Where Do New York Jets Fit In AFC East?

Despite two straight appearances in the AFC Championship Game, the New York Jets have fallen short of winning their own division under Rex Ryan. Their regular season divisional record (6-6) under him also leaves plenty to be desired. Even though in recent years wild-card teams have reached the Super Bowl, it would be nice to see them finally host a home playoff game and potentially get a bye week.

Some people will say the Jets are the favorite to win the AFC East this year, considering they knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs last year. Some people will say it is still the Patriots division to lose since they have won it the past two years. Miami remains a few levels behind both teams as they struggle to get over the hump of being a sub .500 team. Buffalo is currently in rebuilding mode but can be a dangerous match-up in any given week.

Free agency will shake up the rosters of all four teams but likely not enough to change perceptions about where they stand as contenders heading into the regular season. New England could look to add a wide receiver who can be a consistent deep threat for them on the outside, who isn’t named Randy Moss. They will also be looking to add pass rushers and thus could be battling with the Jets to sign players like Matt Roth or Manny Lawson. There is still an issue for the Patriots on how to deal with guard Logan Mankins, who isn’t going to accept the franchise tag again kindly.

The Dolphins have been rumored with a wide range of names at the skill positions. At quarterback, there has been talk about Carson Palmer, Vince Young, and Matt Moore all being brought in. At running back, Reggie Bush’s name has been floated around the past week and Ahmad Bradshaw has publicly stated his interest in the Dolphins. They could also make a run at DeAngelo Williams, as they are set on improving the production of their backfield.

Buffalo has formally handed off the starting quarterback job to Ryan Fitzpatrick. They will now hope he can grow with Steve Johnson at receiver, Fred Jackson at running back, and that CJ Spiller can contribute something this year. On defense they still have work to do to support first round pick Marcell Dareus on the defensive line and a young secondary with some talent. Linebacker Paul Posluszny is a free agent and rest of the position remains weak for the Bills.

The Jets have the talent and experience to win the division this year, even if they suffer losses in free agency. However, 11 wins wasn’t enough to get it done in 2010 so they are going to need to improve their divisional play and avoid any late season letdowns like they had last year.

New York Jets divisional match-ups in 2011

  • Week 5 at New England
  • Week 6 vs Miami (Monday night)
  • Week 9 at Buffalo
  • Week 10 vs New England (Sunday night)
  • Week 12 at Buffalo
  • Week 17 at Miami

TOJ Link Dump – July 18th

It now seems to be a foregone conclusion that a new CBA deal will be announced this Thursday at the owner’s meetings, followed by a 72 hour window where teams can negotiate with their own free agents, followed by the free agency floodgates opening to the entire league in what should be a massive spending spree. In about two to three weeks, we could have the New York Jets, however they are constructed at that point, on the field in Florham Park getting ready for the 2011 season.

It is about damn time.

It is pretty amazing how far ahead Nick Mangold ranks ahead of every other center in the NFL by these and just about any metrics. Tim Graham also recently ranked him as the 5th best player in the AFC East, which seems a touch low to me at first glance. I know Tom Brady and Darrelle Revis will be higher, but I am curious to see who else will be. Then again it could be hard to put too much stock in a list that ranked Cameron Wake higher than Santonio Holmes and D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

It is comforting to know the Jets do have the best center in the league anchoring their offensive line for the long haul. Getting him with the 29th overall pick in the draft was an absolute steal and is right up there with trading up for Darrelle Revis as the best draft day move Mike Tannenbaum has made.

TOJ’s good friend Jeff Capellini recently published this article at WFAN.com on how the Jets should approach free agency. He has remained optimistic about the Nnamdi Asomugha being swayed by the potential to win over the money and seems to think there is a better chance of Braylon Edwards returning over Santonio Holmes, two opinions I do not agree with. However, with the amount of interest the Washington Redskins apparently have in Holmes, bringing Edwards back could become a financial necessity to save money to help improve the rest of the team. At corner, I just can’t picture any scenario where the Jets pay anywhere near the amount of money it will take to bring Asomugha here and would rather see them focus on getting Antonio Cromartie back.

An intriguing free agent option mentioned for the Jets in this article is San Diego linebacker Antwan Barnes. He has played under Rex Ryan before and finished with 4.5 sacks last season as a pass rushing specialist for the Chargers. The Jets aren’t going to be able to spend big money at linebacker but need to improve their depth and pass rush options so either bringing Jason Taylor back or signing somebody like Barnes or Manny Lawson are possibilities.

A look at a potential worst case scenario for the Jets in free agency. There will obviously be tough decisions that have to be made in the coming weeks but hopefully Mike Tannenbaum can manuever the numbers to maintain as much of the current roster as possible, while a few other supporting pieces.

New York Jets: What We Learned This Lockout

I am thoroughly exhausted of hearing about “close” the NFL Lockout is to being over…will it end in the coming weeks? Probably…or maybe we will just get 8 more Michael Silver articles about how close they are, followed by an article 12 hours later about how far apart they are. Regardless, let’s run down what we have learned so far this lockout from our New York Jets —

1. Mark Sanchez is a busy man…even when football isn’t going on

I don’t know how this guy manages to organize multiple off-season camps, participate in NASCAR events, hang with Larry David, attend Harry Potter premiers and Broadway shows and get caught in some weird love triangle with the girl from Heroes and Scotty McKnight…but the guy has a full schedule. Regardless of his off the field ventures, it appears that at this point Sanchez has truly solidified himself as a leader of this team.

2. Sione Pouha is handy with a camera

His “Life of Lockout” YouTube series was an entertaining look at himself and the team the past few months. Personally, I thought the episode that featured “Camp Lockout” was the best one as it gave tons of footage of the team working out together and then competing in paintball. It does genuinely feel like there is very good chemistry with this current roster, so let’s hope Mike Tannenbaum can keep as much of it together as possible.

3. Wide receivers create contentious debate

Whether it is disagreeing about whether the Jets should bring Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards back, or who the top choices for replacements should be if one of them leaves, it is hard to find any consensus among fans. The Jets have been linked to names like Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress, Steve Smith, Chad Ochocinco, and Terrell Owens in the past months. If I was a gambling man, I’d say Holmes ends up coming back and the Jets sign either Moss or Burress to a short term deal to replace Edwards. Hopefully, I will be wrong and the team can find a way to get both Holmes and Edwards back.

4. Rex Ryan won’t stop guaranteeing a Super Bowl

Rex Ryan is going to guarantee the Jets are going to win a Super Bowl before every season, so just get used to it. He also published an interesting book this off-season, which provides plenty of trash talk for the upcoming year, especially to the New York Giants. Who doesn’t miss Rex these days?

Thoughts On New York Jets Flight Boys Celebration?

I think we have all been waiting for the New York Jets to come up with some type of organized “cool” celebration. We had Keyshawn spiking his helmet after his first touchdown…Chad Pennington’s awkward jump spikes…Curtis Martin praising the heavens, but never something quite like the Flight Boys celebration from last year, which to my knowledge was started by Santonio Holmes.

Prior to Holmes return from suspension, Braylon Edwards had taught the entire AFC East how to Dougie, which was entertaining enough.

Yet, when Holmes began scoring touchdowns he broke out the trademark wings, which we gleefully watched all over the field in New England this past January.

(Isn’t it great listening to the disgust in the voice of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms in this clip, by the way?)

Personally, I love it. Why wouldn’t the Jets, imitate airplanes when they score touchdowns or make big plays? It is only logical. I can tell you that I ran through the streets of Hoboken after the Jets knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs with the my arms spread, much my to girlfriend and her friend’s disgust. Earlier in the year, I also happened to see the Jets beat the Steelers in a sports bar and broke out the wings inside, leading to me accidentally knocking somebody’s drink over…still well worth it.

What do you think of the celebration? Should the Jets bring it back next year or work on something new?

TOJ Link Dump – July 13th

– A poll on the TOJ Facebook Page found that over 50% of you are looking forward to the Jets/Giants Christmas Eve match-up more than any other game this season. Week 1 versus the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football came in second place.

– Stay away from our receivers, Washington! Not only are the Redskins reportedly interested in Braylon Edwards, they also have their eyes set on Santonio Holmes. Personally, I don’t think there is any way the Jets are letting Holmes get away and overall I doubt either Holmes or Edwards could get too excited about catching one-hoppers from John Beck but then again money does talk and Daniel Snyder is certainly willing to spend, so we will have to see what happens.

A good round-up of the never ending lockout rumors and chatter at SB Nation New York, including a contribution from yours truly on the idiocy of James Harrison and Tiki Barber among other things.

– In case you didn’t see some of Harrison’s quotes, here is the link. Of course he is now claiming some of his quotes were taken out of context…I am sure they forced him to take that picture holding two guns as well.

– Glad to hear about Mark Sanchez’s confidence about his team being able to handle the lockout and being able to re-sign everybody. You have to wonder how many calls he has made to Mike Tannenbaum reminding him of the importance of a young quarterback having quality receivers…how about a temporary pay cut for Mark so the Jets can bring Holmes and Edwards back?

Nate Robinson at corner opposite of Darrelle Revis?

– Kiera Massette of the Lingerie Football League was kind enough to do an interview with TOJ at Gunaxin this past week, providing some interesting insight on her experience with the rapidly growing league.

Kenny Powers is back in action and Funny Or Die takes on the NFL Lockout…TOJ has you covered at Gunaxin.

TOJ Top Five: Most Underrated Jets

We continue our TOJ top five series today, with a look at the five most underrated players on the Jets roster

Previous TOJ Top Fives

5. Matt Slauson – He stepped in for future Hall of Famer Alan Faneca at left guard last year and turned in an admirable performance. There were early season struggles, which were to be expected from a second year 6th round pick who had no experience his rookie year but he got much more steady as the season went on. The Jets running game was still one of the league’s best and Jets quarterbacks were sacked two times less in 2010 than they were in 2009. For at least the next few years, it looks like Slauson will be the answer at left guard.

4. Mike DeVito – Similar to Slauson, moved into the starting line-up last season and didn’t allow the Jets to miss a beat at his respective position. DeVito took over at defensive end, where he is solid against the run and fits well into Rex Ryan’s scheme. In 2010, he finished with 59 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, and 2 forced fumbles.

3. Bryan Thomas – Every year there is talk about the need to replace him but every year he maintains his starting position and produces. Thomas led the Jets in sacks last season with 6 and figures to spend another season as a starter at outside linebacker, doing many of the little things that are necessary for the Jets defense to succeed.

2. Sione Pouha – Nose tackle is a crucial position in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense and the past two years Pouha has stepped in for an injured Kris Jenkins without the Jets missing a beat. After a surprisingly productive 2009 season, Pouha got even better last year and finished with 59 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 fumbles recovered. He also isn’t too shabby with a camera in his hand:

1. Brandon Moore – One of the top guards in the NFL who is frequently overshadowed by Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Moore has been a model of consistency on the Jets offensive line by starting 105 straight regular season games for the team at right guard. He has been a huge part of the team’s success running the ball in recent years and hopefully will receive Pro Bowl recognition at some point.

Another Look At New York Jets 2011 Schedule

The New York Jets are supposed to be opening their season on Sunday, September 11th at 8:20 PM in their own building against the Dallas Cowboys…let’s all keep our fingers crossed that it actually happens. Week one should provide a good test for the Jets against the talented but inconsistent Cowboys, who will be welcoming Tony Romo back under center as he returns from a season ending injury in 2010. Regardless, you would hope the Jets can set the tone for a better season at home by beating a team who was 6-10 last year.

Dallas kicks off a difficult first half of the season for the Jets, who have their bye after week 7, nearly splitting their season perfectly in half. Despite only two of their first seven opponents making the playoffs in 2010, it contains a killer three game road trip after their week two home game against Jacksonville (probably their easiest match-up in weeks 1-7): at Oakland, at Baltimore, and at New England, followed by home games against Miami and San Diego. The Dolphins have beat the Jets the past two years in the Meadowlands and San Diego’s offense will be a handful.

After the bye, things lighten up for the Jets who enter what I think is a very managable six game stretch

  • at Buffalo
  • vs New England
  • at Denver
  • vs Buffalo
  • at Washington
  • vs Kansas City

I am aware Denver is on a short week (it is a Thursday night) but the Jets should be able to get rolling here, by taking advantage of getting Buffalo twice in four weeks and improving their 2-0 record against New England at home under Rex Ryan. Denver, Washington, and Kansas City all have shaky quarterback situations. Okay, maybe Kansas City technically doesn’t but did you see Matt Cassel in the playoffs last year against Baltimore’s defense? The Chiefs are feeling like a major let down team this year.

The Jets last three games are on the road in Philadelphia, at home against the Giants, and then the season finale on the road against the Dolphins. All three are tough games, no matter how far out of the contention the Giants and Dolphins will be at that point.

Obviously it is nearly impossible to project how difficult a schedule truly is, especially since free agency hasn’t taken place yet but despite coming off a 11-5 season, the Jets schedule does seem manageable and is full of intriguing games. Don’t forget they have five prime-time games:

  • Week 1 vs Dallas (Sunday Night)
  • Week 4 at Baltimore (Sunday Night)
  • Week 6 vs Miami (Monday Night)
  • Week 10 vs New England (Sunday Night)
  • Week 11 at Denver (Thursday Night)

What game are you most looking forward to? Leave a comment below and drop one off on the Turn On The Jets Facebook Page or Twitter Account. Personally, I don’t think you can top either of the Jets/Patriots match-ups or the Jets/Giants Christmas Eve game.

New York Jets Defense Needs To Be More Consistent

It is the pride and joy of Rex Ryan and everything the new look Jets are supposed to be about: a smashmouth, aggressive defense that opposing quarterbacks and offensive coordinators have nightmares about preparing for.

At times the defense has lived up to this reputation, notably in the beginning and end of the 2009 season…up until the second half of the AFC Championship Game of course.

In the 2010, the expectations were extremely high for the defense, with talk around the locker room about it potentially becoming one of the best in league history, considering their 2009 production and the addition players like Antonio Cromartie, Jason Taylor, and Brodney Pool. Unfortunately, in many regards the defense took a step back last year.

2009

  • 252.3 total yards allowed per game – 1st in NFL
  • 153.7 passing yards allowed per game – 1st in NFL
  • 98.6 rushing yards allowed per game – 8th in NFL
  • 236 total points allowed (a ridiculously low number when you consider how many points opposing defenses and special teams scored on the Jets in 2009)
  • 17 interceptions

2010

  • 291.5 total yards allowed per game – 3rd in NFL
  • 200.6 passing yards allowed per game – 6th in NFL
  • 90.9 rushing yards allowed per game – 3rd in NFL
  • 304 total points allowed
  • 12 interceptions

Outside of improving their rushing defense in 2010, the defense also had 8 more sacks and forced 2 more fumbles. However, generally the numbers were down especially in points allowed, total yards allowed per game, and passing yards allowed per game.

The decline in 2010 could be partially be attributed to the unit’s top two players taking a step back from 2009. Darrelle Revis missed time early in the year and wasn’t himself until after the Jets bye in week 6. He had zero interceptions last year compared to the 6 he had in 2010. David Harris was also more productive in 2009, than in 2010 as he recorded 28 less tackles, 2.5 less sacks, and 2 less interceptions last season.

There were obviously other factors at work, including opponents adjusting to the Jets scheme after seeing a full year of game tape and Jim Leonhard missing the second half of the year. Whatever it was, the unit seemed to take a step back in the regular season.

What is frustrating is that we saw just how good the defense truly could be in the playoffs last year as they led the charge behind knocking both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady out of the playoffs by beating them in their own building. Don’t be fooled by Manning or Brady’s numbers in those games because the Jets defense effectively contained Manning and forced him to keep settling for field goals and beat the hell out of Brady, who inflated his stats in garbage time.

The inconsistency showed itself again in the first half of the AFC Championship Game, where Pittsburgh ran up 17 points on the defense who then finally flipped the switch and shut them out in the second half, even though they couldn’t up with a key stop late in the 4th quarter to give their offense a chance to win the game.

In 2011, the Jets will benefit from getting a healthy Jim Leonhard back and drafting defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round. However, they could also suffer the setback of losing Antonio Cromartie, Brodney Pool, Eric Smith, and Shaun Ellis to free agency.

Whoever is filling out the Jets depth chart, let’s hope Rex Ryan continues to mix up his strategy the way he did in the playoffs, which caught two of the league’s best offenses off guard and that defensive unit as a whole will take a step forward next season.

Fast and Furious Free Agency On The Way

The latest reports on the NFL Lockout involve a tentative resolution being agreed upon on July 21st. In that scenario or really any scenario at this point, a frantic period of free agency will begin, which should truly separate the league’s best and worst front offices.

I would think most New York Jets fans should feel comfortable with Mike Tannenbaum pulling the strings, considering the success of the team since he has taken over as GM. Expect many teams to overpay for big name veterans in the opening days of free agency and for the more patient front offices to be rewarded with a few under the radar signings at very good market value.

There is a rumor floating around that the Washington Redskins have a strong interest in Braylon Edwards, which is about the worst news any Jets fan who wants Edwards back could hear. The Redskins are notorious for paying out lavish contracts to veterans and will likely drive Edwards price out of what Tannenabum is willing to pay, especially with Santonio Holmes likely a higher priority.

You would think Edwards would rather compete for a Super Bowl in New York than field one hoppers from John Beck on a mediocre Washington team but money talks and how much of a hometown discount would he really take?

Pro Football Focus recently compiled this list of the top 51 free agents (I strongly disagree with the ordering of these players but it does provide a good reference of who is available) and this list of bargain free agents. A few thoughts on how some of these available players could fit with the Jets —

  • I don’t see them making a big offer on an elite free agent that isn’t one of their own. The top priorities should be keeping Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, and Edwards and to a lesser extent Shaun Ellis, Brodney Pool, and Damien Woody.
  • A few middle of the road free agents I could them considering are linebackers Matt Roth or Manny Lawson, both could be options to improve depth and the pass rush, especially if Jason Taylor doesn’t come back.
  • If Antonio Cromartie leaves, I could see them adding a veteran corner…if Jonathan Joseph ends up being too pricey, Chris Carr or Richard Marshall could be solid alternatives.

Also don’t forget the Jets still need to work out a long term deal with David Harris, to finish off taking care of their “Core Four.” It is hard to see this getting done before the season starts with how much madness will be going on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets weren’t afraid to visit the issue after week one considering the circumstances.

TOJ Weekend Poll & Other Jets Notes

Click here to vote if you are happy with the Jets moving training camp from Cortland to Florham Park

Personally, I am…only because it is a substantially easier commute, which I am guessing is the case for the majority of Jets fans. However as Rex Ryan always says, there is a benefit to getting the entire team away for a few weeks where they can only focus on football. We will have to see if it impacts how the Jets start the season.

Mark Sanchez is being politically correct by saying he wants all the Jets free agents back but you have to think the young quarterback is prioritizing Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards well above anyone else. Perhaps he could restructure his contract to help make that happen.

In case you were wondering, I still rank the Jets top FA priorities in the following order: Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, Braylon Edwards. You can’t sign two receivers before a corner on a defensive minded team and Holmes should be the priority over Edwards. After those three, I would focus on getting Brodney Pool back to solidify the secondary, Damien Woody to secure right tackle, and Shaun Ellis to mentor Muhammad Wilkerson. I have already resigned myself to Brad Smith leaving.