New York Jets Rookie Camp – The Path To Playing Time

How can the 2012 New York Jets draft picks find themselves playing time this season?

The New York Jets eight draft picks and a large collection of undrafted free agents and tryout players will gather for a mini-camp this weekend. Focusing down on the eight draft picks, what will it take for each of them to receive playing time this season? Who will be their primary competition? Let’s take a closer look –

Quinton Coples – Regardless of whether Coples starts at defensive end or not, he is going to see substantial reps on the defensive line rotation particularly on third downs. In a way Marcus Dixon, Kenrick Ellis and Mike DeVito are competing for playing time with him but in reality Coples has a much different skill set than all three and will likely be used in many unique ways by Rex Ryan. Ideally, at a minimum Coples is a pass rushing specialist this year and then sees the rest of his game develop in the coming years.

Stephen Hill – Unless he bombs out in the pre-season, Hill will be the opening day starter at split end. He has too much speed and size to keep on the bench. Chaz Schilens and Patrick Turner will be competing to be his backup but shouldn’t see anywhere near the amount of playing time Hill does this season.

DeMario Davis – Outside of Aaron Maybin, Davis will be the fastest of the Jets linebackers. While I do not think we will see him in a starting role this season unless there is an injury, he should fill in for Bart Scott at inside linebacker in certain packages and could also line up at outside linebacker for Bryan Thomas to utilize his ability to cover the tight end. He will be competing with players like Josh Mauga, Nick Bellore and Garret McIntyre but considering his skill set and where the Jets drafted him, I’d look for Davis to both make the roster and be a regular contributor on defense.

Josh Bush – Bush’s skill set make him the most natural free safety on the Jets roster. Unless he is beat out by Tracy Wilson or DeAngelo Smith, he should immediately contribute in a handful of defensive packages and be the top backup to Eric Smith who is technically the team’s free safety even though he is miscast in that role.

Terrance Ganaway – He will be competing with Bilal Powell to be active on a weekly basis and then competing with Joe McKnight and Shonn Greene for playing time. His comfort of playing in an option offense makes him an immediate candidate to be a factor on offense when Tim Tebow is under center. Don’t be surprised if Ganaway ends up contributing a few hundred yards of offense this season.

Robert T. Griffin – As our breakdown later in the day will show, Griffin has a long, long way to go before becoming a contributor on a NFL team. This season he will compete with Caleb Schlauderaff and Austin Howard for a spot on the active roster. However, it is much more likely he will end up on the practice squad.

Antonio AllenMake sure you click the link to read Chris Gross’ full breakdown of Allen, who should end up being LaRon Landry’s backup this season, a contributor as a blitzer and play special teams. I’d be surprised to see a journeyman like Tracy Wilson or DeAngelo Smith beat him out.

Jordan WhiteMake sure you click the link to read Chris Gross’ full breakdown of White. He will compete with Patrick Turner and Eron Riley for a roster spot and projects to backing up Jeremy Kerley in the slot if he can make the roster.

New York Jets: One Step Faster…How About Three?

The New York Jets have made their primary goal this off-season to get faster…thank god

When talking with reporters yesterday, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan revealed the team motto for 2012 is “One Step Faster,” and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine conceded the Jets were a “dinosaur” last year when it came to matching the increased speed of the league. It is encouraging to hear the coaching staff admitting a problem that was disturbing to watch last season.

To say the 2011 New York Jets were slow is an understatement. Plodding? Sluggish? Decrepit? These are the type of words that come to mind when I think of Plaxico Burress trying to get separation between the 20 yard lines, Shonn Greene racking up 2 yards a carry, and Calvin Pace and Bart Scott needing a sun dial to time their rush to the quarterback. The Jets couldn’t make a big play against a 9 man defense last year and had circles run around them by the faster offenses in the league.

How will this problem be remedied? Replacing Burress with rookie Stepehen Hill is a nice start. Hill runs a 4.3 forty while I think Burress might have run a 5.3 forty last season. Yes, Hill needs to refine his route running but at a minimum he has speed and size that a defense must respect and should open up things underneath for Dustin Keller and Santonio Holmes. Beyond that, Jeremy Kerley will have a more prominent role this season and provides very good quickness and speed from the slot position. Chaz Schilens will be reduced to a reserve role after the selection of Hill but still can be utilized in certain situations. If you go 4 wide with Holmes, Hill, Kerley, and Schilens there is some serious speed on outside and in the slot.

At running back, Greene is who he is and that is not a big play back. However, better usage of Joe McKnight will bring needed speed to the running back position. Hopefully Tony Sparano uses McKnight in some of the ways he used Reggie Bush last year and can get him out in space. Tim Tebow isn’t a burner but obviously brings a potential big play element running the football from the quarterback position in the Jets Wildcat.

On defense, draft picks Quinton Coples and DeMario Davis add immediate speed to the front seven, while the rest of the unit was asked to drop weight. Ideally, their additions to the line-up will help free up Aaron Maybin, the team’s top speed rusher and Muhammad Wilkerson, last year’s first round pick. Calvin Pace may actually even be able to crack 5 sacks this year.

In the back end, the Jets did add Josh Bush and Antonio Allen through the draft and signed LaRon Landry. None of these guys are true burners but they should be able to help in the coverage of tight ends. Allen and Landry have the skill set to be physical off the line with them and Bush is a natural free safety that can line up in the centerfield spot. It should also be noted that one of the reasons the Jets drafted the previous mentioned Davis at linebacker was because of his speed and ability to match up with tight ends.

Are the Jets going to be the greatest show on turf? No. But hopefully they can start making plays over 20 yards with some type of consistency and won’t be sluggish chasing after players like Darren McFadden, Rob Gronkowski, and Tim Tebow (well, we don’t have to worry about that anymore).

New York Jets Need To Put Finishing Touches On Roster

The New York Jets should consider making the following moves to solidify their roster

After reviewing the New York Jets post-draft depth chart, it becomes clear the team should consider making moves to solidify their roster. Nothing major is coming at this point as the team is clearly banking on substantial improvement from within by making better use of their resources, most notably on offense with Tony Spranao taking over for Brian Schottenheimer. However, that doesn’t mean a few tweaks can’t go a long way to helping insure the Jets are competing for a playoff spot this season.

You can argue about right tackle until your lungs are sore. At the moment it appears the plan is for Wayne Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse to compete for the position. You can allow that to occur while still protecting yourself to some degree. Keep in mind the Jets let Robert Turner walk in free agency and have very questionable depth behind their starters. Mike Tannenbaum can praise Caleb Schlauderaff all he wants, he has still never played a meaningful NFL snap. Right now he and the loser of the right tackle battle project the team’s top two backups. There is no logical reason to not bring a low cost veteran for insurance purposes. Vernon Carey makes too much sense to ignore since he is experienced at tackle and guard and has played in Tony Spranao’s offense.

Why not get him in sooner rather than later? Why wait until the offensive line shows signs of struggling in the pre-season? If not Carey, at least get another veteran who has seen some type of NFL action on the roster. You are currently one injury away from starting both Wayne Hunter and Caleb Schlauderaff, did we learn nothing last year?

Beyond that on offense, the Jets would be wise to add a blocking tight end. Simply put they don’t have one on their roster. Billy Bajema, Justin Peelle, and Jeff Dugan are all examples of players the Jets could sign to the veteran’s minimum and would help on a run heavy offense.

I don’t see them adding to wide receiver or running back at this point. A player like Braylon Edwards would only slow down Stephen Hill’s development. You traded up to get him, so put him out there. If healthy, Chaz Schilens will provide adequate depth. Edwards is more likely to go somewhere that he has a clearer chance to start, maybe St. Louis with Brian Schottenheimer now running their offense. At running back, there aren’t many impact players left out there. I’d rather see the team give Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell and Terrance Ganaway a real chance to become impact players instead of putting another veteran in the mix.

On defense, the Jets would be wise to add Yeremiah Bell and Chris Johnson, both who visited with the team last week. Many fans get sentimental about bringing Jim Leonhard back and while we respect what Jim did for the Jets the past few years, let’s be realistic here. Bell is bigger, more athletic and more durable than Leonhard. At this point, Eric Smith knows Rex Ryan’s defense well enough to mentor the younger safeties and if you are looking for a leader in the secondary, Darrelle Revis better be able to fill that role by now.

Johnson is a more reliable 4th corner than Ellis Lankster or Isaiah Trufant would be and would be another low cost addition. He would also be a solid special teams contributor.

You can never underestimate the importance of depth on a NFL roster and the Jets could go a long way to solidifying theirs by making a few minor moves.

NFL Draft: Jets Could Target Cornerback In The Later Rounds

Chris Gross looks at what cornerbacks the New York Jets could target in the middle and later rounds of the NFL Draft

With the departure of Donald Strickland and Marquice Cole, the New York Jets have a need to find more depth at the cornerback position. Here are some names to keep an eye on that Gang Green could target in the middle rounds.

1 – Trumaine Johnson, Montana – Of the bunch, Johnson is the least likely to be available past the second round. However his lack of elite top end speed, combined with the fact that he did not play his college football at the highest level of competition could cause him to fall into the early third. Johnson is a very big (6’2” 204 lbs) corner who has reportedly been in for a visit with the Jets. What could make Johnson so appealing to New York would be his ability to play both corner and safety. At 6’2” he certainly has the size to make the transition if necessary, while displaying impressive strength at the combine with 19 reps on the bench press. Johnson would give the Jets their fourth corner, while providing depth at the safety position, something that may be appealing enough for New York to spend their second rounder on him, depending on how everything plays out in front of them. On film, Johnson shows very good ball skills, with above average route recognition. He also played a big role in Montana’s return game, so there are a number of spots he could be utilized at.

2 – Brandon Boykin, Georgia – Boykin had a very impressive career at Georgia with 9 interceptions, 17 passes defended, and 143 tackles in his 4 seasons as a Bulldog. He proved to be very promising during his week of practice leading up to the Senior Bowl, however a leg injury in that game has caused his draft stock to plummet. He was unable to participate in drills at the combine, and his lack of testing numbers, combined with concerns over how healthy his leg will be at the start of the season are causing Boykin to fall down draft boards. However, he could end up being a steal in the third round or later. He shows great range on film, and has proved to be a very versatile weapon, having seen time on both special teams and offense at Georgia.

3 – Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech – Hosley posted an above average 40 time (4.47), and decent numbers at Virginia Tech last season (59 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 Forced Fumbles). Although these numbers certainly aren’t head turners, they may be a result of his very impressive 2010 campaign. As a sophomore, Hosley had an impressive 9 interceptions and 7 passes defended, so quarterbacks most likely tried to stay away from him the majority of the time last season. At 5’10” 178 lbs, he has decent size and could be a nice fit as the Jets fourth CB, where he could develop tremendously under the tutelage of Darrelle Revis.

4 – Ron Brooks, LSU – Of the five players discussed here, Brooks is easily the most athletic. At 5’10” 190 lbs, he showed tremendous speed at the combine for his weight, running a 4.37 40 yard dash. Brooks had 2 interceptions at LSU last year, both of which were returned for touchdowns. Having played his entire career in the SEC, he has faced some of the best athletes in college football during his 4 years as a Tiger. Although his statistics aren’t mind blowing, Brooks’ elite speed combined with his decent size fit well with his impressive ball skills, giving him the potential to be a quality-starting corner down the road. With the Jets, he has the potential to play as the fourth cornerback right away, while contributing on special teams.

5 – Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina – Norman is an extremely impressive player who has had a very good career at Coastal Carolina (196 Tackles, 35 Passes Defended and 13 Interceptions). He is another big corner (6’0″ 197 lbs) with very impressive stats from a smaller school. He does not possess the elite speed (4.66 40), but like Johnson, his size gives him the versatility to line up at multiple positions in the secondary. He will likely have to improve his speed to be a starter in the future, but he could develop into a solid role player immediately. On film, Norman has arguably the most impressive ball skills out of the five players discussed here. He has remarkable closing speed, showed an excellent ability to locate and make a play on the ball, and displayed tremendous range. Norman also has 4 career blocked kicks, so he could be a special teams contributor right away as well.

New York Jets: The Case For Trading Up For Trent Richardson

TOJ make the case for the New York Jets to trade up for running back Trent Richardson

Let me start off this article by saying I believe the New York Jets will end up with Melvin Ingram in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday and that I support the move, even if it involves trading up a handful of spots. However, stranger things have happened and I do think the Jets will be watching the top six picks very closely with an eye to potentially make a blockbuster move to acquire running back Trent Richardson.

There is increasing chatter that the St. Louis Rams are looking hard at moving up to #3 to take Richardson and that if they don’t Cleveland will take him with the 4th pick. At this point it would be a shock if Richardson slides out of the top five, meaning that if the Jets want him, it is going to cost them.

Basically you are looking at swapping your first round pick, giving up a third rounder this year and your first rounder next year to get into the necessary position to take Richardson, the consensus third best player in this draft and without question the best running back available. Is it worth it?

The initial reaction by nearly everybody I have discussed this with is no. The Jets have glaring needs at safety, linebacker, right tackle and wide receiver that need to be addressed. You are giving up a valuable middle round pick this year and an important building block next year with your first round pick to acquire one player.

Yet, let’s think this through a little further. The Jets attempt to portray themselves as a “Ground and Pound” team. The problem is that they don’t have an elite running back. With Richardson, you are arguably getting the safest bet in this draft. A player who can step in immediately, play on all three downs and give you 20 carries a game. You want a 1,500+ yard back to spearhead your offense and make defenses fear your running game to help protect Mark Sanchez, now you have him. Beyond that, could you imagine attempting to defend Tim Tebow and Trent Richardson in the same backfield in short yardage situations? Good luck.

There is a trickle down effect to drafting Richardson. Shonn Greene now rolls down into the supporting back role he thrived at earlier in his career. He can give you 10-12 carries a game against defenses worn down by Richardson and finally begin popping some of the big runs he did earlier in his career when he was behind Thomas Jones on the depth chart. Joe McKnight can focus on becoming one of the league’s elite return men and be used on a specific package of plays that utilize his speed.

The Jets shortcomings on the offensive line will be minimized to an extent. Richardson is a good enough prospect to compensate for the occasional breakdowns in run blocking because he can make people miss. There will also be fewer pass attempts on offense with Richardson, Greene, McKnight and Tebow all there as rushing options. Beyond that, when you do throw, the play action will hold defenses more with a big time threat at running back in Richardson. Let’s face it, defense aren’t that scared of a potential handoff to Shonn Greene.

What about the rest of the holes? When you take Richardson, you are making that much more of a commitment to the running game, lowering the importance of the #2 wide receiver spot. Sign Braylon Edwards to the veteran’s minimum and spend one of your many compensatory picks on a prospect to develop behind him. Use your second round pick on a safety and sign Yeremiah Bell for depth. Linebacker? That is a tough one but maybe you give up Dustin Keller to acquire a middle round pick to draft one. Or you hope Bryan Thomas, Calvin Pace, and Aaron Maybin can hold the fort for a year. Your defense will be better as a byproduct of a dominant running game.

There are inevitable issues with trading for Richardson but a minimum you should have one of the league’s best running games, that in turn will make your quarterback, who thrives off play action, that much better. Even if the Jets make zero additions to their current defense, they will be decent on that side of the ball. They could pair that defense with an offense that actually strikes some fear into their opponents by adding a blue chip player like Richardson.

New York Jets Considering Needed Veteran Additions In Secondary

The New York Jets are wisely exploring making veteran additions to their secondary

The New York Jets are having both veteran free agent safety Yeremiah Bell and cornerback Chris Johnson in for visits today. While it is doubtful either will be signed before the draft, it is a smart move to prepare contingency plans depending on what happens this weekend.

We have already discussed the reality that the Jets need more than one player added to their safety depth chart. While he isn’t the Pro Bowl player he was a few years back, Bell is a productive, reliable player who would provide needed insurance for LaRon Landry at strong safety. Beyond that, he has more size and athleticism than Jim Leonhard at free safety, if the Jets end up starting a veteran at that position. Bell is familiar with the Jets through offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. He would be a low cost addition that would provide much needed piece of mind to a depth chart at safety that is currently paper thin and one injury away from being a complete disaster.

Chris Johnson saw his role decline greatly in Oakland last year but he has starting experience and would fill the hole the Jets currently have at their fourth cornerback spot. Donald Strickland isn’t coming back and was average at best last year. Marquice Cole has left for New England. Johnson would have a small role on the Jets defense in their dime package, provide depth if one of the top three corners got hurt and be a quality special teams player. He should be a nice upgrade over what Strickland gave them last year.

Unless the Jets leave the draft with two safeties they feel very good about, look for Bell to be signed in the coming weeks. Similarly, unless they add a corner in the middle rounds, I would look for Johnson to be signed sooner rather than later in the days after the draft. Both players would be needed veteran additions at positions that could used improved depth. Don’t be surprised to see the same approach taken at wide receiver. If the Jets don’t add a player in the first three rounds, they will likely add Braylon Edwards at some point in May if his knee checks out.

New York Jets 2012 Schedule

The New York Jets 2012 schedule

Here is the New York Jets 2012 Schedule

Week 1: Vs. Buffalo, 1 PM

Week 2: At Pittsburgh, 4:15 PM

Week 3: At Miami, 1 PM

Week 4: Vs San Francisco, 1 PM

Week 5: Vs Houston, 8:30 PM (Monday Night)

Week 6: Vs Colts, 1 PM

Week 7: At Pats, 4:15 PM

Week 8: Vs Miami, 1 PM

Week 9: Bye

Week 10: At Seattle, 4:05 PM

Week 11: At St. Louis, 1 PM

Week 12: Vs. New England, 8:20 PM (Thanksgiving Night)

Week 13: Vs. Arizona, 1 PM

Week 14: At Jacksonville, 1 PM

Week 15: At Tennessee, 8:30 PM (Monday Night)

Week 16: Vs San Diego, 8:20 PM (Sunday Night * Could Be Flexed)

Week 17: At Buffalo, 1 PM

Bring on the Bills

Analysis coming shortly…

New York Jets: Expanding Tebow Past Quarterback Is Smart Move

The New York Jets plan to use Tim Tebow as more than a quarterback is a wise decision

The early talk out of the New York Jets first voluntary workouts yesterday is that Tim Tebow will not just be used as a backup quarterback but will also line up at H-Back, fullback, running back and the personal protector on the punt team. This is a smart decision that will allow the Jets to both maximize Tebow’s skill set and add another dimension to their offense and special teams.

If Tebow is going to be on the field 20-25 snaps a game as Rex Ryan indicated. You don’t want him throwing the football on anywhere a high percentage of them. You also want him disrupting Mark Sanchez’s rhythm as little as possible. Tebow lined up as H-Back or running back provides the threat of a trick play or given his size and running skill set, the opportunity to simply hand the football off or throw a screen pass to a strong runner.

You are maximizing your investment on Tebow if he is your number two quarterback, Wildcat quarterback, number three running back and backup H-Back, along with him contributing on special teams.

The potential for Tebow on Mike Westhoff’s punt and kick units is exciting. When lined up as a personal protector, there is a constant threat for a fake. If he is the team’s holder, the same threat is there. If you line up to punt on 4th and 3 from the 50 yard line, you can have Tebow take a shotgun snap and hopefully barrel through a lane for the first down or pull up and deliver a short pass to one of the ends.

Ideally, Tebow’s presence will push Sanchez to performing more consistently and the Jets will use Tebow in enough ways to fill up the stat sheet. How about 20 snaps that have Tebow finishing with 5 carries for 25 yards, with 3 of those carries converting first downs, 2/2 passing for 15 yards, 1 reception for 10 yards, and a special teams tackle along with serving as a valuable decoy on the rest of plays?

It could happen if the Jets are smart about his usage.

When Quarterback Rankings Go Wrong: Jason Smith Of NFL.com

A recent ranking of NFL quarterbacks by Jason Smith of NFL.com has TOJ scratching his head

Jason Smith is a fantasy football writer for NFL.com. However, he recently ranked the top 32 quarterbacks in the league not based on their fantasy projections but just on where each quarterback in the NFL currently ranks heading into 2012 overall as a player. The list was a head scratcher to say the least, particularly with his classification of Mark Sanchez who continues to receive zero respect from any mainstream media analysts.

Sanchez is number 23 on this list. Behind Andrew Luck, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford, Carson Palmer, Robert Griffin III, and Jake Locker. Let’s ignore the fact that Sanchez has more playoff wins (4) than all of these players combined (0) and then just compare stats.

In 2011, Sanchez threw for 3,747 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions with a 56.7 completion percentage. He also ran for 6 touchdowns, en route to leading his team to 8 wins. One other note, Sanchez has missed 1 start in 3 years of being a NFL starter.

Sam Bradford missed 6 starts last season. When he was on the field, he threw 6 touchdowns, 6 interceptions and had a 53.7 completion percentage. After a strong rookie year, he regressed. Sanchez has improved every single year since coming into the league.

Josh Freeman did have a higher completion percentage than Sanchez last year, at 62.8. He also threw for less yards at 3,592 and threw 22 interceptions to 16 touchdowns on a team that won 4 games. He regressed substantially in his third year, while Sanchez…at least statistically, did not.

Carson Palmer went 4-6 as a starter last year for Oakland, while throwing 13 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. He was also outplayed by Sanchez head to head in a playoff game in 2009, when the Jets beat Cincinnati in their building.

As a rookie, Jack Locker played meaningful snaps in three games. All three were losses. He threw a total of 66 passes last year. In Sanchez’s rookie year he won two road playoff games and started 15 regular season games.

Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck haven’t played a NFL snap yet. They could be Akili Smith and Ryan Leaf for all we know.

Other crazy parts of this list include Matt Ryan being listed ahead of Jay Cutler and Tony Romo. Ryan Fitzpatrick being ranked higher than Alex Smith and Tim Tebow not being included while Colt McCoy and Chad Henne are.

Can New York Jets Running Game Be Dominant?

Can the New York Jets return to having a dominant running game in 2012?

The New York Jets were 22nd in the NFL last season when it came to running the football, finishing with 105.8 yards per game. In 2009, Rex Ryan’s first year, they finished first in the league at 172.2 yards per game and in 2010 they dropped to fourth at 148.4 yards per game. Obviously, they are trending the wrong way and last year clearly failed to keep the “Ground” in “Ground and Pound.”

What is it going to take for the Jets running game to return to its once dominant form?

First off, the hiring of Tony Sparano to replace Brian Schottenheimer would seem to be a step in the right direction. Schottenheimer became increasingly pass happy in the previous two years, while the general impression of Sparano is that he is content to operate a run heavy offense. We know that Mark Sanchez performs at a higher level when the running game is humming and he could work off play action. Beyond that, a successful running game will help mask some of the inevitable problems the Jets will have protecting Sanchez with somebody like Wayne Hunter or Vlad Ducasse at right tackle.

Second, the Jets current group of running backs has so far proven to be nothing special. Shonn Greene has looked like a back who needs a strong compliment and isn’t capable of creating big plays. Joe McKnight has never really been given the chance to use his abilities on offense and Bilal Powell looked very average when given opportunities last season. The Jets are going to need Greene to run with the explosiveness he did during his rookie year and for McKnight to provide the compliment he needs. We saw Reggie Bush flourish in Miami last year, McKnight has a similar skill set and should be able to use his speed to create plays on the edges.

The real x-factor this season with the running game is Tim Tebow. I was not in favor of the trade for a variety of reasons, but at a minimum Tebow should provide a much needed shot in the arm to the Jets rushing attack. His ability to run the ball himself will provide another compliment to Greene and will open up lanes for both Greene and McKnight when the Jets are using the Wildcat or option.

Tebow rushed for 660 yards last season at 5.4 yards per carry. If the Jets had added a running back who did that last season, you’d be excited about them finding a needed 1B back to Greene right? There is no reason the Jets shouldn’t punish teams in short yardage situations with Tebow, Greene and fullback John Conner. Tebow’s threat to keep the ball will also create big creases on the edge for McKnight to take advantage of his speed on option pitches or sweeps.

The Jets haven’t done much this offseason to improved their passing game, pass rush or ability to cover the tight end yet by bringing in Sparano and Tebow, they have taken strides to move back towards having a dominant running game. A dominant running game has the ability to mask many other problems.