5 Questions About the Jets Receivers Answered

First a few updates:

1. A little two-a-day action today in honor of training camp being only 9 days away. I just recorded the podcast with Marty Schupak over (www.greenrewind.com), go check it out.

2. TV Discussion of the Day – Episode 2 of Entourage? Better than the first I thought, the whole Turtle/Seth Rogan thing was hilarious and TurnOnTheJets.com can never get enough of Sloan or Meadow Soprano for that manner. I am not a big fan of this new girl E is hooking up with however, he can do better. Also, I am embarrassed to admit I am excited about Comic-Con being this weekend…why? We may finally get some information about LOST’s final season…very exciting stuff. You can hate all you want, but go watch the show and then come talk to me.

3. Boston is currently losing 3-1 in the 6th inning…2 game lead for the Yanks, anyone? Did I just jinx them?

5 Questions About the Jets Receivers Answered

Mark Bungaard runs a Danish Jets Blog over at (www.newyorkjets.dk), which will be now be linked up on the side of the site. I actually won their website’s 2008 prediction challenge, which required me to guess a bunch of stats about the team and yes I expect to defend my title this year. Anyway, Mark has noticed my extensive writing on the Jets WR’s and e-mailed me 5 questions about them, here are my responses and make sure to check out his site over at (www.newyorkjets.dk).

1. The Jets enter the 2009 season with Jerricho Cotchery as the number one receiver. Now you could argue that he was number one last year, but back then he had Laveranues Coles to take some of the pressure off of him. Do you think Cotchery is capable of being a productive number one this year?

It depends on how you define productive, he won’t produce like the top flight number one receivers in the game and won’t have pro-bowl caliber numbers but he will be a consistent, tough player week in and week out. Cotchery should be in the 80-85 catch, 1100-1200 yard range, similar to how he was in 2007 except hopefully he will score more touchdowns. The Jets need #89 to find the end-zone and create a few big plays with his exceptional run after the catch ability to help out their young quarterbacks.

2. A lot of people have Chansi Stuckey pencilled in as the starter opposite Cotchery, but is he really suited for this role or would his skillset be better utilized in the slot?

– Stuckey’s skill set is a much better fit for the slot than as the split end opposite Cotchery. However, as of right now he is the Jets second best overall receiver, which means he deserves the spot and the second most reps. Expect the Jets to get creative to find ways to flip him and Cotchery around in different formations to play better to Stuckey’s skill set and Cotchery’s versatility to play both outside and in the slot.

3. There is no doubt that Brad Smith has the physical tools to become a good WR but he is still learning the position. Do you think he will ever develop into a valuable player for the Jets or is he a lost cause?

– I don’t want to say he is a lost cause because I think he has value as a gadget player/red-zone target/and special teams player but don’t expect him to go out and have 50 catches this season. Smith has the size and versatility to be a valuable role player on the Jets offense. They can use him in the wildcat, use him on reverses, throw the fade ball to him but I don’t think he will ever develop into a full time starter.

4. Wallace Wright reportedly looked good in mini camp and OTAs. Do you think he’ll emerge as a receiver or is he strickly a special teamer?

– Wright is a guy to keep an eye on. He had a chance to play a little receiver in 2007 and did pretty good with it. He is obviously athletically gifted because of how he excels on special teams and apparently lit it up during OTAs, catching Rex Ryan’s attention. If there is a season where Wright can battle for some WR reps, this is it.

5. David Clowney looked really interesting last preseason. How do you think Shottenheimer plans to use him this year?

– Hopefully Schottenheimer will use him as the Jets primary deep threat but also allow him to run some other routes so teams don’t know the long ball is coming whenever he is in the game. Defenses will respect Clowney’s speed, which will open up the deep curl and comeback for him, making him a potentially valuable weapon for the Jets offense. 
 
Jets Highlight of this Article: Jerricho Cotchery makes an amazing one-handed catch against the Pats last season.

Jets Fantasy Football Preview

First a few updates:

1. Rex Ryan spoke today at a summer camp he was working and as usual had a few interesting things to say. First off, he stated that Vernon Gholston is his starter in place of Calvin Pace. I think this may be more of a PR move to boost the kid’s confidence and quell some questions about how he performed in OTAs. If Gholston struggles in pre-season, he could start the first series week one and then be subbed out for the rest of the game for Marques Murrell, Jason Trunsick, or somebody else. He still has to earn his reps. Ryan also commented about how confident he was in his group of receivers, and mentioned one unnamed player who he believed was going to turn some heads this year (I am thinking Chansi Stuckey, since he had such a strong mini-camp).

2. I advise everybody to check out (www.GreenRewind.com) Marty Schupak runs a great podcast over there and I actually will be on the program tonight, so if you want to hear my voice, go check out the web site and check out all of Marty’s past shows…all quality Jets material. I also added his link over on the side of the home page.

3. No news on Thomas Jones or Leon Washington….although Rex Ryan stated he expects both to be at the beginning of training camp (only 9 days away)…we’ll just have to see.

4. Another day…another Yankees win and hopefully another Boston loss tonight.

Jets Fantasy Football Preview

Who doesn’t play fantasy football these days? The Jets haven’t been a popular team in the fantasy world the past few years and that doesn’t look to change this season. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t value on their roster. Let’s take a look:

Best Bets:

1. Jets Defense/Special Teams – The Jets are generally ranked as a top 7-10 defense in most fantasy outlooks. They were very good last year, creating a high amount of turnovers and scoring a handful of defensive touchdowns, and that shouldn’t change under Rex Ryan who will be more aggressive than Eric Mangini. Also, Leon Washington is a constant threat to return a kick for a touchdown which increases their value. They don’t have a dominant pass rusher but have playmakers in the secondary with Darrelle Revis, Kerry Rhodes, and Lito Sheppard, a dominant defensive lineman in Kris Jenkins and a deep, solid group of linebackers.

2. Dustin Keller – Since the Jets are thin at receiver and will be starting a young quarterback, Dustin Keller should be receiving plenty of looks this season. Keller already had 48 catches his rookie season, despite splitting playing time with Chris Baker and Bubba Franks, both of whom are now gone. He should also be their primary red-zone target because of his size and the difficulty he creates in terms of match-ups. Keller is a very good option as a starting tight end for your fantasy team, and should be good for 60-65 catches with 6-7 touchdowns.

Quality Starters:

1. Thomas Jones – It is unfair to expect Jones to match his monster 2008 season, which saw him rack up 1519 total yards with 15 touchdowns. However, he should still remain the 1,100+ yard back that he has been the past four seasons. Leon Washington and Shonn Greene will cut into his touches and maybe a few of his goal-line looks (especially in Greene’s case) but Jones will be the Jets primary ball carrier and they are going to be running the football alot, making him a solid #2 option at RB in most fantasy leagues.

2. Jerricho Cotchery – Cotchery has been a fantasy disappointment that last two seasons after breaking on the scene in 2006. Yet, he is the Jets unquestioned number one receiver in 2009 and should have more looks than he has ever seen in his career. Cotchery is probably out of place as a #1 but he will still be a productive player this season. You shouldn’t be concerned about his catches or yards, since he probably will be in the 80-85 catch/1100-1200 yard range, the real question is how many touchdowns will he score? His career high for a season is 6, which was 3 years ago. I am not sure he will top that this season, making him a #3 WR in most fantasy leagues.

Sleepers:

1. Leon Washington – It is hard to consider #29 a sleeper since has was a pro-bowler last season and is a big time playmaker, yet he doesn’t receive enough touches to be a fantasy starter. Hopefully, Brian Schottenheimer will include him more in the offense in 2009, making it worth having him as a spot starter/backup. Last year he had 783 offensive yards and 9 total touchdowns, you should expect a bump in those numbers this season.

2. David Clowney – While I think Chansi Stuckey will start opposite Jerricho Cotchery, Clowney has a better chance to provide more big plays and touchdowns. I am hoping Clowney can turn into Dedric Ward on the 1998 Jets, with his key long TD receptions and huge yards per catch average. Clowney is hit or miss this year but should be the Jets primary deep threat and could be worth a late round draft pick and a spot start if you are desperate.

Super-Sleepers:

1. Shonn Greene – The Jets #3 running back entering training camp but if Thomas Jones/Leon Washington have any type of extended holdouts, he could quickly see his reps climb up. Even if both players are around all summer, Greene should see some short yardage/goal-line/4th quarter touches. It remains to be seen exactly how many goal-line carries he will get, which will ultimately determine his fantasy value this season.

2. Brad Smith – Maybe the versatile Smith can put it all together in his fourth year at wide receiver. He has the size to be a weapon in the red-zone and also should see some carries on reverses and in the wildcat formation. I wouldn’t bank on him doing anything of fantasy value in 2009, but you never know.

Jets Highlight of the Day: Highlights from Dustin Keller’s rookie season in Green and White…great fantasy option at tight end in 2009.

Jets Positional Analysis: Defensive Line

First a few updates:

1. Sean Payton filled in for Peter King in his Monday Morning Quarterback article and predicted the Jets would be a playoff team this season and also spoke highly of Mark Sanchez. Big news? Not really, but it is nice to hear a respected quarterback coach in the NFL have a favorable view of Sanchez.

2. No news on the Thomas Jones/Leon Washington front and enough of this nonsense about Danny Woodhead and Shonn Greene being able to step in for them this year…get your two pro-bowl running backs into camp on time, you have a rookie quarterback who you just invested 60 million dollars in…help the guy out.

3. I recently found out where my season tickets in the new stadium were located…10 rows higher than my previous ones and in the endzone instead of the 30 yard line…thank you New York Jets.

4. Just watched Hideki Matsui hit a walk off home run, and I am now hoping Texas can hold on against Boston to put my Yanks in first place by the time I wake up tomorrow.

Jets Positional Analysis: Defensive Line

Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to go through all of the Jets positions and assess each player, continuing today with the defensive line:

1. Kris Jenkins #77, Starting Defensive Tackle, Last Season: 50 Tackles, 3.5 Sacks, 4 Tackles For Loss, 1 Forced Fumble, Selected to Pro-Bowl

History: The Jets acquired the big fella in a trade before last season and he responded positively to a new environment. Jenkins was a dominant player on the Jets defense during the first 11 games last year before injuries slowed him down. Rex Ryan must find a way to properly rest him throughout the season so he can be 100 percent during the stretch run in December.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Jenkins plays at the level he did during the first 11 games last year for an entire season and returns to the pro-bowl.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Injuries take a toll on him and he misses extended time, severely hurting the Jets run defense.

Prediction: I think after watching tape from last season, Rex Ryan will find a way to maximize the big fella’s extraordinary talent on the Jets defense by moving him around the defensive line and properly resting him. Jenkins will have a slightly better season than he did in 2008, and return to the pro-bowl.

2. Shaun Ellis #92, Starting Defensive End, Last Season: 60 Tackles, 8 Sacks, 1 Tackle For Loss, 2 Forced Fumbles, 1 Large Snowball Tossed

History: Ellis is the longest tenured Jets player, spending all of his 10 seasons in green and white. Very quietly, he had a very good season in 2008. 8 sacks for a 3-4 defensive end is extremely impressive. Ellis remains a solid two way end and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down with age.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He duplicates his performance from last season, except he isn’t arrested for marijuana and doesn’t throw a huge snowball in the stands after the Jets lose a game.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Ellis begins to break down with age, leaving the Jets ridiculously thin at defensive end.

Prediction: I think Ellis will be a good player in Rex Ryan’s system. I don’t expect him to match the 8 sacks from last season but I think 5-6 is a reasonable number.

3. Marques Douglas #93, Starting Defensive End, Last Season: 36 Tackles, 5 Tackles For Loss

History: The Jets signed Douglas as a depth player who was familiar with Rex Ryan’s system. However, after they traded Kenyon Coleman in the Mark Sanchez deal, Douglas became the presumed starter. He has been a backup mostly throughout his career but now will have an expanded amount of reps.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He keeps his tackles for loss numbers high and holds his own as a starter. There is no drop off from Kenyon Coleman to Douglas and he helps teach the D-Line Ryan’s scheme.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He can’t handle being a full time player and the Jets struggle on the defensive line all season because of it.

Prediction: Douglas won’t be a downgrade from Kenyon Coleman but won’t be a noticeable upgrade either. The Jets need to address defensive end next season with Ellis aging and Douglas better suited to be a role player than a starter.

4. Mike DeVito #70, Backup Defensive End, Last Season: 24 Tackles, 0.5 Sacks, 2 Tackles For Loss

History: A UDFA who has stuck on the Jets roster the past three years and should see a major bump in playing time this season as the primary backup defensive end to both Ellis and Douglas. He has a good motor and the defensive coaching staff is high on his potential.

Chance of Making Roster: 95%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: DeVito blossoms in Ryan’s system and becomes a capable NFL starter at defensive end.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He bombs out in camp and can’t stay on the active roster.

Prediction: I think DeVito will prove to be a solid player off the bench and may show enough to become an eventual starter.

5. Sione Pouha #91, Backup Defensive Tackle, Last Season: 23 Tackles, 0.5 Sacks, 1 Tackle For Loss

History: The Jets drafted him in 2005 but he has struggled with injuries and been nothing but an average backup. He had a pretty good year in 2007 but seemed to regress last season.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He plays the way he did during 2007 and is part of a group that does a good job spelling Kris Jenkins.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles in camp and during the season, forcing Jenkins to play more reps than he should, leading to declining production from him as the season goes on.

Prediction: Pouha wasn’t very good last year so it is hard to predict a solid season for him in 2009 but hopefully he can be a decent role player.

6. Howard Green #95, Backup Defensive Tackle, Last Season: 21 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Tackle For Loss, 1 Forced Fumble

History: The Jets signed him this off-season to improve the depth behind Kris Jenkins and push Sione Pouha for reps. Green had a decent season in Seattle last year and before that played in New Orleans.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Green develops into a very good backup for Kris Jenkins.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Green proves to be nothing more than a journeyman and is cut.

Prediction: I think Pouha and him will split reps behind Jenkins and be adequate.

The Rest of the Guys:

7. Ropati Pitoitua #79, Defensive End – Huge player (6’8, 310) who was on the practice squad last season, could battle for a backup defensive end spot.

8. Zach Potter #98, Defensive End – A UDFA from Nebraska.

9. Matt Kroul #63, Defensive Tackle/End – A UDFA from Iowa.

10. Ty Steinkuhler #61, Defensive End/Tackle – Another UDFA from Nebraska.

Overall Position Analysis: Jenkins is a dominant force in the middle, Ellis is a quality NFL starter, but Douglas/DeVito have to step up at the other DE spot this year. There is also pressure on Pouha and Green to give Jenkins a rest and provide good reps off the bench.

Jets Highlight of the Day: In honor of the defensive line, here is Shaun Ellis having a snowball fight with the Seattle fans last season.

5 Questions About the Jets Answered

First a few updates:

1. There still has been no progress with contract negotiations for either Thomas Jones or Leon Washington and training camp is only 12 (yes, just 12) days away. The last thing this team needs right now is two holdouts from two pro-bowl players, the front office needs to get to work.

2. The Jets released their training camp schedule, a few days of note: Green and White scrimmage on August 6th at 7 PM, Family Night Practice 6 PM at Hofstra Univesity on August 12th (If you don’t feel taking the spaceship up to Cortland to watch the Jets practice), and practices in Florham Park on August 22nd, 26th, and 27th. The pre-season opener is on August 14th at home against the Rams.

3. If you take a look over at the links section on the side of the page, you will notice that I added www.jetsgab.com and http://ganggreenation.com as two more recommended daily stops for Jets fans.

4. Big 3 game sweep for the Yankees, who are now only 1 game behind Boston, it was about time Joba pitched well.

5 Questions About the Jets Answered

John Butchko, who is the lead writer for Gang Green Nation (http://ganggreennation.com) is putting together a series of interviews on his site with different Jets writers to gauge the attitude of the fanbase heading into the season, here is my response to his questions:

1. If you could go back to January, would Rex Ryan be your first choice to coach to 2009 Jets. If the answer is no, who would you choose? Eric Mangini? Somebody else?

If I could go back to January, Rex Ryan wouldn’t have been the first person that came to my mind. I thought Eric Mangini took the fall for Brett Favre’s terrible play down the stretch, however didn’t think a change was the worst thing in the world. Originally, I was interested in the big names like Bill Cowher and Steve Spagnuolo but when those didn’t work out, I had no problem with the selection of Ryan. I would have been disappointed if Brian Schottenheimer was named the head coach because he didn’t deserve a promotion and when Ryan was hired, he seemed like the best guy for the job.

2. What are your thoughts on the offseason the team had? What did you like? Is there anything you wish the front office had done differently?

I think the Jets had a good, but not great off-season. I loved the job they did with their defense and believe Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, and Lito Sheppard will all be upgrades at their respective positions. Also Scott, Leonhard, and Marques Douglas will help with the transition into a new defensive scheme since they are familiar with Rex Ryan. I was a big fan of the Mark Sanchez trade because the Jets didn’t give up any future picks, just three backup caliber players for a potential franchise quarterback. I like Shonn Greene but thought the Jets gave up too much to move up for him. This team had too many holes (OL depth, WR, TE, DL depth) to only add three players through the draft and no offensive players of note through free agency.

3. What scares you the most entering the season?

Most of my major concerns are on the offensive side of the football. I am scared of prolonged holdouts by Thomas Jones and Leon Washington impacting the development of the offense during training camp. I am scared of Mark Sanchez struggling his rookie season when he inevitably becomes the starter. I am scared of a major injury on the offensive line that could hurt our running game and our franchise QB’s health. I am also worried that we have 1 NFL capable tight end on our roster.

4. The biggest difference between the 2008 Jets and the 2009 Jets will be…

The coaching style and attitude of the players. The Jets will be a more aggressive group of players that play with a little more swagger than they did in 2008 and also now have a coach who isn’t shy around the media and won’t force his players to be shy with them either. I think you will see more pressure/big plays from the defense and a offense that runs the ball even more than they did the previous year, with a significant bump in touches to Leon Washington and Dustin Keller.

5. Will the Jets make the Playoffs if they stay healthy?

I can’t hold myself to a yes or no answer yet, but I will say that I believe if they stay healthy they will be playing meaningful games in late December, meaning they will be right in the mix for a playoff spot. A healthy Jets team will have 9-11 wins.

New Jets Player Highlight of the Day: A highlight reel of new CB Donald Strickland…yes, I do find some humor in this 7 minute highlight film of an average NFL player but as a guy who made a 28 minute highlight film of himself from college despite only having 49 catches and 3 TD’s, I can sympathize.

A Receiver's View of the Jets Receivers

First a few updates:

1. Rich Cimini caught up with Leon Washington at a commercial shoot and wrote an article in today’s Daily News about their discussion. Apparently, there has been little to no progress on his ongoing contract negotiations with the Jets and he is seriously considering holding out in training camp, which begins July 30th. Mike Tannenbaum…your organization has the money, Leon Washington is your top playmaker, he has been a model Jet his entire career and is heavily underpaid right now, give him the new contract he deserves.

2. I wasn’t crazy about the season premiere of Entourage. Last season was a step up from the previous two, so I am hoping they won’t start regressing again. I can deal with the show lacking any plot because of the humor but the first episode wasn’t even that funny. However, I am glad to see Sloan back in the mix…TurnOnTheJets.com is a big fan of her.

 

3. Second half baseball predictions: Red Sox win the AL East, Yankees take the wild card. Mets finish 15 games out of first place. Pedro Martinez bombs with the Phillies. World Series? Dodgers vs. Yankees…that’s right after starting out 0-8 against Boston and losing the division to them, the Yankees upset them in the ALCS.

A Receiver’s View of the Jets Receivers

Let me preface this article by stating I am certainly no expert on the wide receiver position and I am not claiming to be. However, I did play the position for 2 years in little league, 4 years in high school and 4 years in college. I have also been to multiple receiver camps and been required to watch countless hours of tape about the position, so I like to think I have some idea of what I am talking about.

I am biased in that I love talking about the position and decided that after going back through some Jets game tape from the past two seasons, I would write an article about my observations on the Jets personnel in 2009. Anyway, here it goes:

The Jets enter 2009 with a clear number one receiver, Jerricho Cotchery. Brian Schottenheimer will be moving him all over the field in an attempt to have him heavily involved in every game. Cotchery will work primarily out of the slot, but will also be split out in certain situations and frequently be put into motion in an attempt to free him up.

When I watch Cotchery play, I am constantly impressed with his hands, ability to run after the catch, precise routes, and strong knowledge of the defense. Regardless, he has some physical limitations which prevent him from being a top flight NFL receiver. Simply put, he lacks the the size and speed to constantly fight off double teams and get open. He also lacks the top end speed to run by most corners in the NFL, which is why most “go” routes thrown to him the past two years, end up being jump balls, with Cotchery either knocking it away, occasionally making an acrobatic catch, or it being picked off.

Arguably the best game Cotchery ever played was against the Ravens in 2007. He racked up 7 catches for 165 yards and single-handily kept them in the game. Ironically, his success was because of the lack of respect Rex Ryan showed him. He constantly left him in single coverage with nickle back Corey Ivy in the slot or a safety. Cotchery simply kept running option routes, and choosing to run about a 10 yard stop or out route, he would then break a tackle and be off for a huge gain. Unfortunately as the Jets number one, team’s top corners will be following him around the field and he won’t have the space to operate that he did against Ravens on that day.

Cotchery excels in the short to intermediate passing game. He is at his best when he is running intermediate crossing routes or short option routes. A good day at the office for him should be 6 catches for 70 yards, since he lacks game breaking ability. He isn’t quick to enough to beat corners on double move routes consistently or to run by them. His big plays this season will come on a short catch, with a long run after since he runs more like a running back than a receiver.

Chansi Stuckey is easily the Jets next most polished receiver. He is very good in short spaces, runs crisp routes, and has very good hands. He is a prototype slot/#3 receiver. Stuckey found success last season working out the slot on 5-7 yards option routes (which he mostly snapped into quick hitches or outs) and short screens or crossing patterns. He is guy you want in on 3rd 4-6 yards to go. Unfortunately, since the Jets are thin at the position he will likely be asked to play alot of split end this year, which doesn’t fit his strengths at all.

An outside receiver needs to be able to run the deep curl and comeback route. Stuckey is quick, not fast. Cornerbacks won’t be scared of him running by them on a “go” route, which means they will be on top of him when he snaps back for a curl or comeback. This isn’t a problem for most split ends since they usually have good size and are more possesion receivers. They can simply used their large frame to shield off the defensive back, yet Stuckey is barely 6 foot and 190 pounds and doesn’t have that ability. Stuckey also doesn’t have the ideal skill set to run a deep corner or post, because he lacks top end speed.

The Jets best bet in obvious passing situations will probably be to move Stuckey in the slot and have Cotchery play on the outside, or let Dustin Keller play some split end and potentially let both Cotchery and Stuckey work in the slot, with another receiver on the outside on the other side of the field.

That other receiver could be Brad Smith or David Clowney. Smith is blessed with a good combination of size and speed but isn’t a natural wide receiver. He is still uncomfortable catching the football and struggles heavily with press coverage. Smith fights the ball, and has difficulty with those “tough” catches that aren’t easy but NFL players need to make. For example, when you run a stop/hitch route and you are working back to the quarterback to the inside and he fires the ball high and to the outside, it is a very hard catch. Yet, a NFL player needs to make that catch 9 out of 10 times. Smith isn’t at that level yet and we have seen that in 2007 when he dropped multiple passes like the one I just mentioned.

Smith would be best used in situations where his athleticism can do most of the work. He is a good target for a jump ball in single coverage and made a nice touchdown grab against the Giants in ’07 on that type of play. However, he isn’t quick enough to work out of the slot as a full time #3 guy and smart teams will press him up on the outside, limiting his effectiveness.

David Clowney doesn’t have a large body of work to study but he clearly showed he has the speed to run by defenders last pre-season. Brian Schottenheimer likes taking shots down the field by sending a receiver in short motion towards the formation and then sending them on a deep crossing route (like Clowney caught in the regular season against Buffalo) or a skinny post (like Clowney caught in the pre-season against Cleveland) usually combined with play-action. Clowney is the most qualified Jet receiver for these routes, although expect to see Cotchery also running the deep crossing route often. Another positive of Clowney’s speed is that corners will give him extra space, meaning he should be able to hitch up at 10 yards and be open a couple of times per game. He showed an ability to work the intermediate stop/hitch last pre-season also, which is important because he can’t just catch deep balls.

The Jets probably won’t have a clear cut #2, 3, and 4 receiver and will be best served by rolling their players through in packages that play to their strengths along with Dustin Keller/Leon Washington. Chansi Stuckey should be a frequent target on 3rd and short/intermediate and other situations where the Jets are looking to pick up a quick 5-8 yards. Jerricho Cotchery will be all over the place and needs to take advantage when he sees single coverage. He will catch his usual crossing routes/curls/outs but also needs to break a few tackles and make some big runs after the catch to keep the Jets offense moving. Brad Smith should be a red-zone target and remain primarily a gadget player in other situations. Clowney should be able to catch a curl route or two a game and hopefully his share of deep balls.

New Jets Player Highlight of Day: Hopefully the guy who will be throwing the balls to all these previously mentioned guys, Mark Sanchez. Here are all his pass attempts from last year’s Rose Bowl against Penn State, after a slow start, he picks it up big time.

Jets Positional Analysis: Offensive Line

First a few updates:

1. Following the release of Bubba Franks, the Jets have signed the immortal Richard Owens to play tight end. He wasn’t in football last season but in the four seasons prior to that he racked up 17 catches for 141 yards and 1 touchdown…yippeee. Where is Doug Jolley when you need him?

2. I updated the depth chart for the first time in a month, no major changes but worth a glance if you are interested in seeing everybody the Jets currently have at every position.

Jets Positional Analysis: Offensive Line

Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to go through all of the Jets positions and assess each player, continuing today with the offensive line:

1. Nick Mangold #74, Starting Center, Last Season: Started 16 Games, Selected to Pro-Bowl

History: A first round pick of the Jets in 2006, Mangold has been a great all-around lineman since the moment he put on green and white. After being an alternate in the pro-bowl his first two seasons, he was selected last year and it was well deserved. He is mobile and does a good job in both pass protection and run blocking, and should be an anchor on the Jets line for the next decade.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Mangold stays healthy and develops into a leader on the offense. He begins a long stretch of seasons as an all-pro center.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: It is hard to see Mangold regressing at this point of his career, so the only worst case I think of is him getting hurt.

Prediction: I have my fingers crossed for another healthy 16 games of pro-bowl caliber play from Mangold and if he is healthy than you should expect an all-pro appearance.

2. D’Brickashaw Ferguson #60, Starting Left Tackle, Last Season: Started 16 Games, Pro-Bowl Alternate

History: The fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft, Ferguson has been a good but not great player. He has improved each year but still isn’t an elite tackle in the NFL. Regardless, he has never missed a game in his first three seasons and is excellent in pass protection.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: D’Brick takes his game to the next level and makes his first pro-bowl appearance. He improves his run blocking and his allowed sack total drops from the previous season.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles as he did during the 2007 season, regressing from last season’s success or is injured.

Prediction: D’Brick will remain a very good starter for the Jets and if a few things break a certain way, he might end up in Hawaii at the end of the year.

3. Alan Faneca #66, Starting Left Guard, Last Season: Started 16 Games, Selected to Pro-Bowl

History: The Jets signed Faneca to a massive contract last season, despite his somewhat advanced age. He responded witha very good season, where he provided strong veteran leadership to both Mangold and Ferguson. He made the pro-bowl because of his reputation.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Faneca matches his play from last year, showing no signs of decline due to age.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He begins to break down in only the second year of his five year contract.

Prediction: Faneca is a pro’s pro and will be a solid piece of the Jets offensive line for another year.

4. Brandon Moore #65, Starting Right Guard, Last Season: Started 16 Games

History: He has started 73 consecutive games for the Jets at right guard, getting better with age. He is extremely underrated and arguably out-played Alan Faneca last season. The Jets were almost stupid enough to let him get away this year but fortunately brought him back.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He keeps doing what he has been doing the past few years, and maybe receives a little more recognition now that he signed a new contract.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: An injury ends his consecutive starts streak.

Prediction: After the past few years, how can I not predict Moore to start 16 games and be a very good guard for the Jets?

5. Damien Woody #67, Starting Right Tackle, Last Season: Started 16 Games

History: The Jets biggest question mark on offensive line heading into last season and most questionable signing, Woody responded with a strong season. He is especially valuable because of his ability to also play guard and center.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Woody does exactly what he did last year, making Mike Tannenbaum look smart for giving him that big contract last year.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Woody struggles at tackle, making Mike Tannenbaum look stupid for giving him that big contract last year.

Prediction: The guy I am most worried about on the Jets offensive line. I think (more like hope) Woody does duplicate his play from last year.

6. Robert Turner #75, Backup Guard/Tackle, Last Season: Active For 16 Games

History: Turner has been a Jets backup lineman the past two years. He saw action in 2007 at guard and last season as an extra tight end in short yardage packages. He would be the first one off the bench if Faneca or Moore got hurt this season.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He contributes again in short yardage packages and is able to answer the bell if he is called to play because of injury.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles in training camp and is cut, leaving the Jets even thinner at the backup OL spot.

Prediction: Turner is a pretty good athlete and does have experience, I see him remaining the Jets top backup this year and seeing the field in short yardage sets.

7. Wayne Hunter #78, Backup Tackle, Last Season: Active for 16 Games

History: He has been with the Jets the past two years after playing with Seattle and Jacksonville. He was an extra tight end in some short yardage packages last year (look at the big fella out in space last year against the BIlls). As of now, he is the first tackle off the bench in case of injury.

Chance of Making Roster: 80%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He steps in, if needed and hopefully he isn’t needed.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He loses his roster spot to one of the younger lineman.

Prediction: I don’t see why he wouldn’t remain on the active roster, unless somebody really sticks out in pre-season or bombs out.

8. Matt Slauson #68, Backup Guard/Tackle, 6th Round Pick in 2009 NFL Draft

History: The Jets took him in the 6th round this year. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan is familiar with him from his days at Nebraska. The Jets like his versatility, since he has starting experience at tackle and guard. He played guard last season for the Cornhuskers.

Chance of Making Roster: 80%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He learns the next couple of seasons behind the veterans and eventually becomes a starter.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He gets cut.

Prediction: I think he will be on the 53 man roster and bounce between being active and inactive.

The Rest of the Guys:

9. Stanley Daniels #64 – Backup tackle who has bounced around the Jets practice squad/training camp the past couple of years.

10. Tavita Thompson #62 – UDFA Tackle from Oregon State.

11. Ryan McKee #69 – UDFA Tackle from Southern Mississippi.

12. Michael Kracalick #76 – Big (6’8, 335 Lbs) tackle who has been in the NFL for 4 seasons.

13. Michael Parenton #56 – UDFA Center from Tulane.

14. Nevin McCaskill –  A tackle, Jets just signed him a few days ago

Overall Position Analysis: The Jets have one of the best front fives in football but some question marks behind them. Mangold and Ferguson should keep improving, Moore is as steady as they come, and hopefully Faneca and Woody won’t start breaking down yet. Hopefully, Slauson turns into a good prospect/eventual starter for this team.

New Jets Player Highlight: Rookie running back Shonn Greene has a day against Wisconsin, going for 217 yards and 4 TD’s. His second touchdown run at the 1:55 mark is extra pretty. Thomas Jones, Leon Washington, and now this guy? I like it.

What Is A Successful Jets Season?

First a few updates:

1. The Jets released tight end Bubba Franks yesterday, moving them from being very thin at the position to being ridiculously thin. Behind second year player Dustin Keller, the Jets have a converted defensive end, a long snapper and two undrafted free agents. It might be time to consider a move before training camp starts, Mike Tannebaum, because the Jets are kidding themselves if they think Kareem Brown can start off the year as their number two tight end.

2. Kerry Rhodes was on ESPN Radio today and made a few interesting comments. He discussed the relief of having Jim Leonhard starting alongside of him because of the freedom it will grant him in the secondary. It was also clear from the interview that he was frustrated with the way Eric Mangini used him last season.

What Is A Successful Jets Season?

Over the past few days I have been reading numerous previews about the Jets in 2009 and listening to different football analysts talk about the team and have noticed a growing pessimism about them this upcoming year. The general consensus seems to be that the Jets and their fans have too high of expectations for 2009, and that there are many reasons to believe the team will struggle this season. The organization and the fans need to reconsider what a successful 2009 season equates to.

Reading these previews and thinking about the upcoming year forces you to question, what do you consider to be a successful Jets season in 2009? Personally, I always think a playoff appearance equals a successful season, but should I be satisfied with less?

There are plenty of reasonable and convincing arguments against the Jets being a playoff team in 2009. They have a rookie head coach. The last two defensive coordinators from Baltimore who became head coaches struggled in the top position. They are likely starting a rookie quarterback. Their schedule is difficult, especially in the first four games. They lack depth on both sides of the ball and are due for a rash of injuries after having a healthy 2009 season. Their offense has major question marks at tight end and receiver. Their defense will be without their best outside linebacker for the first four games. I hear you critics…and you got some valid arguments.

Here is a hypothetical: the Jets go 7-9 this year. Mark Sanchez wins the starting quarterback job, progresses nicely during the season and shows signs of being the guy the Jets drafted him to be. The defense starts out a little slow but adapts to the new system as the year moves on and they finish very strong. You get what you expect out of your pro-bowl running backs and your inexperienced receiving core. The season ends and the Jets spend the off-season acquiring a big time target for Sanchez and improving their overall depth, not that bad, right? Can you be satisfied with that for next year? Honestly, I can’t say I would because naturally I want to watch a team with winning record compete in the playoffs but in reality that wouldn’t be a terrible season.

The above scenario could very easily happen in 2009, as could even worse scenarios that involve major injuries, Mark Sanchez/Rex Ryan looking like a bust, and a 4-12 record. However, it also isn’t crazy to argue/believe the Jets can be a 9-7 to 11-5 team competing for wild-card spot and maybe even a division title.

The rookie head coach/rookie quarterback problem can be overcome (see Atlanta/Baltimore last year). I also remember the Jets making the playoffs with a rookie head coach in both 2001 (Herman Edwards) and 2006 (Eric Mangini). The Jets didn’t receive incredible quarterback play in either of those seasons but still managed to win ten games. Sanchez will make his mistakes but if he can be average/slightly above average, the Jets will be in every game because of their running game and talent level on defense.

I don’t buy the concerns about the Jets schedule. Their first four games aren’t the easiest in the world but there is no reason they can’t be 2-2. Houston is a team that everybody says is jumping to the next level every single season, yet they always go 7-9 or 8-8. The Pats are the Pats. The Jets whipped the Titans last year in Tennessee and now get them at home and the Saints haven’t made the playoffs the past two years. After those four games the Jets have Miami, Buffalo, Oakland, Miami and then a bye. Am I really insane to think the Jets can be 5-3 heading into that bye? The second half of the schedule isn’t a cakewalk but includes winnable games at home against Jacksonville, Cincinnati, and on the road against Tampa Bay and Toronto aka Buffalo. Carolina, New England, Atlanta, and Indy are tough second half games but if the Jets are a playoff caliber team, they will be able to pull an upset or two.

The Jets depth is a major issue on offense, period. If an offensive lineman gets hurt for an extended period of time, they could be in serious trouble although Wayne Hunter and Robert Turner have some game experience the past two years (as extra tight ends), there would be still be large drop off. They have one NFL caliber tight end on their roster right now and the receivers are a question mark. However, I do remember in 2006 when the same questions were asked about their receiving core and a little known player stepped up and turned into a capable NFL starter (Jerricho Cotchery) and the other one was a solid number one (Laveranues Coles). Why can’t Chansi Stuckey or David Clowney imitate Cotchery from 2006 this season and why can’t Cotchery imitate Coles, a player who he arguably played better than the last two years?

On defense, I think the Jets have pretty good depth. Their top three backup corners (Dwight Lowery, Donald Strickland, Drew Coleman) and backup safety (Eric Smith) all have starting or extended experience as NFL players. At linebacker, Larry Izzo is a seasoned NFL veteran, Jason Trusnick and Marques Murrell have flashed potential and when Calvin Pace returns in week 5, Vernon Gholston can bump back into being a pass rush specialist. They are definitely a little thin at defensive end but Howard Green and Sione Pouha are experienced backups at defensive tackle in the NFL.

Like just about every NFL team, the Jets can end up anywhere in the standings in 2009. We will learn alot about Rex Ryan and his new defense, along with Mark Sanchez right out of the gate on the road in Houston and home against division favorite/rival New England in week two.

Even if it isn’t fair, I can’t say I’d be happy with a 7-9 team, unless maybe they swept New England and Miami…nah maybe not even then. I want to see them at match last season’s win total and playing meaningful games in December.

New Jets Player Highlight of the Day: Bart Scott demolishes Ben Rothlisberger. Swaggalicious.

Jets Positional Analysis: Safeties

First a few updates:

1. Yankees are one game out of first place because no matter what they can’t beat the Angels. The Mets would have a good shot of being in first place right now if they were in a AA league.

2. If you read the comments under the article on the home page entitled “End of the Weekend Jets Ramblings” you can find a prolonged debate between reader dmd13 and myself about Leon Washington. I am carving him up right now like Will Ferrell carved up James Carville in Old School.

Jets Positional Analysis: Safeties

Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to go through all of the Jets positions and assess each player, continuing today with the safeties:

1. Kerry Rhodes #25, Last Season: 84 Tackles, 1 Sack, 8 Tackles For Loss, 5 Passes Defensed, 2 Interceptions

History: Rhodes has been starting for the Jets since his rookie season in 2005, after the Jets selected him in the fourth round. He had a breakout season in 2006 and was robbed by not being selected to the pro-bowl for a season that saw him record 5 sacks, 4 INTs, 3 Forced Fumbles, 13 Passes Defensed, and 98 tackles. His numbers dipped slightly the year after and even further this past season. Many people blame Rhodes lack of big play production on Eric Mangini/Bob Sutton’s poor use of him and him lacking a partner at safety with range to cover and stop the run. The Jets signed Jim Leonhard this season to allow Rhodes to have more freedom and make plays for the defense.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Rhodes becomes New York’s version of Ed Reed and is constantly creating big plays in Rex Ryan’s attacking scheme. He makes his first pro-bowl appearance and establishes himself as one of the elite safeties in the game.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: His numbers continue to decline, making it look like 2006-2007 were fluke seasons for Rhodes.

Prediction: I think Rhodes is going to thrive in Rex Ryan’s system and he will be greatly aided by having Jim Leonhard, someone with strong pass coverage skills, next to him. Expect his numbers to be very similar to what they were in 2006.

2. Jim Leonhard #36, Last Season: 69 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Tackle For Loss, 6 Passes Defensed, 1 INT, 1 Touchdown

History: Leonhard didn’t do much his first two seasons in the NFL but did an excellent job of stepping in for an injured Dawan Landry last season, showing his ability to play at this level. His play improved as the season went on and he had a huge impact in Baltimore’s playoff run. He is comfortable with Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme and should help Kerry Rhodes make plays in the same way his abilities helped Ed Reed make plays.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Leonhard builds on last season and gives the Jets consistent play at safety opposite Rhodes for the first time in years. He helps teach Ryan’s defense to the entire secondary, easing their transition to a new scheme.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Leonhard struggles adjusting to becoming a full time starter for an entire season. He eventually loses his job to Eric Smith, meaning the Jets wasted money signing him in the off-season.

Prediction: Leonhard will be a steady, consistent player in the Jets secondary. I dont’ expect tons of big plays from him but definitely a major improvement in pass coverage from Abram Elam last year.

3. Eric Smith #33, Last Season: 32 Tackles, 1 Tackle For Loss, 4 Passes Defensed, 1 INT

History: Smith was drafted by the Jets in 2006 and had a pretty good rookie season. He has struggled with injuries the past couple of season and didn’t seize the starting job last year when given the opportunity. However, he did have a good mini-camp/OTA’s recording numerous interceptions and impressing Rex Ryan.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Smith develops into a valuable role player on defense and continues to play well on special teams. If Jim Leonhard or Kerry Rhodes gets hurt he is able to step in and do the job adequately.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Smith struggles to find a role on the defense and doesn’t provide any valuable reps to the unit.

Prediction: Smith will be a quality third safety for the Jets and contribute in some nickle and dime packages, while also playing special teams.

4. James Ihedigbo #44, Last Season: 8 Tackles, 1 Killer Holding Penalty on Special Teams

History: Ihedigbo has bounced around the Jets practice squad and inactive roster the past couple of years. However, he was active for a few games last season but unfortunately his most memorable play was a holding call that brought back a Leon Washington kick return touchdown against the 49ers. Rex Ryan did say he liked what he saw from him during OTA’s as the Jets #4 safety.

Chance of Making Roster: 75%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Ihedigbo is the Jets #4 safety and a core special teams player.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He gets cut because he is beat out by one of the Jets UDFA’s.

Prediction: I expect him to make the roster and be the number 4 safety.

The Rest of the Guys:

5. Emanuel Cook #38 – A UDFA who probably should have been drafted but has some character issues. He has some talent and has been compared to Abram Elam because of his hard hitting style of play.

6. Keith Fitzhugh #37 – Another UDFA who will compete for a roster spot as a special teams player and reserve DB.

Overall Position Analysis: Rhodes and Leonhard will be the starters, with Smith providing a quality backup to both spots. Ihedigbo should be the fourth safety but keep an eye on Cook during training camp.

Highlight of New Jets Player of the Day: Safety Jim Leonhard records a sack and has a nice punt return on consecutive plays last year:

2009 New York Jets: 10 Predictions

First a few updates:

1. For the past couple of weeks we have had the ability to post videos on the site through WordPress, however I wasn’t sure really how to incorporate the available videos into articles. Yet, starting today I am going to attempt to run a highlight or highlights of each of the new members of the Jets in the 2009 season, starting today with cornerback Lito Sheppard. I have some admitted concerns about Lito this season but watching this highlight from 2006 makes me feel a little better:

2. Feel Good Jets Moment of the Day – November 12th 2006 – The 4-4 Jets traveled to New England with a 7 game losing streak to the Patriots, but on this muddy day they would finally get the best of Bill Bellicheck and Tom Brady. Led by Kevan Barlow (17 carries, 75 yards, 1 TD), Jerricho Cotchery (6 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD), and a stingy defensive effort the Jets upset New England 17-14.

2009 New York Jets: 10 Predictions

1. Dustin Keller will lead the team in touchdown receptions and be second on the team in both receptions and receiving yards, behind Jerricho Cotchery. His blocking will improve slightly but the Jets will struggle in short yardage situations more than they did in 2008 because of the absence of a good blocking tight end.

2. Chansi Stuckey will start every game opposite Jerricho Cotchery at receiver and catch 50-60 passes. However, his yards per catch will be low and he will have a difficult time getting into the end-zone. David Clowney will develop into the #3 receiver, while Brad Smith remains a gadget player/#4 receiver.

3. Thomas Jones will have less carries, yards, receptions, and touchdowns than he did in 2008. On the other hand, Leon Washington will have more carries, yards, receptions, and touchdowns than he did in 2008. Shonn Greene (seen to the right running over a poor Jets fields and grounds worker) will start out slow but develop into a valuable 4th quarter weapon by the end of the season.

4. Mark Sanchez will start every game at quarterback and put up very comparable numbers to Joe Flacco last season (2971 yards, 14 TD’s, 12 INT’s). He will be named the starter heading into the 3rd pre-season game.

5. The Jets won’t have a player with double-digit sacks again. Vernon Gholston will contribute more than he did his rookie season (not hard to say) and finish with 5.5 sacks. Calvin Pace will record 6 sacks in 12 games. Bryan Thomas will have a good all around season but only finish with 6.5 sacks. Marques Murrell will contribute off the bench throughout the year and record the first few sacks of his NFL career.

6. Kerry Rhodes will make his first pro-bowl in 2009 and be joined in the secondary by teammate Darrelle Revis, who will continue to improve. Jim Leonhard will be a consistent starter opposite Rhodes, but Eric Smith will find his way on to the field in a few sets. Lito Sheppard/Dwight Lowery/Donald Strickland will be an upgrade over Ty Law/Dwight Lowery/Drew Coleman.

7. Bart Scott won’t be an all-pro caliber player in 2009 but will bring leadership and swagger to the Jets defense. His presence will also help the growth of David Harris at inside linebacker.

8. At least one Jets offensive lineman will miss a few games with an injury, putting pressure on Robert Turner or Wayne Hunter to step up for a couple of weeks. Turner will also receive reps throughout the season as a blocking tight end, when the Jets realize Bubba Franks is washed up.

9. TJ Conley will be the Jets punter in 2009. Sorry Reggie Hodges.

10. Rex Ryan and Channing Crowder will brawl before the Jets/Dolphins week 5 Monday Night game. The scene will resemble The Godfather when Sonny (Ryan) beats Carlo (Crowder) down in the street.

Jets Positional Analysis: Cornerbacks

First a few updates:

1. The Jets signed free agent tackle Nevin McCaskill today. He has bounced around the Bills, Packers, and Eagles practice squad the past couple of seasons. Exciting stuff…

2. Check out Brian Bassett’s response to Mike Florio’s recent biased Jets bashing over at Pro Football Talk here…(http://www.thejetsblog.com/2009/07/06/in-which-i-trash-lazy-hot-seat-conjecture-from-mike-florio/)  — Good work Bassett. Florio has done a nice job over at PFT but his tiring, baseless Jets bashing hurts his credibility. I don’t know what his story is, maybe some Jets fans took his lunch money when he was a little kid or something.

3. There has been some talk about ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s twitters about Vernon Gholston, claiming he struggled in OTAs. First off, it is OTA’s…how much can a pass rusher struggle in practice without pads? Second, I will take the word of the Jets beat writers who were at every available practice and said Gholston had a decent mini-camp/OTA’s over Schefter who was probably at one practice.

Jets Positional Analysis: Cornerbacks

Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to go through all of the Jets positions and assess each player, continuing today with the cornerbacks:

1. Darrelle “Young Lockdown” Revis #24, Last Season: 58 tackles, 5 Interceptions, 16 passes defensed, 1 touchdown, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble.

History: Revis was the Jets first round pick in 2007 and instantly made them look smart for drafting him. After an impressive rookie campaign, Revis took his game to the next level last year by becoming a pro-bowl player. He made his share of big plays in the limited number of balls thrown his way and consistently matched-up with the other team’s best receiver, predominantly with good results.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Revis keeps getting better and becomes an all-pro player. He proves to be a lock down corner in his battles against Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Lee Evans, Andre Johnson, and Steve Smith. Revis also continues to make big plays, matching or exceeding his interception total from the previous year.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Revis struggles against his high level of competition this season, keeping the Jets pass defense vulnerableor he suffers an injury.

Prediction: Revisis a great player and I don’t see him regressing from last season. I think his numbers will be comparable to last year, if not slightly higher and he will hold his own against the top flight receivers he faces this year.

2. Lito Sheppard #26, Last Season: 21 tackles, 1 interception, 4 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble

History: Sheppard was a pro-bowl corner for the Eagles in both 2004 and 2006, showing a knack for making big plays and being able to match-up with big time receivers. However, he has struggled with injuries the previous two years and was moved to nickel back last season when Philly signed Asante Samuel. The Jets are hoping Sheppard can rejuvenate his career in New York and provide a stable player opposite Darrelle Revis.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Sheppard returns to his 2006 form and is able to handle the high amount of balls thrown his way, giving the Jets one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Sheppard struggles with injuries and inconsistent play again, leaving the Jets vulnerable on the other side of Revis.

Prediction: I can’t lie, I am worried about Sheppard. I think when he is on the field he will be able to hold his own and be an upgrade from what they had last year but I think you will see him miss a few games with injury and struggle a little bit early season when offenses are constantly coming after him.

3. Donald Strickland, #27, Last Season: 38 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 5 passes defensed

History: Strickland is a 7 year veteran who has been a solid nickelback the past couple of seasons for the 49ers. The Jets signed him to provide some competition with Dwight Lowery for the nickel spot and to provide some more experience to the secondary.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Strickland provides the Jets good depth and plays well in the nickel packages. He is also able to step in and do an adequate job if Sheppard or Revis goes down for a few weeks.

Wost Case Scenario for 2009: Strickland struggles in training camp and is buried on the depth chart or eventually cut.

Prediction: I think Strickland and Dwight Lowery will be splitting the nickelback role based on certain situations or match-ups. Based on his career, you can’t expect many big plays from Strickland but if he could be an upgrade from Drew Coleman in the slot last season it will improve the Jets pass defense.

4. Dwight Lowery #21, Last Season: 64 tackles, 1 interception, 16 passes defensed, 5 forced fumbles

History: Lowery was the Jets fourth round pick last season and managed to be their starting cornerback by week one. He began the season strongly but started to struggle around the middle of the year and was replaced in the starting line-up by mid-season acquisition Ty Law. Lowery showed a great nose for the ball however with 5 forced fumbles and 16 passes defense. Despite lacking top end speed, he showed a good deal of potential last season.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Lowery improves from last season and develops into a very good nickel back for the Jets and somebody who can eventually take over for Lito Sheppard. He continues to force turnovers.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He regresses from last year and struggles to adjust to Rex Ryan’s new scheme. Lowery turns into nothing more than a special teams player, after starting for the first half of his rookie season.

Prediction: Ryan will find a role for Lowery on defense as a #3/#4 corner and maybe an extra safety in a few sets. He will also be a valuable core special teams player.

5. Drew “Toast” Coleman #30, Last Season: 23 tackles, 6 passes defensed

History: Coleman was the Jets 6th round pick in 2006 and actually developed into a starter mid-way through the season. However, he eventually lost the job and had his role diminished in 2007. He was only active for 9 games last season but the games he did play in, he was usually the Jets nickelback. Unfortunately, he made a habit of getting beat like a drum in the slot especially against the Bills and 49ers.

Chance of Making Roster: 40-50%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Coleman becomes a valuable reserve and plays in some of the Jets dime packages. He remains a quality special teams player.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles in training camp and is cut before the year starts…and is obviously signed by Eric Mangini a day later.

Prediction: Unless the Jets keep 6 corners, it will be hard for Coleman to make the roster.

6. Ahmad Carroll #31, Last Season: 20 tackles, 2 forced fumbles

History: A former first round pick, who has struggled in NFL. The Jets took a shot on him last year and he turned into a very good special teams player for them. He was re-signed this year to continue in that role, with some hope that Rex Ryan can find some use for him at either corner or safety.

Chance of Making Roster: 50-60%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He remains a very good special teams player and contributes as a backup corner/safety combo.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He is cut before the season begins.

Prediction: I think Carroll will make the roster, remain a core special teams player and develop into good backup safety/corner for the Jets. He has the talent to be a defensive player in this league.

The Rest of the Guys

7. Marquice Cole #34 – A UDFA who bounced around the league last season…extra body for training camp.

8. Rashad Barksdale #35 – See above, although he has good size (6’5, 208 lbs).

Overall Position Analysis: Revis is a top flight corner in the NFL, Sheppard will start opposite him with Lowery and Strickland as the top backups battling for reps. Carroll should make the team because of his special teams ability and potential. Coleman is probably the odd man out, unless the Jets keep 6 CBs.