It has been an active few days for the New York Jets. In this week’s 12 Pack, we look at the newest faces and try to project what players could be on the team’s radar once the off-season gets underway…
1. The Scouting – The Jets are going to hire Rex Hogan to take Jeff Bauer’s old job as the Director of College Scouting. This was the same title Mike Maccagnan held with the Houston Texans before coming to the Jets, so clearly Hogan is a guy who Maccagnan thinks has handled scouting the right way in recent years. Hogan has been with the Chicago Bears since 2004 as a scout and was recently promoted from area to national in 2012. Brian Heimerdinger is also expected to step into a prominent role. Here is a brief excerpt on him from Rams Reporter Nick Wagoner
Heimerdinger has spent the past three seasons with the Rams as a player-personnel analyst, working simultaneously in college and professional scouting. On the college side, he serves as the Southwest area scout and the team’s cross-checker of wide receivers. On the pro side, Heimerdinger is responsible for evaluating nine NFL rosters and cross-checking receivers, quarterbacks and tight ends in free agency.
The son of the late Mike Heimerdinger, Brian Heimerdinger is well-regarded by the Rams’ staff and viewed in league circles as something of a rising star in the business
It sounds like the Jets will evaluate the rest of their current scouting and personnel department up through the draft. I’d expect Maccagnan, Heimerdinger and Hogan to then work on bringing more of their own people in to mix with individuals they want to retain from the old regimes. It sounds like Rod Graves will stick around as well, as his experience could help in contract negotiations.
2. The Coaching – The Jets hired Kacy Rodgers to be their Defensive Coordinator and Bobby April Jr to be their Special Teams Coordinator. Rodgers is a Bill Parcells guy, similar to Bowles. They both worked on his staff in 2005 and then together again in Miami. Rodgers has been the Defensive Line coach for the Dolphins since 2008. The way Jets fans feel about Karl Dunbar? This is how Dolphins fans feel about Rodgers. It is always nice to take a highly regarded coach from a division rival. April has an extensive NFL resume, as he has been in the NFL since 1991 and twice won Special Teams Coach of the Year (in 2004 and 2008 with the Buffalo Bills). April’s most recent position with the Oakland Raiders wasn’t as successful but Bowles has shown a desire to bring heavily experienced coaches in to surround him, particularly with Chan Gailey and now this hire.
Outside of the coordinators, the Jets added nine coaches headlined by Pepper Johnson joining as the Defensive Line coach, a position he held with the Buffalo Bills last year. Johnson is another Parcells discipline who is familiar with the AFC East, as he spent multiple years in New England along with his time in Buffalo last year. Mike Caldwell will be the Assistant Head Coach and coach the linebackers. He was in Arizona with Bowles last season. Joe Danna and Mark Collins are coming over from Atlanta, where Danna coached the secondary and Collins worked with the outside linebackers. Offensively, the Jets still need to hire their tight end, quarterback and offensive line coach but did hire Karl Dorrell as the Wide Receiver coach. Dorrell coached with Bowles in Miami and was the Texans quarterback coach for two years while Mike Maccagnan was there. He was Vanderbilt’s Offensive Coordinator last season and was previously a Head Coach at UCLA.
3. The NFL Draft – The Jets are going to have six picks. We discussed the idea of trading down extensively on this week’s Podcast. It will be interesting to see how the board breaks, particularly how opinions on Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston ebb and flow in the next few months. As of now, it is impossible to say if one will be available or if a team behind the Jets (like the Eagles) would be interested in making an aggressive move up to get one of them. The amount of emphasis the Jets put on on getting extra picks this year could depend on how they view the 2014 draft class (check out this excellent read on them here by Daryl Slater). If they think mid-rounders Dakota Dozier, Dexter McDougle, and Shaq Evans could be contributors, it is like having three extra rookies this year after they all missed or red-shirted last season. If they aren’t confident in those players and their ability to fill out the roster, they may look to add more picks.
4. Free Agency – Mike Maccagnan played music to a fan’s ears by mentioning the Jets would be “very aggressive in free agency.” They need to be with the cap space they currently have available. I’m not sure how many big money splurges there will be but there is definitely an opportunity to add needed competition and depth in many positions.
5. The Linebacker/Safety Overhaul – The Jets are going to play a wide variety of defenses under Todd Bowles. There will be 3-4 looks, 4-3 looks, 46 looks and looks that technically don’t even have names. Bowles loves to use his safeties down in the box and use formations that have 3-4 of them on the field at the same time. The Jets are nearly starting from scratch at both linebacker and safety. Calvin Pace is gone. Dawan Landry is gone. David Harris could be gone. Quinton Coples could see the bulk of his reps with his hand on the ground, same with IK Enemkpali.
Our Connor Rogers suggested making a blank check type offer to Devin McCourty to kick off free agency, although it is hard to see New England letting him go anywhere. If it isn’t McCourty, the Jets may need to look to second tier options like Kendrick Lewis, Antrel Rolle, Rahim Moore, Stevie Brown and Dwight Lowery. They could also use a mid-round selection on a free safety. Calvin Pryor is likely to spend more time up in the box, similar to how Deone Bucannon was used in Arizona last year. A guy like Antonio Allen could end up becoming an outside linebacker in everything but name on this defense as well. As for other linebacker options, Pernell McPhee, Sam Acho, Jason Worilds and Brooks Reed could be options on the outside while Brandon Spikes, Rolando McClain and Nate Irving could be looked at if David Harris isn’t back.
6. Cornerback Overcompensation – Just a guess but I think after last year, the Jets aren’t going to risk any depth issues at cornerback regardless of how confident they are in Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle returning from injury. Byron Maxwell could be the highest paid player on the market and the Jets should be pushing themselves to the front of the line along with considering other options like Kareem Jackson, Perrish Cox, Jarrett Bush and Brandon Flowers. I’d be surprised if the Jets didn’t make two notable veteran additions this offseason and draft at least one corner.
7. CJ – The Jets will make sure they have a pass catching back to rely on next season. CJ Spiller is the logical favorite, after Chris Johnson’s likely release, but if not him the Jets could target Shane Vereen or consider using a mid-round pick on a back with a skill set to split out wide.
8. The Blocking – Do the Jets invest heavily at tackle or just sign a strong blocking tight end (Jermaine Gresham?) and invest at offensive guard, where Willie Colon must be replaced and Oday Aboushi could use more competition. Offensive line also remains very much in play for the Jets in the first and second round.
9. The Best of Bad Answers – Who will become “VETERAN STOPGAP/PUSH ROOKIE AND/OR GENO SMITH X” this offseason? I’ll bet on Matt Moore, who Bowles is familiar with and looks relatively enticing in such a bare market.
10. The Percy Question – I’m not exactly sure how the Jets are going to maneuver it or what the final numbers will be but I still think Percy Harvin will be on this roster next year. The Jets aren’t in a position to let talent like that walk away. They should be able to figure something out. As of now, I don’t think the Jets are going to make a big free agent splash at receiver.
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12. Just A Guess – Just a mid-January guess at how the Jets off-season could shake out: Percy Harvin and David Harris are both back. Matt Moore is signed and no draft pick ends up being used at quarterback. The Jets spend big in free agency at corner and offensive line, also adding mid and low tier signings at linebacker and safety. They do end up with CJ Spiller and their first pick is used on a pass rusher like Dante Fowler Jr and offensive line is a focal point in the middle rounds. If they don’t sign a blocking tight end in free agency. They draft one in the later rounds. Again, just a guess.
Let us know below what you think of the Jets recent additions and how they could handle this off-season…