Jets OTA Thoughts: Safety, Rookies, Rex, Receivers

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First a few updates:

1. Nothing would make me happier than to watch the Bruins and Celtics both choke away 3-0 leads within weeks of each other…that would have to be a sign of bad things to come for the Patriots this NFL season, right?

2. I know you are wondering when TOJ: The Podcast is coming back with episode 2, well we are recording it tomorrow and hopefully it will be posted by Sunday night.

3. I want everybody to Facebook message “James Corbett” and bother him to make some free time to record a new episode of TOJ TV.

4. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

Jets OTA Thoughts: Safety, Rookies, Rex, Receivers

Yes, I wasn’t at OTAs today but that doesn’t mean I didn’t read every single word written by every single person who was there today, which I will use as writing prompts:

PhotobucketRex RyanI tell you I can never get tired of listening to Rex Ryan’s press conferences. Since LOST is off the air, it is basically my new favorite TV show. I love Rex’s optimism and the confidence he has with the organization but it is hysterical to listen him discuss any coach or player on the team. According to him everybody is the best in the NFL at what they do. Bill Callahan is the best offensive assistant in the league. Brian Schottenheimer is the best young offensive mind in the league. Mike Westhoff is the best special teams coach in the league. Mike Pettine is the best young defensive mind in the league. Dennis Thurman is the best secondary coach to ever step on a field. Kris Jenkins? Nick Mangold? Darrelle Revis? Best players at their respective positions. The best part about this is that Rex isn’t too far off when discussing most of these guys.

He is already talking about LaDainian Tomlinson like he is Chris Johnson in OTAs and Jason Taylor like he is Mario Williams. I give him a few months before he says Kyle Wilson is one of the best corners in the league, Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards are battling for the title of the NFL’s best receiver, and Mark Sanchez is the AFC’s best quarterback.

Braylon – It was very encouraging to hear Rex Ryan cite Braylon Edwards as the most impressive offensive player for the Jets in OTAs. Edwards has been expanding his knowledge of the playbook and doing some work at the Z receiver (flanker), which is different from where he usually plays (X aka split end aka where I was a first down converting beast for Muhlenberg). The more versatile he is in their offense, the more it will help him get open. Edwards has the talent to be a legit number one receiver and is the most physically gifted offensive player on the team. If he has his head on straight and has the proper work ethic, watch out because he is capable of putting up some scary numbers.

Eric Smith – Reiterating what he said in his video conference with fans on Wednesday, Rex Ryan said the goal is for Brodney Pool to be the opening day starter, while Eric Smith keeps his role coming off the bench and playing in a variety of defensive packages. Smith is a versatile player who is a core special teams guy, so Ryan does have a good point. Pool is athletically more gifted than Smith and will hopefully be able to make the plays Kerry Rhodes didn’t last season.

Rookies – Kyle Wilson apparently had a welcome to the NFL rookie type of day by receiving an education from Jerricho Cotchery in the slot. Wilson will eventually come around but the thing to be excited about is how good of a slot receiver Cotchery is going to be for this team. He is going to kill teams on third downs this season. Vladimir Ducasse continued to run with the first team and it basically sounds like unless he forgets how to walk, he will end up the opening day starter at guard. I am happy to hear that Joe McKnight didn’t vomit today. This is a step in the right direction.

Angry Rex

The Jets Journey To Relevancy

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The Jets Journey To Relevancy

Today I was talking to a friend from Philadelphia about how big of a following the Flyers have in the city with their recent Cinderella run in the playoffs. He assured me the Flyers were a big deal within the city and had a rabid following that didn’t trail the Eagles or Phillies by as much as you’d expect. I thought about the New York sports market, where the Rangers, Devils, and Islanders are irrelevant topics on the back pages of newspapers, sports talk radio, and mainstream websites. The only buzz around the Knicks and Nets is associated with the prayer’s chance of recruiting LeBron James. Football and baseball dominate the town. The Yankees are the number one story and you would normally put the Giants and Mets right behind them with the Jets a distant fourth.

PhotobucketI remember December 30th, 2007 sitting in the pouring rain at a half empty stadium watching the 3-12 Jets play the 4-11 Chiefs. It was an ugly and depressing game as I watched Kellen Clemens struggle through a 13/25, 115 yard performance. The Giants were headed to the playoffs. The Patriots had just completed an undefeated regular season. Little did I know that both were headed for an epic Super Bowl, which had one of the best fourth quarters and plays in league history. There you had it, the team the Jets shared the city with and their biggest rival battling on the world’s biggest stage while the Jets couldn’t be any more irrelevant. It was just another low point in the difficult life of being a New York Jets fan.

Yet today, when I was talking with my friend I had to put the Jets as the number two story in the New York sports market behind the defending champion Yankees. The Mets are slowly fading into their usual oblivion and somehow the Jets have become a better, more entertaining team and a bigger story than the New York Giants, a team who won arguably the greatest Super Bowl game ever played a little over 2 years ago.

How did this happen?

It started with an uncharacteristically aggressive off-season headed into the 2008 regular season. General Manager Mike Tannenbaum learned from his mistake heading into the 2007 season, when he incorrectly believed his 10-6 team was only a few minor tweaks away from being a Super Bowl contender. The Jets were a fun story in 2006 but they caught the league off-guard with a wild-card appearance thanks to a soft schedule, a surprisingly productive season from Chad Pennington, and career years from journeyman players like Victor Hobson, Cedric Houston, Anthony Clement, Chris Baker, Bryan Thomas, Hank Poteat, Erik Coleman, Justin Miller, and Andre Dyson.

The Jets did add Thomas Jones but thought they could get by another year with Clement on the line and Adrien Clarke stepping in for Pete Kendall at guard and made no major free agent additions to their defense. However, Tannenbaum did strike gold in the draft by trading up for future All-Pro defenders Darrelle Revis and David Harris. Regardless, Pennington succumbed to another injury and Kellen Clemens struggled heavily behind a terrible offensive line and the Jets disappointed with a 4-12 season.

With owner Woody Johnson’s blessing the Jets began a trend of recruiting and landing big time free agents. They broke the bank for perennial pro-bowler Alan Faneca and brought in veteran Damien Woody to complement him at tackle. They outbid Miami for Calvin Pace and swung a trade for Kris Jenkins. They also solidified their running game by adding fullback Tony Richardson and blocking tight end Bubba Franks. Despite Eric Mangini’s stringent ways and the organization operating under the New England state of mind, they were still able to recruit big name players to rebuild the roster.

PhotobucketTannenbaum didn’t finish his off-season until he shocked the football world by swinging a trade for Brett Favre. I know in the end, the Favre experiment didn’t work out considering the Jets failed to make the playoffs and his struggles down the stretch. However, the fact that Favre joined the Jets demonstrated to the rest of the league that the team was moving in the right direction. The pieces were being put into place to build a contender on both sides of the ball and they had a GM and owner who would aggressively pursue putting together a winner regardless of the cost.

The Jets could have faded back into irrelevancy into 2009 when they decided to cut ties with Favre and head coach Eric Mangini. Breaking with his personal characteristics and the Bill Parcells mindset he was groomed with, Mike Tannenbaum went for the boisterous, confident Rex Ryan. Mangini was a good football mind but had suffocated the life out of the organization. Ryan provided the shot of energy necessary to overcome the hangover from the disastrous end to the 2009 season and Favre’s departure. The bold moves from the previous off-season carried over into the months heading into 2009, starting with Ryan and his recruitment of former Baltimore Ravens, Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, and Marques Douglas.

Yet, the most important decision came during the 2009 NFL Draft. The Jets weren’t making the playoffs with Kellen Clemens or Brett Ratliff at quarterback and everybody knew it. They needed a franchise quarterback to wash the bad taste out of everybody’s mouth that Favre had left. Working with their former head coach Mangini, they moved up to acquire USC’s Mark Sanchez.

The team had successfully moved out of the Mangini/Favre era with an exciting new head coach and quarterback. However, they retained the quality players acquired during Mangini’s two winning seasons in three years. The pieces were in place for a team with cautiously high expectations heading into the 2009 season.

In a rare occurrence, the football gods smiled on the ugly stepchild of New York City. A 7-7 team that appeared to be out of the playoffs was handed the backups of the best team in the league and took advantage. The victory positioned them to close out the stadium they had embarrassingly been tenants in, with a playoff berth in front of the whole country on Sunday Night Football. The Big Brother New York Giants had packed up their bags a few weeks too early and left with an ugly loss to the Carolina Panthers, leaving the Jets to fill the void as the team the New York sports market could get behind. Regardless of who the Bengals played or didn’t play, the Jets thrived for their fans and the city with a 37-0 victory.

PhotobucketAny questions about the Jets validity as a playoff team were answered with subsequent road victories over the Bengals and heavily favored San Diego Chargers. The momentum carried right into the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game, when the Jets were up 17-6. Unfortunately, an immortal quarterback rose to the top of his game and ended their run.

Despite the loss, the Jets had arrived. Their head coach whose ability to entertain and grab headlines was matched by his ability to design an elite defense and motivate his players, had claimed the Jets would be the number one show in town when the new Meadowlands began hosting NFL games and it was hard not to believe him. Tannenbaum didn’t back off. He must have remembered the off-season heading into 2007 again because he added Antonio Cromartie, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, and Santonio Holmes to a team that was 28 minutes away from a Super Bowl.

Here we are today, with HBO knocking down the Jets door to feature them on Hard Knocks. Relevancy doesn’t equal success but any Jets fan will tell you it is refreshing to be the most hyped up team in the area. Giants fans will say they enjoy flying under the radar and I don’t blame them. They shouldn’t concern themselves with the attention being paid to a team who hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1969, when they have won 3 since then. However, the Jets don’t have to ignore the spotlight being shined on them. Yes, they bring the attention to themselves with the boasting of their head coach, big name acquisitions, and posturing of their owner but there is substance behind the hype around the team.

There is a system of playing defense and running the football, which is a familiar formula for playoff teams. The Jets have the ability to run the ball because they have assembled one of the best offensive lines in football and found a running back by trading up to get a guy that inexplicably slipped through the cracks to the third round. They have the ability to play defense because they drafted the best corner in the NFL, an All-Pro inside linebacker, and surrounded them with quality free agent additions. Yet, if you follow the NFL these days you know it takes more than running the ball and defense to win a championship, which is why the Jets have surrounded their franchise quarterback with one of the best three wide sets in the NFL, a pass-catching tight end, and one of better receiving running backs in NFL history.

Somehow, someway the Jets have navigated themselves into relevancy. The owner, GM, coach, and roster is finally in place to turn that relevancy into success. By success, I mean the one thing that could actually put the Jets on the same level of the Giants as a NFL organization and make sure the new stadium doesn’t turn into “Giants Stadium Part 2,” and that is win a Super Bowl.

Now Some Other Updates:

1. We have been locked at 315 fans on Facebook for 2 days now and that is getting me a little anxious. I need as many fans as possible to throw at the Jets media relations guy when I working on getting a press pass…so follow it on Facebook, tell you friends to follow it on Facebook and do the same for the Twitter account (TurnOnTheJets).

2. Remember we have other tabs on this site beyond the home page…we also have just added a tab for the Podcast, which links you to the site with the TOJ Podcasts.

3. (http://www.youhaveiwant.com/home.html) – Worth checking out, especially if you are looking to get your hands on New York area sports tickets.

4. Jets minor roster moves…they added offensive tackle Aaron Kia and released receiver S.J. Green and offensive tackle Matt Stommes. The depth chart has been updated accordingly.

5. Tough break for the New Jersey Nets last night. I can’t say that I wasn’t happy since I am a Knicks fan first and a Wizards fan second…yes I have a second favorite basketall team. How can I justify that? First off, the Knicks have been god awful the past decade, second I lived in DC for 6 months, attended some games at the Phone Booth when the Wizards were pretty good and became a big Agent Zero fan…before he decided to start bringing guns into the locker room. So, yea I broke out the John Wall dance in my Arenas shirt last night after they got the number one pick.

6. Thoughts On Lost Final Season, Episode 16 “What They Died For” –We ended our one episode break in 23 A.D. with glowing caves and terrible kid actors by getting back to our main characters with a very, very good episode. Everybody kind of saw it coming with Jack replacing Jacob, but it almost seemed like it happened too easy. I have a feeling when it is all said and done, Jack won’t be taking the job as island protector. I liked the sideways action…Desmond is well on his way to putting together the greatest reunion concert ever. Instead of breaking down all the details of last night’s episode, here are my predictions for the finale and you can trust I have avoided all spoilers this season:

  • Richard and Lapidus aren’t dead yet.
  • Sawyer will die on the island.
  • Juliet is Jack’s ex-wife in the sideways timeline.
  • Jack will cure Locke in the sideways but find a way to kill him on the island.
  • Ben is pulling a long con on Locke and will end up being a good guy at the end…and the new island protector.
  • Desmond is going into the yellow cave…and I don’t know what happens from there.
  • I still have no idea how they merge both timelines.
  • Rose and Bernard helped Desmond out of the well.
  • Final scene? It was all the dog’s dream.

Let Santonio Listen To His IPod: I Got Your Back #10

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Well it didn’t take long for Santonio Holmes to grab some headlines in a negative way as a New York Jet. In what has to be one of the stupidest stories I have ever read, Santonio Holmes was escorted off a plane in Pittsburgh for being a disruptive passenger. He wasn’t arrested. No files are going to be charged but why was Holmes sent off the plane? #10 refused to turn off his IPod as the plane was landing. Don’t worry Santonio as the rest of the New York media jumps all over you…I got your back.

First off, everybody knows nothing happens when you keep your IPod on as the plane lands. Let me tell you this, if my plane is going down because I need to hear the last verse of a Kid Cudi song than I need to switch airlines or start driving everywhere. You keep bumping those beats #10. The guy was flying to Vegas for the Mayweather fight, he was probably blasting a little Katy Perry “Waking Up In Vegas,” and getting hyped up for some roulette, blackjack, and craps. Leave him alone and let the man enjoy the last few minutes of his flight.

PhotobucketSecond, do you think this happens if Santonio was landing in JFK? Absolutely not. Obviously, these were bitter Pittsburgh airline employees and police officers who are mad they lost their Super Bowl MVP receiver for a 5th round pick and that their quarterback spends more time in bathrooms during the off-season than at the team complex. If Holmes was flying into JFK, I bet the airline employees tell him to turn his music up and get ready to pull in 10 touchdowns in 12 games. Hell, they might have even sat down with him and put their Ipods on. You think they were escorting him off the plane for being a “disruptive passenger”…C’mon now.

So you keep bumping that IPod Santonio but do us all a favor, if you make it to Vegas…take it easy. I love Braylon and Cotchery as our receivers but I want to see you out there for 15 games this year (including the playoffs)…we don’t need your suspension being shifted up to Rothlisberger or Jason Ferguson length.

Now, Some Other Updates:

1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (Turn On The Jets) for updates from today’s rookie minicamp. I wasn’t there but I have read a report from everybody who was and it sounds like Joe McKnight had a rough day and Vlad Ducasse was pushing some people around…as much as you could in a practice without pads. Also, I will link Rex Ryan’s press conference where he discussed Holmes and the UDFAs who stood out to him. Also, I will link up the transcripts of Kyle Wilson and Ducasse post practice press conferences. The Jets will practice twice tomorrow.

2. My NBA predictions for tonight? The Bucks knock the Hawks out of the playoffs. The Thunder send it back to Los Angeles for game 7. The Jazz knock the Nuggets out of the playoffs.

Death Of The Jets Chemistry Discussion

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First a few updates:

1. There is still some talk about Darren Sharper potentially ending up with the Jets. I doubt it ends up happening though, especially considering the Jets restrictions with the final eight rules. Rex Ryan appears comfortable with Brodney Pool or Eric Smith taking the majority of the reps alongside Jim Leonhard. If the Jets add any other major pieces this off-season, I would expect it to be Adalius Thomas, a kicker, or a veteran guard if Ducasse and Slauson bomb out in training camp.

2. The Jets start rookie minicamp tomorrow, where all four draft picks, the UDFAs, the tryout players, and a handful of other guys with limited experience will participate.

3. Jets draft pick numbers – Kyle Wilson #20, Vlad Ducasse #62, Joe McKnight #25, John Connor #38.

4. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

5. I know I ask this from time to time, but what new Jets jersey should I get this summer? Wilson? Santonio? Greene? Jim Leonhard?

Death Of The Jets Chemistry Discussion

I can’t tell you how tired I am of reading articles about the Jets “chemistry” and how it may stop them from winning games this season. The obsession with this issue leads to things like “Mangold Upset Faneca Was Released” becoming a news story. Of course Nick Mangold is upset one of his fellow lineman and good friends was cut. Yet, his quotes get blown completely out of proportion like he is upset with the team and it will become a problem this year. How come nobody talks about when he said “If we want to prove that we’re a great offensive line and a great unit, then we can make changes and still be great. There’s nothing like a little adversity to continue on.”

PhotobucketMy point is that this whole question about the Jets chemistry is being beaten to death by the media. Let’s start with the unit that makes the Jets into one of the league’s best teams…their defense. They have three new starters. Guess who they are replacing? Kerry Rhodes, one of the most unpopular guys in the locker room, who despite his unhappiness last year, still didn’t prevent the Jets from going to the AFC Championship Game. Yes, the Jets made it to the AFC Championship Game with an unhappy player who was benched mid-season and handled it like a little kid. They are also replacing Lito Sheppard, who was on the team for one year and missed more games than he played. Finally, Marques Douglas won’t be back but again he was only on the team one year and is being replaced by a guy who played a ton of snaps for the Jets last season and been on the team for a few years in Mike DeVito.

Where are the chemistry problems coming from on defense? You are telling me Bart Scott, David Harris, Shaun Ellis, Darrelle Revis, Jim Leonhard, Bryan Thomas, Calvin Pace, and Kris Jenkins can’t handle Antonio Cromartie, who will be on his best behavior anyway because he is in a contract year. Is Brodney Pool going to destroy everyone’s ability to cover people? Even if these guys self-destruct, can’t Kyle Wilson and Eric Smith just step in, while Rex Ryan locks Cromartie and Pool away so they can’t damage the precious chemistry?

On offense, okay yes there may be an adjustment period to Vlad Ducasse or Matt Slauson stepping in at guard. Yet, won’t they work this out during OTAs, mini-camp, training camp, and the pre-season? Even if those guys struggle, will everybody’s else play all of a sudden fall off the cliff and the Jets won’t be able to run the ball or protect Mark Sanchez? Isn’t Bill Callahan a better coach than that? Aren’t Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Damien Woody, and Brandon Moore better players than that?

Santonio Holmes? I don’t know I am pretty sure I just read this quote from Mark Sanchez today in The Daily News:

“He’s so open and ready to get going,” said Sanchez, who has thrown with the receiver several times already. “We’re getting that chemistry to the point where I can explain what I want and we can exchange ideas.”

Yes, I think Holmes will fit in just fine on the Jets offense after working with Sanchez the next few months. He will be raring to go in week 5, because I am sure it will kill him to watch those first four games and beyond that the guy has a ton to prove. He is a former Super Bowl MVP who was traded by his team. By all accounts, Holmes is a big time competitor and he is in a contract year.

PhotobucketWill the Jets miss Thomas Jones leadership on offense? He was absolutely a valuable leader but can’t Mangold, Woody, Ferguson, and Jerricho Cotchery step up? Can’t Sanchez step up in his second year as the starter? What about LaDainian Tomlinson? What about Tony Richardson? These guys are professionals.

Turnover is common in the NFL. Everybody talks about what great chemistry the Jets had last year and guess what they had four new starters on defense and two new starters on offense in 2009. They were breaking in a rookie quarterback. They had to adjust to a new #1 receiver in week 5 (sound familiar for 2010?). They basically switched starting running backs in the middle of their run to the post-season. They dealt with an unhappy big name player on defense, who was demoted. They handled two season ending injuries to key players. They had a player benched because of a twitter incident. They fired a defensive line coach mid-season and guess what? They still managed to pull it together and make a run to the AFC Championship Game.

If you are going to argue the Jets will struggle in 2010, you will have to do better than the chemistry argument.

2009: A Season Filled With Potential Chemistry Problems

Rookie Expectations For The Jets

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First a few updates:

1. For everybody who gets on the Jets for bringing in players with troubled pasts and talking their share of trash, read here about an organization that actually is heavily lacking in the class department (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ms-trippintuesday042710).

2. There have been contradictory reports from the local papers about the Jets interest level in Adalius Thomas. Mike Tannenbaum was on WFAN this morning and said “nothing was imminent” but something could happen down the road. You have to think the Jets will let Thomas sit on the market for a little bit and see if there is any type of interest in him from other teams around the league and then potentially make a low price offer to him if he remains on the market in a month or so. In the end, I still have a feeling Thomas will end up in green and white, Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan can’t help themselves.

3. Also in that interview, Tannenbaum commented that he called Mark Sanchez before pulling the trigger on drafting Joe McKnight. Apparently Sanchez signed off immediately and said he was the type of player he wanted in the huddle. I hope Sanchez’s faith in his former and now current teammate pays off.

4. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and twitter (TurnOnTheJets)…When you follow on Facebook you get access to sweet pictures like this made by TOJ fan John Morales:

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5. I know I have long been talking about getting a Podcast going and trust me it is on the way, I’d rather take the time and make sure it gets done right instead of rushing it out. Also our staff (myself and maybe my friend Corbett) are working on a new design for the site. Finally, don’t forget there are other links across the top of the home page: Depth Chart, 2009 highlights, 2010 schedule, About the Author, Turn On The Jets TV (new episode coming within the next few weeks), 2009 Stats, 2010 Draft Picks.

Rookie Expectations For The Jets

What do the Jets need out of their four draft picks in the 2010 season? What is fair expectations for them considering their likely roles on the team?

Kyle Wilson – Rex Ryan made it abundantly clear in his post draft press conference that Wilson would be the team’s nickel back and punt returner in his rookie season. The Jets need him to be an upgrade over Donald Strickland (who couldn’t stay healthy), Dwight Lowery (who was wildly  inconsistent), and Drew Coleman (who just isn’t that good) at the nickel position. Wilson will be in position to blitz the quarterback often in Ryan’s scheme, which frequently overloads one side with corners and sends them at the QB. He will also obviously be asked to play plenty of man to man, both in the slot and on the outside. Ideally, Wilson will be consistent enough and make enough big plays to make the Jets seriously consider letting Antonio Cromartie walk after 2010. I am not saying they should or will (it depends on his production) but you want Wilson to show enough to make you believe he can easily step into a starting role. On special teams, the most important thing is that he is reliable with catching the ball. Hopefully he can also add more of a big play element to the Jets punt return unit, which has been lacking the past few years. Finally, expect to see Wilson on all of the Jets special teams coverage units.

Vladimir Ducasse – Regardless of his competition with last year’s sixth round pick, Matt Slauson, the Jets clearly want Ducasse to step into the starting role left by Alan Faneca. Nobody expects him to instantly duplicate Faneca’s level of play but if Ducasse can hold his own, especially in pass protection and show promise of being a quality starter on the line for the long term, the Jets will be thrilled with their decision to draft him and let Faneca walk. Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and Ducasse (if he can develop into a quality player) would be a nice trio for Mark Sanchez to play behind for the next decade.

PhotobucketJoe McKnight It will be very interesting to see what McKnight’s role will be in his rookie season. He will likely be a candidate for the kick return job and play on many of the coverage units on special teams. On offense, I am assuming he will be the team’s third down back in most situations and be used as a pass catching weapon out of the backfield. Ideally, you want him improving as the season goes on and slowly taking carries away from LaDainian Tomlinson so he is ready to take over as the team’s number two back, sooner rather than later. In order to make fans forget about Leon Washington, McKnight will also have to rip off his share of big plays.

John Connor – Connor’s job will be to learn behind Tony Richardson this year. I am interested to see if he is even active on most weeks, despite his supposed value on special teams. It would be unlike the Jets to carry five running backs on the active roster each Sunday, so don’t expect to see a ton of Connor this year. The goal is to have him ready to be the starting fullback for opening day of the 2011 season.

UDFAs – Keep an eye on Michigan DB Donovan Warren. This guy was initially projected to be a mid-round pick but ran a poor 40 time at the combine so he fell drastically down the board. He was a corner in college but the Jets have him listed at safety. The guy was a productive player at a big time school, who could grab a spot on the Jets roster.

Donovan Warren Highlights

A Defense Of The Jets Off-Season

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First a few updates:

1. The Patriots have finally cut ties with outside linebacker Adalius Thomas. Will the Jets still puruse Thomas, who excelled in Rex Ryan’s system during his time in Baltimore? Initially you would think not, considering they just signed Jason Taylor and still have Calvin Pace and  Bryan Thoams in place as starters. However, you could never have enough pass rushers, especially in this defensive system. The Jets may be able to get Thomas at a low price depending on the amount of interest he generates around the league and his desire to reunite with Ryan and stick it to the Patriots for cutting him. I say if they can get him at a reasonable price, then why not? Also keep in mind Thomas is versatile enough to play multiple positions in Rex Ryan’s defense. Overall, don’t be shocked to see the Jets add yet another big name in the next few days.

2. The Jets have restructured Vernon Gholston’s contract to make it primarily incentive based. Apparently, Gholston approached the team about redoing the deal in an attempt to actually earn his contract money. If that is true, than it is a very admirable move by Gholston who will hopefully begin to turn his career around somewhat at the defensive end position.

3. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook…Good links today on the Jets/Giants business relationship and Peter King’s inside information of what went down before the Leon Washington deal.

A Defense Of The Jets Off-Season

I have been caught off guard by the amount of negativity expressed by many Jets fans after their draft weekend decisions. On the whole most people who follow and write about the NFL initially praised the Jets pro-active approach this off-season, however there is starting to be some questions asked about adding too many big name players, destroying team chemistry, and an overall skepticism about the direction Mike Tannenbaum/Rex Ryan have taken this team. You can poke holes in any team’s roster and any personnel decision they make, yet I have this to say to people who haven’t liked the Jets off-season: are you kidding me?

Let’s start with the defense. The consensus weakest part of the Jets defense last year was their secondary outside of Darrelle Revis. Everybody agreed they needed a major upgrade at corner after Revis and that Kerry Rhodes was a disappointment in Rex Ryan’s system who wasn’t a good fit in the locker room with his “Hollywood” personality and selfish anger over Jim Leonhard calling the shots in the defensive backfield. What did the Jets do? They replaced Lito Sheppard with Antonio Cromartie as the other starter at corner. They replaced Dwight Lowery with Kyle Wilson as the nickel back and they shipped Rhodes to Arizona for two draft picks.

Photobucket Cromartie and Wilson should be substantial upgrades over the players they replaced. Cromartie is out to prove he can return to his all-pro level in Ryan’s man to man scheme and validate the Jets decision to give him a chance, along with a nice advance on his contract to help pay his child support. Wilson was a steal at #29 in the first round and should immediately be one of the most talented nickel backs in the NFL. Everybody wants to criticize the Jets chemistry for this upcoming year but didn’t they improve it by shipping out the disgruntled Rhodes? Brodney Pool has been tabbed as his replacement and had more sacks and interceptions than Rhodes last year, despite only playing in 11 games. Yes, Pool has injury concerns but if he gets hurt, wasn’t Eric Smith just as productive as Rhodes last season. Beyond that the Jets didn’t break the bank for Cromartie, Pool, or Wilson considering where he was selected.

The other big problem on the Jets defense last year was their lack of a pass rush. In order to improve this they added Jason Taylor, who notched seven sacks last year despite not being put in the best position to rush the passer in Miami’s defense. Rex Ryan should be able to put together enough schemes and blitz packages to get somebody with Taylor’s talent 9-12 sacks. Also don’t forget Kris Jenkins is coming back from injury and while he won’t ever rack up monster sack numbers his presence on the line will open up things for everybody else. Beyond that, there is a decent chance Adalius Thomas will also be thrown in the mix as a pass rusher at outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and defensive end.

So on defense the Jets replaced three starters: Kerry Rhodes, Lito Sheppard, and Marques Douglas with three younger players in Brodney Pool, Antonio Cromartie, and Mike DeVito. They removed the biggest personality/chemistry problem by getting rid of Rhodes. Yes, Douglas was a quality player and it remains to be seen if DeVito can be a full time starter but the Jets defense isn’t dropping from the number one spot in the league because they removed the 60 tackles and 1.5 sacks from Douglas. On top of that, they now have Jason Taylor as their top reserve at linebacker instead of Vernnon Gholston and Kyle Wilson at nickel back instead of Dwight Lowery. So tell me what the problem is again? It sounds to me like there is a good chance the Jets will be repeating as the league’s #1 defense.

PhotobucketNow let’s look at the offense where there is a popular misconception that the Jets signed LaDainian Tomlinson to replace Thomas Jones. Actually it will be Shonn Greene replacing Thomas Jones, with LaDainian Tomlinson taking over the #2 role and stepping in as the goal-line/short yardage back. The Jets also replaced Leon Washington, who may have begun the season on the PUP list with a player who has the skill set to be a young, healthier version of him in Joe McKnight. Washington also would have been leaving the Jets after this season anyway because of his contract situation, while the Jets now have McKnight for the next 4-6 years at a minimum.

Most people agreed the Jets needed to upgrade their receiving core. They responded by adding Santonio Holmes for a fifth round pick. Holmes has the talent to be a #1 receiver on many teams in this league, yet will basically be the Jets #3 receiver when he begins playing in week five. They will also be benefitted by having Braylon Edwards spend a full off-season with the team and having both Edwards and Holmes looking to prove they deserve long term contracts from the Jets or another team.

Yes the Jets had to make the tough choice of parting ways with Alan Faneca. However, considering they just gave Brandon Moore a long term deal and will have to give Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson ones after this season, did they really have a choice? Let’s have a little faith in Bill Callahan, widely considered one of the best offensive line coaches in the game, to develop Vladimir Ducasse or Matt Slauson into capable starters this year and long term quality players for the team.

PhotobucketSo on offense the Jets replaced two starters: Thomas Jones and Alan Faneca. Two guys who were productive last year and well-respected in the locker room, yet two guys who are 31 and 33 years old, respectively. Shonn Greene certainly looked the part of a a number one back in the playoffs last year and if he struggles the Jets have quality depth behind him in LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight. Ducasse and Slauson are unproven but will be surrounded by four high quality players and a great offensive line coach. Beyond that, they moved from having their number three receiver either being Brad Smith or David Clowney to being Santonio Holmes. Mark Sanchez should also be better in his second year but hey the Jets went to the AFC Championship game with him throwing 20 INTs to 12 TDs, along with a 53 completion percentage, so imagine what they could do if he makes strides this season.

I am sure players hated to see people like Faneca, Jones, and Washington leave the team. Yet, let’s not go crazy with the chemistry or leadership concerns. Last time I checked on offense the Jets will still have Tony Richardson, Jerricho Cotchery, and Damien Woody in the huddle, along with the same quarterback, three other returning starters on the offensive line, the same top two tight ends, and a new strong veteran presence in LaDainian Tomlinson. On defense Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, and Shaun Ellis will still be out there along with Kris Jenkins returning to the huddle.

You want to criticize the Jets for something? Fine, they downgraded at kicker by replacing Jay Feely with Nick Folk, yet somehow I think Tannenbaum will find a way to add another kicker at some point this summer.

Like I said before, you can poke holes in any roster or personnel decision. Yet, sometimes you just have to call things as you see them. The Jets are loaded right now, on both sides of the football. This team is built to be a legit Super Bowl contender and in my mind are the second best team in the AFC right now and a top five overall team in the NFL.

Let’s Go

Jets Trade Leon Washington, Draft John Connor

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The writing was on the wall when the Jets traded up to draft USC running back Joe McKnight. Clearly the organization wasn’t comfortable with Leon Washington returning off his injury and they didn’t take long to act, trading him and their seventh round pick to Seattle for the 139th overall pick in the draft, where they took Kentucky fullback John Connor.

It is a sad day for TOJ and Jets fans everywhere. Leon was a fan favorite and an electric playmaker during his career with the Jets. Unfortunately, he sustained a brutal injury last year and had ongoing contract problems with the team. After the Jets decided to draft McKnight, a player with a comparable skill set, there wasn’t any room left for Leon on the roster. I wish him the best of luck on a speedy recovery in Seattle and hope the rumors of him starting the season on the PUP list aren’t true.

It was a very surprising decision that the Jets went with a fullback with their newly acquired 5th round pick. Tony Richardson was re-signed on a one year deal so Connor will spend the year learning behind one of the best in the business before taking over as the Jets long term fullback. Connor is known for his blocking skills, inside running, and special teams ability on coverage units.

Who would have ever thought the Jets would use three of their four picks on offensive players this year? Rex Ryan must be pulling his hair out.

Some John Connor Action

New Day On Offensive Line: Thoughts On Ducasse & Faneca

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Most of the time in the NFL rumor mill, when there is smoke, there is fire. After missing out on Mike Iupati and Maurkice Pouncey in round one, most people assumed (including myself) that Alan Faneca would remain a Jet for another year as the Jets targeted a player for their front seven on defense in round two. Well, think again…the Jets selected UMass OT/OG Vladimir Ducasse with the 61st overall pick and reports have surfaced that Alan Faneca has either already been released or will be released on Monday.

Despite Mike Tannenbaum saying Ducasse will work at right tackle and left guard, you have to think the Jets view him as the number one potential replacement for Faneca this season and moving forward. Unless Matt Slauson or Robert Turner blow everybody away in camp this summer and they move Ducasse to being Damien Woody’s future replacement. However, if I had to bet today, I would bet on Ducasse being the Jets opening day starter at guard.

What about cutting Faneca? Most people agree that Faneca’s play declined a little bit last season, especially in pass protection. As a matter of fact many sites like Football Outsiders had him ranked as one of the worst performing guards in the league. Yet, the bottom line is that the Jets offensive line had chemistry. Faneca was still a top notch run blocker and a an important veteran in the locker room. The Jets offensive line won’t be any better next year with Ducasse or Slauson at left guard instead of Faneca. However, in the long term the Jets needed to find replacements for Faneca and Damien Woody and now they have one in Ducasse.

Keep in mind the Jets have some major contracts to pay in the next couple of years. If you want to sign Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes for the long term, the money has to be cut somewhere else.

In the end Faneca gave us two quality years and helped immensely in the development of Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

Ducasse is 6 foot 4, 332 pounds. Apparently the Jets had him graded high enough that they considered taking him in round one. Hopefully, Bill Callahan can work his magic with the big fella.

Some Video Action Of Ducasse

Five Players Jets Could Target In Round Two

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The draft continues tonight with the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Unfortunately, the Jets only possess a second round pick, however there is still plenty of talent available for them to add with the 61st overall pick. Here are five players the Jets could target at #61 or move up to acquire:

1. Sergio Kindle – OLB – Texas – Just because the Jets added Jason Taylor doesn’t mean they can’t add a pass rusher for the long term. It was a mild surprise Kindle fell out of the first round and the Jets would likely have to trade up to get him.

2. Everson Griffen – DE – USC – The Jets still need to improve the depth on their defensive line. Griffen was frequently associated with the Jets at #29 in mock drafts but maybe now they could snatch him round two.

3. Terrence Cody – DT – Alabama – Another player who was frequently talked about for the Jets at #29. Cody would be a welcome addition to the Jets defensive line and a long term replacement for Kris Jenkins.

4, Nate Allen – S – USF – The Jets could still use another safety to compete with Brodney Pool and Eric Smith. Allen is a talented guy who could end up starting in his rookie year opposite Jim Leonhard.

5. Ricky Sapp – OLB – Clemson – A pass rushing prospect the Jets are apparently high on. They should be able to stay put at #61 and get him.

Jets Select Kyle Wilson In First Round

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Jets Select Kyle Wilson In First Round

The first prospect The Jets Blog covered as the off-season started was Kyle Wilson. On March 1st, when we did a mock draft for Fanball I selected Kyle Wilson. In the end, even after trading for Antonio Cromartie the Jets ended up with Wilson, the cornerback from Boise State. After an active off-season the Jets were afforded the luxury of taking the best player available at #29 and that is exactly what they did. Wilson was expected to go anywhere from 15-23 but managed to slide to the Jets when New England decided to go with Devin McCourty at #27.

PhotobucketOne thing other Jets writers and I wrote about over the past week is how not to discount the Jets taking a corner in round one. Rex Ryan loves corners and in the Jets system the nickel back plays over 50 percent of the snaps and is a crucial part of the defense. There was no way the Jets could be comfortable with Dwight Lowery as their nickel and being one injury away from being a full time starter, along with Drew Coleman being one injury away from being the nickel back.

Wilson is an excellent value pick at #29. Yes it would have been nice to get Jared Odrick but the Dolphins snapped him up one pick before the Jets. You could make an argument for Jerry Hughes or Sergio Kindle but it is hard to be disappointed with getting a player as talented as Wilson.

Beyond Wilson’s value on defense, he was also an electric punt returner in college. The Jets no longer have to worry about having full time starters deep on punts like Jerricho Cotchery and Jim Leonhard because they can put Wilson back there. Beyond that, he is talented and athletic enough to play on all the Jets special teams coverage units. Between being a nickel back, punt returner, and special teams coverage guy Wilson will be a valuable addition to the Jets roster.

Wilson’s career stats –

  • 11 Interceptions
  • 27 Passes Broken Up
  • 2 Sacks
  • 10 TFL’s
  • 160 Tackles
  • 3 Punt Return Touchdowns

Other thoughts on the draft

– Dez Bryant is going to be rookie of the year hands down. He is going to be a repeat performance of Randy Moss in his rookie year. I hate the Cowboys but he is going to be a beast for them.

– I love how New England thinks they are still good enough to keep trading down and not take a player at their original pick. Thank you for not taking Dez Bryant Pats. I guess you did need Devin McCourty though considering we have Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Jerricho Cotchery.

– Tebow to Denver? Interesting. I am sure they have already crafted an entire package of plays for him. You have to think Cleveland will be targeting Jimmy Clausen in round two. I am still surprised he fell out of the first round. C.J. Spilleer was a good pick for Buffalo. He will be a playmaker for them but they still lack a quarterback.

– Congratulations New York Giants, you just drafted the biggest bust of the 2010 draft.

Kyle Wilson Highlights