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.
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.
- 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.”