The Jets Journey To Relevancy

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The Jets Journey To Relevancy

Today I was talking to a friend from Philadelphia about how big of a following the Flyers have in the city with their recent Cinderella run in the playoffs. He assured me the Flyers were a big deal within the city and had a rabid following that didn’t trail the Eagles or Phillies by as much as you’d expect. I thought about the New York sports market, where the Rangers, Devils, and Islanders are irrelevant topics on the back pages of newspapers, sports talk radio, and mainstream websites. The only buzz around the Knicks and Nets is associated with the prayer’s chance of recruiting LeBron James. Football and baseball dominate the town. The Yankees are the number one story and you would normally put the Giants and Mets right behind them with the Jets a distant fourth.

PhotobucketI remember December 30th, 2007 sitting in the pouring rain at a half empty stadium watching the 3-12 Jets play the 4-11 Chiefs. It was an ugly and depressing game as I watched Kellen Clemens struggle through a 13/25, 115 yard performance. The Giants were headed to the playoffs. The Patriots had just completed an undefeated regular season. Little did I know that both were headed for an epic Super Bowl, which had one of the best fourth quarters and plays in league history. There you had it, the team the Jets shared the city with and their biggest rival battling on the world’s biggest stage while the Jets couldn’t be any more irrelevant. It was just another low point in the difficult life of being a New York Jets fan.

Yet today, when I was talking with my friend I had to put the Jets as the number two story in the New York sports market behind the defending champion Yankees. The Mets are slowly fading into their usual oblivion and somehow the Jets have become a better, more entertaining team and a bigger story than the New York Giants, a team who won arguably the greatest Super Bowl game ever played a little over 2 years ago.

How did this happen?

It started with an uncharacteristically aggressive off-season headed into the 2008 regular season. General Manager Mike Tannenbaum learned from his mistake heading into the 2007 season, when he incorrectly believed his 10-6 team was only a few minor tweaks away from being a Super Bowl contender. The Jets were a fun story in 2006 but they caught the league off-guard with a wild-card appearance thanks to a soft schedule, a surprisingly productive season from Chad Pennington, and career years from journeyman players like Victor Hobson, Cedric Houston, Anthony Clement, Chris Baker, Bryan Thomas, Hank Poteat, Erik Coleman, Justin Miller, and Andre Dyson.

The Jets did add Thomas Jones but thought they could get by another year with Clement on the line and Adrien Clarke stepping in for Pete Kendall at guard and made no major free agent additions to their defense. However, Tannenbaum did strike gold in the draft by trading up for future All-Pro defenders Darrelle Revis and David Harris. Regardless, Pennington succumbed to another injury and Kellen Clemens struggled heavily behind a terrible offensive line and the Jets disappointed with a 4-12 season.

With owner Woody Johnson’s blessing the Jets began a trend of recruiting and landing big time free agents. They broke the bank for perennial pro-bowler Alan Faneca and brought in veteran Damien Woody to complement him at tackle. They outbid Miami for Calvin Pace and swung a trade for Kris Jenkins. They also solidified their running game by adding fullback Tony Richardson and blocking tight end Bubba Franks. Despite Eric Mangini’s stringent ways and the organization operating under the New England state of mind, they were still able to recruit big name players to rebuild the roster.

PhotobucketTannenbaum didn’t finish his off-season until he shocked the football world by swinging a trade for Brett Favre. I know in the end, the Favre experiment didn’t work out considering the Jets failed to make the playoffs and his struggles down the stretch. However, the fact that Favre joined the Jets demonstrated to the rest of the league that the team was moving in the right direction. The pieces were being put into place to build a contender on both sides of the ball and they had a GM and owner who would aggressively pursue putting together a winner regardless of the cost.

The Jets could have faded back into irrelevancy into 2009 when they decided to cut ties with Favre and head coach Eric Mangini. Breaking with his personal characteristics and the Bill Parcells mindset he was groomed with, Mike Tannenbaum went for the boisterous, confident Rex Ryan. Mangini was a good football mind but had suffocated the life out of the organization. Ryan provided the shot of energy necessary to overcome the hangover from the disastrous end to the 2009 season and Favre’s departure. The bold moves from the previous off-season carried over into the months heading into 2009, starting with Ryan and his recruitment of former Baltimore Ravens, Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, and Marques Douglas.

Yet, the most important decision came during the 2009 NFL Draft. The Jets weren’t making the playoffs with Kellen Clemens or Brett Ratliff at quarterback and everybody knew it. They needed a franchise quarterback to wash the bad taste out of everybody’s mouth that Favre had left. Working with their former head coach Mangini, they moved up to acquire USC’s Mark Sanchez.

The team had successfully moved out of the Mangini/Favre era with an exciting new head coach and quarterback. However, they retained the quality players acquired during Mangini’s two winning seasons in three years. The pieces were in place for a team with cautiously high expectations heading into the 2009 season.

In a rare occurrence, the football gods smiled on the ugly stepchild of New York City. A 7-7 team that appeared to be out of the playoffs was handed the backups of the best team in the league and took advantage. The victory positioned them to close out the stadium they had embarrassingly been tenants in, with a playoff berth in front of the whole country on Sunday Night Football. The Big Brother New York Giants had packed up their bags a few weeks too early and left with an ugly loss to the Carolina Panthers, leaving the Jets to fill the void as the team the New York sports market could get behind. Regardless of who the Bengals played or didn’t play, the Jets thrived for their fans and the city with a 37-0 victory.

PhotobucketAny questions about the Jets validity as a playoff team were answered with subsequent road victories over the Bengals and heavily favored San Diego Chargers. The momentum carried right into the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game, when the Jets were up 17-6. Unfortunately, an immortal quarterback rose to the top of his game and ended their run.

Despite the loss, the Jets had arrived. Their head coach whose ability to entertain and grab headlines was matched by his ability to design an elite defense and motivate his players, had claimed the Jets would be the number one show in town when the new Meadowlands began hosting NFL games and it was hard not to believe him. Tannenbaum didn’t back off. He must have remembered the off-season heading into 2007 again because he added Antonio Cromartie, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, and Santonio Holmes to a team that was 28 minutes away from a Super Bowl.

Here we are today, with HBO knocking down the Jets door to feature them on Hard Knocks. Relevancy doesn’t equal success but any Jets fan will tell you it is refreshing to be the most hyped up team in the area. Giants fans will say they enjoy flying under the radar and I don’t blame them. They shouldn’t concern themselves with the attention being paid to a team who hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1969, when they have won 3 since then. However, the Jets don’t have to ignore the spotlight being shined on them. Yes, they bring the attention to themselves with the boasting of their head coach, big name acquisitions, and posturing of their owner but there is substance behind the hype around the team.

There is a system of playing defense and running the football, which is a familiar formula for playoff teams. The Jets have the ability to run the ball because they have assembled one of the best offensive lines in football and found a running back by trading up to get a guy that inexplicably slipped through the cracks to the third round. They have the ability to play defense because they drafted the best corner in the NFL, an All-Pro inside linebacker, and surrounded them with quality free agent additions. Yet, if you follow the NFL these days you know it takes more than running the ball and defense to win a championship, which is why the Jets have surrounded their franchise quarterback with one of the best three wide sets in the NFL, a pass-catching tight end, and one of better receiving running backs in NFL history.

Somehow, someway the Jets have navigated themselves into relevancy. The owner, GM, coach, and roster is finally in place to turn that relevancy into success. By success, I mean the one thing that could actually put the Jets on the same level of the Giants as a NFL organization and make sure the new stadium doesn’t turn into “Giants Stadium Part 2,” and that is win a Super Bowl.

Now Some Other Updates:

1. We have been locked at 315 fans on Facebook for 2 days now and that is getting me a little anxious. I need as many fans as possible to throw at the Jets media relations guy when I working on getting a press pass…so follow it on Facebook, tell you friends to follow it on Facebook and do the same for the Twitter account (TurnOnTheJets).

2. Remember we have other tabs on this site beyond the home page…we also have just added a tab for the Podcast, which links you to the site with the TOJ Podcasts.

3. (http://www.youhaveiwant.com/home.html) – Worth checking out, especially if you are looking to get your hands on New York area sports tickets.

4. Jets minor roster moves…they added offensive tackle Aaron Kia and released receiver S.J. Green and offensive tackle Matt Stommes. The depth chart has been updated accordingly.

5. Tough break for the New Jersey Nets last night. I can’t say that I wasn’t happy since I am a Knicks fan first and a Wizards fan second…yes I have a second favorite basketall team. How can I justify that? First off, the Knicks have been god awful the past decade, second I lived in DC for 6 months, attended some games at the Phone Booth when the Wizards were pretty good and became a big Agent Zero fan…before he decided to start bringing guns into the locker room. So, yea I broke out the John Wall dance in my Arenas shirt last night after they got the number one pick.

6. Thoughts On Lost Final Season, Episode 16 “What They Died For” –We ended our one episode break in 23 A.D. with glowing caves and terrible kid actors by getting back to our main characters with a very, very good episode. Everybody kind of saw it coming with Jack replacing Jacob, but it almost seemed like it happened too easy. I have a feeling when it is all said and done, Jack won’t be taking the job as island protector. I liked the sideways action…Desmond is well on his way to putting together the greatest reunion concert ever. Instead of breaking down all the details of last night’s episode, here are my predictions for the finale and you can trust I have avoided all spoilers this season:

  • Richard and Lapidus aren’t dead yet.
  • Sawyer will die on the island.
  • Juliet is Jack’s ex-wife in the sideways timeline.
  • Jack will cure Locke in the sideways but find a way to kill him on the island.
  • Ben is pulling a long con on Locke and will end up being a good guy at the end…and the new island protector.
  • Desmond is going into the yellow cave…and I don’t know what happens from there.
  • I still have no idea how they merge both timelines.
  • Rose and Bernard helped Desmond out of the well.
  • Final scene? It was all the dog’s dream.

The Not So Big Name Jets Starters

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First a few updates:

1. Jason Taylor practiced with the team today and was wearing #95. I guess he hasn’t been able to pay off Bryan Thomas yet for a number switch to #99 or Thomas has decided to hang on to his number.

2. The Jets will have the day off tomorrow and then be back at practice on Thursday with full media availability. They will have the same schedule next week.

3. How about those Yankees last night?

4. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

The Not So Big Name Jets Starters

When most people think about the New York Jets in 2010, they will refer to their number one ranked rushing attack and number one ranked defense. They have some big name lineman in Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and Damien Woody. Any NFL fan who watched the playoffs should know all about Shonn Greene. Despite not having a big time passing attack, Mark Sanchez, Braylon Edwards, and Dustin Keller are well known names. On defense, Darrelle Revis, Bart Scott, David Harris are the big names associated with the Jets, along with Kris Jenkins. Calvin Pace got a big contract and Shaun Ellis is a respected veteran. The Jets also added some big name backups this off-season in Jason Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson. Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie are also big name players who were added. However, lesser known starters on the Jets will be a major factor in determining whether or not the team can reach their goal of a Super Bowl this season. When looking at all the big names on the Jets roster, don’t forget about these players who will be running out of the tunnel as starters this season.

Brandon Moore – Moore quietly has been a very good player on the Jets offensive line at the right guard position. He has started 94 games for the team since 2004. After nearly letting him walk, the Jets smartly signed him to an extension before last season. Even though Alan Faneca made the Pro Bowl last year, it is arguable that Brandon Moore had a better year in 2009. He turns 30 this year and will hopefully be able to give the Jets 4-6 more seasons of his consistent play.

PhotobucketBryan ThomasThomas has put together an up and down career with the Jets since being a first round draft pick 9 years ago. He had a breakout season in 2006 with 8.5 sacks but hasn’t approached those numbers since. In year one of Rex Ryan’s defense, Thomas started 16 games and had 53 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. However, he is constantly cited by defensive coordinator Mike Pettine for doing the little things that don’t show up in the stat sheet. Thomas is a versatile player who does a good job on run contain, coverage, and can occasionally get after the quarterback. He will lose some reps to Jason Taylor this year but is still the starter at outside linebacker and a big part of the defense.

Mike DeVito – The Jets are confident in DeVito’s ability to fill in for Marques Douglas at defensive end after he put together a strong year off the bench in 2009. DeVito won’t put up gaudy numbers but seems to have a good grasp on what Rex Ryan wants out of his ends and does a good job in the running game.

Brodney Pool – The Jets are talking up Pool as a big off-season acquisition that is being overlooked by everybody. It is worth pointing out that Pool did have more sacks and interceptions than Kerry Rhodes in six less games last season. The real question about Pool is whether he can stay healthy or not. He has a history of concussions and if he gets another one, that could be it for him. However, it looks like he will get the first crack at replacing Rhodes alongside Jim Leonhard.

April’s Fools Joke on The Jets D-Line

Ten Monday Thoughts On The Jets Defense

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First a few updates:

1. Mark Sanchez threw some passes during the Jets OTA practice today, which is obviously good news. The entire roster participated outside of Kris Jenkins and Jason Taylor. Jenkins was continuing to rehab his injury on the sideline and Taylor was finishing up charity work in Miami. There is a ton of pictures of today’s action on www.newyorkjets.com, including shots of Santonio and LaDainian in the green and white.

2. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

Ten Monday Thoughts On The Jets Defense

1. It will be very interesting to see how the reps are divided up in the Jets defensive backfield this season. Rex Ryan loves using packages that are overloaded with DBs but beyond Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, and Jim Leonhard, who else will be prominently featured in the Jets various sub, nickel, and dime packages? Brodney Pool, Eric Smith, Dwight Lowery, James Ihedigbo, and to a lesser extent Drew Coleman, Marquice Cole, and Donovan Warren will all be competing for a bigger role on the defense.

2. Most people are targeting Jason Taylor as the guy on the Jets who could come up with double digit sacks. Yet keep in mind, Calvin Pace had 8 sacks in only 12 games last season. How about the Jets get two guys in the double digit sack range?

3. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has been talking about second year player Matt Kroul as a key piece of the Jets defensive line rotation this season. Players like Kroul and Ropait Pitoitua need to step up to give the Jets the necessary depth on the line and take pressure off Kris Jenkins up front, who will also have his reps limited by the presence of Sione Pouha.

Photobucket4. I know we are all excited about Kyle Wilson’s coverage skills but don’t sleep on his value as a blitzer in Rex Ryan’s defense. He loves sending defensive backs off the edge and Wilson is athletic and physical enough to get 3 or 4 sacks this season to complement his coverage skills.

5. Nobody is a bigger fan of Darrelle Revis than Turn On The Jets but 20 million dollars a year? The guy is the best corner in football but he wants to be the highest paid player in the league, which is hard to swing if you aren’t a quarterback. These negotiations aren’t going to be pretty.

6. What is the reason we can’t resign Marques Douglas? We can’t give him a one year deal to boost the depth on the defensive line? Maybe I am underestimating Mike DeVito, who for some reason is my cousin’s favorite player on the defense.

7. What are the odds that Vernon Gholston is even active for more than half of the Jets games in 2010? I just can’t see him making a successful transition to defensive end, especially in the 3-4. He isn’t going to play special teams over Lance Laury or Jamaal Westerman.

8. Unlike last year when the Jets defense dominated the offense throughout training camp, it should be a little more even this season. How about watching Revis, Cromartie, and Wilson battle against Edwards, Cotchery, and Holmes on a daily basis? That kind of competition is going to make everybody better…and yes, Dwight Lowery and David Clowney could make each other better also.

9. I want some more defensive touchdowns this season…I am looking at you Antonio Cromartie…and Revis, you really can’t get any better than you were last season but if you want 20 million dollars, let’s take a couple back to the house this year.

10. What defensive player jersey are you looking to buy this season? I got Revis but beyond that I am swamped with offensive jerseys…Harris? Wilson? Leonhard? Drew Coleman?

Ten Monday Thoughts On The Jets Offense

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First a few updates:

1. A reminder to check out Turn On The Jets, new site (http://web.me.com/turnonthejets/Site/Podcast/Podcast.html), where you could find our Podcast and eventually a few other things. It is in the early stages of construction but episode 1 of The Podcast is up and running so give it a listen.

2. Congratulations to Chris Embree and Shawn Perincheril for winning the TOJ DVD Contest, both will be receiving free copies of “New York Jets Best Games of 2009” from Warner Home Video.

3. The final week of LOST is under way and the real question is now what show should I start watching when it is over. I think my plan is to watch “The Wire” from start to finish, followed by the “The West Wing” but I am open to suggestions on shows currently on TV.

4. I have read some bad Power Rankings in my day…but Peter King putting the Dolphins at #6 in his power poll and the Carolina Panthers at #8 has to be up there among the worst.

Photobucket5. Let me just throw in some quick commentary on the Jets PSL/Parking Lot situation – It was bad enough when Deadspin released this story about how the Jets hosted their draft party (http://deadspin.com/5533012/tell-me-how-my-class-tastes-scenes-from-the-worst-nfl-draft-party-ever) but now the reports about the Jets dividing up parking lots based on whether you own a PSL or not have taken the organization’s arrogance to a new level. We knew PSLs were coming for the Jets and they managed to keep out of the upper levels (where my family has their season tickets) but telling people they can’t park near the stadium because they sit in the upper level is a joke. They are breaking up groups of people who have been tailgating together for years and diminishing the game day experience for fans who look forward to hanging out with their friends in the parking lot before and after games. I don’t mind the long walk to the stadium from the parking lot but plenty of older fans and people with younger children certainly will. The Jets have a predominantly working class fanbase and the team has done a spectacular job of alienating them as much as possible with their decisions on the new stadium. The fact that the team is nowhere near selling all the PSLs after one of the best season’s in franchise history, one of the best off-seasons in franchise history, and the rise of the team to one of the biggest stories in the NFL, speaks to that point.

Ten Monday Thoughts On The Jets Offense

1. You have to wonder how many reps Erik Ainge and Kevin O’Connell will get during OTAs with the first team offense. Mark Sanchez won’t be participating until mid-June and even though Kellen Clemens is still technically number two on the depth chart, there is a good chance he won’t be with the team when week 1 comes around. Obviously, the Jets think O’Connell has potential since they carried four quarterbacks last season and Ainge had a very good pre-season in 2009. If either of these guys can play well during OTAs, it could expedite the process of getting rid of Clemens. The Jets will also likely sign Mark Brunell after July 22nd to be the backup for this season but in the long term, Ainge and O’Connell are battling to be Sanchez’s backup. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get an extended look with the starters while Sanchez continues to rehab.

2. The Jets may be better off if Matt Slauson can beat out Vladimir Ducasse in training camp for the starting left guard position. If this happens, Ducasse can spend time learning behind Damien Woody to take over at right tackle, when Woody is no longer with the team which is coming sooner rather than later. If Slauson has a good camp and pre-season, wins the job and can hold his own in 2010, the Jets will be heading into 2011 with a young group on the offensive line, and will have effectively replaced Alan Faneca and Damien Woody which has been a concern since they both were brought in before 2008. Ducasse might also benefit from having a season coming off the bench and slowly working into the Jets offense in short yardage packages, considering he is raw coming out of a I-AA school and won’t have to deal with the pressure in his rookie year of filling Alan Faneca’s shoes. Slauson has a year of learning in the Jets system already and gained valuable experience playing behind Faneca and Brandon Moore in his rookie season.

Photobucket3. It will be very interesting to see how the Jets integrate Santonio Holmes into their offense starting in week five. Unless somebody is really struggling or gets hurt, the Jets aren’t going to pull Jerricho Cotchery or Braylon Edwards from the starting line-up but obviously as the weeks pass with Holmes in the lineup he is gradually going to build up more reps. Cotchery is a team player and won’t have a negative public reaction to losing reps but will Braylon be able to keep his mouth shut if his playing time starts to decrease substantially in his contract year? His best remedy to the problem is to simply catch the football when it is thrown to him.

4. The decision to trade Leon Washington is going to increase LaDainian Tomlinson’s reps on the Jets offense, especially if Joe McKnight can’t get his feet under him in the early part of the season. The Jets can’t trust McKnight in the third down role right out of the gate, so Tomlinson will have to take the bulk of those reps, along with spelling Shonn Greene, and being the Jets likely short-yardage and goal-line back. If Tomlinson is as washed up as he looked towards the end of last season, the Jets could have serious problems with their Ground and Pound approach. Maybe, rookie fullback John Conner will take some short yardage carries to lighten the load on Tomlinson. I am not writing off McKnight in his rookie year but remember it took Shonn Greene awhile to get involved in the Jets offense last year.

5. Speaking of Greene, what are fair expecations for him this season? Honestly, I just want to see him stay healthy for 16 games, protect the football, and make some strides as a pass catcher. If he can do those three things, nobody is going to miss Thomas Jones. I also don’t doubt if he can do those three things, he won’t duplicate the number of yards Jones had rushing in 2009, although I doubt he comes near the 14 touchdowns because Tomlinson will be taking away goal-line carries.

6. If Mark Sanchez makes the expected strides in his second year, how much of the Jets “Tiger” formation will we see? The Jets won’t be helping their offense if Sanchez is in rhythm with Braylon, Cotchery, and Santonio by pulling him out and sticking Brad Smith in to run the option. That being said, Smith is still a valuable big-play weapon so it benefits to find a way to involve him in the game plan in some way on a weekly basis…it is just a matter of having the proper timing and using the proper plays.

Photobucket7. It is easy to lose him in the shuffle when talking about all the Jets wide receivers and running backs but Dustin Keller remains a potential x-factor on the Jets offense. He should be a primary target whenever the Jets get near the end-zone because of his ability to create mismatches. Keller is also benefited by Mark Sanchez’s ability to throw on the run because the Jets love calling the play action bootleg for him, in which Keller is normally the number one option. I don’t know if Keller will have the stats to be a pro-bowl tight end but he should be able to provide the Jets with a big play or two each week.

8. The Jets are going to throw the football more this season than they did last year but will they have a smooth transition into a more balanced offense? We all know Rex Ryan loves to run the football and allow his defense to win games but what happens if the Jets throw the ball 30 times in one week and that leads to a couple of Sanchez interceptions. Will the color code system go back into effect, with the Jets throwing the ball 14 times a game? How much rope will Brian Schottenheimer have with the offense in 2010?

9. Names to remember…Chauncey Washington, if one of the Jets running backs gets hurt he could get called up to the active roster and see some substantial playing time. Britt Davis, had a strong training camp last year and could push for a roster spot at receiver. Matthew Mulligan, the Jets number three tight end who is battling for long snapper job with Tanner Purdum. Aundrae Allison, maybe the Jets fastest player who could push for a roster spot at receiver and kick returner.

10. If you assumed the Jets had 60 plays in a game, how would you ideally divide up the touches as of right now? (assuming it is week 5 and Holmes is back)…here is my crack at it:

  • Sanchez – 24 pass attempts, hopefully 16-18 completions. Let’s say 17 for the sake of this.
  • Greene – 21 carries.
  • Tomlinson – 9 carries.
  • McKnight – 4 carries.
  • Smith – 2 carries
  • Cotchery – 4 catches
  • Holmes – 4 catches
  • Keller – 3 catches
  • Edwards – 3 catches
  • Tomlinson – 2 catches
  • McKnight – 1 catch

Let Us Tailgate In Peace

Turn On The Jets: The Podcast & Other Updates

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First a few updates:

1. There are reports out today that the Jets denied a requested contract extension to veteran defensive end Shaun Ellis and have explored trading him. However, it appears they are now content to let him play out his contract and then let him walk at the end of the year. Needless to say, the Jets would be extremely foolish to cut Ellis when they already have no depth and tons of questions at the defensive end position. It would have been one thing if they added Jared Odrick in the draft and then traded him but at this point the smart move is to hang on to him and pay him the 3 million dollars he is owed this season.

2. It hasn’t been a pleasant week of Jets news. There are plenty of looming financial issues over the team and the sooner the Jets move to take care of Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, and David Harris, the less distractions will be around the team this season. I didn’t like how the Jets handled situations with Pete Kendall, Chris Baker, and Laveranues Coles but you can let that slide considering the type of players they were, you don’t mess around with All-Pro caliber players like Revis, Mangold, and Harris. You pay them top dollar and build your team around them.

3. The Jets signed guard Marion Davis and center Robby Felix. They also released guard Keith Buckman and center Michael Parenton. The depth chart on the site has been updated accordingly.

4. Kris Jenkins admitted to reporters that he is currently at 390 pounds and his goal is to teach 345 by the start of training camp. It is never a good thing when you could lose 45 pounds and still just barely be under 350. Hopefully this little weight loss challenge Rex came up with will help Jenkins along the way.

5. Pathetic effort by the Cavs last night and that includes LeBron James who was as careless with the ball as Jake Delhomme usually is. LeBron may have stunk it up (the guy still had a triple double last night) these last few games but we’ll take him in New York in a heartbeat…going to be a real interesting July in the NBA.

6. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

Turn On The Jets: The Podcast & Other Updates

Finally, we are up and running with the podcast. Here is where you need to go:

http://web.me.com/turnonthejets/Site/Podcast/Podcast.html

This will be where you have access to our Podcasts which won’t be on a set schedule until the regular season starts, when we will have two each week: one on Tuesday with reaction to the previous game and one on Thursday with NFL picks and talk on the Jets upcoming  match-up. The Jets are a primary on focus on these podcasts but we will talk other NFL topics. As you can see in episode 1, we basically went through the AFC and NFC by division and discussed how we see them shaking out in 2010, along with breaking down the Jets off-season  moves.

PhotobucketNeedless to say, the Podcast site is in its very early stages and will become more aesthetically pleasing in the upcoming days and enhanced in other ways. I will always notify on this site and the Facebook page when a new podcast is up and update when I make changes to the site.

Another new e-mail Turn On The Jets can be reached at is now:

turnonthejets@me.com – You can send Podcast questions or comments to this site and keep normal TOJ conversation to JCaporoso@gmail.com.

I am also working out getting them available on Itunes.

TOJ Movie Trailer

The Players Who Can Take The Jets To The Next Level

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First a few updates:

1. Not a pleasant day of stories for Jets fans today…Darrelle Revis is talking about holding out, Nick Mangold wants a new deal like Revis, David Harris doesn’t want to be left out of these new contracts either. There has also been some talk about the Jets being potentially blacked out if they can’t sell the rest of their PSLs. Since those stories have been released, the Jets have came out and said they will not let any games be blacked out…and all I can say is they better not, don’t tell me I could watch the Jets on HBO this summer and then not watch them on CBS when they are playing New England.

We know the Jets are going to have some serious money to pay out on long term contracts in the coming years. The smart thing to do is take care of Revis and Mangold now before this season starts. Revis is the best corner in football. Mangold is the best center in football. You pay these two guys…don’t let a contract situation linger over this season. They get taken care of first and then you start working on David Harris and D’Brickashaw Ferguson and then you worry about Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, and Braylon Edwards.

2. It really sounds like we are going to end up with a New York Super Bowl in 2014…good job by the Jets and Giants working together on the presentation yesterday.

3. Check back later tonight for how to access the first ever Turn On The Jets Podcast.

4. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook…I will let the people know over the weekend who won the DVDs and send them out early next week.

The Players Who Can Take The Jets To The Next Level

The Jets expectations this year are to take the next step from being a 9-7 wild card team who fell short in the AFC Championship Game, to the next level…and rightfully so. After watching how the Jets finished the season, looking at their off-season additions, and considering how certain players will continue to develop, the Jets should have division title, first round bye and ultimately Super Bowl on their mind. yet where are the spots on the team that need to make the jump that will allow the Jets to go from 9-7 and over-matched in the AFC Championship Game to 12-4 and hopefully a Super Bowl?

Mark Sanchez – The most obvious player to start with is the quarterback. Nobody is saying Sanchez has to be a pro-bowl player for the Jets to make the jump but he does need to be better than 20 interceptions to 12 touchdowns with a 52.0 completion percentage. If Sanchez can play the way he did during the first three games of the season and the last three games of the season…the Jets offense is going to be right up there with their defense at the top of the league.

Braylon Edwards – Can you imagine if Edwards could play the way he did in 2007 for the Jets this year? If Santonio Holmes keeps developing the way he has been in recent years and Jerricho Cotchery is his usual self, the Jets will have the best group of receivers in the NFL. Don’t forget Braylon had 17 touchdowns in a single season to go with 1289 receiving yards. The guy is going to get himself open but he has to catch the football more consistently and take advantage when the coverage is rolled over to Holmes or Cotchery in certain situations.

PhotobucketAntonio CromartieEverybody who watched the Jets last year, especially in the AFC Championship Game knows the team needed substantial help at the corner position opposite Revis Island. Cromartie was well on his way to being the best corner in football during 2007 but got sidetracked by a number of issues over the past few years both on and off the field. If Cromartie can provide stability on the other side of the field from Revis and be the playmaker he used to be with all the balls that will be coming his way, the Jets will be nearly impossible to throw the football on. They also may get a few more defensive touchdowns this season.

Kyle Wilson – Yes, the rookie who will be the manning the crucial nickel spot on the Jets defense and the punt returner position. When you are working to get past pass first offenses like the Colts, Chargers, and Patriots you need three quality corners. Wilson will see plenty of action in man coverage in both the slot and the outside and hopefully can provide an explosive element to the Jets punt return game that has been lacking in recent years.

Jason Taylor – I hate to type this but the Jets need a pass rusher and Taylor is the best equipped player on the team to get double digit sacks in a single season. The Jets struggled to get to the quarterback on third downs last season and Taylor was brought in to be the remedy…he can dance all he wants, as long as he has 10-12 sacks, I’ll be happy.

Devil's Advocate: Why The Jets Won't Be Good This Year

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First a few updates:

1. You know I love updates but I have to cut them somewhat short today because I have to figure out how to get TOJ The Podcast up and running this week and do some filming for TOJ TV. Don’t forget the Jets DVD Contest…E-Mail me 5 new fans you got to become fans of the Facebook Page and you will have a chance to win a free copy of “New York Jets Best Games of 2009.”

2. It is a real shame Brian Cushing will remain Defensive Rookie of the Year…I am not sure what kind of message it sends to give him the award again after it has been proven that he cheated.

3. How entertaining is tomorrow night’s Cavs/Celtics game going to be? The entire fate of the NBA for the next 10 years could be on the line. How will LeBron respond to all the criticism he is receiving? If you aren’t tuning in tomorrow…you aren’t a sports fan.

Photobucket4. Thoughts On Lost Season 6, Episode 15 “Across the Sea” – You will be hard pressed to find a bigger defender of LOST than me. I think the show is terrific and the writers take too much crap from fans, who have ridiculous expectations. Season six has been very good and even great at times, but last night’s episode was a swing and miss. I have only watched it once and maybe on a re-watch, I will appreciate it more. Look I understand, you can’t have something tangible as being the reason the Island is special, so I don’t have a problem leaving it as this ambiguous entity, but the imagery of that yellow cave was lame. The kid actors were crappy and I didn’t like the whole “drink this wine and now you are the protector of the island” scene. However, I expect more details on “rules” of the island and what actually happened when the MIB was thrown into the cave to be fleshed out in the final 2 episodes. In terms of theories, I do believe the original woman on the Island was the smoke monster herself and had orchestrated a long plan to get herself a replacement as both the island protector and as the smoke monster. Regardless, I am looking forward to getting back to the main characters this week.

5. So much for having short updates today.

Devil’s Advocate: Why The Jets Won’t Be Good This Year

For the first time since 1999, I genuinely 100 percent believe the Jets are one of the five best teams in the NFL heading into a season. I don’t think my fandom is clouding my vision when I say I expect the Jets to win 11 or 12 games and be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Yet, as we see every year in the NFL expectations aren’t always met and teams frequently come out of nowhere to make the playoffs and occasionally win the  Super Bowl. Despite the optimism I share with many fans for 2010, thee are two sides to every argument. So, let me play a little devil’s advocate to myself and feelings on the 2010 Jets, by looking at why the Jets won’t be good this season and by not good, I mean 8-8 or less.

Let’s start on offense where the Jets could have problems at three crucial positions: quarterback, running back, and left guard. Mark Sanchez was Jekyll and Hyde last year, what if he comes back in 2010 with a bunch of Buffalo/Atlanta/At New England performances? He missed time this off-season rehabbing from injury and still has a long way to go from his 12 touchdowns/2o interceptions performance in 2009. Defenses will scout out what the Jets did to protect Sanchez down the stretch last year and how they played to his strengths in the playoffs, and come up with new ways to confuse him. Sanchez may become a franchise quarterback one day but there is a really good chance he isn’t ready to be consistent enough to lead a team past Tom Brady for a divisional title. Beyond that, Sanchez hasn’t shown he knows how to avoid taking a hit when scrambling and he is coming off surgery. If he gets hurt, who is stepping in? Kellen Clemens? Erik Ainge? Mark Brunell? I’d feel okay about Brunell if he was throwing to Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith but this isn’t ten years ago.

At running back, there is no proof Shonn Greene can handle being a number one back for an entire season. Despite not receiving substantial playing time until the stretch run last year, he dealt with multiple injuries and on top of that had a fumbling issue. It is a big step to go from 108 carries to being asked to carry the ball 20 times each week from September to January. If Greene struggles or gets hurt, LaDainian Tomlinson is past his prime as a #1 back and Joe McKnight is a rookie fourth round  pick who can’t get through a practice in shorts and a t-shirt without throwing up.

PhotobucketAt left guard, the Jets are expecting either last year’s sixth round pick, Matt Slauson, who received no real experience last season or a rookie from a I-AA school, Vladimir Ducasse, to fill in for Alan Faneca. There are inevitably going to be bumps in the road for whomever wins the starting job and problems at one spot on the line can trickle down to the rest of the unit.

On defense, the Jets are very thin at the defensive end position. They are starting a backup caliber player in Mike DeVito opposite Shaun Ellis, who is getting up there in age. They will be relying on Jason Taylor to be their top pass rusher and there are also concerns about his age, along with whether his heart is really in New York. Brodney Pool is being relied on at safety but can he stay healthy? Antonio Cromartie also has to prove that he can be the player he was in 2007 and not the lazy disappointment he was last year.

What about on special teams, where the Jets have replaced Jay Feely with Nick Folk who was awful last season on Dallas. The Jets are a team built to play close football games but don’t have a reliable kicker. Their coverage teams were poor enough last year and they lost their top special teams player in Wallace Wright. They are also breaking in a new long snapper, which could be problematic in a big spot.

Overall, the Jets were only a 9-7 team last year who happened to get hot at the right time, along with some assistance from teams resting starters. Whenever there is high expectations for the Jets, they struggle to live up to the hype. There is a ton of attention around the team, more than ever in the team’s history, will they be able to handle it? Could it be possible I was naive in overlooking potential chemistry concerns?

I need to go wash my hands.

Nah, I think we’ll be alright next year

Jets Offense: Don't Forget These Players

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First a few updates:

1. We have got a good response on the TOJ DVD Contest, yet it is technically still open so recruit five new fans for the Turn On The Jets Facebook page, e-mail me their names, and you will have a chance to win a free copy of “New York Jets Best Games of the 2009 Season” from Warner Home Video. The DVD isn’t being released until June 1st and you have a shot to get your hands on it for free so start recruiting.

2. You have to love Rex Ryan challenging Damien Woody and Kris Jenkins to a weight loss contest…I am sure the local food establishments aren’t happy but we need all three in shape.

3. The Jets and Giants are making their bid for a New York (well technically, New Jersey) Super Bowl in 2014 tomorrow…it is hard not to get excited picturing the new stadium hosting the Super Bowl. There is nothing wrong with the cold weather, football is supposed to be played in the elements.

4. The TOJ Podcast has finally been recorded and will be up by week’s end and there is a good chance a new TOJ TV will be on the way shortly also.

Jets Offense: Don’t Forget These Players

The original idea for this article was to just focus on Jerricho Cotchery as an underrated player on the offense but there are a few other guys who will have a prominent role on the team in 2010 who need a mention. Yet, let’s start with Cotchery:

PhotobucketAnybody who reads this site knows J-Co is a TOJ favorite. It is easy to get excited about Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, with their big play potential and forget that the Jets number one receiver is still currently Jerricho Cotchery.

It is a shame Cotchery hurt his hamstring and missed two games (actually three because he was playing at 50 percent in week 5 against Miami) because he would have broke the 1000 yard mark if he didn’t, which would have been especially impressive considering how the Jets offense operated last year. Many people forget how Cotchery was playing before the injury, which also coincided with the Braylon Edwards trade:

  • Week 1 At Houston – 6 receptions, 90 yards
  • Week 2 Vs New England – 4 receptions, 87 yards
  • Week 3 Vs Tennessee – 8 receptions, 108 yards, 1 touchdown
  • Week 4 At New Orleans – 5 receptions, 71 yards

After he returned, he continued his consistent production:

  • Week 8 Vs Miami – 3 receptions, 70 yards
  • Week 10 Vs Jacksonville – 6 receptions, 68 yards, 1 touchdown
  • Week 11 At New England – 3 receptions, 84 yards, 1 touchdown

Like every other receiver on the team, his numbers fell off during the final six regular season games because the Jets basically stopped the football and Kellen Clemens had to start a game. However, Cotchery stepped up in the playoffs with 6 receptions for 67 yards in the wild-card round, a quiet 3 catches for 25 yards in the divisional round (yet all three were for key first downs), and finished with 5 receptions for 102 yards in the AFC Championship Game.

It became clear in the playoffs that when the Jets needed a big third down completion, Cotchery was the primary target. Sanchez seems to be the most in sync with him, especially when it comes to option routes. Most people assume Braylon was or is the Jets number one receiver, but look how their stats compared after the trade heading into week 5 (including the playoffs):

  • Edwards – 41 receptions, 697 yards, 4 TDs
  • Cotchery – 45 receptions, 659 yards, 3 TDs

Now keep in mind Cotchery played in three less games in that time frame and still put up nearly identical stats.

Holmes is suspended for the first four games. Cotchery is going to be the number one receiver on this team for those four games and in reality even longer than that considering it will take some time for Holmes to get integrated into the offense. There is also a chance Edwards could be suspended in week one, which will give Cotchery an even bigger role earlier in the season…yes it is just one game, but against Baltimore on Monday night…that is a big game.

Brad Smith/David Clowney – If Edwards is suspended in week one, one of these guys will be starting. Beyond that, one of them will be the number three receiver until week five. In reality, Smith isn’t a true receiver and is more of a gadget player. So despite Clowney being depressed on Twitter about the Holmes trade, he could still be a a big factor in the early part of the year and will have a chance to show he deserves some type of role as a deep threat.

Ben Hartsock/Tony Richardson – The Jets made a smart move by bringing both these veterans back, who are key parts of their running game as blockers. Hartsock is basically another tackle for the Jets and Richardson remains one of the better fullbacks in football. He will also have the chance to mentor/help groom 5th round pick John Connor this year.

Some Brad Smith Action

Who Needs To Step Up On Jets Defense

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Who Needs To Step Up On Jets Defense

Two a days…quick hitting defensive article

Mike DeVito – The Jets really seem to be confident that DeVito can handle being a full time starter. Don’t get me wrong he did a good job in a bigger role off the bench last year, but he still only had 28 tackles, 1 TFL, and 0 sacks. Defensive ends aren’t asked to be major playmakers in Rex Ryan’s defense but can DeVito produce the 64 tackles, 4 TFLs, and 1.5 sacks Marques Douglas did last season?

Ropati Pitoitua – With DeVito moving into Douglas old role, now Pitoitua will move into DeVito’s old role…unless Vernon Gholston becomes a revelation at defensive end (not likely). We have heard about this guy’s potential for a couple of years now, but let’s see if he can become a consistent player off the bench. The Jets need depth at this position and they are looking to a young guy like Pitoitua to step up.

PhotobucketBrodney Pool – The Jets organization apparently is very high on Pool and believes he will be a more than adequate replacement for Kerry Rhodes. There is no doubt Pool is a talented guy but he needs to prove he can stay healthy and be steady in pass coverage, which has been a knock on him previously. I like Eric Smith as a role player so hopefully he won’t be forced into a full time starting role.

Jason Taylor – The Jets brought him in to rush the quarterback but can he answer the call at his age to be a double digit sack guy? I am sure Rex Ryan will come up with some creative ways to get him after the quarterback, yet you still have to worry whether Taylor has anything left in the tank and whether or not his heart is really in New York. I want 10 sacks, Jason and then maybe you can move up to being my 750th favorite NFL player.

Antonio Cromartie – Please don’t be Lito Sheppard. If Cromartie can regain his 2007 form, you will have a better chance of seeing a Bills/Bucs Super Bowl than throwing on the Jets in 2010. If Cromartie struggles early in the season or shows he hasn’t learned how to tackle yet, Kyle Wilson will be  instantly pushing for his starting job.

Kerry, Who?

Back From Hiatus: How To Use The Jets Offensive Players?

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First a few updates:

1. I had to take a little 4 day TOJ vacation because for I suffered a brutal beatdown at the hands of my graduate school finals. Nothing sucks the life out of you more than having to write three 15 page papers in one week. To make matters worse, America’s favorite Touch football team suffered a difficult loss yesterday and I had a no show second half performance…like I was Randy Moss being covered by Darrelle Revis or something…tough stuff but our touch football team will bounce back and of course TOJ is ready to come back hard from vacation with 2 a days all week. Yes, two articles a day…every day, one focused on the offense, one focused on the defense.

Photobucket2. Who wants a free Jets DVD? Warner Home Video has provided Turn On The Jets with 2 advanced copies of “New York Jets Best Games of the 2009 Season” which isn’t being released until June 1st. I had my own copy sent me and it is a 3 disc set, with the full network broadcast of Jets vs. Patriots in week 2, the Jets wild-card win over the Bengals, and the Jets divisional round win over the Chargers. It is high quality and with each game you can navigate to a specific quarter. For example, I started up Jets/Pats in the 3rd quarter when the Jets offense got going. Why wouldn’t you want a DVD copy of the Jets three best wins in one of their best seasons ever?

Here is how this will work: The first two people to recruit five friends to become fans of the Turn On The Jets Facebook Page will get the DVD sent to them by me. I am able to see when people are added, so leave a comment on the site or send me an e-mail at JCaporoso@gmail.com to let me know which five people you got to become fans of the Facebook Page, I will check to make sure they actually have just become fans and then we can work out the details about sending the DVD. I will re-post this with each article this week and hopefully I can be sending them out by some time next week.

3. Hopefully the AP votes to take away Brian Cushing’s rookie of the year award and give it to Jarius Byrd or Clay Matthews.

4. What a let down in the 2nd round of the NBA Playoffs…especially with the effort from the No-Show Hawks. I feel bad for the team that pays Joe Johnson like a max player this summer…that team will obviously be the Knicks when they don’t get LeBron.

Back From Hiatus: How To Use The Jets Offensive Players?

Most Jets fans seem to get on Brian Schottenheimer often for his play calling and his decision making. Personally, I am a pretty big fan of Schotty and think he has been pretty good and creative with the team’s offense since taking over in 2006. I also definitely believe it is good for Sanchez’s development that he can have continuity with Schottenheimer and the Jets offensive system in year two. Nobody is saying the Jets OC has been perfect (especially with the poor timed reverses and tosses) but overall I like what he brings to the table for the offense.

If Schotty thought it was difficult to construct game plans around a rookie quarterback and a new receiver joining the team in week 5 in 2009, wait until he sits down to draw up plans on a week to week basis in 2010. How do you divide catches between Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Santonio Holmes, and Dustin Keller? How much do you lengthen the leash on Sanchez in year two? How much more do you move towards a passing offense? How do you integrate Holmes into the offense after four games? How do you divide carries between your three running backs? How do you protect an inexperienced left guard? How do you keep Brad Smith involved with all these other weapons? Can Joe McKnight be trusted in big spots on third down? Let’s look through the Jets skill position players, their skill sets, and the best way to utilize them in 2010.

Mark Sanchez – You have to hope Sanchez will carry the momentum over from last year playoffs and allow the Jets to let him throw the ball 20-25 times a game instead of 13-17, like he was at times late last regular season. Considering his work ethic and the talent around him, it is hard to picture Sanchez not improving statistically in 2010 by a decent margin. When looking at specific plays, he excels throwing the ball on the run and does a very good job on slants and the deep post route. Also with the Jets rushing attack, Sanchez does well on play action.

Braylon Edwards – Edwards is probably the Jets most physically gifted offensive player, which makes it so frustrating when he is so inconsistent. His combination of size and speed make him a difficult match-up for any defensive back and when he is catching the ball, he can be a force to be reckoned with. Despite his drop against the Bengals, I still love Braylon on the play action deep post. His size also benefits him on the slants and the deep in route. Similar to what we saw in the Colts game, if you can hit him on a few slants, he can make a defensive back pay with the sluggo route (slant and go).

Jerricho Cotchery – Regardless of Edwards and Santonio Holmes physical skills, if there is a big third down and I could pick one guy for the ball to be thrown to, it would be Jerricho Cotchery. He has the most reliable hands on the team, is a master at working the sideline, and always seems to find ways to get open in big spots. Cotchery could be a killer slot receiver for the Jets on third downs this year, running option routes, quick slants, and crossing patterns. He is also good at split end running the deep comeback route.

PhotobucketSantonio Holmes Holmes is a big play guy, who really has the skill set to do everything at the receiver position. He thrives on quick bubble and smoke screens, where he can turn a simple swing pass into 15 yard gains or much more. Holmes also has the ability to get deep down the middle of the field out of slot or split end position. Also, if you were going to run a simple “go” route and just let Sanchez air it out on the sideline, Holmes would be your guy.

Dustin Keller – Keller became a big weapon for the Jets during the playoff run, when him and Sanchez finally got on the same page. He is a great target on the bootlegs and rollouts the Jets love to run for Sanchez, and he is also very good at running option routes over the middle of the field as a down tight end, H-back, or slot receiver. Keller should remain one of the Jets primary redzone targets because of his ability to exploit mismatches on linebackers and safeties.

Brad Smith – I wouldn’t count on Brad Smith catching more than 10 passes this season. However, he is still a valuable weapon in the Jets “Tiger” formation as an option quarterback. The Jets will likely also give him a few reverses or screens.

PhotobucketShonn Greene The Jets #1 back will be asked to handle roughly 2o carries a game. He is a liability in the passing game because he really can’t catch but Greene will wear on defenses and always has the ability to pop one up the middle for a touchdown. It would be nice to see Schottenheimer work him into the screen game if possible to keep teams off balance.

LaDainian Tomlinson – One of the most interesting things to watch this year will be how the Jets use Tomlinson on offense. Don’t be fooled into thinking Joe McKnight will walk right in and take all of Leon Washington’s planned reps and plays. The trade gave a much bigger role to LT in the short term. Tomlinson will likely spell Greene for a series or two each half, be heavily involved in the passing/screen game, be the team’s goal-line/short yardage back, and work some as the third down back.

Joe McKnight – Ideally, the Jets want McKnight to develop into the team’s third down back at some time this season and take over Leon Washington’s package of plays on screens, quick draws etc. It may take some time but hopefully McKnight can contribute on 6-10 touches a game on offense.

Ok, #17