The Jets 2010/2011 Report Cards – Calvin Pace

Today we start 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 first, outside linebacker Calvin Pace –

Stat Line – 51 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 3 TFLs, 3 PDs, 1 INT, 1 FF, missed 4 games due to a foot injury

Playoff Stat Line – 10 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 FF

Best Moment – His bone crushing strip sack of Tom Brady in the Jets divisional round playoff victory over the New England Patriots, which landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Fast forward to 4:18 to see the play…

Best Game – He didn’t have one that jumped off the page, but did finish with 7 tackles and a sack against both Cleveland and Cincinnati.

Overall Evaluation – It is hard not to be somewhat disappointed with the production from Pace this past year. For the second straight season, he missed 4 games and he had 2.5 less sacks than he did in 2009. There was also a fairly substantial drop off in the number of big plays he caused. The most encouraging thing about his season was that he recorded a sack in each of the Jets three playoff games. Pace remains the Jets best overall pass rusher, which is less of compliment towards him and more of a statement on how desperately they need to add one. He is a very good all-around football player but shouldn’t be relied on as your number one option to get after the quarterback. (B-)

Future: Pace isn’t going anywhere any time soon considering the monster deal he signed before the 2008 season. It would be nice to see him play 16 games this year and when healthy he will remain a key part of the Jets defense for the foreseeable future. Look for the team to attempt to upgrade the outside linebacker spot opposite him, which could help boost his production.

Duck Eli!

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12 Pack of Jets Off-Season Thoughts – Edition #2

Put it on your calendar, every Friday the rest of the off-season (however long that takes) for your 12 pack of Jets thoughts…

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1. Backup Issues – It will be interesting to see how the Jets handle their backup quarterback situation in 2011. You can’t expect Mark Brunell back for another year. The Jets were lucky to make it through the season without an injury to Mark Sanchez because I still hold firm in the belief that Brunell isn’t capable at his age to hold the fort down for a few weeks if Sanchez was hurt. Kellen Clemens doesn’t appear to have the confidence of the coaching staff and I’d be surprised if they let him compete for the number two spot. The Jets need to find a quality long term backup for their franchise quarterback who has been occasionally banged up over the first two years of his career. Fortunately, it has now been revealed that Sanchez won’t need off-season shoulder surgery. It is never good when your quarterback needs surgery the first two years of his career.

2. Safety Decision – There is likely going to be a decision made at whom to keep at safety between Eric Smith and Brodney Pool. This isn’t necessarily an easy choice since both began to play better towards the end of the season. Smith has slowly developed into one of Rex Ryan’s favorite players after he was initially skeptical about him. He also has the advantage of being a core special team player. Pool might fit better alongside Jim Leonhard and did provide more big plays than Smith last year. I could honestly see this decision going either way but the reality is the Jets still need to finda bigger playmaker to pair with Leonhard long term.

3. Prime-Time – Despite not making the Super Bowl, I still wouldn’t be shocked to see the Jets end up with the most prime-time games of any team in 2011. They have become a national team and a running headline since Rex Ryan has taken over and there are plenty of intriguing match-ups to consider. Jets/Giants and one of the Jets/Patriots games both seem like prime-time locks. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets/Cowboys, Jets/Eagles, Jets/Ravens, or one of the Jets/Dolphins games were on a Sunday, Thursday, or Monday night.

4. Youth Movement – Remember how much panic there was last season when Alan Faneca, Thomas Jones, Leon Washington, Kenyon Coleman, Jay Feely, and Kerry Rhodes (well maybe not him) all left the team? I expect a similar reaction this year when the Jets inevitably lose a fairly sizable group of contributors from the 2010 team. You can’t keep everybody and that is why it is important for young players to step up and to draft well. This past year Wayne Hunter, James Ihedigbo, Drew Coleman, and Mike DeVito all stepped up in bigger roles. In 2011, players like Joe McKnight, John Conner, Kyle Wilson, Patrick Turner, and Jeff Cumberland may need to do the same.

5. Road Warriors – This is fairly obvious but the Jets need to find a way to win their division next year so they can get some home playoff games. They haven’t played one since 2002, which means they have played 8 straight on the road. There certainly wasn’t a home-field advantage defined by this team in the new stadium and until they can improve on their 5-3 home record, they will have to do the tough sledding on the road in the playoffs. Regardless of the past success of wild-card teams, it is such an easier road to have a bye and then host a playoff game instead of trying to string together 3 straight road wins.

6. Scary Stats – The Jets didn’t have a 1,000 yard rusher or receiver, a player with double digit sacks, or anybody with more than 55 receptions. They didn’t score a touchdown in any of their three home losses. My poor cousin went to three games this year since we split the season tickets and saw a grand total of 5 Nick Folk field goals as the Jets scoring.

7. Poetic Justice – I am pretty sure the Bart Scott post-game interview has exceeded Joe Namath’s “I want to kiss you” interview as the most popular in team history. I already have the auto-tune version on my I-Pod and if you think I won’t be celebrating every touchdown in my flag football league this spring with the airplane arms, you are crazy.

8. Super Bowl – Check out my Super Bowl XLV predictions on SeatGeek. SeatGeek is the leading ticket search engine that enables fans to discover the best deals for sports and concerts — Check out SeatGeek next season when you’re looking for NFL tickets.

9. 2011 Draft – In case you weren’t aware, the Jets have a draft pick in every single round this year except for the 2nd, which they lost in the Antonio Cromartie trade. They pick 30thoverall in the first round.

10.  Under the Radar – A few players who don’t get a ton of press but put together very good years – Brandon Moore, who many thought would finally get a chance at a Pro-Bowl in 2010 due to his consistently high level of play…Sione Pouha, who has been rock solid filling in for an injured Kris Jenkins the past two seasons…Tony Richardson who held off John Conner all year and kept paving the way for one of the NFL’s top rushing attacks…Ben Hartsock who cut down on the penalties and is a key part of the running game.

11. Here is hoping Curtis Martin gets in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, like he deserves to

12. Video Weekend Clips – Swaggerlicious edition

Who Will Lead the Ground and Pound in 2011?

In his end of the year press conference, Mike Tannenbaum left the door open for LaDainian Tomlinson being potentially released before the 2011 season starts. As of now, I would still stay it sounds more likely that Tomlinson will be back to finish out his contract with the New York Jets but this team hasn’t been shy about cutting veterans as the season approaches in the past.

Under the assumption that Tomlinson is back in 2011, it would have to be in a reduced role which is something Tomlinson himself said he would be open to in a recent interview. Shonn Greene was never really given the chance to shine as a feature back because of a fast start by Tomlinson and a fumble in week one by Greene.

Considering the type of back Greene is, he needs more carries to be at his best. He has the ability to wear down a defense and remain strong into the fourth quarter of a game. Unfortunately, Greene was only given more than 20 carries once all season and had 12 or less carries in nine games.

In 2011, Greene needs to be in the 17-22 carry range, week in and week out to see if he can be the 1,200 yard back we all think he is capable of being. There also needs to be a role for Joe McKnight in the offense this season. I am aware what a let-down he was in 2010 but he did show potential against Buffalo in week 17 and there is no question he has talent as both a runner and receiver.

Personally, I am all for Tomlinson coming back in 2011. Yet, it needs to be as the team’s primary third down back and as a guy who occasionally spells Greene for a series or two. He shouldn’t be getting more than 8-10 touches a game on offense, considering McKnight should get a shot unless he falls flat on his face in pre-season again. The Jets would be too thin at running back if they let Tomlinson walk, unless of course they could find a way to get Chauncey Washington or Danny Woodhead back.

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Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes?

Let’s a take a few paragraphs to expand on a popular debate among Jets fans and a major question the Jets front office is facing this year, if forced to pick one, who should the Jets focus on bringing back at wide receiver: Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes?

If you look at the statistics and their body of work from the 2010 season, you can make a convincing argument for both sides. Edwards finished with 53 receptions, 904 yards, and 7 touchdowns. He only dropped two passes all season and was a reliable target over the middle. Santonio Holmes ended up with 52 receptions, 746 yards, and 6 touchdowns in only 12 games of work. He caught the game winning pass three straight weeks in the middle of the year and racked up multiple highlight reel catches.

However, this is an argument that goes past statistics and an argument that I feel needs to end with Santonio Holmes being who the Jets focus on bringing back. I am aware he will command more money and is an off the field incident away from a season long suspension, yet it’s not like Edwards is going to come on the cheap and also isn’t on thin ice with the team and league for his off the field behavior.

Simply put, Holmes is a more irreplaceable player than Edwards. I saw Michael Safino of SNY.TV argue this the other way and I couldn’t disagree more. Holmes has unique game breaking ability and is one of the most clutch players in the NFL. He can do things on a football field that Edwards and just about no other receiver in this league are capable of.

Defensive coordinators lose sleep at night trying to figure out how to stop a slot receiver with the speed and run after the catch ability of Holmes. Nobody is saying Edwards isn’t a dangerous weapon but the Jets can replace him, internally. He does have a unique combination of size and speed, but an increased role for Dustin Keller will help compensate for the loss of Edwards height on the outside.

The Jets tight end is 6’2, 250 pounds and has shown the ability to make big plays down the field when given enough targets. There is also the off chance that Patrick Turner or Jeff Cumberland, who both have great size can develop into a contributing part of the Jets offense.

Santonio Holmes is simply a better all-around receiver than Braylon Edwards and has the potential to develop into a consistent All-Pro receiver if Mark Sanchez keeps progressing the right way. It would be a crime to take away somebody of Holmes’ unique ability from our young franchise quarterback.