Brad Smith: Odd Man Out?

Not surprisingly, Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes have been dominating the free agency discussion surrounding the New York Jets this off-season. Mike Tannenbaum will have his hands full attempting to bring back both his receivers. However, the Jets have a third free agent wide receiver, who is appearing less and less likely to return, Brad Smith.

Smith doesn’t have the numbers or name recognition of players like Edwards, Holmes, or Antonio Cromartie, yet was still one of the most valuable members of the team last season. Despite not fitting into a conventional position, Smith racked up 299 rushing yards out of the Jets “Tiger” formation, returned two kicks for touchdowns, threw a touchdown, and had 44 receiving yards.

Most people are assuming his production as a returner will decline because of the new kickoff rules and while he is valuable on offense, is he worth Josh Cribbs type money, especially with Holmes and Edwards vying for big paydays?

The short answer is no. If the Jets can get Smith back on a relatively cap friendly deal after Holmes or Edwards walks, than more power to Mike Tannenabaum but the Jets can’t break the bank for a player like Smith with all their other free agents this off-season.

Smith basically functions as the team’s number three running back, even though his carries come mostly on direct snaps. Hopefully, Joe McKnight can develop into a big enough part of the offense to give them the 299 rushing yards, Smith had last season. In terms of the direct snaps, the Jets can work their other running backs into their version of the Wildcat. No, they aren’t the same threat to throw that Smith was but let’s be honest here, Smith completed 2 passes for 6 yards in 2010. The Jets can compensate for that.

As Mark Sanchez continues to develop and the Jets open up their passing attack more, there is going to be less of a need for gimmick plays on offense that put him on the side-line.

Brad Smith is a nice player but the Jets should be able to fill the void left by him this off-season if they can’t work out a new contract for him.

12 Pack Of Jets Off-Season Thoughts – Edition #12

 weekly 12 pack is back, with no specific theme…just a bunch of random thoughts, links, and videos…enjoy it, you jabronis

1. If you aren’t excited about the NBA Playoffs, you should be. I can’t think of a better way to get through your NFL Lockout frustation then by enjoying the next couple of months of basketball. Yes, the draft will be fun but we have the 30th overall pick in the first round and no second round pick. Am I excited about improving our defensive line depth? Absolutely, but the only downfall of being a consistently very good team is that you don’t have much draft day drama.

2. How much does the lockout suck by the way? Do you know at this time last year, the Jets had already signed LaDainian Tomlinson, Brodney Pool, traded Kerry Rhodes, released Thomas Jones, signed Nick Folk, and traded for Antonio Cromartie?

3. If I had to guess today, the Jets will take Phil Taylor in the first round, draft a safety in third round, and in rounds 4 through 7, add a corner, receiver, offensive lineman, and outside linebacker

4. Get excited for New York City playoff basketball returning

5. If I was Braylon Edwards publicist, I certainly wouldn’t want him calling his DUI “BS” …doesn’t exactly sound like he learned much from the incident. Regardless, he does sound much more interested in returning to the team than Santonio Holmes does. When the new CBA is finalized, I am fascinated to see how Mike Tannenbaum approaches re-signing these two, never mind Antonio Cromartie and Brad Smith.

6. Interesting that the Jets decided to work out TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, who some people think could sneak into the first round. Clearly the Jets front office is trying to create more interest in acquiring their 30th overall pick, although I don’t know who is going to buy it. Again, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jets trade down, which will be sure to piss off all those Jets fans who attend the Draft on Thursday night.

7. Over the past two days, I have written pieces on three of the Jets four draft picks last year, Vladimir Ducasse, Joe McKnight, and Kyle Wilson. It is essential to the Jets 2011 success that these players begin to reach the potential the team drafted them for. Ducasse needs to develop into the starting right tackle, McKnight needs to become a contributor on offense and special teams as a returner, and Wilson needs to rise up to the challenge of being a starting corner if Antonio Cromartie doesn’t come back.

8. Sounds like all that Randy Moss talk was just a smokescreen to piss off Santonio Holmes…I wonder if Bart Scott talking about how the Jets would welcome Chad Ochocino was to…

9. Did I tell you how excited I was for Knicks playoff basketball?

10. Follow TOJ’s ongoing draft preview at SB Nation…

11. Very interested to see how New England handles their 120 draft picks this year, their defense, offensive line, and receiving core could all use a boost. I also wonder if Miami will officially throw in the towel on Chad Henne by drafting Ryan Mallett.

12. Enjoy your weekend…go New York, go New York, go…

New York Jets: Is Kyle Wilson Ready?

There was a time last summer when some of us pretended not to sweat the Darrelle Revis holdout as much as we should have because of how the coaching staff was raving about Kyle Wilson.

Revis would eventually return and then the Baltimore game happened…

Wilson was badly exposed in single coverage and began a season long struggle with playing the football in the air and picking up pass interference penalties. He was eventually passed on the depth chart by Drew Coleman and was barely a factor down the stretch, except when an interception slammed off his face mask in the AFC Championship Game.

Wilson also never stepped up in the return game, he struggled enough last year that many people, including Rex Ryan, only mentioned Jerricho Cotchery and Joe McKnight as the likely candidates to replace Jim Leonhard on punt return this year.

Despite writing 100,000 words advising against it, there is still a very real chance Antonio Cromartie won’t return next year, which will lead to the need for Wilson to move into the starting line-up. He didn’t show anything last year to make us believe he is capable of handling that role and the lack of off-season workouts this year can’t be helping.

However, there was a reason Wilson was drafted in the first round. He obviously has talent and perhaps his rookie year provided a valuable lesson on adjusting to the NFL. If the front office decides to let Cromartie leave, Wilson will have one of the most difficult secondary jobs in the league…playing opposite Revis Island, let’s hope he is ready to prove that decision would be correct.

Beyond that, if Cromartie does come back. It would be nice to see Wilson develop into a quality nickel back for now and create a few big plays, similar to the way Drew Coleman did last year.

Random Great Moment From 2010 Jets Season – Episode 1

A brief new series at Turn On The Jets —

“Random Great Moment From 2010 Jets Season”

Yes, I know I have posted this video probably five times in the past two months for various reasons but this needed to be featured as our first installment of Random Great Moment…

Let’s be honest, even the most optimistic among us had a tough time seeing the Jets upsetting the Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs. The game got off to a rough start in case you forgot with the Jets punting on their first possession and New England rolling right down the field on a confused looking Jets defense.

Fortunately, Tom Brady made a horrific throw on this screen pass attempt and David Harris was there to capitalize. It still amazes me to this day that Harris was caught by Alge Crumpler. Honestly, Harris looks like he is running with a piano on his back (coming from somebody who used to look the same way in the open field).

Even though the Jets didn’t score on the following drive, this play gave both the team and everybody watching confidence that the Jets could slow down the supposed unstoppable New England offense. Brady was rattled from that point on and the Jets smacked him around the rest of the afternoon, en route to their upset victory.

Personally, I can say when Harris intercepted that pass it was the highest I jumped after a play all season, almost hitting my head on the ceiling in the my cousin’s apartment. We are all in a bit of daze watching New England surgically move down the field, feeling another blowout coming on, yet this interception snapped us back to life as well as it clearly did for the players.

What Can Jets Get Out Of Joe McKnight Next Year?

The highlights of Joe McKnight’s rookie season were vomit, fumbles, and failed conditioning tests…not exactly what the Jets were hoping for when they traded Leon Washington away and drafted McKnight in the 4th round last year.

There was a flash of light at the end of the tunnel however when McKnight played well in the Jets meaningless regular season finale, posting 158 yards on 32 carries. He also began to become a decent special teams contributor toward the end of the season. Did McKnight learn his lesson and was this a sign of things to come, or are we kidding ourselves getting excited about a game that was treated like the pre-season and a few good reps on the punt team?

Rex Ryan has talked about giving McKnight a bigger role on the offense in his second year. The Jets drafted him to be their long term third down back but he won’t quite have that role this year because of LaDainian Tomlinson’s presence. Regardless, you would think the Jets will have a package of plays to keep him involved on a consistent basis.

McKnight was drafted because of his speed and versatility. He has the ability to be split out and be a threat catching passes out of the backfield. When the Jets decide to attempt a screen pass (which has been a recurring nightmare under Brian Schottenheimer), McKnight should be a frequent target. He should be also getting reps on stretch plays and tosses that take advantage of his speed.

It is has also been revealed that Jim Leonhard will no longer return punts, which opens up an opportunity for McKnight  on special teams. There is also a chance he could be the team’s kick returner if Brad Smith doesn’t come back next season.

Nobody is expecting a monster year from McKnight in 2011. Yet, he needs to provide a few productive plays each week on offense, along with becoming a reliable returner. If he can do that, he will take a big step in the right direction towards becoming this team’s long term third down back.

New York Jets: Now Is Ducasse’s Time To Shine

Some of the more encouraging reads this off-season related to the New York Jets have been about the work second year lineman Vladimir Ducasse has been putting in to improve.

The Jets took a risk in last year’s draft by selecting Ducasse in the second round. Despite having good size and potential, he was from a small school (UMass) and the Jets planned to move him from his college position of left tackle to left guard. He struggled heavily picking up the playbook in the summer and was easily beaten out by Matt Slauson for the starting job. Ducasse also fell behind Robert Turner and Wayne Hunter as the top backups on the offensive line and never saw meaningful reps last season.

Now for the second straight year, the Jets have released a veteran offensive lineman in hope that Ducasse can fill the void. Last year it was Slauson who beat him out to take over for Alan Faneca, this year the Jets will hope that after moving Ducasse out to right tackle he can take over for Damien Woody. Veteran Wayne Hunter will likely be re-signed to compete with Ducasse and as insurance, but you know the coaching staff will be pulling for the second round pick to seize the position.

Despite the lockout, it sounds like Ducasse is motivated to live up to his expectations and has put together a grueling workout regimen these past few months. Ultimately, he will have to master the Jets playbook and show he can hold his own consistently in a game situation. The transition back to tackle should help, considering how much time he spent there in college.

If Ducasse can’t beat out Hunter this summer to be the starting tackle, it likely indicates the Jets made a mistake by selecting him so high and may have to continue on their search for a long term replacement at right tackle.