Demario Davis and Aaron Maybin have the skill set to be x-factors on the Jets defense this season
The New York Jets were slow at linebacker last season. Slow may actually be an understatement to describe Bart Scott trudging after running backs and Calvin Pace needing a sun dial to time his rush to the quarterback. Even the young players the Jets turned to when there were injuries, like Garret McIntyre and Josh Mauga were sluggish in the speed department.
Fortunately the coaching staff recognized this issue and made improving team speed a point of emphasis this off-season. Bart Scott has reportedly dropped 15 pounds and one hopes he could perform similar to how he did in 2009 and 2010, when he was a very good 2 down, run stopping linebacker.
More importantly, the Jets added linebacker Demario Davis in the third round who has impressed the coaching staff enough to already be running with the first team in sub packages. His speed at the position gives the Jets versatility they have been lacking since Rex Ryan took over. Davis has the ability to run with running backs and tight ends in pass routes, unlike any other linebacker on the team’s roster. Look for him to make an immediate impact in passing situations and to gradually take more reps away from Scott as the season progresses.
Aaron Maybin will be entering his second year with the team and with a full off-season with the coaching staff under his belt, should move towards becoming a more complete player. Last year it was all speed rushing and hustle with Maybin. While he doesn’t need to change his motor, he does need to add some inside pass rushing moves and work on tackling in space. Maybin led the team with 6 sacks last year despite not joining the team until week 4. Look for him lining up at both defensive end and outside linebacker in pass rushing situations, likely replacing Bryan Thomas most of the time.
When looking at the grotesquely overpaid Pace, who is coming off his worst season with the team, hopefully the pieces around him will make him stronger. When breaking down the Jets 46 alignment, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com points out that with Muhammad Wilkerson, Sione Pouha and Quinton Coples up front, you could see Pace spend a good chunk of time lined up at defensive end alongside them. Pace should also be improved in his traditional 3-4 outside linebacker spot as Maybin becomes more respected as a pass rusher and Coples becomes a factor up front.
Ultimately, you have a general feeling what kind of production you will get from David Harris, Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas, and Calvin Pace. However, Davis and Maybin have the opportunity to bring a unique element to the position group. Can Davis help solve the Jets problems covering the tight end and dealing with faster running backs? Can Maybin be a double digit sack guy with a full off-season to prepare in Rex Ryan’s defense? Positive answers to these questions could lead the Jets to having one of the league’s top defenses once again.
Mike Donnelly breaks down the winners and losers from last night’s NBA Draft Lottery and ponders how Billy King still finds work
Mike Donnelly looks at the winners and losers from last night’s NBA Draft Lottery. By the way, while we are discussing the NBA, save your river of tears about officiating Boston fans. Let’s not act like your stars have never received the benefit of a quick whistle. You are going to get swept because you are vastly inferior to Miami on the court not because of the referees. – JC
New Orleans Hornets – Obviously. They had the lottery rigged for them defied the odds, and improbably landed the #1 overall pick, and with it, the chance to draft Anthony Davis. They already have a few pieces in place, with Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman, and Trevor Ariza, so adding Davis will speed up the rebuilding process. They won’t be competing for a title any time soon, but now they have something to build on, which is something they couldn’t really say after David Stern screwed them with the whole Chris Paul fiasco last year.
Anthony Davis – Davis knew all along he would be the #1 overall pick, so his stock didn’t go up or down last night. The reason he came out as a winner was because he doesn’t have to go play in Charlotte for that abysmal Bobcats team. I mean have you seen that roster? It would be a shame to see him waste away there. He’s much better off in New Orleans, especially if David Stern is going to continue rigging things for them to succeed. Err–I mean, especially since he has a better supporting cast. Yeah, that’s it.
Conspiracy Theorists – What a day for NBA Conspiracy Theorists everywhere! 27 years after David Stern allegedly rigged the 1985 Lottery so the Knicks could land Patrick Ewing, something even more fishy occurred last night. After absolutely screwing the Hornets last year with the Chris Paul situation, and after a solid year of Tom Benson low-balling him with offers to buy his team that nobody wanted, David Stern somehow magically convinced Benson to up his offer and meet the asking price just a few weeks before the draft. Hmm. And then, despite having the 4th best chance to land the #1 pick, the Hornets and Tom Benson–I hope you’re sitting down for this one–land the #1 pick! Shocking!
So to recap: David Stern owned this team for a year, single-handily set them back a few years with the Chris Paul thing (and owed them one as a result), and somehow sweetened the pot for Tom Benson to pull the trigger on the purchase. Was the #1 pick that sweetener? We’ll never know…
(Yes, yes it was)
The Brooklyn Nets – Oof, what a disaster. Due to a stunningly bad trade last year (we’ll get to this later), the Nets needed to land in the top 3 of the lottery last night or else lose their 1st round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers. They pulled #6. Ouch. So now, the Nets have basically nothing to trade for Dwight Howard and are almost definitely going to lose Deron Williams to free agency. I’m sure people will be lining up to watch Jordan Farmar and Gerald Green go 20-62 next season in their brand-new stadium…
Michael Jordan – Poor Michael will now actually have to do a little work now that his Bobcats landed the #2 pick instead of the slam-dunk choice of Anthony Davis at #1. If GM Rich Cho can track him down on the golf course or casino, or wherever Michael spends his time these days, the choice will likely come down to unpolished UConn center Andre Drummond or Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who may be the next Scottie Pippen. It’s almost a guarantee they’ll make the wrong choice and take Drummond, and that’s why they’re the Bobcats.
Billy King (Couldn’t think of a category name worse than “Loser”, so we’re gonna just name this the Billy King group)
Billy King – Seeing Billy King continue to get high-level jobs in the NBA blows my mind. Are there zero other qualified candidates out there that teams feel the need to recycle proven failures like Billy King? Is it his fault the ping-pong balls didn’t fall the Nets’ way and they didn’t land a top 3 pick? No. Is it his fault they made one of the most indefensible trades in recent NBA history putting them in a position that they needed a top 3 pick? Yes! Including a 1st round pick that was only Top-3 protected in a trade for a soon-to-be-30-year-old free agent Gerald Wallace, when the Blazers were supposedly only asking for a mid-to-late 1st round pick in return is completely and totally asinine. And his logic defending the trade–that they only liked 3 players in this draft so they didn’t mind losing the pick if it was after that–only shows him to be even more incompetent. Newsflash, Billy: Just because you don’t think a pick from #4 on is valuable, doesn’t mean other teams don’t. In fact, just knowing you thought that would make me jump through hoops trying to land a pick after #3 in this draft if I were an opposing GM.
It’s mind-boggling he even got this job with the Nets in the first place after his comical performance running the 76ers. Let’s take a look at some of his greatest hits:
Signing Theo Ratliff and Matt Geiger for a combined $108 million in 1999
Trading 1st round picks on multiple occasions for: Mirsad Turkcan, Jumaine Jones, and Kenny Thomas (so there is a precedent here for him making indefensible trades of 1st round picks)
Signing 35-year-old (but probably older in actuality) Dikembe Mutombo and Aaron McKie for a combined $117 million in 2001
Gave Samuel Dalembert and someone named Brian Skinner a combined $85 million
Inexplicably traded for a declining and injured Chris Webber in 2005, crippling their salary cap. Less than two years later, Billy King negotiated a $25 million buyout, basically paying Webber NOT to play for his team. Savvy!
Traded franchise player Allen Iverson for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and 2 late 1st round picks that he used to select Daequan cook and Petteri Koponen. Nice!
It appears as though Billy King learned absolutely nothing from his tenure in Philadelphia and is intent on flushing the Nets down the toilet as well. They’re likely to lose Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace is a free agent (don’t think for a second Billy King isn’t about to overpay him big time to justify the trade, though), and they have no other real assets. When asked after the lottery if he would re-do the Wallace trade knowing he would lose his 1st round pick, he stunningly replied, “Absolutely”.
I’d agree with him, if only the question instead was: “Should you be fired?”
Chris Gross weekly Fact or False looks at the New York Jets passing game
The New York Jets passing offense of 2012 will likely be one of the hottest topics in the NFL this season. Countless story lines centered around the heavily criticized Mark Sanchez, the polarizing Tim Tebow, and new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano are sure to have every major media outlet placing New York’s passing attack under the microscope. For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, lets examine what we should and should not expect from Sanchez, Tebow, and the rest of the bunch this season.
1.) Chaz Schilens will play a significant role this season. False. The Jets signed Schilens to a 1-year, $765,000 contract this off-season. Prior to the start of free agency, the only other receiver with significant playing time that would have been capable of starting opposite Santonio Holmes was Jeremy Kerley. While Kerley is certainly a very promising young talent, he is best suited as a number 3, slot type receiver, rather than a number 2. As a result, the Jets grabbed Schilens as a cheap, low risk option to add depth to their receiving corps. However, with the addition of second round pick Stephen Hill in this year’s draft, Schilens may struggle to find a spot on the roster.
Schilens and Hill are both similar in size, both around 6’4” in the 215-225 lb range. However, Hill has much more upside than Schilens due to his youth, big play ability, and willingness to block. This is not to say that Schilens will not display such attributes, however with his history, it is highly unlikely. Since entering the NFL in 2008, Schilens has had an injury-plagued career and has played in only 44 out of a possible 64 total NFL games. His production has been very sub par, as he has recorded just 72 catches for 902 yards over his brief four-year career in Oakland. Of course, a fresh start in New York could replenish Schilens, but don’t count on it.
Schilens was seemingly brought in for his size and speed, however with the addition of Hill, the Jets got a much better, younger player to add that dimension to their offense. Schilens will likely remain on the roster because he is such a cheap option, but if rookie Jordan White emerges during training camp, as I fully expect him to do, Schilens could find himself battling it out with Patrick Turner, Scotty McKnight, and a few others for the fifth receiver spot on the roster. Regardless of whether he makes it or not, I wouldn’t expect Schilens to contribute in a significant manner for the Jets this season.
2.) Rookie Stephen Hill will open up the passing offense early and often. Fact. While we all know Hill is certainly a raw product, having come from the triple option offense at Georgia Tech, the threat of his size and speed alone will add a new dimension to the passing game this season. While Hill should certainly develop into a more polished receiver as his career progresses, his fantastic size and speed (4.30 40 yard dash) will make him an immediate deep threat. Defenses will have no choice but to account for him, whether it be through double teams, or sliding their coverage toward him when he is on the field. This should, realistically, open up a great amount of underneath and sideline work for Holmes, Kerley, and Tight End Dustin Keller, which is where they have thrived in the past. Hill’s big play ability will be a plus for the Jets this season, not only in making those plays, but for what his presence alone will bring.
3.) Santonio Holmes will make the Pro Bowl this season. False. While it is highly likely that Holmes will improve drastically from last season, I wouldn’t bank on him making a Pro Bowl, at least for this year. Holmes has never been voted to the Hawaiian exhibition, and while there is certainly a first for everything, especially for a talent like #10, who many forget achieved a career high in touchdown receptions last season (8), the Jets will be going back to their ground and pound approach under Tony Sparano this year. Unfortunately, this is not exactly the philosophy that will statistically get a wide receiver a Pro Bowl nod.
However, elite talent knows no boundaries. Brandon Marshall made two Pro Bowls playing in this system in Miami, so if Holmes can re-establish himself to the level that earned him a Super Bowl MVP trophy in 2009, a Pro Bowl is certainly not out of the question in the future. For this year though, it could be tough for him to accumulate numbers worthy of the honor in the inaugural season of a new offensive system. Still, expect to see Holmes return to his 2010 form.
4.) Jordan White will make an impact as a rookie. Fact. Anyone who has read my rookie analysis series knows what I think of Jordan White. White is an extremely tough, hard working, determined player who put up a career of immense production at Western Michigan (306 receptions, 4,190 yards, 32 touchdowns). His route running ability and knowledge of the game is NFL ready, which will give him an immediate advantage heading into training camp. White will undoubtedly prove his worth on special teams, and not only do I expect him to make the active roster, but I would be shocked if he did not contribute to the offense at some point during the season. White is a player whose intelligence, work ethic, and reliability, could make him a perfect fit with Quarterback Mark Sanchez.
5.) Tim Tebow will become the starting quarterback at some point this season. False. Most people seem to be afraid to touch this issue because, like ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, they believe the fix is in for Tebow to dethrone Sanchez as the Jets starting quarterback. However, let’s all take a deep breath and think about this situation. People can say that the Jets brought in Tebow for the publicity factor that he would bring with him. While this could be the case, that does not mean they brought him in to be the starting quarterback. Regardless of what everyone thinks, Tebow will be a role player this year. Teams do not place players whom they feel are going to be their starting quarterback on special teams. In today’s NFL, that will simply never happen. There is far too much of a liability factor involved to be risking the health of your offensive general as a personal protector on the punt team. If the Jets seriously thought Tebow was going to beat out Sanchez, they would not even consider placing him anywhere other than an offensive formation.
The Jets have been criticized for bringing in Tebow, as many see this move as the team ultimately setting up Sanchez to fail. Yet, remember how New York was bashed after the Drew Stanton signing? Most observers felt this was yet another incompetent quarterback who would not realistically challenge Sanchez. The same people who stressed the importance to bring in competition to push Sanchez, highly due to the publicized notion that the organization babied their young quarterback, are now the ones who are criticizing the Tebow move. The Jets traded for arguably the hardest working, most encouraging player in all of professional football, who will undoubtedly push Mark Sanchez to get the most out of himself this season, not by breathing down his neck, but by providing stability behind him, while contributing as a significant role player, whether it be in the wildcat, as a running back, or as an H-back.
Like any backup quarterback, Tebow will be ready if Sanchez fails to get New York to where they need to be. However, that will not happen this season, nor is it why Tebow was brought to New York. He was brought here because he is a terrific overall football player, and an even better teammate, something greatly needed in a locker room that is currently being rebuilt. Tebow will certainly get his plays this year, but barring an injury, don’t expect to see #6 on the sidelines watching him run the every down offense.
6.) Mark Sanchez will silence all of his critics. Fact. Every hater of Sanchez and the Jets are on the edge of their seat waiting to see, not if, but when he will finally succumb to all the pressure and negativity, and pack it in, paving the way for Tim Tebow to enter and install the heroics he displayed in Denver last year. I apologize in advance to these people because this is simply not going to happen.
Despite Sanchez putting up a career high in touchdowns last season (32 overall), many still insist that the young quarterback regressed in his third year as a pro. Unfortunately, those who believe this are completely ignorant to an abundance of facts. First of all, Sanchez was under the tutelage of arguably the least competent Offensive Coordinator in the league last season. Brian Schottenheimer saw Sanchez’s strengths in his first two years, yet seemingly wanted to become some type of mastermind, genius coordinator, and force his quarterback into game plans he clearly was not comfortable in (see 12/24/11). The Jets offensive line was also the worst it has been since Sanchez arrived in 2009, yet the kid showed his tenacity and competitiveness by hanging in there game in and game out, taking repeated beatings, while never breathing a word of negativity about the lack of blocking he was getting, despite the unwarranted claims that he is mentally weak.
The Jets replaced a Sanchez favorite in Braylon Edwards with the prehistoric Plaxico Burress, who could not get separation between the twenties if his life depended on it. The struggles of the offensive line also hurt the Jets once elite running attack, which in turn, all but eliminated the play action pass, something Sanchez is highly successful at.
However, this season, Sparano brings in a new offensive regime. The Jets have seemingly addressed what issues caused the struggles for Sanchez last season. They have hired a coordinator who vows to return to the philosophy that gave the Jets so much success in 2009 and 2010. They drafted youth and speed at vital positions of the offense, and they have added a new dynamic to that offense with Tebow. New York will be tougher, faster, and flat out better, in every area that the offense struggled in last season, and I firmly believe that the new coaching staff will reveal an improved Wayne Hunter for 2012. Sparano has already stressed the need to create “chunk” plays offensively, many of which are likely to come via play action pass, especially in this run heavy offense. Expect to not only see Sanchez make strides under Sparano, but to lead New York back to the playoffs, while establishing himself as the unquestioned leader of the Jets and silencing all of his critics along the way.
In our latest edition of Why Do You Hate The Jets? we examine the AFC South to see who, if anyone, has the unconditional right to look down upon the Jets. Spoiler Alert: not one team in this division holds such an honor. Here’s why:
Just Shut Up
Jacksonville Jaguars – Other than the fact that Jacksonville has been 20-28 over the past three seasons, the Jets absolutely dominated them in every facet of their week 2 match up last season. They have a notable lack of talent across the roster, specifically on the offensive side of the ball with the exceptions of Maurice Jones-Drew and Mercedes Lewis. They’ve brought in Mike Mularkey as their new head coach, who has only two seasons of experience at the position, both of which were with the Buffalo Bills, where he compiled a 14-18 overall record. Although Mularkey is certainly a good offensive mind, and helped tremendously in the development of Matt Ryan in Atlanta over the past four seasons, he will surely have his work cut out for him as he attempts to rebuild this team, which has fallen far from grace recently.
New owner Shahid Khan could very much be a breath of fresh air for the franchise and the city, however, like so many new owners, he seems enthralled by the spotlight. Following the start of free agency this year, the Jags signed former Miami Quarterback Chad Henne to back up and possibly compete with the young Blaine Gabbert, who many have unfairly deemed a bust already. Just weeks after the signing, Khan was outbid by the Jets to acquire Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos. Surely, from a business standpoint, this was a smart move for Khan, as Tebow, a Jacksonville native, would helped ticket sales tremendously, but talk about a swing and a miss. Now the Jaguars are stuck with Gabbert, who not only has to deal with the constant criticism, but also has to live with the idea that his team was willing to give up on him after only one season, where he had virtually no supporting cast to work with. The Jets are often criticized for how they have dealt with the development and psyche of Mark Sanchez, but is this act by Jacksonville really any better?
Jacksonville’s need to blackout home games in order to increase ticket sales, or the constant rumors of relocation could surely be mentioned here as well, but there’s no need to take unnecessary shots below the belt.
Tennessee Titans – Where to begin with Tennessee? This is the same team that spent the third overall selection on Quarterback Vince Young in 2006, only to release him after 5 seasons with the club. Although Young looked somewhat promising early in his career, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2006, despite throwing only 12 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, he had a memorable meltdown during his third season, in which he was replaced by the then 35 year-old Kerry Collins. That same season, the Brett Favre led Jets went into Tennessee and handed the 10-0 Titans a 34-13 beating.
When the Young era ended heading into 2011, the Titans made a trade with Seattle for veteran Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to lead the helm and help develop first round pick Jake Locker. Although Hasselbeck fared decently last season (3,571 yards, 18 touchdowns), the Titans struggled all year largely due to the inconsistency of running back Chris Johnson and missed the playoffs after a 9-7 finish.
Speaking of Chris Johnson, Tennessee waited so long to pay the NFL’s leading rusher since 2008, that he entered training camp late, causing his production to drop drastically. After the Titans finally caved and gave the three time Pro Bowler a four year $53.5 million contract extension, Johnson compiled only four 100+ yard games last season. In fact, he did not even reach 65 yards on the ground in any other contest, and went five games without reaching 25 yards. Although you certainly have to question the player for this immense drop in production after receiving his massive payday, something must be said about the Titans management skills in dealing with this situation.
As for their young quarterback, Locker showed great promise in the 5 games he appeared in last season, throwing for 542 yards, and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions, while attaining a 51.5 percent completion percentage. So, how did Tennessee owner Bud Adams express his excitement and confidence in Locker? During the frenzy over Peyton Manning, following the future Hall Of Famer’s release from Indianapolis, Adams publicly declared his desire to land Manning. Even after he chose the Broncos over Tennessee, Adams publicly acknowledged his disappointment.
“I want to thank the whole organization for their efforts in trying to sign Peyton and also to Peyton for the time he put into the process. Peyton called me this morning to inform me of his decision and obviously I am disappointed, because I thought we would be a perfect fit.” –Adams on Manning choosing Denver over Tennessee.
The naysayers will certainly criticize the Jets for giving Mark Sanchez his contract extension after realizing they were not in the running for Peyton Manning. However, the Jets were smart enough to nip that situation in the bud before having it escalate to where Sanchez was poorly affected by it. Yes, they still brought in Tim Tebow, but Manning would have all but ended Sanchez’s run in New York. With Tebow, Sanchez is rightfully still the starter, until he proves otherwise.
Tennessee has been a bit better than Jacksonville over the past three seasons with a 23-25 overall record during that time, however they have not won a post-season game since 2003. The Jets, who have won 4 since 2009, all of which were on the road, have been 28-20 under Rex Ryan during the past three seasons.
Houston Texans – Although the Texans are certainly a franchise on the rise, they have never beaten the Jets since entering the league in 2001. They are very young and talented, and took a huge step in the right direction last season, by winning the AFC South for the first time in franchise history, as well as securing their very first post-season victory by way of a 31-10 rout over Cincinnati in Reliant Stadium. While I absolutely believe they will be a force, not only in the AFC South, but in the NFL for years to come, they still have not even sniffed the recent success of the Jets, and until they snag a W from Gang Green, they have no basis to look down upon them.
Some Room To Talk
Indianapolis Colts – If I were writing this piece three years ago, the Colts would be placed in the Unconditional Bragging Rights category. However, since Ryan has come to New York, Indianapolis really hasn’t been much better than the Jets. Over the past three seasons Indy has compiled a very mediocre 26-22 overall record. Now, obviously this number is a bit misleading due to the fact that arguably the greatest quarterback in league history missed all of last season, leading to a 2-14 record, but the bottom line is that he is just one player. Outside of Manning, if the Colts were truly that much better than the Jets, they would have been able to muster up more than 2 victories in 2011. Last season displayed how poorly the team was actually built, and because of it, both Polians lost their jobs in the Colts’ front office. For as much criticism as the Jets take with Sanchez, it is never argued that if he were to miss playing time, the Jets would be much worse. This is a result of two things. Yes, Manning is that important to a team, and is certainly superior to Sanchez, but also, the Jets have been built better from top to bottom, rather than the top heavy team that Indianapolis was exposed as last season.
One of the biggest knocks on the Jets is that they love being in the spotlight. Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, and Owner Woody Johnson have been deemed as attention hogs, who are willing to do anything to gain the back page headline in New York. While this notion is certainly exaggerated, if it were in fact the case, the Colts still would have no ground to criticize them for it. Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay is one of six NFL owners on twitter, but is by far the most active user of his account. Since the saga with Peyton Manning began prior to the start of last season, Irsay has done enough to make himself the center of attention in Indianapolis. He glorifies not only his team, but himself as well, through the media, and especially through social media. Seriously, go look at the guy’s Twitter timeline and tell me he isn’t all about stealing the spotlight. Irsay is far more vain than Woody Johnson and Co. have ever been.
Beyond that, we all know who eliminated the Colts the last time they were in the post season. In the 2011 playoffs, the Jets marched into Indianapolis and avenged their 2010 AFC Championship Game loss by knocking out the Manning led Colts on their home turf on a last second field goal by Nick Folk. Manning’s reaction to Caldwell’s incompetence will forever be remembered as the legendary quarterback’s last moments in a Colts uniform.
The New York Jets have taken an unconventional approach to solving their issues at safety
The weakest part of the New York Jets defense in 2011 was the safety position. The bulk of reps were taken by Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and Jim Leonhard. Smith has thrived as a role player in Rex Ryan’s defense but is overextended as a full time starter because of his limitations in coverage. Pool was never able to distinguish himself in either run support or in pass coverage, along with being prone to mental lapses. Leonhard suffered a season ending leg injury for the second year in a row and prior to that was struggling in coverage similar to Smith.
After a failed pursuit of Reggie Nelson in free agency, the Jets shifted their focus and signed LaRon Landry. If healthy, Landry is a very good in the box safety who is built more like a linebacker. Rex Ryan should make him a major factor in stopping the run game and going after the quarterback. His durability is a major, major question mark however.
In the draft, the Jets added two more safeties. In the sixth round they selected Josh Bush from Wake Forest. Bush is a hybrid corner/safety who is built to play the centerfield position on passing downs. In the seventh round they took South Carolina’s Antonio Allen who fell much further than expected. Allen’s game is very similar to Landry, in that he plays more like a linebacker than a safety and hopefully projects as a long term answer at strong safety.
Finally, the Jets signed veteran Yeremiah Bell, likely passing over bringing Leonhard back in the process. In comparison to Leonhard, the Bell signing is a good move. He is more durable, athletic, and has better size than Leonhard. Even if he is a traditional strong safety, he fills the free safety void better than Leonhard would have. Bell also provides depth behind Landry at strong safety if he misses time due to injury. Similar to Landry, Smith and Allen, Bell is an in the box safety who excels in run support but has questions in coverage.
On the whole, the Jets have collected four players with similar skill sets at different positions of their career. Bell is 34 years old but is probably the most reliable. Smith is 29 and has the most experience in the defense. Landry is 27, has the highest ceiling but the most question marks and Allen is a rookie. The only player who projects to being a true free safety is the rookie sixth round pick, Josh Bush.
The reported plan is for Landry and Bell to start together, while using Smith in the role he excelled at off the bench during the 2009 season. Bush should have every opportunity to play in nickel and dime situations in the centerfield position.
How will the Jets stop tight ends? The most logical approach remains to keep their safeties out of man to man situations. Ryan will have to get creative about bracketing them with a linebacker with speed, perhaps rookie Demario Davis or with Landry or Smith underneath. Bell will likely see more time playing over the top than he did in Miami and then Bush will also be lined up deep off the ball when he is on the field. Also don’t be surprised to see Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, or Kyle Wilson used to help slow down tight ends in certain situations. Wilson and Cromartie in particular could line up at safety in select packages.
Mike Donnelly disputes any argument that Curtis Martin didn’t deserve to be inducted into the Hall of Fame
Assistant staff writer Mike Donnelly disputes any argument that Curtis Martin didn’t deserve his induction into Canton. Let us know if you’ll be heading out to Ohio this summer for the induction ceremony – JC
While going through my daily Internet routine the other day, hitting up my favorite websites and sifting through the usual Twitter nonsense, I randomly came across a statement that made me shake my head. I let it go at first, because coming across drivel like that is rather common on Twitter, especially when it comes to Jets-related news, as we’ve seen more than enough of lately. But then I saw it again, and again. It started to pick up steam with fellow Tweeters and I could practically feel my blood pressure go up a few points. What was this statement that got me all riled up?
Curtis Martin should not be a Hall of Famer.
I know. Ridiculous, right? My first reaction was obviously to just go on an expletive-filled rant and call the offending parties idiots, but I showed some rare self-restraint. Usually, I try not to get too attached to individual players, but Curtis Martin is the exception. He’s my single favorite player of all time, and I was ready to defend his honor! Or something like that. One of the things I hate the most about sports is how eager everyone is to pick apart truly great players and careers as soon as they’re over. People feel the need to diminish past greatness while trying to praise the next wave of players; It’s bizarre. Instead of flipping out and going Bruce Banner on them though, I read through it all and decided to wait to pick apart these myths and inaccuracies about Curtis Martin. Here they are.
Myth #1:Curtis Martin was a “compiler”
This is a term that people have used when it comes to baseball players for many years. Basically, it’s meant to say that at the end of a career, a player racked up a lot of impressive looking stats over the course of a very long time, but was never amongst the elite in the league. It makes sense a lot of times in baseball. Not about Curtis Martin, though.
Hearing this phrase used to describe Curtis is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, did he compile stats over his 11 year career? Yes, of course. He compiled a lot of really great and impressive stats every year and was one of the best players at his position every single season. So in a sense, yes, he compiled stats: Hall of Fame stats. He compiled them year in and year out, and while other players faded, got injured, retired, lost effectiveness, or disappeared from the league, Curtis Martin was there churning out great seasons. Let’s look at the numbers:
Over the course of 11 seasons, Curtis Martin racked up 14,101 rushing yards and 3,329 additional receiving yards. He caught 484 passes, threw 2 more (both for touchdowns), scored 100 touchdowns himself, and finished in the top 3 rushing on four occasions, while leading the league 1 time, at the age of 31, which makes him the oldest player ever to do so.
If you take away his injury-riddled season in 2005 that ended his career, his average season looks like this: 330 carries for 1,337 yards; 46 catches for 321 yards and 9.5 touchdowns. That’s his average, year after year, over the course of a solid decade. I don’t see how those numbers can be diminished. How many teams in the NFL would turn down 1600 total yards and 10 TD from their starting running back on average for the next 10 years? Any? Well, maybe Jeff Ireland, because he’s not smart, but thats another story.
Curtis had the best fumble rate of any player with 1,500 carries ever: 0.82%. By comparison, Emmitt Smith fumbled on 1.38% of his carries and Barry Sanders 1.34%. Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett fumbled on 3.07% of his carries, nearly 4 times as often as Curtis.
8th most Yards from Scrimmage of all-time with 17,430.
Myth #2: Curtis Martin’s best quality was his Durability, which allowed him to compile all those stats.
False. Curtis Martin’s ability to play football was his best quality that allowed him to put up great stats. However, durability absolutely was one of his trademarks. His ability to fight through injuries and be remarkably consistent was legendary. But why do people act like this should somehow be a negative? Isn’t it a good thing to be able to play through pain and be there for your team every Sunday while still performing at a high level? Shouldn’t it be a positive that you know exactly what you’re getting from a player, especially when it’s elite production and he’ll never let you down? Shouldn’t it count for something that his teammates watched him drag his injured body onto the field for every practice and every game, never once complaining, inspiring them to play through pain as well? Let’s look at Curtis’s consistency, which some foolishly take as a negative:
One of just 2 players ever to start their careers with 10 straight 1,000+ yard seasons. The other? Barry Sanders, and I heard that guy was pretty good. Not bad company to be in.
Over those 10 seasons, he racked up between 1,416 and 1,942 yards from scrimmage every season.
In 2000, the Jets led the NFL in pass attempts, but Curtis still finished in the top 10 in yards from scrimmage.
Before the 2005 season, he missed just 4 games throughout his entire career. Was he just lucky? No, he was incredibly tough and able to play through severe injuries that would have sidelined pretty much anybody else. Check out some of these injuries he played through:
2000 – Curtis played nearly the entire season with a partially torn ligament in his knee. In addition to that, he also had a torn ligament rip his gluteus maximus muscle away from his bone. In Layman’s terms, that means his butt muscle was tearing away from his butt bone. And his job was to run, cut, and get tackled by huge men. I don’t think I’d even be able to walk to the bathroom with those injuries. Seems like that could be problematic on a football field, no? Curtis still played every game.
2002 – Curtis injured his left ankle in week 1. Six weeks later, he injured the other ankle as well, and was given a 7-10 week injury diagnosis. He played the next week, missing 0 games, because he felt new starter Chad Pennington needed him. After the season when discussing the injury, he said: “My ankles were the size of your head. It was the most pain I’ve been in. I had to dig deeper than I ever had to just to play.” No big deal.
2003 – Curtis again injured his knee, but played through the pain. After a mid-season slump when he re-tore knee cartilage, he went to the coaching staff and volunteered to sit if they thought he wasn’t giving the team the best chance to win. He still played every game and rushed for 1,308 yards, despite the pain being so severe he said it “felt like there were chards of glass in the knee”. Oh, Curtis, you little stat compiler, you!
2005 – The final blow. After injuring his knee yet again, Curtis went to Herm Edwards and said his body finally could take no more after 12 games. He described it to the media by saying if their opponent that week had given the Jets the ball at their 1 yard line and said they wouldn’t tackle Curtis, he didn’t think he’d even be able to make it the 99 yards necessary to score, let alone play against 11 defenders. And he still almost went out there.
Myth #3: Curtis Martin should be in the “Hall of Very Good”
I don’t even know what the hell this means. That he was good enough for this fake Hall, but not deserving of the real honor? Please. The Hall of Fame is for the best players of all-time; That means Curtis Martin. In addition to everything i just wrote, the man’s resume speaks for itself:
1995 Rookie of the Year
5 time Pro Bowler (should have been 6)
3-time All-Pro (1x 1st Team, 2x 2nd Team)
4th All-Time in Rushing Yards. I know I already said this, but it bears repeating. 4th all-time!
8th All-Time in Yards from Scrimmage
Changed the entire culture of two losing franchises upon his arrival
Jets Team MVP award re-named in his honor
Then there’s the single most impressive stat when it comes to Curtis Martin. In a league where running backs come and go, rise quickly then fade just as fast, Curtis Martin played 168 regular season games. Here’s the breakdown of the two halves of his career:
First 84 games: 7,194 yards, 50 touchdowns
Last 84 games: 6,907 yards, 50 touchdowns
That remarkable consistency and durability, combined with his selflessness, leadership, and incredible skill on the field are the reasons why Curtis Martin deserves his spot in the 2012 Hall of Fame Class. The only crime is that it didn’t happen a year sooner. It was probably because Curtis was never a “look at me” type of player. He didn’t do any dances when he scored, or talk about himself in the media. He was never the biggest, quickest, or fastest player. He was just a great all-around player–and person–100% of the time.
His former backup, LaMont Jordan, says Curtis Martin made him the man he is and that he’d take a bullet for him. High praise. Then there’s Bill Belichick, who said that Curtis “is the most unselfish player ever”, and that he should unquestionably go down as one of the all-time greats. Bill Parcells, who was his first coach in the NFL, and likely Hall of Fame presenter, said it best when he said Curtis Martin was one of the greatest players he ever coached and his “favorite player of them all”.
How will Santonio Holmes fit into Tony Sparano’s offense?
We know the New York Jets will be re-embracing their “Ground and Pound” identity this season under newly hired offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. However, Sparano and the rest of the offensive unit has emphasized a large part of the new offense will be looking to acquire big chunks of yardage off the play action passing attack, which Mark Sanchez has been productive with so far in his career.
When taking a broader look at the Jets passing game, which struggled desperately to create big plays last year, it is impossible not to focus on wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Despite second round pick Stephen Hill’s endless potential, Jeremy Kerley’s quickness in slot and Dustin Keller’s notable chemistry with Sanchez, it is Holmes who is without question the Jets biggest playmaker in the passing game and on the entire offense.
Like many parts of the team, Holmes disappointed last season. Yet, don’t become victim to a short memory and forget his heroics from the 2010 season and the Super Bowl MVP he has under his belt. The Jets need Holmes to be the number one receiver they are paying him to be and that he has the talent to be.
How will Holmes fit in Sparano’s offense? Last season, Holmes had 102 targets and 51 receptions. Here are the targets and receptions for Sparano’s number one receiver the past 4 seasons –
The past two years were the only time Sparano had a true number one receiver and Marshall received substantially more targets in both seasons than Holmes did under Brian Schottenheimer last year. Obviously, the playcaller has far from exclusive control over targets but at a minimum I would expect Holmes to see more plays called that are designed for him as the primary option than he did in 2010.
Holmes is most productive in the intermediate passing game and running after the catch. I would expect Sparano to move him around the formation a good amount and in certain instances, use him how he used Bess in Miami by giving him shorter passes in space, where he can create yards on his own after the catch.
While Holmes deserves his share of the blame for struggling to get open last season. He was hampered by having the immobile Plaxico Burress opposite of him and not much else. Stephen Hill’s speed and a more experienced Jeremy Kerley will allow the Jets to line up Holmes at split end, flanker and in the slot and use him on a higher variety of routes.
Ideally, Holmes is going to be a primary target on many intermediate crossing routes off play action, where he can catch the ball with a head of steam and should also be a reliable target on deep comeback routes with Sanchez rolling out. Outside of an occasional double move off a short or intermediate route, I don’t think you will see him sent deep frequently. Hill has the raw speed and size for the go route and should also see more favorable match-ups, at least early in the season.
Tony Sparano has an unenviable list of challenges this year as the Jets offensive coordinator but he can maintain a big play element to his unit by keeping Holmes properly involved.
2 weeks worth of thoughts on the New York Jets after leaving the country
A huge thanks to Chris Gross for running Turn On The Jets, while I spent a couple of weeks aboard in Ireland, Netherlands, and Germany. It is good to be back and getting after it here at TOJ, stay posted throughout the week as myself, Chris, and the rest of our writing staff will be bringing you the high quality content you have come to expect.
1. How could you not laugh at the reaction to Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow’s performance in a 7 on 7 OTA practice? Get used to the meticulous tracking of every throw and movement they make at each practice and the unavoidable overreaction to it. Personally, I think without question Sanchez is the superior quarterback, should start and shouldn’t necessarily have a quick hook. However, I can admit it is crazy to get down on Tebow because he threw a pair of interceptions in his first practice in a new offense. Practice is important but nobody remembers your completion percentage in practices when the bullets start flying in a game. Sanchez is going to start the season under center and the media/certain fans will be screaming for him to be pulled after one bad game, regardless of how much he outperforms Tebow this summer.
2. I am very happy with the decision to sign Yeremiah Bell over Jim Leonhard, which is exactly what it was regardless of what Rex Ryan says. Bell has more size and athleticism than Leonhard and has simply been a more productive player over the past few years. Yes, the Jets are going to have coverage issues with Bell and LaRon Landry starting, along with Eric Smith coming off the bench but Bell provides both needed insurance to Landry at strong safety and more athleticism than Smith would at free safety. His signing hurts the chances of rookie Antonio Allen seeing much playing time this year. On the other hand, rookie Josh Bush should remain a factor in a centerfield type role in certain three safety looks.
3. It is a shame to hear about Kenrick Ellis, as his jail sentence will obviously slow his development. Hopefully, he can get it split so he doesn’t miss any training camp. Regardless, with a crowded depth chart at defensive line, his chances of becoming a major factor this year have only got slimmer.
4. Today, the Jets signed veteran tackles Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis. Both are journeyman but between them have 61 NFL starts. Considering the depth on the offensive line right now, don’t be surprised to see one or maybe both stick on the roster. These signings don’t bode well for Austin Howard.
5. I have no problem with Wayne Hunter and new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo talking tough about the upcoming season. I would hope they would project confidence in Hunter’s ability to handle a starting position. It is more than reasonable to be skeptical about Hunter but it certainly sounds like he will have every chance to prove his critics wrong.
6. Interesting but not surprising to hear Visanthe Shiancoe linked to the Jets in free agent rumors. They still badly need a number two tight end and Shiancoe is a proven veteran, who will give them a ton of versatility in their two tight end sets.
As you all enjoy the end of your Memorial Day Weekend, we at Turn On The Jets would not only like to wish everyone well on this holiday, but more importantly would like to thank all the devoted men and women who have served, and are currently serving our great nation over seas. On days of reflection like Memorial Day, we realize how lucky we are to be able to enjoy the luxuries of sports, entertainment, and all other everyday freedoms we too often take for granted. Never forget, the United States of America is the land of the free, because of the brave. So, to all the proud veterans out there, Thank You for everything you have given us in order to enjoy all that we have.
As the long weekend finally winds down, I have just a few quick New York Jets thoughts to share before another full week of content at TOJ.
1.) On Karlos Dansby expecting the Dolphins to win the AFC East. I actually have absolutely no issue with Dansby’s comments. As a competitor and a professional football player, he should always expect his team to succeed and win, otherwise what would be the point of playing the game? Rex Ryan has not been shy about what he expects from the Jets, so Dansby’s attitude should be viewed no differently. There is a certain degree of respect you must have for someone to show that much confidence, not only in themselves, but in the men they compete alongside.
The issue I do have, though, is the Dolphins faithful that have been emerging arguing that they would rather have their 53 than the Jets’. Again, I respect the confidence, but as a fan, you need to be realistic. Other than OLB and Offensive Tackle, every position on Miami’s roster is inferior to New York’s. Miami fans should be excited about the idea of a new coaching regime and quarterback, but there comes a point when you must look in the mirror and realize you are still very far away from being a competitive team in this league.
2.) On the Jets stealing the headlines once again. Many believe that the Jets acquired Tim Tebow strictly for the publicity factor he would bring to the team. While I strongly disagree with this notion, if this was, in fact, their motivation for bringing in Tebow, it certainly worked. As pointed out by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, SI‘s Peter King reported that 77 percent of the coverage in the five New York newspapers last Friday focused on Tebow, while only 23 percent focused on the foot injury of the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks.
The injury to the reigning Super Bowl MVP’s top target is certainly more significant than Tebow throwing two interceptions in a May session of 7 on 7, but the Tebow headline sells more. So, if Woody Johnson and Mike Tannenbuam’s sole motivation to bring in Tebow was to steal the headlines from the defending Super Bowl Champs, kudos to them.
3.) On Wayne Hunter declaring that Jets fans will see “a new Right Tackle” this season. One thing anyone can tell from listening to Wayne Hunter talk is that he is brutally honest. Hunter does not hide the fact that he was the weak link to an offensive line that struggled horribly at times last season. While he acknowledges the fact that he owes a lot to Brian Schottenheimer and Bill Callahan for the opportunity, he also makes it clear that new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and staff are certainly a breath of fresh air. Hunter points out that, in order to succeed, he needs to get out of the “reserve” mentality and be consistent on every single play. Why he is just coming to this revelation now is beyond me, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
4.) On Rex Ryan not ruling out a possible Jim Leonhard return. We will look at this possible scenario deeper during the week, but at the right cost, this would be a good thing for the Jets. Although New York suddenly has an abundance of Safeties, other than rookie Josh Bush, there is not a true cover safety in the bunch. No one knows the defense better than Leonhard, and he is the perfect personality to mentor the young talent on the roster. Of course, his health and cost will be the biggest issues for a possible reunion. If he can be had at a discount, it may be worth bringing him back.
In light of TOJ Editor-In-Chief Joe Caporoso’s absence, the weekly 12 pack will be put on hold until next Friday. For today, we have a special request from TOJ Twitter frequenter Tommy Lessman to breakdown the five greatest New York Jets from the year 2000 on.
Vinny Testaverde – Although Testaverde is certainly a fan favorite of New York Jets fans, primarily for his vast bravado, along with taking the Jets to a game within the Super Bowl in 1998, Vinny’s best years with Gang Green came prior to the new millennium.
Mo Lewis – Lewis was All-Pro in 2000, but like Testaverdere, his best years as a Jet came during the 90s. Lewis is also responsible for propelling the New England Dynasty by famously knocking out Drew Bledsoe in week 2 of the 2001 season, paving the way for Tom Brady and three Super Bowls.
Chad Pennington – I always say that if injuries didn’t hamper his career, Pennington would have been an outstanding quarterback for the Jets. He led New York to two playoff victories in two separate seasons, including a 41-0 rout of Peyton Manning and the Colts in the 2002 playoffs. Pennington also holds the highest completion percentage in league history (with a minimum of 1,000 attempts), having completed 66.0 percent of his passes over his 11 year career. Unfortunately, countless rotator cuff injuries did hamper his career, and by the time he left New York in 2008 upon the arrival of Brett Favre, Pennington’s throwing shoulder was seemingly hanging on by a paper clip. Still, we love you Chad.
Wayne Cherbet – Cherbet is the ultimate underdog. Undrafted out of Hofstra in 1995, he churned out a very solid 11 year career with the Jets, and remains 2nd in franchise history in receptions with 580, while he is 5th in yards from scrimmage with 7,365. Cherbet compiled 41 touchdowns over his 11 seasons, and was awarded the Jets Alumni Association’s “Jets Player of the Year” Award in 2001, while also receiving the Ed Block Courage Award in 2005. Unfortunately, like Pennington, Cherbet’s career was hampered by injuries, and he was forced into retirement in 2005 after a long history of concussions.
T-5.) Nick Mangold – Upon being drafted by the Jets in 2006, Mangold had the immense responsibility of stepping in for New York legend Kevin Mawae at the Center position. The first round pick out of Ohio State did not disappoint one bit. Starting all 16 games as a rookie, Mangold allowed only 0.5 sacks, while committing just 3 penalties throughout the entire season. He is a 4 time consecutive Pro Bowler from 2008-2011, as well as a 3 time consecutive All Pro from 2009-2011. He was the anchor for the league’s top rushing offense in 2009, and the fourth best rushing offense in 2010. In 2010, the Jets rightfully made Mangold the highest paid Center in the history of the NFL. His value was even more exposed last season, as displayed by the Jets’ horrific offensive struggles during his absence due to injury.
T-5.) Shaun Ellis – Over his 11 seasons as a Jet, Ellis compiled 559 tackles, 72.5 sacks, 13 forced fumbles and an interception. Prior to departing via free agency to rival New England last season, Ellis was the longest tenured New York Jet. He was a 2 time Pro Bowl selection in 2003 and 2009, and was the recipient of the 2010 Ed Block Courage Award. He always handled his business with class, and was the foundation of the Jets defensive line for over a decade. Ellis will always be remembered in the history of Gang Green, and could eventually find himself a spot in the Jets Ring of Honor.
4.) John Abraham – In his 6 seasons with the Jets from 2000-2005, Abraham compiled an astonishing 275 tackles, 53.5 sacks, 19 forced fumbles, and 5 fumble recoveries. He was a 3 time Pro Bowl selection as a Jet in 2001, 2002, and 2004, and is a member of the New York Jets All-Time Four Decade Team. Abraham is also the last Jets player to record double digit sacks in a single season. Oh, what New York would surely give to have a healthy John Abraham in his prime with Rex Ryan at the helm.
3.) Darrelle Revis – Revis came on the scene after the Jets traded up in the 2007 NFL Draft to obtain him with the 14th overall pick. At the young age of 26 years old, Revis already holds the franchise record for most career passes defended with 95, along with holding the record for the longest interception returned for a touchdown (100 yards vs. Miami on 10/17/2011) in franchise history. Other than the two records the young CB already holds, he has compiled 283 tackles, 18 interceptions, 3 touchdowns, and 1 sack during his 5 seasons as a Jet. Revis is a 4 time consecutive Pro Bowler from 2008-2011, as well as a 3 time consecutive All Pro from 2009-2011, was the AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, and is widely regarded as the best defensive back in all of football. By the time it is all said and done, we may not be deeming Revis the greatest Jet of the 2000s, but rather of all time.
2.) Kevin Mawae – Mawae was the Jets ultimate Iron Man, having started 177 games from 1994-2005. In 2000, he anchored the Jets offensive line that ranked 1st in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed with only 20 throughout the entire season. He was a 6 time consecutive Pro Bowl invitee with the Jets, including five in the 2000s from 2000-2004. Mawae was also a 6 time All Pro with Gang Green, 4 of which came in the 2000s from 2000-2004. He was voted to the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team, while maintaining a spot on the Jets All-Time Four Decade Team. A torn left triceps in 2005 not only ended his consecutive starts streak, but his career as a Jet as well. Mawae was a vital part of Curtis Martin’s immense success as a Jet, and is one of the greatest contributors to the star Running Back’s Hall of Fame career.
1.) Curtis Martin – No one can argue that the first ballot Hall of Famer has been the greatest Jet to date since the year 2000. Martin was a 5 time Pro Bowler, including 3 with the Jets, 2 of which came in the 2000s. He was also a 5 time All Pro, and was the oldest player to ever win the NFL Rushing Championship at age 31 in 2004, when he compiled a total of 1,697 yards on the ground. Martin was the NFL Alumni Running Back of the year in that same year, along with the FedEx Ground Player of the Year. The following season, he was awarded the Bart Starr Man of the Year Award.
Martin is the New York Jets All-Time leading rusher with 10,302 rushing yards as a Jet, and his total career rushing yards of 14,101 rank 4th all time among the NFL’s all time leading rushers, behind only Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, and Emmitt Smith. He ranks 7th All-Time in yards from scrimmage with 17,430 yards. Martin is a member of the New York Jets Ring of Honor, while holding franchise records not only in rushing yards, but touchdowns as well (58). He ran for over a thousand yards in each of his first 10 seasons, including 7 of his 8 years with the Jets, 5 of which came in the 2000s. While Darrelle Revis certainly has the potential to eventually dethrone him, Curtis Martin is undoubtedly the greatest Jet since the turn of the century.