12 predictions for the New York Jets third pre-season game against the Carolina Panthers
The Turn On The Jets 12 Pack is back with 12 more predictions for this week’s New York Jets action. A heads up that we are down to our last 25 TOJ Vintage T-Shirts and are running a special today to kick off the weekend – 25% off all shirts, get on it now while they are discounted and before they are gone!
1. The New York Jets are going to score a touchdown. Crazy that has to be a bold proclamation right? I think we will see a more complex game plan because this unit needs to get some positive momentum going into the regular season. Carolina’s defense isn’t very good, so if the Jets have another 3 or 9 point outing, you know things are even worse than they seem. Tony Sparano must let Mark Sanchez air it out a few times and implore him to get a few balls heading in Stephen Hill’s direction. The two have not connected once this pre-season.
2. Austin Howard is going to play better than Wayne Hunter did last week, but how could he not? The Jets will add another veteran before the season and it remains very up in the air who will start for the duration of the season.
3. Look for Shonn Greene to have 10+ carries for the second straight week. Hopefully the “Ground and Pound” can field a back who averages more than 3 yards per carry this week.
4. It will be interesting to see if the Jets do anything out of the ordinary to defend Cam Newton. Will we see more Demario Davis at linebacker to increase the speed of the unit?
5. Keep an eye on Greg Olsen. Tight ends have always been an issue for Rex Ryan’s defense and Carolina goes to their tight ends a good amount. We don’t know if the Jets have really remedied the problem yet because all of their safeties have coverage issues.
6. Carolina can run the damn football. This will be a great test for the Jets front seven, in particular Kenrick Ellis who will start for Sione Pouha again. We will have a good indication that the Jets run defense is the real deal if they can slow down DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert.
7. I wouldn’t be surprised if Greg McElroy didn’t get any snaps for the second straight week. It will be more curious to see if Terrance Ganaway can get any carries. He didn’t play last week and at least deserves a look at this point, no?
8. We know Tim Tebow can scramble. Let’s see him set his feet in the pocket and actually drive a few passes down the field this week.
9. Jordan White is a big pre-season game away from knocking Chaz Schilens off this roster.
10. Garret McIntyre is another strong pre-season game away from knocking Ricky Sapp off this roster.
11. Both have been unimpressive overall so far but I think Joe McKnight takes the lead over Bilal Powell in the battle for the third down back Sunday night.
12. Jeremy Kerley is going to play and catch at least 3 passes. Santonio Holmes is going to play and catch at least 1 pass.
Joe Caporoso and TJ Rosenthal on how the New York Jets can get the most out of Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Joe McKnight
Yesterday TJ Rosenthal wrote an article here looking at how the New York Jets can utilize the speed in their offense, namely Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Joe McKnight. Today TJ and myself take a closer look at what each player brings to the table –
Joe Caporoso – Holmes is an elite route runner and is explosive after the catch. He works best in the intermediate passing game, where he can catch the ball with a little space to improvise after catching the ball. Can we see this guy run another route besides a slant?
TJ Rosenthal – Get Tone the ball. Let 10 set the tempo in the passing game. In fact, the Jets should be including Holmes in the discussion as far as what he feels can work given the QB he has and the protection issues that have taken place. He doesn’t need a “C” on his chest to feel as though he is being asked to provide leadership. Make him part of the process of devising ways to get him the ball. This will also put the onus on him to make sure he is calling for plays that are possible at this given time. We already know how clutch he can be already.
Joe Caporoso – Hill has elite top end speed and size at the wide receiver position. He is built to run deep posts and go routes, just like he did his entire career at Georgia Tech. With his frame he should also be effective on slant routes. A nice part of Hill’s game is a willingness to block down the field, which could help spring big plays in both the run game and short passing game. He is going to have occasional mental lapses as a rookie receiver and has struggled with drops in August. Look for Hill to fluctuate between big plays and errors all season.
TJ Rosenthal – We heard so much about Stephen Hill’s blocking prowess yet all we’ve seen so far have been half hearted attempts to get his feet wet as a pass catcher. Let a guy play to his strengths, and feel good about himself. This will help relax him. In a four wide speed package, Hill can be a deep down the sideline guy but use him more so, as the one who can crack OLB’s as Joe McKnight and Jeremy Kerley come across with the catch. Allow Hill to gain confidence as a deadly blocker who springs the little guys down the sidelines. Let him use his height and speed yet think less with some go routes in this formation as well. Hill can also be the short slant guy the way Braylon Edwards, and his 6’4 frame was in 2010.
Joe Caporoso – Kerley is more quick than fast and is built like a prototypical slot receiver. He is going to run a ton of option routes and quick outs, making him a primary target on most 3rd and short situations. However, if he can get matched up on a linebacker or safety, he should be able to get down the seam and make plays.
TJ Rosenthal – He needs to be an underneath route guy who can make big plays with his feet in space. He’s not a household name yet, but a few short receptions that turn into 25 yard gains will help the offense create a threat that can open up room for guys like Dustin Keller. Like McKnight, Kerley can be a slot screen option. Especially on the side of Hill should he line up that way.
Joe Caporoso – McKnight is a running back who can run routes and catch the football like a receiver. He also has durability issues and is prone to mental mistakes. The Jets can get the most out of him by working him on screen passes and then lining him up in the slot and hoping to get him matched up on linebackers. Tony Sparano needs to find a way to get him the ball in space consistently
TJ Rosenthal – Part of the reason in making 25 a slot guy is his inability to pass protect. A problem that has given Bilal Powell time on third down. This is a bigger problem for the Jets offense. One that needs explosive laymakers on the field as often as possible. Stop thinking about McKnight as solely a RB and use him on flares, screens and short underneath routes. Having him out there even as a decoy can serve the same purpose of opening up room for Keller as any success by Kerley would provide. Lining up Keller and McKnight to one side could create favorable one on one’s near the line of scrimmage.
The TOJ writers debate the top issues surrounding the New York Jets heading into the 2012 season
There are plenty of debated topics about the New York Jets heading into the 2012 NFL season. Judging from our interactions on Twitter and Facebook in the previous months, here are our top ones in no particular order and our opinions on them.
1) Shonn Greene’s Ceiling/Potential
Joe Caporoso – My support and faith in Greene as a true lead back has waned considerably over the past two seasons. While I do not think he is the bum people like Evan Silva make him out to be, it is impossible not to be frustrated with his inability to consistently break tackles or break a big run. He is going to get a ton of opportunities this season and I think he averages somewhere in the 4.1 – 4.4 yards per carry range with low touchdown numbers because of the presence of Tim Tebow. I see the ceiling on his rushing yardage total somewhere around 1,250 yards and think the Jets will take a long look on deciding whether to re-sign him in the off-season.
Chris Gross – While Greene can be a solid starter in this league, I don’t see him ever becoming a huge star. He’s already 27 years old, and has really struggled to prove that he can carry the workload as a lead back for New York. Last season, Greene’s first full year as the starter, he ran for just over 1,000 yards and only 6 touchdowns. On a team built to run the football, you’d think the top back would post numbers better than these. Still, with Tony Sparano now at the helm as offensive coordinator, one would think that Greene is poised for a career year. Sparano worked his magic in Miami last season, as shown by Reggie Bush hitting the thousand yard mark for the first time in his career. I do think Greene is much better in a complementary role as he was with Thomas Jones during his rookie season when he posted a career best 5.0 YPC average. In the role that he is currently in, I see Greene topping out at about 1100 yards, 7 touchdowns, and averaging somewhere between 3.9-4.2 YPC.
Mike Donnelly – First of all, Evan Silva is an idiot and he’s proven it time and time again. Be sure to check back for my fantasy football coverage this year where I plan on proving that repeatedly. Anyway, I love Shonn Greene this year. When he was given the ball last year and allowed to get in a groove under the incompetent Brian Schottenheimer, he was really quite good. The offensive line problems were well documented early in the season, but when Greene hit his stride in the second half, he performed very well. He even caught 30 passes for over 200 yards, so he’s not a waste in the passing game either, as many would lead you to believe. This year, I expect him to rush for around 4.2-4.4 yards per carry, and total around 1,250-1,350 yards on the ground with 250-325 or so through the air, with 8-10 TD’s. Don’t forget, Shonn is playing for a contract this year, and that is a huge motivating factor. He will stay healthy, run hard, and silence the haters.
2) The Quarterbacks
Joe Caporoso – I am as bullish on Sanchez as ever and believe he is the team’s option at quarterback. The Jets have done an awful job of supporting him but I do think he will do a substantially better job of protecting the football this year and his production will be a slightly improved version of his 2010 numbers. Tim Tebow is best suited as a weapon in the running game and will be the team’s de facto number two running back.
Chris Gross – As I said in my review of training camp, the biggest thing that stood out to me was the command displayed by Mark Sanchez. You get the sense that this is the year that he is finally ready and confident enough to declare this team his. He needs to continue that mindset and be the leader that the offense needs him to be, while being very protective of the football. He will be challenged due to a great lack of experience in his receiving corps, but expect him to lean heavily on Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller. As for Tebow, the only way I see him advancing from his role as a RB/Wildcat QB is if the offensive line plays so poorly that Sparano and co. and forced to put the more elusive Tebow at the helm because of his ability to extend plays with his feet.
Mike Donnelly – I’m with Joe on this one. I’m a huge Sanchez supporter, and I expect him to perform well this year, despite the organization seemingly writing the book on how not to develop a young QB. When Holmes and Kerley get back fully healthy, and Hill gets comfortable, the offense should end up being in the middle of the pack in the NFL. For all the hoopla talk about a QB controversy, Tebow is going to make a bigger impact running the ball in short yardage and goalline situations. I’m comfortable with our QB situation.
3) Needed Offensive Additions
Joe Caporoso – The Jets should have added a veteran running back and wide receiver for depth purposes but it appears that window has passed. However, I think we are all in agreement that it is imperative for the Jets to add both a right tackle and a blocking tight end prior to the season starting. My reasoning on the Jets needing a veteran running back is because if Shonn Greene rolls an ankle, the Jets have the worst collection of running backs in the NFL. Bilal Powell had a good camp but has been mediocre in the pre-season and has done nothing in the NFL. Joe McKnight has potential but is made of glass. At wide receiver, it wouldn’t hurt considering the durability issues surrounding Holmes, Kerley and Schilens (if he makes the roster) this season.
Chris Gross – This is obvious. Right Tackle, Tight End, and some veteran help at WR should be the team’s top priority once teams begin to make the majority of their cuts. The Jets will likely try and look to the trade market for a Right Tackle because of how dried up the Free Agent class will likely be at the end of training camp. Blocking Tight End could be found from a foe, as New England has a surplus of Tight Ends and could possibly look to release someone like Daniel Fells. As for Wide Receiver, the Free Agent market is also very depleted, but looking to add a veteran would be nice insurance considering how Jeremy Kerley has been plagued by injuries so far. A veteran Running Back like Ryan Grant, a New Jersey native and Don Bosco Alum, would also give the backfield much more depth than it has right now. Outside of Greene and Tebow, there is not one proven runner on the entire roster.
Mike Donnelly – I was of the belief the Jets should let McKnight and Powell play rather than signing a veteran like Cedric Benson. I still believe that, even though they have been underwhelming so far this preseason because Cedric Benson stinks and if you use picks on these guys you have to let them play. I also didn’t have a major problem with the offseason moves at the WR position, but obviously I had a major, major, major problem with guaranteeing Wayne Hunter’s $2.5 million salary for this season and not giving him any competition at the RT spot. I addressed that in my Letter to Mike Tannenbaum, as well as the fact that if you combine all the tight ends on the roster they don’t equal up to one competent NFL blocker. RT and blocking TE were the two biggest whiffs this offseason.
4) Defensive Potential
Joe Caporoso – At a minimum the Jets are going to have a very good defense in 2012. Their run defense should be suffocating and their safety play should be much improved to compliment their elite corners. However, the only way for them to be a great or dominant defense this year is for the pass rush to show up. Aaron Maybin and Quinton Coples are the players on this team who are supposed to get after the quarterback and they need to do it consistently. Overall, the Jets defense is good enough to keep them competitively on a weekly basis even with a struggling offense.
Chris Gross – The Jets will very likely return to the elite level of defense that propelled them to two AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010. The safety play is much improved, and considering the trio of corners on the Jets roster, the argument could certainly be made that they have the best secondary in all of football. The pass rush is going to play a major role in how far this defense can really go. Rookie Quinton Coples and veteran Aaron Maybin need to be the pass rushers that everyone is envisioning them to be, with one of them reaching double digit sacks. Tell me the last Super Bowl Champion team that did not have a player on their defense record double digit sacks. Along with the pass rush, underneath pass coverage will be a huge concern. Bart Scott and Calvin Pace are virtually non existent in that area, so look for increased reps from Rookie DeMario Davis and Safety Antonio Allen, who could be used in some packages to cover drags and unders.
Mike Donnelly – The Jets defensive potential this year is off the charts. During Rex Ryan’s three seasons here, they’ve never finished worse than 5th overall in the league, and I expect them to contend for #1 this year. They’ve added Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, upgraded the safety spot immensely, and they’ll get a full year out of pass rusher Aaron Maybin. Throw in the continued development of Mo Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, and Kyle Wilson and this defense could easily be the best in the NFL. Oh yeah, they also have some guy named Revis that I hear is pretty good.
Joe Caporoso – Not buying the Buffalo Bills hype train at all and still think the Jets are the second best team in the AFC East. Will that be good enough for a playoff spot? Right now, the Jets don’t look like a playoff team. That being said, considering how their schedule softens up after week 5, the talent on defense, and the hope that the offense has to eventually improve in some way they could very well grab 9 or 10 wins and sneak in. The Jets are going to play close football games on a weekly basis, they need to play clutch at the end of games like they did in 2010 if they are going to have a winning record.
Chris Gross – This is where it gets sticky. The defense has the potential to be among the best in the league, if not the best. However, the offense is a cause for serious concern. You can say that winning teams are built on defense and the ability to run the ball, but can the Jets run the ball? The way the league has evolved, the importance of the Quarterback position is at an all time high. For this team to be successful, Mark Sanchez needs to have a career year in terms of ball security. If he can limit his turnovers, and provide numbers that he has in the past, then this team will have a chance to get into the playoffs and make another run. If not, New York will be picking in the top twenty come Apirl’s draft.
Mike Donnelly – In my AFC East preview, I outlined my expectations for the team this year. I think they’re going to win 10 or 11 games, despite how bad the offense looks right now. Face it, the defense has the potential to be outrageously good, and that combined with an easy schedule is enough to get them plenty of wins. I believe the offense is going to get it together, and while they won’t be setting the world on fire, they are going to be a competent offense, and they’ll be one of the better teams in the AFC.
Joe Caporoso – Quinton Coples has looked impressive rushing the passer, although you hate to hear veterans questioning his motor at practice. He is so immensely talented, it is hard to see him not registering at least 4-6 sacks as a rookie and gradually having his role increase as the season moves on. Stephen Hill will be a boom or bust player as a rookie, alternating big plays with drops and mental errors. Demario Davis will see more time as the season goes on but immediately be an impact player on special teams and on passing downs. Jordan White looks like he will make the roster, but will likely need a few injuries in front him to see substantial offensive reps. Beyond that, Antonio Allen has outplayed Josh Bush so far and could get into the mix for a defensive packages. It doesn’t appear that running back Terrance Ganaway will be much of a factor, as of right now at least.
Chris Gross – When it is all said and done, I expect DeMario Davis to have the greatest impact among all rookies this season. That is not a slight on any of the other players because I do think that Quinton Coples, Stephen Hill, Antonio Allen, and possibly Jordan White will all contribute nicely. However, with how balanced Davis is in terms of his ability to defend the run and pass, and as a special teams contributor, I expect him to have the greatest immediate impact. Over the long haul, the hope is for Coples to eventually become a cornerstone of this defense along with Davis, Mohammed Wilkerson, David Harris, and Darrelle Revis.
Mike Donnelly – I expect between 4 and 7 sacks from Coples this year, which will obviously lead some less than sane Jets fans to call him a bust, but his contributions will be more than just his sacks total. The guy is a force agains the run and he’s someone offensive coordinators have to plan and account for when he’s out there. He’s going to help open things up big time for those playing around him. Stephen Hill is another rookie whose contributions will go beyond the box score. He provides the deep threat the team sorely missed last year, and his presence on the field will open up the underneath routes, plus he’s an excellent run blocker. Demario Davis is going to be a special teams force, and will definitely help in sub packages with his coverage ability. The other rookie I’m very excited about is Antonio Allen, the 7th round steal who has looked tremendous so far this preseason. All in all, this rookie class has the potential to be very good.
7) Right Tackle Revisited
Joe Caporoso – In the process of writing this article Wayne Hunter was benched for Austin Howard. This was a no-brainer after watching Hunter play against the Giants. However, let’s not celebrate Howard like the second coming of Orlando Pace. He did not win this job, Hunter lost it. The Jets had no choice but to bench Hunter and Howard was simply next on the depth chart. If the team was truly that high on Howard, they would have given him the job in the beginning of the summer, wouldn’t have traded for Jeff Otah and wouldn’t have worked out Marcus McNeil a few weeks back. Yes, I think Howard can be an upgrade from Hunter but who couldn’t? Look for the Jets to still add another player via trade or free agency.
TJ Rosenthal on the need for the Jets offense to offset the pass rush they are facing with their speed
We all know that necessity is the mother of invention. That said, all that the Jets had hoped to achieve through the air in 2012 has to be under review in the coaches offices out in Florham Park these days. Better invent something fast. Well, one adjustment to complimenting a run first attack could be force feeding a “four wide” speed package. With on emphasis on short receptions and yards after the catch. Stretching the field will of course open up any run game but sacks, as we’ve seen since early 2011 on into this summer, will devastate it. Maybe an empty backfield speed formation, sprinkled in with occasional shots “up top” can help.
In Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, and Joe McKnight, the Jets have four pieces on offense whose forty yard dash times can impress. Why not line them all up at once? With Kerley and McKnight in the slots?
Given the Jets struggles to protect the QB so far this summer, it might be a wise idea for OC Tony Sparano, in the search for an air approach that can ease the heat off of the QB. If three of the four make like Wes Welker, and work near the line of scrimmage while one goes deep, there will be home run hitters spread across and down the field.
Hill in particular, is known for his blocking, and could be a big help should Kerley or McKnight head his way with the rock after hauling in a catch made after a safe three step drop by Mark Sanchez, a QB who could seriously benefit from positive plays that don’t entail running for his life prior to making them.
Unlike Hill, lining up McKnight up as a WR eliminates the need to use him as a blocker. A place where he has had troubles, but allows him to still make plays. Like the ones he made in open space on special teams last year.
Due to the early August injuries to Holmes and Kerley, the Jets offense has been unable to settle in at all on the outside, let alone feature any idea of four fleet footed players together all at once. With Kerley back now at a reported 90 percent, and Holmes close to a return as well, perhaps the time is near for to get a clearer sense of what they have.
In the meantime, if Sparano hasn’t already, he might want to get out a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, and begin to draw up a few “four wide” designs with this crew. Plays whose end goal would be to find that one on one mismatch. Given the pass protection issues that threaten the notion of too many downfield attempts this season, it may be time to give the four wideout speed package serious consideration. Use the weapons you have at your disposal,
Short, quick, high percentage throws that land in the hands of threats who can eat up the turf. That’s a weapon. No, we don’t mean roll out tosses to guys like John Connor folks. Please Sanchise. Enough with the fullback. Utilize speed instead. Gang Green has it in four guys who can catch passes, and must to overload defenses with the fear of it. It may be one of the few defenses against pressure the Jets have left.
The New York Jets have benched right tackle Wayne Hunter
In a move that was long overdue…as in it should have done after the first play of the 2011 regular season, New York Jets right tackle Wayne Hunter has been benched. His replacement for the time being will be Austin Howard, who started the Jets first pre-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Howard was an undrafted free agent in 2010 who has spent time on the Eagles and Ravens practice squad. The best thing to say about Howard is that he cannot be worse than Wayne Hunter, it is physically impossible.
ESPN’s Rich CImini is reporting that the Jets remain in the trade market for a starting right tackle despite Howard’s promotion. The team will likely evaluate how he performs against Carolina on Sunday with the starters before deciding to pull the trigger on any move. At this point, it will not be easy to acquire a capable starting lineman.
Ultimately guaranteeing Hunter’s contract this off-season will go down as one of the worst moves in Mike Tannenbaum’s career as the Jets GM. It was indefensible considering his play last season and the plethora of options on the free agent market at right tackle this off-season. The Jets cannot cut Hunter at this point without taking a substantial hit to their cap and are desperately still looking for a starter with the season only a couple of weeks away.
You hate to have this type of instability on the offensive side of the football so close to the season.
Chris Gross explores the potential pros and cons of the New York Jets trading for Maurice Jones-Drew
With a lengthy hold out seemingly poised to last well into the regular season, Jacksonville Jaguars star Running Back Maurice Jones-Drew has reportedly told the team that he is open to being traded if the two sides cannot come to an agreement on a new deal. Since then, many reports have surfaced linking the reigning rushing champion to the New York Jets. Some sources have reported that the Jets front office has contacted Jacksonville to inquire about the availability of Jones-Drew, while conflicting reports have stated that New York has no interesting in making a deal. Although signs currently point to the latter, with Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, one can never quite say never.
In exploring a deal for Jones-Drew, there are numerous factors to take into account. First, why on earth would Jacksonville, under the new ownership of Shahid Khan, get rid of the face of the franchise, rather than pay him the money he commands? The answer is quite simple. With a completely new regime in place, the Jaguars seem ready to move forward in complete overhaul mode, meaning moving ahead with young players, leaving no room for high priced veterans who are going to cause a distraction to the new coaching staff and front office. With that in mind, Jacksonville would surely like to add some future draft picks to bring in their own, young players in the future, with the idea of building a playoff caliber team a few years from now.
What could also determine whether or not the Jaguars decide to retain, or move MJD, is the play of the man who has replaced Jones-Drew as the lead back in his absence, Rashad Jennings. Over the past two seasons in Jacksonville, Jennings has built a career rushing average of 5.4 yards per carry. Last season, he played in just 13 games while accumulating 459 rushing yards on just 84 carries, for a total of 5.5 YPC. The argument can certainly be made that Jennings is a beneficiary of Jones-Drew wearing down defenses for him to rip off big chunks of yardage, however Jennings has been quite impressive this preseason thus far without MJD carrying the load in front of him.
In his first two games this preseason, Jennings has carried the ball 23 times for a total of 118 yards, including 56 yards on the New York Giants starting defense, the same defense that held Jets starting Running Back Shonn Greene to just 36 yards on 11 carries. While Jennings may not be Jones-Drew, he has shown that he has the potential to be a very serviceable back in this league.
The next immediate question that comes to mind is whether or not this would be a good move for the Jets to make. First, let’s look at why Tannenbaum and co. would want to make such a trade:
Usually when players of Jones-Drew’s stature reportedly become available, the immediate concern for all teams interested is the cap space. According to nyjetscap.com, the Jets have just over $6 million left before going over this year’s salary cap. Jones-Drew is slated to make $4.45 million this season, and $4.95 million next season, so, for at least the immediate future, the move could work financially.
Talking strictly football, Jones-Drew could be a godsend for the Jets. For a team committed to establishing a “ground and pound” identity, they have proved to be anything but from what we have seen over the course of their two early preseason games. Not one back on the roster has stood out as someone who can carry the workload and be the lead back. Jones-Drew is a proven back who has consistently posted stats atop the league, rushing for over 1300 yards in each of the past three seasons, including an NFL leading 1606 yards in 2011. At 27, many believe MJD is nearing the point in his career when he will begin to wear down, but he has shown no signs of that up until this point, averaging his most yards per carry last season since his rookie year.
On the issue of age, Michael Turner signed with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent prior to the 2008 season, at 26 years old, just a year younger than Jones-Drew’s current age. In his four seasons in Atlanta, Turner has run for at least 1300 yards, other than 2009 when he played in just 11 games due to injury. However, he has been able to rush for double-digit touchdowns in each of those seasons, including his shortened 2009. While there are concerns about the mileage of MJD, he is still likely a few seasons away from reaching his peak, before the inevitable descend of the NFL running back.
Additionally, bringing in MJD would actually help Shonn Greene–also 27 years old. Greene’s most productive season was when he was paired with Thomas Jones as a rookie in 2009. Jones was the Jets workhorse, as he would wear down defenses with his tough running style, similar to that of Jones-Drew, while Greene would spell him and take advantage of an exhausted defense, averaging a career best 5 YPC. Since then, Greene has struggled to take over as the lead back for New York. In 2010, he was beat out for the starting spot by LaDanian Tomlinson, who many thought was brought in to serve primarily in a back-up/third down role. Finally, in 2011, when Greene became the starter, he barely put fear in opposing defenses, running for just over 1,000 yards with 6 touchdowns. These are not exactly great numbers for a lead back on a team built to run the football.
While a change in coordinators was expected to help Greene, there has been no sign of that this preseason thus far. Jones-Drew and Greene could complement each other as well as Jones and Greene did back in 2009, and would be a step in the right direction in returning the Jets to the top of the league in rushing, assuming the Right Tackle situation is properly addressed. Still, Wayne Hunter’s run blocking isn’t nearly as bad as his pass pro, and many times, a back as dynamic as Jones-Drew can help mask, or at least band-aid, a weak link on the line like Hunter, while providing help in the pass game, as he is certainly one of the better pass blocking backs in the NFL.
MJD is also very effective as a receiver out of the backfield, an element that was virtually non-existent in the Jets offense in 2011. Over the span of his six-year career, Jones-Drew has compiled 279 receptions for 2,473 yards and 10 touchdowns. When was the last time the Jets offense successfully ran a screen that ripped off a big chunk of yards? Or better yet, when was the last time they effectively completed a pass to a back in any type of route out of the backfield?
Although the Right Tackle situation is surely a top priority for the Jets, that does not mean they can’t make moves that would greatly improve their roster in the mean time. Jones-Drew is a unique talent that would add a very interesting dynamic to an offense that lacks in that area.
When imagining Jones-Drew in the Green and White, strictly considering football reasons, there is very little, if anything, to dispel such an addition. However, anyone associated with this league knows how much of a role the business aspect plays in every decision, and when considering this, there is great reason as to why this trade would not work.
The price tag – MJD would not come cheap. Jacksonville would likely seek multiple draft picks in exchange for Jones-Drew, possibly a 2nd and 5th, which was what Marshall Faulk was traded for back in 1999 when the premium on Running Backs was much higher, or even two 3rd rounders, which was what Brandon Marshall was traded to Chicago for earlier this offseason. While the picks required to obtain Jones-Drew would probably not scare Mike Tannenbaum away, the eventual price to pay him likely will.
Although Jones-Drew would likely report to the Jets, if traded, prior to receiving a new deal, the Jets would be in a very difficult position come March, when they are going to be required to finally give Darrelle Revis his long overdue massive pay day. So, following this season, the Jets would be in a difficult spot. Do you pay Revis and ship out Jones-Drew, essentially making him a costly one-year rental? It would be very hard to imagine a scenario where the Jets spit in the face of Revis and awarded MJD with a contract before their most prized possession, as it would likely cause an immense outrage amongst the fan base. Tannenbaum and the front office couldn’t possibly be so short sighted.
The Holdout Factor – Even if the Jets hypothetically swing a deal for the coveted veteran out of UCLA, his performance almost surely will not be near where it has been in the past due to his lengthy holdout. When observing the history of star players who have held out recently, they never seem to hit their stride until much later than normal. In 2010, Darrelle Revis missed time due to injury following his holdout. Similarly, Tennessee Running Back Chris Johnson ran for career lows in both yards–1047–and touchdowns—4—after ending his holdout late last summer. Even if Jones-Drew were to be traded right now and reported to camp by Friday, he would me miles behind, both physically and mentally. He would likely not hit his stride until midseason, which would still leave the Jets in the same predicament they are in through a vigorous first half of the year.
As unlikely as a move for Jones-Drew may be, Mike Tannenbaum is notorious for pulling surprise trades. Under his management, the Jets have acquired Kris Jenkins, Brett Favre, Braylon Edwards, Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, and Tim Tebow via trade, just to name a few. Like any trade, though, there are positives and negatives of bringing in MJD. If available, it could simply come down to how desperate the Jets become offensively, something that is still very difficult to gauge.
Where will the improvement on the New York Jets offense come from?
The New York Jets have hit rock bottom as an offensive unit. They can’t possibly play worse than they did against the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants. Their home pre-season game against Carolina needs to begin a road to improvement. Carolina has an average defense at best, so it will be good opportunity to build a little confidence and momentum heading into the regular season. The question is where will the improvement on this unit come from?
Trade Market – You never know what Mike Tannenbaum could come up with or what teams will be looking to move pieces as training camp comes to a close. From all indications the Jets aren’t in the market for a skill position addition but have to at least be exploring right tackle options. Teams around the league aren’t stupid. They know how desperate the Jets are for help at right tackle, so the question becomes is Mike Tannenbaum willing to overpay in compensation? From the way Hunter looked against the Giants, he has to be.
Free Agent Scrap Heap – Mike Tannenbaum has said the Jets will have “mini-draft” right around Labor Day after the last wave of roster cuts. That is all well and good but there is a reason teams cut players. The Jets will have to focus on teams with excessive depth in certain areas and hope to find something valuable. This is not where you want to be finding a starter for your offensive unit. However, there is no reason the Jets can’t find a competent blocking tight end prior to week one.
Getting Healthy – The biggest impact here will come at the wide receiver position. Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley will make a difference when they return and the Jets passing game production will improve. The Jets desperately need both players to be healthy and productive throughout the entire season. Holmes is the unit’s top playmaker and Kerley showed a high amount of potential in the slot in 2011.
Making Internal Decisions – If the Jets aren’t going to add another right tackle from outside the team, it is time to hand the job over to Austin Howard. He is probably only capable of starting on one team in the NFL but unfortunately that team is the Jets. Simply put, he cannot be worse than Wayne Hunter. At running back, the Jets need to decide if Joe McKnight or Bilal Powell will be the third down back and commit to it. McKnight’s upside is substantially higher and the Jets need speed desperately, so he is the logical choice.
Tebow Factor – One player who can make the Jets running game dynamic is Tim Tebow, particularly lined up at quarterback in certain situations. We still have no idea exactly how he will be deployed in the Jets offense but even if he can pick up 45-55 yards a game, it will make a huge difference in an offense desperate for yards.
Force The Issue – Tony Sparano needs to get the ball in his playmakers hands in the right situation. Get Santonio Holmes in space where he can run after the catch. Throw deep post and go routes to Stephen Hill. Send Dustin Keller down the seam and if they are taking it away, line him up at receiver and throw him a screen to keep him involved. Make McKnight the third down back and thrown him a few screens.
Sanchez – Protect the football and take more shots down the field. Sometimes you need to throw the deep ball just to throw it. Stephen Hill is 1 on 1 but covered well? Throw it anyway. He is 6 foot 4 for a reason. Santonio Holmes is 1 on 1 but covered well? Give him a chance to make a play, he was a Super Bowl MVP for a reason. Throw an interception on a 50 yard bomb on 3rd and 10, instead of on a 2 yard crossing pattern on 3rd and 10.
Mike Donnelly’s weekly Stock Watch previews the AFC East
Mike Donnelly is back with his weekly Stock Watch, today breaking down the AFC East. Make sure to give Mike a follow on Twitter and check out our new partner Night Out –
After watching the Jets this offseason, I’ve decided I can’t do an All-Jets stock watch this week. I’m still waiting for a response from Mike Tannenbaum after the letter I wrote to him the other day, so I’ll let everyone know when he gets back to me, and I’ll reserve more comment until that time. I’m sure it’s high on his list of things to do, somewhere between “find the next Victor Cruz”, and “get back those incriminating pictures Wayne Hunter has of me”, because things like “get competent NFL lineman” and “find tight end who can block” are clearly not priorities. Let’s just move on before I punch my laptop.
But don’t worry Jets fans, there is still some Jets content coming today because I’ve decided to kick off my NFL preview series with the AFC East, which is home of our mighty J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets. I’m going to be buying and selling records (the real Vegas lines), stats, prop bets (mostly made up ones by me), and whatever else I deem relevant. Here we go…
1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4), #1 seed
BUY: Over 11.5 wins – Sigh. I have the Pats down for 12 wins because of Tom Brady, another ridiculously easy schedule somehow, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and of course, Tom Brady. Looks like another division win for Cheating Bill and his prized unbelievably crappy defense. Ugh.
BUY: Tom Brady over 5,000 yards – I couldn’t find an actual prop for Brady’s yards this season, but I would be happy to bet that he breaks Drew Brees’s record from just last year. Can’t you just picture Tom going into Cheating BIll’s evil lair this offseason, mentioning what Brees did, then they both just nod at each other with the understanding this year they’ll blow that new record right out of the water? Well, I sure can.
SELL: Brandon Lloyd over 1,000 yards – I know a lot of people are extremely high on Lloyd this year as he’s following his coach/mentor/super best friend Josh McDaniels to their third team together, plus he gets to play with Tom Brady this time. Unfortunately, I think the Pats just have too many weapons and Lloyd won’t be dominating to the degree many are expecting. There’s some free fantasy advice for ya.
SELL: The Patriots Defense – So funny how the media bows to Belichick and raves about how his two rookie defenders will dominate from day 1, but Quinton Coples is a lazy bum and is the second coming of Vernon Gholston. I guess it’s Bill’s awesome track record of drafting superstar defenders lately like Jermaine Cunningham, Ron Brace, and Darius Butler that would lead everyone to believe that.
2. NEW YORK JETS (10-6), wild card
BUY: Over 8.5 wins – I know, I know. After watching the preseason so far and seeing the complete lack of depth or quality blockers on the team, it’s hard to like the Jets right now. But let’s face it, this defense is going to be AWESOME. Rex is going to unleash that defense three times against rookie QB’s (Luck once, Tannehill twice), Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Fitzpatrick twice, Jake Locker, Kevin Kolb, Brian Schottenheimer’s offense, Matt Flynn, and Alex Smith this year. 9 wins is a lock. In fact, as down as most of us are right now, I think this is a 10 or 11-win team that’s heading to the playoffs this year.
BUY: Shonn Greene over 1,200 yards – I know many, many fans don’t believe in Greene, but here’s why I expect big things from him: he’s in a contract season. Never underestimate the hunger of a player playing for money. He’s going to play every game, Sparano is going to feed him the ball, and he’s going to play very well.
SELL: 4.5 games started by Wayne Hunter – I really, truly believe Mike Tannenbaum is going to do something drastic to address the RT position soon, which will relegate Hunter to a bench player.
BUY: Mark Sanchez over 60% completions – I think Sanchez is going to take a big leap this year. The numbers may not quite be there overall in a running offense, but we will see a noticeable difference in his play.
OVER: Quinton Coples 4.5 sacks – Some fans won’t be happy unless Coples racks up 15 sacks, but if he gets over 5 this year that would be a very solid rookie year for a lineman who will be taking on two blockers a lot of the time this year.
SELL: Over 2.5 media members who will admit they were wrong about it – The funny thing about the offseason darling team everyone picks in July to go to the playoffs, is that nobody is willing to admit they were on that bandwagon when they lose their 11th game in December. I’ll be happy to call out all the “experts” as best I can when this happens in Buffalo this year.
BUY: CJ Spiller – I think Spiller is going to be a nice little sleeper in fantasy football this year. Fred Jackson is an old, injured man, and Spiller helps them out since they have just one receiving threat. He will get his touches.
SELL: Mario Williams over 10 sacks – Granted, he can easily approach this number in two games against Wayne Hunter (ok, more like 2 quarters), but I don’t see Mario getting to double digits. He wouldn’t be the first guy to mail it in after a huge contract, right Albert Haynesworth?
SELL: Ryan Fitzpatrick – Speaking of guys sucking after getting a big paycheck, how about that Ryan Fitzpatrick?! I see that second half slide from last season carrying into this year.
4. MIAMI DOLPHINS (5-11)
SELL: Over 7 wins – Sorry, I can’t think of a single reason why this number would be so high. Not one.
SELL: 36.5 games coached by Joe Philbin – I went over this in my Hard Knocks review, but man oh man, that Joe Philbin sure doesn’t inspire much confidence does he? I don’t think you’ll see too many Dolphins fans this year saying “Man, I’m really glad we hired Joe Philbin!”. Actually, I don’t think you’ll see too many Dolphins fans this year, period.
BUY: Reggie Bush – In fantasy football leagues where catches count, Reggie Bush is going to be a very popular man this year. Well, at least he will be for the 10 games he actually plays. The Fins will always be losing and playing catch-up, and mop up time is where Reggie Bush shines!
SELL: 0.5 Quality Receivers on the Team – I would have put this at under 0.5 even before Chad Johnson got cut. Davone Bess is still there, and he counts for about 0.4 of a quality receiver, but not quite the 0.51 to push this over the total.
The New York Jets defense needs to take advantage of their early season opponents
The New York Jets are going to struggle offensively this season. Even if they aren’t as bad as many project them to be after a pathetic start to the pre-season, this offense isn’t built to consistently score over 20 over points even with improved play. Beyond that, they probably won’t hit their “stride” (whatever that will be this year) until the middle of the season, after all the injured receivers get in sync with Mark Sanchez, everybody becomes more comfortable with Tony Sparano’s system and the proper use of Tim Tebow is figured out.
Unfortunately the Jets schedule opens up with their most difficult five game stretch of the season, where they will face three playoff teams from last year and two divisional opponents. If they want to avoid digging themselves into a substantial early season hole, it will be up to the defense to flat out put the team on their back and win a few early season games. A closer look at the schedule, reveals that if this defense is as good as hyped they should start out very strongly.
In week one they face the Buffalo Bulls led by a mediocre quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick at home. Over the past two years, Chan Gailey’s offense is averaging 14 points per game on Rex Ryan’s defense. Buffalo made no major additions to their offense this season, while the Jets added a new pair of starting safeties and a first round defensive lineman. 14 points could very well be all the Jets can afford to give up at the rate their new offense is developing.
At first glance, week two in Pittsburgh appears to be a nightmare early season match-up. However, the Jets defense should actually match-up favorably with their offense. Pittsburgh has questions all over the offensive line, so you would think Ryan and Mike Pettine’s complicated scheme would cause some problems. Pittsburgh’s strength is going vertical with their wide receivers but the Jets are built to cover Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. In their two meetings in 2010, both in Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger’s offense scored 17 points both times (remember one touchdown in the AFC Championship Game was on a fumble return by Pittsburgh’s defense).
The only way Pittsburgh actually hurt the Jets defense that year was with Rashard Mendenhall who had 220 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns over the course of both games. Mendenhall won’t be on the field in week 2 this year as he recovers from an leg injury.
In week three, the Jets face a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehil and a Miami offense that is the only one in the NFL with less depth at wide receiver than their own. In week four they play San Francisco at home. The thought of their defense coming after Mark Sanchez with Wayne Hunter blocking is a nightmare but offensively Alex Smith is Alex Smith and there is no reason to think he will duplicate his consistency from last year. San Francisco improved at receiver this off-season but the Jets are still more than equipped to cover Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham with their trio of cornerbacks.
Finally in week five the Jets face the Houston Texans at home. The Texans are built the way the Jets want to be. They can run the football. They can play defense and they have a vertical passing game. There is every indication that the Jets run defense will be very good this year and it better be on point in week five or Arian Foster and Ben Tate will shred them. Andre Johnson will be checked by Darrelle Revis, like he always is.
Rex Ryan believes the Jets have a top five defense in the NFL. They must be, particularly for the Jets in this early season stretch of games or the start to the season could be very ugly.
A list of things more productive than the New York Jets offense
To say the New York Jets offense has been bad this pre-season is an insult to the word bad. It actually might also be an insult to the word “offense” because whatever the hell they have been doing these past two weeks certainly isn’t NFL offensive football. The production has looked something like this –
– Starting quarterback Mark Sanchez’s longest completion – 12 yards
– Starting quarterback completions to projected top three wide receivers (Holmes, Hill, Kerley) – 0
What are a few things more productive than the New York Jets offense?
Isaiah Thomas as a NBA General Manager
Mike Francesa’s diet regimen
Every DMV in North Jersey
Bobby Valentine’s ability to bond with his players
Time Warner’s negotiations with the NFL Network
Chris Berman’s temper control in the 90s
It is very simple. The Jets offense isn’t going anywhere with a player like Wayne Hunter playing every snap. One offensive lineman can have that big of a trickle down, particularly when you are paper-thin at running back and wide receiver. Hunter’s struggles will prevent Mark Sanchez from ever being comfortable in the pocket and getting the ball down the field. The more Sanchez is battered, the more likely a quarterback controversy erupts. The more likely a quarterback controversy erupts, the more likely this season goes down in flames.
There is no glass half full perspective about the Jets offense until Hunter is replaced. I wrote it in March and I write it again now. You can talk me into the wide receiver situation improving with a healthy Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley coupled with a growing Stephen Hill. You can talk me into Shonn Greene being okay if he is supported by Tim Tebow breaking off a few runs every week. You can’t talk me into Hunter getting magically better, particularly when the Jets don’t have a blocking tight end on their roster to help support him when necessary.
Somebody please explain to me why Chad Clifton, Kareem McKenzie and Vernon Carey all weren’t flown in for workouts today?