New York Jets Have Finally Created An Appealing Situation

It is starting to sound like there may be a light at the end of this lockout tunnel and if everything breaks right in the coming weeks there is going to be a furious two to three week stretch of free agency in early July. No matter how the negotiations end up setting the framework for the rules in the 2011 season and the new CBA, the New York Jets are going to have their hands full. Yet, one of the positive things the Jets will have working for them is they have created an organizational culture that is appealing to players around the league.

Leading the New York Jets is an owner willing to spend money, on state of the art facilities and top tier talent, a general manager who is willing to pursue that top tier talent and remain aggressive to keep the Jets consistently competitive, and a head coach who is as popular with players as any in the NFL.

Say what you want about Hard Knocks but it was great advertising for the New York Jets. The days of this franchise being a clumsily run, bumbling second class NFL citizen are over. They have a brand new stadium, brand new training facilities, and most importantly an identity as a physical, talented football team that is developing into a consistent winner.

The Jets top concern in free agency will be bringing their own players back, yet if they have holes they need to fill, they should have the ability to recruit the necessary replacement pieces, which is a credit to Rex Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum, and Woody Johnson.

Thoughts On Jets Full Team Workouts

The New York Jets are currently holding workouts in North Jersey, it is being reported that somewhere around 40 players are in attendance, with a partial listing of who is there right here. Mark Sanchez had previously mentioned bringing together as much of the team as possible if the lockout extended into the middle of the June. These workouts are looking to serve as informal replacement for mini-camp, which would normally take place around this time.

I wouldn’t get too worked up about who does and doesn’t attend these workouts which are expected to last for three days. There seems to be increasing optimism that the lockout is going to end within a month or so to allow for a full training camp and a pre-season, preceded by an abbreviated free agency period. You can’t expect potential free agents to risk an injury so close to a time when they will be looking for a new contract, which is why players like Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Antonio Cromartie are likely working out on their own during these days. It is worth noting that Brad Smith is in attendance despite being a free agent.

These few days will be good work for the rookies and younger players on the Jets roster who are expected to move into bigger roles. It is also another demonstration of Mark Sanchez’s leadership on this team, as he was able to gather up this many players for workouts. Sione Pouha said it a few weeks ago “when Mark makes the call…we’ll be there.”

Hopefully the amount of work Sanchez has put in participating, leading, and coaching these workouts will continue his development at a somewhat comparable pace to the work around the team facility he did last off-season.

The end may be finally be getting near for the lockout and on the whole it has been encouraging to see the amount of work the Jets players have put it in to stay in shape the previous few months.

A Collection Of Awful New York Jets

With all the talk this week about who the greatest New York Jet ever is, why not flip the script and take a look at some of the worst players in recent franchise history…

Vernon Gholston – Nothing like spending the 6th overall pick on a pass rusher who can’t sack the quarterback. Gholstoncouldn’t even trip in the right place to record a sack during his three seasons with the Jets. Beyond that, he never really seemed to have any passion for the game.

Justin McCariens – Maybe he wasn’t that bad overall, but all of those dropped passes from 2007 still stick in my memory. He also cost me a remote control, which I slammed against the wall, after this game in Baltimore:

Doug Brien – He didn’t just miss one…but yes two kicks that would have sent the Jets into the AFC Championship Game in 2004. Few people remember what a huge upset over Pittsburgh that win would have been, with the Steelers being 15-1 that season. Those missed kicks also made the Jets have a knee jerk reaction and waste a second round pick on Mike Nugent the following year.

Rick Mirer – A valuable reminder that you always need a quality backup quarterback. The Jets season went up into flames in 1999 after Vinny Testaverde tore his ACL in week one because for some reason they thought Mirer was a competent backup.

Adrien Clarke – Sure, go ahead and release Pete Kendall…we will be fine with Clarke under at guard…tell that to Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens who were routinely pummeled thanks to Clarke’s matador blocking.

Alex Van Dyke – A first round wide receiver who had 25 receptions for the Jets in three years and most notable play was a costly fumble in the AFC Championship Game.

Blair Thomas – Nothing like spending the second overall pick on a running back who will rush for five career touchdowns. I will say this…he was always very fast in the original Tecmo Bowl.

Dwight Lowery: The Forgotten Defensive Back

One of the few New York Jets defensive backs who isn’t a free agent, is cornerback/safety Dwight Lowery. There hasn’t been talk about Lowery’s role with the team moving forward this off-season, yet he was a key part of their defense in 2010.

Similar to Drew Coleman, Lowery was a defensive back who rotated into their various nickel, sub, and dime packages and made a surprisingly high amount of impact plays. He finished the season with 3 interceptions, 2 of which were returned for touchdowns, 2 sacks, 7 passes defensed, and a fumble recovery. Most notably, Lowery iced the Jets win over the Vikings with an interception return for a touchdown and then their win over the Denver Broncos the following week with a fumble recovery.

Due to injuries, Lowery began to work more at safety towards the end of last season. Many people have been clamoring for him to move there, considering his ball skills and how he struggles in man to man coverage at cornerback. Lowery’s primary position will likely depend on which free agents are brought back out of Antonio Cromartie, Drew Coleman, Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and James Ihedigbo. Obviously, it is a benefit to the Jets that Lowery has shown he can play both positions and he should remain a big part of their defense moving forward.

I am not sure if Lowery is physical enough to play safety full time, but he does fit well there in pass heavy situations. The more the Jets can let Lowery roam in zone coverage, the better, because he lacks the ideal speed to match-up with most receivers in single coverage.

Looking At Shonn Greene As A Lead Back

Whether it is from Rex Ryan, LaDainian Tomlinson, or Brian Schottenheimer…we have heard that Shonn Greene will be the Jets lead back this year. One of the more frustrating parts of 2010 was the limited amount of opportunities Greene had to carry the ball and it now appears that problem will be remedied.

It was understandable in the beginning of the year why LaDainian Tomlinson was receiving more carries. He was simply playing better. Yet, considering his age and how Tomlinson wore down as the season went on, Greene should have been getting more touches later in the year. He is built to wear defenses down and is the type of back who gets better with the more carries he receives.

Let’s look back at Greene’s first two years at the ten games he received the most carries in —

  • 23 carries, 128 yards, 1 touchdown at San Diego in 2009 Divisional Playoff Game
  • 22 carries, 117 yards at Buffalo in 2010 regular season game
  • 21 carries, 135 yards at Cincinnati in 2009 Wild-Card Playoff Game
  • 20 carries, 72 yards at Cleveland in 2010 regular season game
  • 19 carries, 144 yards, 2 touchdowns at Oakland in 2009 regular season game
  • 19 carries, 70 yards at Indianapolis in 2010 Wild-Card Playoff Game
  • 18 carries, 70 yards vs Cincinnati in 2009 regular season game
  • 17 carries, 76 yards, 1 touchdown at New England in 2010 Divisional Playoff Game
  • 16 carries, 95 yards at Indianapolis in 2009 regular season game
  • 15 carries, 52 yards vs New England in 2010 regular season game

First off, a somewhat odd trend is that eight of those ten games were on the road. A major reason for that is that half of them are Jets playoff games and they have been a wild-card the past two years. It is clear the offense turns to Greene more in bigger spots and he has always responded, with most of his best performances coming in the playoffs or in important regular season match-ups.

This is a player who has only received over 20 carries four times in his NFL career but has responded with a 100 yard game in three of those games. It is still a question mark how he will produce over a full season but there is reason for optimism.

TOJ Interview: Emanuel Cook

New York Jets safety Emmanuel Cook took the time to talk with TOJ about his off-season, his hopes for the coming year, and his charity work…

TOJ: How are you working to stay in shape during the lockout? Have you worked with any other current or former teammates?

EC: I work out daily. I’m in the gym a lot. I also have a special trainer I work with. I do field drills, beach workouts, swimming, lots of running and weights. Kenrick Ellis and I went to college together and we’re both from West Palm Beach, so we work out together quite a bit. I’m feeling good about the shape I’m in. Whenever we get back to work I’m ready to go.

TOJ: Can you discuss being moved to the active roster for the stretch run and the playoffs last year? Did you expect it and what was the experience like once were you out on the field?

EC: I’ve been with the Jets on and off for the past two years. That’s my team. That’s where I feel at home. When I got the call I was excited and ready to go. Since getting signed as a UDFA in 09′, I’ve been working really hard for that chance and the only thing on my mind was stepping up to do whatever the team needed me to do. It was a great experience and I’m grateful for it and ready to show the team and the fans more of what I can do this season.

TOJ: Do you think you have ability to become a core special teams player for Mike Westhoff? What type of skills can you bring to those units?

EC: I know I can. I believe some of the plays I had last season gave a glimpse of what I can do.  I play with a lot of heart.  I spent the past two pre-seasons working with Coach Westhoff and he is the best in the game. I’ve learned a lot from him and I respect him a lot. I believe my special teams abilities helped me get the spot on the Roster this year.

TOJ: Are you confident about your ability to work yourself into a bigger role on the defense this year, especially considering Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and James Ihedigbo are all free agents?

EC: I definitely want to have a bigger role in the defense.  I’ve spent this off-season preparing for it.  Physically I have the abilities and as far as mental preparation, I study my plays and I’ve spent the 09′ and 10′ training camps/pre-seasons with the team, so I’m very comfortable with the defense we run.  Whatever job I’m asked to do, I’m going to do it and give it my all. 

TOJ: What player on the Jets roster did you learn the most from this past season?
 
EC: That’s a tough question because of the talent we have, but I’d have to say Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith.  Both of those guys do a great job.  I’ve learned a lot from them skill wise as well as how to play smarter when I’m out there.

Here is information from Emanuel himself on the charity work he is currently doing…

I lost a best friend and high school football teammate, DeAndre Butler, to Leukemia in December of 2008. I’vemade it my mission to use whatever visibility I have to help in the fight against blood cancers in his memory. July 1-2 in West Palm Beach I am having a Celebrity Charity Weekend. We’ll have a meet and greet at Duffy’s Sports Bar on July 1st from 5-7pm as well as a Bowl-a-thon at Verdes Lanes on July 2nd from 3-6pm. It will be hosted by myself and I’ve got a handful of other NFL players coming to support, including Kenrick Ellis.

I’ve also created red silicone bracelets imprinted with “Remember DeAndre Butler” that I’m selling for $5 with all proceeds going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, their New York City Chapter recently asked me to run for their “Man of the Year” in 2012 and I accepted, so I’m looking forward to that campaign as well.

Anybody who is interested in coming to the charity weekend or wants a bracelet can email RememberDeAndreButler@gmail.com or checkout www.facebook.com/rememberdeandrebutler. They can also always email me at emanuelcookfans@gmail.com. I read every message that comes in.

Follow Emanuel on Twitter and Facebook

Darrelle Revis: The GOAT?

Vote here at SB Nation on who you think the greatest New York Jet of all-time is…

Oh, that Rex Ryan…never shy with a compliment…like this one about Darrelle Revis

“One day we’re gonna say that this is the best Jet in the history of the New York Jet franchise, I believe that.”

Ryan made that comment when interviewed for Revis’ spot on the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players in the league countdown. His final ranking hasn’t been revealed yet, but you have to assume he will be somewhere in the top ten.

However, let’s get back to Ryan’s comment about Revis becoming the greatest New York Jet of all time.

I am only 24 years old, I can’t act like I watched people like Joe Namath, Don Maynard, Winston Hill, Freeman McNeil, and Joe Klecko in action on a game by game basis. Yet, that doesn’t mean I haven’t studied up on my history and been schooled by older family members and fans. When you think about the discussion for the GOAT when it comes to the Jets…

  • It is going to start and end with Joe Namath until this team wins another Super Bowl or two. I know Namath’s numbers don’t back up his Hall of Fame status but the guy is icon who transcends the sport. He is an integral part of the greatest upset in league history and set the precedent for making a bold guarantee before a game and then backing it up.
  • Don Maynard is a Hall of Fame receiver who wasn’t a flashy guy. His production and consistency speaks for itself.
  • Curtis Martin is one of the greatest running backs in the history of the league and was a complete class act for the Jets franchise for nearly a decade.
  • Lineman get no love, but Winston Hill was a 4 time AFL All-Star and 4 time Pro-Bowler. He paved the way for the rushing attack that led the Jets to a victory in Super Bowl III. While on lineman, Nick Mangold’s resume compares pretty favorably to Revis’ right now and Ryan isn’t mentioning him in the GOAT discussion.
  • How about the New York Sack Exchange? Revis still needs to leap frog players like Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko.
  • You could even argue Revis is still behind people like Wesley Walker, Wayne Chrebert and a host of other Jets when it comes to filling out the GOAT resume.

The season Revis put together in 2009 was the best individual season I ever saw by a Jet and from what I have heard, arguably the best in team history. Yet, that was only one season. Revis was great last year, after about week 7. It is going to take another 6-8 elite, All-Pro caliber seasons and a championship or two to put Revis in the discussion. He certainly has the talent to do it…but #24 still has a ways to go before being the GOAT.

Keep in mind, Rex Ryan loves defense and especially loves cornerbacks. Darrelle Revis is his dream player, so he will always talk him up.

TOJ Top Five: Brad Smith Plays

Since New York Jets wide receiver, Brad Smith, has recently created a Twitter account (@ReadBradSmith) and unfortunately there is a good chance he won’t be back next year, let’s look at his top five plays as a Jet…

5. Fifth Gear

This past Thanksgiving, Brad Smith torched the Cincinnati Bengals for the second year in a row. His first touchdown came on a 53 yard reverse, which really demonstrated his downhill speed as he kicks it into fifth gear and is off to the races.

4. Wildcatting Into The Playoffs

With a wild-card spot on the line in the final week of the 2009 season, the Jets beat up on the Bengals led by Smith who got things going with a huge run out of the Wildcat and then later blew the game open with a touchdown run out of the same formation.

3. One Last Bengals Highlight

The shoeless kick return…one shoe and still the fastest guy on the field.

2. Start It Off

Heading into their December match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Jets were riding an ugly two game losing streak and staring another later season meltdown in the face. Fortunately, Smith started off the game with a kick return for a touchdown which provided a much needed boost that would ultimately lead to a Jets victory.

1. Finally, A Pass

The one and only big pass Brad Smith ever completed for the New York Jets was against the Colts in the AFC Championship Game, when he surprised everybody in the stadium by rolling out and hitting Jerricho Cotchery on a bomb that would set up a big first half touchdown for the Jets.

TOJ Interview: LaDainian Tomlinson

Future Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson was nice enough to take a few minutes to talk with TOJ about his work with with Gatorade this off-season, how he is staying in shape during the lockout, the future of the Jets backfield, Mark Sanchez and more…

TOJ: What led to your decision to work with the Gatorade G Series and GNC Athletic Performance Clinic at Mission Viejo High School this past week?

LT: I have had a relationship with Gatorade for years and when they came out with the G Series Pro Line, we thought it was perfect for what I am all about, which is nutrition and taking care of your body. So we are out here at Mission Viejo High School teaching kids about what they need to learn on that topic. Young athletes need to know that what you put into your body is what you are going to get out of your body.

TOJ: Outside of the Jets West, how have you worked to stay in shape this off-season with the lockout currently in place? Also, have you worked with any other teammates besides your days at Jets West?

LT: I have been doing my own thing. I normally work with a trainer all off-season. I have always been a guy who doesn’t take much time off anyway. Overall, I am just staying in good shape and making sure I am on top of my game for when football starts back up. I have been talking with some of my teammates and we are planning workouts together in the New Jersey area in the coming month.

TOJ: Can you talk about your relationship with Mark Sanchez and how he has grown into a leader on this football team?

LT: Every year single year in the NFL you grow and that is what we have seen from Mark. He has really taken the challenge of being the coach on the field this off-season because he knows what the coaches will expect from everybody. He has mastered the ins and outs of what all of us on the field are supposed to be doing. I’ve been in this offense for a long time, so I also know what is going with everyone, which means Mark can come to me about different stuff and I can go to him to ask what he wants in different situations. He is not a hard guy to get along with. Mark is a passionate about what he does, wants to win, and is overall a great guy.

TOJ: Earlier this off-season, you said you were ready to embrace the role of a third down back on this team, which is not a common thing for running backs in the NFL to say. What was the thinking behind that statement?

LT: This is my 11th year and I am a guy who still has something left in the tank. I want to use that in terms of coming out of the backfield, running routes, and blocking in third down situations, which is an important role on the team. I feel like it is necessary because we have a guy in Shonn Greene, who can handle the bulk of the carries. That doesn’t mean I won’t carry the ball ever, but I just don’t need to be the primary ball carrier. I want to be the guy who keeps the chains moving.

TOJ: Can you talk about the young running backs on this team, specifically Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight?

LT: I think Shonn definitely has what it takes. It is all about knowing your role and what is expected out of you. The last two years he has learned alot and taken the challenge on. He is ready to become a lead back in this league. Joe has shown flashes and glimpses that he can handle being a productive NFL back. He is versatile and can do a little bit of everything: return kicks, catch the ball, and block. I think he definitely has potential but now it is all about learning, honing your skills and perfecting it.