12 Pack of Combine Thoughts

AJ truly embraces the TOJ way by contributing his first 12 pack…of thoughts on the NFL Combine —

1. First and foremost, props to Rich Eisen for keeping me interested in 300 pound linemen running the 40 yard dash.  He was always one of my favorite guys at ESPN and he continues to do an awesome job over at NFL network

2. What are those Under Armor things?  They literally look like something Tony Starks would wear.  Nevertheless, it is really sweet they are measuring the Mph and G force of these guys, but did you see the Under Armor representative? Hisveins were popping out of his neck, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. 

3. Von Miller is a BEAST.  He ran a 4.53 and looked absolutely yoked up in the weird under armor spandex.  He is going to be everything that Vernon Gholston wasn’t.

4. Another defensive player that looked good was Phil Taylor (Prospect Watch will be arriving soon). He looked like he was in pretty good shape for his size, and didn’t tire out as the day went on, something you can’t say about many nose tackles his size.

5. Maybe not a thought on the combine but I am jumping off the Nick Fairley train quickly.  Do I think he will be a good player? Yeah, but I would not take him with the number one pick.  He doesn’t have the best attitude and is known to take plays off, two characteristics I would not want to give $50+ million guaranteed.  Plus, with Carolina running a 4-3, I would want a dominant pass rushing DE to replace Julius Peppers.

6. Do you really think I would get half way through this without mentioning Cam Newton?  I thought he looked really good as far as workouts go, but that was more than expected. 4.59 40 yard dash at 250 pounds, are you kidding me?  Not to mention his 10’6’’ broad jump that just screams explosive.  There was the interview controversy where he called himself a, “an entertainer and an icon,” but I thought he addressed the situation pretty well to the NFL network and apologized for the statement about three times in two minutes.  As far as his throwing drills goes, I wouldn’t be too concerned, wait for his pro day so he can get his timing with his own receivers.

7. Ryan Mallet has a drug problem? I had no idea, I have been rooting for this guy ever since he was going head to head against Jimmy “Bitter Beer Face” Clausen for being the #1 recruit coming out of high school.  Nothing has been confirmed and Mallet is obviously denying the allegations but the story is coming from sources inside Arkansas so it will be interesting to see how this develops.

8. Another player I really like is Mark Ingram and I hope he doesn’t get scooped up by the Dolphins.  His running style reminds me of Ronnie Brown and he is the type of hard nose player Tony Soprano would love to have. He ran slow at 4.62 but there is no denying his production in college and he will be successful in the pros, unfortunately it is going to be for a team not spelled J-E-T-S.

9. Going into the 2010 college football season I was really excited to watch the defense Butch Davis put together at UNC, but all that great work Butch did went down the drain when every defensive starter and their mother was suspended for the season.  The player I was most upset about not seeing was Marvin Austin; but Marvin has had a great lead up to the draft so far playing well in the East-West game and being equally impressive at the combine.  Hey, a man can dream the Jets are able to pick him up in the 3rd round right?

10. Another prospect I would love to pick up in the 3rd round is Jarvis Jenkins out of Clemson.  Like Joe mentioned, the Jets are going to have to commit at least 2-3 draft picks to the front seven and I would not be upset at all if they used their first two picks on the DL.  Jenkins, no relation to Kris as far as I know, has good size and is a known run stopper.  It would be great to let him develop under Sione Pouha for a year or two, but I believe this guy has a relatively bright future at the next level.

11. It was a bitter sweet combine for Jets fans concerning Justin Houston, on the one hand he looked great at the combine, showing exceptional quickness for his size and good instincts during LB drills.  But he might have looked too good and could potentially be off the board before the Jets are on the clock.  Worse news, AFC rivals New England and Baltimore could fall in love with him and take him at number 17 and 26 respectively.

12. Last but certainly not least, I want to say that Damien Woody is handling his release exactly as everyone expected him too, with the utmost class.  He was one of my favorite players on the team and he will be missed.  But that’s the business of the NFL as much as I love it sometimes, it also breaks my heart at times.  Woody will be fine though, just like Alan Faneca last year he will find a team.

New York Jets 2011 Backfield Taking Shape

Tuesday was a day filled with news on the New York Jets running back position. From the various beat reports surrounding the team, we learned three things —

  1. LaDainian Tomlinson will be back in 2011 to finish out his contract.
  2. Despite returning, Tomlinson will be used in more of a complimentary role, with Shonn Greene becoming the feature back and Joe McKnight receiving more work on offense.
  3. John Conner will be the starting fullback in 2011.

None of these items of news are surprising and are logical decisions considering the age of everybody involved and how last season finished.

It is smart to bring Tomlinson back to maintain depth in the backfield. He is a valuable leader on the offense and is an excellent security blanket for Mark Sanchez. However, he shouldn’t be receiving anywhere near the number of carries he did last year as he faded pretty strongly down the stretch and is only getting older. Tomlinson can be a very valuable weapon in a complimentary role but it is Shonn Greene’s turn to really get a shot at being the feature back.

Considering Greene’s rushing style, he needs to be given 15-20 carries on a weekly basis to be the most effective. He never received that chance in 2010. Let’s see him get around 20 carries on a weekly basis so we can find out if he is our feature back of the future.

Joe McKnight was a major disappointment in his first year but the Jets held on to him because he was a fourth round pick. He gave the team some hope with his performance in week 17 but it is time to see what he can bring to this offense. Hopefully he is going to be the Jets long term third down/change of pace back and now he will gradually have the role handed to him from Tomlinson.

At fullback, the writing was on the wall for John Conner to take over for Tony Richardson when the season ended. Conner got a full year learning behind one of the best in the business at his position and should be ready to start now. Richardson, a class act and true professional, will likely now retire after a long, successful NFL career.

Give us something next year, McKnight

New York Jets Release Damien Woody, Kris Jenkins, Jason Taylor, Vernon Gholston

It is being reported the Jets have released right tackle Damien Woody, nose tackle Kris Jenkins, outside linebacker Jason Taylor, and defensive lineman Vernon Gholston. Quick thoughts….

Damien Woody – The biggest loss out of these four. Woody gave the Jets three quality years at right tackle and was a leader on the offense. He struggled with injuries towards the end of last season and the Jets managed to get by with backup Wayne Hunter filling in. Hunter (who is a free agent) will likely be re-signed and compete with second year lineman Vladimir Ducasse for Woody’s old job. Ducasse was recently moved to right tackle after losing out on the chance to start at guard in his rookie year. Similar to when the Jets released Alan Faneca last year, they will be taking a risk that a younger player on the roster can become an adequate replacement. They guessed right last year, let’s hope they do it again.

Kris Jenkins – Jenkins was a beast for the Jets in 2008 but suffered a season ending injury early in the 2009 season, and then after extensive rehab had another season ending injury in the first quarter of the 2010 season. He has claimed he wants to continue his career and is in the middle of another rehab. The Jets simply owed him too much money to bring back under his current contract. I would guess there is a good chance he is brought back if he agrees to a cheaper deal down the road. If not, Sione Pouha has been very good filling in for him the past two years, however the Jets still need to address their defensive line in this year’s draft.

Jason Taylor – The Jets took a shot with Taylor when it became clear the Miami Dolphins weren’t interested in bringing him back before the 2010 season. He was decent as a rotational player in their defense last year, finishing with 36 tackles, 5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. This team still needs to find a long term answer for their pass rush at the outside linebacker position.

Vernon Gholston – The bust of busts. A guy who wowed at the combine and was drafted with the #6 overall pick to sack the quarterback, yet never registered a single sack in three seasons with the team. Goodbye Vernon.

Moving up the depth chart —

  • RT Wayne Hunter (when he is re-signed)
  • RT Vladimir Ducasse
  • OLB Jamaal Westerman
  • DL Marcus Dixon
  • DL Ropati Pitoitua
  • DL Jarron Gilbert

This also increases the Jets need to draft two to three players for their defensive front seven.

Don’t Forget How Dominant Jenkins Could Be

Turn On The Jets 2010/2011 Report Cards – Mark Sanchez

Today we continue our series of evaluating how each player on the Jets performed this past season, along with looking forward to what their role on the team will be next year…up today, quarterback Mark Sanchez

Stat Line – 278/507 (54.8 completion percentage), 3,291 yards, 17 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 75.3 QB Rating, 3 rushing touchdowns.

Playoff Stat Line – 54/89 (60.7 completion percentage), 616 yards, 5 touchdowns, 1 interception, 95.5 QB Rating.

Best Moment –It is hard to argue with him outplaying Tom Brady is his own building to lead the Jets to a divisional round upset victory. However, Sanchez also put together game winning drives in three consecutive November games against Detroit, Cleveland, and Houston.

Best Game – Considering the situation, his best game was against New England in the playoffs. Statistically, his best performances were against New England in week 2 and Miami in week 3 when he posted quarterback ratings over 120 in consecutive weeks, throwing 6 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

Overall Evaluation –You can see the best part about Mark Sanchez’s game by looking at his regular season stats compared to his post-season stats. When the spot gets bigger, his elevates his level of play which is a terrific characteristic for any quarterback to have. He also made strides in protecting the football, alluding the pass rush, and becoming more of a team leader. Sanchez still needs to improve his overall accuracy and consistency but there is no reason not be very optimistic about his future as the Jets franchise quarterback. In two years as a NFL starter, Sanchez has a 19-12 regular season record and is 4-2 in the playoffs, with all four wins coming on the road. (B+)

Future – He is the future of the Jets offense and this team will ultimately go as far as he takes them. It will be interesting to see if the Jets start moving to a more pass happy approach and how Sanchez handles it, if they ultimately decide to.

12 Pack of Jets Off-Season Thoughts – Edition #5

Over the hump – Are you surprised that in the slowest part of the NFL calendar year, Rex Ryan has managed to make two Super Bowl guarantees for the Jets in the past two weeks? I know I’m not. Rex is going to be Rex. The big talk, the confidence, the swagger…all of that isn’t going to stop anytime soon. He was a half away from the Super Bowl in 2009 and a series away from it last season. What is it going to take for the Jets to get over the hump?

It certainly wouldn’t hurt to win the division and get a home playoff game as a start. The Jets are going to need Mark Sanchez to keep improving, the defense to get younger and faster, and certain players on offense like Dustin Keller and Shonn Greene to take their game to the next level. I am scared of this team turning into the Philadelphia Eagles of the AFC. I can’t stomach any more Championship Game losses.

CSI – I have mixed feelings about Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum appearing on CSI: New York. It is nice they performed so well on Hard Knocks that they have made the step to standard cable. However, it was a bad omen when Eric Mangini appeared on a certain popular television show.

Mr. T – Considering this off-season is going to be unlike anything the NFL has seen in awhile, I am glad Mike Tannenbaum is steering the ship on the Jets personnel and salary cap decisions. The guy has always shown an ability to be creative and work around difficult situations. I don’t know when this CBA madness is going to be settled but I know the Jets will be prepared for whatever arises in the coming months.

#81 – An issue that is frequently being ignored when people talk about either Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes leaving or the importance of keeping them both, is how Dustin Keller is more than capable of picking up the production of whomever leaves the team. Don’t forget in the four games last season when Holmes was suspended, Keller had 19 receptions, 254 yards, and 5 touchdowns. This is a major reason I have argued for bringing Antonio Cromartie back before bringing both receivers back.

Rumors – There has been some chatter about both Vernon Gholston and Jason Taylor being released before March 4th. I don’t think any of us expect either back next year, so the sooner the better I suppose. The Jets still need to find a long term replacement for Bryan Thomas and a guy who can provide some type of consistent pass rush.

Better Every Day – As you have been able to see AJ has kicked off our NFL Draft coverage with an in-depth look at a couple of potential prospects for the Jets in the first round. If there are any specific prospects you would like to see covered, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at JCaporoso@gmail.com and we’ll see what we can do. Also another shout out is needed to Randy Yaws for designing our new banner, which is a major improvement over our old one (sorry, Fanball). Finally, I hope you are enjoying the occasional linkage to my work at SB Nation and Gunaxin, which steps outside the world of the Jets and NFL from time to time.

Winning Them Over – A player who wasn’t very popular with fans prior to the 2010 season but who they now seem to be desperately clinging to, is wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Despite his early season DUI, Edwards won the fan base over with his tough and consistent play throughout the entire year. His numbers don’t jump off the page but if you watched every Jets snap this year, you know how well he played. I hope Mike Tannenbaum can work magic and get him back on the team alongside Santonio Holmes.

Defensive Questions – Regardless of what their end of the year numbers were, it felt like the Jets defense took a step back in 2010. We saw what they were capable of against the Colts and Patriots in the playoffs but they need to play at that level more consistently. It is going to be up to Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine to continue to break their own tendencies and mix up the Jets defensive approach more frequently. Beyond that, Mike Tannenbaum needs to find a couple of players who can contribute immediately to the defense and players like Kyle Wilson need to grow up fast.

Easy Dealings – David Harris signed his franchise tender without any resistance as expected. He never complained about his contract last year and never made an issue of it during the season or in the past few weeks. I hope the Jets do the right thing and eventually give him the long term deal he deserves.

BT – Even though the Jets do need a long term replacement for him and more of a pass rush. Bryan Thomas did put together a pretty good overall year in 2010. He led the team in sacks with 6 and fits well in the scheme. He isn’t a flashy guy but don’t underestimate his value.

Holding My Breath – What is the over/under on number of days until the next scandal involving a Jets player or coach occurs?

Weekend Video Clips – Glad this isn’t our quarterback edition

Turn On The Jets 2010/2011 Report Cards – Shonn Greene

Today we continue our series of evaluating how each player on the Jets performed this past season, along with looking forward to what their role on the team will be next year…up today, running back Shonn Greene

Stat Line – 185 carries, 766 yards, 2 TDs, 16 receptions, 120 yards

Playoff Stat Line – 45 carries, 198 yards, 1 TD, 1 reception, 9 yards

Best Moment – Goodnight New England…maybe the best moment of the entire Jets season came from Greene. You really can hear the tears flowing from Nantz and Simms in this clip.

Best Game – Statistically his best game was against Buffalo in week 4, when he finished with 117 yards on 22 carries (the only game he received more than 20 carries by the way). However, I thought the best he looked was in week 16 against the Bears when he finished with 70 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown and in the AFC Championship Game when he racked up 52 yards on (inexplicably) only 9 carries.

Overall Evaluation – It was a disappointing overall year for Greene. Most of us expected him to seize the lead back role after his run in the 2009 post-season but he was never quite able to do it. I would argue the coaching staff didn’t give him enough work down the stretch run, however he has his slow start to blame for that. Fortunately, LaDainian Tomlinson played better than expected which helped compensate for Greene’e lower than expected output. Two total touchdowns in the regular season just isn’t cutting it either. (C+)

Future – Hopefully Greene will be motivated by last season and grab the lead back role by throat in 2011. He should be given the chance to even if Tomlinson returns for another year. The coaching staff needs to get him more than 20 carries on a much more consistent basis.

TOJ Initial Thoughts On NFL Draft

Even though AJ is going to be taking the lead on TOJ’s NFL Draft coverage with his in-depth look at the prospects the Jets could target, that doesn’t mean I won’t be dropping my opinions in from time to time.

I agree with the sentiment that the team needs to focus on finding a defensive end or outside linebacker with their first round selection. This is already being talked up as an extremely deep draft for defensive ends, which should play to the Jets favor since they have to wait all the way to the 30th overall selection. Mike Mayock has stated nine defensive ends could go in the first round, which is an astronomically high number. Let’s see how that number looks after the combine.

There are still a handful of mock drafts which have the Jets taking a wide receiver in the first round based on the assumption of either Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards leaving the team. Even when one of them inevitably leaves, there is no reason for the Jets to target a wide receiver that high. They will be fine with Dustin Keller taking on a bigger role in the passing game and Jerricho Cotchery bumping up into the number two receiver role. The defensive front seven is a much more pressing need.

The Jets have only drafted seven players over the past two years, which is a dangerously low number. They have six selections in this year’s draft (every round but the second) and need to get a minimum of six players, if not a few more. This isn’t a year for the Jets trade up and give up even more picks, this is a year for them to trade down and add more selections. There is always the chance somebody high on their board could slide way down the first round leading to a trade up but I’d still be surprised to see them go in that direction.

In the later rounds, I would like to see the Jets keep adding youth and speed to their defensive front seven. At least two picks should be dedicated to that area of the team. I am sure they will take a defensive back at some point because of Rex Ryan’s influence and because a few will probably leave via free agency. I wouldn’t be surprised if they added a receiver in the later rounds, likely one with some size to help replace Braylon Edwards who will likely leave via free agency. They could also add another offensive lineman, especially if Damien Woody, Robert Turner, or Wayne Hunter don’t return next year.

DT Phil Taylor from Baylor has frequently been linked to the Jets

Turn On The Jets 2010/2011 Report Cards – Dustin Keller

Today we continue our series of evaluating how each player on the Jets performed this past season, along with looking forward to what their role on the team will be next year…up today, tight end Dustin Keller

Stat Line – 55 receptions, 687 yards, 5 touchdowns

Playoff Stat Line – 14 receptions, 121 yards

Best Moment – I am going with Keller’s game clinching touchdown against the Patriots in week 2, which gave them a 28-14 lead late in the fourth quarter. Keller had completely dominated the New England secondary all afternoon and his touchdown was an exclamation point on a terrific game.

Best Game – It is too hard to pick between these two but he looked like a legitimate All-Pro in back to back weeks against New England and Miami early in the season. Between week two and three, Keller pulled in 7 receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots and then followed with 6 receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins.

Overall Evaluation – Keller was a beast for the first month of the season, with five touchdowns in the Jets first four games. However, when Santonio Holmes returned from suspension his role in the offense was marginalized and he never scored the rest of the season. He still had an occasional productive game but only went over 50 yards in three other regular season games. Keller has improved each season in his short career which is a good sign and has become a much more capable blocker. (B+)

Future – There is a very good chance that either Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards won’t return in 2011, which should open up more opportunities for Keller in the passing game. If he continues to progress at the rate he has been, he should receive a long term deal from the team following the 2011 season. It has helped Mark Sanchez’s development to have a reliable pass catching tight end that he has good chemistry with. It remains to be seen whether Keller can ever take the next step towards being a Pro-Bowl caliber player for an entire season.

Nice Defense Buffalo