Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 5th

First a few updates:

1. Big weekend coming up, starting tomorrow night with the Jets Green and White Scrimmage and of course, the beginning of a huge 4 game series between the Yankees and Red Sox. As of right now, it looks like the Yanks will head into the series with a 2.5 game lead in the standings, which means this series really gives them a chance to put some distance between them and Boston over the weekend.

2. A complaint from a frustrated New York sports talk radio listener – Due to my long commute to Newark everyday, I spend alot of time listening to both 660 and 1050 AM and I can’t tell you freakin’ tired I am of hearing about the Mets. The Yankees are in first place in the best division in baseball, the Jets and Giants are both in training camp, and yet all I hear is discussion about the Mets, a fourth place team who is 5 games under .500, enough, nobody cares, their season is over. We all understand how awful they are and how many injuries they have, now spend some more time talking about my Yankees and Jets. (Sorry for another Mets bashing paragraph, Mandy, but I can’t help myself).

3. A quick comment on the New York Football Giants – Congrats to Eli for signing his fat new contract. The guy won a Super Bowl, he earned it. The G-Men are arguably the best team in the NFC this year despite their pedestrian receiving core that is counting on the likes of Domenick Hixon, Mario Manningham, and Sinorce Moss to handle major reps. The only thing that bothers me about the Giants is how much they talk about being disrespected and flying under the radar, it isn’t two seasons ago guys, everybody respects you and realizes you are a good team.

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 5th

Story of the Day: Good day for the rookie…Mark Sanchez slightly outperformed Kellen Clemens today and did a good job with his extended reps with the first team. This battle is basically even right now, with a maybe a slight tilt towards Clemens. However, Kellen struggled today, taking too many sacks and throwing another interception into the hands of Kerry Rhodes. Sanchez showed good pocket presence in practice and had a better two minute drill than Clemens, who went three and out. Tomorrow is a big day for Sanchez who will get to go head to head versus Clemens in the Green and White Scrimmage. If he wants more reps with the first team, tomorrow is the day to make a statement.

More Quarterback Daily News: Rex Ryan said he wants to name a starter before the Jets third pre-season game against the Giants. You would have to think he will let Clemens and Sanchez start a game a piece before then and hope one of them seizes the job. The third pre-season game is when the starters see extended work, meaning whomever gets the nod in that game will be in good shape to start the regular season against Houston.

Secondary Love: Ryan talked at length today about how good he believes the Jets secondary is. Dwight Lowery continued his strong camp by knocking down three passes in practice today and Drew Coleman also flashed a few times, with an interception and a pass defensed, drawing praise from Ryan who thinks his skill set fits well with the Jets new scheme on defense. Ryan’s also complimented Donald Strickland’s versatility to play corner, nickle, and safety. James Ihedigbo looks like he will have a bigger role on the defense this season and could be active in nickle and dime packages. Darrelle Revis? He is the best corner in football according to Ryan and you won’t get much of an argument from me, although Asomugha on Oakland is probably still #1.

Tight End Issues: First off, condolences to Kareem Brown who lost a close friend in a car accident, which is why he missed the first few Jets practices. Many of the beat writers dedicated articles in today’s paper to the Jets lack of depth at tight end. Unless Jack Simmons, Brown, or the newly signed Kevin Brock really picks things up in the next week or two, the Jets are going to have bring in a veteran. Right now, reserve tackle Wayne Hunter is working as the primary backup. Hopefully, somebody will make a few plays tomorrow in the scrimmage and then in the first pre-season game to distinguish themselves.

Injury News: Shaun Ellis, Kris Jenkins, Shonn Greene, Tony Richardson and Donald Strickland are all nursing minor injuries and should be back soon. I don’t know if any of them will play tomorrow, but it would be nice to see Greene out there since he is a rookie. There is no need to rush veterans like Ellis, Richardson or Jenkins back.

Receiver Transaction: The Jets released Mario Urrutia (what kind of person would pick this guy to make the 53 man roster and think he was an under the radar guy to watch in camp…ooops) and got Aundrae Allison off waivers from the Vikings. Allison is a speedy guy, who has experience as a kick returner. He also has 18 career catches for 231 yards, which is nothing to scoff at when guys like David Clowney (1 career catch) and Wallace Wright (6 career receptions) are competing for major playing time.

Good Camp/Bad Camp: Good Camp – Wallace Wright, Chansi Stuckey, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Bart Scott, Dwight Lowery, Howard Green, Jim Leonhard….Bad Camp (Or Quiet Camp) – David Clowney, J’Nathan Bullock, Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha, Jason Trusnik, Huey Whittaker, Marcus Henry

Tomorrow: Morning Session closed to the media and Green and White Scrimmage at 6 PM (Live play by play audio on www.newyorkjets.com, I know I’ll be listening).

5 Guys to Watch For in Tomorrow’s Scrimmage:

1. Mark Sanchez – Duh, big chance for the rookie to make some plays and a make a move in the QB battle.

2. David Clowney – He has been quiet all camp, can he make a few big plays?

3. Vernon Gholston – See above.

4. Jehuu Caulcrick/Shonn Greene – Who? Caulcrick will be the starting fullback with T-Rich out with injury. If Greene plays, he should be in line for some short yardage carries.

5. Kareem Brown/Jack Simmons/J’Nathan Bullock – Somebody could get a leg up in battle for the #2 TE spot.

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 3rd

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 3rd

Story of the Day: Brawling…the Jets had three fights today in practice, one between Thomas Jones and James Ihedigbo, another between Howard Green and Brock Christopher (a backup FB), and finally one between Ahmad Carroll and Nevin McCaskill. Rex Ryan likes the aggressive attitude on the field and most of the players seem to agree with their coach about the intense competition level being a good thing. Training camp fights are going to happen and as long it isn’t the same guys getting into it every single day or nobody gets hurt, it is not a bad thing. It is amazing how blatantly different this team’s mentality so clearly is, only a few days into camp. I don’t know how good the Jets are going to be this year, but I am confident they are going to at least be fun to watch.

Quarterback Daily News: Kellen Clemens had a very sharp overall day with the first offense but continued his disturbing tradition of ending a great drive with an interception. This time it was Darrelle Revis who picked one off and by all accounts would have taken it back to the house. Six interceptions in six practices isn’t good, period. Without those INT’s, Clemens would be way, way ahead in this battle so far. Mark Sanchez hasn’t been given enough reps yet with the first unit to put up a fight. The rookie has been pretty good, but needs a strong pre-season to win the job. This Thursday is a big night in the QB battle, when the Jets have their “Green and White Scrimmage,” if Sanchez can outplay Clemens there, he will likely receive a substantial bump in his first team reps.

Receiver Daily News: Chansi Stuckey has easily been the second best wide receiver behind Jerricho Cotchery thus far. Yet, the Jets love him in the slot, which could lead to extended reps for Brad Smith and Wallace Wright at split end. Yes, I mentioned Wright before I mentioned David Clowney who is still struggling with drops. Brian Schottenheimer talked on 1050 ESPN Radio today, and he mentioned Wright a few times and didn’t say much of anything about Clowney. Smith has had a pretty good camp, which is usual for him. He is built like a split end and needs to step up to allow Stuckey to do his thing in the slot.

A Word on Running Back Contracts: It really seems like Thomas Jones has accepted he isn’t getting a new contract and is ready to simply go to work this year, a rare occurrence in the NFL. Jones has enough money to stage a holdout but maybe realized the Jets had all the leverage because of also having Leon Washington and Shonn Green at running back. Also, Jones is a 30+ year old running back, who agreed to sign a front-loaded contract. Washington is having a terrific camp despite being openly unhappy about his deal. Negotiations have hit a bump but hopefully something will get worked out, because the guy deserves a raise.

Offensive MVP’s Thus Far: Dustin Keller, the previously mentioned Washington, and D’Brickashaw Ferguson whoRyan was raving about today. Keller is going to catch a ton of balls this season and Washington has been all over the place on offense. D’Brick is a predicting a pro-bowl appearance for himself this season.

Lockdown: Darrelle Revis just keeps getting better and isn’t going to see alot of balls thrown his way if opposing offenses are smart, memo to Kellen Clemens…stop throwing at #24. It is also encouraging that Dwight Lowery is having such a good camp, because it improves the Jets overall depth and will push Lito Sheppard to play better. The secondary has looked great overall, which likely a combination of their overall talent but also because of the inexperienced Jets WR core.

Love Affair: Rex Ryan can’t say enough about rookie UDFA inside linebacker, Jamaal Westerman who has been thriving in the Jets system since the day he stepped on the field. Marques Murrell is also having a strong camp. Vernon Gholston? I don’t know, I feel like I hear alot more about these other two lesser known linebackers making plays. There are also players questioning Gholston’s fire and passion for the game, which is never a good thing.

Transactions: The Richard Owens era is over at tight end, the Jets dropped the journeyman rookie today and signed Rutgers UDFA Kevin Brock to replace him. Tight end is a major issue for the Jets right now. Jack Simmons (who I of course, jinxed by talking him so much before camp) is struggling with drops and penalties and Kareem Brown has been invisible.

What I Hope For Tomorrow: No interceptions from Kellen Clemens. First team reps for Mark Sanchez. David Clowney catching a few long balls. A Vernon Gholston sighting.

Tomorrow’s Schedule: Two practices – 8:15 AM and 4 PM.

Jets Training Camp Eve Updates & Predicted 53 Man Roster

Jets Training Camp Eve Updates & Predicted 53 Man Roster

– Leon Washington is the only Jets player who didn’t report to training camp today. Both Rich Cimini and Dave Hutchinson have stated that their sources indicate a deal is imminent and at the latest should be done by the end of the weekend, let’s hope so. It won’t kill the Jets if Washington misses 3 or 4 practices, but if he starts missing weeks of work, it will impact the development of their offense. Shonn Greene, Danny Woodhead, and Jehuu Caulcrick should all see extended work in his absence.

– Thomas Jones was present today but still not talking to any reporters. Hopefully, Jones has realized he isn’t getting a new deal and will play motivated to impress the Jets and other NFL teams for when he likely hits the market next year. The Jets didn’t trade all those picks to have Shonn Greene be a third string running back for more than 1 year. Jones is a professional and likely doesn’t want to incur daily fines, the guy has a right to ignore the media if he wants to and be unhappy with his contract, as long as it doesn’t affect his play.

– Calvin Pace made some comments today, nothing to note worthy except how he plans to push Vernon Gholston and Marques Murrell during the pre-season. He again explained his side of the story about taking a banned substance but has still owned up to his mistake and should have plenty of motivation to make a big impact on the Jets defense starting in week 5.

– Rex Ryan named Kellen Clemens the Jets number one quarterback heading into the first practice tomorrow, saying he will get the majority of the first team reps in the early going while they ease Mark Sanchez in…well, duh. Let’s not make this a bigger story than it is, obviously Clemens was going to begin camp as the starter since he is the veteran and is more familiar with the offense. Sanchez will have every chance to win this job.

– Rich Cimini has reported the Jets still have interest in a veteran receiver and that they still have plenty of room under the cap to get one (can’t we use some of that money for #29 and maybe a little for #20, to keep him happy) but who can the Jets really get at this point? Matt Jones might be the most talented guy out there, but apparently Rex Ryan isn’t a big fan of him. I’m not sure how much Amani Toomer can really add to this team and forget about Marvin Harrison with his gun charge. The Jets might be stuck with what they have, time to step up Chansi, David, Brad, Wallace, Marcus, Mario, and Huey.

– The Jets have two practices tomorrow, one at 8:15 AM and one at 4 PM. Hopefully, the big news of the day will be that Leon Washington has a new contract in place at the end of the day and that Mark Sanchez looked great with the second team, but we’ll see. The Jets beat writers and other individuals who attend camp do a great job of relaying all the details of the day, my goal will be to provide a daily synopsis after reading everything I can get my eyes on and then offer opinions and analysis throughout camp. I do plan on attending the Jets practice at Hofstra and a few of their practices in Florham Park, there is still a small chance I could make it out to Cortland, but that is a tough trip with my job and grad school starting up soon.

Predicted 53 Man Roster, Pre-Training Camp: Obviously, it is hard to know how Rex Ryan is going break down his roster in terms of how many guys he keeps at each position, but it’s worth taking a shot at before camp starts:

Quarterback –

  1. Kellen Clemens – Should put up a spirited fight but eventually be the #2.
  2. Mark Sanchez – The franchise quarterback, can he win the job by week 1?
  3. Erik Ainge – Will win a close battle with Chris Pizzotti for the #3 job.

Running Back –

  1. Thomas Jones – Still the #1 back, unhappy or not.
  2. Leon Washignton – Get him in camp, ASAP.
  3. Shonn Greene – Will be the Jets starter on opening day 2010.
  4. Tony Richardson (FB) – Valuable piece of the offense.
  5. Jehuu Caulcrick (FB/RB) – Hopefully, future FB and short yardage back.

Wide Receiver –

  1. Jerricho Cotchery – Chance for him to prove he is a #1.
  2. Chansi Stuckey – Should lead the committee approach to the #2 spot.
  3. David Clowney – Will have every chance to be the Jets big play receiver.
  4. Brad Smith – Is he more than an athlete and a gimmick player?
  5. Wallace Wright – Too good on specials not to make the roster.
  6. Mario Urrutia – My pick for #53 on the roster, just over Kenwin Cummings and Drew Coleman.

Tight End –

  1. Dustin Keller – Alot of pressure on Keller to have a big sophomore season.
  2. Kareem Brown – Hopefully he can continue his progress from the spring.
  3. Jack Simmons – Could end up being the #2 sooner rather than later.
  4. James Dearth – The long snapper.

Offensive Line –

  1. RT – Damein Woody – Hopefully can replicate last year’s consistency.
  2. RG – Brandon Moore – Just keep doing what you been doing.
  3. C – Nick Mangold – Anchor of the Jets offensive line
  4. LG – Alan Faneca – Didn’t show signs of age last season.
  5. LT – D’Brickashaw Ferguson – Keep getting better, especially in run blocking.
  6. G/T – Robert Turner – Pressure to prove he can provide adequate depth.
  7. T – Wayne Hunter – See directly above.
  8. G/T – Matt Slauson – Long term project, hopefully eventually replaces Faneca.

Defensive Line

  1. Kris Jenkins – Needs to stay healthy and productive for 16 games.
  2. Shaun Ellis – Veteran leader on defense and still a very good player.
  3. Marques Douglas – Needs to prove he can handle starting.
  4. Sione Pouha – Needs to provide quality reps off the bench.
  5. Mike DeVito – Big chance to see starter type reps.
  6. Howard Greene – Needs to support Jenkins off the bench.
  7. Ropati Pitoitua – Hoping to become part of D-Line rotation.

Linebackers –

  1. Bart Scott – Needs to provide swagger, leadership, and confidence to defense.
  2. David Harris – Should excel next to Scott.
  3. Calvin Pace – Looking forward to week 5.
  4. Bryan Thomas – Needs to step up, especially in first four weeks.
  5. Vernon Gholston – Huge training camp for the former first round pick.
  6. Marques Murrell – Chance to be major part of the defense.
  7. Jason Trusnik – Looking for more playing time.
  8. Larry Izzo – Special teams ace.
  9. Jamaal Westerman – Versatile, long term prospect at LB.

Secondary –

  1. Darrelle Revis – One of the best.
  2. Lito Sheppard – Needs to find 2006 form.
  3. Kerry Rhodes – Needs to find 2006 form.
  4. Jim Leonhard – Veteran of Ryan’s defense.
  5. Donald Strickland – Veteran nickle back.
  6. Dwight Lowery – Looking to build on last year.
  7. Eric Smith – Good depth at safety from the former starter.
  8. Ahmad Carroll – Looking to expand beyond special teams.
  9. James Ihedigbo – Trying to lock down #4 safety spot.

Special Teams

  1. K – Jay Feely – Just make your kicks.
  2. P – TJ Conley – Will beat out Reggie Hodges.

Jets Highlight of the Day: 2008 Jets Season Highlights

Jets Training Camp: Five Under the Radar Players to Watch

First a few updates:

1. Daily running back contract updates – It is apparently now 50-50 that Leon Washington will have a new deal in place before training camp starts on Friday. Washington’s agent is meeting face to face with Mike Tannenbaum tomorrow, hopefully to iron out the final details of the contract. The Jets aren’t planning on making any new offers to Thomas Jones and there hasn’t been any news about him planning to hold out, so I guess we’ll just have to see what happens on Friday.

2. TV Discussion of the Day – I was a big fan of the third episode of Entourage, much better than the first two. Funny cameo by 50 Cent and some progress in the plot line.

Jets Training Camp: Five Under the Radar Players to Watch

Anybody can watch out for Mark Sanchez and other high profile players, but here are some lesser known players to keep an eye on during Jets training camp.

1. Jamaal Westerman – Linebacker

The Jets signed the former Rutgers defensive end to a free agent contract immediately after the draft. Westerman stood out in both OTA’s and mini-camp impressing the coaching staff with his versatility and ability to learn both outside and inside linebacker. Rex Ryan said Westerman will begin camp at inside backer but he should still receive some work at outside, especially with Calvin Pace suspended. The backup positions at linebacker are wide open and from the way Ryan has praised Westerman’s early work, the UDFA should have a good shot at grabbing one of the Jets 53 spots.

2. Mario Urrutia – Wide Receiver

Urrutia has something no other Jets receiver has, height. He stands at 6’6 and weighs 232 pounds. The Jets receiver position is wide open after Jerricho Cotchery, giving a little known player like Urrutia a chance to battle for a roster spot. He had a huge freshman and sophomore year at Louisville before having a let down junior year and then becoming a 7th round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008. They cut him after the season and the Jets picked him up, hoping he could develop into a red-zone threat. You can’t teach height and Urrutia displayed a ton of talent in his first two seasons at Lousville, maybe the Jets found a diamond in the rough to help their thin receiver core.

3. Jack Simmons – Tight End

Simmons is the only Jets tight end on the roster except for Dustin Keller, who played the position last season giving him a potential edge in the battle for the #2 tight end spot. He was a three year starter at Minnesota and caught 34 passes for 331 yards and 2 TD’s last year. Simmons was impressive in mini-camp, showing good hands and an ability to block, something the Jets desperately need at the tight end position. After Keller, it is wide open for the #2 and #3 tight spot, giving Simmons a great chance to be on the active roster despite being a rookie UDFA.

4. Ropati Pitoitua – Defensive End

After spending last season on the practice squad, Pitoitua could have a chance to work himself into the defensive end rotation in 2009. He has great size at 6’8, 310 pounds and the Jets are thin at his position, with inexperienced players behind starters in Shaun Ellis and Marques Douglas. If Pitoitua has a strong pre-season, he could end up on the active roster and be a part of the Jets long term defensive line plans.

5. Ahmad Carroll – Cornerback/Safety

Carroll is a former first round pick who was just about out of the NFL until the Jets took a shot on him last season. He responded by becoming one of their better special teams players, providing speed on their coverage units. The word out of the OTA’s was that Carroll looked good in his defensive back drills and Rex Ryan’s aggressive man to man scheme plays to his athletic strengths that made him a first round pick. Carroll could be a surprise contender for the nickel-back role or a spot in the Jets dime packages. The Jets are also a little thin at safety after Rhodes, Leonhard, and Eric Smith and Carroll has the size to potentially move over and play both corner and safety.

Jets Highlight of the Day: Thomas Jones may not be getting a new contract, but he is getting a highlight today on TurnOnTheJets.com (Turn off the music, if you don’t want to hear explicit lyrics)

Jets Positional Analysis: Special Teams

Jets Positional Analysis: Special Teams

Third article of the day, but hey training camp starts this week so it is time to step up. Of course since I mentioned the Yankees potentially having the best record in baseball, they are losing 6-1. Anyway, here is my next to last positional analysis (still have inside linebackers, which I will get to before Friday morning). Tomorrow I am planning to look at some under the radar players in training camp and I got a few other article ideas to get up before daily coverage of training camp starts at the end of the week.

Jay Feely #3, Kicker, Last Season: 24/28 Field Goals (2/2 50+ yards, 4/5 40-49 yards) 39/39 PAT’s

History: Political commentator, twitter enthusiast, and weight-room fanatic, Jay Feely became the Jets kicker in week 2 last season after Mike “Second Round Pick?!” Nugent was hurt. As you can tell from the numbers, he had a pretty good season which earned him a new contract with the Jets. Feely hit his two most clutch kicks last season, a game winner against the Patriots and a 50+ yarder that sent Oakland into overtime. He has decent length on kickoffs and didn’t struggle with the Meadowlands winds.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Feely has a similar season to last year and hits his clutch kicks, while Mike Nugent is booting kickoffs to the 20 yard line in the UFL.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Feely misses too many FG’s, gets cut week 3 and joins the FOX News staff.

Prediction: I don’t see any reason why Feely can’t be a productive kicker for the Jets this season.

Reggie Hodges #5, Punter, Last Season: Average Yard Per Punt 42.8 yards, 14 Punts Inside the 20, 6 Touchbacks

History: Hodges was signed to replace Ben Graham last season and did an okay job. He was cut by the Jets after the season but then re-signed a few months ago.

Chance of Making Roster: 50%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Hodges is a good punter for the Jets…what else can I say?

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He gets beat out in training camp and is cut.

Prediction: I am going with the rookie in his punting battle royale, meaning Hodges will join Nugent and Brooks Bollinger in the UFL.

T.J. Conley #9, Punter, Rookie

History: A UDFA out of Idaho, who had the highest net average of all college punters last season.

Chance of Making Roster: 50%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He wins the job and becomes a punting prodigy.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He gets cut, meaning nobody has my number on the Jets.

Prediction: Maybe it’s just because I like his number, but I am picking Conley to win this punting job…bold stuff, I know.

The Other Guys:

Long Snapper: James Dearth – One of the best in the business.

Kick Returner: Leon Washington – One of the best in the business.

Punt Returner: Jim Leonhard – Will take pressure off Washington and did a good job returning for the Ravens last season.

Overall Position Analysis: I always feel good about this group because Mike Westhoff is in charge and he is a hall of famer. Punter could obviously be a position of concern, though.

Jets Special Teams Highlight: Leon Washington is gone.

Jets Training Camp: Five Position Battles

First a few updates:

1. RIP to former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who was one of the brightest minds in the NFL.

2. Brett Favre has decided to stay retired…boohoo.

Jets Training Camp: Five Position Battles

1. Starting Quarterback: Mark Sanchez vs. Kellen Clemens vs. Erik Ainge (Just Kidding)

Why Sanchez Will Win: The Jets didn’t trade up to draft Sanchez and pay him 60 million dollars to have him sit on the bench. Rex Ryan watched Joe Flacco lead the Ravens to the AFC Championship game last year and will believe Sanchez can do the same. The rookie from USC only has to keep it close with Kellen Clemens this summer and the job will be his.

Why Clemens Will Win: He is more experienced in the offense and the Jets are built to win now. Sanchez only had 16 starts at USC and simply won’t be ready to lead a NFL offense by September. Similar to how Chad Pennington was out playing him last summer, Clemens will use his knowledge of Brian Schottenheimer’s offense to handily outplay the overwhelmed rookie this summer.

Prediction: The two quarterbacks will play relatively even this summer, which means Mark Sanchez will win the job.

2. Starting Wide Receiver: Chansi Stuckey vs. Brad Smith vs. David Clowney

Why Stuckey Will Win: He performed the best in mini-camp and OTA’s and is coming off the best season in 2008. He had more catches than Smith and Clowney combined last year, and is by far the most polished of the group at the position.

Why Clowney Will Win: Speed kills and the Jets desperately need it on offense. Clowney will get over his drops in the spring and be a big play machine all summer.

Why Smith Will Win: He has the best combination of size and speed and is the best overall athlete. He will finally put it all together this summer as a wide receiver.

Prediction: Stuckey will receive most of the reps as the #2, followed by Clowney, and then Smith.

3. Outside Linebacker (Week 1-4): Vernon Gholston vs. Marques Murrell

Why Gholston Will Win: The guy was the number 6 overall pick in the draft for a reason. Rex Ryan will push Gholston towards becoming the elite pass rusher the Jets drafted him to be.

Why Murrell Will Win: He is hungrier than Gholston and plays with more passion for the game. Gholston was simply a workout wonder and won’t be able to translate his talent to the NFL level.

Prediction: Gholston will start, but Murrell will still receive 25-30% of the reps.

4. Nickel-Back: Donald Strickland vs. Dwight Lowery

Why Strickland Will Win: The veteran has been a pretty good nickel back the previous few seasons and Ryan will feel comfortable with him in the game in key 3rd down situations.

Why Lowery Will Win: He showed plenty of talent in his rookie season and was a quality starter for the first few weeks of the year. Lowery will learn from his rookie mistakes and develop into a quality nickel-back.

Prediction: Even though most people expect Strickland to win the job, I like what I saw from Lowery last season and think he will be guy.

5. #2 Tight End: Kareem Brown vs. Richard Owens vs. Jack Simmons

Why Brown Will Win: After being moved from defensive end, Brown had a productive spring and impressed the coaching staff with the potential he has displayed. Somehow, he has the most experience in this offense despite only being on it since the 2008 season ended.

Why Owens Will Win: He is the only player among these three with NFL experience at tight end.

Why Simmons Will Win: The UDFA had a strong showing in the spring and will build on that in the summer. He was a productive player last season in college and is the only player of the three who played tight end at any level of football last year (Owens was out of the league and Brown was a DE).

Prediction: I think Brown and Simmons end up splitting the reps as the #2 tight end.

Jets Highlight of the Article: Who can forget this 2007 match-up between the Jets and Rex Ryan’s (as a D coordinator) Baltimore Ravens. Look at my boy Cotchery tearing it up, but more importantly look at $#%$% Justin McCariens dropping passes. I will never forget shattering a remote control on this day because of #81.

Jets Positional Analysis: Outside Linebackers

First a few updates:

1. Rich Cimini is reporting that there has been substantial progress in Leon Washington’s contract talks, with hopes of finishing up a deal by Friday. If they are really that close to a deal, you would think Washington won’t bother skipping any days of training camp and accumulating daily fines.

2. Speaking of Leon Washington, here is an encouraging quote from Rex Ryan about #29 given to Peter King in his MMQB article, “He had six touchdowns on 73 carries last year. That number has to go up — drastically, and it will” Thank you, Rex.

3. How about those ESPN pre-training camp Power Rankings? The Jets came in at #23, despite going 9-7 last year and adding Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Lito Sheppard, Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene, and Marques Douglas. Yes, they lost Brett Favre and his 23 interceptions but #23, c’mon now? Behind the Texans? Behind the 4-12 Seattle Seahawks? Behind the Bills? Behind the Redskins? Behind the 49ers?

4. The Yankees can tie for the best record in baseball tonight with a win and a Dodgers loss…who wants to bat against Burnett, CC, and Joba right now?

Jets Positional Analysis: Outside Linebackers

I am motivated to finish this before the Jets first practice on Friday morning, all I got left is the LB’s and special teams.

1. Calvin Pace #97, Starting Outside Linebacker (Suspended First Four Games), Last Season: 80 Tackles, 7 Sacks, 7 Tackles For Loss, 5 Forced Fumbles, 3 Passes Defensed

History: The Jets signed Pace to a monster contract before last season and he responded with a very good all around year. Despite some struggles in pass coverage, Pace was still one of the Jets top playmakers on defense. Rex Ryan’s scheme should allow Pace more chances to rush the quarterback, which plays to his strengths. Unfortunately, he has been suspended for the first four games of the 2009 season for using a banned substance, putting pressure on the younger Jets OLB’s to step up.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Pace comes back in week 5 as a man on a mission and exceeds his sack total from last season despite only playing 12 games. Ryan’s scheme plays to his talents and he provides a huge boost to the Jets D in the middle of the year.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles to adjust and make an impact after missing the first four games and isn’t the same player he was last year.

Prediction: Unless Bryan Thomas and Vernon Gholston/Marques Murrell are revelations in the first four weeks, Pace will return as a starter in week 5 and should be even better than he was last season. Obviously, his numbers will be down because of his shortened season but he should still be more of a threat rushing the QB in 2009.

2. Bryan Thomas #99, Starting Outside Linebacker, Last Season: 57 Tackles, 5.5 Sacks, 6 Tackles For Loss, 3 Forced Fumbles, 1 Pass Defensed

History: Thomas has had a disappointing roller coaster career since the Jets drafted him in the first round back in 2002. After 4 quiet years, he had a breakout year in 2006 under Eric Mangini and was awarded with a new contract. He admittedly slacked off in 2007 and then rebounded with a strong start in 2008 but was very quiet in the second half of the year. With Calvin Pace suspended 4 games, Thomas needs to step up in 2008 as the Jets only veteran outside linebacker.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Thomas flourishes in Ryan’s system and starts the year off with a bang as the featured playmaker at OLB with Pace suspended. He matches his 2006 production level.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Thomas picks up where he left off when the 2008 season ended, leaving the Jets extremely weak at the OLB spot, especially in the first 4 weeks.

Prediction: Thomas will be a decent starter for the Jets in 2009, but hopefully begin to be rotated out towards the middle of the year with younger players like Vernon Gholston and Marques Murrell.

3. Vernon Gholston #50, Last Season: 13 Tackles (I just winced)

History: Gholston was the sixth overall pick in the 2008 draft and showed nothing to merit that last year. He was basically invisible on defense and an average special teams player at best. The organization is hoping Rex Ryan can get the most out of Gholston’s immense talent and turn him into their version Terrell Suggs. Ryan has already proclaimed Gholston as the starter in Pace’s absence for the first four weeks, hopefully he can rise to the occasion.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Gholston takes advantage of Pace’s absence and plays well enough to move over to the other starting OLB spot when Calvin returns. He begins to show signs of being a great pass rusher, finishing with 7-9 sacks after having zero last year.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Gholston is beat out by Marques Murrell or Jason Trusnik in training camp and isn’t a factor on the defense.

Prediction: I think Gholston will be adequate filling in for Pace but won’t play well enough to be a full time starter when he returns. I can see Gholston ending up with 5-6 sacks this year.

4. Marques Murrell #94, Last Season: 9 Tackles, 1 Forced Fumble

History: Murrell has been a practice squad/special team player for the Jets the past couple of seasons and shown some decent potential. Rex Ryan praised him effusively during mini-camp, leading many to think he could end up being a factor on the defense this year. He will have a shot to carve out some playing time with Calvin Pace suspended for four games.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Murrell develops into a valuable pass rushing weapon and pushes Vernon Gholston for playing time at outside linebacker.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Murrell doesn’t rise to the occasion in pre-season and remains a special teams player.

Prediction: He will see some quality reps in the first four weeks of the year and then continue to have a role, though somewhat smaller, on the defense for the rest of the year.

5. Jason Trusnik #96, Last Season: 10 Tackles

History: Another young linebacker who showed some potential last season and could compete for extended playing time in 2009.

Chance of Making Roster: 85%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He develops into a valuable role player on defense and remains a good special teams player.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles in training camp and doesn’t end up making the active roster.

Prediction: Trusnik will be a role/depth player on defense and remain on the active roster.

Overall Position Analysis: All eyes will be on Vernon Gholston to step up and fill the void left by Calvin Pace. However, Bryan Thomas and Marques Murrell also need to step up their play to help fill the void for the first four weeks.

Jets Highlight of the Day: An entertaining highlight film of Vernon Gholston at Ohio State…the talent is there.

New York Jets Training Camp Preview 2009

First a few updates:

1. Yankees are up a healthy 2.5 games on Boston after taking 3 out 4 from the A’s, and 9 out of 10 on their home stand. Big week coming up with road trips to Tampa and Chicago though, I am saying they take 2 out 3 against the Rays to start the week off. How about those Mets, though? They won 2 out of 3 this weekend…shocking.

2. Big day tomorrow, we have our playoffs in my YMCA basketball league. The whole tournament is tomorrow, and we are entering as the #2 seed, despite our sub-par 3-3 regular season record. You heard it  here first, the green team is taking home the trophy….well we don’t have a trophy, but we are taking the title anyway.

New York Jets Training Camp Preview 2009

The Jets are heading up to Cortland, New York at the end of this week to begin their 2009 season. It will be Rex Ryan’s first camp as a head coach in the NFL and all ears will be up for the boisterous former defensive coordinator of the Ravens, while all eyes will be on prized rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. What should you look for over the next 6 weeks of non-regular season football? Here’s a guide…

– The primary storyline will be the quarterback competition between rookie Mark Sanchez and 4th year veteran Kellen Clemens. Expect daily tallies of their statistics in 7 on 7’s and team drills and a daily winner of the practice proclaimed by all the beat writers. August 14th is the date of the Jets first pre-season game, and it will be interesting to see if Mark Sanchez can unseat Kellen Clemens by that day, and if he doesn’t, if he can outplay him on that night. Clemens will take the first snap with the first offense this week, but Sanchez will be given every shot to win the job. Unless Clemens turns into Peyton Manning this summer or Sanchez turns into Brooks Bollinger, you can bet on #6 being under center for week 1.

– Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are both currently in contract disputes and it remains to be seen if they will skip training camp and accept the daily fines. Apparently, there has been minor progress in Washington’s talks but no movement on Thomas Jones. I am going to be an optimist and say that Washington shows up to camp and a deal is done within the first week. Jones will show up but won’t talk to the media. Eventually, the Jets will reach some compromise with him, as they did with Laveranues Coles and Chris Baker last year to appease Jones for this season before letting him go at the end of the year. In other running back news, keep an eye on rookie Shonn Greene and how many carries he is getting in goal-line/short yardage situations. The coaching staff loves him and believes he is the heir apparent to Jones. Danny Woodhead will make for some nice training camp stories but won’t make the roster, the fifth running back will be Jehuu Caulcrick, who has the ability to play both FB and RB and will remind Rex Ryan of Le’Ron McClain.

– Chansi Stuckey will start out as the Jets #2 receiver and probably won’t relinquish the job. David Clowney is probably the fastest guy on the team but needs to get over the case of the drops he had in the spring. Brad Smith will get everybody excited, like he does every August, but then likely settle in his #4 receiver role. Watch for Mario Urrutia and Huey Whittaker, two little known guys who have good combinations of size and speed. Urrutia is 6’6 and could provide the Jets with a much needed red-zone target.

– The battle for the Jets #2 tight end spot will be between converted defensive lineman Kareem Brown, journeyman backup Richard Owens, and two UDFA’s J’Nathan Bullock and Jack Simmons. The coaching staff must think Brown can handle the transition or else they would have signed somebody else, right? I am still skeptical but as of now, look for Brown and Simmons to rise to the top of this weak group behind Dustin Keller. Speaking of #81, it will be interesting to see all the different places Brian Schottenheimer has him lined up on in the offense.

– Watch the offensive lineman if you want, but just pray that none of the them get hurt. The coaching staff will be hoping to see 6th round draft pick Matt Slauson show long term potential and also that Robert Turner and Wayne Hunter can handle extended playing time if one of the front five go down. Expect to see Turner also used as an extra tight end in some short yardage sets.

– On defense, listen for Bart Scott’s incessant trash talking and enjoy the the thought of him and David Harris making all the tackles they want because of the protection provided by Kris Jenkins, who should have a light work load this August. Backups Sione Pouha and Howard Green need the reps. Also, watch out for Ropati Pitoitua who spent last season on the practice squad, but could be a factor on the defensive line rotation. Mike DeVito and Marques Douglas will be out to prove they can handle splitting the one starting defensive end spot this pre-season.

– Vernon Gholston will be facing tons of pressure and daily scrutiny to live up to his lofty draft status. It is on him to lead the way in filling the hole left by Calvin Pace for the first four weeks of the regular season. Marques Murrell and Jason Trunsick will also be seeing increased reps at the outside linebacker position. Another guy to watch for is UDFA Jamaal Westerman from Rutgers, who Rex Ryan has done nothing but rave about since the second he stepped on the field this past spring. Westerman was a defensive end in college but has been working at both inside and outside linebacker for the Jets.

– In the secondary, look for a more active Kerry Rhodes and and a battle for reps alongside Darrelle Revis at cornerback. Lito Sheppard should be the starter opposite him, but beyond him Dwight Lowery, Donald Strickland, Drew Coleman, and Ahmad Carroll will be battling for playing time.

– By the way, who is the Jets punter? Reggie Hodges? I hope not. Hopefully, rookie TJ Conley can seize the job.

Enjoy the practices, and let’s all look forward to:

1. The meticulously put together daily passing statistics of Mark Sanchez, with every pass dissected and analyzed.

2. The stories about how versatile Brad Smith is.

3. The stories about how Danny Woodhead is fighting against the odds, because he played Division II football and because he is really small.

4. The stories about Leon Washington getting the ball more.

5. Rex Ryan’s daily press conferences, filled with jokes, trash-talk, and amusing stories.

6. The discussion of how much more “fun” Ryan is than Eric Mangini and how he has brought a new attitude to the team.

7. The stories about Bart Scott yelling at the offense after every play.

8. The stories about how fast David Clowney is.

9. The inevitable player on offense and defense who comes out of nowhere to have a great camp, but then still gets cut after the last pre-season game.

10. The 17 articles that will be written if Vernon Gholston misses a tackle at practice.

Jets Highlight of the Day: Season highlights from 2006…the last time the Jets made the playoffs.

AFC Power Rankings: Where Do the Jets Fit?

First a few updates:

1. It’s officially training camp week, with the Jets opening up this Friday in Cortland, New York. Later in the day, I will be posting an extended, comprehensive (two big time adjectives there) training camp preview. Also, I will finish up my positional analysis this week, with a look at the team’s linebackers and special teams. You can look back through the archives for my breakdown of all the other positions on the roster.

2. I will be appearing on a podcast on our site tomorrow around 11:30 to discuss the Jets, the link is http://ownersedge.fanball.com/fantasy_buffet.php

3. By the end of the week, I plan on making additions to both the TOJ Hall of Fame and TOJ Hall of Shame…thrilling stuff for everybody, I know. Also, I am stuck with the 5th pick in upcoming fantasy football draft and I am open to suggestions on who I should pick…Brees, Fitzgerald, Jones-Drew, Westbrook, Brad Smith, Wallace Wright?

AFC Power Rankings: Where Do the Jets Fit?

I don’t like to rank teams from 1-16, but instead separate them into different levels. With training camps starting up this week, here is how I see the AFC breaking down:

The Favorites

Pittsburgh Steelers – The defending champions are returning all of their major parts and should be right back at the top of the AFC North. Their defense should be one of the league’s best and if they can get something out of Rashad Mendenhall and Limas Sweed this year, their offense could be even more dynamic.

New England Patriots – They have the best coach in the NFL, a good defense, and potentially the best offense in football if Tom Brady is back at 100 percent. If the Jets want to win the AFC East, the road goes through New England (sorry Dolphins fans).

Indianapolis Colts – They were playing as well as anyone in football last year before getting bounced in the wild-card round to the Chargers. Even without Tony Dungy, they still have a quality defense and tons of weapons on offense, including first round pick Donald Brown, who should flourish in their system.

San Diego Chargers – They have as much talent as anyone in football, but can they put it together? Fortunately for them, the AFC West is a weak division and they shouldn’t have any trouble repeating as champs.

The Contenders

Baltimore Ravens – A great defense, a young quarterback who is only going to get better, and a dominant running game should equal another double-digit win total for the Ravens.

Tennessee Titans – I think they will take a big step down from last year’s win total. They sure didn’t feel like a 13-3 team last year, but maybe that’s just because I watched the Jets embarrass them in their home building. They got a shot for revenge in the Meadowlands in week 3, though.

Question Marks

Miami Dolphins – They have 6-10 written all over them this season and I’m not saying that as a biased Jets fan. The Wildcat won’t fool anybody this year and Chad Pennington has never put together two healthy, productive seasons in a row. Yet, they have a good defense and running game which will keep them competitive.

Buffalo Bills – There is a ton of talent at the skill positions but can Trent Edwards stay healthy and take his game to the next level? Can Dick Jauron get out of his own way?

New York Jets – I expect a great defense and a great running game but there is still question marks at quarterback, receiver, tight end, and depth on both lines.

Houston Texans – Every year everybody picks them to make a big jump but it never seems to happen. If Matt Schaub can stay healthy, their offense will be scary good with Steve Slaton and Andre Johnson making plays but they still have question marks on defense, as usual. The Texans will be a good test for the Jets in week one.

Bigger Question Marks

Denver Broncos – You don’t improve from 8-8 by going from Jay Cutler to Kyle Orton at quarterback.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Torry Holt will help them on offense, but unless David Garrard goes back to his 2007 form, the Jaguars aren’t going to be any better than they were last season.

The Basement Dwellers

Oakland Raiders – There is obviously talent on offense and some pieces on defense, but hasn’t that been the case on Oakland for the past few years? I’m sure they will go 5-11 but still find a way to beat the Jets.

Kansas City Chiefs – Matt Cassell isn’t going to look so good without Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and one of the best offensive lines in football.

Cincinnatti Bengals – If Carson Palmer can play a full 16 games, they could improve a few games from last season but that would only put them in the 6-7 win range.

Cleveland Browns – Have fun Eric Mangini, but hey they said the same thing about your Jets in 2006 and look what happened.

Jets Highlight of the Day: After spending another weekend of arguing with my friend’s about Leon Washington’s talent level, I decided to throw up some of his highlights, Give 29 a new contract:

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.