New York Jets: Sorting Through Rex-Talk

TOJ sorts through Rex Ryan’s praise for any and everything related to the New York Jets

To say Rex Ryan isn’t shy about praising his own players is an understatement. Rex wouldn’t hesitate to call Tanner Purdum the greatest long snapper he has ever coached or Matt Kroul the most talented third string center in NFL history. My personal favorite Rex-ism was calling Wayne Hunter the best backup tackle in the NFL during the 2010 season, like he had taken an inventory of all 32 teams 7th and 8th lineman and knew Hunter was the best.

Today’s press conference was a shining example as it seemed that Rex went through the entire roster in numerical order and offered everybody a “tremendous” or an “impressive” adjective. There isn’t a player on the team who hasn’t wowed the coaching staff on his return to the facility. Listen, I have no problem with Rex building up his players to the media. However, it makes sorting out who has actually been performing notably well a bit of a task.

Let’s go over what we know from OTAs and mini-camp so far –

1. Boom Not Bust – Of course it is too early to call first round pick Quinton Coples anything. However, by every indication he has been a borderline dominant presence since suiting up for the Jets in practice. A day hasn’t passed where he hasn’t came up with a sack or two. The other day he intercepted a pass and knocked another one down. More importantly, he seems to be playing with a chip on his shoulder and a high amount of energy/emotion. Nobody could ever question Coples talent, it doesn’t mean that some of us (including me) didn’t question taking him in the first round. He has a long way to go but so far, so good.

2. Young Pups – While we are talking about rookies, Demario Davis and Josh Bush have both spent time with the first defense in multiple practices, a very encouraging sign for mid-round draft picks. Both of them should be factors in passing situations. Davis is the fastest linebacker on the team and Bush is the only true free safety on the roster. If these two pan out alongside Coples, Mike Tannenbaum very well may have rebuilt his defense for the long run in a single draft.

3. O’ No – Same song every year. The offense is behind the defense. This makes even more sense this year since they are installing a new system and the wide receivers have been banged up. Is it a cause for concern? Not yet but it hasn’t been pretty out there for the Jets passing game thus far.

4. Forgotten Man – Chaz Schilens was a forgotten man by many after the Jets drafted Stephen Hill in the second round. However, he has taken advantage of extended playing time due to Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill’s injuries. Schilens has been one of the bright spots on offense and has the skill set to be a big play factor on offense.

5. Watch For ‘Em – Ellis Lankster as the #4 corner and a core special teams piece. Royce Pollard on punt returns and somebody who just may stick on the roster. Jeff Cumberland seeing a big bump in playing time. Yeremiah Bell seeing more time at free safety than he was accustomed to in Miami.

TOJ New York Jets Beat Writer Power Rankings – June 13th

Turn On The Jets weekly ranking of the New York Jets beat writers

Welcome back to Turn On The Jets weekly ranking of the New York Jets beat writers as compiled by myself, Chris Gross and Mike Donnelly. See how the writers fared last week here and make sure to leave comments on the site, our Twitter accounts or on the TOJ Facebook Page

1. Jenny Vrentas, The Star Ledger – In my best Howard Finkel voice: Aaaaaanndd STILL, Jets Beat Writer Power Rankings Champion, Jeeeeennnnnyyy Vrentas! (Speaking of the Fink, any wrestling fan from the 80’s and 90’s has got to watch this video of the Fink doing wedding introductions.) Another excellent week from Jenny, as she seemingly widened the gap between herself and the competition. At this point even a bad week won’t be enough to knock her off her throne, similar to how a 12-0 NFL team wouldn’t be dropped after one fluke loss. That being said, the way she’s going I wouldn’t count on even that happening.

This week she again gave Jets fans all the pertinent information we were looking for on her Twitter page, without any of the fluff or full-fledged Tebow love affair that some of her fellow beat men and women seem to have. All of the relevant injury news, quotes, performance info, and lineup changes are all easily accessible, and she topped that off with some very good articles that didn’t just regurgitate the same old stuff. For example, last Thursday she put out an excellent piece about new kicker Josh Brown that gave unfamiliar fans some good insight into the man who we will likely be cursing for missing field goals for us this year. We’d like to see perhaps a little more fan interaction, but she did acknowledge these very power rankings and her position in them, so that scores her bonus points. What also scores her points is her NOT using the devil of Twitter, Sulia. We thank you for that, Jenny. Keep up the great work. – Mike Donnelly

2. Rich Cimini, ESPN – Another week of consistent content from Cimini, who provides a weekly chat and an entertaining “Take 5” piece which I particularly liked from this past week with a look at Bryan Thomas’ favorite memories with the team. His column on Rex looking to change the attitude around the team was a good read and provided an interesting parallel to the 2004 team under Herman Edwards. However, he had eye rolling article about the “quarterback controversy” that stated nothing but the obvious. Fortunately, he remains off Sulia on Twitter. – Joe Caporoso

3. Manish Mehta, The Daily News – Manish had a solid week following our inaugural beat writer power rankings. Although he did not run too great a surplus of stories, the ones he did run were quite impactful. His notes following the first day of mini camp yesterday were very significant, and he did a good job of reporting on several key issues that have been prevalent over the past week. Granted, the Holmes incident from OTAs has gotten a bit repetitive, but in the defense of Manish, every Jets writer has been beating this to death. The bottom line for Holmes is that he needs to realize, after the events of last season, he is going to be under the microscope of the media every second they are allowed access to team activities. He needs to start helping himself if he truly wants to repair his image. Although most readers are annoyed by these reports, one cannot fault Manish and the rest of the writers on the Jets beat for publicizing it so heavily.

Manish also reported, via his twitter, that people within the organization are becoming more impressed by DeMario Davis each day. Although this is exactly what we expected, it is still significant, and encouraging news for New York’s defense. Davis will likely be used in several sub packages with the first team this season, while developing into the long term answer following the eventual departure of Bart Scott, so any news regarding his status and performance gets a plus. Overall, solid work from Manish this week as he is displaying qualities that, if continued, could bump him to the #1 spot in the coming weeks. – Chris Gross

4. Brian Costello, New York Post – The Coz had a hell of a week in our opinion. His Twitter game stepped up tremendously as he provided insightful updates and made a few keen observations about the lineups the Jets were using on both sides of the football. He also had an intriguing blog update that focused on Jeff Cumberland improving his blocking to lock down the number two tight end spot. Also in that post, he was the first to report that Rex Ryan would now do press conferences in the morning before practice along with an explanation as to why. – Joe Caporoso

5. Jane McManus, ESPN – While McManus does not quite put out as much content as her counterpart at ESPN New York, her piece on Bart Scott this past week was excellent. We will look at Scott’s revival more closely as the week progresses, but McManus did an excellent job in noting that Scott’s notorious vocal activity is back and better than ever this off season. This is certainly a far cry from what we last saw of Scott following the conclusion of last season when he departed the team facility with a familiar gesture to the media present that day. While Scott will likely neve return to being a 100+ tackler at this point in his career, McManus notes that he has lost about 9 pounds this off season, and looks rejuvinated from the player we saw post an abysmal 66 tackles last season, his lowest total since 2004.

Scott’s production level, and leadership ability this season are going to be vital not only to the defense, but to the team as well. We have all come to love Scott for his presence as a leader both in terms of play and vocals so any news that he is working toward reviving himself this season is quality content. If McManus can get her quanity of content to match quality like her Scott piece, she could find herself moving up the rankings rather soon. – Chris Gross

6. Kimberly Martin, Newsday – Last week we didn’t have all that much to go on when it came to the great Rod Boone’s replacement at Newsday, but this week Kimberly Martin really started to establish herself in our minds. She really stepped up her Twitter game and provided all the information Jets fans need at OTA’s and Mini-Camp. She also mixed in some humor with her tweets, so following her also came with some bonus entertainment. And the best part of it all of course, was the lack of any Sulia links in her timeline. Major bonus points there. The drawbacks, however, would be a bit of a lack of real good original articles that don’t just give us the same exact thing we can read 10 other places. Again, she’s pretty new when it comes to the Jets beat, and I expert her to move up these rankings in the coming weeks. – Mike Donnelly

NBA Finals Preview: Why We Love Sports

Turn On The Jets previews the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder

The NBA Playoffs have been great theater in both conferences. Ultimately, we have ended up with the match-up most people both predicted and wanted: the Miami Heat versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.

How couldn’t you want it? A team built the “right” way around a big three of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden versus the team built the “wrong” way around a big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. A superstar small forward everybody loves in Durant against a superstar small forward everybody loves to hate in James. Arguably the weakest fan base and home court advantage in Miami (unless you count white t-shirts as fans) against the most electric home crowd in the NBA right in Oklahoma City.

Are the Thunder too young? Their big three are all under 25. None of them have been to the NBA Finals. Yet, they have Finals tested supporting pieces in Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins. Miami was here last year with all the same key parts returning. Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem already have a Championship under their belt for the Heat.

The focus will inevitably be on LeBron James and Kevin Durant, battling for alpha-dog status in the league. If LeBron isn’t going to get a title now, when is it going to happen? How are the Heat’s big three going to win 6…7…8 championships if there is a younger big three who has already bested then on the NBA’s biggest stage? We all love Durant and how he plays the game but make no mistake, James is the best player in this series. If he plays like he did in Game 6 of the Boston series, Miami will be bringing the trophy back to South Beach.

Of course that is always the question about James. How often will he really bring it? A timid, passive and scared of the moment James is going to equal an ugly series for the Heat. Oklahoma City is too athletic and too deep. They have an advantage at point guard. They have a better bench. They don’t have players like Ronny Turiaf and a beaten down Shane Battier playing key roles for them. They have a sizable home court advantage that Miami lacks.

Dwyane Wade isn’t carrying Miami to this title. Chris Bosh can hit all the mid-range jumpers he wants. This is about LeBron rising above the challenge of Durant or falling short to a player who just might resemble Dirk Nowitzki in these NBA Finals.

Two superstars vying to start a legacy of championships. A Hall of Fame two guard looking to add another title to his resume. The most athletic guard in the NBA looking to show he isn’t the headcase who will prevent his team from becoming a dynasty. The best beard in sports. Great theater. Great basketball. Let’s enjoy the ride.

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch 6/12: Jets, NFL Over/Unders, Tebow

Mike Donnelly gives us his weekly stock report. Who should you be buying or selling this week?

Mike Donnelly is back with his weekly stock watch. Make sure you give Mike a follow on Twitter and give Turn On The Jets a like on Facebook.

It is that time of the week again: Stock Watch! It’s been a busy week with the Jets as always, and in the sports world in general. We had some big news as Santonio Holmes threw his helmet (on no!) and the media had a collective aneurysm running to their computers to throw him under the bus. We also saw a rigged boxing match, the NBA Finals get set (be sure to check out Joe’s Finals preview), the Kings win the Stanley Cup, and the Yankees mop the floor with my Mets and their abomination of a bullpen. We’re gonna touch on some of those with buy and sell advice, but this week the big stock tips come in the form of some NFL over/unders for wins. Vegas released their totals two weeks ago, and after several sleepless nights crunching the numbers –or just taking some guesses– I’ve come up with a few to invest in. Let’s dive in…

BUYS

Jets 8.5 Wins – Perhaps I’m a Jets homer, but I think this is a slam dunk. I can’t help but laugh when people say “Oh the Jets are the third best team in the division!”. We’ve been hearing that same crap for 3 years now, and it’s yet to happen. The fact is, the Dolphins and Bills just aren’t that good, and that isn’t going to change this year. Last year, the Jets had a disaster of a season, and they still finished with 8 wins and easily could have had one or two more. This year I’m expecting 4-2 in the division (split with Pats, 3-1 vs. Bills and Fins), and then score very likely wins against the Colts, Cardinals, and Chargers at home; and Rams, Jaguars, and Titans on the road. That leaves tough games in Pittsburgh and Seattle (always a tough place to play), and against the 49ers and Texans at home. A split amongst those 4 isn’t unlikely. With a potentially dominant defense and an offense that improved simply by getting rid of Brian Schottenheimer, I just don’t see this team not winning 10 or 11 games.

Cowboys 8.5 Wins – I hate backing the Cowboys, because every offseason people look at their roster and talk about how this is the year they put it all together and they’re going to the Super Bowl. Just to be clear, I don’t think that, but I do think this team has enough talent to win 9 or 10 games. The only reason they failed to get there last year was because of a secondary that featured several guys whose performances rivaled Eric Smith. And as all Jets fans know, that’s not a compliment. This year, however, they added the best corner in free agency, Brandon Carr, and traded up to draft the best corner in the draft, Morris Claiborne. 9 wins here we come!

Bears 8.5 Wins – I’m a big Bears fan this year. Da Bears have Jay Cutler coming back from injury, they added Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to the receiving corps, and they brought in Michael Bush as Matt Forte insurance. Oh, and they still have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Not only do I think they easily clear 8.5 wins, but I think they have a chance to give the Packers a run for their money in the NFC North.

Ricky Sapp, Joe McKnight, Jeff Cumberland, Vlad Ducasse – Yes, even Vlad Ducasse. I’m buying this group of 4 “under the radar” players, because I’m very interested in hearing how they do in Mini-Camp the next few days. All 4 guys have a chance to contribute in a meaningful way this year, especially McKnight and Sapp.

Jenrry Mejia – As a Mets fan, I’m absolutely disgusted with their bullpen. I don’t know what the hell Sandy Alderson was thinking this offseason putting this group of bums together, but there is hope on the horizon — Jenrry Mejia. One of the best pitching prospects in the Mets system, they recently moved him to the bullpen in Triple A, with the intention of having him come up and rescue this sad sack of relievers. I’m excited. And yes, I know that makes me pathetic getting excited for a middle reliever, but I’m a Mets fan, what do you want from me?

Kevin Durant – I love the NBA. I hate the regular season when the players openly don’t give a crap, but the playoffs are awesome, and I love when a young guy breaks down the door and announces he’s arrived. That’s what Kevin Durant is doing right now, and I couldn’t be more excited to watch his Thunder take on the hated Miami Heat and LeBron James.

SELL

That John Malkovich iPhone Commerial – Ugh. Had to mention this one first. I can’t be the only person who gets legitimately angry every time this commercial comes on, can I? And I can’t help but think Apple has a few more of these atrocities ready to put out there. It’s like they’re daring me to buy non-Apple products, knowing full well I am going to just sit here, do nothing, and continue to watch John Malkovich commercials while playing on my iPad. Screw you, John Malkovich.

Lions 9.5 Wins – I’m sorry, but I think the Lions are going to take a tumble this year. They’re the sexy pick for “Team Ready to Take the Leap into Super Bowl Contention”, but I don’t see it. The secondary still stinks, the offensive line is a mess, their coach is a raving lunatic, and this might be the year Ndamukong Suh attempts to become the first player to use the football to actually beat an opposing player into a coma. That’s not to mention Matt Stafford miraculously avoided injury all of last year, and is unlikely to happen again. I can see this Lions season going very, very badly.

Chiefs 8 Wins – Maybe I’m missing something, but I just don’t see this at all. The Chiefs just aren’t that good. They have a solid defense, but questions at quarterback, Jamaal Charles is recovering from a blown out knee, and last I checked, Romeo Crennel is their head coach. Sell this one.

Dolphins 7.5 Wins – Sorry Dolphins fans, this one is going way under. As of now, the #1 quarterback on the depth chart is David Garrard. Yes, that David Garrard. The one who was out of football last year. The one who will be throwing passes to…umm, Brian Hartline? Davone Bess? Oof. The only way that can be worse is if they sign someone like Chad Ochocinco. Oh wait, that’s exactly what Jeff Ireland did. On the bright side, they have a solid defense and a pretty easy schedule, but the fact is, the Dolphins are the exact team other teams’ fans see on the schedule and say, “That should be a win there.”

LaRon Landry – Let’s just say I’m starting to get a little nervous about this guy and his prospects for the 2012 season. I’ll reserve judgment until closer to the season, but it’s not looking all that promising.

Boxing – I’m selling the sport as a whole. I know this same thing has been written 500 times since the fixed Pacquiao vs. Bradley fight on Saturday, but the sport is just a joke. I wish we could organize a worldwide boycott of a rematch if it comes to fruition, because seriously, what’s the point? The only guy I’d pay to watch fight at this stage is Mike Tyson, and that’s not a joke. At least that would be entertaining.

Tebow (!!!) Coverage at Mini-Camp – Get ready, Jets fans. The Jets are holding a 3 day mini-camp this week, and we’re about to get bombarded with Tim Tebow information. Not only will we know about every pass he throws within 10 seconds of it slamming into the turf, but get ready to find out some real important personal things about Tebow; things such as: his favorite color, his favorite book, his pick on the NBA Finals, if he prefers Coke or Pepsi, and what toppings he likes on his hot dogs. Crap, I think I just gave the media some ideas. My bad, Jets fans. My bad.

New York Jets: Wise To Wait On Keller Extension

Chris Gross explains why the New York Jets should hold off on giving tight end Dustin Keller a contract extension

For a counterargument to Chris, check out this piece at The Jet Press from Alan Schechter. Who do you agree with? 

It seems that Darrelle Revis is not the only New York Jet seeking a new deal heading into the 2012 season. Recent reports have revealed that Tight End Dustin Keller is also eager to ink an extension with the Jets. However, the former Boilermaker has confirmed that there has been no movement in that area thus far. While Keller is rightfully a fan favorite among the Jets’ faithful for his reliability and chemistry with Quarterback Mark Sanchez, the Jets would be foolish to jump the gun on committing a long-term deal to the four-year veteran.

Although Keller has proved to have the best chemistry with Sanchez, his contract with New York should, and likely will, be based on how he fits in the new offensive scheme of Tony Sparano. There have been some serious concerns about how Keller will fare under Sparano, primarily due to the amount of blocking the tight end is relied upon for. While Keller has always impressed with his athleticism and receiving skills, blocking has never quite been the strongest part of his game. This is not to say that Keller will not develop into a more efficient blocker under the tutelage of Sparano and new offensive line coach David DeGuglielmo, however this is going to be a major point of focus in working toward a new contract. Keller must prove his worth in this system, otherwise the Jets will surely let him walk. Giving him an extension prior to the season, before evaluating him in any real game situations in the new system, could prove to be a poor waste of money if he ends up struggling under Sparano. Not only would they be wrongly committed to him in years and dollars, but his trade value would likely plummet as well.

While Keller’s blocking ability will be a focal point for how he fits under Sparano, it may not be the deciding factor in whether or not he remains with the Jets beyond 2012. In the event Keller fails to develop into a capable blocker, the Jets could find a more suitable tight end to serve in that role, while allowing Keller to thrive in the receiving role where he has had his greatest success. Last season, Miami Dolphins Tight End Anthony Fasano was tied with Keller in receptions with 65, as well as touchdowns with 5. More impressively, though, Fasano also tied Keller with 12 receptions of 20 or more yards. While Fasano is certainly a higher quality blocker than Keller, he is not nearly as athletic. If Sparano, who emphasizes “chunk plays,” can get that type of receiving production out of Fasano (4.74 40 yard dash), than he should, realistically, be able to work wonders with Keller (4.55 40). If Keller fails to prove his worth as a blocker, but improves dramatically as a receiver in this system, it would be difficult for the Jets to not give Sanchez’s favorite target a new deal. Still, Keller needs to let his play do the negotiating.

While it may be unfair to claim that Keller, coming off of a career year with the Jets, still needs to prove himself in order to obtain a contract extension, it is the reality of the situation. While he did post career highs in three statistical categories last season, he is still nowhere near the production level of an elite tight end at this point in his career. Last season, Keller had 65 receptions for 815 yards and 5 touchdowns. The top five tight ends last year, Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Gonzalez, and Jason Witten each had 99, 90, 83, 80, and 79 receptions, respectively.

Keller is certainly still young and improving, however he does not yet deserve to be paid like an elite tight end, which is why he wisely would not comment on whether or not Gronkowski’s recent extension gave him leverage. In his second season as a Patriot, Gronkowski set an NFL record for touchdown receptions by a tight end with 17, and had previously caught 10 in his rookie year of 2010, exactly twice the amount of Keller’s career high. Gronkowski has proved to be a perfect fit in the role he plays in the Patriots’ offense. Keller will not comment on Gronkowski’s deal because he knows it has nothing to do with his contract situation.

A realistic contract for Keller would be more comparable to the five year, $37 million extension given to 49ers tight end Vernon Davis prior to the 2010 season. Although Davis was coming off of a career year before he received his deal, his most recent numbers have been very comparable to those of Keller. Last season, Davis had only two more receptions than Keller with 23 fewer yards, and only one more touchdown. If he can prove to be productive in the new system, expect a deal similar to Davis’s for Keller. Again, this is a crucial if.

Patience will need to be very prevalent within Keller’s camp in working toward any movement on a new contract. The Jets will likely not budge, and the tight end will need to let his play do the talking. While it may seem unfair for a player who has done all the right things during his NFL career, while improving his play nearly every year, it is simply the nature of the business. The Jets would be foolish to shell out a bunch of money to a player who is currently surrounded by question marks with regard to how he will fit in the offensive system. Although Keller has become not only a staple of the offense recently, but a leader of the team as well, there is a new offensive coordinator in town, and in a contract year, he needs to earn his money before receiving it.

New York Jets: What To Look For At Mini-Camp

Turn On The Jets takes a closer look at the top storylines heading into the New York Jets 3 day mini-camp

The New York Jets have a 3 day mini-camp kicking off tomorrow. It will be the last time the full team is gathered before training camp which starts at the end of July. The skill position offensive players will be gathering in the coming weeks for Mark Sanchez’s “Jets West” camp but that will smartly be closed to the media. I threw the question out on Twitter earlier today, “What is one storyline you’ll be focusing on for #Jets mini-camp the next 3 days? (Non-Tebow related).” Here are a few responses I received, along with more extended commentary on them than what I could give in 140 characters –

@GreenLanternJetWhat other RBs will step up to spell Greene and be 3rd down back?

The Jets current depth at running back is absolutely a cause for concern. For starters, Shonn Greene is going to need an improved performance from what we have seen the past two seasons. He is never going to be an elite back but if he gives the Jets 1,200 yards, keeps his YPC comfortably over 4.0 while protecting the football, it is satisfactory. However, he will need support. Ideally, Joe McKnight will seize the 3rd down role and be able to handle being his primary backup. McKnight’s potential was never fully realized in Brian Schottenheimer’s scheme (a recurring theme for many players). It will be interesting to see if Tony Sparano can find a way to use McKnight in similar ways to how he used Reggie Bush in Miami.

Outside of Greene and McKnight, the Jets need either Bilal Powell or Terrance Ganaway to step up as a short yardage, power running option off the bench. Ganaway is comfortable with the option from college, which could help get him on the field with Tim Tebow. Powell disappointed last season but was taken in the fourth round for a reason and should benefit from his first full NFL off-season. If both players struggle in camp, could the Jets consider adding Cedric Benson?

@TeamThirstTrap – How the 46 defense will function/look?

This year’s defense should have more depth and versatility than any unit Rex Ryan has had since taking over as the Jets head coach, particularly on the defensive line. One of the most interesting things to watch the next 3 days and all throughout training camp is the number of different positions certain players are lining up at. The Jets have the ability to run a hybrid 3-4/4-3/46 that will give offensive coordinators and opposing quarterbacks nightmares. Up front, Quinton Coples, Aaron Maybin, Calvin Pace and Muhammad Wilkerson should be all over the place depending on the personnel group. On the back end, Ryan has to figure out how to best utilize his three strong safeties: Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry, and Eric Smith while piecing together coverage from whomever lines up at free safety.

@KristineReese – I am very anxious to hear how Wayne Hunter is coming along

Aren’t we all? Considering that Vlad Ducasse has spent all of OTAs filling in for Matt Slauson at guard and that Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis are career journeyman, it looks like Wayne Hunter is a safe bet to be the opening day right tackle. Skepticism of this decision is more than warranted but it is also reasonable to assume that Hunter has a chance to improve to his 2010 level of play, particularly with a new coach and system that supposedly will play better to his strengths.

@e_man – Holmes

Enough said. Holmes will be the most closely scrutinized player on the Jets roster heading into the season who isn’t a quarterback. The New York media will do no favors for him but he isn’t going to help his cause by throwing helmets at open practices. How will he develop in Tony Sparano’s offense? Will he ever receive credit for doing positive things, like mentoring the younger receivers on the roster? Will his stand-off relationship with the local media continue to sour? #10 is certainly worth keeping your eyes on in the coming months.

LaRon Landry getting acclimated to the defense

I received multiple questions about Landry. He is expected to be attendance but I’m not sure anybody knows how far along he is in his rehab. It will be good to have him around the team but I wouldn’t expect to see him taking extended reps until we get into training camp. By all accounts, Yeremiah Bell has looked terrific since joining the team, so it would be nice to see how Rex plans to use him in tandem with Landry. Unfortunately, we probably won’t have a clear picture of that until week 1.

New York Jets Fans: Take a Deep Breath

Mike Donnelly implores New York Jets not to overreact to things occurring in June

Everyone, please take a deep breath and absorb the following facts:

  • Today is June 10th.
  • The Jets first regular season game is on September 9th.
  • Training camp doesn’t open for roughly 7 weeks.
  • The events taking place now at Jets OTA’s are not even mandatory for the players.

Please, try to remember these things next time you take to your keyboard to bash Jets players and coaches on Twitter or your Jets message board of choice. Remember that before you bash Santonio Holmes to your co-worker at the water cooler. Hell, try to remember that before you comment on this very article or on my Twitter page to tell me what an idiot I am for saying these things. Let’s all just take a deep breath and remember today is June 10th, because I’m getting awfully fed up with reading some of the things the media and Jets fans alike have been spewing the past few weeks. Let’s run down the ridiculousness:

Santonio Holmes threw his Helmet– Yes, Santonio Holmes threw his helmet on the field because his body was breaking down and he felt like he couldn’t continue with more reps. So? This is a far more common occurrence at spring OTA’s than all the genius commentators would like to believe. Also, before Holmes sat out, he was working with all the Jets young receivers on their routes and being a leader, as much as it pains some of you to admit. And no, Holmes wasn’t prepared for a full workload, which is somewhat disappointing to some. But why was that? Glad you asked..

Santonio Holmes chose to spend time in Germany instead of with Jets– Yep, some Jets fans, and even one prominent beat writer whose name rhymes with Pitch Fimini, decided to take shots at Holmes because he was late to OTA’s due to being in Germany — doing charity work!  It’s June, and he was a few days late to voluntary workouts because he was doing charity work. Let’s just cut him right now! And don’t laugh, because thats exactly what I’ve been reading from some super-smart internet posters. I even saw some of them say Holmes purposely schedules these charity events during football times so he doesn’t have to show up. I’m literally shaking my head right now. Nevermind that Holmes is back now and committed to showing up to Jets West this year. Why does nobody care about that? Because..

TEBOW (!!!) is going to Jets West!– That’s right, hold the presses! A Jets player is going to Jets practices! And not only is he just going, but because he’s going, it shows that..

Mark Sanchez is scared of Tebow– Yep, these are real things we have been hearing. Mark Sanchez invited Tebow to Jets West, not because Tebow is a quarterback and could use the offensive practice with his teammates, but because Mark is weak and scared of Tebow. Somehow this makes sense to some. I wish I was making this up. I wish I was also making up these big stories..

Tim Tebow’s dog is named Bronx, and he may or may not live in Hoboken – Glad we cleared those things up. That’s the kind of hard hitting analysis and pertinent information the internet was created for. I guess it was also created so Jets beat writers could tell us in real time that..

The Jets Offense is Terrible – Yes, the Jets offense stinks. Might as well not even show up come September. Sure Thursday’s practice took place on June 7th, with the season three full months away. And sure, they’re working on a whole new offensive system with many new players being incorporated. And sure Holmes, Stephen Hill, and Matt Slauson weren’t participating. The fact is the Jets offense stinks, and that’s final. Nevermind that the offense has to go against arguably the best defense in the NFL that has been playing together and in the same system for four years now. And let’s not focus on the fact that Quinton Coples, Mo Wilkerson, DeMario Davis, and some of the other young defenders up front have looked great. The easy story to sell here is that the Jets offense stinks, and that’s what we’re going with! Oh, speaking of the defense and easy stories to sell..

Darrelle Revis is “an asshole”– Yep, it’s true. He has shown up to every single team event, function, and practice this whole offseason but somehow he’s Public Enemy #1 because he might hold out. That’s right, he MIGHT hold out. He didn’t say he will, or that it’s even likely. He hasn’t skipped any OTA’s or boycotted any team events. But still, “Jets fans” everywhere have already begun bashing him on the internet, with one particularly caring fellow eloquently telling him on Twitter to “Eat shit”. Stay classy! How else can we create some headlines? Just say..

Jets will be interested in (Fill in the Recently Released Washed Up Veteran here)– In this case, the Recently Released Washed up Veteran is Chad Ochocinco. Twitter pal Kristine Reese just wrote an excellent article about this. Before Ocho, it was Terrell Owens. Ochocinco was just cut from the Patriots and appears washed up, which is still a few steps ahead of his former teammate. Owens was recently released from the UFL, but hey, he was a big name a few years ago, so surely the Jets want him, right? If you’re a Jets fan and you want these guys on the 2012 team, please go find a wall and slam your head into it a few dozen times until you realize the error of yours ways. When you’re done doing that, you can also apologize for saying that..

Joe McKnight ate McDonalds and is fat now – Ugh. So Joe McKnight, who played last season at around 200 lbs, knew he was going to have a bigger role on offense this year and bulked up to 215 lbs to be better prepared for the season. To me, that seems like a GOOD thing. A player went out on his own time and improved his body to better perform this season. But when he showed up to camp, he joked that he put on that weight by eating McDonalds every day. Did it matter that he was just joking and there’s not an ounce of fat on him? No, of course not. The fans who never quite forgave him for looking bad on Hard Knocks jumped all over this and talked about how he’s out of shape and a bust. Great.

I hope Joe learned a valuable lesson there. When it comes to the Jets, every single little thing you say or do gets sensationalized, scrutinized, and talked about for days. It’s easy to blame the media for all this, but it’s the fans’ fault too. So please, Jets fans everywhere, I implore you: Before the next time you go off on a rant about your favorite team or some of the players this summer, please try to remember: Today is June 10th, and to borrow a quote from Allen Iverson, we’re talking about practice. Get back to me on September 9th. Or even better, get back to me next January when the Jets are making a run through the playoffs.

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack – The Other Guys

TOJ shines the light on 12 New York Jets who haven’t received much attention this off-season

The goal of this Friday’s 12 pack is to discuss twelve players on the New York Jets roster who haven’t been mentioned much, if at all this off-season. Middle class and bottom of the roster players play a crucial role in forming a deep, playoff-caliber team. Let’s give “the other guys” their day in the sun here at Turn On The Jets. Crack open the 12 pack, give us a follow on Facebook and Twitter…and enjoy –

1. Greg McElroy – The other guy in the quarterback room besides Tebowmania and The Sanchize. McElroy showed promise last pre-season and looked like he could be a long term backup for the team. He surrounded himself in some controversy by criticizing the locker room environment last year. This is an important season for McElroy to establish that he can be a backup quarterback in the NFL.

2. Josh Mauga – A forgotten man at linebacker since the Jets selected Demario Davis in the third round. However, Mauga has the skill set to be a very good special teams player and a capable backup at inside linebacker. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him in certain sub packages on defense because he has decent coverage skills compared to the rest of the linebacker group.

3. Ricky Sapp – He has received a little hype from the coaching staff as a role player/backup at outside linebacker. If he can stay healthy and produce with the second team in the pre-season, there is no reason he shouldn’t stick on the 53 man roster. Sapp has intriguing pass rushing skills.

4. Ellis Lankster – It looks like he will be the fourth corner heading into the season, which is an important part of Rex Ryan’s defense. Lankster will also be relied on to be a core special teams player, replacing Marquice Cole on many of the coverage units. The fact that the Jets didn’t sign Chris Johnson, after kicking his tires, shows their faith in Lankster to take on an expanded role.

5. Patrick Turner – By all accounts, he had a very strong practice this week and took advantage of Stephen Hill being on the sideline with a hamstring injury. Turner has good size and is familiar with Tony Sparano’s offense. He had a few catches last season and will battle it out with Chaz Schilens and Jordan White for the 4th and 5th spot on the receiver depth chart behind Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley.

6. John Conner – What ever happened to “The Terminator?” He was average at best last season and didn’t contribute much overall. Can he take on a bigger, more important role in Tony Sparano’s offense? His lead blocking will be crucial to helping establish the Jets as a power running team again and he also is a good short yardage back.

7. Jeff Cumberland – If the season started today, he’d be the number two tight end. Cumberland has good size and hands but similar to Dustin Keller, he is more of a receiver than blocker. If Cumberland can become more consistent blocking, he should see a good chunk of playing time in Tony Sparano’s offense.

8. Bilal Powell – Many (including myself) think that rookie Terrance Ganaway has the ability to pass him up on the depth chart. However, let’s not forget Powell was a fourth round pick and despite a disappointing rookie year should get a good chance in the pre-season to stake a claim on the third running back spot on the depth chart.

9. Matt Kroul – Competing with Caleb Schlauderaff (Mike Tannenbaum’s favorite player) for the backup center position behind Nick Mangold. He also has the ability to play guard. Kroul is a former defensive lineman. You know who also used to be a defensive lineman? Brandon Moore.

10. Tanner Purdum – You never want to hear about the long snapper but Purdum will be back for his second season with the team. The James Dearth era is truly over.

11. Martin Tevaseau – Competing with Kenrick Ellis for reps in the defensive line rotation. He has the advantage of Ellis missing the first few days of training camp because of a jail sentence.

12. Nick Bellore – A linebacker who will have a tough time seeing any reps on defense but does have the ability to become a quality special teams player. He is firmly on the bubble of the 53 man roster after the Jets selected Demario Davis in the third round.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Defensive Line Edition

This week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False. Chris Gross on what to expect from a revamped Defensive Line this season.

The New York Jets defensive line is poised to have a completely new look this season. With a new coach in Karl Dunbar, the addition of first round pick Quinton Coples, and New York’s intention to use more 4 man fronts this season, here’s a look at what we should and should not expect from the Jets’ D-Line this year in this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.

1.) Quinton Coples will be Vernon Gholston 2.0. False. The comparisons that have been drawn between Coples and former Jets’ first round bust Vernon Gholston are completely unwarranted. Work ethic, passion, talent, size, speed, and all intangibles could be taken into account to realize that Coples is the superior player, however the key factor that will keep Coples from turning into Big Vern is that he is being brought to New York to play in his natural position as a defensive lineman.

When the Jets drafted Gholston, he was expected to make the conversion from defensive end to outside linebacker in the Jets 3-4 scheme. This transition proves to be extremely difficult for players year in and year out. Many of them fail to successfully make that transition simply because, as a linebacker, the cerebral reaction time can only be attained by few. For defensive lineman, reaction time and play is based primarily on physicality. Defensive linemen rely on their technique and instinct more so than their ability to read opposing offenses and make decisions on the fly. Of course, there is still a cerebral part of the game for defensive lineman in terms of reading the stances of the opposing offensive lineman, their splits, alignment, and where on the field the tight ends and backs are, but it is nowhere near as complicated and dense as it is for a linebacker.

While Rex Ryan has acknowledged the fact that Coples is athletic enough to play that outside linebacker position, he made it clear he is coming to New York to play with his hand on the ground. This is one of the smartest statements Rex has made since becoming the head coach of the Jets. Coples is a natural talent for the position, and has the size (6’6” 280 lbs) to be extremely versatile along the Jets several defensive fronts this season. There is no need to fix what isn’t broken. Coples will prove to be light years ahead of where Vernon Gholston ever was, starting in week one (Remember, all it will take is a single sack).

2.) Outside of Tony Sparano, the addition of Karl Dunbar will prove to be the most significant of the offseason. Fact. Many people forget that for the past two seasons, the Jets have had a secondary coach coaching the defensive line. While Mark Carrier certainly had a solid work ethic, and likely brought everything he had to his job every day, like a player playing out of position, it is extremely difficult for a coach to adapt to an area outside his realm of expertise, particularly in the NFL. Prior to coming to the Jets, Carrier played in the NFL as a Safety from 1990-2000 for Chicago, Detroit, and Washington, respectively. As a coach, Carrier served as the defensive backs coach at Arizona State for two seasons before joining the Baltimore Ravens as the team’s secondary coach from 2006-2009, just prior to joining the Jets, where he was seemingly given an opening on the staff as the Defensive Line Coach, a position in which he had no previous experience. This is a huge reason for New York’s pass rushing woes over the past two years.

Enter Karl Dunbar. As a player, Dunbar was a second-team All-SEC defensive tackle during his career at LSU, before bouncing around the NFL and other various professional football leagues during the early 90s. Following his playing career, Dunbar came onto the coaching scene in 1998 and, besides two seasons as the strength and conditioning coach at LSU, has coached only Defensive Line throughout his entire career.

Dunbar joins the Jets after six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. During his time in Minnesota, Dunbar orchestrated one of the best d-lines in all of football. Last season, Minnesota led the NFL with 50 total sacks, including a Vikings single season record 22 out of NFC Defensive Player of the year Jared Allen. In fact, since coming under the tutelage of Dunbar, Allen hasn’t had a season with fewer than double-digit sacks, while leading the NFL in the category twice (2007, 2011).

In Dunbar’s six seasons in Minnesota, the Vikings ranked in the top 10 in sacks four different times. In three of those seasons, Minnesota ranked in the top four in the category, two of which led the league. Conversely, Minnesota ranked first in rush defense during Dunbar’s first three seasons, second in his fourth, and in the top eleven during in his final two.

The acquisition of Dunbar is going to pay dividends for the Jets early and often. In Minnesota, Dunbar produced 3 Pro-Bowlers, including Allen, the three time All-Pro Defensive End. Considering he worked with only 4 starters, 75% of his starting line earned trips to the Pro Bowl. Dunbar will undoubtedly be able to maximize the talents of players like Coples, Mohammed Wilkerson, Aaron Maybin, and Sione Pouha. Expect the Jets defensive line to have a completely different look under Dunbar this season.

3.) Quinton Coples will be used solely as a Defensive End. False. Don’t be confused by this. Coples will be used primarily as, but not limited to, a Defensive End, and will see time elsewhere. The common assumption would be to think outside linebacker, however, as previously stated, Coples is coming to New York to play with his hand on the ground. Expect to see several formations that slide Coples to the inside in a defensive tackle role, especially during passing situations.

As a junior at North Carolina, Coples was forced to play defensive tackle for the majority of the season due to the immense amount of players the program lost due to suspension. During his time there, Coples recorded 10 sacks, an astonishing number for an interior defensive lineman. He certainly has the size to compete on the inside, and his speed will give him a superior advantage against guards and centers.

Coples has the potential to turn into what Justin Tuck was early in his career for the Giants, seamlessly switching from the outside and inside on the defensive line, while being able to defend the run and rush the passer from either position. On passing downs, the Jets will likely replicate what so many teams around the league are doing these days by placing their best pass rushers in the game, regardless of their roster position. Don’t be surprised to see Coples and Pouha line up on the interior with Wilkerson and Maybin lining up at end in a variety of passing situations this year.

4.) The Jets will be in a four man front for the majority of their defensive snaps in 2012. Fact. This could very well be 51% to 49%, but don’t be surprised if it is even greater. The Jets know the strength of their team lies in the secondary and in their defensive line depth. While the line backing corps is promising, outside of David Harris there are still some question marks. Bart Scott has reportedly dropped weight and looks rejuvenated in comparison to his play last season. DeMario Davis is turning heads at OTAs, and should eventually prove to be an excellent piece of this defense, but the Jets are wise enough not to depend on the rookie out of Arkansas State too much in his first year. Maybin should have a very promising season, but like Davis, needs to show consistency before the team can lean on him as a pillar of the defense. Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace are nearing the back end of their careers, and each need to have bounce back years after a disappointing 2011.

In order for the Jets to be successful on defense this season, they need to have their best 11 players on the field for the majority of plays. This includes their defensive line, and their secondary. Although the safety position was a bit of a hole last year, the Jets have certainly addressed the need this off-season by adding LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell in free agency, while drafting the young and talented duo of Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. New York also has arguably the best cornerback trio in all of football in Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and the up and coming Kyle WIlson.

WIth the addition of Quinton Coples via the draft, the Jets now have one of the most youthful, talented defensive lines in the league. The key for their success will be how they mold together. Mohammed Wilkerson is poised for a breakout season after a very impressive rookie campaign. Then, of course, there is Mike DeVito and Sione Pouha who are the heart and soul of this unit. You won’t see too many flashy numbers from either of these two, but their presence alone, presumably both at defensive tackle in a four man front, will not only help with the development of the young guys, but will command respect from opposing offensive lines across the league. Marcus Dixon and Kenrick Ellis should be able to provide some quality depth as well. This could be a very dangerous group as they develop together throughout training camp and into the season.

5.) Mike DeVito will be far less significant this season than he has been in the past. False. The notion that DeVito is slowly going to ride off into the sunset due to the addition of Coples may hold some truth down the road. However, for this season, that assumption could not be farther from the truth. We already know the Jets’ plan to use more four-man fronts this year, and a big part of that is because of DeVito. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and Rex Ryan realize what DeVito brings as a competitor, player, and leader, and have openly acknowledge the importance of getting him on the field.

Outside of his play, DeVito will play a key role in rebuilding the Jets fractured locker room. While this is certainly already in progress, as displayed by the new attitude we have seen from the team thus far, DeVito is at the point in his career in New York where he is respected as an unquestioned leader of this team. DeVito is one of the hardest working, most blue collared players on the entire roster. His influence over the young guys, particularly on the defensive line, will go miles in terms of their development. Coples, Wilkerson, and Ellis are fortunate to be in an environment with a player like DeVito.

6.) At least one player on the Jets defensive line will get double digit sacks this season. Fact. This is an extremely bold prediction considering the fact that the Jets have not had a single player record double digit sacks since John Abraham notched 10.5 in 2005, a six-year drought. However, the Jets have some serious under the radar talent when it comes to pass rushers. Aaron Maybin, who will likely fluctuate between linebacker and defensive end this year, led the Jets with six sacks last season after missing the first four games. With a full season ahead of him, combined with a complete off-season with the team, and the fact that he has added over 10 lbs since the end of last year, Maybin could turn into a significant force in the Jets pass rush.

Aside from Maybin, Muhammed Wilkerson is due for a big year after his impressive rookie campaign in which he started from day one and recorded 3 sacks. Quinton Coples’ talent level alone will give him the potential to achieve this accomplishment in each year of his career, however he will be asked to live up to that potential and rise to the occasion very early for Gang Green. How he handles this will ultimately be the key to his success, and should determine his degree of achievement.

Each of these young men should benefit greatly from the new scheme, as well as the addition of Dunbar. There is far too much talent and potential on this unit for someone to not reach the double-digit mark in sacks. Adding the expert that is Dunbar will surely maximize that potential, and ultimately allow a player to reach this feat.

New York Jets: Six Pack Of Special Teams Observations

Six observations about the New York Jets special teams

The New York Jets special teams in 2011 was a roller coaster. They were either returning kicks for a touchdown or muffing punt after punt. Overall, it is fair to classify last season’s performance as disappointing considering the normal high standard of performance set by Mike Westhoff’s units. Considering his body of work, it is reasonable to expect a bounceback year from a group that has potential to be one of the league’s best.

1. Kicker vs. Kicker – The kicking battle between Josh Brown and Nick Folk should be closer than most people expect. Everybody seems ready to hand the job to Brown, which is understandable considering Folk’s inconsistencies the past two years. However, there was a reason Brown was a free agent this year. He is coming off a very average season and has been primarily kicking in a dome the past 4 years. Brown certainly has the ability to beat Folk out but don’t necessarily expect him to run away with the job.

2. Be The Best – In Westhoff’s scheme, there is no reason Joe McKnight can’t be one of the best, if not the best kick returner in the NFL. He has the needed speed and vision, demonstrated by his four returns of over 40 yards last year and his 31.6 average per kick return. McKnight now has a full year under his belt with the job and should only improve because of his experience.

3. Big Play Potential – Look for Jeremy Kerley to be the primary punt returner. If he can curtail his ball security issues, he has the big play potential the Jets have lacked in recent years at punt returner with people like Jim Leonhard and Jerricho Cotchery deep. Unfortunately, without Leonhard on the team who Rex Ryan always claimed “could catch the ball in a Hurricane,” the Jets need Kerley to also become reliable when catching punts near the end-zone and in poor weather conditions.

4. Open For Business – I wouldn’t be surprised if TJ Conley wasn’t the Jets opening day punter. Look for the Jets to bring in more competition for him throughout training camp. Conley was average at best last year. Beyond that, the Jets need a punter who can run the option with personal protector Tim Tebow, no?

5. Coverage – The Jets missed Brad Smith, Drew Coleman, and Lance Laury on their coverage units last year. This season they will need players like Ellis Lankster, Josh Mauga and rookies Demario Davis, Josh Bush, and Antonio Allen to step up.

6. Tebow’s Here – A random Tebow anecdote. When I was in college, we heard a story that whenever Tebow walked into a class at Florida, he would motion his arms into a “T” and go “Tebow’s Here!” It became an ongoing joke on our football team, long before “Tebowing” became all the rage. While TOJ is the self-proclaimed most Pro-Sanchez site on the Internet, I did take the time to drop a Tebow outside the Bruce Springsteen concert I just attended in Germany to see how many people would recognize what I was doing…not many did.

Anyway, I don’t think people should get too carried away with Tebow’s special teams involvement. Will there be a fake or two throughout the season? Yes but don’t expect the Jets to breaking out fake punts or field goals every other attempt.