New York Jets: A Letter To Mike Tannenbaum

Mike Donnelly with an open letter to Mike Tannenbaum after watching the New York Jets gets get thrashed by the New York Giants

After an appropriate amount of time to decompress after last night’s horror show, TOJ is ready to break down the Jets second pre-season game against the Giants. We start with an open letter to Mike Tannenbaum from Mike Donnelly

Dear Mike Tannenbaum,

Hey Mike, I just wanted to send you this letter because I have some real concerns about the job you’ve done lately with my beloved New York Jets, and your secretary keeps saying you’re unavailable when I call with my list of ideas (seriously, you can’t ALWAYS be out to lunch, can you?). I understand being the General Manager of a sports team is a really tough job and there will be some fans who always hate you no matter what happens, but I’ve always been a staunch supporter of yours. I just want you to know that, before you keep reading.

You see, I was a big fan of the whole “Trader Mike”, never say never, aggressive persona you established for yourself. Bold trades for players such as Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Antonio Cromartie were all completely justified in my opinion, no matter what the cost ended up being. You brought real star power to the team and built a talented roster to compete with the Patriots. Your initial draft in 2006 was a goldmine as you brought in several players who were the foundation for the team. You followed that up with bold trade-ups in 2007 for players such as Darrelle Revis and David Harris, which I loved at the time and you were 100% right in doing so. Sure, the 2008 draft was a complete and total disaster, but every team strikes out from time to time. And even though the Gholston pick was more like you removing your pants, taking a dump on home plate and punching out the umpire while giving the crowd the finger than “striking out”, I still gave you a pass because I just blamed Mangini. I mean, screw that guy, right?

During the 2009 draft though, the bold Mr. T made his illustrious return and pulled off a blockbuster trade up for Mark Sanchez in the first round (a heist at the time), and then for Shonn Greene in the third round. We only ended up with 3 picks that year, but I didn’t care — we had our franchise QB and potential star RB. I still believe in both of them a great deal. The problem was, since that pick of Mark Sanchez you seem to have done everything wrong. You failed to give him the proper tools to develop properly, which should have been numbers 1, 2 and 3 on the agenda every day. Hell, I even wrote an entire column about those failures. I suggest you read it. The 2010 draft is when I started to really have my doubts, though. I didn’t mind the Kyle Wilson pick, even though I thought the pass rush should have been addressed.

When he looked terrible and had his butt firmly planted on the bench his entire rookie season, I still defended your choice. But if anything ever showed my true allegiance to you, it was my continued defense of drafting Vladimir Ducasse, despite literally ALL OF THE EVIDENCE pointing the other way. A Division 1-AA project offensive linemen from UMass with the  ootball IQ of a tree stump should not be a second round pick, especially if he’s bad at football. You’ve since given him ample opportunity to prove himself and earn playing time and he’s failed miserably at every turn. The guy sucks. But even after all that, I still defended you adamantly. Until now, anyway. Allow me to run down the reasons why that’s the case, Mike:

Wayne Hunter – After the 2010 season, you practically pushed Damien Woody out the door, despite his wanting to play one more season. Why would you do that? Because in your mind Wayne Hunter played four good games down the stretch in 2010 and that meant he was ready to be “the man” at right tackle (plus we had VLAD in reserve. Clearly we were set with that combo!) You rewarded those four games with a rich contract, despite all of the evidence during Hunter’s career pointing to him being a bad player. Not many guys suddenly become good at the age of 30, and Hunter is no different. He was, is, and will forever be a steaming pile of crap as an offensive lineman.

And despite him turning in the single worst season I’ve ever seen from an offensive lineman in 2011, you decided to guarantee his $2.5 million salary for 2012 and not send his uncoordinated, immobile ass packing. This is when you lost me. Despite having some salary cap room to burn and all of our draft picks for a change, you brought in zero offensive tackles to take Wayne Hunter’s job (And don’t even get me started about the moron you hired to coach the offensive linemen. You know, the one who said Hunter is the best RT out there and someone would have to shoot him to bench Wayne). There can only be two explanations for your refusal to dump the human turnstile that is Wayne Hunter: 1- Mark Sanchez did something to you personally and this was your plan to get revenge, by having defensive ends blow past Hunter and get Sanchez killed right there on the field; or 2- you’ve become incompetent. While option 1 is certainly possible, I’m leaning towards option #2. Why? Because…

No Blocking Tight Ends – Despite having the worst offensive tackle in the history of organized football and trying to get back to being a “ground and pound” running offense, you decided we didn’t need any tight ends who could actually block. We’ve known Dustin Keller can’t block for years now, but you can get away with that as long as you have a #2 TE who can manage to not whiff on pass rushers or get knocked onto his ass while attempting to push a pile. We saw that when Ben Hartstock was on the team. You’d think that since you came up in this league under Bill Parcells and saw the team lead the league in rushing in 2009, you’d understand the importance of being able to dominate in the trenches.

Instead, your ideas for who to pair with Keller at the tight end position this year were: Jeff Cumberland (a tall, skinny college wide receiver who CAN NOT block), Josh Baker (an H-back who can’t block OR catch), and Hayden Smith (an Australian rugby player). If you combine all 4 of those players, they equal about 92% of ONE competent NFL blocker. When you factor in that they play next to Wayne Hunter it drops to about 85%. That is UNACCEPTABLE. This was probably the most inexcusable oversight you’ve had. There is no reason you couldn’t bring in a blocking tight end to this roster for a very cheap price. Hell, give Anthony Becht a call, it’s not like he’s busy or anything.

NO DEPTH – Last year when Nick Mangold got injured, we had to watch Colin Baxter comically get knocked over play after play and then look like he was going to cry on the sidelines. Thanks for that. When Wayne Hunter was getting thrown around like a child, we had nobody to replace him with. When Bryan Thomas got hurt, we had the immortal Garrett McIntyre backing him up. Basically, the bottom of the roster is a wasteland. After last season you spoke about how the Jets might have “the next Victor Cruz” on the roster, meaning a guy to come out of nowhere and contribute. The problem with that is that Victor Cruz has talent; Caleb Schlauderaff does not.

The Packers, who are a very well-run organization, thought so little of Caleb that they traded him to you four months after they drafted him. Yet you routinely speak of him like he’s the second coming of Steve Hutchinson. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say he sucks. On your never-ending quest to find the new Victor Cruz, you also talk up other bums such as Baker, Cumberland, and of course Austin Howard, who can’t seem to beat out even Wayne Hunter for a job. So please, spare me the talk about how Ellis Lankster or Josh Mauga are going to really break out this year. Don’t tell me about all the touchdowns Dexter Jackson will catch from Matt Simms. The team has no depth, and it’s extremely obvious. At least you got rid of Mark Brunell this year, though. I’ll give you that one.

Pass Rush – It’s been four years since the aforementioned Gholston disaster, and in that time, other than Aaron Maybin last year (which was complete luck that he fell into your lap) do you know how many Outside Linebackers you’ve added to this roster? ZERO! Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace are solid players on the outside, especially against the run, but since you traded John Abraham in 2006 we haven’t had one single top-notch pass rusher. At some point in the last four years, don’t you think some youth and speed should have been added on the outside? Obviously you don’t agree, since you didn’t do it. Did you get scared off by the Gholston era or something? Get over it, shit happens. Pace and Thomas are now on their last legs, and there is no depth behind them. That’s going to end up being a serious problem. We saw that last year after BT went down and the run defense went into the crapper. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Victor Cruz of linebackers is on this roster!

So in conclusion, Mike, I just wanted to say that I’m not mad at you, I’m just hurt. The Mike Tannenbaum Era started off so great and I really believed in you. In fact, despite everything I just wrote, I still want to believe in you. I want to turn on the TV tomorrow and see you pulled off a trade for a legitimate starting Right Tackle (not one with chronically injured knees like Jeff Otah, though). I want to see that Wayne Hunter has been traded to the Siberian Football League or something. I want to see a tight end added to the roster that would be able to at least block me. There is talent on this team that you built and I’ve supported you through thick and thin, but as they say, a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. With moves like Hunter, Cumberland, and Vlad lately, I’m starting to think that maybe that the weak link… is you.

Sincerely,

Mike Donnelly, Frustrated Jets Fan

Jets vs. Giants: Turn On The Jets 12 Pack Of Predictions

12 Predictions for the New York Jets second pre-season game against the New York Giants

The Turn On The Jets 12 Pack is back with predictions for Jets/Giants tomorrow night. Will the New York Jets ever score a touchdown? Will Mark Sanchez leave the game in the body bag from the Giants pass rush? Read on to find out – 

In case you missed it, we had another great week of coverage. Make sure you are following the staff on Twitter – Chris Gross, Mike Donnelly, and TJ Rosenthal 

1. The New York Jets are going to be particularly run heavy with their starters. Considering four of their top six receivers won’t play, their pass protection is questionable and the Giants have the best pass rush in football…this is a logical move. Beyond that, the Jets need to get some momentum going for their running game and you can run the football on the Giants.

2. Mark Sanchez won’t turn the football over and will lead a touchdown drive in the first half. Look for Dustin Keller to be a point of emphasis in the passing game.

3. The New York Giants will rip off at least one huge play on the Jets starting defense. They have too much speed not to and even in the pre-season, they always seem to break off big ones against the Jets.

4. When Darrelle Revis is matched up on Victor Cruz, he won’t catch a single pass. However, if Cruz gets in the slot and matched up on Kyle Wilson the Jets will be in trouble.

5. Demario Davis is going to see extended time with the starting defense. The slow phase out of Bart Scott is going to begin. With his lack of speed, he simply can’t be on the field when it isn’t a likely running down.

6. Both starting defenses will record at least two sacks of the other team’s starting quarterback.

7. Stephen Hill will lead the Jets in receptions and haul in a couple from Mark Sanchez for the first time this week. Patrick Turner should also register 2-3 catches again.

8. Tim Tebow will have a rushing touchdown. The ESPN production truck will explode in response.

9. The Giants will win the game and the ridiculous Snoopy trophy that comes with it. Mike Lupica and Ian O’Connor will each write 1,500 word articles burying the Jets season and worshipping Tom Coughlin in response. Oh wait, O’Connor already did.

10. Antonio Allen is going to take another step towards leap frogging Josh Bush on the depth chart at safety.

11. Joe McKnight will have another strong pre-season game, making a few big plays as both a runner and receiver.

12. Quinton Coples will record his second sack in as many pre-season games and continue his strong pre-season.

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch: Fantasy Football Draft Edition

Mike Donnelly is buying and selling fantasy football prospects for your upcoming draft

Mike Donnelly will be covering Fantasy Football all season for us here at Turn On The Jets. Make sure to give Mike a follow on Twitter and reach out to him if you are interested in potentially joining the TOJ fantasy league this year. 

Fantasy football season is here (YESSSS!!!!), and you probably didn’t win your league last year. And it’s probably because you’re the kind of person who goes and finds someone like Evan Silva’s rankings before your draft and thinks they’re gold. If that’s the case, there’s a really good chance you lost in spectacular fashion, came in dead last, embarrassed yourself, had your girlfriend leave you because of it, and all your friends stopped calling because they were so appalled by your 1st round pick of Jahvid Best. Ok, maybe things didn’t get quite that bad, but let’s try to avoid that embarrassment you surely felt this year and actually, ya know, build a good team.

Mr. Silva kicked off his fantasy season this year on Rotoworld.com by participating in a mock draft where he took Ryan Mathews with the #2 overall pick (ahead of Ray Rice, Lesean McCoy, Aaron Rodgers, and Calvin Johnson) and claimed this is the year he stays healthy and dominates. The next day, Mathews broke his clavicle and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. So if that’s the kind of crap you’re looking for, then more power to you. But if you want to do some damage this year, this is where you want to be, reading this right here all season, and it all starts with a strong draft.

Speaking of drafts, if you are still in the process of putting your league together, I think you need to read The 8 Easy Steps For the Perfect Fantasy League before doing so. And while we’re talking about starting leagues, we are starting the TOJ Fantasy Football League and are looking to invite a few readers to join up and play against us. If you’re interested, comment here or hit us up on Twitter. Alrighty, let’s get on with the show. I’m going to be buying and selling players here based on their average rankings. I’ll be buying I guys I really like who are being drafted too low, and selling guys I think are overrated and that I want no part of. I’m not going to be telling you to draft Calvin Johnson, because if you need me to tell you that, well, then you need far more help than I’m able to provide.

QUARTERBACKS

When it comes to QB’s this year there are the Top 5 (Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Stafford, Newton in that order) and then a steep drop towards tier 2. If you can’t get one of the elite guys, it’s not the end of the world because there is still some solid value in the middle rounds.

BUY: Philip Rivers – After a bit of a down year (for him) last year, a lot of people are down on Rivers, especially after losing Vincent Jackson. That loss is overrated, because Vincent Jackson sucks (more on this later). Rivers is typically ranked in the #9-10 QB range, and I think that’s low for him. Norv Turner is a big joke as a head coach, but the man knows offense, and Rivers is going to perform in the #5 or 6 QB range this year.

BUY: Big Ben – I expect Mike Wallace to show up by the start of the season and that will give Roethlisberger one of the best and deepest WR corps in the NFL. More importantly than that is the fact that they Steelers have no running backs, which will lead to a ton of pass attempts for the 2-time sexual assaulter. Sure, Ben is a terrible human being in real life, but he can help you on the fantasy gridiron this season as a low-level starter.

BUY: Jake Locker – This is one of my favorite sleeper QB’s this season, especially in keeper leagues. He won’t be one of the top 10 or 12 QB’s this season, but as a backup he can definitely be useful in case of injury. If Kenny Britt ever gets his head on straight, it will help Locker even more and it could have him knocking on the door of being starter-worthy.

SELL: Cam Newton as a TOP 4 QB – Cam is still going to be great this year, but the Panthers are going to try and limit his rushing attempts this year, which could slide him down the QB rankings a few spots.

SELL: Michael Vick – I hate Michael Vick, so that could affect my ranking of him, but the fact is this guy absolutely CAN NOT stay healthy. Let someone else deal with the stress of checking the injury report every day to see if he’ll be able to play on Sunday.

SELL: Sam Bradford – DO. NOT. DRAFT. SAM. BRADFORD! Unless of course you enjoy watching your QB throw 6 yard slants and dump offs to the RB as his offensive coordinator looks on happily from the sideline.

RUNNING BACKS

The running back position in some serious trouble this year due to a major rash of injuries, holdouts, and suspensions across the league. Jones-Drew, Lynch, Mathews, Richardson, Peterson, Beanie Wells, and Darren McFadden have all been effected by one of these things. Oh wait, McFadden hasn’t gotten hurt yet, but don’t worry, he will soon. Many people think that because of the lack of top RB’s, you should pass on them at the top of the draft and load up on the mid-range players. I think the opposite, and that it’s imperative you land one of the top guys you can count on. Who are those guys? Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Lesean McCoy are the cream of the crop, with Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, and DeMarco Murray a step below.

BUY: Shonn Greene – A lot of people want to just write him off under the “LOL, the Jets” rule, but I think that is way off. The Jets are going to run the ball a lot this year, and Tony Sparano isn’t going to just forget to run during the second half of games like Brian Schottenheimer did. Greene averaged 4.2 yards per carry last year and played really well in the second half of the season. 1,250 yards and 8 TD’s are very realistic numbers and I think he will outperform his draft position.

BUY: Mike Goodson – By week 5 or 6 he’ll be getting the majority of carries in Oakland when McFadden gets injured. Great player to stash on your bench as your #4 or 5 running back.

Buy: Toby Gerhart, SELL: Adrian Peterson – These two go hand-in-hand, and it’s pretty simple. Adrian Peterson tore up his knee late last year, and it takes at least a full year for these guys to get back to full strength after such a big time injury. They can say Peterson is a fast healer all they want, but the fact is he just started practicing, he’s been told not to make cuts, and the defense isn’t even allowed to hit him. That doesn’t sound promising. What does sound promising is Toby Gerhart’s 2012 fantasy chances. For a guy being drafted as a #4 RB, I think he will offer much, much more.

BUY: Jacquizz Rodgers – In PPR leagues, the Falcons 3rd-down back can play a Darren Sproles-like role, especially with their new up-temp offense. He’s worth a flier in later rounds and could end up being a solid flex option in all leagues.

SELL: Maurice Jones-Drew – If his holdout lasts into the season, this is even more obvious, but even if he comes back tomorrow MJD is not going to be the elite back he has been the past few years. Holdout + Crappy Team does not = Good things. Simple formula. He’s typically ranked as the #7 or 8 RB overall as of now, but I wouldn’t take him as a top 15 back.

SELL: Michael Turner – Words can’t even express how much I hate Michael Turner this year. If you’re in a PPR league, the guy is basically useless, but even in standard leagues, you can expect his production to take a major hit this year. Sure he’ll have a few big games against garbage defenses, but as a whole, you can’t count on him at all. I wouldn’t want him as even a #2 RB on my team.

SELL: Steven Jackson – Again: Brian Schottenheimer.

SELL: Marshawn Lynch – Suspension + Got Paid + Bad Team = ????? Actually, I know what it means: That he won’t be on my fantasy team this year. I’d rather take guys like Ahmad Bradshaw or Doug Martin over him.

SELL: Benjarvus Green-Ellis – Things won’t be so easy this year without defenses petrified of Tom Brady passing the ball all game and daring BJGE to run. I’ll pass on him.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Wide receiver is extremely deep this year, but there’s only one truly elite player, and that’s Calvin Johnson. Behind him though, there are about a dozen excellent options, including the usual suspects like Fitzgerald, Welker, Andre Johnson, and Greg Jennings.

BUY: Julio Jones, SELL: Roddy White – As much as I hate Michael Turner, I love his teammate Julio Jones even more. The Falcons are going to an up-tempo passing offense, and it’s time for Roddy White to step aside, because there’s a new dreadlocked Sheriff in town. Don’t get me wrong, Roddy will still get his catches, but rather than finishing the year as a top 7 WR which is where’s ranked now, I think he’s going to be more in the 12-13 range. Jones, on the other hand, I have as high as #2 overall at WR, which may seem high now, but it won’t come December after he puts up a monster campaign.

BUY: Hakeem Nicks, SELL: Victor Cruz – It’s not that I think Cruz is going to be bad this year, because I don’t. But I do think that Nicks is going to be the fantasy monster this year and Cruz is going to settle into a solid #2 WR role for your team and slightly underperform on his expectations.

BUY: Brandon Marshall, SMALL BUY: Alshon Jeffery – To keep the teammate theme going, I think Marshall is going to get back to his old Denver fantasy superstar days now that he’s reunited with Jay Cutler in Chicago. 100 catches and 1100 yards are certainly possible. I also really like his rookie teammate Alshon Jeffery, who is definitely worth a late-round flier in your league after looking great in Bears camp so far.

BUY: Antonio Brown – After a great second half to the season last year, Antonio Brown is going to carry that forward into 2012 as the Steelers #1 passing option until Mike Wallace returns and gets back to form. For a guy ranked now in the #25 overall WR range, Brown is seriously undervalued right now.

BUY: Demaryius Thomas – Thomas had his moments last year, and that was with Tim Tebow throwing him the ball. Now he’s got Peyton Manning, and that’s what you might call “trading up”. Manning has raved about Thomas’s athletic ability and it’s not unrealistic to expect 1,200 yards from Peyton’s top target. I expect him to easily perform as a top 10 receiver this year.

BUY: Titus Young – Because Calvin Johnson can’t catch all of Matt Stafford’s 5,000 yards by himself, right? He’s being drafted as about the 33rd WR now, but I expect him to easily outperform that spot.

SELL: Vincent Jackson – So he got his big contract, moved from a passing team to a running team, and downgraded from Phil Rivers to Josh Freeman at QB. Yeahhhh… don’t draft Vincent Jackson this year.

SELL: Anquan Boldin – No longer a quality fantasy receiver. I’d rather roll the dice on someone like Titus Young than take the “name guy” in Anquan Boldin.

SELL: Steve Smith (Car) & Jordy Nelson – Both guys will have fine seasons I’m sure, I just don’t think either one will approach the success they had last year, which makes them overvalued heading into this year’s draft. It’s not bad to have them on your team, just don’t reach for them.

TIGHT ENDS

Here’s some good advice when it comes to tight ends: Try to get Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham! I heard those guys are pretty good. If you can’t though, there’s plenty of depth this year at the position.

SELL: Tony Gonzalez – One guy who isn’t a part of that solid depth is Tony Gonzalez. Yes, the Falcons are going to more of a passing attack, but it’s all about the wide receivers and guys like Jacquizz Rodgers now. Look for the Hall-of-Famer to take a back seat in the offense this year and not perform as a top 12 TE.

BUY: Fred Davis – Fred had a really solid season last year until injuries took their toll on him. With a rookie QB, look for the big athletic TE to get plenty of targets. I have him as the #8 TE.

BUY: Dustin Keller – As with Shonn Greene, he’s being discredited under the “LOL, the Jets” rule, but that’s a mistake. For all intents and purposes, he’s the team’s #2 wide receiver and will likely lead the team in targets this year. Plus he’s playing for a contract, and that can never be a bad thing. Look for him to be a top 10 TE and not finish in the #18 overall range which is where I’m seeing him at now.

BUY: Jermaine Gresham – With AJ Green getting a ton of attention against opposing secondaries, look for Gresham to really rack up some nice stats over the middle of the field. Of course, he did suffer a knee injury in last night’s preseason game, so keep an eye on that.

BUY: Kyle Rudolph – An excellent sleeper TE for the Vikings. He’s big and athletic, and Christian Ponder is going to need to throw the ball to somebody. Take a flier on him with one of your last picks and let’s watch him blossom into a very usable option at TE.

So there you have it: My first Fantasy Football Stock Watch of the season. I’d be happy to discuss these rankings and other players here in the comments or on Twitter. And if you’d like to get into our TOJ Fantasy League, then let us know and we’ll pick a few readers to play against us. And good luck to everyone this year… unless you’re playing against me of course.

New York Jets: Make or Break Year For Dustin Keller

This is a make or break year for New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller

New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller is entering the most crucial season of his NFL career. The team has understandably held off on giving him a large contract extension, instead choosing to wait and see how he produces in Tony Sparano’s offense. Through four years, Keller has been good but has never truly broke out in the way many around the team expect him to. This season, more than ever the Jets need the Pro-Bowl season that he has personally declared is on the way.

It doesn’t take an expert to see that the Jets are lacking proven offensive playmakers heading into this season, particularly in the passing game. Beyond that, Mark Sanchez is yet to have an opportunity to work with two of his top three receivers, Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley, this pre-season because of his injuries. Without question, Keller is the receiver he is most comfortable with and should see a ton of passes coming his way all season.

Keller has never been able to sustain productivity throughout his career. The four seasons are marked by stretches of All-Pro caliber play followed by weeks of inactivity. The productivity tends to occur early in the season and then tail off throughout the year.

Last season, Keller caught 16 passes for 249 yards 2 touchdowns in the Jets first three games. Over the next six games, he only collected 15 receptions for 224 yards and o touchdowns. He improved slightly down the stretch but not much, finishing the season with only 5 touchdowns and 12.5 yards per reception. In 2010, it was the same story. He caught 5 touchdowns in the Jets first 4 games and then didn’t catch one the rest of the season. He also saw a gaudy early season yards per catch average drop off to 12.5 by the end of the year.

Keller needs to improve his consistency, his red-zone production and downfield playmaking ability. All of these issues don’t fall solely on him. It is fair to place blame on Brian Schottenheimer’s horizontal passing attack and perplexing game plans. It is also fair to blame Mark Sanchez for his occasional struggles.

Regardless, the top priority of the Jets passing game this year should be keeping Keller involved on a weekly basis and getting him the ball inside the 20 yard line. His yards per catch should improve thanks to Tony Sparano’s scheme. Anthony Fasano averaged 13.5 yards per catch and 14.1 yards per catch the past two years respectively and he is substantially less athletic and versatile than Keller.

It can’t be used as an excuse that defenses are keying on Keller. Santonio Holmes is enough of a threat on the outside to keep double teams away from Keller in most situations, nevermind if Stephen Hill develops into a viable deep threat. Keller needs to be moved around the formation to get matched up on defensive backs who he can take advantage of with his size, particularly in the red-zone. If he is seeing coverage from linebackers, the Jets have to get him down the seam where Mark Sanchez throws the ball particularly well.

The Jets can’t afford to have Keller go 5 straight weeks with less than 3 receptions. The Jets can’t afford Keller to have another 5 touchdown season. It is time to expand his route tree beyond bootlegs. Creativity will be needed because he is without question the team’s second best all around receiver and their most versatile weapon in the passing game.

PSA: Turn On The Jets/Night Out Partnership

Turn On The Jets is happy to announce a partnership with Night Out

Turn On The Jets is happy to announce a season long partnership with Night Out: The Nightlife Community. You will notice that fresh new banner across the top of the home page promoting it. What is Night Out? I think this lovely lady does a much better job explaining it than I do –

Stay tuned all year as Night Out will providing special deals for New York Jets fans in our weekly 12 Pack for the New York City/Hoboken area. If you are looking for somewhere to watch the game, they are going to hook you up with the best deal possible on food and drink. Our TOJ staff will be attending the different venues on gameday that are hosting deals for TOJ/Jets fans to watch. So if you want to give Chris Gross or Mike Donnelly a piece of your mind about one of their recent articles or tell me how immensely talented and handsome I am, feel free. 

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New York Jets: Observations From Cortland

Turn On The Jets staff writer Chris Gross spent the day in Cortland yesterday, here is what he observed about the New York Jets

Turn On The Jets sent staff writer Chris Gross up to Cortland yesterday to report from New York Jets camp. Here are his observations. Feel free to submit those miles for reimbursement from the TOJ headquarters office Chris – 

After visiting the New York Jets next-to-final practice in Cortland this past Tuesday, not only did I come away with several observations, but I also got a much better feel for the identity of both the team, and a number of particular players. When observing the team this closely in person, a few things stand out right from the start as strikingly evident. Others revealed themselves throughout the course of the practice, many of which I was surprised with, some of which I expected.

As physically talented as Stephen Hill appears on film, it really does him no justice until seeing him play in person. Hill is extremely gifted and it is obvious just in the way he moves, runs, or does anything athletic. In One on One Wide Receiver/Defensive Back drills, Hill beat Darrelle Revis deep for a Touchdown on each of his first two reps. Seemingly irked by this, Revis finished the remaining two reps of the drill by buckling down and being extremely physical with Hill, not allowing him to get deep, while breaking up each of the two underneath passes thrown at him. This matchup seems like it is developing into a very nice practice rivalry and should be extremely beneficial to both players.

Hill is getting experience each day against the best Cornerback in all of football, while Revis is getting reps against a big target with great speed who can stretch the field at any moment. Hill showed great poise and confidence, as he did not shy away from Revis once. He seems to realize the opportunity to improve by going up against the All-World Cornerback, and watching him, you really get the sense that he is eager to challenge himself with this matchup. While Hill likely respects the stature of Revis, he is certainly not intimidated by him. He has a long way to go, but Hill can be an absolute star in this league, sooner rather than later.

Offensive Line Coach Dave DeGuglielmo is a perfect fit for this team. I stood about five feet from the Offensive Line during individual drills and one thing evident about DeGuglielmo is that he holds everyone accountable, including Pro Bowlers like Nick Mangold and D’Brichashaw Ferguson. He coaches his group up on every rep whether it be in live action or running plays on air. He is constantly tentative to footwork, technique, and most importantly, execution.

Vlad Ducasse is as advertised. Ducasse is very physically gifted, and passes the eye test as an NFL Offensive Lineman for sure, however one of his main problems is his inability to play low. Even when simply hitting the sled, usually a time to exaggerate technique with no live competition on the other side of the ball, Ducasse would sprout right up. While running through drills in the chutes, Ducasse hit his head on the top more than once, and was reprimanded by DeGuglielmo for his lack of technique. To me, Ducasse’s consistent inability to play low shows laziness, and unless he fixes both of these issues quickly, he will likely remain on the sidelines on Sundays.

Robert T. Griffin has improved greatly since we evaluated his college game film following the draft. Griffin is one of the biggest guys on the field and seems to be extremely coachable, which is likely the reason for his early improvement. His technique is greater than what you’d expect of a sixth round rookie, and he really seems to focus on all the little things like stance, steps, footwork, etc. His potential can be very high due to his physical tools and coachability.

The Defensive Line and Secondary are the strengths of this team. This should really comes as no surprise to anyone, but as a unit, the Defensive Line seems to have the best cohesion out of any other group on the team. Combined with the immense talent across the board on the defensive front is a very strong work ethic. Karl Dunbar does an excellent job as both a teacher and motivator. During run read drills with the Offensive Line, Dunbar was heard belting out plenty of excitement for his guys, while stressing all of the little things, like DeGuglielmo. First round pick Quinton Coples and Aaron Maybin were moved all around in various fronts, and it should be very interesting to see how each of these guys are used this year, considering their immense talent and potential.

As for the secondary, this is probably the most talented unit on the team. It is really amazing to see the immense skill of Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson in person. The new safeties seem to mesh well with these guys, and they all communicate with each other while on the field. You can feel the veteran savvy of LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell patrolling the back half of the defense. They seem extremely comfortable out there.

The biggest thing I took away from practice on Tuesday was the impression made by Mark Sanchez. The 4th year pro out of Southern California looked terrific, not only in his throws, but in his heightened level of command, his improved demeanor, and his overall leadership ability. He shows a level of confidence that he has yet to express since coming into the league, and certainly seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder. While watching him, not only play, but communicate with his teammates, you can just feel his attitude, that this is his team, his offense, and things are going to be done his way. His chemistry with Tight End Dustin Keller is uncanny, and it shows on the field. To me, this has been a bit overlooked, but their relationship seems to go beyond any other relationship on the team. Their timing is flawless; seemingly sharing the same train of though on nearly every play. Because of this, Keller is poised for a breakout season.

Tim Tebow is physically gifted. Tebow is extremely big in person, particularly in his lower body. He was among the first players on the field prior to practice, as he was warming up with some of the receivers and tight ends. One thing I noticed about him, though, is that his long throwing motion is exaggerated. While his wind-up is certainly longer than that of the average NFL Quarterback, it is not nearly as bad as people make it out to be. His arm strength is very good, but in terms of accuracy, he is not on par with Mark Sanchez. Tebow will certainly contribute this season, mostly as a runner, but also as more of a passer than most people are expecting. However, after watching both of them in person, I would not expect Tebow to dethrone Sanchez as the starter at any point this season.

The Running Back situation is a serious cause for concern. While Shonn Greene got the most reps with the first unit, with Bilal Powell working in, and Joe McKnight getting in some situational work, none of these backs truly stand out. Not one of them demonstrates the tools or ability to be a feature back. While this group is certainly not terrible by any means, each of these players are average at best. A move to add a veteran like Ryan Grant needs to be made.

The Rest of the Rest:

Rookie WR Jordan White got extended reps with Santonio Holmes, and eventually Stephen Hill, being out of practice. With these reps, I thought White practiced very well. He had an amazing back shoulder catch on the sideline with Darrelle Revis on him during team drills, prompting a chest bump from Sanchez. Revis had great coverage on the play, but the ball was thrown perfectly, and White made a great play on it. White’s work ethic is very obvious and he seems to take pride in every drill that he does.

Josh Baker looked very good and he will likely be used in a number of various roles this season. He is certainly one of the more versatile weapons on the offense, and it will be interesting to see how Sparano utilizes that.

Rookie Linebacker DeMario Davis played in a lot of nickel and third down sub packages, and seemed to be grasping the defense a little at a time. His athleticism is fantastic, but mentally he still seems like he has a bit to get down.

Marcus Dowtin was very impressive in limited action. The undrafted rookie out of North Alabama saw reps at both Safety and Linebacker, and obtained a sack on Greg McElroy on a blitz right through the middle, where he came through untouched. He reminds me of a heavier version of James Ihedigbo, and if he makes the roster, he could be used as a situational player on third downs, either as a blitzer or in coverage.

New York Jets – Is Mike Tannenbaum Asleep At The Wheel?

Is New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum’s inactivity this August acceptable?

It has become a weekly topic here at Turn On The Jets to question the New York Jets depth on the offensive side of the football.  In general, Mike Tannenbaum has done more good than bad since becoming the team’s general manager. The extent he is criticized by outlets like Pro Football Talk and Mike Lombardi on NFL.com is overdone and out of touch with reality. Regardless, facing arguably the most important season of his career, he has been surprisingly (and somewhat disturbingly) inactive in addressing his team’s issues.

Let’s start with something as simple as acquiring a blocking tight end before getting into the tired running back/wide receiver debate. The New York Jets want to be physical on offense. The New York Jets want to run the football. The New York Jets have pass protection issues at right tackle. The New York Jets don’t have a single blocking tight end on their roster. This makes no sense. You can’t bring in Jeff Cumberland to help block if he can’t even get a hand on the immortal (sense my sarcasm?) Manny Lawson before he steamrolls Mark Sanchez.

There was no logical reason for the Jets not to bring a player like Justin Peelle, Daniel Graham or another blocking tight end before training camp. Pittsburgh just signed Peelle to improve their depth at tight end and fullback because of an injury they sustained because smart teams who are perpetually in the playoffs and Super Bowls make sure they have depth.

If Jeff Cumberland keeps getting beat like a drum, perhaps Tannenbaum will sign a player a week or so before the season starts. That player will then have limited time to master the offense and pick up chemistry with the offensive line, likely leading to an early season slew of penalties and miscommunication…aka Matthew Mulligan 2.0. Why wait?

At wide receiver, Stephen Hill hurt his finger today in practice. Let’s say the Jets play it safe and keep him out this week against the Giants. Mark Sanchez will be throwing to a top three of Patrick Turner, Jordan White, and Royce Pollard. Not exactly the best way to break in a new offense for the Jets starting quarterback, right? Throughout the year if Hill gets hurt because he is a rookie and isn’t used to the rigors of a NFL season or Santonio Holmes re-injures his ribs or Jeremy Kerley’s balky hamstring acts up, where is the depth?

The Green Bay Packers just signed Cedric Benson. They did this because smart teams who are perpetually in the playoffs and Super Bowls make sure they have depth. Green Bay might run the ball 25% less than the Jets do this year but now have better depth than them at running back. Is Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets front office that much smarter than Green Bay that they couldn’t take on Benson for a veteran’s minimum deal?

All it takes is a rolled Shonn Greene ankle for the Jets to have the worst depth chart of running backs in the NFL…I repeat all it takes is a rolled Shonn Greene ankle for the Jets to have the worst depth chart of running backs in the NFL. The mighty Ground and Pound who is going to run it more than any team in the NFL will not have a single back on the roster who has eclipsed 150 yards in a season.

Smart teams who are perpetually in the playoffs and Super Bowls make sure they have depth. Wake up Mike.

New York Jets – Breaking Down Sanchez’s 9 Dropbacks Friday Night

Breaking down Mark Sanchez’s 9 dropbacks in the New York Jets pre-season opener

New York Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez was asked to drop back for nine pass attempts in the team’s pre-season opener. Here is a breakdown of what occurred on each play and an overall analysis of his and the first unit’s performance in the passing game –

1) – 1st and 10 on NYJ 20 yard line – Completion for 0 yards to John Conner

The Jets opened the game in a double tight formation (Dustin Keller and Jeff Cumberland) with Stephen Hill split out wide and two backs. They ran a basic play action bootleg out to the right (a play Jets fans are familiar with from Brian Schottenheimer). Hill cleared out leaving Keller as the first read but he was covered, the only other viable option on the play was Conner in the flat who Sanchez threw the ball to. Conner made the reception but was immediately tackled by Manny Lawson. A simple, safe play that was defended and tackled well.

2) – 3rd and 8 on NYJ 22 yard line – Sacked for 9 yard loss

The Jets came out in shotgun on 3rd long with a bunch formation to the right. Sanchez never had a chance on this play as the Bengals sent a blitz to the right side. Austin Howard picked up the proper man but running back Bilal Powell missed Rey Maualuga who brought Sanchez down before the play had a chance to develop.

3) 3rd and 2 on NYJ 28 yard line – Incompletion to Jordan White

Again the New York Jets ran a play that was popular during the Brian Schottenheimer years. The short yardage, speed out to the slot receiver was a bread butter play for the Jets in both 2009 and 2010, with Jerricho Cotchery frequently running it, although Braylon Edwards ripped off a big gain on it in 2009 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. This play was designed for Jordan White and it is basically going to him no matter what, as from the slot he is supposed to run an immediate speed out a 1/2 yard to a yard past the first down marker on the short side of the field. The ball gets thrown to the low and outside where only the receiver can get it.

White cut his route a little short (a frequent mistake for young receivers), throwing off the timing. Sanchez threw the ball where it was supposed to be but White failed to pull in the tough catch (Terrence Newman had nice coverage as well).

4) 1st and 10 on NYJ 33 yard line – 6 yard completion to Patrick Turner

Turner ran an angle route over the middle from the slot position. He quickly beat his man to the inside (Leon Hall) and as the primary target Sanchez got the ball to him quickly. Hall recovered to make a nice tackle. Overall, a successfully executed first down play that is probably better suited to a quicker player like Jeremy Kerley.

5) 2nd and 4 on NYJ 39 yard line – 6 yard completion to Patrick Turner

The Jets ran double speed outs with their outside receivers (Turner and Stephen Hill). Turner was on the short side of the field and was receiving a substantial cushion. Sanchez made the right read and a good throw to convert the first down. Again a simple, safe call to convert on 2nd and short.

6) 2nd and 11 on NYJ 44 yard line – 9 yard completion to Patrick Turner

As you can tell, Sanchez was easily the most comfortable with Turner out of any of his wide receivers. On this play, Turner ran a comeback route and was the primary option. Sanchez delivered a well timed throw. Leon Hall provided fairly good coverage and wrapped Turner up immediately. Either way, a successful play on a 2nd and long.

7) 3rd and 2 on CIN 47 yard line – Sanchez scrambles for 4 yards

It is hard to tell whether Sanchez taking off up the middle was the primary option on this play. The Jets sent their outside receivers on deep post corner routes (both of whom were blanketed) and the middle of the field was cleared out as well by vertical routes. Sanchez stepped up in the pocket and had nothing but green in front of him. He got enough for the first down and got down.

8) 2nd and 8 on CIN 41 yard line – Sanchez sacked 7 yard loss

Simply put, backup tight end Jeff Cumberland was smoked off the line by Manny Lawson, barely getting a hand on him. Sanchez hadn’t even set his feet and Lawson was on him. Can we sign a blocking tight end?

9) 3rd and 15 on CIN 48 yard line – Incompletion to Jordan White

The Jets didn’t run an aggressive play here to attempt to get a first down. It looked more like the intent was to get half the yardage to either go for it on 4th down or kick a long field goal. Jordan White ran an option route in the slot but never really came open. Sanchez waited and bought himself a little time by scrambling out to his left but basically threw it away because of how covered White was.

Analysis – Tony Sparano didn’t give Sanchez much of a chance to push the ball vertically and that might have been wise considering some of the protection issues. Neither of the sacks or incompletions were on Sanchez. Rookie Jordan White was the target of both incompletions and failed to run a good route both times or catch the ball in the one case. Sanchez was given no time on either sacks. On his completions (outside of the dump off to Conner), Patrick Turner was the primary target and he got him the ball every time. Two 6 yard and a 9 yard completion may not seem impressive but considering the context (6 yards on first down, converting a first down on 2nd and short and picking up 9 yards on 2nd and 11, respectively) they were good throws.

Keep in mind, Santonio Holmes will be in Turner’s spot on those type of plays and has the ability to get more separation and create more after the catch.

A Word On Tebow 

The Good – His slant route to Stephen Hill for 12 yards was a very impressive thrown. Cover 2 is the last type of coverage you want to see on a slant route and Tebow fit it into a tight window. The scrambles were all very athletic plays, even if he might have pulled the ball down a little early on a few. Regardless, you don’t complain when you are picking up chunks of yardage like that. He also had a nice throw to Stephen Hill on a 3rd and 7 that Hill blatantly dropped.

The Bad – The interception was awful, by both him and Jeff Cumberland. Cumberland had an option route and should have hitched back to the quarterback instead of breaking out. Regardless Tebow locked into him and threw it regardless even though the linebacker had cut underneath. He had a poor read and throw to Chaz Schilens on a slant and go. Tebow again locked in even though Schilens was blanketed by two guys and floated a poorly thrown ball. He should have checked down in that situation.

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Initial Reaction – New York Jets Inconsistent Against Bengals

The New York Jets had an inconsistent performance, at best, in their pre-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals

A handful of thoughts from the New York Jets pre-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, a 17-6 loss that was far from the prettiest football game you will ever see –

1. Mark Sanchez didn’t receive much help in the way of protection or his receivers getting separation. However, he protected the football, scrambled for a first down on a 3rd down and hooked up with Patrick Turner 3 times. Overall, the first offense was rather disappointing, particularly Shonn Greene who finished up with 11 yards on 5 carries. Tony Sparano’s new offense remains a work in progress but remember how vanilla they were tonight.

2. Tim Tebow was Tim Tebow. He had three very impressive scrambles and finished as the team’s leading rusher with 34 yards on 4 carries. Yet, he struggled to throw the football only finishing 4/8 for 27 yards with an ugly interception. I remain confident in my belief that Tebow will be the team’s second leading rusher and is more of their number two running back than their number two quarterback.

3. Quinton Coples was the star of the night. Few people were more critical of his selection than yours truly but the rookie impressed tonight with 4 tackles, a tackle for a loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass defensed. Yes, many of his big plays came against the Bengals second unit but Coples looked athletic and like he could be a factor against both the run and pass.

4. Bilal Powell played over Joe McKnight as both the third down back and number two running back but it was McKnight who stole the show at running back. Powell finished with 16 yards on 5 carries and 1 reception for 4 yards, along with a missed block that led to a sack. McKnight showed some good giddy-up with 32 yards on 7 carries and 3 receptions for 34 yards.

5. Overall the defense was very good against the run, surrendering only 2.8 yards per carry. Kenrick Ellis filled in admirably for Sione Pouha and David Harris racked up 4 tackles in limited action.

6. Defensive end Jay Richardson had a head turning performance with 4 tackles and a sack. Garret McIntyre also had a sack and was active. Rookie linebacker Demario Davis had 4 tackles and a tackle for a loss.

7. Aaron Maybin struggled against the run and wasn’t effective getting to the passer despite extended reps. Isahiah Trufant and Julian Posey were beat like a drum all night long at corner. Josh Bush also doesn’t look quite ready for any kind of first team reps yet.

8. The Jets backup offensive lineman were downright awful, nearly getting Greg McElroy killed in the 3rd and 4th quarter. Depth is a major concern with this unit.

9. Can we keep Bart Scott out of coverage? When you can’t keep up with BenJarvus Green-Ellis over the middle, you have a problem. Demario Davis needs to be in on passing downs.

10. Rookie Stephen Hill had an ugly drop on a 3rd down. However he did haul in two high Tebow passes. It would have been nice to see him stretch the field but I’m sure that will come in time.

11. I would hate to be in the special teams meetings tomorrow…

Jets vs. Bengals: Turn On The Jets 12 Pack Of Predictions

Turn On The Jets with 12 predictions for the Jets vs. Bengals pre-season game tonight

Turn On The Jets is back in the prediction business with 12 for tonight’s Jets/Bengals pre-season game. Make sure to take advantage of our one day sale to celebrate the return of New York Jets football. All Turn On The Jets shirts are 25% off. It would be crime against your fandom to not take advantage of a deal like that. When you put this shirt on not only can you play the guitar…your bench will also increase 25 pounds

On to the predictions –

1. Mark Sanchez won’t turn the football over and will lead one scoring drive. He won’t have a high yards per completion but will have a high completion percentage. I expect many shorter, safe throws to Dustin Keller and Josh Baker, along with maybe one shot down the field to Stephen Hill or Chaz Schilens.

2. Bilal Powell is going to lead the Jets in touches and total yards at running back. Look for the Jets to get him out in space in the screen game and give him a decent amount of reps with the first unit. It is time to see if he can translate his practice field success to the game.

3. Stephen Hill will have at least three receptions. Tony Sparano needs him up to speed immediately, so he will try to get him going early with a few quick hitch routes or smoke screens.

4. Demario Davis and Antonio Allen will be the most impressive rookies on the field tonight.

5. Tim Tebow will be Tim Tebow. He will run the ball well, make a few plays on third down but ultimately struggle throwing the football.

6. Aaron Maybin and/or Ricky Sapp are going to have 1.5-2.5 sacks between them.

7. Jordan White is going to make a name for himself as a viable contender for reps in the slot tonight. Look for him to be frequently targeted on third downs.

8. I don’t anticipate Quinton Coples making much noise tonight.

9. Austin Howard will play well enough to keep the right tackle position “open for competition” a few more weeks.

10. Look for a big game from Kenrick Ellis and Muhammad Wilkerson upfront, particularly Ellis who will start for Sione Pouha.

11. Marvin Lewis will look confused on the sideline.

12. The Jets defense will force at least two turnovers.

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