New York Jets Offense Preparing For Transition

The owner’s ratifed the proposed new CBA yesterday and now we are waiting on the players, with an anticipated vote coming at some point this weekend. I would still look for the league year to kick off at some point next week and along those lines, the news is rolling on the New York Jets, particularly on the offensive side of the football.

First off, the Jets made a terrific move by hiring Tom Moore as an offensive consultant. Moore is best known for his time spent working with the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning and is one of the most respected offensive minds in the game. He is going to consult on their game planning, particularly in the red-zone, which is an area we certainly know they need help in. (Cover your eyes)

Second, Braylon Edwards was in court today where he pleaded guilty to his DWI charge from last season. It will be interesting to see how this impacts how much money he receives in free agency. Edwards continued to express his desire to remain with the team and hopes he gets a deal done with them in the 3 day exclusive signing period. I still think it is a long shot that he comes back, as I think too much will be spent to keep Santonio Holmes. However, maybe if Antonio Cromartie walks, the Jets could work something out to keep both Holmes and Edwards.

If Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes happen to leave, Jets fans shouldn’t panic too much as Jerricho Cotchery will be returning 100 percent healthy this season. He is a terrific option as a #2 receiver when healthy. Between Cotchery and Dustin Keller, the Jets will still have enough weapons for Mark Sanchez if one of their big name free agents leave.

Finally, Damien Woody gave an interview yesterday where he made it clear that he was interested in returning to the Jets only as a starter and only above the veteran’s minimum. Personally, I think it is worth getting him back for another year so he can mentor Vladimir Ducasse as he learns a new position. If Woody ends up being too pricey, Wayne Hunter is a good enough fallback option to the hold the fort for a year.

Asomugha To The Jets Creates Other Free Agency Problems

Imagine all world CB Nnamdi Asomugha opposite another all world CB Darrelle Revis, in 2011. According to Rotoword it is possible. The popular sports news source reported today that SI.com’s Peter King “hears” that free agent Nnamdi Asomugah’s preference is to play with the Jets. King of course, still lists the Jets as a “longshot,” presumably for financial reasons.

Without getting specific financially, speaking only in general terms, to afford Asomugha, the Jets would be limited in free agency, able to only target ONE of their wide receivers. Not including veteran bargain bin finds. Other high priced Jets may even have to restructure their current deals to make it happen as well.

Their rumored to be favored choice at WR is Santonio Holmes. Keeping either Holmes OR Braylon Edwards (who struck a plea for his September 2010 DWI today), would be about the only high priced long term deal the Jets could take on if they wanted to go after Asomugha. Following that type of scenario, expect them losing Brad Smith, RT Wayne Hunter, and one or two of their free agents in the secondary: Brodney Pool, Eric Smith, Drew Coleman and James Ihedigbo.

Going for Asomugha and Holmes might be so costly that the replacement at the WR2 position might have to come from within, NOT from the open market where veterans like Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress, who won’t come dirt cheap, even as short term solutions, await their new address.

The Jets could try and replace the second receiver spot from within, using sure handed WR veteran Jerricho Cotchery there. Doing so with the added hope that TE Dustin Keller, with less top talent mouths to feed outside, returns to his early 2010 production, one that saw the former Purdue standout on pace for an All-Pro selection prior to the return of Holmes from a four game suspension due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Darelle Revis and Asomugha would make it extremely difficult for teams to throw outside at all. The loss of Edwards and any tall, big bodied presence replacing him outside, would hurt the Jets in the red zone, run blocking off the edges, and in certain match-ups where height inside on slant patterns in short yardage situations is often an advantage.

The Jets could, by using up much of their free agent salary cap money on Asomugha, also be faced with having to rely on second year pro Vladimir Ducasse at RT. This in the event that both Hunter and Damien Woody, who according to the NY Post today, wants to return as a starter, but not for the veteran minimum, don’t return. 

The loss of Hunter and Woody would create immediate growing pains up front. Similar to the way that the Jets offensive line took a step back early in 2010 when Matt Slauson replaced perennial All Pro Alan Faneca.

Everything is a trade off. If the Jets “want” Asomugha like he wants them, the Jets certainly would be taking a step towards shutting down passing games to a murmur. The bigger question would be, how many other key positions on both sides of the ball would Gang Green be taking a small step backwards with, in order to make the deal work.

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Top 10 National TV Sports Theme Songs

TOJ would like to welcome our second new writer in as many days, Chris Celletti, who is also featured at SB Nation NY and can be followed on Twitter. Welcome aboard! – JC

For this blogger who cares way too much about the useless things in sports (announcers, uniforms, stadiums, etc.) nothing gets me more amped up than a great TV sports theme song. I thought I’d take the time to rank some of the current (keyword current) National TV sports themes:

1. NFL on CBS

How can I put this ahead of the NFL on Fox theme song? Because I’m a Jet fan, that’s why. No song gets me more pumped up for watching a sporting event on TV than this one, especially when they play it right after kickoff as they’re going over starting lineups and Greg Gumbel runs down the stats for Mark San-CHEZ (I’ll never
understand why anyone pronounces his name this way).

2. NFL on FOX

This song has been around for so long now. I don’t really have any memories tied to it, since every time the Giants trudge through a riveting 13-9 win I’m usually fast asleep by mid-first quarter, yet it belongs up here because of its longevity and popularity.

3. NCAA Basketball on CBS

Definitely a classic; the problem is that it’s just so underused since the college hoops season is so short. Although, for those three weeks in March, there isn’t any other song that gets stuck in your head so easily. Anytime I hear it, (and every now and then I’ll just YouTube it for the hell of it) it brings me back to scratching away at my bracket after getting every 8/9 and 7/10 game wrong – yes, this has happened to me before.

4. NBA on TNT

The NBA always has good TV theme songs. Nothing will ever, ever be as good as the NBA on NBC theme (the absolute hands down best TV sports theme of all time as we’ll get to later), but TNT’s is solid. It is usually followed, unfortunately, by the voice of Ernie Johnson, but it is a classy tune.

5. NBA on ABC/ESPN

There’s actually two versions of this theme, the faster one that they play when opening a show, or the slower one that’s used when going to or coming back from a break. I particularly like the slower one, especially late in the fourth quarter of a playoff game.

6. NHL on NBC

Something very hockey about this one. Just works well with clips of guys smashing into the boards and Alex Ovechkin having a heart attack celebrating a goal in Feburary against the Bruins. But it has a classic sports sound to it, with a pretty recognizable hook.

7. MLB on ESPN

This is basically the Sunday Night Baseball theme song, and it ranks lower because who the hell watches Sunday Night Baseball unless your team is playing? It’s not a bad song by any means and is a classic at this point. Beyond that, since they dumped Joe Morgan, Sunday Night Baseball is definitely a better place.

8. Golf on CBS

This is the perfect golf theme song, and I don’t know why. It sets the tone for Jim Nantz coming on air and painting the scene of a terrible tournament – “Here live from picturesque TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut, it’s the third round of the Travelers Championship. Steve Marino is leading the way with Nick Watney and Brandt Jobe right on his heels…” – Strap in for three-plus hours of
awesomeness!

9. NHL on Versus

This is the worst damn theme song in the history of American professional sports. Their older one from 2008 was pretty good, but this past year it is just a repeating, awful tune that has zero pump-up factor for a big game. Thank goodness NBC is taking over operations over there – they’ll probably just use their standard
hockey theme.

10. Monday Night Football

Iconic, yes. But also incredibly lame.

Let’s also not forget to pay homage to the gift that John Tesh brought the world, the NBA on NBC theme…Best sports theme of all time.

TOJ Free Agency Link Dump: Flip Flopping On Cromartie

Throughout the off-season, I have been adamant about the importance of the New York Jets re-signing Antonio Cromartie and I still believe from a football perspective it is the right move. He fits well in the system opposite Darrelle Revis and is a better option than any one available in free agency (not counting Nnamdi Asomugha who the Jets can’t afford) and Kyle Wilson. However, it is hard not to get the impression that he is going to receive an offer from another team too pricey for the Jets to match or exceed.

His recent comments to Adam Schein indicate he will be waiting to see how much Nnamdi Asomugha is paid before making a decision, making it impossible for the Jets to lock him down in their window of exclusivity. He will also be offering no type of hometown discount to the Jets and appears anxious to explore what other teams will offer…despite the Jets fronting him $500,000 last year for child support problems he was having. Perhaps Rex Ryan’s love of corners and his defense will make him a high enough priority to receive a big contract from Mike Tannenbaum, but the momentum appears to be going the other way, especially if the Redskins drive up the price for Santonio Holmes who is a higher priority for the Jets, leaving less money to sign Cromartie.

For further thoughts on Cromartie and Jets free agency from myself and others, track the SB Nation New York stream.

A good piece expressing frustration with Cromartie from Jeff Capellini over at CBS/WFAN

Anybody care to explain to me how Santonio Holmes is a better fit in Washington than he is in New York?

Any of these potential free agents interest you on the Jets defense? I am sure Joey Porter’s name will get thrown around with the Jets if he gets released.

Eric Smith would be a cheaper alternative to bring back at safety than Brodney Pool.

If you didn’t see this yet, have a laugh at the expense of the Miami Dolphins.

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Kris Jenkins Announces His Retirement

 

Former New York Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins announced his retirement today. He is coming off rehabbing back to back to ACL injuries and the Jets had released him earlier in the off-season, so this isn’t a total surprise. Jenkins was a dominant player when healthy for both Carolina and the Jets. In 2008, he finished with 50 tackles and 3.5 sacks in his only full season in New York, as the past two years were cut short by injury.

New York Jets Shouldn’t Forget Value Of Bryan Thomas

Mike Tannenbaum is going to have to do some creative maneuvering with contracts in the coming week to improve the New York Jets through free agency. There has been a good amount of talk about releasing Bryan Thomas as a necessary move to free up cap space. However, too many people are writing off his value to the defense and not looking at the important question of who will fill his void.

Thomas has started every single game at outside linebacker for the Jets since Rex Ryan has taken over. In 2009, he finished with 53 tackles and 2 sacks. Last season, he followed up with 39 tackles and a team leading 6 sacks. He isn’t a flashy player but he fits well in the system and is constantly praised for doing those “little things” that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

Rex Ryan’s defense needs players who are going to take on less enviable tasks in sacrifice of their own personal stats, look at Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard and any player rotating through at defensive end. Thomas is comfortable in that role and has the trust of the coaching staff. If the Jets let him walk, who are they are going to replace him with? The only in house option is Jamaal Westerman, who has shown potential at times but spent most of last season inactive and finished with a total of 7 tackles.

Outside of their own roster, why would they spend money on a free agent like Manny Lawson, Antwan Barnes, Matt Roth, or even bringing Jason Taylor back before using that money to work something out with Thomas, who should be open to moving money around on his contract considering the big deal he received from the team before the 2007 season and that he has spent his whole career in New York.

The Jets are thin enough at linebacker, there is no need to make the position weaker by parting ways with a quality starter.

Right Tackle: A Priority For Jets Receiving Little Attention

TOJ is very happy to announce the addition of TJ Rosenthal to our writing staff. We have worked together previously at Pro Football NYC. TJ runs a Tumblr page called The Jet Report and is also active on Twitter. Welcome aboard! – JC

Scouts Incorporated Matt Williamson broke down all 32 NFL teams needs going into free agency. In doing so, he broke down the categories into groups. Need 1, Need 2, Need 3. By combining all three columns into 96 spots, we found that 14 of 96 in total were offensive linemen. Not a seemingly sought after position you say? Think again.

Offensive lineman are a top four group, which includes defensive linemen, linebackers and the secondary, which lead the list at 20. This brings us to the Jets RT Wayne Hunter and the recently released ex-Jet Damien Woody. Assuming that Williamson’s breakdown is reasonably accurate, then the need for the Jets to address the situation regarding the right tackle position looms larger than many might think. 

Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards have been the headline grabbing Jets free agent names. CB Antonio Cromartie has been one as well. Franchise tagged free agent LB David Harris is a shoe in to return to Florham Park.

The issue of right tackle however, has slipped under the radar. Hunter filled in well for an injured Damien Woody late in 2010 and earned his stripes by helping keep the Jets offense moving during their playoff run, from Williamson’s chart, it is obvious that teams clearly need help up front. 

The Jets must work hard to keep Hunter AND look to bring the experienced Woody back as well. The latter move to insure depth for a unit that sets the tempo for the Jets on offense. If a scenario presents itself where Hunter, 30, leaves for more lucrative pastures then don’t be shocked if Woody, 33, who has been a part of the Ground and Pound for two years and owns two Super Bowl rings, gets his old starting job back.

A lees trustworthy option would be last year’s second round pick Vladimir Ducasee, who would be a fall back option to fill the role, depending on his improvement from 2010 to this training camp. Last year as a rookie, Ducasse looked confused and not quite up to starting speed. His confusion is normal for many first year players whose job it is to protect against the complexities of NFL defenses. 

A plan ought to be in place by the Jets to solidify this position with Hunter AND Woody within the first three days of free agency. A window of time where teams will have the sole right to negotiate with their own.

Hunter’s value will of course play a part in the decision. There is no telling what a player like Hunter, a player with playoff experience and one of the few available at his position, will command on the open market.

Another element involved in the equation will be the current mindset of desperate owners. Ones like Jerry Jones of the line starved Cowboys, who is in need of filling this spot for his own team. This dangerously unknown element can alter the Jets plans that for now, remain on paper.

Recent Jets history proves that a reasonable measure of concern is understandable regarding rogue owners altering market value and salary cap strategies. Look at how Al Davis and his over generous three year, 45.3 million dollar deal with CB Nnamdi Asomugha in 2009 altered the scope of how the Darrelle Revis team handled negotiations during the 2010 offseason. Going back further, former Jets starting RG Randy Thomas, was lost during the Dan Snyder “Jet Skins” purge of 2003. Outbid by an owner willing to do whatever it took to win in 2004.

In Hunter’s case, it is possible that a team in dire need of help at Right Tackle could overpay in their offer, thus forcing the Jets hand. Raising the price to an unrealistic number worth matching. Doing this while knowing that aside from Hunter, the Jets will already have alot on their plate (Besides Holmes, Edwards and the versatile Brad Smith, secondary members Brodney Pool, Eric Smith, Drew Coleman and James Ihedigbo are ALL free agents as well). What teams may NOT take into account though, is that GM Mike Tannenbaum may be willing to call a bluff on a position that MUST continue to remain solidified.

No unit thrives on continuity like the offensive line. Keeping Hunter and Woody in Green and White allows the Jets to keep continuity and familiarity in the trenches. A major key when you consider how much offseason time has been lost in terms of units working together.

The offensive line becomes a back page story when penalties cost games or Quarterbacks like Tony Romo go down as a result of their ineptitude. No team can afford communication problems that lead to mistakes costing yardage. The Jets certainly cannot run the risk of exposing QB Mark Sanchez to any physical danger that results in a season long injury, like the one that the Cowboys Romo fell victim to, due to a lack of quality blocking, in the early part of the 2010 season. Especially when you consider who is behind Sanchez right now on the depth chart. 

Right tackle will be a key position to the Jets free agency strategy in the coming days. It has to be. After the issues of Santonio Holmes and who plays cornerback opposite perennial All-Pro Darrelle Revis are solved, Right tackle should be number three on the Jets soon to be free agent priority list. Bringing both Hunter and Woody back, perhaps in a reversal of roles with Hunter starting out as the starter, would be optimal.

When the lockout ends as reports claim it will over the next few days, talk will quickly turn to what will be a wild and short free agency period. The local media focus for the Jets will start at the glamorous position of wide receiver. Expect it to turn to the trenches, and right tackle shortly thereafter.

A Midsummer Guess At The New York Jets Depth Chart

Over at ESPN, Rich Cimini posted the New York Jets current depth chart, which we will be updating throughout free agency here at TOJ. However, it also inspired me to take a midsummer guess at what the final 53 for the Jets will be, even before free agency opens and training camp begins. Crazy, right? Well, we are in the last days of the lockout so might as well get these predictions out there now. Talk it up on the Twitter, Facebook, and yes even the Google+ page —

OFFENSE

  • QB – Mark Sanchez, Mark Brunell, Greg McElroy
  • RB – Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell
  • FB – John Conner
  • WR – Santonio Holmes, Randy Moss, Jerricho Cotchery, Jeremy Kerley, Scotty McKnight
  • TE – Dustin Keller, Matthew Mulligan, Jeff Cumberland
  • LT – D’Brickashaw Ferguson
  • LG – Matt Slauson
  • C – Nick Mangold, Robert Turner
  • RG – Brandon Moore, Marlon Davis
  • RT – Damien Woody, Vladimir Ducasse

DEFENSE

  • DE – Mike DeVito, Trevor Pryce, Muhammad Wilkerson, Ropati Pitoitua, Matt Kroul
  • DT – Sione Pouha, Marcus Dixon, Kenrick Ellis, Martin Tevaseu
  • OLB – Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, Jason Taylor, Jamaal Westerman
  • ILB – David Harris, Bart Scott, Josh Mauga, Brashton Satele
  • CB – Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, Marquice Cole
  • S – Jim Leonhard, Brodney Pool, Dwight Lowery, James Ihedigbo, Emmanuel Cook

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K – Nick Folk
  • P – Steve Weatherford
  • LS – Tanner Purdum

Of course there could and likely will be some UDFAs or low budget free agent signings replacing bottom of the roster players, along with a few other spots being taken up by players we don’t even know are on the Jets radar yet. However, I do think the Jets primary focus will be maintaining their own players instead of shopping in free agency or looking for the trades. I am probably being a touch on the optimistic side by thinking Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, and Brodney Pool will all be back but why not have faith in Mike Tannenabum at this point?

The Curious Case Of Joe McKnight

Joe McKnight has been dealing with unfair expectations since he was a five star recruit coming out of John Curtis Christian High School in Louisiana.  By now, mostly everyone reading this probably knows his sob story.  From the day he stepped on the USC campus everyone in the greater Los Angeles area expected him to carry the load of the Southern California dynasty and duplicate the highlight reel that Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush left behind.  McKnight, to no fault of his own, has been living off of his recruiting legacy since that first day of summer practices and the expectations have followed him since. 

There was no exception to this when the Jets drafted him in the 4th round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The common fan expected Joe to make a mockery of AFC defenses and their coordinators.  However, McKnight was a disappointment for Jets fans as soon as he came to camp out of shape. 

Since that disappointing camp, there has been a steady rise in his play.  He worked hard to get in shape and become one of the more reliable special teams players for the Jets as a gunner on the punt team.  Given the chance to start, McKnight ripped through a terrible Bills run defense in the last game of the season accumulating 158 of his 189 total yards for the year.  It is easy to write off McKnight’s performance on special teams and in the last game of the year, but it would also be wrong.  While the fans might not have taken Week 17 seriously, McKnight did, and proved that he is able to be successful on the NFL level given the right opportunity. 

This is what Jets fans should expect out of their 4th round picks, hard special teams play, and a mentality to take advantage when given the opportunity to start. Even though this is only his second year, I believe it is a make or break year for McKnight.  He has to believe that he can be a key contributor to this team in order to be successful on the field.  McKnight’s biggest issue seems to be his nerves and hopefully they will be calmed with a full season under his belt.  With a more than capable mentor in LaDainian Tomlinson, McKnight will be able to hone his skills and ease into a role on the Jets offense.

Waiting for a catch…how will McKnight develop without a full offseason?  Will he show up focused and in shape?  Will he revert back to his old habits?  Will he know the playbook and everything else that is asked of him?  Can he pick up things fast enough to get significant (8-12 touches) playing time within the first few games of the season.  Thankfully, all of these questions will be answered soon enough with the lockout coming to an end.  If I were a betting man, I would put my money on McKnight coming into the 2011 season focused and determined to be a vital player in the Jets offense. 

Yet, remember Jets fans, he is not going to become Tomlinson in his prime.  Readjust your expectations for McKnight from his reputation to a 4th round draft pick and I can almost guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised by his play.

Antonio Cromartie Talks Free Agency

Antonio Cromartie was a guest today on Sirius XM radio with Adam Schein, and as he always does, managed to make a few ear opening comments:

  • He said returning to the Jets is his top priority but he won’t be offering any type of “hometown discount,” which seems to make sense for a somebody with nine children from eight different women.
  • Houston, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Seattle, Dallas, Jacksonville, and Oakland were all mentioned by him as other potential landing spots.
  • When discussing bringing back Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards, he remarked that he thought Holmes would be a bigger priority because he “is a workaholic, clutch player and doesn’t complain.”
  • He will likely wait to see the type of money Nnamdi Asomugha will be paid before signing a contract.

First off, it sounds like he is throwing Braylon Edwards under the bus which is a bit perplexing. We have heard nothing but positive things about Edwards attitude and work ethic in the past year, and it demonstrated itself on the field.

Second, don’t expect the Jets to come close to getting a deal done with Cromartie in their three day of exclusivity window to negotiate with their own free agents. He is going to want to see what the market will offer him (aka what Asomugha is paid) and look to max out his earning potential. If Houston can’t figure out something with Asomugha, I’d expect them to make a monster offer to Cromartie that the Jets can’t match.

2010 was a good, not great year for Cromartie. I have been a huge advocate of re-signing him because of his comfort playing opposite Darrelle Revis and because I am not sold on Kyle Wilson being ready yet. Cromartie is going to offer you a mix of big plays, shut down man coverage, along with penalties, and allowing his share of big plays. He is the best option the Jets will have to put with Revis at corner next year, but he could still end up being too pricey.