A Turn On The Jets Eurotrip

A Turn On The Jets goodbye for the next 2 weeks

Starting tonight I will be heading over to Europe until Sunday, May 27th. In the meantime, Chris Gross will be running the site. Stay with us for new content from him, our newest writer Mike Donnelly and Justin Fritze. Make sure you are following all of them on Twitter. I will miss all of you…I won’t miss hearing about what Tim Tebow eats for lunch, what his dog is called or where he is residing in New Jersey.

For now, I will spread the good word of Turn On The Jets to Ireland, Netherlands, and Germany. Where hopefully they will be open to hearing about my confusion over the entire Jets organization verbally assaulting their starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez, while effusively praising their backup quarterback. Along with why it makes little sense to hop on the bandwagon and pick the Buffalo Bills to finish over the New York Jets, since the Jets have owned them the past 3 years and the Bills don’t have a quarterback. Anyway…

I am looking forward to coming back for a strong June and I’m officially handing it off to Chris until then, unlike the Jets backup he is more than capable of running 20 plays per game and can complete a 10 yard out route.

Why Do You Hate The Jets? AFC East Edition

Chris Gross looks at what AFC East teams have the right to run their mouths about the New York Jets

In a new column, Chris Gross will be going through the NFL by division and determining which teams and fan-bases actually have a good claim to hating the New York Jets and running their mouth on the organization and which do not, up first the AFC East –

Since Rex Ryan became Head Coach of the New York Jets, his brash personality has caused his team to become one of the most hated, if not the most hated, teams in professional football. Other than Jets fans, it seems as if everyone who has even the slightest knowledge of the NFL loves nothing more than to see Gang Green face hardships. Mark Sanchez has become the punch line of every joke related to football, as has Santonio Holmes’ personality, Antonio Cromartie’s kids, and Rex Ryan’s weight. People truly love to take shots at the Jets, and will not waste any opportunity to do so.

However, only a handful of teams actually have the right to poke fun at the Jets. Since Ryan took the helm in New York, the team has gone from a mediocre, occasional playoff team, to a serious contender each year, regardless of the abysmal 8-8 performance last season. Rex has let it be known that the Jets will be in contention every single year that he is the head coach, and he has actually lived up to those statements. Although he has yet to deliver on his Super Bowl guarantees, Ryan has put the Jets on the map, and whether or not people like to admit it, they will be in the mix in the AFC each year he remains in charge.

This simple fact surely irks anyone who is not a fan of the Jets. Although his bold predictions haven’t quite come true, the Jets have proved they will compete every year under Ryan. What other first time head coaches have combined with their rookie quarterback to win 4 road playoff games in their first two seasons together?  That’s correct, none. In fact, only a handful of teams have had more success than the Jets in the three years Ryan has been the head coach.

When it comes to hating on the Jets and making jokes about the team’s scarce struggles, there are three basic categories. There are the teams that have absolutely no right whatsoever to engage in such practice, there are teams that historically have been more of a laughing stock than the Jets have ever been, but have earned some recent bragging rights, and then there are teams that do, in fact, have the right to make all the fun of the Jets they want, until they are unseated from such a position. When looking division by division, the list of teams that has no ground to ever breathe a word of negativity about the Jets organization is much larger than the other two categories.

In the coming days, we will give a close examination of each NFL team by division, and place them into one of these three categories. For our inaugural TOJ Why Do You Hate The Jets?, let’s take a look at New York’s very own AFC East.

Just Shut Up:

This section contains the teams that have been inferior to the Jets during the past three seasons. The majority of these teams have also been dominated by New York during that time, and have historically faced much greater hardships then the Jets have had under Ryan.

Buffalo Bills – The self proclaimed “Bills Mafia” that has recently become the favorite to unseat the New England Patriots in the AFC East, while having been handed two victories against the Jets in 2012 already, should take a long hard look in the mirror. Mario Williams has been painted as the “savior” for a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1993. However, Buffalo shelled out 100 million dollars to a player whose sack production has dropped steadily in each of the past 5 seasons. In 2007, Williams tallied 14 sacks, followed by 12, 9, 8.5, and 5 in each of the following seasons, respectively.

Then, there is Stevie Johnson, the Bills supposed marquee offensive playmaker. This is the same guy who was more focused on mocking Plaxico Burress last season, than he was on catching passes. This is the same guy who blamed God for dropping an overtime touchdown pass against Pittsburgh in 2010. Say what you want about Tim Tebow praising God, but there is nothing more ridiculous and childish than a professional athlete publicly blaming his lack of ability on a higher power.

As for the AFC Title Game loss jokes, lets not forget that the Bills are the team that lost in 4 straight Super Bowls. You tell me what hurts worse.

And last, but certainly not least, the Bills have not even appeared in the post season since 1999, when they saw their season end on one of the most hilarious plays in NFL playoff history.

I could certainly go on and talk about how the Bills are 1-5 against the Rex Ryan led Jets, or how Chan Gailey has had a joke of a career as an NFL head coach (28-36 overall record), but the numbers speak for themselves.

Some Room To Talk:

These are the teams that have recently had success against the Jets, earning themselves some bragging rights. However, these teams have also been subpar in the grand scheme of the NFL during that same time period, and although have played the Jets tough, have not even sniffed their overall success.

Miami Dolphins – Much to their credit, the Dolphins took advantage of the Jets’ end of the season meltdown last year, and were able to put the fork in a team that had been done for a month leading into the game. Miami certainly has more room to talk than Buffalo, having actually won the division in 2008, even though they were bounced out of the first round in a dominating performance by the Baltimore Ravens. Miami has consistently been able to challenge the Jets, as Ryan is just 2-4 against the fish. However, the man who led those Dolphins teams to so much success against New York, is now the Jets Offensive Coordinator.

The quarterback situation in Miami is a laughable one. With the quarterback duo of Sanchez and Tebow, the Jets are an easy target for a QB joke, however when a team’s backup quarterback has the same amount of playoff wins as all of another team’s quarterbacks combined, where is the real joke? The Dolphins haven’t had a legitimate threat at quarterback since Dan Marino’s departure, minus the year that ex-Jet Chad Pennington led them to a division title.

Also, who is catching passes in Miami this year? The team traded away the only valuable offensive asset it had in Brandon Marshall this offseason, and did nothing to replace the void left in the receiving core. The Jets may not have the world’s greatest depth at wide receiver, but any of the receivers on New York’s roster would likely be a starter for Miami this season.

Unconditional Bragging Rights

These teams have every right to make any joke they please at the Jets. Other than a few bright spots, they have either repeatedly asserted their dominance over the Jets, or amongst other teams in the NFL during the three years that Ryan has been in New York.

New England Patriots – Jets fans certainly do now want to hear this, but New England has every right to make as many jokes about the Jets as they want. Other than Gang Green’s epic playoff victory in Foxboro during the 2011 playoffs, Bill Belichick has had his way with Rex’s Jets. Posting a 2-4 record against New England since Ryan’s arrival, the Jets have been outscored by the Patriots during that span by a score of 160-98. While the rivalry hasn’t been completely one sided, it has included two blowouts and a sweep last season, not to mention, the Patriots’ Super Bowl appearance last year.

New York has proved that it can challenge New England for the crown in the AFC East, however they need to do it consistently. Until that time, the Patriots, unfortunately, have unconditional bragging rights. Meanwhile, New York can hang onto this in the process of taking the reigns in the division.

NBA Playoffs: Why Clippers vs. Spurs Will Be Great

Justin Fritze on why Spurs/Clippers will be a better series than people expect

Lakers/Thunder. Good matchup. Revenge. Kobe. Durant. Fisher. Got it.

Spurs/Clippers? Seriously? Kings/Clippers/Lakers all having playoff games in the same building for potentially two weeks? The potential of a LA vs. LA Western conference final? People in that climate don’t deserve that type of confusing joy, which is why it won’t happen.

The Spurs. All that is calm, cool and collected. The Clippers. All that is angry (Chris Paul), small (Chris Paul again), big (anyone seen a lost DeAndre Jordan?), floppy (Blake/Paul), swaggy (@NickSwagyPYoung) and poorly coached.
Is there anything more oppositely constructed headed for a sweep in one of two ways? Can you imagine the Spurs using the naivete of the Clippers against them and constructing plays to get an extra pass to the perimeter while Tim Duncan grinds Blake Griffin down to a pulp “old man style” and getting 10 guys in double figures? Can you imagine Chris Paul running the break with Nick Young who starts the “Mo Young” tandem with Lebron’s old sidekick and shooting the lights out while Reggie Evans goes berserk to get 18 rebounds?

As an unabashed Thunder fan, I hope this thing goes 7, with overtime required in games 5,6 and 7. That’s just me. For basketball fans, we can look at three things that will determine the outcome of the series.

The coach. Pop owns Vinny. Don’t try and debate it. Don’t go to wikipedia. Don’t defend Vinny, he’s a clown amongst clowns. Remember the Del Negro Bulls? Neither does America.

The point guard. Gotta give the edge to little man of the year, Chris Paul. But it’s close. If Chris Paul is a 10, Tony Parker is a 9.5

The power forward. The recipient of inside feeds, rebounder of missed 3’s. Tim Duncan, at 55 years old and as Dylan once sang “but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now” is looking like a man making dinner for his very successful wife, pausing for a moment to reflect on what to add to his garden salad, and realizing it all in a manner of 10 seconds without so much as a frown. He’s Tim Duncan. Flustered/Determined/Excited do not exist in his dictionary.

Blake Griffin, robot to the core, is looking like he wants to dunk on someone and proceed to melt him with his eyes. He can’t shoot, he can’t make free throws, but he can leap. He’s going to need to leap quite a bit if he’s trying to keep up with the scoring of the Spurs.

I still give the edge to Duncan, only because he’s seen everything in his 120,000 playoff games and can piss off Griffin to the point where he starts forcing things and get into foul trouble early.

To the final point, are the perimeter shooters of the Clippers consistent enough to make 3’s in clutch moments or create their own shot? Are the Spurs so team oriented that they will end up relying on guys that are not the “right guys” (Ginobili/Parker/Duncan), backfiring when Paul/Griffin/Young start heating up?

I’m taking Spurs in 6, but wouldn’t put it past the Clippers to take this in 5 if they fire Vinny and hire Mike D’Antoni ASAP.

Give Me A Controversy: The New York Media’s Love Affair With Tim Tebow

Prepare yourself for five months of positive press on Tim Tebow and negative press on Mark Sanchez

Yesterday the Daily News published an article using New York Jets quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh as the primary source. The article generally portrayed Mark Sanchez in a negative light. Today they also published an article using Cavanaugh as the primary source, this time portraying Tim Tebow in a positive light. Erik Manassy of Jets Twit provides a terrific breakdown of the two articles here.

First off, Cavanaugh made himself look foolish by praising Tebow’s mechanics after criticizing Sanchez’s development, considering he has overseen that very development. It doesn’t take a football savant to see how far Tebow’s mechanics still need to go, so even if Cavanaugh was truly pleased with them it was odd to pair it with the Sanchez criticism.

We already discussed Cavanaugh’s unimpressive resume today at TOJ. He maintained his job this off-season, only after the Jets struck out chasing Todd Haley and Karl Dorrell. It would make sense for him to stay out of the media and focus on developing his starting quarterback primarily, and then his Wildcat/backup.

Yet, what I really want to focus on is the beginning of a trend you will see in the coming months. Manish Mehta of the Daily News has already shown his affinity for anonymous sources ripping Mark Sanchez since the season ended and many of the other beat writers have followed a similar path. The New York media wants a quarterback controversy. It sells newspapers.

Beyond that, they will create caricatures of members of the Jets to help write stories throughout the year. Santonio Holmes, the selfish bogeyman who is the team villain. Mark Sanchez, the fading star who is mentally weak. Tim Tebow, the heroic backup who can do no wrong.

Expect a steady stream of pro-Tebow and anti-Sanchez articles in the coming months. I can promise you a Daily News article this summer quoting unnamed sources that Tebow is outperforming Sanchez in practice and will soon take over as the starter. I can promise if Sanchez has one poor game, there will be rumors from those unnamed sources claiming that Sanchez will be benched or is one bad quarter away from being benched.

Get used to it.

New York Jets: How NOT To Develop A Young Quarterback

New TOJ writer Mike Donnelly has found excerpts of the book the New York Jets have written – “How NOT To Develop A Young Quarterback”

Turn On The Jets would like to welcome our newest assistant staff writer, Mike Donnelly on board. Mike was previously writing for You Don’t Know Football and freelancing for his own site on the New York Jets. Make sure you follow him on Twitter – 

When the New York Jets made the shocking trade for Tim Tebow earlier this offseason, people had many different takes and opinions on it. Beyond just the normal Jets-bashing and Tebow-trashing, some people loved the move because of Tebow’s running ability and some people hated it, mainly due to the effect it would have on Mark Sanchez both on and off the field. Sanchez is a fine young quarterback who has improved each year and had a lot of success — despite what his detractors say — so the Tebow trade was a curious one.

I did a little digging however, and found out there was a method to the madness. If it seemed like the Jets as an organization were going out of their way to push Sanchez to the side and stunt his development, it’s because they were, and this was just the latest in a series of questionable decisions. Apparently, in their never-ending quest for more publicity, the Jets decided to see how far they can push this thing and publish the first ever “How NOT to Develop Your Young Quarterback” handbook. Luckily, I was able to get my hands on a rough copy and will share some excerpts with you.

Chapter One“What you want to do is hire a defensive Head Coach who has no interest in the offense whatsoever. The real trick, though, is you want to give the keys to the entire offense to an unqualified coordinator who has had no success in the NFL at all. In our case, that man was Brian Schottenheimer. Schotty had been here for three years already by the time we drafted Mark, and before that he was the quarterbacks coach in San Diego. It was during that time that Drew Brees had the worst years of his career before moving to New Orleans and carving out a Hall of Fame career under new coaches. We knew Schotty would do a pretty bad job, but we had to be absolutely sure we couldn’t let Sanchez improve at all. That’s why we also hired Matt Cavanaugh to come in and be the QB’s coach in 2009, and that was a major coup for us…”

Wow. If the goal was really to hire two incompetent coaches to coach the offense and Mark Sanchez specifically, they did a great job with these two. First, let’s start with Schottenheimer. By now everybody knows how bad of a job he did here and that his offense was too complicated and too ineffective. Chad Pennington even had a tough time grasping it. Brett Favre basically ignored it. Many current players complained about it. Let’s quickly take a look at some of Schotty’s failures:

  • 95.7 and 107.2. Those are Brett Favre’s QB ratings the year before and after he worked with Schotty, respectively. His rating with Schotty? 81.0 to go along with his 22 interceptions.
  • Chad Pennington’s QB rating with Schotty over 2 years: 83.3. The year he left? 97.4 and a 2nd place MVP finish. Hmm.
  • 16 straight games, including 3 playoff contests, where he couldn’t come up with a game plan to score a 1st quarter touchdown
  • 58 straight weeks without a 300 yard passer between 2006 and 2010
  • Passing offense never finished higher than 16th in NFL

And it is not like Cavanaugh helped matters. Before coming to the Jets to mentor Sanchez, he was the offensive coordinator at Pittsburgh University where his claim to fame was being part of the brain trust that decided to start Tyler Palko at QB over future NFL 1st round pick Joe Flacco. Prior to that, he was the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens during the era where their offensive ineptitude was the butt of many jokes. During his last three years on the job, the passing offense ranked 27th, 32nd,  and 31st. A perfect candidate to come in and help a young QB become a great passer! He was clearly everything the Jets were looking for in their handbook.

Chapter 4 – “Once you’ve established that the young QB won’t get any competent coaching, the next thing you want to do is take away anything he’s familiar with and not let him get into any kind of comfort zone. So what we did is change the receivers Mark would be throwing to every season. The thinking was, if he we let him get comfortable and grow with any receivers, his stats would improve, and that’s a no-no. In 2011 we even took it a step further and not only did we take away the two receivers he was most familiar with, we replaced them with two guys who couldn’t run anymore! It was great…”

The Jets did a great job adhering to this. In 2009, the first receiver Sanchez got comfortable with was Chansi Stuckey, so he was traded by week 5. They brought in Braylon Edwards, though, which was actually a great thing for Sanchez. Too great of a thing, apparently, because just a year and a half later he was gone. In 2010, Santonio Holmes was brought in, but due to his 4 game suspension, it took a while for him and Sanchez to get on the same page. With the trio of Edwards, Holmes, and Cotchery, Sanchez had an excellent, young corps of receivers to work with. So naturally the whole thing was blown up after the 2010 season that nearly ended in a Super Bowl. Edwards was let go, Cotchery was released, and they were replaced by the decrepit Derek Mason and fresh from prison Plaxico Burress. The Jets apparently didn’t ask Plaxico to work out for them or run a 40 yard dash before signing, probably because they didn’t have a sun dial available. So not only was Sanchez left without a deep threat, but he had to break in these new receivers during a lockout without coaches being present. No big deal.

Later in Chapter 4“And just to be sure the quarterback won’t be comfortable at all, you might want to go ahead and weaken his offensive line a great deal. Nothing frazzles a QB more than being hit every play, so we decided to put Wayne Hunter at tackle and back him up with Vlad Ducasse. Doesn’t get much worse than that! Speaking of backups, make sure you have none, so if one of your starters like Nick Mangold does get injured, your QB will get buried…”

Well, this strategy definitely did work. Gotta give them credit.

Chapter 8“If you’ve come this far, it means you’ve done everything you physically can to your QB to make sure he fails. Now it’s time to work on the mental side and really ruin his confidence. It will be hard to top what we did, because a guy like Tim Tebow only comes along once in a lifetime, but if possible, you have to bring in an extremely popular player to back up your quarterback. That way, every time he throws an incomplete pass or messes up, the whole crowd  will be pushing for the backup to play, even if he can’t throw a forward pass! Plus the entire media will report on every little move he makes and make it nearly impossible for him to not crack under the pressure. This is an important step in the process here…”

Well, they were right about it being hard for future teams to one-up them when it comes to Tebow. In fact, I don’t think any starting QB that has had the success Sanchez has, has ever had to deal with something like Tim Tebow being brought in and getting on the field for up to 20 plays per game every Sunday. The Jets really broke new ground with this one. It was a nice touch added on also to have Matt Cavanaugh criticize Sanchez publicly while also talking about how wonderful Tim Tebow is. Smooth.

Look, I’m a big Mark Sanchez supporter and fan. I think he’s gotten a bum rap, and it’s totally undeserved. People seem to forget that he only just completed his 3rd season in the league, and is actually ahead of where many other star players were at the same point in their careers, just look at Drew Brees’ stats early in his career. Or even better, look at Eli Manning, who many Giants fans wanted to run out of town after 3 years.

There are lots of similarities between Sanchez and Eli that go beyond just the stats. After Eli’s third year, they fired the offensive coordinator who wasn’t using Eli to the best of his abilities and became way too predictable. Sound familiar? They replaced him with Kevin Gilbride, a former Head Coach who had success as an offensive coach prior to flopping as Head Coach. Again, sound familiar? I hope the Jets took some notes. The Giants let Eli work out his problems, progress, and late in Year 4, Eli started to “get it”. He cut out the silly mistakes, grasped the offense that suited his skills, and he led them to the Super Bowl. I’m not saying that’s what will happen this year with Mark Sanchez, but he deserves the opportunity to do so. Mark Sanchez has proven he can handle the big stage in the past, and I wouldn’t bet against him rising up and doing so again.

NBA Playoffs: An Appraisal Of The Oklahoma City Thunder

Justin breaks down the Thunder’s beatdown of the Lakers last night and what to expect moving forward

The Lakers big men were pounding the glass. Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed were getting beaten on by Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. LA up by 4. Then it happens. The trigger is pulled and OKC starts to get crazy, the sort of youthful controlled crazy that says “I’m coming to take you out old man”. Kobe Bryant, unfortunately, is meeting the Playoff Thunder.
The playoff Thunder are much like the regular Thunder, except they have a trick up their sleeve. It’s called the (much awaited) 2nd line. Harden at the point. Derek Fisher at the 2. Thabo at the 3 while Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka take the 4 and 5. It’s controlled chaos.

When Fisher takes the ball up the court with Harden flying in and out of the paint, Ibaka running up to set a screen and Collison setting himself up in the low block. Even Scott Brooks admitted “There’s a point when we put Russell and Kevin on the bench, and we just let James run the show”.

Get Harden a top hat and a velvet jacket, because this guy can break ankles and give sartorial advice while simultaneously dunking it over your head. This, (after what may have been the greatest thing that could happen to the Thunder in a Dallas playoff rematch), is the end result of the 10,000 hour rule.

How did it start? It started with Kevin Durant prodding the zone of the Mavericks, with Russell Westbrook getting his jump shot going in games 1 and 2 of round 1 while everyone waited for the 3x scoring champion to start feeling it. It started with overcoming the ghosts of last year (a 4-1 series loss to the Mavericks), something that can make or break (Grizzlies) a young (average age of Thunder starting 5: 24) team trying to make its mark in the NBA playoffs.

The Thunder have the physical gifts to beat just about every NBA team in a one game series, but it needed the extra preparation of the playoffs to understand the value of every possession. More often than not, it was the breakaway speed of the Thunder that allowed them to be last in turnovers (16 per game) while somehow running away with the second best record in the NBA. They knew they could get it back, and when the opponent got tired, they used legs and length to get to the basket at will while opposing Centers stood around and watched.

Last night? 4 turnovers. I am almost certain that is some sort of record for a playoff game. Last night? 32 point lead halfway through the 4th quarter. Last night? Shooting 54% from the field. Last night? 25 from Durant. 29 from Westbrook.
I’m not going to go ahead and crown the Thunder champions of the West. I predicted the first round series to go 7 (Thunder swept in 4), and I predict this one to go 6 if for nothing else than the most obvious size advantage that the Lakers will figure out to use against the duo of Collison and Mohammed. Perkins (who is questionable with a hip) and Ibaka are a different story.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that the Lakers are going to work harder on defense against the pick and roll, which is going to lead to some serious eyeball work from the refs. The Thunder aren’t going to shoot 54% again, but I can see high 40’s as an average. What is going to determine this series is speed vs. size, and big men don’t run marathons.

A Final Look At The New York Jets 2012 Draft Class

Chris G gives one final round-up of the New York Jets 2012 draft class

After watching hours of film on every selection made in the 2012 Draft by the New York Jets, we have analyzed each player and where we think they will fit in with the team, based on their skill set and potential. Now, it’s time to have fun with some predictions for each of these rookies in 2012 and beyond. Let’s have a look at what a yearbook of the Jets’ 2012 Draft Class would probably read.

Most Likely To Succeed – DE Quinton Coples. This was a very tough decision, as I think Stephen Hill will undoubtedly have a successful career in the NFL. However, Rex Ryan is a defensive minded coach, and besides Darrelle Revis, has yet to have a player in New York with the physical upside of Coples. With all the criticism emerging from the Jets’ decision to pass on Melvin Ingram for Coples, expect Rex to make it a priority to ensure the young DE out of North Carolina will thrive underneath him.

Most Likely To Be Considered A Steal – LB DeMario Davis. Davis has the passion, drive, and physical ability to be an elite NFL linebacker down the road. It will benefit him greatly to play in a system designed by Rex Ryan, while learning under the tutelage of David Harris and Bart Scott in the early years of his career. From what Davis was able to demonstrate in college, along with his tremendous speed and size for the position, there is a very high chance that, in the coming years, people will be questioning how he ever fell to the third round.

Biggest Sleeper Pick –WR Jordan White. Not too many people are talking about White, but when taking a closer look, this kid has all the potential in the world to be a very solid NFL Wide Receiver. His production at Western Michigan speaks for itself, while he has repeatedly proved to be tough, physical, and athletic on film. His intelligence displayed by his ability to find holes in the defense, as well as his fantastic route running ability will put him right where he needs to be in camp in order to compete for a roster spot. I would be shocked if he is not on the active roster at some point this season, while developing into a reliable safety net for Mark Sanchez in the future.

Best Value – S Antonio Allen. After reviewing the game film of safety Josh Bush, I have an excellent feeling about his play and how he will succeed as a Jet. However, I have had Allen rated as the third best safety in this year’s class right behind Harrison Smith. A further review of his game film only solidified that notion, and in the 7th round, the former Gamecock was certainly the best value pick by New York this year. The Jets likely selected Bush ahead of Allen because of their greater need for a true centerfield-type safety, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum were ecstatic to see him still on the board in round 7.

Least Likely To Ever Play A Significant Down – G Robert T. Griffin. Don’t get me wrong, Griffin’s massive frame, and great tenacity give him tremendous upside. However, he appears to be light years away from being a capable NFL offensive lineman. His skill set is very far behind in terms of his strength, footwork, and technique. There’s always a chance that he proves this assertion to be false, but in all likelihood, Griffin will find a home on the practice squad and settle there for a few years, before becoming a career backup, at best.

Only time will truly tell how each of these young men will fare as NFL players. Surely, they have all done things well enough to find themselves in the rare position that they are in. There’s no doubt that they are all good football players, but which of them will go the distance to ensure success in the NFL?

Survival Mode: The Mess That Is The Eastern Conference Playoffs

Justin breaks down the messy Eastern Conference Playoffs

A brief review of the first round series before we get into the real matchups:

Bulls vs. Sixers – When you lose Derrick Rose to a torn ACL, a few things begin to cross your mind. You lost your floor general, but luckily you still have guys like Rip Hamilton, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer to help make up for the loss. When you lose Joakim Noah (the undisputed heart and soul of the Bulls), things start to get real shaky. Rip Hamilton having to create one on one? Carlos Boozer having to take some sort of leadership role? Not good. Not good at all.

There’s a reason the Sixers won this in 6, and it has much less to do with the Sixers talent than it does to do with the downfall of the Rose legacy. Now I’m not going to write off the Bulls for good…but something metaphysical died when Rose went down with a torn ACL. For a guy who literally lives off planting (sometimes very awkwardly) and driving to the basket, a torn ACL is like a voice in your head that whispers all your fears every time you try to do something highlight worthy. Quite literally, Rose is never going to be the same. Did I think they could win the East at full health? I’d give them a 50/50 shot with Miami, but can they win it next year? I have my doubts. Especially if “that’s all that matters, yo” Carlos Boozer is still here. Amnesty please.

Magic vs. Pacers – No Dwight Howard = No Chance. It wasn’t even close, despite the efforts of Glen Davis, the Richardsons and Ryan Anderson. This entire team has been predicated on the notion of getting the ball to Dwight Howard in the low post, so when he’s gone there’s really no point in attempting a breakdown of how the Magic can adapt their style to suit their sharpshooters. As Dwight Howard does his rehab, the Magic are reportedly giving him the cold shoulder. This team will look nothing like it has in the past, and Howard is most likely gone before the next Magic training camp.

As for the Pacers, they seem to be the more experienced version of the Sixers. Danny Granger stepped it up in the playoffs, as did Roy Hibbert and my favorite UNC alum PSYCHO T. We will discuss them more in the next round preview.

Hawks vs. Celtics – You had them Atlanta! You had them and it all fell apart. Well, that and you have Joe Johnson and Josh “no all star appearances” Smith as the pillars of your franchise. Game 4? Yeah only down by 25, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce looking 10 years younger. Al Horford coming up huge in game 5. Then the owner called Kevin Garnett the dirtiest player in the league and the floodgates hath open. So what’s the upside for Atlanta fans? Your team is still pretty nice in 2K12.

Knicks vs. Heat – The Knicks recent postseason accomplishments make the Jets look like a perennial powerhouse. So let’s just do a quick review of the Knicks second half of the season leading to the postseason. D’Antoni exits, Baron’s back flares up, Landry Fields regresses, Shumpert goes down with a torn ACL in game 1, Amare slices his hand punching the glass case of a fire extinguisher after game 3, Baron’s knee and ACL tear in Game 4, topping it all off with Carmelo reverting to his one man show, getting no one else involved in game 5,ending the series at 4-1 in favor of Miami. It’s going to be a long offseason in New York, and the excuses will come fast and furious.

With all that said, let’s move onto the real excitement of the playoffs…the semifinals –

Boston vs. Philly – There’s an ideological battle that is going to be waged in this series. Do you hang on to aging veterans or piece together a team of young 20 somethings, hoping for a few breaks as you try and use speed to get your way through tough playoff games. The only issue? Boston is feeling like 2008 again and the 76ers have no answer for the combination of Rondo and Ray Allen. Do I see 76ers giving them a tough run at home? Sure, but Boston is coming in rested and full of confidence, especially after they proved that they can absolutely demolish teams like the Hawks at 90% strength. Celtics in 6.

Heat vs. Pacers – I would personally enjoy nothing more than the Pacers taking this 7 games off the pure effort of Roy Hibbert and PSYCHO T, but I can’t help but realize the Heat haven’t even had a real challenge yet and got to mostly coast through the Knicks series (which could at some point work against them into a false sense of confidence). The Heat are going to win this series, it’s just a matter of how long it’s going to take them. Heat in 6.

Now, there is something amazing brewing in the East. It’s the heart and soul of the blue collar heroes against the flash of the Heat. Big 3 vs. Big 3. Short of OKC winning the West, nothing would give me as much joy as seeing Boston win the East. Celtics/Spurs finals? OKC/Heat finals? Or…Lakers/Celtics re-rematch? This is why the playoffs are great.

New York Jets: Low Expectations, Better Results?

Will the lowered expectations for the New York Jets 2012 season, equal better than expected results?

The prognosticators aren’t going to be kind to the New York Jets in the coming months. Who wouldn’t want to kick Rex Ryan and his fat mouth when he is down? His team is coming off a 8-8 season playoff-less season and they had a controversial and potentially ineffective off-season. Beyond that. Ryan admittedly lost the locker room last season to petty in-fighting.

This year’s “it” pick in the AFC East will be the Buffalo Bills to challenge and potentially unseat the New England Patriots and grab a playoff spot or division title in the process. New York’s other, other team had a flashy off-season by bringing in Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to beef up the now supposed best front seven in football. They also kept the core pieces of their offense intact by resigning Stevie Johnson and extending Fred Jackson’s contract.

Of course, everybody is too busy criticizing Mark Sanchez to take the time to question Ryan Fitzpatrick. In case you haven’t noticed, Fitzpatrick was awful the second half of last season, has never won anything in his NFL career and is a substantially bigger question mark than Sanchez heading into this season.

Regardless of the Jets perceived hierarchy in the AFC East, there are valid questions about their roster which will lead most to pick them to go anywhere from 6-10 to 9-7. The looming quarterback controversy between Sanchez and Tebow, the shaky right tackle and safety situation, and lack of a proven big time running back will all be consistently referenced.

Fortunately, lower expectations may not be a bad thing for this team. As a matter of fact, if recent history proves anything…it is that when the Jets have low expectations, they exceed them and when they have high expectations, they struggle. Remember in 2004, 2006, and 2009 nobody expected the Jets to sniff the playoffs and they made it all three of those years and in 2007, 2008, and most recently last year when they were a popular pick as a contender and flamed out.

I firmly believe you will see a toned done Rex Ryan to the public this year, further removing the target from the Jets back. Nobody thinks the Jets have an elite defense anymore. Nobody thinks they have an elite offensive line. Everybody thinks Santonio Holmes forgot how to get open and that Mark Sanchez is seconds from the bench. David Harris is under still under the radar and most assume Quinton Coples will be a bust. We can only hope the Jets are reading their press clippings this season and saving every single one of them maybe then they can get back to surprising teams with a hit in the mouth.

New York Jets Draft Pick Analysis: Defensive End Quinton Coples

Chris Gross breaks down New York Jets first round pick, defensive end Quinton Coples

Today we come to the end of our complete breakdown of every New York Jets draft pick, by looking at first rounder Quinton Coples. In case you haven’t been paying attention, here are the links to all the previous articles. Another huge shout out to Chris Gross, TOJ’s own Mike Mayock, who didn’t leave the film room the past two weeks. 

When the New York Jets selected Quinton Coples with the 16th overall selection in this year’s NFL draft, the organization immediately found itself under heavy criticism. Many expected the Jets to trade up for DE/OLB Melvin Ingram, but when he fell to New York at 16, it was seemingly too good to be true. When the Jets opted to pass on the highly touted player out of South Carolina, the reaction was not very warm among the green and white faithful. What made the decision to pass on Ingram even worse was the scrutiny that Coples found himself under in the weeks leading up to the draft. Once regarded as the best pass rushing prospect in this year’s class, red flags regarding his character and effort level began to surface on draft boards throughout the entire nation.

However, it is an unfortunate occurrence when individuals let others decide their opinion. With several draft experts in the media declaring Coples a talented, but lazy player, unworthy of the spot he was drafted in, people adopted this opinion as their own. But on what basis were these declarations made? On what grounds do analysts have the proper footing to deem Coples a lazy, unmotivated player? For the final edition of our draft analysis here at Turn On The Jets, my primary goal in evaluating Coples was to generate a completely objective opinion. I shelved everything I had heard about him, and simply watched him as if he were any other player. Some concerns about Coples may not be totally unwarranted, however to declare this young man as a waste of a selection and label him as a guy with a bad work ethic is completely unfair.

The first characteristic that stands out on Quinton Coples when evaluating his game film is, undoubtedly, his explosiveness. Coples gets off the ball perhaps faster than any defensive player in this year’s draft class. He also plays with excellent leverage, as he demonstrates the ability to get underneath offensive lineman, which is even more impressive when considering his 6’6” stature. The majority of the time, he is very aggressive in his approach to an opponent by showing an attack first mentality. Rarely does he allow the offensive lineman to initiate the contact with him. He is adamant about striking fast, and controlling the blocker.

Along with explosion, Coples, most notably, has exceptional pass rush skills. He reads his keys extremely well, and displays tremendous ability to “run the circle.” For a defensive lineman, the ability to run the circle refers to how well the player can dip their shoulder to gain leverage on the opposing lineman, while maintaining enough speed and coordination to stay in their pass rush lane and get to the quarterback. Coples does this just as good, if not better, than anyone I have evaluated in this year’s class, including Ingram and Courtney Upshaw of Alabama.

Coples is also very versatile. During his reign at UNC, he lined up at defensive end, tackle, and even some outside linebacker. His physical tools give him the ability to move all over the field, something Rex Ryan will surely take advantage of. He is very powerful, but at the same time, is extremely agile and smooth in his movements. During his junior season, Coples played primarily defensive tackle, and registered 10 sacks. His ability to play both inside and outside on the defensive line should make his value immeasurable to a creative coach like Ryan.Although Coples effort and work ethic came into question following his senior season at North Carolina, there is not enough substantial evidence to label him anything remotely close to “lazy.” Countless times, Coples showed valiant effort in his play either by continuing to work up field on a pass rush with double moves, spin techniques, or an extra push, or on run plays where he repeatedly screamed down the line of scrimmage chasing runs away from his side of the field.

The knocks on Coples being inconsistent are generally the only ones that I found to be true. There are times during games when he does not consistently play at a high level. However, there are several factors that are rarely considered as to why this happens. The first, and probably most obvious, is that regardless of the player, it is just about impossible to maintain an elite level of production on every single play. Secondly, with the immense amount of success Coples had during his junior year, coupled with the threat his physical abilities make him to opposing offenses, teams clearly game planned around him last season. There were numerous plays in which Coples faced double, and even triple, teams last year. It is very likely that #90 was circled on every offensive game plan among North Carolina’s opponents in 2011. A player like Coples needs to be accounted for at all times, because if he is not, it can cost coordinators and coaches their jobs.

Another very important factor that may have played into Coples inconsistency was the amount of turmoil that the North Carolina football program faced during his time as a Tar Heel. Besides the heavy amount of negative publicity and suspensions the team was dealt within the past two years, Coples also had the unfortunate burden of playing for four different position coaches in each of his four years with the program. It is very difficult for a player to get comfortable and gain consistency when there is no stability whatsoever. The fact that he still was able to perform at a level high enough for him to be considered one of the best, if not the best, defensive lineman in the draft should speak volumes to his character, rather than tarnish it. Granted, the argument can be made that as a division I scholarship athlete, there should be no excuses like these, but it is often forgotten that these players are simply kids. Instability within a program can be detrimental to a young man.

With all of that being said, I still did not find enough substantial evidence to consider Coples a “lazy” player. He is ferocious off the ball, chases plays down, and has great tenacity. He even showed enough of a motor in the Virginia Tech game last year to have ESPN analyst, Jesse Palmer refer to him as a “high effort player.” To me, it is a mystery as to where the claims on Coples’ motor came from. Inconsistent, perhaps, but the bottom line is that he shows passion in his play and gets after it far more often than not.

Coples’ largest challenge as a Jet is going to be earning the love and respect of the fans. Although it is completely out of his hands, the choice by New York to pass on the highly regarded Ingram for Coples will be criticized until he lets his play speak for him. He needs to come out of the gate in a dash and keep his foot on the pedal without a second of hesitation. He will most likely be compared to Ingram, at least for this season, in terms of production and quality of play. Coples needs to show why Rex Ryan and the Jets have so much faith in him, and everyone in New York will soon forget about all of the other defensive players taken following the 16th pick.

Coples true character should show early in the season. One would expect a player as highly criticized as he has been to come out with a chip on his shoulder, looking to prove all of his doubters wrong. Expect Coples to display high energy, tenacity, and motor from the moment he takes the field this season. If he does anything else, then, and only then, will it be time to raise the red flags.

As far as his role with the Jets, Rex Ryan has already declared that he will see the majority of defensive snaps this season. While this is not necessarily a statement I am too fond of, for a player should have to earn that type of recognition, it is certainly something that needs to be done. Coples is far too big, strong, athletic, and versatile to be wasting time on the sidelines. He needs to play immediately and prove his worth as the 16th overall selection. Rex will certainly utilize his abilities to the highest degree. Expect to see Coples in a vast amount of packages, primarily at defensive end, while sliding all over on passing situations. Ryan feels he can get double-digit sack production out of Coples, and based on the UNC product’s abilities, there is no reason to think otherwise. Consistency of play is going likely going to be the most important factor in his success.