New York Jets Running Out Of Hands To Play

TJ Rosenthal on what solutions remain for the New York Jets

As news of Santonio Holmes reportedly being out for the season hits the twittersphere today, one thing is for certain. The Jets are staring desperation in the face because they gambled too much. Playing roulette senselessly with their roster on offense in a variety of ways since the 2011 season ended. The Jets put way too much faith in younger, unproven players on that side of the ball . This while stubbornly overvaluing the talent level of some slated to be key pieces. The Jets armed themselves with no security against injuries and shoddy play on offense, through any addition of proven veteran backups as well. Some would even say they chose style over substance in one major case too. Now, the Jets have limited ideas left to try, based on who they currently possess. Their schemes have yielded 16 points over the past 33 possessions, and they have few new ways to turn. Many thought the Jets would fail to survive the first five games this season but the truth is, they actually will. Being at worst after next Monday night, just one game back in the AFC East. The sad part though, is that even though they are currently in a three way tie for first, and 2-0 in the division, the mood going forward has rightfully become desperate, when it didn’t have to be .

Many of the Jets senseless rolls of the dice, have now led them spiraling towards a reality that, barring any shotgun wedding signings these next few days, they will be facing the undefeated Texans on Monday night with: a QB fighting for his job and in a fog, no pass rush, the worst run defense in football, a no named receiving corps, and a backfield that averages just 86.5 yards per game. With Darrelle Revis gone and Holmes probably now as well, the road to the playoffs is practically unforeseeable. The Jets could have prepared better.

Here are some of the moves we would’ve avoided:

Signing Tim Tebow, But Not Adding A Top Running Back or Wide Receiver:

Seeing him as a playmaker who could aid a pedestrian run game, create energy and provide clutch plays, we were all for the signing of Tim Tebow back in March. We felt that Mark Sanchez was better and unthreatened at the time anyway, and the Jets would be able to handle the sideshow that comes with “Tebowmania.” After all, they are a franchise built for endless media coverage. Others who disagree, saying the move was solely done to sell tickets, have a right to feel that way too. What neither side of the Tebow debate could predict was, that no quality depth would be added to the WR corps or backfield AFTER he became a Jet

Was Tebow seriously the only major skill position addition the Jets would make in the offseason? Yes. THAT was the most inexcusable part of the Tebow signing to us.

Letting Stephen Hill Start at WR2, Instead of a Proven Veteran:

Braylon Edwards who had great chemistry with Mark Sanchez in 2009-2010 (how many receivers can you say THAT about), was available this summer. So too was Plaxico Burress, who helped the Jets out tremendously in the red zone just last year and to this day, remains unsigned. Plax and the Jets were, and probably still are at odds over some things that took place in 2011, but business is business, right? Not everyone has to love each other all the time.

Terrell Owens. Chad Johnson. Individually, aging headaches in their own right for sure. Neither causing the need to reach for the advil though more than getting goose egged at home has.

All three are certainly servicable and were cheap enough weeks back, to financially have made sense as 4-6 game starters to kick off 2012. Thus allowing Hill some time to grow and get comfortable. What was this dying need to thrust Hill into the starting role, where rough games were bound to happen early as experienced cornerbacks taught him hard lessons about the NFL?

Chaz Schilens, Patrick Turner were on the roster from the start of training camp but they had never proven anything as pros to this point. These two as starters, would have been the same to us as Hill getting the nod. In sum, there were other options aside from chucking a rookie WR not known for receptions, into the fire on a “must win now” team. Those options could have come from the outside.

Wayne Hunter and Shonn Greene: Examples of Overvaluing Your Own Roster

The Jets were steadfast on believing that RT Wayne Hunter would rebound. Shipping Hunter to the Rams after realizing he wouldn’t, and replacing him with Austin Howard, luckily came in the nick of time. Yet didn’t it provide us all with a window into the cocksure mindset of Jets brass, who overshot their view of other positions too? Ones that are REALLY hurting the Jets right now?

Like starting running back for example?

Shonn Greene was, and can still be, a terrific compliment to a rushing attack that is rolling downhill late in games. Buying into the concept that he was the bell cow back who had to be fed 25 plus carries, the way the Jets did heading into the year though, WAS INSANE. Greene gets nicked up too often first off all. Secondly, he doesn’t gain enough yards on his own after he passes the line of scrimmage. Finally, HE HAS ALREADY HAD HIS CHANCE to take over for Thomas Jones as the feature back twice. In both years LT had to take the reigns and bail Greene and the Jets out.

What were the Jets thinking in going with a run heavy approach that featured Greene, with an unproven Bilal Powell, and never used Joe McKnight behind him? This while opting NOT to add to a backfield that originally was slated to carry the offense, with proven guys like Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant who were out there. After productive players like BenJarvus Green-Ellis signed as free agents elsewhere?

Refusing to Add Depth on Offense:

Burress, Owens, Johnson, Benson, Grant. There were others too who may have better equipped the Jets forsome rainy day alternative. Instead, the Jets took a huge uneeded risk in blindly assuming that there would be no need for any plan B. Now as a result, we have to give you plan C:

Our ideas for what can be done, based on the roster as it exists now.

Ideas Anyone?

Before we bring you into the lab of madness let us first acknowledge that without improved play from Sanchez, better tackling, a semblance of a pass rush, and the continued health of the starters on the offensive line, these hairbrained ideas designed to help move the offense along won’t matter. Assuming that the aforementioned areas DO gain some traction, why not try these in addition:

After all, it’s about one thing: Playmakers.

Give Tebow Extended Drives, Not Plays:

We don’t love it either, but do you have a better idea for making plays on a team that will line up Schilens, Kerley and Cumberland a good portion of the time without Holmes, Hill and Keller? We don’t. Let 15 run the wildcat and just do what he does, backyard style. Fist pumping and inaccurate throwing included. Maybe the chains will move after the stadium ground shakes from the energy that this guy brings to a stadium. No one else on the Jets does THAT as well as Tebow. Not even close.

We’re not saying bench Sanchez. We ARE saying use Tebow. If he scores and there is a controversy, so what. We’d rather hear talk about “who should play QB” after a touchdown than after a shutout.

Powell and McKnight Time: 

Stop worrying about fumbles from RB’s 2 and 3 and change the damn backfield depth chart already. The Jets should worry more that Shonn Greene is rushing for 2.8 yards a game again. Constant three and outs are bleeding the Jets to death anyway and have done so for almost two years straight now. One common thread that ties this 20-plus game stretch together is Greene as the primary back. Let’s see if Powell can be shiftier than Greene is, while giving McKnight a shot to finally to get a groove going. One that can yield some big plays on the ground with speed. As much as the Jets seem adamantly against the thought of such a thing.

Add recently acquired Johnathan Grimes to the active roster too. He was behind Foster and Ben Tate in Houston, so maybe some of that Texan running magic has rubbed off on him. As for Greene? Let him sit, wait, and marinate. See if some sideline time adds to some extra yardage the next time he carries the rock. A little anger mixed in with some fatigue on the opposing team’s defense…Perhaps that can help up that paltry ypc average.

Go To A Three (Four) Wide Speed Package:

Jeremy Kerley, Joe McKnight, Clyde Gates: What these three have in common besides owning less than 20 NFL catches combined is foot speed. With Keller and the WR’s injured, and the running backs struggling, how about Tony Sparano creating some sets for the little guys? If one can somehow catch a pass against a LB in a one on one mismatch, then the Jets could wind up with scoring shots in the red zone thanks to one play. Foregoing the constant need for long drives and a plethora of weaponry.

We know these little guys are little known and that McKnight is really a running back, or cornerback or, well, what is he now exactly? All kidding aside, the point is, that there are so few edges the Jets have on paper, that to not consider bunching this group together just seems lazy at this point. Rumor has it that Schilens is also fast for a big guy. We haven’t seen examples of it yet, but if it’s true, then go four wide and add him into the group.

Send some deep and others over the line of scrimmage racing around, while searching for some open space. Together.

Grab Some Free Agents This Week:

The Jets don’t seem to want to grab any vets for offense. Defense, yes. Aaron Berry, welcome to the Jets world. Offense? No. Either that, or they are Alexander Hamilton, and the NFL is Aaron Burr. Quicker draws to the punch.

WR Jabar Gaffney just got signed by Miami as we speak. Burress, Owens and Johnson are still out there. Roy Williams. So is one time star TE Chris Cooley who on one leg, still has to be more agile than Jeff Cumberland has been for the Jets in the passing game. There’s also Kevin Faulk, Chester Taylor. Don’t laugh, you get the get the point. We are not looking for a ten year deal for any of these fellas. Just an ounce of quality over 12 games at low financial risk.

We wish it was done months ago, but with the dearth of healthy proven guys, there still has to be an upside to adding one or a few of these graybeards.

Trader Mike, Take A Shot Downfield

Mike Tannenbaum for all of the blame he will take if this season crashes on the runway, has to get on the phone and at least try. He has pulled last minute moves out of thin air before.

Brett Favre anyone?

Lets assume the Jets GM is giving the trade route a go as we speak. With the Jets WR situation looking so bleak, he should dial up the receiver rich Saints and the receiver deep Eagles first. Maybe there is one to be had for a 2nd round pick.

Tanny should also look around the league for any disgruntled receivers who want out of their situation. There HAS to be a useful player out of this hypothetical group who could be plucked for the right late round pick in exchange.

Let Coples and Davis Play Now:

First round pick Quinton Coples and LB Demario Davis are the future of the Jets defense, but it’s been four games. Let them play more now. Alot of the vets on the front seven are looking slower. Why else have there been so many missed tackles and two hundred thousand yards gained on the ground by opponent RB’s so far? Let the kids play. Do it, and also be willing to accept some rookie mistakes, in exchange for some added motivation, and fresh legs.

Plan D:

The Doomsday Plan:

Plan D’s include starting QB changes.Tebow for Sanchez, even 3rd string QB Greg McElroy for Tebow AND Sanchez (or call that plan E). Cromartie plays both ways, and any other Pop Warner craziness one could imagine. You get where we’re headed.

Plan D is the blueprint designed to be unveiled when all hope for the postseason is lost. Some of these concepts though, could happen if the Jets fall to barely breathing at 2-6 heading into the bye week. Just to keep interest at Met Life stadium.

In Parting…

Players get hurt. Others don’t play well. This happens to every franchise. The Jets could have provided better security for themselves regarding injuries, experience and production way back before the season started. Since they chose not to, they now have to take the scarce proven resources they have, and look to make something of them. The same old plays aren’t working. The same old players aren’t either. It’s time to give alot of unproven NFL players the Jets have and Tim Tebow a shot, and it’s time to alter other parts of the 53 man roster. Which includes offically putting Revis on IR.

The Jets took too many risks with their roster choices on offense for no reason leading up to week one. Now they have to live with it, and take some risks ON the field. While trying to stay afloat in the AFC at the same time. If the season crashes, they may find they’ll have nobody to blame but themselves.