Closing the Book on Another New York Jets Quarterback

Rob Celletti closes the book on another New York Jets quarterback

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The first time I sat down to write for this website, this is what came out: http://turnonthejets.com/2011/07/two-decades-of-jets-quarterbacks-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/. Heading into the 2011 season, it was a simple overview of the five primary Jets starting quarterbacks I had watched since becoming a fan of this team over twenty years ago. I started with Boomer Esiason in 1993, as my memories from before then are foggy at best. So, after doing some simple math, I realized that the Jets have burned through five quarterbacks – actually six, if you count Brett Favre – in 19 years. That averages out to a new quarterback every 3 or 4 seasons.

Success in the NFL is defined by stability in two places: head coach and quarterback. After the 2010 season, Jets fans could not be blamed for believing that they had finally found both key pieces. Now, less than two calendar years removed from the second greatest win in franchise history, the Jets are back to square one at one at quarterback, which is a bad, bad place to be in the pass-happy NFL of 2013.

I have argued, and will always argue, that the Jets were as responsible for the failure of Mark Sanchez as he was himself. It’s a true 50/50 split. Yes, Sanchez turned the ball over at a ridiculous rate, and unlike other turnover-prone quarterbacks like Philip Rivers and Eli Manning, did not have the big play capability to make up for it. He threw interceptions on screen passes. He gave us the butt-fumble: the type of thing that makes the Jets seem a lot more like the Cleveland Browns than they actually are.

But Sanchez was also failed by the organization’s refusal to embrace a modern approach to NFL offense. Sure, you can argue that going into 2011, the Jets wanted to “open it up” and throw more. They said they did. But getting Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason was the absolute worst way to go about doing that. Still, Sanchez was one of the better red zone quarterbacks in the NFL that season, and actually made strides in every area statistically, throwing what will likely be a career-high 26 touchdowns and running for 6 more.

But instead of building around their quarterback with better skill players and protectors along his offensive line, the supporting cast deteriorated. Rex Ryan announced that the Jets were going back to their “ground and pound” roots. The problem with this theory? In order to win that way in the NFL, you need a running back with the initials AP or MJD, supplemented by an all-world defense. The Jets had neither. They hired a totally incompetent offensive coordinator to replace a bad one. The team got progressively worse in all facets on the side of the ball that has become more important in the NFL over the past decade.

So as this season spiraled into the utter disaster it became, one thing became clear: Mark Sanchez was broken. He was undone by his own mistakes, by the deterioration of the situation around him, by the shortcomings of a coach that simply doesn’t know offense, by the vitriol of an impatient and unrealistic fan base. It came to a head when Sanchez needed to be benched for the Jets to beat the woeful Cardinals, and exploded fantastically (and in true, Same Old Jets fashion) on a Monday night just a few weeks ago in Tennessee.

The Jets need to find a new general manager before they can find their next quarterback, but the immediate solutions are not appetizing. As the Colts and Redskins have shown this year, one-year rebuilds in the NFL are possible, if Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III happen to fall into your lap. The Jets are likely entering a “stop-gap” phase at quarterback, which means, most-likely, mediocrity.

At the risk of beating the dead horse, the simple truth is this: you must throw the ball to be successful in the NFL. To be honest, I’m tired of hearing otherwise. Eleven – that’s right, ELEVEN – quarterbacks threw for more than 4,000 yards this year, and Eli Manning was just 52 yards away from being number 12. That’s why the Tim Tebow trade drove me to the edge as a fan. It was symbolic of just how out of touch the Jets are with the league they’re competing in.

So as fans wait for this team to join the 21st century on offense, they’re left to wonder: who is the quarterback that will lead them there? It certainly seems as though Mark Sanchez’s time is up.

No Sympathy Among New York Jets Fans For Local Media

The New York media is finding no sympathy among fans for the Jets delaying their year end press conference

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The New York media is angry. How dare the New York Jets not send Rex Ryan to them in a timely manner that suits their needs at the end of the season. The snarky Tweets and bitter character assassination pieces are already swirling. Mike Francesa’s head almost exploded yesterday. Manish Mehta is digging back for old quotes from whispers in the wind that can conveniently fit a headline and get him another interview with Mike Florio so they could have a chuckle about dumb old Rex. They are demanding answers and in the most comical way possible – by saying the fans deserve to know…it is the fans who need answers and the beat writers are ready to inform and educate the public!

Of course, anybody with a shred of common sense who has been following this team all year is laughing at the local media and gladly siding with a team they have plenty of reasons to hate right now. The Jets have been a mess…on the field and off the field. Their approach to PR and media needs to be completely revamped, which is why every fan is happy to see them keeping their mouths shut right now while they get their house in order.

Why send Rex Ryan out there when he has no answers? He might not even be the team’s coach by this time next week. He doesn’t know who is coming back on his staff. He doesn’t know what is happening with Mark Sanchez. The Jets are waiting to get an idea of who their GM will be and where their approach will head so a unified, sensible voice can finally be projected from the organization. They are supposed to rush Rex out their prematurely so satisfy this media after this year?

How can somebody on The Daily News staff talk about ethics and professional behavior after their conduct this year? Anybody who took an intro level communications class in high school knows how low they sunk with their standards this year. Anonymous quotes. Selective use of outdated quotes and information. Blurring the line between on the record and off the record, as it suits the punchy headline’s need. Nevermind Manish Mehta claiming Rex Ryan asked out of his job with shaky sourcing and then not even showing up at his press conference the next day when Rex addressed the article. Hopefully the Jets are taking this time to research how much they can limit that publication’s credentialed access this season.

Beat writers demanding answers for fans is such a joke because we have been watching and listening this year. The media embarrassed themselves in the daily press conferences. We heard more about Tim Tebow shirtless than any action on the actual field. No questions about upcoming games…just questions about an irrelevant backup quarterback who made no impact this year. Nothing on Muhammad Wilkerson turning into a All-Pro caliber player. Nothing on Quinton Coples exceeding everybody’s low expectations in his rookie year. Not a peep on questioning why younger players didn’t get more reps down the stretch. No exploration into if Nick Mangold was more hurt than he was letting on, leading to a declined level of play. You know…football coverage, not TMZ TEEE-BOWWW coverage!

In some of their shocked and angry responses to fan’s backlash today, the media showed how out of touch they really are. This is 2013. We can all watch Rex Ryan’s press conference stream live online. We don’t need you reporting what happens there. Fans would be content if the Jets streamed Rex live to an empty room over the Internet this Tuesday. We can get injury updates and practice reports from the team in training camp or just go watch ourselves or read what other fans are Tweeting out about it.

There is endless in-depth actual football coverage of the team going on outside of the “credentialed” press. I want film breakdowns or roster analysis, I have a great staff here. I want informed commentary on all the day’s issues with the team I read The Jets Blog. I need to understand the salary cap situation and want more roster analysis, I read NY Jets Cap. I want to hear player interviews and fan interaction, I listen to Flight 5 Live. Social media trends? I got Jets Twit. Feature length commentary? Green Lantern and The Jet Report. This list of quality content goes on – The Jet Press. Jet Nation. Nevermind the endless amount of feedback and discussion that can be had on Twitter with other followers of the team.

There are writers on the Jets beat who do good work on a daily basis but how can they not understand where the Jets and their fans are coming from right now? The lack of professionalism from primarily The Daily News has merited this while the team works to get their house in order. Fans care about that…not about hearing Rex torn to shreds this Thursday instead of next Tuesday.

New York Jets – An Off-Season Roster Checklist

An overview of where the New York Jets need to improve their roster

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We are going to have an in-depth look through the entire New York Jets roster from our staff, supported by film breakdown from Steve Bateman and draft coverage from Chris Gross, along with roundtables featuring Mike Donnelly, TJ Rosenthal, Chris Celletti and Rob Celletti. However, today I wanted to start off with a general overview of where the roster stands…and it ain’t pretty. This team will not be an easy sell to any GM candidate.

Quarterback – An unmitigated disaster. Currently you have Mark Sanchez who is currently incompetent as a starting quarterback in the NFL and doesn’t look like he can realistically play another down in New York. Unfortunately he is owed over 8 million dollars next year. The new GM must see if there is a team willing to take him for a low draft pick if the Jets agree to pay the overwhelmingly majority of the contract. If there is not, he has to decide whether to release him and take the cap hit or keep him on the roster to let him compete for a starting job. Yet, what veteran is going to believe they have a fair crack at starting with Sanchez likely making nearly four times what he is? The best move is to cut your losses with Sanchez and move on.

Beyond that, you have Tim Tebow who will either be released or traded to Jacksonville, which is more dead money you are eating nevermind the two draft picks you wasted last year. Greg McElroy looks like a number three quarterback/practice arm and cannot be a serious contender for a starting job in this league. There is no easy solutions here. The best answer is probably signing a low-cost veteran like Matt Moore and hoping he could hold the fort until a long term starter is found.

Running Back – Shonn Greene is heading into free agency and should not be brought back. He is a thoroughly average back who lacks explosiveness and cannot get yards that are not blocked up for him, while also struggling in the passing game. Bilal Powell has a better all-around skill set and is under contract for barely any money next year. He has the ability to be a very capable 1B option. Joe McKnight still has never received a fair chance here on offense. Yet, considering his durability issues it is hard to expect him to take on a major role in 2013. It would be nice to see the Jets think outside the box here and take a look at restricted free agent Chris Ivory who is buried on the New Orleans depth chart but would be an upgrade over Greene. There is also a good amount of mid-round talent at the position in the draft. Lex Hilliard was below average at fullback and won’t be back.

Tight End – Dustin Keller is heading into free agency and is another player the Jets should strongly consider letting walk. Why not pay half the money to Delanie Walker or Anthony Fasano and get a more capable all-around tight end? Keller is only going to thrive in a pass-happy offense as a H-Back. He cannot be relied on for blocking. Jeff Cumberland is basically a poor man’s version of Keller and shouldn’t be more than a situational player that utilizes his pass catching ability. Konrad Reuland is average at best and can’t be relied on as a 20-25 snap per game guy. Hayden Smith remains a developmental project and it is doubtful that he will be a major contributor next year.

espnny_a_kerley_d1_600Wide Receiver – The big decision will be how to handle Santonio Holmes. Do you release him or see if you could find a partner willing to take him in a trade if you eat some of the contract? It remains to be seen how effective of a player he will be coming off major surgery, even at 100% he isn’t a true number one receiver. Outside of Holmes, the depth should be solid. Jeremy Kerley is coming off a very good year where he made immense strides. Braylon Edwards showed he has something left in the final three games and can be brought back on the cheap and Stephen Hill should improve in year two if not forced into extended reps. The physical tools are all there for Hill but he still has a ways to go in terms of development. Chaz Schilens and Clyde Gates probably will not be back. Jordan White will have a tough time making the roster next year.

Offensive Line – Tough decisions need to be made, with Brandon Moore, Matt Slauson and Austin Howard all free agents. Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson aren’t going anywhere. Ferguson had a very good 2012 and was a borderline Pro-Bowl player. Mangold’s play has been down the last two years but he has been banged up. Ideally, the Jets will find a better long term answer at right tackle than Howard but that is easier said than done. At guard, the sensible thing to do would be to pay Slauson and then find a replacement for Moore who is likely nearing retirement. The Jets are going to have to address offensive line early in the draft and in free agency.

Defensive Line – One of the few spots on the roster to feel good about. Muhammad Wilkerson is a stud and is coming off a terrific second year. Quinton Coples had an encouraging rookie season, leading the team with 5.5 sacks. When the Jets actually get some edge rushers, watch out for these two upfront. Kenrick Ellis flashed at times but was banged up over the second half of the season. Regardless, he looks like the long term answer at nose tackle. Mike DeVito is a versatile, valuable player upfront who the team should bring back. You can’t have enough guys like DeVito. Sione Pouha is likely to be cut in a cap savings move. Damon Harrison can provide some long term depth.

Linebacker – Another disaster position that needs to be completely remade. Bart Scott, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas are all gone next year and all struggled mightily this past season. David Harris is the most overpaid linebacker in football, getting paid 10.9 million dollars in 2013 coming off a below average season in the middle. Hopefully he bounces back next year. 2012 3rd round pick Demario Davis is likely to start alongside him at inside linebacker. The team must address the gaping holes at both outside linebacker spots through the draft and free agency. Garret McIntyre is a capable backup/situational player and Josh Mauga should be back next year to provide depth at inside linebacker.

Secondary – A strength in 2012 that could be in flux next season. LaRon Landry will be difficult to bring back at the salary he commands, whether Jets fans want to hear it or not. Yeremiah Bell will likely be brought back on a one year contract. Darrelle Revis will be back and looking to receive a long term contract. Antonio Cromartie is coming off a career year, which makes him an enticing trade piece. When you have as many holes as the Jets, keeping two of the league’s five best cornerbacks may not be a sensible approach.

Kyle Wilson showed no ability to be a starting cornerback this year and is a borderline 3rd corner at best. Darrin Walls, Aaron Berry and Isaiah Trufant all have long term potential, particularly Berry if he can stay healthy. Ellis Lankser is best suited strictly as a special teams player. Antonio Allen flashed as an in the box safety and should be a capable situational player in 2013. Josh Bush didn’t do much as a rookie and may not be around for long.

Special Teams – There is no reason to change the kicker, punter or kick returner. Nick Folk, Robert Malone and Joe McKnight were all good this year. It would be nice to find a reliable punt returner next season, somebody in the Jim Leonhard or Jerricho Cotchery mold who is going to catch everything no matter what. Mike Westhoff is retiring but probably a year too late. This unit had way too many mistakes in 2012 and must clean itself up next season.

New York Jets – In Post Black Monday Limbo

The New York Jets are currently in limbo while they attempt to find their new General Manager

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The New York Jets have made a collection of intelligent decisions since their embarrassing season ending loss in Buffalo. Firing Mike Tannenbaum was a much needed start coupled with hiring Jed Hughes to lead the search for the team’s new General Manager. Credit Woody Johnson for recognizing he is not a football expert and needs assistance in selecting the proper person to run his team. Hughes has a distinguished resume and hasn’t wasted any time in requesting interviews with three strong GM candidates: Tom Gamble, Marc Ross, and Dave Caldwell. All three are highly sought after around the league and the Jets won’t be an easy sell but at least it shows they are on the right track.

While the GM search plays out, the entire coaching staff remains in limbo. If you are able to snare a candidate like one of the previously mentioned ones, they must have full autonomy on how to proceed at Head Coach. There can be no requirements that force him to keep Rex Ryan. If he wants to keep Rex, great but if not…he must be allowed to make that call. The same goes for the rest of the coaching staff.

Personally, I have no problem with Rex being brought back but think he needs to be managed in the proper way. He cannot have too much say in personnel decisions and he must be forced to embrace a 21st century offense and offensive coordinator. Let Rex lead and motivate the men in his locker room. Let him scheme up defensive game plans. Get him better media training so there is a more consistent and unified voice coming out of the organization.

Regardless of who the new GM is, they must revamp the team’s media and PR approach. The New York media can complain right now all they want about the lack of a season ending press conference for Rex Ryan and Woody Johnson but they sound absurdly hypocritical. Why should the Jets treat them with transparency and industry standards when the media (cough, cough Daily News) has buried them with anonymously sourced and misquoted material? Hopefully, the Jets are currently ironing out a better way to handle their local coverage.

This is a team currently in limbo. The entire coaching staff’s job security is up in the air. No approach has been decided on how to handle quarterback or the messy cap situation. None of the other dominoes can begin to fall until the General Manager is hired…then look for them to fall fast and furiously. The sooner, the better because there are many critical decisions and steps that need to be taken.