TOJ 12 Pack – 2012 New York Jets Season Prediction Edition

30 Predictions for the New York Jets 2012 season

We couldn’t just give you the standard 12 pack of predictions before Labor Day weekend. It is time crack open an entire 30 rack of predictions for the 2o12 New York Jets season. Make sure you are with us throughout the weekend and into next week as we are in regular season mode now at TOJ. Myself, Chris Gross, Mike Donnelly, TJ Rosenthal, Rob Celletti and Chris Celletti are going to be bringing you endless content to get you ready for Jets/Bills and the start of the NFL season. 

When you head out for a college football game this weekend, make sure to take advantage of our partnership with Night Out and claim the deal at the top of the page and linked here. Also check out our Turn On The Jets t-shirts, we only have a few left and you know you need that fresh shirt for week 1 at MetLife.

On to the predictions –

1. Mark Sanchez, barring injury or a Wildcat formation on the first play from scrimmage, will start every single game at quarterback for the Jets this season. He will finish with a career high in completion percentage and quarterback rating, along with a career low in interceptions.

2. Quinton Coples is going to finish with 6 sacks in his rookie season and be a consistent disruptive force on the Jets defensive line, making people like me who doubted the selection very foolish.

3. Coples fellow defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson will make his first Pro-Bowl in 2012, providing both a strong pass rush and a dominant presence against the run.

4. The Jets defense will finish top three in total defense and first in rushing yards allowed per game.

5. Aaron Maybin will lead the Jets in sacks with 10.5.

6. LaRon Landry will start at least 12 games and lead the team in interceptions.

7. Tim Tebow will lead the Jets in rushing touchdowns with 8. Mark Sanchez will finish with 3 rushing touchdowns.

8. Shonn Greene will finish with somewhere between 1,150 and 1,250 yards along with 6 touchdowns.

9. Dustin Keller will lead the Jets in receptions and finish with a career high 8 receiving touchdowns.

10. Santonio Holmes will lead the Jets in receiving yards and have a nice bounce-back season.

11. Stephen Hill will have at least 4 receptions of more than 30 yards. He will finish with 5 touchdowns but lead the team in dropped passes.

12. Jason Smith will finish the season as the Jets starting right tackle.

13. The Jets will finish 4-2 in the AFC East.

14. Bart Scott will keep his starting position at inside linebacker for the entire season, finishing with 80 tackles and 2.5 sacks in his final season as a member of the New York Jets.

15. David Harris will lead the Jets in tackles with 105 and finish with 4.5 sacks, 2 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles.

16. Darrelle Revis will keep both Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald under 50 receiving yards in their respective match-ups.

17. Tim Tebow will be the Jets second leading rusher by a wide margin. He will finish with less than 250 yards passing on the season.

18. Joe McKnight will return 2 kicks for a touchdown this season.

19. Bilal Powell will finish with less than 300 total offensive yards.

20. Calvin Pace will have 4 sacks in his final season as a member of the New York Jets.

21. The New York Jets will enter their week 9 bye at 4-4 or 5-3.

22. The Jets will enter their final 3 games against Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo firmly in the mix for a wild-card spot along with the Titans and Chargers.

23. The Jets will finish in second place in the AFC East, at least 2 games behind New England and at least 2 games ahead of Buffalo.

24. The Jets will finish with a winning record at home.

25. Antonio Cromartie will play less than 5 snaps on offense all season and have zero receptions. He will have 4 interceptions and a defensive touchdown.

26. Terrance Ganaway will be the starting fullback by the end of the season.

27. All Pro – Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold

28. Pro-Bowl – LaRon Landry, David Harris, Muhammad WIlkerson

29. Most improved players – Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, Mark Sanchez, Nick Folk

30. The Jets will finish 9-7 or 10-6, sneaking into the final wild-card spot.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Preseason Review Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False reviews the New York Jets pre-season and makes a few predictions

For our final Preseason edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we take a look back at the play of Gang Green throughout the summer, as well as making some predictions for the final 53 man roster and the regular season. There certainly is much to be discussed after a four game span that’s only offensive touchdown was led by third string quarterback Greg McElroy. Let’s jump right into it.

Mark Sanchez has taken major strides this preseason. Fact. Mark Sanchez has gone through arguably the most difficult offseason ever faced by an NFL starting quarterback. Since the meltdown in Miami last season, Sanchez has had to face rumors of dissension, trade, along with heavy criticism about his future, and the media circus that has ensued since the acquisition of Tim Tebow. Many players would have succumbed to the pressure and gone in the tank by now, however, Sanchez has seemingly done the complete opposite.

In his fourth preseason, Sanchez had to deal with a severe injury plague to his wide receiver corps, an issue that gave him virtually no real time with Jets’ veterans Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley, a disastrous situation at Right Tackle, and a mediocre, at best, running game. Despite all of this, however, Sanchez posted a completion percentage of 68.6.

Numbers aside, the fourth year pro out of Southern California has shown the moxie that Jets fans have been waiting for since his rookie year. He’s looked more poised than he ever has, proved willing to look downfield (particularly against Carolina), his footwork and pocket awareness seem to be at an all time high, and most importantly he has displayed an excellent command of the offense. He did make one bad decision–the interception returned for a touchdown against the Giants–but other than that Sanchez has put any type of quarterback controversy to bed for now. If the offensive line and running game can get it together, this will likely be the most efficient season of Sanchez’s career.

Austin Howard will start the entire season at Right Tackle. False. While Howard certainly played well in his first start against Carolina this preseason, he showed some signs of struggle against Philadelphia last night. Although he is seemingly an upgrade over Wayne Hunter, the Jets gave the newly acquired Jason Smith extended reps in last night’s action, and the former 2nd overall pick looked quite impressive. The entire line was playing against the Eagles’ second and third string, but Smith’s play was encouraging, and undoubtedly noticed by the Jets offensive staff. A new environment and good combination of veterans may be just what Smith needs to prove why he was so highly sought after coming out of Baylor in 2009. Howard will begin the season as the starter, but he will be under the microscope, and the slightest slip up could cost him his job.

Quinton Coples is going to be an impact player this season. Fact. It is certainly far too early to deem Coples the next Jason Pierre-Paul or Justin Tuck, however the 16th overall selection has shown tremendous promise this preseason, leading the Jets with 4.5 sacks. Coples has also proved to be very tough against the run, while remaining extremely versatile, having seen reps at both end and tackle along the defensive front. His footwork and hand speed are beyond what you’d expect to see out of any average rookie, and his motor, something that was brought into question when he was drafted, does not seem to be an issue at all. He has shown hustle down the field, despite earning a personal foul for a late hit last night, and he chased down the immortal Cam Newton from behind last week, forcing a fumble, which was recovered by the Jets. Coples also seems to be playing with an attitude, and a bit of a chip on his shoulder, which should help keep him hungry and motivated throughout the season. A double digit sack season is not out of the question for the rookie out of North Carolina.

John Conner will make the 53 man roster. False. This is a bold prediction considering Conner was supposedly drafted as Rex Ryan’s personal choice two seasons ago. However, other than earning himself a catchy nickname on HBO’s Hard Knocks, as well as delivering a few quality Special Teams hits, what has Conner really done for this team? The running game has certainly not been the same since the departure of Tony Richardson, and although that can also be due to struggles on the offensive line during that time period, Conner has shown very little, if any, ability to be an effective lead blocker in this league.

More importantly, though, is Conner’s lack of versatility. Apparently he is not the bruiser that the Jets thought they were getting, as shown by his single carry of 0 yards last night against the Eagles. Conversely, he is virtually non existent in the passing game. As noted by a former NFL executive, the Jets became extremely predictable last season anytime Conner checked into the game, as the opposing defense knew of the fullback’s struggles in the passing game.

Extended reps for rookie Terrance Ganaway at fullback last night could be an indication that the Jets are leaning toward the 6th round pick out of Baylor to be the primary guy for the position this season. In one game he has already shown more versatility than Conner, catching 4 passes for 18 yards and a touchdown. He certainly has the size to be a starting fullback in this league at about 6’0″ 240 lbs, so it will be very interesting to see how this plays out. If the Jets are convinced that he can be a better blocker than Conner, his versatility makes him far more valuable to the 53 man roster.

The Jets will have a top five defense this season. Fact. Although the offense has had its struggles this preseason, the defense has played lights out. Sure, there are some coverage issues to be figured out, primarily the struggles of Bart Scott and Calvin Pace to cover underneath routes, but Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine should get very creative, personnel wise, with their third down sub packages to keep these issues in check. The defensive line has looked elite all preseason, with vast improvements from Kenrick Ellis assisting to a shutdown run defense. The new safety tandem of LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell looks like it can be extremely potent if both players can stay healthy. With the way the two of them have played together thus far, combined with the stellar cornerback play of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, the Jets could very well have the best secondary in all of football. It seems as though this defense has the perfect combination of veterans and young players to be a wise and knowledgeable, yet explosive unit. Expectations are high for New York’s “D” this year.

NFL 2012 Gambling Preview: Over/Unders, MVP, Super Bowl Bets

Chris Celletti kicks off his weekly NFL gambling column with a look at over/unders, MVP and Super Bowl bets

We are happy to welcome Chris Celletti to the TOJ writing staff for the 2012 NFL season. He will be contributing a weekly NFL gambling column every Friday. Make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter and all the credit if you hit on any of these bets – 

So preseason is finally, finally over, which means the beginning of the NFL gambling season (unless you have a serious problem and have been betting on preseason games, which I’m sure about 85% of the NFL gambling population does, no questions asked). Each week during the regular season, I’ll give you three picks against the spread.

And let’s get this out of the way, here’s my disclaimer: I am in no way trying to pass myself off as any sort of gambling expert. I don’t study how lines move during the week because I have a job, a life and friends. I’m simply going to waddle up to my computer every Friday or so and look at that week’s schedule, pick three games, and give football reasons as to why. From time-to-time I’ll also throw in a non-football bet and other random thoughts that pop into my head. We’ll tally my record and keep a running total each week and see how horrifically I did at the end of the year, because we all know betting on football has zilch to do with anything football related. This is gonna be a fun exercise.

So since we’re still a wee bit off until the actual games kickoff, I thought I’d debut with some futures bets; a few team over/unders and MVP and  Super Bowl Champs bets.  As with my weekly picks to come, I plan on having a big old laugh when looking back on these in February when the season is over and Mike Tannenbaum takes over for Bill Polian as ESPN’s “Expert NFL GM”.

FYI: I get lines from Bovada.

Team Over/Unders:

Baltimore Ravens (10) – UNDER

My dad is a huge believer of “being due” in sports, and he’s passed that on to me. This ranges from everything like “Good god is Swisher OVERDUE for a homer” to “All the home teams have won on Wild Card Weekend so far, one of the road teams has to win”. It’s completely illogical and totally irrational, and yet I still believe in it. And to me, the Baltimore Ravens are due for a crap year. They’ve made the playoffs in all of John Harbaugh’s four seasons, which is a miraculous accomplishment given that Joe Flacco has been the starting quarterback for all of them. And of course it’s because of the Ravens’ defense, which to me is on its last legs. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are on the way out, and Terrell Suggs is hurt. Their schedule isn’t a murderer’s row but does include games with the Giants, Cowboys, Eagles and of course two with the rival Steelers. It’s just pretty hard in the NFL to have five straight winning/playoff seasons, especially with a quarterback like Flacco. I don’t expect the Ravens to be bad, but I can see 8-8.

Jacksonville Jaguars (5.5) – UNDER

This is the biggest dumpster of a franchise in the NFL and it’s not even close. Can you blame Maurice Jones-Drew for wanting out? The Jags and Jets should have pulled a Tebow-MJD trade, but the Jags would rather start Blaine Gabbert at quarterback than someone who, at the very least, would fill their stadium. Oh, wait, this is easy to figure out…their owner wants absolutely nothing to do with the city of Jacksonville. Additionally, the Jags have the NFC North and the AFC East on their schedule this year. It will take them until they’re the London Jaguars before they win six games in a season.

Denver Broncos (9) – OVER

It’s going to be close but I have the Broncos slightly over, probably by about a game or so. The competition in the AFC West will remain mediocre and Denver’s schedule isn’t too bad. And then there’s this: last year, this team won eight games and one in the playoffs with Tim Tebow at quarterback. This season, they made an itty-bitty upgrade at the position with Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning throwing with his left hand could win 10 games if he gets half the support Lefty Jesus got last year from this defense, special teams and running game.

NFL MVP

Eli Manning (18/1)

The Giants’ offense has a chance to be insanely good. If David Wilson is even a fraction as good as every Giants blogger has blabbered on about since April, and Ahmad Bradshaw stays healthy, can’t Elisha have a truly MVP-caliber season? With any semblance of a running game Eli should put up monster numbers throwing to Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Co. Of course for Eli to win the MVP, the Giants will need to have a big regular season, something many seem to think isn’t going to happen, but I do (and then they’ll promptly lose in the first round of the playoffs because that’s how the Giants do things). To me, there’s no reason at all why guys like Michael Vick, Arian Foster and Matt Stafford should have better odds to win the MVP than Eli.

Super Bowl Champs

New Orleans (18/1)

What the Saints will prove this year is that in the NFL, coaching doesn’t mean a whole lot when you have a great quarterback who runs your offense from the huddle/line of scrimmage. In 2009, The Colts went 14-2 (should have went 16-0) with Jim Caldwell as their head coach, and Jim Caldwell is about as aware of his surroundings as a deer that sprints across the Garden State Parkway . The only reason that Colts team was worth anything was because of Peyton Manning. The Saints still have that whether Sean Payton is on the sidelines or not because of Drew Brees, and Brees also still has plenty of explosive weapons to use. The whole bounty scandal will end up being good for them because it forced ax-murderer wannabe Greg Williams and his Transitions lenses out of town, and Nola replaced him with Steve Spagnuolo, a totally competent and Super Bowl winning defensive coordinator. Besides, defense means jack in the NFL these days, just ask last year’s Patriots. And then there’s the dome. The Saints are impossible to beat in that dome. If they can get to the Super Bowl, well, do you know where the Super Bowl is this year? Why take the Eagles at 11/1 (this is a joke, right?) or the Bears at 15/1 if the Saints are sitting there below them?

New York Jets (40/1)

You remember what site you’re on, right?

Turn On The Jets NFL Divisional Preview – AFC North

Mike Donnelly previews and gives his predictions for the AFC North in 2012

With the NFL preseason thankfully coming to a close, we have a pretty good idea of what we can look forward to this year. Sure, we all know the ins and when it comes to the Jets and the rest of the AFC East around these parts, but what about the rest of the league? Well, today we’ll be taking a look at the AFC North. If you missed my AFC East preview (Which you can read HERE), I’ll be doing these previews in Stock Watch fashion. I’ll be buying and selling each team’s Vegas line on over/under of wins, some made-up stats props, some fantasy football tidbits, and whatever else. Here we go.

1. BALTIMORE RAVENS (11-5), #3 seed

BUY: Over 10 wins – Honestly, I think this will be a push, but there’s no fun in just agreeing with what the geniuses in Las Vegas have put out there for us, so I’m going with the over. I think a clean sweep of Cincinnati and Cleveland, coupled with a split with the Steelers will help get them to 10 easy, and perhaps 11. Yes, the defenses is starting to get up there in age and Terrell Suggs is out for a good chunk of the season, but they’ll still be good enough to carry Joe Flacco through yet another season.

SELL: Joe Flacco – Speaking of Flacco, I’ve been hearing more and more frequently lately from “the experts” about how this is going to be his breakout campaign and he’s gonna crack 4,000 yards. Umm, sorry, I don’t see that happening. Joe Flacco stinks, and even if they are going to a more pass-happy offense, that just means more dump-off passes to Ray Rice. Anquan Boldin can barely run these days, and while Torrey Smith looks like a good receiver, he’s not quite in that “elite” group, which is what Flacco would need to get up to that level. Plus, would you trust a guy who thought it was a good idea to grow that thing on his face to lead your team to the Super Bowl?

SELL: Over 0.5 playoff wins – The Ravens will get into the playoffs this year more due to a weak division than because they’re a legit Super Bowl contender. Last year they had it for the taking and Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff blew it for them. Now both those players are gone, but it’s not going to matter. I see the Ravens taking a slight step backwards and going 1-and-out in the playoffs.

BUY: Torrey Smith Over 1,000 yards – After recording 841 yards last year as a rookie, look for Smith to take a leap this year toward becoming a solid #1 receiver. 1,000 yards should be a lock for Mr. Smith, despite Cam Cameron (who is awful) calling the plays.

2. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (9-7), missed playoffs

SELL: Over 10 wins – I think this is the last go-round for this group of players, especially on the defensive side, and it’s not going to end well. Yes, they’ll win their share of games, but it will become clear this is no longer the Steelers team we’ve become accustomed to seeing the past few seasons. James Farrior and Aaron Smith are gone. Guys like Troy Polamalu, Casey Hampton, and James Harrison are nearing the end. Ike Taylor was never that good to begin with. The offensive line is atrocious and seems intent on getting Big Ben killed. It’s time to re-build or at least re-load.

BUY: Over 2.5 fights between Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger – Every time I watch the Steelers this year (and it will be often because CBS thinks EVERYONE wants to see the Steelers every single week), this is what I’m going to be rooting for. I just hope they escalate from your typical shouting matches where they say “It was the heat of the moment, we are fine” after the game, into all-out fisticuffs. If there’s a coach in the league that would make this a legit possibility, it’s Todd Haley.

BUY: Big Ben over 4,000 yards – Since the team has no running backs and an awful offensive line, Big Ben is going to have to pass. A lot. And that’s why…

BUY: Antonio Brown over 1,200 yards – Antonio Brown is going to be a fantasy football superstar. But if any players in the TurnOnTheJets.com fantasy football league are reading this, I’m just kidding about Brown. Forget I said anything.

BUY: Roethlisberger over 50 sacks – That’s a little over 3 per game. With this horrific offensive line, 50 could be reached by November. I don’t know what the record is for sacks in a season, but it’s in jeopardy.

3. CINCINNATI BENGALS (7-9)

SELL: Over 8.5 wins – Despite an impressive season last year with rookies Andy Dalton and AJ Green playing really well, I don’t see it carrying into this season. Not that Dalton and Green won’t play well, it’s just that… it’s the Bengals. Plus, Marvin Lewis is going to cost them at least 2 games with his inability to properly use his timeouts and/or his inexplicable failed challenge flags.

SELL: Benjarvus Green-Ellis – I was never particularly impressed by BJGE with the Patriots, and I can’t imagine that’s going to change now that he’s the Bengals starting running back. With the Patriots, he was constantly facing nickel and dime looks on defense because teams were scared to death of Tom Brady passing the ball. Now it’s going to be regular defenses who will be keying on him, and I don’t think it’s going to be pretty.

SELL: Over 0.5 wins against the Steelers and Ravens this year – Just like last year, the Bengals are going to show they aren’t ready to move on up in the world and overtake either of the two teams that ruled the division for the past decade.

4. CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-12)

SELL: Over 5 wins – It’s going to be yet another rough season for the Browns. Just when they had a glimmer of hope with the selection of running back Trent Richardson in the first round, it turns out he has a bum knee and his status for the start of the season is in jeopardy. Even if he plays week 1, do you have a lot of confidence that he can make it through 16 games on a bum knee with defenses keying on him as he tries to carry the entire team on his back? I see a lot of Chris Weinke 2.0, aka Brandon Weeden, struggling out there with or without Richardson.

BUY: Trent Richardson over 1,000 yards – All that being said, Trent Richardson is so talented that even on this crappy team, with a crappy coach, with a crappy Q, with a bum knee, he will still crank out of 1,000 yards and show plenty of flashes of greatness along the way. When he gets to leave the Browns in a few years, we’ll really get to see a great player thrive.

SELL: Mike Holmgren – You never hear about this guy anymore, do you? He got a massive payday to come in and “save” the Browns, and all he did was fire Eric Mangini (who was actually doing a pretty good job), blow a ton of draft picks, and then pretty much give up. It’s no wonder Browns fans are always so miserable.

Plenty Of Work Left For New York Jets Heading Into Pre-Season Finale

The New York Jets still have plenty to sort out on their roster heading into their final pre-season game

The New York Jets head into their pre-season finale tonight against the Philadelphia Eagles with plenty of questions surrounding their roster. On the field tonight will be a minimal amount of impact players for the 2012 team, however there are a handful who still have an opportunity to lock down prominent roles. After the game Mike Tannenbaum needs to get to work in adding depth to a few spots by scanning the league for other team’s end of August cuts.

At right tackle Austin Howard needs another strong showing to truly lock down the starting right tackle job. If he struggles tonight he could be on a quick hook for the recently acquired Jason Smith, who should also see some action tonight. At wide receiver, another good game from Patrick Turner and Jordan White should keep Chaz Schilens off the roster, if the Jets are going by merit. Schilens has hardly played at all this August and simply can’t stay healthy. There is no logical reason to keep him on at the expense of White or Turner and the Jets can’t afford to carry six receivers.

Shonn Greene won’t play tonight at running back leaving the workload to Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight and Terrence Ganaway. Powell is the least proven backup running back in the NFL and it would be nice to see him rip off a couple of big runs against the Eagles backups to build some confidence heading into the season. Joe McKnight appears to be completely out of the mix at running back which doesn’t say much about the coaching staff’s faith in him considering the current depth chart. Ganaway is in an interesting situation, he hasn’t received much work at running back this pre-season and should receive some carries tonight but he has also worked at fullback in practice. Will we see him get extended work at fullback tonight and if he succeeds, could he knock John Conner off the roster?

Conner has been nothing but below average since taking over as the starting fullback. Beyond that, he lacks any kind of versatility. Shonn Greene runs well in the single back set, so why bother to keep Conner on the roster? When you do want to use a fullback, you could let Ganaway step in and he has the ability to both run the ball and do some damage as a receiver out of the backfield.

As for the rest of the offense, Mike Tannenbaum absolutely must add a blocking tight end to the Jets roster. Simply put, they are currently not carrying a single tight end capable of blocking. It will be interesting to see who comes free in the coming days. It also wouldn’t hurt for Tannenbaum to take a long look at some available veterans at both wide receiver and running back. The Jets are thin in both spots and quality options like Ryan Grant, Kahlil Bell, Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth remain out there.

On defense, the Jets are stacked at linebacker and will have to make some tough choices about roster cuts. It is hard to see them carrying more than 8 into their final 53 and with Calvin Pace, David Harris, Bart Scott, David Harris, Aaron Maybin, and Demario Davis locks, that only leaves two spots for Garret McIntyre, Nick Bellore, Josh Mauga and Ricky Sapp (who has been injured all pre-season).

In the secondary, Antonio Allen will get extended work at safety tonight and seems to have played his way into a roster spot. The fourth and fifth cornerback spots aren’t completely settled with Ellis Lankster, Isaiah Trufant, and Julian Posey battling for reps. It probably wouldn’t have hurt for the Jets to add a veteran here considering how cornerback heavy Rex Ryan’s defense can be.

Mike Tannenbaum has left holes in his roster with the season opener only 10 days away, hopefully between a combination of bottom of the roster players stepping up and some timely last second pick-ups he can patch them up.

New York Jets – Biggest Positional Question Marks

Who are the biggest question marks on the New York Jets heading into the 2012 season?

The New York Jets have a handful of sure things on their roster. You know Darrelle Revis is going to be a lockdown corner. You know Nick Mangold is going to anchor the offensive line. You know David Harris and Sione Pouha will play at a Pro-Bowl level and not receive the recognition for it. However, who are the team’s biggest question marks? Let’s take a quick run through

Austin Howard – Right Tackle – Howard has put together one pretty good pre-season and has the honor of replacing the least popular tackle in New York football history, Wayne Hunter. Let’s not forget he was an undrafted free agent who has never started a game before this season. If Howard starts to stumble, the Jets will likely have a quick hook to give the recently acquired Jason Smith an opportunity. He will be tested right out of the gate when facing Mario Williams or Mark Anderson week one and then Pittsburgh’s endless collection of pass rushers week two.

Kyle Wilson – Nickelback – Nickelback is a crucial spot in Rex Ryan’s defensive back heavy defense. Wilson has had a rough pre-season and patience is rightfully wearing thin with him. He is entering his third year and the former first round pick has never looked anything like one. Teams are going to pick on him with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie on the outside but Wilson must do a better job of locating the ball in the air and avoiding giving large cushions when he can’t afford to.

Stephen Hill – Wide Receiver – The Jets are relying on Hill to start right out of the gate despite how raw he is. He has shown an ability to get open and make plays down the field in the pre-season, while showing a consistent problem with drops. Hill is a rookie receiver from a triple-option offense. Can his positives outweigh his negatives as a full time player?

Mark Sanchez – Quarterback – I don’t see Sanchez as anywhere near as big of question mark as most people do. Outside of his interception against the Giants, he has been accurate and in-control of the offense despite a shaky offensive line and a banged up group of receivers. At his worst Sanchez will be an effective game manager, at his best he can be the player who led four 4th quarterback comebacks and won a playoff game in New England back in 2010. The biggest question around him this year is how he will handle being pulled from the game for Tebow when the Jets use the Wildcat.

Tim Tebow – Backup Quarterback – Not sure why more people aren’t concerned that the Jets backup quarterback had a 26.5 QB Rating and 38 percent completion rate in the pre-season. How can this offense function if Sanchez goes down for an extended period of time unless they are going to let Tebow just run 20 times per game from the QB position?

Jeff Cumberland – Backup Tight End – Hopefully Mike Tannenbaum isn’t foolish enough to go into the season with him as the primary backup. Simply put he is a less talented version of Dustin Keller and is an even worse blocker. The Jets are in trouble if he gets pushed into extended duty.

LaRon Landry – Safety – He has been terrific this pre-season but if he gets hurt the Jets are right back to Eric Smith.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson – Left Tackle – It was a surprisingly down year for ‘Brick last year. The Jets badly need him to bounce back and be the Pro-Bowl caliber tackle he was throughout the early years of his career.

TJ Conley/Nick Folk – Punter/Kicker – The value of these guys on the Jets is extremely enhanced because of the type of football they are likely to play. Folk had a great pre-season but can’t afford to miss the chip shots this year that he did in the past. Conley has been inconsistent and is now in competition with the recently signed Spencer Lanning. You can’t shank punts when you are desperately battling for field position.

Shonn Greene – Running Back – Considering his primary backup has under 30 career NFL rushing yards, he better stay healthy and productive. Greene had a disappointing pre-season and has been a notorious slow starter. The Jets can’t afford that this year as he will be getting 20+ carries a game right out of the gate.

New York Jets – State Of The Roster

A conversation with a former NFL Personnel Executive and Scout about the state of the New York Jets

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to have an extended conversation with a former NFL personnel executive and scout about the state of the New York Jets roster. This individual still works in the league and requested anonymity, here are a few of the most interesting excerpts of our conversation –

John Conner – He cited Conner as one of the least valuable players in the NFL and somebody who does not merit a roster spot. “He can’t catch and is average at best as a blocker. His lack of versatility makes the Jets that much more predictable on offense.”

Have to agree with the assertion here. Conner got a catchy nickname early in his career and was a fun story on Hard Knocks but ultimately has brought just about nothing to the table in 3 seasons. It is a shame Josh Baker is done for the season because the Jets would have been better off starting him at fullback than Conner. 

Blocking Tight End – A recurring theme throughout our conversation was the inability of Mike Tannenbaum to properly scout players and understand actual football techniques. “Everybody in the league knows Dustin Keller can’t block. Last year you had the Jets trot out Matthew Mulligan and John Conner on every running play and Keller on every passing play. It makes them easy to defend. When they talk about using an extra tackle as a tight end this year, it is a dead giveaway to their tendency. Why not go get a blocking tight end? They had success with Ben Hartsock in the past but have completely ignored the position this year.”

My feelings about a blocking tight end have been well stated. I do not understand how a “Ground and Pound” team does not carry one on their roster. 

Tannenbaum’s Future – “Tannenbaum will not be the fall guy if the Jets don’t make the playoffs this year. He has Woody Johnson wrapped so far around his finger, he isn’t going anywhere. He will be the GM for the next 5 years.”

Cameron Wake – “Prior to the 2009 season the Jets scouting department wanted Cameron Wake badly and the team was in a position to sign him, Tannenbaum personally overruled the move and said he didn’t want him.”

This statement caught me by surprise, as similar to many others I believe Tannenbaum is the first to go if the Jets don’t make the playoffs this year. Only time will tell. The Wake story is a frustrating one to hear considering the pass rusher he turned into and how the Jets have struggled to fill that spot. 

Shonn Greene – “An average to slightly above average back. For the type of offense the Jets want to run, they need an elite back or at least a capable 1B option which they don’t have right now. McKnight is not a NFL caliber running back and can’t stay healthy.

It still boggles my mind why the Jets didn’t sign Cedric Benson and I don’t see how they can give big money to Greene after this season. 

Jets 2012 Prospects – “Considering their defense and schedule, they are going to be right around or slightly above .500 all year and in position to make a late season run into the playoffs. However, they are still not equipped not overtake New England.

Agreed

Future Of Jets – “Tannenbaum gave himself minimal flexibility this off-season because of his habit of guaranteeing contracts. The decision to give that much guaranteed money to Wayne Hunter (this was pre-trade), Bart Scott and Calvin Pace (when they re-did his contract) is inexplicable and killed them this off-season. When those guys come off the books, they will then have the ability to make their needed moves, although they will continue to be hamstrung by the guaranteed money for Holmes and Sanchez.”

The handling of Wayne Hunter’s contract was truly awful, we know that. Scott and Pace are goners after this year. Only time will tell if Sanchez and Holmes can work out. 

Sanchez – “Needs to be in certain type of offense to succeed and the Jets have done a poor job building around him in recent years. The Tebow circus could be a disastrous distraction. Why keep trotting this guy out in front of the media so much?”

Rex Ryan – “A great defensive mind, who has a unit this year that will be good enough to keep the Jets competitive. However, he needs to stop talking his players up to the media so much. It puts unnecessary pressure on them and comes off as phony.

It has been nice to see Rex step up the public criticism of players this year, when it has been merited instead of the endless hype train. Hopefully this continues to be a trend. 

Other Tidbits

  • Stephen Hill – “A physical specimen but probably a year away from being a consistent contributor. He has a long way to go in the mental part of the game.
  • Right Tackle – “Only thing they can do is gamble and hope for the best. The position is a commodity. You need to draft and develop those players. Howard might be a one year stopgap but certainly isn’t a long term answer.”
  • LaRon Landry – “Can make a major difference but hard to imagine he gets through all 16 games.”

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch – Pre-Season Week 3 Edition

Mike Donnelly’s weekly Stock Watch is buying and selling after the New York Jets third pre-season game

I hope enough Jets fans out there managed to avoid jumping off the ledge after they again failed to score a touchdown on Sunday night, and are still around to read this column. It’s easy to be down on the offense after their preseason performances, but I saw enough silver linings this week that lead me to believe hings are going to come together soon. By soon, I mean I pray it will be week 1 against Buffalo and their crappy defense led by the hilariously bad Dave Wannstedt. Let’s get on with it…

BUY: The Jason Smith Trade – GOOD-BYE WAYNE HUNTER! I seriously can’t see any downside to this trade at all. What’s the worst that can happen, Jason Smith comes in and is awful? That’s STILL an upgrade over Wayne Hunter. Jason Smith is a former #2 overall pick, so he clearly has talent and at one time had a ton of potential. Sometimes guys like that just need a change of scenery before they start to realize some of that potential, and I hope that is the case here. But again, even if he sucks, what did we lose? Oh that’s right, we lost the $1.5 million that Smith makes more than Hunter this year. But again, so what? Everyone complained for weeks now that Tannenbaum hasn’t spent money on upgrades, and now he spent a mere $1.5 million of the approximately $6 million they were under the cap to get a player with the potential to be much better than Hunter. Any pickups Mr. T could make between now and the start of the season are going to be low-cost pick-ups, not star players, so dropping $1.5 of the nest egg on Smith is not a big deal at all. Maybe Tannenbaum did read my letter to him after all and realized he needed to do something. Ok, probably not, but still, at least he did something. 

SELL: The Rams and Brian Schottenheimer– When I heard about that Wayne Hunter was traded, I broke out into a big smile. When I found out it was to the Rams, I started laughing out loud. How hilarious is the idea of whoever-the-hell the Rams GM is asking Schottenheimer about Hunter, and Schotty getting all excited and saying “WE GOTTA GET HUNTER!”, then running down the hall to find Matt Mulligan and tell him he’s getting the old band back together with a big fist pump? Even better, how great is the next Rams practice going to be with Wayne Hunter as a 3rd-string tackle and Matt Mulligan as the 3rd-string tight end combining forces to block 5th-string defensive end Vernon Gholston as Brian Schottenheimer looks on proudly? Needless to say, I’m going to enjoy the 2012 St. Louis Rams.

BUY: Mark Sanchez – I tweeted this during the game on Sunday and it was retweeted something like 18 times (a new record for me!), so I guess at least a few people agree with me, but if you watched that game and came away thinking Mark Sanchez is the problem on this offense then you aren’t paying attention. In fact, if that’s what you think, then that’s all I need to know about you as a fan: You just hate Mark Sanchez and will blame him for anything. Considering he’s working with a makeshift line, zero blocking tight ends, no receivers, I think he played really well. When Holmes, Kerley, and Keller get fully healthy and Stephen Hill learns to catch, things will only get better.

SELL: The Tight End Position – When Dustin Keller got injured in the first quarter the other night, we really saw how pathetically weak the tight end position is. Jeff Cumberland, who is useless, was already out with yet another injury, so we were down to some guy named Epps, who failed miserably on several blocking attempts which got runs stuffed in the backfield. Mike Tannenbaum, for the love of God, please get a tight end!

BUY: Shonn Greene – Greene’s stock is at an all-time low with Jets fans, but I implore you all to have some faith. No, he’ll never be the big time superstar running back, nor will he be a game-breaking threat. But for the clock-control offense the Jets are going to run, he’s going to have a very good year. The offense was extremely vanilla, the offensive line always seems to start the year slowly, and we’ve yet to see the wildcat packages. When the season gets rolling, Greene is going to get a ton of carries, and he’s going to play very well. I’ve said it plenty of times now, but don’t forget: Shonn is playing for a contract this year. Expect big things.

BUY: The defense – We’re going to see a special defense this season. Mo Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis have both taken major steps forward in their second seasons, and Quinton Coples looks like a big-time player (I wonder if Peter Schwartz of WFAN still thinks if you look up his name in the weird dictionary he uses, you’ll see a picture of Vernon Gholston?). When you throw in Revis, Harris, Cromartie, the new safeties, Aaron Maybin, and Bart Scott looking rejuvenated, this defense alone could win them 10 games this year. That being said, though…

SELL: Kyle Wilson – I was a staunch supporter of Kyle Wilson the past two seasons despite his struggles, but now it’s year 3 and he should really look better than he has. I’m getting awfully concerned that maybe Kyle Wilson just isn’t all that good and we’re going to have a problem against slot receivers this year. I guess training and hanging out with Darrelle Revis doesn’t make you Darrelle Revis after all. Darn.

 

New York Jets – What We Know

TJ Rosenthal goes over what we know and what we don’t know about the New York Jets as of right now

Inspired by our Twitter conversations with many different folks on Monday, we felt that it might be a fair time to assess the New York Jets as a whole. As they are now. The starters playing time is over. The Eagles are up next on Thursday, but game four is always set up for the battle of backup jobs. Here’s what we know and what we don’t know based on three summer games –

What We Know

If healthy, the defense has the potential to carry the team early on

This by winning field position battles (TJ Conley included here), causing sacks and turnovers, and holding teams to under 23 points per game. Allowing the Jets offense to need just two TDs and 3 FGs to win in those cases in order to win.

What We Don’t Know

If the offense can find a way to average 22-23 points per game

In 2009 the Jets put up 21.8 points game and 22.9 points per game in 2010. Both seasons ended up with AFC Championship appearances. The defense set up short fields then and the run game was better. That said, a repeat of those numbers will be easier said than done given what we’ve seen from this year’s Sanchez and Co. Two TDs and 3 FGs? …Well the 3 FGs seem possible. As for the touchdowns?

What We Know

The defensive line is equipped to stop the run

Kenrick Ellis is growing up fast out there. Wilkerson and Coples are making plays. When the CBs then lock it down on 2nd down, we should see alot of 3rd and longs. That means playmaking time for the secondary, the pass rushers, and Rex Ryan’s schemes.

What We Don’t Know

How well the LBs can cover the middle on passing downs

LaRon Landry will help a resurgent Bart Scott and the rest, but he can’t be everywhere in between the hashes. Or can he?

What We Know

With protection, Mark Sanchez has it in him to stay calm and look downfield

Sanchez won’t be a 300 yards per game guy. He doesn’t however, have to have happy feet all year either. He showed during the Carolina game that, thanks to additional help by Austin Howard, he is not resigned to nervous footwork, fearful dumpoffs and premature checkdowns.

What We Don’t Know

If #6 has enough weapons to throw to, and can stay mentally tough enough when he struggles while the stadium calls for Tim Tebow

What We Know

The Jets are still determined to pound the rock, as they originally set out to under new OC Tony Sparano

What We Don’t Know

If Shonn Greene is good enough or durable enough to carry the load. If the rest of the RBs will really pitch in. How effective the Wildcat and Tim Tebow will be.

What We Know

Finally a safety, Laron Landry, will help this defense out physically.

What We Don’t Know

If the oft injured hard hitter can stay on the field for 16 games.

What We Know

Joe McKnight can return kicks as well as some of the best in the NFL.

What We Don’t Know

If McKnight can provide timely plays in the kicking game, at times when a rocket boost is essential to a momentum change during a game. The way Brad Smith used to do it.

What We Know

Tim Tebow has the ability to make plays with his legs.

What We Don’t Know

How often #15 will be called upon, and whether the Jets can utilize him properly in order to be a weapon, not a detriment.

What We Don’t Know

The core of this Jets team has been together long enough to have experienced two deep playoff runs together.

What We Don’t Know

Whether that collective experience will translate into winning enough tight games in 2012 to make a difference

What We Know

The AFC East should run through New England and Buffalo is on the rise

We We Don’t Know

How current protection issues in Foxboro will affect the Pats passing game and safety of Tom Brady. How a lack of big game experience will affect the “new” Bills and Ryan Fitzpatrick in taking the next step. It doesn’t always happen for teams poised to become winning ones the very year that experts think it will.

What We Know

The Majority envision the Jets as a sub .500 non playoff team

We We Don’t Know

Which direction all of the variables in 1-9 above will head down. The effect that the current “non believers” will have on a new rallying cry for the locker room. The true heart and grit of this team. The extent of the damage that Quinton Coples could do all by himself, should he keep growing.

These 2012 Jets have no clear cut direction yet. If areas that should be counted on hold up while growth ensues in other hard ot predict areas, the Jets will win games. If trusted parts breakdown and the “unknowns” fail to rise up though, it could be a long year. One that would be capped by certain heads rolling after the fact.

Wayne Hunter Traded, Jets Acquire Jason Smith

After a tumultuous run as the Jets habitually criticized and scrutinized starting Right Tackle, Wayne Hunter has seen his last days in New York. The Jets have agreed to send the struggling Tackle to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for fellow Tackle, Jason Smith.

Smith, the 2nd overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, was heavily touted coming out of Baylor, but has failed to live up to expectations, and has since been deemed a draft bust. However, the Jets are hoping they can duplicate the revival of Aaron Maybin with Smith. A fresh start and new coaching staff can be beneficial to a young player who has struggled early in his career.

Regardless of how Smith turns out, the focal point of the story here is the departure of Wayne Hunter. Hunter has been under heavy criticism after a very troubling 2011, a year where he was recognized as the clear weak link in the Jets offensive line. New York opted not to release Hunter after the season, guaranteeing his salary for this year, insisting that a new offensive coaching staff would help the athletically gifted tackle reach his potential.

However, in his first action this preseason Hunter looked anything but improved and was embarrassed throughout national media after getting overly exposed by the Giants ferocious pass rush. Hunter finally seemed emotionally checked out after asking to be excused from practice on Jets family night last week, a notion further indicated by his benching to Austin Howard, announced prior to the Carolina game. Whether or not a fresh start will help his play, Hunter was mentally worn out by New York, and had no future of improving here.