Dwight Lowery: The Forgotten Defensive Back

One of the few New York Jets defensive backs who isn’t a free agent, is cornerback/safety Dwight Lowery. There hasn’t been talk about Lowery’s role with the team moving forward this off-season, yet he was a key part of their defense in 2010.

Similar to Drew Coleman, Lowery was a defensive back who rotated into their various nickel, sub, and dime packages and made a surprisingly high amount of impact plays. He finished the season with 3 interceptions, 2 of which were returned for touchdowns, 2 sacks, 7 passes defensed, and a fumble recovery. Most notably, Lowery iced the Jets win over the Vikings with an interception return for a touchdown and then their win over the Denver Broncos the following week with a fumble recovery.

Due to injuries, Lowery began to work more at safety towards the end of last season. Many people have been clamoring for him to move there, considering his ball skills and how he struggles in man to man coverage at cornerback. Lowery’s primary position will likely depend on which free agents are brought back out of Antonio Cromartie, Drew Coleman, Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and James Ihedigbo. Obviously, it is a benefit to the Jets that Lowery has shown he can play both positions and he should remain a big part of their defense moving forward.

I am not sure if Lowery is physical enough to play safety full time, but he does fit well there in pass heavy situations. The more the Jets can let Lowery roam in zone coverage, the better, because he lacks the ideal speed to match-up with most receivers in single coverage.

Looking At Shonn Greene As A Lead Back

Whether it is from Rex Ryan, LaDainian Tomlinson, or Brian Schottenheimer…we have heard that Shonn Greene will be the Jets lead back this year. One of the more frustrating parts of 2010 was the limited amount of opportunities Greene had to carry the ball and it now appears that problem will be remedied.

It was understandable in the beginning of the year why LaDainian Tomlinson was receiving more carries. He was simply playing better. Yet, considering his age and how Tomlinson wore down as the season went on, Greene should have been getting more touches later in the year. He is built to wear defenses down and is the type of back who gets better with the more carries he receives.

Let’s look back at Greene’s first two years at the ten games he received the most carries in —

  • 23 carries, 128 yards, 1 touchdown at San Diego in 2009 Divisional Playoff Game
  • 22 carries, 117 yards at Buffalo in 2010 regular season game
  • 21 carries, 135 yards at Cincinnati in 2009 Wild-Card Playoff Game
  • 20 carries, 72 yards at Cleveland in 2010 regular season game
  • 19 carries, 144 yards, 2 touchdowns at Oakland in 2009 regular season game
  • 19 carries, 70 yards at Indianapolis in 2010 Wild-Card Playoff Game
  • 18 carries, 70 yards vs Cincinnati in 2009 regular season game
  • 17 carries, 76 yards, 1 touchdown at New England in 2010 Divisional Playoff Game
  • 16 carries, 95 yards at Indianapolis in 2009 regular season game
  • 15 carries, 52 yards vs New England in 2010 regular season game

First off, a somewhat odd trend is that eight of those ten games were on the road. A major reason for that is that half of them are Jets playoff games and they have been a wild-card the past two years. It is clear the offense turns to Greene more in bigger spots and he has always responded, with most of his best performances coming in the playoffs or in important regular season match-ups.

This is a player who has only received over 20 carries four times in his NFL career but has responded with a 100 yard game in three of those games. It is still a question mark how he will produce over a full season but there is reason for optimism.

TOJ Interview: Emanuel Cook

New York Jets safety Emmanuel Cook took the time to talk with TOJ about his off-season, his hopes for the coming year, and his charity work…

TOJ: How are you working to stay in shape during the lockout? Have you worked with any other current or former teammates?

EC: I work out daily. I’m in the gym a lot. I also have a special trainer I work with. I do field drills, beach workouts, swimming, lots of running and weights. Kenrick Ellis and I went to college together and we’re both from West Palm Beach, so we work out together quite a bit. I’m feeling good about the shape I’m in. Whenever we get back to work I’m ready to go.

TOJ: Can you discuss being moved to the active roster for the stretch run and the playoffs last year? Did you expect it and what was the experience like once were you out on the field?

EC: I’ve been with the Jets on and off for the past two years. That’s my team. That’s where I feel at home. When I got the call I was excited and ready to go. Since getting signed as a UDFA in 09′, I’ve been working really hard for that chance and the only thing on my mind was stepping up to do whatever the team needed me to do. It was a great experience and I’m grateful for it and ready to show the team and the fans more of what I can do this season.

TOJ: Do you think you have ability to become a core special teams player for Mike Westhoff? What type of skills can you bring to those units?

EC: I know I can. I believe some of the plays I had last season gave a glimpse of what I can do.  I play with a lot of heart.  I spent the past two pre-seasons working with Coach Westhoff and he is the best in the game. I’ve learned a lot from him and I respect him a lot. I believe my special teams abilities helped me get the spot on the Roster this year.

TOJ: Are you confident about your ability to work yourself into a bigger role on the defense this year, especially considering Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and James Ihedigbo are all free agents?

EC: I definitely want to have a bigger role in the defense.  I’ve spent this off-season preparing for it.  Physically I have the abilities and as far as mental preparation, I study my plays and I’ve spent the 09′ and 10′ training camps/pre-seasons with the team, so I’m very comfortable with the defense we run.  Whatever job I’m asked to do, I’m going to do it and give it my all. 

TOJ: What player on the Jets roster did you learn the most from this past season?
 
EC: That’s a tough question because of the talent we have, but I’d have to say Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith.  Both of those guys do a great job.  I’ve learned a lot from them skill wise as well as how to play smarter when I’m out there.

Here is information from Emanuel himself on the charity work he is currently doing…

I lost a best friend and high school football teammate, DeAndre Butler, to Leukemia in December of 2008. I’vemade it my mission to use whatever visibility I have to help in the fight against blood cancers in his memory. July 1-2 in West Palm Beach I am having a Celebrity Charity Weekend. We’ll have a meet and greet at Duffy’s Sports Bar on July 1st from 5-7pm as well as a Bowl-a-thon at Verdes Lanes on July 2nd from 3-6pm. It will be hosted by myself and I’ve got a handful of other NFL players coming to support, including Kenrick Ellis.

I’ve also created red silicone bracelets imprinted with “Remember DeAndre Butler” that I’m selling for $5 with all proceeds going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, their New York City Chapter recently asked me to run for their “Man of the Year” in 2012 and I accepted, so I’m looking forward to that campaign as well.

Anybody who is interested in coming to the charity weekend or wants a bracelet can email RememberDeAndreButler@gmail.com or checkout www.facebook.com/rememberdeandrebutler. They can also always email me at emanuelcookfans@gmail.com. I read every message that comes in.

Follow Emanuel on Twitter and Facebook

The Problem With LeBron…

TOJ at SB Nation NY on the frustration of watching LeBron James waste his talent so far in the NBA Finals

Other thoughts on what is now a best of three series…

1. I can’t imagine there isn’t some type of divide in the Miami locker room. There is no way LeBron James liked hearing Dwyane Wade repeatedly calling the Heat “his” team after game three and there is no way Wade liked LeBron doing nothing to help him down the stretch last night. Dallas has no business having this series tied at 2 right now but somehow Miami has let the inferior Mavericks stick around.

2. Even though his supporting cast finally showed up last night, Dirk Nowitzki is still doing it all in the final minutes of all these games. Their entire offense in crunch time is predicated on Dirk making something happen and he is handling that pressure well. He wasn’t deterred at all by his early game struggles and still found a way to do enough in the fourth quarter to make sure this series is tied up.

3. It is about time Dallas gave a solid all-around effort to support Nowitzki. DeShawn Stevenson is giving them more quality minutes than expected. Jason Terry has been inconsistent but when he is on, Dallas is very tough to beat. I’d like to see Tyson Chandler finish at the rim more, but his rebounding and presence around the basket was huge last night.

4. The Mavericks have to take game five. You can’t bank on taking two straight in Miami, even after stealing one in their building in game two. I originally picked Dallas in seven and I think if they take game five, I will end up being right with a prediction…for once.

Darrelle Revis: The GOAT?

Vote here at SB Nation on who you think the greatest New York Jet of all-time is…

Oh, that Rex Ryan…never shy with a compliment…like this one about Darrelle Revis

“One day we’re gonna say that this is the best Jet in the history of the New York Jet franchise, I believe that.”

Ryan made that comment when interviewed for Revis’ spot on the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players in the league countdown. His final ranking hasn’t been revealed yet, but you have to assume he will be somewhere in the top ten.

However, let’s get back to Ryan’s comment about Revis becoming the greatest New York Jet of all time.

I am only 24 years old, I can’t act like I watched people like Joe Namath, Don Maynard, Winston Hill, Freeman McNeil, and Joe Klecko in action on a game by game basis. Yet, that doesn’t mean I haven’t studied up on my history and been schooled by older family members and fans. When you think about the discussion for the GOAT when it comes to the Jets…

  • It is going to start and end with Joe Namath until this team wins another Super Bowl or two. I know Namath’s numbers don’t back up his Hall of Fame status but the guy is icon who transcends the sport. He is an integral part of the greatest upset in league history and set the precedent for making a bold guarantee before a game and then backing it up.
  • Don Maynard is a Hall of Fame receiver who wasn’t a flashy guy. His production and consistency speaks for itself.
  • Curtis Martin is one of the greatest running backs in the history of the league and was a complete class act for the Jets franchise for nearly a decade.
  • Lineman get no love, but Winston Hill was a 4 time AFL All-Star and 4 time Pro-Bowler. He paved the way for the rushing attack that led the Jets to a victory in Super Bowl III. While on lineman, Nick Mangold’s resume compares pretty favorably to Revis’ right now and Ryan isn’t mentioning him in the GOAT discussion.
  • How about the New York Sack Exchange? Revis still needs to leap frog players like Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko.
  • You could even argue Revis is still behind people like Wesley Walker, Wayne Chrebert and a host of other Jets when it comes to filling out the GOAT resume.

The season Revis put together in 2009 was the best individual season I ever saw by a Jet and from what I have heard, arguably the best in team history. Yet, that was only one season. Revis was great last year, after about week 7. It is going to take another 6-8 elite, All-Pro caliber seasons and a championship or two to put Revis in the discussion. He certainly has the talent to do it…but #24 still has a ways to go before being the GOAT.

Keep in mind, Rex Ryan loves defense and especially loves cornerbacks. Darrelle Revis is his dream player, so he will always talk him up.

TOJ Top Five: Brad Smith Plays

Since New York Jets wide receiver, Brad Smith, has recently created a Twitter account (@ReadBradSmith) and unfortunately there is a good chance he won’t be back next year, let’s look at his top five plays as a Jet…

5. Fifth Gear

This past Thanksgiving, Brad Smith torched the Cincinnati Bengals for the second year in a row. His first touchdown came on a 53 yard reverse, which really demonstrated his downhill speed as he kicks it into fifth gear and is off to the races.

4. Wildcatting Into The Playoffs

With a wild-card spot on the line in the final week of the 2009 season, the Jets beat up on the Bengals led by Smith who got things going with a huge run out of the Wildcat and then later blew the game open with a touchdown run out of the same formation.

3. One Last Bengals Highlight

The shoeless kick return…one shoe and still the fastest guy on the field.

2. Start It Off

Heading into their December match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Jets were riding an ugly two game losing streak and staring another later season meltdown in the face. Fortunately, Smith started off the game with a kick return for a touchdown which provided a much needed boost that would ultimately lead to a Jets victory.

1. Finally, A Pass

The one and only big pass Brad Smith ever completed for the New York Jets was against the Colts in the AFC Championship Game, when he surprised everybody in the stadium by rolling out and hitting Jerricho Cotchery on a bomb that would set up a big first half touchdown for the Jets.

TOJ Interview: LaDainian Tomlinson

Future Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson was nice enough to take a few minutes to talk with TOJ about his work with with Gatorade this off-season, how he is staying in shape during the lockout, the future of the Jets backfield, Mark Sanchez and more…

TOJ: What led to your decision to work with the Gatorade G Series and GNC Athletic Performance Clinic at Mission Viejo High School this past week?

LT: I have had a relationship with Gatorade for years and when they came out with the G Series Pro Line, we thought it was perfect for what I am all about, which is nutrition and taking care of your body. So we are out here at Mission Viejo High School teaching kids about what they need to learn on that topic. Young athletes need to know that what you put into your body is what you are going to get out of your body.

TOJ: Outside of the Jets West, how have you worked to stay in shape this off-season with the lockout currently in place? Also, have you worked with any other teammates besides your days at Jets West?

LT: I have been doing my own thing. I normally work with a trainer all off-season. I have always been a guy who doesn’t take much time off anyway. Overall, I am just staying in good shape and making sure I am on top of my game for when football starts back up. I have been talking with some of my teammates and we are planning workouts together in the New Jersey area in the coming month.

TOJ: Can you talk about your relationship with Mark Sanchez and how he has grown into a leader on this football team?

LT: Every year single year in the NFL you grow and that is what we have seen from Mark. He has really taken the challenge of being the coach on the field this off-season because he knows what the coaches will expect from everybody. He has mastered the ins and outs of what all of us on the field are supposed to be doing. I’ve been in this offense for a long time, so I also know what is going with everyone, which means Mark can come to me about different stuff and I can go to him to ask what he wants in different situations. He is not a hard guy to get along with. Mark is a passionate about what he does, wants to win, and is overall a great guy.

TOJ: Earlier this off-season, you said you were ready to embrace the role of a third down back on this team, which is not a common thing for running backs in the NFL to say. What was the thinking behind that statement?

LT: This is my 11th year and I am a guy who still has something left in the tank. I want to use that in terms of coming out of the backfield, running routes, and blocking in third down situations, which is an important role on the team. I feel like it is necessary because we have a guy in Shonn Greene, who can handle the bulk of the carries. That doesn’t mean I won’t carry the ball ever, but I just don’t need to be the primary ball carrier. I want to be the guy who keeps the chains moving.

TOJ: Can you talk about the young running backs on this team, specifically Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight?

LT: I think Shonn definitely has what it takes. It is all about knowing your role and what is expected out of you. The last two years he has learned alot and taken the challenge on. He is ready to become a lead back in this league. Joe has shown flashes and glimpses that he can handle being a productive NFL back. He is versatile and can do a little bit of everything: return kicks, catch the ball, and block. I think he definitely has potential but now it is all about learning, honing your skills and perfecting it.

NBA Finals: Feeling Like A Long Series

A few thoughts on game three of the NBA Finals…

1. LeBron James is starting to look a little timid in the final minutes of these tight games. When we entered the Finals, the Heat were LeBron’s show…they are now back to being led by Dwyane Wade who has been spectacular the past two games. Watching Wade and Dirk go shot for shot in the final minutes last night is about as entertaining as it gets, yet at least Wade has a few other people on his team who can knock down an open shot.

2. Dirk’s supporting cast has been a major let down so far in this series. You have to wonder if the big guy can really pull off this upset, this much on his own. You are asking alot for a single person to create every single point in the final seven minutes of every game. The Mavericks are well overdue for one of their three point barrages, that they used to sweep the Lakers away in round two.

3. Say what you want about Chris Bosh, but after playing such a poor game, he didn’t hesitate to shoot and knock down what turned out to be the game winning shot. You also have to be impressed with Mario Chalmers who isn’t shy at all in a big spot despite who he is surrounded by, which is an admirable trait.

4. This does feel like an inevitable seven game series at this point, right? Although somebody else on that Dallas roster needs to come up with a big game Tuesday night to avoid a 3-1 hole, which would all but wrap things up for the Heat.

5. Great defense by Udonis Haslem on the final possession last night. He should always be covering Dirk in a big spot, not Chris Bosh…as we saw in game two.

New York Jets and Plaxico Burress: How Much Sense Does It Make?

Since wide receiver Plaxico Burresswas released from prison today, the speculation is obviously swirling about which teams will pursue him. The New York Jets have frequently been mentioned as a potential landing place for Burress, considering Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Brad Smith are all free agents, and the organization’s propensity to sign big name players.

The Jets initial focus is going to be bringing their own guys back, with Santonio Holmes likely being the top priority. The only way I see them getting in the mix for Burress, is if Braylon Edwards leaves via free agency, which is a pretty good possibility. The decision at that point will likely come to down to focusing their efforts on Burress or Randy Moss.

We all know the effort issues that come with the Moss, along with the questions about whether he is finished. Burress is going to be 34 years old this August and hasn’t played football since November 2008. You have to think for at least a season or two, Burress will absolutely be on his best behavior and be supremely motivated after his time in jail. The bottom line is that there is a risk associated with both of them but considering their talent…a cheap, short contract could make that risk worth it.

Burress wouldn’t have to be a number one receiver on the Jets. He would have favorable match-ups thanks to playing opposite Santonio Holmes and having Dustin Keller and Jerricho Cotchery working in the slot. If Braylon Edwards leaves, he could provide the needed big target over the middle and in the red-zone for Mark Sanchez.

The Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams are also supposed to be heavily in the mix for Burress. However, I wouldn’t rule the Jets out. This is a team that likes making a splash and signing Burress would do just that, while filling a need if free agency ends up breaking the way most of us expect it to.

Six Pack Of NBA Thoughts: What Is Wrong With The Knicks?

1. Of course since Donnie Walsh dug the Knicks out of one of the worst financial holes in NBA history and turned them into a contender again, it made sense to push him out the door so Isiah Thomas, the man who dug the financial hole could have more influence. It is hard to believe that whoever the Knicks name the new GM, still won’t have as much power as Thomas regardless of what his official title is. In this city, James Dolan needs to go as bad as the Wilpons need to go.

2. You can’t think this move bodes well for Mike D’Antoni’s future with the Knicks. It also doesn’t help with the rapidly approaching draft. The Knicks can’t afford to miss with the number 17 pick, as they don’t have a first round pick next year. As of now it is up in the air who is ultimately making the final call, which is never good thing.

3. If you aren’t a D’Antoni fan…remember the Knicks could have had Rick Carlisle as their head coach once upon a time.

4. More quotes and fallout from Walsh “stepping down”

5. You think the NFL Lockout is bad? Wait until both the NFL and NBA are locked out this fall and baseball is over…time to dust off my old Rangers jersey and start liking hockey again.

6. How about that game last night? The entire world was ready to hand over the next five NBA titles to the Miami Heat with about 7 minutes left on the clock in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, Dallas showed Miami is far from invincible and if you punch them in the mouth, there is a good chance they will back down. Perhaps the Heat should have finished the game before prematurely starting their celebration. Dirk Nowitzki gave us all a performance for the ages and now we have a series again.