12 Pack of Jets Off-Season Thoughts – Edition #6

Yes, back for more with edition #6…hopefully not our last pre-lockout edition but it likely will be…

1. Darrelle Revis has continued to push hard for the Jets to bring back Antonio Cromartie next year, not sounding too confident in Kyle Wilson in the process. Can you blame him? You can say what you want about Cromartie on or off the field, but the defense would be clearly taking a big risk by handing a starting job to Wilson next season. The guy was buried on the depth chart by the end of last year and hasn’t done anything yet to make us think he’d be ready to handle constantly being picked on as the corner opposite the best corner in the league.

2. No Bob Sanders and no OJ Atogwe for the Jets this off-season. It remains to be seen if the Jets will address safety in the draft or instead go with either Eric Smith or Brodney Pool next to Jim Leonhard again in 2011. Personally, if they don’t spend their first round pick on a safety, which I doubt they will, I would give Pool another shot at starter. He came on strong at the end of last season, fits better next to Leonhard, and has more upside.

3. While we are in the secondary, here is a push to find a way to bring James Ihedigbo back in 2011 who received a no compensation tender in the past week. ‘Digs is a valuable player on both special teams and in the Jets blitz packages. Beyond that, who doesn’t like his shovel celebration after he gets a big hit or sack?

4. Congratulations to Bart Scott for making his debut in the wrestling ring and for telling ESPN that he trademarked his “Can’t Wait” from his now famous post-game interview after the New England divisional round win, is that even possible?

5. It will be interesting to see which team decides to give Vernon Gholston a shot. Yes, the pessimistic Jets fan that still exists inside of me can see New England signing him and Gholston ripping off four sacks in one game in the Meadowlands next year, destroying Mark Sanchez’s shoulder in the process.

6. I think we are all worried about Joe McKnight taking full advantage of the lockout and showing up with another vomit, fumble filled performance whenever the off-season begins. Let’s hope he learned from his rookie year and takes advantage of a chance to have a bigger role in the offense this year.

7. If you happen to be heading into Hoboken for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade tomorrow, keep an eye out for TOJ in his “Revis Island” shirt, make sure to wish him a happy birthday, buy him a drink, and tell everybody around him how much you love this website. Hey, you might even see some of your favorite characters from TOJ TV.

8. Even though it isn’t official yet, the writing is on the wall for Tony Richardson to retire after the team has declared their intentions to start John Conner at fullback next year. T-Rich was always a class act for the team and played at a very high level for the entire duration of his career, with no drop off when he joined the Jets.

9. Along those same lines, if Damien Woody and Kris Jenkins don’t end up returning (I think there is a good chance Jenkins will), TOJ would like to wish them both luck. Woody gave the team three solid years as a starter, took the time to do an interview with me for SB Nation, and his family even made an appearance on TOJ TV…at 3:50 in the video below.

10. Your lockout reading for the day…

11. Send any prospect watch requests for myself and AJ to JCaporoso@gmail.com…Is there anybody outside of the defensive front seven that you would like to see the Jets target in the first round? Check back a little later in the day for a round-up of who recent mock drafts have the Jets selecting.

12. Weekend Video Clips – You got enough clips throughout this article edition, enjoy your weekend and hope to see you out there in Hoboken tomorrow.

New York Jets Recent Cuts Open Up New Opportunities

There have been varying emotions on the New York Jets recent round of cuts. A mix of joy and disgust as the Vernon Gholston disaster finally came to an end, sadness at seeing respected veterans like Kris Jenkins and Damien Woody go, amusement at Jason Taylor now only wanting to continue his career with the Jets, a team he once despised as much as we despised him, and indifference over Ben Hartsock (sorry #84). Regardless, all of these moves are going to open up new opportunities for other players on the roster and will affect strategy in April’s draft.

Woody – The Jets are expected to have veteran Wayne Hunter and second year lineman Vladimir Ducasse battle for his old spot. For Ducasse, this a make or break battle. The Jets are going to have to admit they may have missed in last year’s second round if Ducasse begins his NFL career by losing consecutive battles to Matt Slauson and Hunter. Towards the end of last season, Hunter showed he could be adequate as a starter but  I am sure the coaching staff is hopeful Ducasse will seize the position and be the long term answer at right tackle.

Jenkins – There is still a good chance Jenkins will come back at a reduced price. Regardless, this just means embracing Sione Pouha as the quality starter he has shown himself to be. It also means the Jets will have to look defensive line early in the draft, as we expected them to anyway.

Gholston – He didn’t play enough to shake up anything on the roster. The coaching staff does seem high on Marcus Dixon at defensive end and Ropati Pitoitua is returning from injury. Expect both players to get a shot at becoming large parts of the defensive line rotation in 2011.

Taylor – He has expressed an interest in returning to the Jets at a reduced price. I have a hard time seeing that happening as the Jets will likely look to get younger at linebacker and defensive end (where Taylor frequently lined up) in the draft. Jamaal Westerman might be a guy who gets more of a shot now that Taylor is gone. Westerman showed some potential in 2009 but wasn’t given much of a chance last season…until he roughed the punter against Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game.

Hartsock – The Jets decided to keep Jeff Cumberland on the roster all of the last season, despite only making him active once in week 17. He showed potential as a pass catcher in the pre-season and clearly the Jets think he can become a bigger part of the offense, which he may need to if Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith don’t return. In terms of blocking, Matthew Mulligan should be able to step into that role as he received occasional reps in run heavy sets last season.

Check Out Hartsock’s Lone Touchdown as a New York Jet at 1:05…and his incredibly lame celebration

Prospect Watch: Phil Taylor

Next up, Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor.  The big man from Washington DC had an up and down college career but finished strong with his best collegiate season as a senior. 

At 6’3’’ 334 lbs, Taylor is a space eater who can anchor a defensive line.  Primarily a run stopper, Taylor is an above-average tackler who’s 62 recorded tackles his senior season were the most by a Baylor interior lineman since 2002.  He is strong and demands double teams because of his initial punch.  Taylor is generally successful in double teams and is almost impossible to blow off the line.  One of his greatest strengths is his violent hands.  Combined with his jump off the ball, he can push a line backwards, and will collapse a pocket from the middle if the QB holds onto the ball for too long.  His footwork is also good which helps him in his pass rush.  While he isn’t an overpowering pass rusher, that is to be expected.  He has a nice powerful swim move, and can rip through double teams if he can establish leverage. 

He showed this ability at the Senior Bowl. He was disruptive, taking on double teams and freeing up his linebackers.  His footwork and frame is probably good enough to move to the 5 technique at some point, but I don’t think he has the stamina or technique to stay outside for more than selective schemes/situations. 

Throughout his career Taylor’s conditioning was one of the main critiques of his game, however, like I mentioned yesterday, he looked strong throughout the day at the combine. Finally, a number of sources have noted his maturation and change of character since he was arrested on assault charges stemming from a fight at a frat party at Penn State.  I think it’s a safe assumption that he won that fight.

On the negative side of things, concerns over weight management always follow players at this size.  Another common problem that Taylor shares with other big men is his lack of speed and quickness, again this will probably keep him on the inside of the line.  Additionally, his size prevents him from making many tackle outside of the tackle box.  Other than weight concerns, questions about his height and lack of leverage follow Taylor around as well.  At 6’3 he can come to high and has some issues if a center is able to get under his pads.  To this point, he also has a hard time generating momentum if he is stopped at the initial point of attack.  While a decent pass rusher for his size and position, he will need to improve his collection of moves.

I like Phil Taylor, I really do; he will be an interesting prospect to keep an eye out for as Draft Day inches closer.  While “raw talent” is something that the Jets may want to stray clear of this draft, especially in the first round, this guy could become the second coming of Kris Jenkins.

TOJ Lockout Education

I wish I had a better understanding of all the ins and outs of the issues at stake in the current labor negotiations. Fortunately, my good friend at Pro Football NYC John Fennelly put together this fact sheet, which breaks down everything in a concise manner —

Make sure you give John a follow on Twitter (@John_Fennelly) and follow Pro Football NYC on Facebook and Twitter (@ProFootballNYC)

All of the following is from Fennelly —

Current CBA

$9,000,000,000 billion in annual revenue

Owners get $1,000,000,000 billion ($31,250,000 million per team) off the top

Players Currently Get = $4,800,000,000 billion ($1,900,000 million per player – 2,500 active players)

Current Remaining Revenue = $2,200,000,000 billion (this likely goes to the league for operating expenses and salaries)

NFL & Owners Want

18 game season

Rookie Wage Scale

NFL & Owners Propose Additional Cut for Operating Costs = $1,000,000,000 billion ($31, 250,000 million per team)

NFL & Owners Proposes Player Reduction to = $4,200,000,000 billion or $1,680,000 million per player (total of 2,500 active players)

NFL & Owners Propose Increase to $2,800,000,000 billion

NFLPA

No 18 Game Season

Increased chance of injuries (Current average number of players on Injured Reserved each season is 20%)

Reduction of Average Career from 3.3 years to 2.8 years

Average player will not achieve Free Agency (Player is eligible for Free Agency after 3 years)

Decrease in Health Care – Players eligible for post career health care after 3 years in the league

Potential Lost Revenue to NFL and Teams if there is a Work Stoppage

Revenue lost as of March 4th = $120,000,000 million

Revenue lost as of August = $350,000,000 million

Revenue lost as of September = $1,000,000,000 billion

Revenue per lost game for the season = $400,000,000 million

Total Potential Revenues Lost

League

$6.8 Billion Dollars

Players

$4.2 Billion Dollars

Quick Thoughts On Bob Sanders and Jets Safety Position

It is being reported today that the New York Jets had former Colts safety Bob Sanders in for a visit. Any time you have a former Defensive Player of the Year in the building at a position that needs improvement, it is going to generate some excitement.

However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Sanders has played nine regular season games in the past three years…yes, nine. The thought of signing Sanders to anything more than a heavily incentive based contract that has a base salary near the veterans minimum is insane. If Sanders was willing to play under those terms, it is worth a shot because the Jets currently only have one true safety  under contract, Jim Leonhard, who is coming off season ending surgery.

Ever since Rex Ryan has taken over, the Jets haven’t had much production out of the safety position. Leonhard is a steady but unspectacular quarterback of the secondary who needs to be complimented by a playmaker.

The Jets will have decisions to make on Brodney Pool, Eric Smith, and James Ihedigbo this off-season. Smith and Ihedigbo are better suited as role players and special teams contributors. Pool came on strong at the end of last year but I am not sure you can rely on him to be the long term answer at the position.

Unfortunately, playmaking safeties aren’t easy to come by. The Jets could look at one with their first or third round pick in the upcoming draft but that would mean they are neglecting their defensive front seven.

It could very well be Pool or Smith alongside Leonhard again in 2011 and while I think Pool has more upside, Smith provides more all around value. It will be interesting to see who Mike Tannenbaum settles on bringing back, along with if they make room for Ihedigbo who is valuable in blitz packages.

Leonhard with his lone interception last year

12 Pack of Combine Thoughts

AJ truly embraces the TOJ way by contributing his first 12 pack…of thoughts on the NFL Combine —

1. First and foremost, props to Rich Eisen for keeping me interested in 300 pound linemen running the 40 yard dash.  He was always one of my favorite guys at ESPN and he continues to do an awesome job over at NFL network

2. What are those Under Armor things?  They literally look like something Tony Starks would wear.  Nevertheless, it is really sweet they are measuring the Mph and G force of these guys, but did you see the Under Armor representative? Hisveins were popping out of his neck, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. 

3. Von Miller is a BEAST.  He ran a 4.53 and looked absolutely yoked up in the weird under armor spandex.  He is going to be everything that Vernon Gholston wasn’t.

4. Another defensive player that looked good was Phil Taylor (Prospect Watch will be arriving soon). He looked like he was in pretty good shape for his size, and didn’t tire out as the day went on, something you can’t say about many nose tackles his size.

5. Maybe not a thought on the combine but I am jumping off the Nick Fairley train quickly.  Do I think he will be a good player? Yeah, but I would not take him with the number one pick.  He doesn’t have the best attitude and is known to take plays off, two characteristics I would not want to give $50+ million guaranteed.  Plus, with Carolina running a 4-3, I would want a dominant pass rushing DE to replace Julius Peppers.

6. Do you really think I would get half way through this without mentioning Cam Newton?  I thought he looked really good as far as workouts go, but that was more than expected. 4.59 40 yard dash at 250 pounds, are you kidding me?  Not to mention his 10’6’’ broad jump that just screams explosive.  There was the interview controversy where he called himself a, “an entertainer and an icon,” but I thought he addressed the situation pretty well to the NFL network and apologized for the statement about three times in two minutes.  As far as his throwing drills goes, I wouldn’t be too concerned, wait for his pro day so he can get his timing with his own receivers.

7. Ryan Mallet has a drug problem? I had no idea, I have been rooting for this guy ever since he was going head to head against Jimmy “Bitter Beer Face” Clausen for being the #1 recruit coming out of high school.  Nothing has been confirmed and Mallet is obviously denying the allegations but the story is coming from sources inside Arkansas so it will be interesting to see how this develops.

8. Another player I really like is Mark Ingram and I hope he doesn’t get scooped up by the Dolphins.  His running style reminds me of Ronnie Brown and he is the type of hard nose player Tony Soprano would love to have. He ran slow at 4.62 but there is no denying his production in college and he will be successful in the pros, unfortunately it is going to be for a team not spelled J-E-T-S.

9. Going into the 2010 college football season I was really excited to watch the defense Butch Davis put together at UNC, but all that great work Butch did went down the drain when every defensive starter and their mother was suspended for the season.  The player I was most upset about not seeing was Marvin Austin; but Marvin has had a great lead up to the draft so far playing well in the East-West game and being equally impressive at the combine.  Hey, a man can dream the Jets are able to pick him up in the 3rd round right?

10. Another prospect I would love to pick up in the 3rd round is Jarvis Jenkins out of Clemson.  Like Joe mentioned, the Jets are going to have to commit at least 2-3 draft picks to the front seven and I would not be upset at all if they used their first two picks on the DL.  Jenkins, no relation to Kris as far as I know, has good size and is a known run stopper.  It would be great to let him develop under Sione Pouha for a year or two, but I believe this guy has a relatively bright future at the next level.

11. It was a bitter sweet combine for Jets fans concerning Justin Houston, on the one hand he looked great at the combine, showing exceptional quickness for his size and good instincts during LB drills.  But he might have looked too good and could potentially be off the board before the Jets are on the clock.  Worse news, AFC rivals New England and Baltimore could fall in love with him and take him at number 17 and 26 respectively.

12. Last but certainly not least, I want to say that Damien Woody is handling his release exactly as everyone expected him too, with the utmost class.  He was one of my favorite players on the team and he will be missed.  But that’s the business of the NFL as much as I love it sometimes, it also breaks my heart at times.  Woody will be fine though, just like Alan Faneca last year he will find a team.

New York Jets 2011 Backfield Taking Shape

Tuesday was a day filled with news on the New York Jets running back position. From the various beat reports surrounding the team, we learned three things —

  1. LaDainian Tomlinson will be back in 2011 to finish out his contract.
  2. Despite returning, Tomlinson will be used in more of a complimentary role, with Shonn Greene becoming the feature back and Joe McKnight receiving more work on offense.
  3. John Conner will be the starting fullback in 2011.

None of these items of news are surprising and are logical decisions considering the age of everybody involved and how last season finished.

It is smart to bring Tomlinson back to maintain depth in the backfield. He is a valuable leader on the offense and is an excellent security blanket for Mark Sanchez. However, he shouldn’t be receiving anywhere near the number of carries he did last year as he faded pretty strongly down the stretch and is only getting older. Tomlinson can be a very valuable weapon in a complimentary role but it is Shonn Greene’s turn to really get a shot at being the feature back.

Considering Greene’s rushing style, he needs to be given 15-20 carries on a weekly basis to be the most effective. He never received that chance in 2010. Let’s see him get around 20 carries on a weekly basis so we can find out if he is our feature back of the future.

Joe McKnight was a major disappointment in his first year but the Jets held on to him because he was a fourth round pick. He gave the team some hope with his performance in week 17 but it is time to see what he can bring to this offense. Hopefully he is going to be the Jets long term third down/change of pace back and now he will gradually have the role handed to him from Tomlinson.

At fullback, the writing was on the wall for John Conner to take over for Tony Richardson when the season ended. Conner got a full year learning behind one of the best in the business at his position and should be ready to start now. Richardson, a class act and true professional, will likely now retire after a long, successful NFL career.

Give us something next year, McKnight