New York Jets Ready To Move On From Bart Scott

Bart Scott’s time with the New York Jets appears to be coming to an end

It is being reported today that the New York Jets have given inside linebacker Bart Scott permission to seek a trade. There are rumors a handful of teams are interested, as long as the compensation is some type of food product or memorabilia. What you thought teams would be lining up to hand out players or picks to pay Scott 4.2 million guaranteed next year? Unfortunately that is a little high for a slow linebacker who can’t be on the field for passing downs…especially in a predominantly passing game.

The only way the Jets might receive even a late round pick is if Scott restructures his contract…in the end it is more likely that he will be cut. The cap hit will be hard to take but it is a necessary move in retooling this defense into a quicker, more versatile unit. I wouldn’t expect the Jets to find a replacement in free agency. Instead don’t be surprised to see them spend a mid-round draft pick on a inside linebacker and give Josh Mauga a larger role. It won’t be a popular move but adding a premium inside linebacker, alongside finding a outside linebacker, two safeties, a wide receiver, and right tackle just might not happen.

At least Bart Scott left us with this –

TOJ Monday Night Rant: New York Jets Passing Game

TOJ with a Monday night rant on the New York Jets passing game

Considering the disappointment of the 2011 NFL season, I find it fitting to kick off the next few weeks with a rant. Today’s topic is the New York Jets passing game…or lack thereof.

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Watching the New York Jets passing game last year was an ongoing exercise in frustration. You know how your favorite NFL team has the ability to pick up big chunks of yardage by completing 15-20 yard passes to open receivers? Well, the Jets didn’t have that ability. It was at the point where if it was 3rd and 8 or longer, you knew they weren’t converting because it didn’t seem they had a play in their playbook to pick up the necessary yardage.

The Jets passing game last year consisted of check downs, 5 yard stop routes to Dustin Keller, 4 yard crossing patterns on 3rd and 12, and of course slants…and then more slants.

The blame falls on a number of people: Mark Sanchez, the wide receivers, former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and inconsistent pass protection to start. Basically, you had the toxic recipe of an awful right tackle, a usually premier left tackle having a down year, an offensive coordinator with limited downfield playcalls, a quarterback who struggles heavily with the pass rush in his face, a painfully slow #2 receiver, and #1 receiver double teamed who was playing frustrated. Yikes.

What is the solution? Tony Sparano isn’t known for his passing game knowledge and the Jets never got around to hiring that “passing game coordinator” there was talk of. However, Sparano should help improve the protection up front which will go a long way towards helping improve Mark Sanchez’s play. If you have watched Sanchez since he started playing in the NFL, you know he has enough arm strength to make the deep throws necessary but he needs the protection, personnel, and playcalling to support him.

Sparano has emphasized he wants to pick up “chunks” of yardage through the passing game, despite having a run first approach. He will need to find a way to create mismatches for Dustin Keller and Santonio Holmes, along with Jeremy Kerley in the slot for that happen. Hopefully they will be supported by a split end with some speed via the draft or free agency, which will help open things up. He should also work to get Joe McKnight out in space in the passing game. He has the receiving skills to make a large impact in both the screen game and being split out wide.

Fellow TOJ writer Rob Celletti asked me numerous times this season, “how come the Jets can get a broken coverage, where a corner falls down or the defense makes a mistake to allow them to get an easy big play?” The reason was the Jets never threatened down the field, there was nothing for defenses to get confused over or cornerbacks to trip from. Teams would just bracket Shonn Greene on his checkdown and Dustin Keller on his short stop route.

Times need to change with the Jets passing offense and hopefully Sparano can deliver on the “big chunks of yardage” he has talked about.

New York Knicks Second Half Preview – Championship Contenders?

TOJ previews the second half of the season for the Knicks. Are they championship contenders?

Nobody loves football more than me but in terms of the New York City, straight up, there is nothing that gets people more excited than when the Knicks are playing well. This is a basketball town that is starving for a team to take seriously and this season they have it…in a big way.

17-18 isn’t good enough at the All-Star break. Yet let’s remember a few key realities, this team has not had a single second to practice together as the unit they will be in the second half of the season. These first 35 games have been a mish-mash of: playing without Carmelo Anthony or Amare Stoudemire, being led by three different primary point guards and having new additions like JR Smith and Baron Davis learn on the fly.

The fact that the Knicks play one game between now and March 4th is a godsend. They could have a mini-camp and get some type of cohesion going. They may be 17-18 but they are 3.5 games out of first place in their division and 3.5 games out of the 6 seed in the East. Without question, the primary goal is to avoid a 7 or 8 seed and match-up with Chicago or Miami in the first round. There is no reason the Knicks, as currently constructed can’t accomplish that, they have the ability to assert themselves as the third best team in the Eastern Conference and work towards being on Miami and Chicago’s level.

We saw last night, the Knicks are still a clear cut behind Miami. That is okay and understandable. Hopefully, they aren’t worrying about getting on that level until the 2nd round of the playoffs or the Eastern Conference Finals. Right now it is about proving they are better than the 76ers, Pacers, Hawks, and Magic and I believe they are, especially once they get some practice time under their belt.

March is going to provide quite the test for this team. Their schedule is nothing short of brutal. 17 games from March 4th to March 31st, with at least 10 of them being against sure fire playoff teams. They need to come out with a 10-7 or 11-6 record and make their move up the standings.

There are no excuses for this team. Amare Stoudemire needs to pick his play up and be the All-Star power forward he has been his whole career. Carmelo Anthony needs to be the top five player in the league he is capable of being. They have more than enough of a supporting cast now, led by one of the best centers in the NBA in Tyson Chandler, a rising star at point guard in Jeremy Lin and a deep, high-powered bench led by JR Smith, Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis.

Is this a team a championship contender? You are damn right they are. They are going to get into the tournament and once they do, anything can happen especially with the players on their roster. There is no reason this has to be a Cinderella run from the 7 or 8 seed, this team should be able to claw their way to a 3 or 4 seed and gear up to take down one of the big boys of the East in round two. Chicago can be beat in a 7 game series. They don’t have a second scorer. Miami can be beat in a 7 game series. LeBron James will disappear the bigger the moment gets and they don’t have a half-court offense…even though they play some kind of defense as we learned all too well last night.

Either way, get excited New York City the next few months should be fun.

TOJ 12 Pack Of Thoughts On New York Jets – Headline Players Edition

TOJ with a 12 pack of thoughts on the Jets most talked about players so far this off-season

March 13th is getting closer by the second, along with the days prior to it which be filled with endless free agency rumors. The dry spot in the NFL schedule is just about done with the combine underway and Rex Ryan giving a quote filled press conference yesterday. Let’s celebrate with a 12 pack of thoughts on the names most frequently being discussed when it comes to the New York Jets off-season these days —

1. Mark Sanchez – Where is he? Well we know he was at a Knicks game last weekend with D’Brickashaw Ferguson. He took the time to tweet Santonio Holmes a Valentine’s Day Card and that he is probably spending some nights with Kate Upton…lucky guy. Regardless, it is time for Sanchez to end his media silence and speak up for himself. I want to hear Sanchez, say “this is my team, the front office can bring in whoever they want to compete with me but I will be starting quarterback and will get this locker room fixed. Me and Santonio have been successful in the past and we will be again. As for my work ethic, I challenge whoever said this about me to show their face because I pride myself on being the first one in the building and the last one out everyday. I expect to see all my skill position players at Jets West in the coming months!”

You can take that verbatim if you want, Mark. Just cite me (@TurnOnTheJets).

2. Peyton Manning – Rex Ryan left the door open yesterday by saying the Jets were open to exploring all opportunities at every position. Listen, the Jets are going to kick the tires on Manning like 26 other teams in the league are, that doesn’t mean he is coming here. I am not sure if he is healthy. I don’t think he wants to play for the Jets and I don’t think it is smart move for this organization. Yet, until he is in a Cardinals or Redskins uniform, we won’t stop hearing about Manning and the Jets.

3. Santonio Holmes – He has sent out a sporadic tweet here and there about being excited for next season, of course followed with the #ToneTime hashtag. Santonio is who he is and that certainly isn’t a captain but at that same certainly the kind of receiver you can win with. He is on the team for the next two years so let’s hope he bounces back and starts playing like the number one receiver we paid him to be.

4. Sione Pouha – The big fella is the only major free agent the Jets have to worry about bringing back. They aren’t going to franchise tag him but are apparently working feverishly to get him under contract before free agency starts. Hopefully, they lock him down to a 2-3 year deal so he can keep anchoring the run defense until Kenrick Ellis is ready.

5. Shonn Greene – Is a lead back? Is he not a lead back? Will the Jets get him support via free agency or the draft? Personally, I am leaning towards thinking he isn’t a true lead back. Yet, the Jets don’t have the means to add a big name at running back. Look for them to add a journeyman veteran like Tim Hightower or Tashard Choice, a mid-round draft pick and then hopefully expand Joe McKnight’s role in the offense.

6. Courtney Upshaw/Melvin Ingram/Trent Richardson/Mark Barron – Popular names being thrown around with the Jets for the upcoming draft. Upshaw is the most ready to contribute 3-4 outside linebacker in the draft, which means if he gets near number 16, Mike T needs to make a move to get him. Ingram has potential but I worry about his migration to the 3-4 system. There is some chatter about Richardson falling a bit now due to his recent surgery. I still don’t think the Jets have a shot at him and that is probably a good thing, I am not sold on the value of first round running backs. Mark Barron would be an ideal addition if the Jets found way to maneuver their picks to get him in the 25-35 range.

7. Bart Scott/Calvin Pace – Also known as “those two slow Jets linebackers who never get to the quarterback.” There are rumors about both of them being cut. I would guess the Jets eat the guaranteed money and cut Scott but hold on to Pace, who is valuable against the run and can be a good secondary pass rushing option. As for the filling the hole at inside linebacker, I wouldn’t be surprised if they handed his role off to Josh Mauga for the time being and spend a middle round pick on one.

8. Jeremy Kerley – A player we are all excited to see in a bigger role next season. A role that could be bigger than expected if the Jets don’t invest in the free agent wide receiver market. TOJ is hoping they take a long look at a player like Robert Meachem or Laurent Robinson but not overly confident that will happen. The Jets could add a cheaper player with deep speed (maybe Harry Douglas of Atlanta?) and then add a draft pick at WR with some size.

9. Every Ex-Jet Imaginable – There is an ongoing infatuation among Jets fans about bringing ex-players back, most notably Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, John Abraham, and Dwight Lowery. Honestly, I do think Braylon makes a good amount of practical sense…I just doubt it happens.

10. Dustin Keller – It is going to be interesting to see how he fits in Tony Sparano’s offense and if the Jets bring in a blocking tight end to pair with him. Expect to see Anthony Fasano in green and white, if he hits the open market.

11. Wayne Hunter – Who are the Jets going to bring it to challenge him for the right tackle position? Vernon Carey seems like a logical move, as does bringing in a draft pick. It is a scary thought to imagine Hunter starting again next year, even if Sparano can protect his deficiencies better.

12. Eric ‘Freaking Smith – How are the Jets going to improve their safety position? They need a complete overhaul, which in my mind is signing a free agent (Reggie Nelson, Tyvon Branch, Michael Griffin are out there), investing a high pick on one and then bringing Jim Leonhard back on a veteran’s minimum deal as insurance. If Eric Smith comes back it has to be in a reserve/situational/special teams role.

New York Jets: Where Does Dustin Keller Fit In The New Offense?

Where is Dustin Keller going to fit into Tony Sparano’s offense?

There has been some minor speculation this off-season about the potential of Dustin Keller being traded. Yet, it remains more likely he will remain on the New York Jets roster next season as an integral part of their offense. The question is, how will Tony Sparano use a tight end who is not much of a blocker and has a skill set more suited to being a wide receiver?

First off, the Jets are going to add a blocking tight end after parting ways with Matthew Mulligan (better known as “Holding. Number 82”). If Anthony Fasano gets cut, which seems like a strong possibility, look for the Jets to add him. Fasano or whatever blocking tight end is added is going to have a large role on the offense as a key part of the running game.

Keller is likely to see less reps in the traditional tight end spot. Look for Sparano to have him help fill the gaping hole the Jets currently have at split end by using him both as a H-Back and putting him out wide.

We have discussed the possibility of adding Robert Meachem, Pierre Garcon or Laurent Robinson here. Unfortunately, those three remain fairly long shots. Garcon is likely headed back to Indianapolis, where the Colts have prioritized him over Reggie Wayne. Robinson and Meachem will both be sought after by many teams. Are the Jets and their Ground and Pound approach really going to spend big money on a wide receiver in the free agent market? Beyond that, couldn’t you see them having reservations about coming into this offense, especially with both coming from wide-open passing attacks?

I think it is more likely the Jets will spend a 3rd or 4th round pick on a wide receiver with some size and groom him for the starting spot opposite Santonio Holmes. For the upcoming year, Keller could spend a chunk of reps at receiver, along with Jeremy Kerley taking some reps on the outside, while the rookie is working up to speed.

Tony Sparano is going to look at Dustin Keller and see more of a wide receiver than a tight end, so anticipate him being used that way and for the Jets to spend more money on a free agent tight end than a free agent wide receiver.

Early New York Jets Draft Thoughts

TOJ with a collection of early thoughts on what the Jets could do in April’s draft

The NFL Draft is still a few months away but with the Combine kicking off today, let’s discuss some of the early chatter about what the Jets might do this April.

1. There has been an alarming amount of talk about the Jets selecting a guard in the first round, which I am pretty sure would lead to a storming of the stage at Radio City. Listen, I understand the value of the offensive line but the Jets had three Pro-Bowlers on their line last season. They need to improve one spot on it and that is right tackle. Yes, Matt Slauson is coming back from surgery and Brandon Moore is into his 30s but if they draft a lineman in round one…it better be a right tackle and it better be after trading down.

2. So my preference is clear, I want the Jets to address their pass rush in round one even if that means moving up a few spots to get their guy. Courtney Upshaw is the most complete, ready to go player available at outside linebacker and if gets anywhere near #16 Mike Tannenabaum needs to move.

3. Mark Barron was a player originally being heavily associated with the Jets at the 16th overall pick. However, he is now recovering from double hernia surgery which will likely cause him to fall down most team’s boards. If he gets within close range of the team’s 2nd round pick (47th overall), would they consider moving up for him…especially if they stay put or trade down in the first round?

4. I am aware about the Jets having depth issues from having a limited number of picks in recent years, so it might seem crazy that I am discussing them moving up with their first two picks. However, if you get the guys you want…and need, it is the right move. Do you remember 2007? The Jets traded up for both Darrelle Revis and David Harris. I do not think the Jets will move up in both round one and round two but if they netted a duo like Upshaw and Barron by trading one or two of those picks it will be hard to complain.

5. Mike Tannenbaum has selected four running backs over the past three years and I don’t think anybody would be surprised if he added another one in the middle rounds. The Jets still need depth at the position thanks to Shonn Greene not truly proving himself as a lead back, Joe McKnight having injury issues, and Bilal Powell looking thoroughly average in limited opportunities last year. I am not throwing in the towel on any of the Jets three backs but they need insurance via free agency or the draft.

6. The Jets also need a wide receiver, particularly one with some size. Tannenbaum struck out looking for a big receiver when he selected Marcus Henry. He has had success in later rounds with smaller, slot receivers like Chansi Stuckey and Jeremy Kerley (hopefully). Now he needs to find a player to be a long term split end, unless he address the need in free agency.

New York Jets: What Is A Successful Off-Season?

What will be considered a successful off-season for the New York Jets?

The upcoming New York Jets off-season is likely going to disappoint a large portion of the team’s fanbase. Every need isn’t going to be filled. That being said, what do the Jets have to take care of, at a minimum, in the upcoming months for Mike Tannenbaum to do a satisfactory job?

It starts up front on both sides of the football, which means getting Sione Pouha signed to a 2-3 year deal to make sure he can keep anchoring the Jets run defense. On offense, that means bringing in a veteran right tackle to compete with Wayne Hunter, somebody along lines of a Vernon Carey. The offensive line should also be supported with a mid-round pick to develop.

Improving the pass rush is of equal priority. Mario Williams isn’t happening. There are a few decent stopgap players available in free agency like Anthony Spencer and Manny Lawson. If Tannenbaum is thinking big on draft day, it should be at this position. The Jets aren’t going to need to sell the farm to move up to get an elite pass rusher but if they need to move up to the 12-14 range to get their guy, Tannenbaum shouldn’t hesitate.

Safety is a position the Jets could address in free agency and support with a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Tyvon Branch or Michael Griffin are worth the investment on the open market and look for Jim Leonhard to be brought back on a veteran’s minimum deal to provide depth.

There is a need at wide receiver but compared to right tackle, linebacker, and safety the need is a luxury. Don’t be shocked if the Jets don’t add a starting caliber free agent at receiver. This is a run first team and the priority to spend in free agency at the position is lower than other spots on the team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jets add a mid-round receiver with some size and go into camp with him, Jeremy Kerley and Patrick Turner competing for reps opposite of Santonio Holmes, with Dustin Keller having a much larger role split out at receiver, while the team signs a blocking tight end to pair with him.

Beyond that, another quarterback is going to be brought in. I have a tough time seeing it being anyone besides Chad Henne on a cheap, one year deal. It is a necessary, logical move considering his history with Tony Sparano.

Hypothetically, if Tannenbaum brought back Pouha, signed Vernon Carey to play right tackle, signed Branch or Griffin at safety, and Henne to be the backup quarterback and then on draft day got a pass rushing OLB in round one, along with a safety and wide receiver in the middle rounds. Would you consider that a successful off-season? I would.

New York Knicks: Sign JR Smith, Depth No Longer An Issue

The New York Knicks just might have added the final piece of the puzzle today by signing shooter JR Smith

The New York Knicks signed JR Smith today, potentially adding the final piece to the puzzle of a team who all of a sudden looks like a very real contender in the Eastern Conference.

Smith provides a needed knock down shooter at the guard position and offensive firepower off the bench. There aren’t anymore valid questions about the Knicks depth right now. Even if Baron Davis doesn’t come back healthy, and by all indications he is coming back for the second half of the year, Iman Shumpert and Smith provide an explosive, athletic duo off the bench at guard. Up front, the Knicks have defensive depth with Jared Jeffries and offensive depth with Steve Novak and Josh Harrellson returning from injury in the coming weeks.

Let’s not act like the Knicks haven’t dug themselves out of a big hole with their recent 7 game winning streak. A win tonight puts them ahead of Boston in the standings and within 2.5 games of Indiana for the six seed in the East. They are also only 5 games behind a Philadelphia team in their division that is bound to cool off eventually.

That being said, we are going to learn everything we need to know about this Knicks roster in their first nine games of March. When they play nine straight against viable playoff contenders, including games in Boston, Dallas, San Antonio, Chicago, and Indiana. Right now, I think there is no reason the Knicks can’t assert themselves as the third best team in the East. They have a chance to prove it during that stretch of games.

I don’t buy into the Carmelo Anthony can’t fit hype. People talk about Anthony like he has been a loser his whole life and like he didn’t win a National Championship and a Gold Medal. Anthony was the best player on that Gold Medal run and managed to share the ball fine with his teammates. A quality point guard a dream come true for him. It will only provide easier looks for him and take pressure off him on the offensive end. You really think the Knicks are downgrading by moving Bill Walker out of the starting line-up for Anthony?

As for Smith, he prevents us from ever having to see Mike Bibby or Toney Douglas on the floor again and he is a more natural scorer than Landry Fields or Iman Shumpert. I am a little concerned about how backcourt minutes will be distributed when Davis comes back, but ultimately in this system and in this shortened season, you can’t have enough weapons.

Can Tony Sparano Turn Joe McKnight Into Reggie Bush?

TJ on if Tony Sparano can get Joe McKnight to produce like Reggie Bush did in Miami last year

Joe McKnight was brought to USC in 2008 to be the next Reggie Bush. Instead, those sky high expectations in following the nation’s top RB, contributed to McKnight’s decision to forego his senior year.

“My career was OK. It was good, but not like Reggie. There was a constant pressure to be like Reggie.”

Gang Green took McKnight in the 4th round of the NFL draft that year. Perhaps the stage could be set again for McKnight to get get another chance in trying to be “the next Reggie Bush.” This time as a top tier NFL back under the guidance of new Jets OC Tony Sparano, who coached Reggie for much of his breakout year with Miami in 2011.

The Jets rushing attack needs an infusion of speed and the threat to gain big time yardage outside. Before looking outside of the organization for this solution, the stage could be set for a real hard look at McKnight as a split carry back. After all, he showed what he could do in the open field this past season on special teams.

Score touchdowns.

RB Trent Richardson of Alabama has been a name that has been tossed around as a potential first round choice for the Jets who may want to press reset in the feature back department of the new rushing attack altogether.

Should the Jets choose NOT to take a RB in April’s draft, opting to stay with Shonn Greene and McKnight as their top duo, then an attempt to mirror the rise of Bush in Miami with McKnight, may be the Jets best path to an increase in production on the ground. With Greene being the straight ahead compliment, who already owns a solid resume of late game knockout blows.

Bush made some big game breaking plays over his first four seasons as a Saint, but rushing attempts went from a Saints high of 157 in 2007 to 216 in his first year in Miami. A number that would have been higher had he not taken weeks to wrestle the feature back job away from Daniel Thomas.

More touches and a game plan better suited to revolving around HIS strengths helped Bush go from the perimeter ornament he was in the Big Easy, to one of the NFL’s top feature backs by seasons end. This despite the knock on Bush that he was too small to handle the increased workload. Especially inside the tackles.

The same label that McKnight currently faces.

Following Bush’s act as a USC Trojan was asking too much. Could McKnight obtain similar numbers in games to Bush’s in 2011, with twenty or so carries a game? We bet plenty of those who follow the Jets would love to see McKnight get the chance to.

New York Jets Off-Season Discussion- Featuring NY Jets 101

TOJ and NY Jets 101 discuss the Jets off-season and draft

Throughout the New York Jets off-season TOJ will be discussing their ongoing free agency and draft situation with various other writers. Today we talked with Donald Lappe from Jets 101 on a number of different topics

NYJ101 – There is a lot of different things floating around about the Jets’ salary cap issues. Putting the salary cap craziness aside, what should be their first order of business when free agency opens?

TOJ – The Jets need to take care of their own first, which means bringing back Sione Pouha. This team has made a bad habit of letting leaders…and productive leaders at that walk away from the team. They need him back both as an anchor to their run defense in the 3-4 and one of the few people worthy of a “C” on his chest in the locker room.

NYJ101 – The guaranteed salary jump for Wayne Hunter basically means he’ll be on the roster this season. Are the Jets going to ride with him as their starter on the right side? Do you expect a new face to be brought in or will the competition be between him and some lesser-knowns(Howard, Ducasse, Rob Turner if he’s back)?

TOJ – I expect the Jets to bring in a mid-level free agent, maybe somebody like Vernon Carey and to spend a middle round pick on a right tackle. In camp, there should be an open competition for the job. Ideally, Hunter settles into a backup role and only plays in their “big” packages.

NYJ101 – The Jets are in the market for younger, somewhat cheap wide receiver to play across from Santonio Holmes. Any names that jump out at you?

TOJ – There are three that jump out: Robert Meachem, Laurent Robinson, and Pierre Garcon. Meachem in particular has the speed and upside to be a potentially great fit opposite of Holmes. I don’t think Indy is going to let Garcon walk but if they do, the Jets should take a long at him.

NYJ101 – You’re in the Jets’ War Room on draft day. What is the one thing you don’t let Rex and Tanny walk away from the draft without?

TOJ – A pass rushing outside linebacker. This problem has been ignored for far too long by the Jets front office. They need somebody who can get after the quarterback without Rex Ryan having to dial up a blitz.

NYJ101 – The Jets have shown a willingness to trade up and get their guy(Sanchez, Revis). They have a good amount of needs. Are you trading up for an impact guy or are you stockpiling picks?

TOJ – They haven’t had a high amount of draft picks in recent years, which has hurt their depth. However, after the compensatory picks are handed out the Jets should have 8-9 total picks this time around. While I would like to see them leave the draft with about that many players, I wouldn’t object to making a move to acquire Courtney Upshaw or another pass rusher.

NYJ101 – It’s pick No. 16 and Courtney Upshaw, Mark Barron and Melvin Ingram are all available. Who are you taking?

TOJ – Upshaw. He is somebody who played on a championship defense in college and can make an immediate impact getting after the quarterback.

TOJ – Are you confident in Shonn Greene as the Jets lead back? What kind of potential do you think Joe McKnight has in this offense going forward?

NYJ101 – I really am confident in Greene to be the main guy. There’s a lot of different opinions on Greene and I think that comes from his running style. He’s a plodder, but he wears on the defense as the game goes along. Early on in the season the Jets were quick to move away from him when the early returns in individual games were 2-3 yard per carry. I think a great example of the strength of Shonn Greene is the Redskins game. Before his 25-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter he only had 63 yards on 21 carries, but he helped the Jets control the pace of the game, chew up the clock and when the Redskins defense was tired at the end of the game he delivered the knockout blow.

McKnight has a great chance to grow in this offense. It’s an interesting parallel for him in his career with Tony Sparano coming in because he was supposed to be the next Reggie Bush at USC and now Sparano comes to the Jets after Bush was his feature back in Miami. He’s not going to see anywhere near the carries Bush did last season, but 5-10 carries a game and more of an emphasis on him in the screen game would be a nice step this season. On a team that is desperate for speed and big plays, McKnight has to get more touches on offense this season.

TOJ – Would you bring Jim Leonhard back on a veteran minimum deal to provide insurance at safety?

NYJ101 – Seems like the smart move. The injuries were really freak occurrences and the coverage issues with him and Eric Smith are a product of the pair more than any one player. While it’s easy to say the team needs an upgrade at safety, it’s a completely different thing to find an available one at a price that works. I think the best way the Jets can address their safety issues is with an improved pass rush. Leonhard is smart, tough and should be cheap.

TOJ – Would you eat the guaranteed money to Bart Scott and cut him anyway?

NYJ101 – This is a tough one. The problem becomes eating that salary and then finding a replacement that is legitimately better and doesn’t sabotage addressing the other needs the team has. I don’t think the team believes in Josh Mauga as an every-down linebacker. You have to keep Scott and hope that he has a bit of a bounce back season. He showed some flashes of the old Bart late in the season. He’s not going to be the player he was a few years ago, but getting one more season out of him is the way to go.

TOJ – Who do you think will be the team’s breakout player this year?
NYJ101 – Marcus Dixon. Dixon’s story is one worth reading about and the obstacles in his path to the NFL have turned him into a potential late-bloomer. He was an SEC recruit but ended up at Hampton(a lot like Kenrick Ellis), then went undrafted. At 6-4, 295, he can play the end spot in the 3-4 and showed an ability to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage – something the Jets defensive line doesn’t do very often. When he got consistent playing time over three games from weeks 13-15 he put up a combined nine tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. The Jets defense needs those negative plays as badly as their offense needs explosive plays. Dixon can provide that.
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