Turn On The Jets 12 Pack – Minicamp Preview Edition

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The New York Jets have wrapped up OTAs and will be heading into minicamp on June 19th before we enter a terrifying six week void without football. Here are 12 observations and thoughts on the current state of the team: 

1. The release of Brandon Flowers by the Kansas City Chiefs has reignited the debate around the New York Jets cornerback position. At 28 years old and with a few strong seasons under his belt (despite a rough 2013), Flowers is an intriguing player and the Jets are likely to do their due diligence. However, I wouldn’t bank on the addition of him or any other “name” cornerbacks prior to training camp.

Internally, the Jets view Dimitri Patterson as a competent bridge to Dexter McDougle, with Darrin Walls and potentially Ras I-Dowling as insurance on the outside. It is fair to find that thinking flawed considering the injury history of Patterson and Dowling. They may view Flowers as a slight upgrade to Patterson but they likely won’t pursue him as aggressively as Atlanta, Houston or a few other teams will. Could it happen? On paper it is sensible move to improve depth and competition, and the Jets have the cap space to do it. Will it happen? I wouldn’t bet on it.

2. I’ve discussed this excessively this offseason but the debate around the Jets #2 wide receiver spot remains misguided. It seems to come from a “Madden-ized” mindset that every formation must have a “WR1 and WR2 on the outside, with a TE in a three point stance and a HB and FB in the backfield. The only time the WR3 or the slot is allowed to leave the bench is in 3 wide sets, to line up inside of WR1 or WR2.” Every player must be pigeonholed, like WR1 = Decker, WR2 = Nelson/Hill or WR 3 = HAS TO BE KERLEY). This is an incorrect and oversimplified way to analyze a NFL offense.

Just because Jeremy Kerley thrives in the slot, doesn’t mean he has to be “WR3″, he is allowed to be on the field with just one other receiver or by himself. He is allowed to have the second most reps and targets of any Jets receiver outside of Eric Decker. The Jets are very frequently going to feature a personnel group that has both Jeff Cumberland and Jace Amaro on the field. There will be times they are paired with two running backs and one receiver, two receivers and one running back or just three receivers. Expect to see plenty of a formation that features either Amaro or Cumberland split out, the other in the traditional tight end spot and Kerley/Decker also split out.

As of now, the Jets would rather give more reps to Jeff Cumberland than forcing Stephen Hill into more reps than he can handle, overburdening Jalen Saunders as a rookie or making David Nelson a 40-60 rep per game guy.

The Jets are going to be a relatively run heavy offense, after Decker, Kerley, Amaro and Chris Johnson there aren’t that many targets left. Cumberland, who the coaching staff is high on and the front office just signed to a new deal, is likely first in line behind those four, Nelson is probably after him. There is a reason they signed him to a two year contract last season. He is also easily the best overall and most accomplished receiver on the team as of now behind Decker and Kerley.

If you are forced to answer who is the team’s number two receiver, the most accurate answer is really some combination of Jeremy Kerley, Jeff Cumberland and Jace Amaro.

3. Many people seem to be assuming the Jets are going to keep six wide receivers because of the logjam on the depth chart after Decker and Kerley. Yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if they only kept five, considering they will likely be run heavy and have multiple running backs with injury concerns. Don’t be surprised if somebody like Quincy Enunwa finds his way to the IR, to prevent another team from poaching him off the practice squad if he doesn’t make the final 53.

4. Jacoby Ford is quickly becoming an offseason favorite for many Jets fans because he has some SERIOUS speed, which helps him look all that much better in shorts. I’d urge people to temper their expectations somewhat. Ford hasn’t done much of anything in the NFL since 2011 and has a serious uphill battle to making the roster. Jalen Saunders is making the final 53, barring an injury and he offers many of the things Ford would offer. Could Ford stick with a monster summer? Sure, but it would have to come at the expense of David Nelson or Stephen Hill, if not both, under the assumption that Shaq Evans will also make the final 53.

5. Dumbest OTA story – Eric Decker missing a couple of days to be with his wife at an award show. This is not a big deal, at all.

6. Most concerning OTA story – Dee Milliner’s hamstring. It is still early but Milliner is an immensely critical player for the Jets this season and after his injury struggles last offseason, it is disconcerting to hear about him being hurt already. Hopefully, he is a full go for minicamp.

7. ICYMI – Here are the links to our “Blogger Roundtable” appearances on the New York Jets site:

8. Has anybody ever been harder to find in the duration of their stay with a NFL team than Mike Goodson? Nobody ever knows where this guy is. He is like Desmond from LOST. 

9. Despite an abysmal supporting cast and inconsistent quarterback play, Jeremy Kerley has caught 60% of his targeted passes as a NFL receiver.

10. I wonder if/when Santonio Holmes gets signed by a team? It may not be until mid-August, if at all.

11. Pro Football Focus graded the Jets roster, here are a few of my issues:

  • Mike Goodson = Chris Johnson? Nah.
  • Alex Green = Chris Ivory? Um, what?
  • Kenrick Ellis/Dmitri Patterson = Nick Mangold/Eric Decker? Oh, really?
  • Jermaine Cunningham/Garrett McIntyre = Quinton Coples/Antonio Allen? Nope.
  • Mo Wilkerson = Not an elite starter at this position? Strongly, strongly disagree.
  • Clyde Gates had 133 offensive snaps last season, Greg Salas had 156, Zach Sudfeld had 144. They are listed as not having enough information to be graded. Alex Green had 42 snaps, Mike Goodson had 30, Jermaine Cunningham had 7 defensive snaps. They are graded. (???)

12. Enjoy the weekend…and definitely DON’T do the Mark Sanchez…

  • https://plus.google.com/106608295832882865745 Joe Barra

    Those grades are terrible. I have had enough of these stat guys overrating Kyle Wilson. Pace, Copels and Davis are all much better at their respective positions than Kyle Wilson. Whatever.

    Pace is probably among the most underrated players in the NFL.

    I agree that the whole labeling of receivers by number is pretty useless….but how awesome would it be if the Jets got a top ten guy (Johnson?) to compliment Decker? It obviously won’t happen but I understand why fans would want a so called #1 receiver.

  • http://thejetsblog.com e-star

    i personally think ford is gonna make the team if he stays healthy and like i said before dont be suprised if nelson does not make the team. and i also think that in the mix of kerly, cumberland, and amaro dont be suprised if Hill is a big part of that. if he has a big summer hill can def be that #2 guy and another weapon along side kerly, jeff, and amaro

  • http://twitter.com/LookItsHans Hans (@LookItsHans)

    As usual, PFF is full of it. I was told by the article author that the number of snaps Gates got in 2012 AND 2013 was not enough to give a grade. In my head, I was like “Do you think I’m stupid?” I just dropped it. At that point, I really wasn’t willing to argue.

  • KAsh

    The dumbest OTA story was the outrage by some reporters about the team going bowling for their last OTA. Kristian Dyer’s article stands out for special distinction. To pretend like the reason for missing the playoffs in December will be one OTA in June spent on team-building, bonding, and raising morale rather than on a tenth session of field drills is what comes to mind when I think “dumb.” And NJ.com was right in pointing out that it is not like the players themselves have not spent the offseason training and studying all around the country. Everyone – rookies too – have the playbook to study, access to the training center to work out, and both mini-camp and training camp ahead for the coaches to demand results.

    As for the #2 and overall receiver composition, I think it is important to remember that MM idealizes versatility and shifting offensive formations. Rex brought him here to create an unpredictable offense, so I would expect a changing cast in the backfield even if the game plan is run-oriented. With that in mind, I think Kerley will be the #2 receiver behind Decker by the snap count, but there will be some three- and four-receiver formations that create mismatches for secondaries. Decker-Kerley-Nelson would present a very different challenge for an opposing secondary than Decker-Kerley-Saunders, and not many secondaries have enough talent and variety to match up against a formation of Decker-Kerley-Saunders-Hill. Oh, and they all can block, so please mind the Chris Johnson screen pass.

    But the number of two tight-end sets could also be less than what you imagine. It depends on where Amaro is in terms of being a three-down tight end. Our biggest problems on offense since Rex’s first year have stemmed from asking offensive personnel to handle duties they were not ready for. Rex has a good understanding of what a player can do on defense, which is why not a single defensive draft pick has been utterly worthless since 2009. But on the other side of the ball, we pushed Sanchez to take command of the offense when he was not ready and did not have the supporting cast to succeed, asked Greene to be the bellcow when he did not have the talent, and forced Hill to be the leading receiver four games into his rookie year. If Amaro is physically and mentally ready, he can be as involved as Richardson was last year. But I would prefer letting him do what he can, much like Coples in his rookie year. Split him out wide or use him as an H-back in certain packages, but let him block only or line up in-line only once he is ready. If he cannot participate as a multi-faceted threat, it is better for Amaro’s development to limit him to certain packages where he can be of definite benefit.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Player evaluation with statistics has some value for the NFL, but is much more limited than in player evaluation for the MLB, or even NBA, due to smaller sample size (fewer games/season), & the nature of the sport. There are too many valuable contributions/roles that get overlooked & don’t make it onto a stat sheet for statistical analysis alone to be an accurate method of player evaluation.

    Heavy use of a 2 TE lineup makes a lot of sense for a team that wants to run a lot & lacks talent at the FB position. However, the team has more depth on offense than they have in a while & I think (or maybe hope) that lineups will be determined based upon factors like performance, match ups, injury status, & progress by the rookies. I’d much rather see David Nelson, who was productive with Geno last year, getting reps over 1 of the 2 TEs if the TEs have not shown they can convert their potential into actual production.

  • http://gravatar.com/theelidman Lidman

    I understand your argument regarding ‘numbering WR’, but I’m not sure I agree that the rhetoric surrounding ‘who is #2′ is ‘misguided’. I don’t think it is so much ‘who is the #2 outside threat, as much as it is if Decker is their top offensive weapon, who, behind him, can make plays, from the WR position. Now, maybe Kerley is that guy, and I whole heartedly agree, that where a guy lines up, most of the time, doesn’t matter; only production matters. Wes Welker is a slot receiver, but he was certainly considered the #1 in NE. I think the real concern (if that’s the right word) is, beyond Decker, who is going to step up and make plays, in the passing game. Right now, I can’t imagine many DCs being overly concerned with their offensive arsenal. First and foremost, if Geno progresses, the offense will immediatlely improve. This would also increase the chances of someone else having a ‘break out’ type year.

    Even if the NYJ are a ‘run oriented team’, they’ll need to threaten opposing defenses down the field, to have any chance at making the playoffs. Yes, I know the recent success of Seattle and SF, but those are outliers, IMO. The way the rules are set up, it’s crucial to have an offense that can make plays downfield, and score relatively quickly. Grinding games out, on the ground, only works if your sustained drives end in TDs, and you play nearly mistake free football. It also generally puts you in close games, which puts a lot of pressure on your defense. As great defensive coach Rex has been, his defenses have given up a number of late game drives that have cost the team.

    I also believe the idea, that many posters here point out, that MM’s presence/offensive philosophy is capable of overcoming some of the NYJ offensive personnell deficiencies. Don’t get me wrong, when we compare what he got out of last year’s squad to what Schotty and Sparano got, it looks a lot better. But, it’s all relative. When you talk about multiple formations, and how he uses his backs et al, you have to remember who the NYJ peronell is. Go back and look at his previous OC jobs and look at his successful years:

    -SF ’97-’98 he had a healthy Steve Young, Garrison Hearst’s best 2 years, a developing Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice-who missed all of ’97 but returned in ’98 to have another 1100yd+ season.
    Then, in ’99, they let Rice walk, young got a concussion, in game 3 and never returned. SF goes 4-12.

    -Look at all his good/great Philly years and he had these guys, in their prime: Donovan McNabb, Bryant Westbrook, L McCoy, DJax, Maclin, Avant, Celek. He also got the most efficient year of M Vick’s career.

    In the end, you can play all the formation/misdirection games you want. If you don’t have guys who can make plays, it won’t matter who the coach is. I think the Decker signing is solid, but I’ll be very surprised if he finishes in the top 15 in any signifcant receiving category (for a number of reasons). After that, I think the front office is counting far too much on the existing WR/TE corp improving and using the quantity v quality approach to the WR position, in the draft. I hope Amaro turns out to be a very good player, but a quick look at recent 1st/2nd round TEs doesn’t offer confidence that he will make an immediate impact. There is a reason he’s a ‘stretch TE’: he’s too big/slow to consistently beat college CBs and he wasn’t a good enough blocker to be an in line TE. Now, he has the size to be the latter, and maybe that develops. But, whenever he’s on the field, it isn’t likely the defense will be caught looking for a running play.