New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis put together arguably the best individual season in franchise history and one of the best seasons by a corner in league history in 2009. However, last year he missed all of training camp due to his holdout and then struggled with early season injuries. Fortunately, a healthy Revis began to replicate his 2009 success in the second half of the year and into the playoffs, giving hope that 2011 should be another season of Revis being the best player in the NFL at his position.
The shut down performances that should encourage that type of optimism were the following —
- Week 9 – Calvin Johnson – 1 reception, 13 yards
- Week 11 – Andre Johnson – 4 receptions, 32 yards
- Week 12 – Terrell Owens – 3 receptions, 17 yards
- Week 14 – Brandon Marshall – 2 receptions, 16, 1 TD
- Wild Card – Reggie Wayne – 1 reception, 1 yard
Looking ahead to the 2011 schedule, here are a few Revis Island match-ups we can look forward to —
- Week 1 vs Dallas – Miles Austin or Dez Bryant– It will be very interesting to see how the Jets use Revis in this game and who he will cover will likely be one of the primary storylines leading up to it.
- Week 6 and Week 17 vs/at Miami – Brandon Marshall – Revis missed one of the Jets/Dolphins games last year and Marshall did score a touchdown in their other meeting, although if I recall correctly Marshall didn’t beat Revis for the touchdown.
- Week 7 vs San Diego – Vincent Jackson – The Jets moved Revis all over the field the last time they faced San Diego, which was in the playoffs in 2009, yet Revis did come up with an insane interception on one of the plays he covered Jackson.
- Week 9 and Week 12 vs/at Buffalo – Steve Johnson – Johnson looked like he was en route to becoming one of the better receivers in the AFC last year and I would expect Revis to draw the assignment on him.
- Week 11 at Denver – Brandon Lloyd – Lloyd is coming off a career year, where he posted some monster numbers in a pass happy Denver offense. Revis was banged up in the Jets/Broncos match-up last year.
- Week 14 vs Kansas City – Dwayne Bowe – A big, physical receiver who is also coming off a career year.
- Week 15 at Philadelphia – DeSean Jackson – Arguably the fastest receiver in the NFL should provide an exciting match-up for Revis.
- Week 16 vs New York Giants – Hakeem Nicks – Hometown bragging rights on the line as Revis will match-up with one of the best young receivers in the league.
Earlier today we looked at the top storylines on offense…now to the other side of the ball
- Draft Heavy, Veterans Leaving?
The Jets spent their first two draft picks on defensive lineman, Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis, and released Kris Jenkins. There is also speculation that both Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce won’t be brought back, with Ellis leaving via free agency and Pryce contemplating retirement. However, it would be smart for the Jets to keep at least one, hopefully Ellis who is the longest tenured player on the team, to help mentor the rookies and ease their transition into the NFL.
- Draft Ignored, Free Agent Answers?
The Jets didn’t select any linebackers in the NFL Draft and as of right now have some depth concerns. Unless they are anticipating a bigger role for players like Jamaal Westerman or Josh Mauga, they may look to coax Jason Taylor out of retirement or sign a free agent like Matt Roth.
Seriously…Antonio Cromartie, Drew Coleman, Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and James Ihedigbo all need new contracts and obviously some tough decisions will have to be made.
Leonhard has recovered well this off-season from his season-ending injury in the middle of last year.
If Antonio Cromartie leaves via free agency, Kyle Wilson will likely have to step into the starting line-up. He struggled his rookie season, is he ready for a bigger role?
Click here for more information on the Jets team workouts over the past few months
With the conclusion of “Jets Camp Lockout” today, the team likely wrapped up their last informal workout during the lockout (hopefully). Since the end of the previous season, here is an unofficial look at the different workouts Jets players took part in —
Jets West – List of attendees – A collection of skill position players led by Mark Sanchez at his high school, Mission Viejo out in California. The camp was in early May and lasted roughly a week. It was highly organized and included on field work, film sessions, and various team activities.
Jets Southwest – Darelle Revis and Kyle Wilson spent a couple of weeks training together out in Arizona. It was very encouraging to see Revis take Wilson under his wing and Wilson to be smart enough to follow the lead of the best corner in the NFL.
Jets East – Bart Scott, Vladimir Ducasse, Jerricho Cotchery, Jamaal Westerman and a few others worked out together in Martinsville, New Jersey and then traveled to Miami to work out with fellow AFC East players.
Jets City Club – A group defensive lineman, led by Sione Pouha held a few days of workouts in North Jersey a couple of weeks ago. First round pick Muhammad Wilkerson was in attendance along with Mike DeVito, Ropati Pitoitua, and Westerman.
Jets Camp Lockout – Roughly 40 players attended team workouts the past three days at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Here is a partial list of attendees.
Despite the lack of formal workouts and traditional media access, there has still been plenty of storylines that have grown out of this New York Jets lockout infected off-season. Here is a round-up of them, check back later in the day for the top defensive storylines —
- The continued development of Mark Sanchez’s leadership
Sanchez has further asserted himself as one of the leaders of the team by putting together both “Jets West” and “Jets Lockout Camp.” From what the other players have said this season, it is clear the amount of respect they have for Sanchez and the way he carries himself. One of his best traits is his work ethic and dedication to all things football, regardless of what else he has going on in his life, and his teammates clearly recognize that.
- Shonn Greene moving into the lead back role
Brian Schottenheimer, Rex Ryan, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Shonn Greene all agree that Greene is going to take over as the number one back this year and he is ready for the challenge. It remains to be seen how he can handle 18+ carries on a weekly basis but the only way to find out if you have a lead back is to give him the chance to be one.
- LaDainian Tomlinson embracing the third down role
As he said in many interviews, including one right here with TOJ…Tomlinson has accepted and embraced the idea of being a third down back this year in the Jets offense. Considering his age and how he wore down at the end of last season, Tomlinson should maximize his effectiveness by being limited to this role.
- John Conner announced as starting fullback
Nobody expected Tony Richardson back for another year, but this clinched that the fullback job would be handed off to Conner.
The endless debate over who the Jets should prioritize bringing back, Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards, has arguably been their biggest off-season storyline. Holmes has said he won’t sign a restricted free agent tender and would basically be looking for the most money possible. Edwards has been more diplomatic and discussed the potential of taking a hometown discount. Brad Smith is also a free agent and unless he agrees to come back for less than another team offers, probably won’t be back.
Damien Woody was released early in the off-season but there is now speculation he could return because of concern about Vladimir Ducasse being ready to step in as a starter. Considering that Ducasse didn’t play a meaningful snap last year, I would think that is a reasonable concern.
Since free agency could be here sooner rather than later, let’s use today’s TOJ Top Five to look at the decisions the Jets will have to make in the coming month or two.
5. Offensive Line
The team released right tackle Damien Woody earlier in the year but may still bring him back since second year lineman Vladimir Ducasse didn’t have a formal off-season to work with the coaches. Wayne Hunter is a free agent and could be signed as a cheaper option to compete with Ducasse if the Jets decide not to bring Woody back. Versatile backup Robert Turner is also a free agent.
4. The Pass Rush
The Jets didn’t add an outside linebacker in the NFL Draft and remain thin overall at the linebacker position. A few people have speculated they could pursue Matt Roth, who spent last season in Cleveland. They could also decide to bring Jason Taylor back, although that seems like a long shot. On the defensive line, a decision has to be made on Shaun Ellis, who is the longest tenured member of the team and could provide an excellent mentor to rookie Muhammad Wilkerson for a year or two. Veteran Trevor Pryce could also be brought back to help take some of the burden off Wilkerson in his rookie year, if the Jets decide to let Ellis walk.
3. Safety Choices…
Brodney Pool and Eric Smith are both free agents, and the Jets will likely have to pick one to bring back as the starter opposite Jim Leonhard. Pool has more potential but could cost more money, Smith struggles in coverage but is a heady player who is good in run support. Backup safety and special teams ace James Ihedigbo is also a free agent.
2. Who to put opposite of The Island?
The Jets need to decide whether or not they are going to bring Antonio Cromartie back to play corner opposite of Darrelle Revis. If Cromartie does walk, the Jets are going to need to find another veteran to compete with Kyle Wilson and provide better depth throughout the cornerback position. Jonathan Joseph, Richard Marshall, Carlos Rogers, Ike Taylor and Chris Carr are all on the market…and no I don’t think the Jets will even pursue Nnamdi Asomugha. Nickelback Drew Coleman is also a free agent and and coming off a career year in 2010.
1. Braylon or Santonio?
Which of the free agent receivers is going to get the long term deal? There is always the possibility that Mike Tannenbaum could put in an early bid for executive of the year by getting them both back but in all likelihood, one will be leaving town…probably Edwards. How it plays out with Edwards and Holmes will determine which (if any) free agent receivers the Jets will pursue in free agency or via trade, whether it is Plaxico Burress, Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco, Steve Smith, or any of the other names they have been associated with.
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.
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.
An off-season edition of TOJ Weekend Video Clips
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.
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.