Turn On The Jets 12 Pack: What About The Damn Offense?

Friday’s Turn On The Jets 12 pack focuses on the New York Jets offense, how can they improve in 2012?

We have spent a big chunk of the week here focusing on the New York Jets defense, and why not?  They have the potential to be one of the league’s best units. However, it is the other side of the football that needs to see a dramatic improvement from last season. Today’s 12 pack is going to take a closer look at multiple aspects of the Jets offense in 2012. 

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I can also now confirm that we have finalized a purchase with Bark Tees New York to bring you an original Jets TOJ t-shirt that we will have for sale on the site in 2 weeks. They did a great job for us…the shirt has boundless amounts of swag and will be a must wear for you this summer. The best part is that I’m overloaded with other Jets merchandise to hand out for free on select days with a purchase of a t-shirt. Signed hats, DVDs, books, pictures and plenty more. So basically I’m going to be hooking you up all summer cause I love every last reader of this site. 

And finally we are going to be welcoming back our good friend from The Jet Report TJ Rosenthal for a weekly article every Monday. So next week, when we publish TJ’s column on Monday, Mike’s Stock Watch on Tuesday, Beat Writer Rankings on Wednesday, Chris’ Fact or False on Thursday and the 12 pack on Friday, who will be rolling with 4 better Jets writers anywhere?

Nobody.

On to the 12 pack…

1. Wayne’s World – The Jets don’t need Wayne Hunter to be an All-Pro. They need him to be competent. They need him to resemble the Wayne Hunter from the end of the 2010 season. If Tony Sparano is smart, he will avoid leaving Hunter on an island in obvious passing situations and roll Sanchez to his left the majority of the time. If Hunter is given the necessary help and this offensive system suits him better, he is salvageable as a starter. He needs to be because Vladimir Ducasse has spent the entire off-season working at left guard and Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis can’t be relied on.

2. Speaking Of Guard – As Mike Donnelly pointed out last week, why is Vlad Ducasse still working as the starting left guard when Matt Slauson claims to be 100 percent healthy? Personally, I think the Jets just wanted to get Vlad as much work as possible and felt no need to rush Slauson back into his old spot. If Brandon Moore ever gets hurt, it isn’t the worst thing in the world to have Slauson get experience at right guard while Ducasse would move left guard. I don’t think Slauson is any danger of losing his position and I don’t think Ducasse has any real chance of starting this season. The Jets are going to look to him as a swing backup off the bench at guard/tackle and an extra tight end for big packages. At this point, if Ducasse can handle that role I’d be satisfied, which is a damn shame for a 2nd round pick.

3. A Signing On The Way – The Jets need Ben Hartsock or a player who resembles him. They missed him badly last season when they made a mistake letting him walk and handing the backup tight end position over to Matthew Mulligan. It is unusual that a team who is going to be so run heavy still lacks a blocking tight end. Jeff Cumberland is a nice receiving option, particularly in the red-zone but he is a basically a taller/slower Dustin Keller. Hayden Smith isn’t going to be ready this season. Do not be surprised to see the Jets consider a player like Daniel Graham who could give them 12-15 plays a game of solid blocking.

4. War Machine – There seems to be a genuine split amongst Jets fans on whether or not Shonn Greene can handle being the “Bell-Cow” back Rex Ryan talks him up as. Greene’s ceiling feels like 275 carries, 1100 yards and 7 touchdowns with a few receptions thrown in. That is okay if the Jets get needed support from Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell, Terrance Ganaway and Tim Tebow. If McKnight is used the proper way and can stay healthy, he has the skill set to be a very good third down back. Tebow will be a major factor in short yardage and near the goal-line, which doesn’t leave much work for Powell (who I could see being cut) or Ganaway. Most disagree but I say protect yourself by signing Cedric Benson or Ryan Grant. If Greene goes down for 4 weeks, do you trust a McKnight/Powell/Ganaway platoon to carry the “Ground and Pound” load?

5. Wide Receiver Rotation – It will be interesting to see how reps and targets shake out. Early reports indicate that Dustin Keller is going to be the featured player in the passing game, maybe even more so than Santonio Holmes. Regardless, I think Holmes will be good for a solid bounce-back season. He won’t put up Pro-Bowl numbers in this offense but the key is making big plays, particularly after the catch and remaining clutch as usual. Opposite him, Stephen Hill will be the de facto starter but if he struggles to stay healthy in camp don’t be surprised to see Chaz Schilens getting a good chunk of reps on the outside. There is no shame in bringing Hill along slowly if Schilens is productive. Both players have the size and speed to stretch the defense and take attention away from Holmes. In the slot, Jeremy Kerley should perform the Davone Bess role from Sparano’s days in Miami and be a major factor on third downs.

6. Really? – Ron Jaworski made a fairly on-point analysis of Mark Sanchez when going through his QB rankings but putting him 23rd in the league? How could you watch film of Sanchez, Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel last year and put Sanchez behind the three of them? Sanchez fits somewhere in the 16-20 range right now. Who would I rate ahead of him right now? Brady. Brees. P. Manning. E. Manning. Rodgers. Big Ben. Rivers. Romo. Vick. Stafford. Newton. Hasselbeck. Schaub. Ryan. Cutler are my top 15 (in no particular order). After that you are looking at a next group of Dalton, Palmer, Flacco, Sanchez and Alex Smith in some type of order. Don’t put Freeman in front of him. Don’t put Bradford in front of him. No Kevin Kolb. No rookies who haven’t played yet. No Jake Locker. No Cassel. Nobody on Jacksonville. Nobody on Seattle. Certainly no Ryan Fitzpatrick or anybody or Miami.

7. Really, Really? – Tim Tebow made the NFL’s Top 100 list and Nick Mangold didn’t? Mangold is the best center in the NFL and probably one of the 30 best players in the league. Tebow? Probably the 30th best quarterback in the league.

8. An Early Shot – After a whole summer of talk about the running game. Can’t you see the Jets going play action, deep post to Holmes on the first play from scrimmage this season against Buffalo?

9. Big Plays – Where will they come from this season? Holmes makes big plays after the catch, so he needs the ball in space. Stephen Hill should be targeted on a couple of “go” routes per game. Joe McKnight is dangerous in the screen game and maybe Jeremy Kerley can rip off a big play on a reverse or on a quick screen. Obviously, Tebow is a factor here if he can break the pocket or springs a quarterback draw.

10. Roster Prediction For Offensive Players – Sanchez. Tebow. McElroy. Greene. Conner. McKnight. Ganaway. Powell. Keller. Cumberland. Unsigned blocking tight end. Holmes. Hill. Kerley. Schilens. Turner. Mangold. Moore. Slauson. Hunter. Ferguson. Ducasse. Schlauderaff. Hoyer. (24 total)

11. 5 Game Exaggeration – The chatter about Sanchez struggling out of the gate because of the Jets schedule, leading to Tebow replacing him are over exaggerated. In week 1, the Jets play Buffalo who Sanchez is 5-1 against in his career. Last year in their two meeting his quarterback rating was 92.9 and 90.2, respectively. In week 2, they travel to Pittsburgh where Sanchez played two very good games in 2010, including one in the AFC Championship Game. Week 3 they are at Miami, who Sanchez has played well against in 4 of his 6 career games against them, including 3 games with a QB Rating over 95. Week 4 is against San Francisco which will be a challenge but at least the Jets are home and week 5 is against Houston at home. Sanchez is 2-0 against the Texans.

12. Won’t Be Elite, Don’t Need To Be – The Jets offense won’t be elite this year. Yet, with the defense they should have. If they can protect the football, run the ball consistently and hit the big play on a weekly basis, it will be good enough for the Jets to be a playoff caliber team.

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TOJ New York Jets Beat Writer Power Rankings – June 20th

Turn On The Jets weekly ranking of the New York Jets beat writers

Welcome back to Turn On The Jets weekly ranking of the beat writers who cover the the team. The votes are tallied amongst myself, Mike Donnelly and Chris Gross with explanations written by the three of us below. For next week’s edition, we are going to be asking for your votes on Twitter, Facebook and here on the site, so make sure to follow us. On to the rankings…

1. Jenny Vrentas, The Star Ledger – Vrentas continued to dominate the rankings once again this past week. She ran several nice articles including Q&A segments with Quinton Coples and Dustin Keller, as well as solid piece on the retirement of LaDanian Tomlinson. However, where Vrentas truly shined this week was in her Sunday article on the passing aspect of the Jets new offensive scheme under the recently hired Tony Sparano. Not only was this piece extremely original, as it was certainly the first to give an in-depth examination of exactly what this part of the offense will look like this season, but it was extraordinarily insightful as well.

Vrentas explained how this offense is designed in every facet from route adjustments to the vocabulary. She explained how this system, unlike the previous one orchestrated by Brian Schottenheimer, gives the players much more freedom and flexibility to take advantage of looks given to them by opposing defenses. Vrentas revealed that this freedom comes with a bit more responsibility, as receivers and quarterbacks are required to know the blocking protection, as it affects the passing routes in terms of both timing and design. Jenny also emphasized on the preparation required by players and coaches alike to adjust to this new system, most notably Mark Sanchez going as far as making flash cards to learn the ins and outs of the offense.

This was somewhat of a ground breaking article by Vrentas. With so much emphasis on the Jets return to Ground and Pound this season, there was not been much focus on how the passing game will look, until now. Vrentas continues to put out relevant, original material. She remains the best at what she does, and until someone passes her in terms of content, creativity, and relevancy, she will remain on her first place pedestal here. – Chris Gross 

2. Manish Mehta, The Daily News – I know what it looks like: I accepted Manish’s bribe last week at Jets Mini-Camp to move him up a spot, but trust me, that is not the case (although I happily would if any of the other beat righters are interested. Just saying..). We moved Manish up this week for a few other reasons. But before I get to that let me just say that before old fart Gary Myers sauntered on over with his bad 1987 clothing ensemble and even worse jokes last Thursday to disrupt my Jets chat with Mr. Mehta in a failed attempt to big-time him (Chronicled here on Deadspin.com, and also by me last week), he did address two of the main things that people have been complaining about when it comes to his Twitter page: Sulia and Tebow love.

In regard to Tebow, he simply said, “He’s popular, what can I do? Gotta write about him.” Fair point, even if many of us think it goes a little too far. When I brought up Sulia, it looked like he wanted to just tell me to F-off, but he restrained himself and simply said “Come on man, what do you want from me?” I want you to stop tweeting links to crappy Sulia. That’s what we wall want. In fact, from now on when I want to curse on the internet, I may just simply say Sulia instead. Sulia you, people who tweet links to that site! But alas, I think Sulia is here to stay sadly, and that’s probably the main thing keeping Manish from the top spot.

But even Sulia wasn’t enough to keep the determined Manish down this week, as he did lots of great stuff. Notably, he spent a solid 20 minutes or so on the inaugural radio show of the Flight Five Live on Friday and it was an excellent spot where he addressed many Jets topics, showing how knowledgable and great at his job he can be. (Speaking of being great at the job, check out that picture of him putting in work on the field!) He even promoted the show on his Twitter account, which was also darn decent of him. Beyond that, he wasn’t kidding when he told me he was working on a big article on the defense. Less than 24 hours later, a very nice piece on the Jets defense was put out  in which we learned about Mike Pettine’s plans for the defense and using the “Best 11”. We also picked up this nugget on Manish’s Twitter page: Pettine telling him that they may not play any 3-4 base defense at all vs. division opponents. So yes, it was a big week from Manish Mehta this week, and if he ups his bribe offer before the next rankings, the #1 spot is his–err, I mean, if he keeps up the great work! You got this, Manish! – Mike Donnelly

3. Brian Costello, New York Post – While we don’t want to beat our own chest here at TOJ, there has been a noticeable and enjoyable improvement in Costello’s work since we are started these rankings. His Jets Blog is becoming more of a must read and he did a good job transcribing Ron Jaworski’s quotes on Mark Sanchez this past week. Costello also broke the news that the Jets would not be bringing Braylon Edwards back this season. Finally, his Twitter game has been on point. He does a good job of asking fans what they are looking for at practice and pulling observations about how certain players are being used around the formation on offense and defense. Of course, he receives a major bonus for a lack of Sulia links as well. Keep up the great work Coz! – Joe Caporoso 

4. Rich Cimini, ESPN New York – It has been quite the rough week for Cimini after opening up with two consecutive weeks at the number two spot. Although his “Take 5” on the areas of concern for the Jets was on point, his Sunday notes along with his piece on the retirement of LaDanian Tomlinson have caused the ESPN New York columnist to drop two spots this week. Cimini’s first point of his Sunday notes addressed the issue of Dustin Keller’s contract situation. Rich offered the idea that the Jets would be smart to wait on giving Keller an extension until they see how he plays in the new offensive scheme under Tony Sparano, which places a greater emphasis on the blocking ability of the Tight End. This is an excellent point considering the fact that Keller has never been a strong blocker, leaving a fair amount of question marks about how he will fare in this new system. The problem with this assessment by Cimini is that he was nearly a week late to the party on this issue. Rich’s article was published on Sunday, June 17th. Five days earlier, I addressed the issue right here on TOJ with the exact line of thinking used by Cimini in his notes. Is the former Daily News beat writer a frequent visitor of Turn On The Jets? Who knows? Either way, Cimini analyzed this issue after it had already been deemed old news.

Other than sleeping on the Keller situation for five days, Cimini also made an interesting argument in his piece on Tomlinson’s retirement. First, Rich criticized LT for his post-season comments on the Jets locker room turmoil. He claimed Tomlinson made his negative statements about the organization on Showtime’s “Inside The NFL” as a publicity stunt to pave his way into the world of broadcasting. However, when, at any point during his career, did Tomlinson display any sign of self-promoting, especially with a controversial issue like this? LT was simply asked a question, and answered it honestly. It was the mainstream media that blew the entire situation out of proportion, not Tomlinson, who has been a class act since entering the league in 2001.

Furthermore, in the same piece on LT, Cimini made a claim that Tomlinson’s 2010 season was so impressive that it made Jets fans forget about Thomas Jones. However, when reviewing Jones’ final two seasons with the Jets in comparison to LT’s only two seasons, it is clear that Jones not only had a greater impact on New York’s rushing attack, but posted career numbers in nearly every statistical category as well.

Prior to leaving the Jets after the 2009 season, Jones rushed for a career high 1,402 yards along with, another career high, 14 touchdowns. In 2008, he rushed for 1,312 yards with, a then career high, 13 touchdowns. Tomlinson, on the other hand, rushed for only 1,194 yards and 7 touchdowns is his two seasons with Gang Green, combined. While LT will certainly be remembered as one of the greatest backs of all time, his success in New York was not nearly as high as that of Thomas Jones. So, while Jets Nation is certainly appreciative of what LT brought to the team during his brief stint, Thomas Jones remains, by and large, the best running back to carry the load for New York since the retirement of Curtis Martin. No one has forgotten about TJ. – Chris Gross

5. Jane McManus, ESPN New York – Another very solid week from Jane McManus, and she’s really knocking on the door to move up in these rankings. She kicked off the week with a genuinely hilarious tweet (seen below) after Brian Costello was claiming the top spot was going to be his. I’m pretty sure she was joking, but maybe Jenny Vrentas should hire a bodyguard just in case. Jane may know something the rest of us don’t. Ms. McManus also provided lots of solid info on her Twitter page, with quotes, player info, and she shows a great ability to only give us the important things Rex Ryan says instead of just tweeting every word that comes out of his mouth like some others do. Sometimes, less is more, and Jane does a great job with that. Additionally, she put out a great article on Laron Landry and how he’s recovering from his injuries and what we can expect from him this year. In non-Jets related topics, she did a great job with her take on Twitter of the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky mess, and she handled it well. (Jane: 1, Penn State students: 0). As I said, it was a very good week from Jane McManus, and she very well could be on the way up. – Mike Donnelly

6. Kimberly Martin, Newsday – We aren’t burying Kimberly in the #6 spot for the third straight week as a sign of disrespect to her but more as a sign of respect towards the others who have been on the beat longer. For our rankings we are still waiting for that one article or Tweet that is really going to jump off the page to move her up in the standings. We have heard from followers of this article and other beat writers that there other individuals who deserve inclusion in this list. Because of that, we are encouraging you to submit any other writer (must write for a mainstream publication/be credentialed) that you think belongs here. Please note that “must be credentialed” isn’t meant to elevate them above the rest of us who aren’t, it is just that we place them in a separate category and much of what we use in these rankings is how they handle interaction with the players on a day to day basis and what they pull from attending practices. – Joe Caporoso

Next week we will be giving your rankings. Submit your votes here, on the Turn On The Jets Facebook Page or respond to Mike, Chris or my Twitter Account. We will publish the results next Wednesday. Also let us know if there are any other writers you’d like to see included in these rankings

New York Jets: How Good Could This Defense Be?

How good could the New York Jets defense be in 2012?

The buzz around the New York Jets defense heading into this season is that the potential is there to return to an elite unit in the NFL. In 2009, the Jets were 1st in total defense. In 2010, the Jets were 3rd in total defense. Last season they were down to 5th in total defense. It isn’t exactly like they were awful but much of the luster was gone, particularly when Tim Tebow drove down the field on them for a game winning touchdown, New England shredded them in their own building and Philadelphia embarrassed them late in the season.

Simply put the Jets defense lost their swag, aptly demonstrated by the loudest mouth on the team, Bart Scott struggling through a subpar year. This was a unit that was too slow, didn’t make enough big plays and didn’t put fear into opposing offenses the way it did for stretches of the 2009 and 2010 season. They became predictable and stopped attacking.

Why is there such a high amount of chatter about improvement this season?

Coaching – Rex Ryan will be taking a much more hands on role with the defensive playcalling this season after giving many of the duties over to Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine last year. This isn’t a knock on Pettine but it will be good to have Rex more involved in the day to day planning of the defense. In 2009, Ryan taught his system with great success and the Jets are now “going back to square one” with their installation which will help with fundamentals and preventing the amount of mental mistakes that occurred last year.

Beyond that, the Jets wisely hired Karl Dunbar away from the Minnesota Vikings to be their defensive line coach. We have sung Dunbar’s praises at length here at TOJ and for good reason. The Jets had a defensive back coaching their defensive line last season in Mark Carrier, they now have a well-respected line coach who coached one of the league’s best defensive lines over the past few years. More importantly, Dunbar has the knowledge to help the transition to using more 4-3 looks.

Versatility – The Jets aren’t going to be as locked into the 3-4 as they were in the past. With the strength of this year’s defense (outside of cornerback) being the defensive line, they will be using more 4-3 and 46 alignments. This is a wise move and credit the coaching staff for not trying to fit square pegs into round holes (something Eric Mangini loved to do). The Jets have better depth and talent on their defensive line than at linebacker, so why not make more of an effort to get those players on the field?

Personnel Additions – There weren’t a ton of these but they notably they improved the safety position by adding Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry and added needed speed in the front seven by drafting Quinton Coples and Demario Davis. Bell, Landry and Coples all project as opening day starters and Davis should see action on passing downs. They also drafted Josh Bush in the sixth round, who will see action at free safety.

Internal Improvement – Bart Scott has dropped weight and by all indications looks poised to be more of the player he was in 2009 and 2010 than he was in 2011. Aaron Maybin has now had a full off-season to work with the coaching staff and improve his craft in Rex Ryan’s system. Muhammad Wilkerson had a terrific off-season and looks ready to build on a quietly strong rookie year. Bryan Thomas is returning from missing most of last season with injury.

Still Elite – Darrelle Revis and David Harris. The best corner in football and one of the top five inside linebackers in football still suit up in Green and White.

What you should have is a unit that is deeper at linebacker, defensive line and safety than it was last season. It should also be a unit better equipped to bounce between a 3-4, 4-3 and 46.

Is there still question marks? Yes. The Jets still lack a proven coverage safety. They would be wise to add another corner for depth purposes (Drew Coleman anyone?) and Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas, and Calvin Pace have plenty to prove at linebacker. However, from top to bottom the Jets are equipped to have the best defense in their division and one of the best in the NFL.

The New York Jets Are The Second Best Team In The AFC East

A case against Buffalo being ranked as the second best team in the AFC East

An ongoing narrative this off-season in the NFL has been a love affair with the Buffalo Bills, who have been crowned by many as New England’s biggest threat in the AFC East and a sleeper Super Bowl contender. The consensus seems to be that the New York Jets window has closed and the Bills are ready to overtake them in the divisional standings. Where does the logic of this thinking come from?

Apparently Buffalo is going to have an elite defense this year despite finishing 26th in team defense last season. The reason? They signed Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to boost their defensive line and drafted corner Stephon Gilmore in the first round.

The problem is that Williams received the largest contract in NFL history for a defensive player despite having his tackles, sacks and forced fumbles decline every single year since 2008, while his missed games increased simultaneously.

  • 2008 – 53 tackles, 12 sacks, 4 forced fumbles (missed 0 games)
  • 2009 – 43 tackles, 9 sacks, 2 forced fumbles (missed 0 games)
  • 2010 – 28 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble (missed 3 games due to injury)
  • 2011 – 11 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble (missed 11 games due to injury)

Mark Anderson had 10 sacks last season for the New England Patriots but the red flag is that in the five seasons before he totaled 13.5 sacks. Kind of sounds like a one year Belichick wonder, no? Gilmore is a rookie and even Darrelle Revis, the best corner in the NFL didn’t have an enormous impact in his rookie season…certainly not enough to carry a defensive unit from 26th to the top five.

You can excuse my hesitance in crowning the Bills as an elite defense, especially when comparing them to the Jets. In case you were under some other misconception, the Jets finished 5th in the NFL in total defense last season and they added Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry, Quinton Coples in the first round and Demario Davis in the third round. They are also coached by Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine who have a bit more of an impressive defensive pedigree in the NFL than Dave Wannstedt, the Bills current defensive coordinator.

Logic says the Jets will have a better defense than the Buffalo Bills. So the Bills must have a clear advantage on offense, right? Funny enough, everybody talks about the questions the Jets have at quarterback while ignoring the glaring question mark Buffalo has. Here are two sets of stats –

Quarterback 1

  • 2009 – 8 starts, 4-4 record, 1,422 yards, 9 TDs, 10 INTs
  • 2010 – 13 starts, 4-9 record, 3,000 yards, 23 TDs, 15 INTs
  • 2011 – 16 starts, 6-10 record, 3,832 yards, 24 TDs, 23 INTs

Quarterback 2

  • 2009 – 15 starts, 8-7 record, 2,444 yards, 12 TDs, 20 INTs – 2 road playoff wins
  • 2010 – 16 starts, 11-5 record, 3,291 yards, 17 TDs, 13 INTs – 2 road playoff wins
  • 2011 – 16 starts, 8-8 record, 3,474 yards, 26 TDs, 18 INTs

Shouldn’t there be more questions about quarterback 1 than quarterback 2? Ryan Fitzpatrick’s career highlights are playing 3 good games in September last season and he is considered a sure thing at quarterback? I’ll take Mark Sanchez, who didn’t just out-perform Fitzpatrick statistically last season but beat him twice head to head and has four road playoff wins to boot.

Surrounding Fitzpatrick, Buffalo has an average group of receivers, and an offensive line that doesn’t have anybody near Nick Mangold or D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s caliber of talent, and a very good duo of running backs in Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller who have durability issues.

On the whole, everybody is falling in love with a team who lost 8 of their last 9 games last season, hasn’t had a winning record since 2004, went 1-5 against the AFC East last season and is led by a Head Coach who has never won a playoff game. Buffalo is 2-10 over the past two years in the division and they are supposed to pressure New England this season?

If you remove the anti-Sanchez/I hate Rex Ryan because he talks too much bias, there is no logical reason to pick Buffalo to finish ahead of the Jets this season. The Jets project to have a better defense, a better quarterback, a better offensive line, a better group of receivers and to play better in the division.

New York Jets: Get Another Running Back

The New York Jets need to add another running back to their depth chart

In case you haven’t heard, the New York Jets are committed to running the football this season. It is said so frequently, that you wonder if members of the organization think they could increase their yards per carry simply by talking about the running game. Here is an overview of the type of quotes we have been hearing all off-season about returning the offense to their lost “Ground and Pound” identity –

“We’re a power football team…we’re going to get physical with these guys, run, we’re going to punch the ball in there.” – Dustin Keller

“I think for us to be successful as a team, we have to be able to run the football. Sometimes is it going to be tough sledding? Absolutely. But that has to be who we are.” – Rex Ryan

“Start on the ground and take it from there” – Shonn Greene

“This is a physical football team; I like playing a physical style of offense. I think anybody that knows me knows I want to be physical.” – Tony Sparano 

“We are a team that’s built for that. I think bringing Tony Sparano in will be great for us, help us get back to our swag, and just help us get out there and do what we do best.” – John Conner on running the football

You would think for a team so adamant about running the football, there would be more of a concern about the current depth chart at running back. Currently this is what the Jets are heading into the season with –

Shonn Greene – The reality on Shonn Greene is this, if you remove three monster games during the 2009 season (2 of which came in the playoffs), he has proven to be a slightly above average NFL back at best. He is a good straight ahead runner but has shown little elusiveness and limited big play ability. His skill in the passing game leaves something to be desired. To his credit, his durability and fumbling issues are overstated. Greene didn’t lose a fumble last season and missed a portion of only one game. However, at his best Greene is a player that needs a quality supporting back alongside him.

Joe McKnight – McKnight has shown potential and it is fair to hope that with an expanded role he could become a capable third down back and big play weapon. Yet, he had 43 carries last season and averaged a disappointing 3.1 yards on those carries finishing only with 134 yards rushing. McKnight also has viable durability concerns as he was banged up all of last season despite only having a very limited role. As a backup to Greene, he is not built to run the ball inside when spelling him. If the Jets are running 35-40 times a game, could McKnight be counted on for 12-14 carries on a weekly basis?

Bilal Powell – A 4th round pick last year who didn’t look good when given a small opportunity. Last season he averaged 1.6 yards per carry and fumbled inside the 1 yard line when he was fortunately bailed out by Matt Slauson recovering the ball in the end-zone. Yes, he only had 13 carries in the regular season but in the pre-season when given a total of 22 carries, he finished with 62 yards (2.2 yards per carry). Basically, Powell looked like a slowed down version of Greene which is why many questioned taking him so high in the 2011 draft. He has been banged up for a portion of spring practices with a hamstring injury.

Terrance Ganaway – Yes he did run with an encouraging amount of power in college and is familiar with the option, which could get him on the field with Tim Tebow. But how much faith could you place in a 6th round rookie, who only started and produced for one season in college?

While I do think Tim Tebow will be a factor in the Jets running game, particularly in short yardage situations. I wouldn’t expect him to get more than 4-6 carries a game.

Doesn’t it make sense to add another running back? Shouldn’t a self-proclaimed run heavy team have as many reliable power running backs on their roster as possible? There is no need to risk having a major issue at running back if Greene happens to go down for a few weeks and then you are forced to hand the entire running game off to three unproven players in McKnight, Powell and Ganaway.

Right now there are two cheap, proven veteran options available in Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant. Benson had nearly identical statistics to Shonn Greene last year and is a capable power back. The Jets don’t need him to start but he could easily provide 6-8 carries a game and start a few games if Greene goes down with an injury. Grant has a higher upside and despite durability questions is only two years removed from a 1,253 yard season with 11 touchdowns. He could easily be a spot starter and is a more natural receiver out of the backfield than Shonn Greene.

Why not add another proven veteran at a place where you are thin? New England could have easily handed off their running game to just Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen but they covered themselves by signing Joseph Addai for insurance because that is what good teams do, they protect themselves.

There is no reason to be cheap at running back when your entire identity is going to be built around running the football. On a team like Green Bay or New Orleans, you can’t have enough receivers. On a team like the Giants, you can’t have enough pass rushers. On a team like the Jets, it should be that you can’t have enough running backs.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Mini-Camp Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly New York Jets Fact or False, looking at New York Jets mini-camp issues

The 2012 New York Jets have countless story lines and question marks surrounding them heading into this pivotal year for both Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez. Following the conclusion of today’s third, and final, mini-camp practice, the Jets will not be together in their entirety until the beginning of training camp at the end of July. A lot can be taken from the OTA’s and mini-camp period of the off-season, however, it is important to remember that the regular season is still months from kickoff and absolutely nothing is set in stone yet. For this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False, we’ll examine six of the most prevalent headlines as we begin the early transition from the offseason into the preseason.

1.) Santonio Holmes is still the team villain. Fact. While Santonio Holmes has gone through great efforts to stay out of the spotlight all offseason, while seemingly working to repair his fractured relationship with Mark Sanchez, as well as saving some time to visit with injured U.S. Military Troops in Germany, it took number 10 only one day of practice to grab the headlines in a negative way. After struggling to fulfill his desired number of reps during the first day of mini-camp, Holmes reportedly threw his helmet as he came off of the field, while expressing his disapproval for the workload he was expected to achieve in his first day back with the team.

While this was likely just a simple act of frustration from the ultra-competitive Holmes, Tone has to realize that everything he does will be under heavy scrutiny this season, particularly acting out like this in a practice session open to the media. It is certainly understandable that highly spirited athletes are often emotional, however Holmes is in a unique situation. The majority of media outlets are seemingly waiting for him to implode, so he needs to be smart about repairing his image, if he truly intends to do so. Until then, Holmes will remain portrayed as the villain of the Jets, and the majority of the moves he makes will be painted in a negative light, until he changes the perception of himself in the media.

2.) The more rigorous strength and conditioning program is the reason for the early hamstring plague. False. Among others, Holmes and rookie WR Stephen Hill each missed practice time this week due to tweaked hamstrings. Yesterday, ESPN’s Rich Cimini hinted at the idea that the cause for the ongoing hamstring issues in mini-camp were related to the more intense weight room regiment. While an increase in strenuous muscle activity could contribute to some types of injury if not conditioned well enough, this is the NFL. The players and coaches are professionals, and experts in their respective trades. An NFL level strength and conditioning coach is certainly capable of implementing stretching and flexibility techniques to decrease the risk of muscle related injuries.

While it is easy to assume that an increase in weight room intensity is an underlying cause for the recent run of hamstring issues, it is more likely a case getting back into playing shape. The most durable NFL players usually have the most strenuous offseason programs. During his time with the New York Giants, Tiki Barber was known for having one of the most intense weight room regiments out of any player in the league, and as a result, missed only six total games throughout the span of his ten year career, four of which came during his rookie season. Strength training does not increase the risk of injury, but more commonly reduces it.

3) Tim Tebow will be playing just about everything other than “traditional” Quarterback this season. Fact. While Tebow is the backup quarterback, he was not brought to New York for that reason. Conversely, he was not brought here to be the starter either. The Jets traded for Tebow to be the excellent football player they know he is. He has reported to mini-camp at a career high 249 lbs, and reports indicate that the Jets would still like him to add weight. By traditional standards, there aren’t any 250 lb athletes with the overall football skills of Tebow serving as pocket passers. The added weight will allow Tebow to serve more effectively as an all around football player, particularly in an H-Back, Running Back type role. Over his two seasons in the NFL, Tebow has rushed for 887 yards and 12 touchdowns, with a very impressive 5.4 yards per carry.

There will surely be a good amount of Wild Cat QB thrown in for Tebow as well, especially with the newly hired Tony Sparano’s knowledge of the system, coupled with Rex Ryan’s infatuation with it. In fact, since Ryan has come to New York, the Jets have the highest total yards per play out of the Wildcat in the entire NFL during that time frame, at 6.1 YPP. Expect Tebow to serve as a jack-of-all-trades for Gang Green this season, while seeing very little, if any, time as the regular quarterback.

4.) David Harris will finally get his much deserved recognition this season. False. Is there a more underrated defensive player in the NFL than David Harris? Since being drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Harris is averaging 102.8 tackles, 3.9 sacks, and 1 interception per season over his first five years in the league, while never being selected to a single Pro Bowl. Yes, he was a second team All-Pro in 2009, but has been snubbed by for the Pro Bowl in each year of his impressive NFL Career. In 2007, Harris’s rookie campaign, he tallied 127 tackles, including 90 solo, 5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. His AFC counterpart DeMeco Ryans was elected as the starter to the Pro Bowl that same season, although he registered only one more tackle than Harris, with three fewer sacks. Similarly, Ray Lewis was elected as the reserve at middle linebacker that same season despite notching seven fewer tackles and three fewer sacks than Harris. Sure, Ryans had collected over 150 tackles in the season prior, and Ray Lewis is, well, Ray Lewis, but this tells you all you need to know about how far under the radar Harris has flown since entering the league.

Although Harris has been the most consistent player on the team not named Darrelle Revis over the past few seasons, he still receives very little, if any, recognition. Although the Jets linebacker corps is one of the biggest question marks of the defense as we head into July, they have still received a fair amount of publicity during mini-camp. However, the spotlight has once again left the Hitman in the dark as the focus has been primarily on the revival of Bart Scott and the possible emergence of rookie DeMario Davis. Harris is a staple, not only of the defense, but also of the entire team, yet he often goes without mention when it comes discussing the vital keys to New York’s successes. Harris will likely rank in the top 2 in tackles among defensive players this season, yet few words will likely be printed about the 5 year veteran out of Michigan.

5.) The Jets have their defensive core of the next generation in Quinton Coples, DeMario Davis, and Josh Bush. Fact. The three of these rookies have all been heavily involved in mini-camp practices. Coples will be starting from day one, as expected, and according to reports out of practice, it is with good reason. Coples has been very impressive during his first early practices as a Jet, and the new scheme will surely maximize his skill set. The Jets were criticized for passing on Melvin Ingram, but now with their intentions to use more 46 and 4-3 looks this season, the move to select Coples is beginning to become more praised each day. The 16th overall selection out of North Carolina is out to prove the Jets organization right, and all of his many doubters wrong. Expect nothing less from Coples this season and beyond.

As for Davis and Bush, there was a good chance they would be playing a significant role this year due to the lack of depth at their respective positions. Bush is the only true free safety on the roster that is capable of playing the center field role in the secondary, and Davis is brings some much needed speed to the linebacker corps. Each of these players have been running with certain first team sub packages, and expect them each to play a heavier role as the season progresses, while serving on special teams.

The three of these young players certainly have the potential to fill as the core of the defense down the road. By the time they are entering the primes of their careers, Muhammed Wilkerson will be right there with them, while Darrelle Revis will likely still be the best corner in football and David Harris will be young enough to remain as a very important piece of the defense. If each of them can fulfill their potential, the defense will have the potential to be ranked among the best in the league for years to come.

6.) Chad Ochocinco will get off of Revis Island in 2012. False. To quote Ochocinco himself, “Child Please.” In his 6 career games against Darrelle Revis, Ochocinco has compiled only 16 catches for 289 yards, with no touchdowns. Those numbers average out to about 2.67 receptions for 48.17 yards per contest. With the artist formerly known as Chad Johnson entering the twilight of his career, coupled with the nightmare that is the Dophins’ quarterback situation, Ocho would be wise to set up his beach chair and lather up with sunscreen because Revis Island will be his residency for two of the sixteen weeks this season.

New York Jets: Sorting Through Rex-Talk

TOJ sorts through Rex Ryan’s praise for any and everything related to the New York Jets

To say Rex Ryan isn’t shy about praising his own players is an understatement. Rex wouldn’t hesitate to call Tanner Purdum the greatest long snapper he has ever coached or Matt Kroul the most talented third string center in NFL history. My personal favorite Rex-ism was calling Wayne Hunter the best backup tackle in the NFL during the 2010 season, like he had taken an inventory of all 32 teams 7th and 8th lineman and knew Hunter was the best.

Today’s press conference was a shining example as it seemed that Rex went through the entire roster in numerical order and offered everybody a “tremendous” or an “impressive” adjective. There isn’t a player on the team who hasn’t wowed the coaching staff on his return to the facility. Listen, I have no problem with Rex building up his players to the media. However, it makes sorting out who has actually been performing notably well a bit of a task.

Let’s go over what we know from OTAs and mini-camp so far –

1. Boom Not Bust – Of course it is too early to call first round pick Quinton Coples anything. However, by every indication he has been a borderline dominant presence since suiting up for the Jets in practice. A day hasn’t passed where he hasn’t came up with a sack or two. The other day he intercepted a pass and knocked another one down. More importantly, he seems to be playing with a chip on his shoulder and a high amount of energy/emotion. Nobody could ever question Coples talent, it doesn’t mean that some of us (including me) didn’t question taking him in the first round. He has a long way to go but so far, so good.

2. Young Pups – While we are talking about rookies, Demario Davis and Josh Bush have both spent time with the first defense in multiple practices, a very encouraging sign for mid-round draft picks. Both of them should be factors in passing situations. Davis is the fastest linebacker on the team and Bush is the only true free safety on the roster. If these two pan out alongside Coples, Mike Tannenbaum very well may have rebuilt his defense for the long run in a single draft.

3. O’ No – Same song every year. The offense is behind the defense. This makes even more sense this year since they are installing a new system and the wide receivers have been banged up. Is it a cause for concern? Not yet but it hasn’t been pretty out there for the Jets passing game thus far.

4. Forgotten Man – Chaz Schilens was a forgotten man by many after the Jets drafted Stephen Hill in the second round. However, he has taken advantage of extended playing time due to Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill’s injuries. Schilens has been one of the bright spots on offense and has the skill set to be a big play factor on offense.

5. Watch For ‘Em – Ellis Lankster as the #4 corner and a core special teams piece. Royce Pollard on punt returns and somebody who just may stick on the roster. Jeff Cumberland seeing a big bump in playing time. Yeremiah Bell seeing more time at free safety than he was accustomed to in Miami.

New York Jets: Wise To Wait On Keller Extension

Chris Gross explains why the New York Jets should hold off on giving tight end Dustin Keller a contract extension

For a counterargument to Chris, check out this piece at The Jet Press from Alan Schechter. Who do you agree with? 

It seems that Darrelle Revis is not the only New York Jet seeking a new deal heading into the 2012 season. Recent reports have revealed that Tight End Dustin Keller is also eager to ink an extension with the Jets. However, the former Boilermaker has confirmed that there has been no movement in that area thus far. While Keller is rightfully a fan favorite among the Jets’ faithful for his reliability and chemistry with Quarterback Mark Sanchez, the Jets would be foolish to jump the gun on committing a long-term deal to the four-year veteran.

Although Keller has proved to have the best chemistry with Sanchez, his contract with New York should, and likely will, be based on how he fits in the new offensive scheme of Tony Sparano. There have been some serious concerns about how Keller will fare under Sparano, primarily due to the amount of blocking the tight end is relied upon for. While Keller has always impressed with his athleticism and receiving skills, blocking has never quite been the strongest part of his game. This is not to say that Keller will not develop into a more efficient blocker under the tutelage of Sparano and new offensive line coach David DeGuglielmo, however this is going to be a major point of focus in working toward a new contract. Keller must prove his worth in this system, otherwise the Jets will surely let him walk. Giving him an extension prior to the season, before evaluating him in any real game situations in the new system, could prove to be a poor waste of money if he ends up struggling under Sparano. Not only would they be wrongly committed to him in years and dollars, but his trade value would likely plummet as well.

While Keller’s blocking ability will be a focal point for how he fits under Sparano, it may not be the deciding factor in whether or not he remains with the Jets beyond 2012. In the event Keller fails to develop into a capable blocker, the Jets could find a more suitable tight end to serve in that role, while allowing Keller to thrive in the receiving role where he has had his greatest success. Last season, Miami Dolphins Tight End Anthony Fasano was tied with Keller in receptions with 65, as well as touchdowns with 5. More impressively, though, Fasano also tied Keller with 12 receptions of 20 or more yards. While Fasano is certainly a higher quality blocker than Keller, he is not nearly as athletic. If Sparano, who emphasizes “chunk plays,” can get that type of receiving production out of Fasano (4.74 40 yard dash), than he should, realistically, be able to work wonders with Keller (4.55 40). If Keller fails to prove his worth as a blocker, but improves dramatically as a receiver in this system, it would be difficult for the Jets to not give Sanchez’s favorite target a new deal. Still, Keller needs to let his play do the negotiating.

While it may be unfair to claim that Keller, coming off of a career year with the Jets, still needs to prove himself in order to obtain a contract extension, it is the reality of the situation. While he did post career highs in three statistical categories last season, he is still nowhere near the production level of an elite tight end at this point in his career. Last season, Keller had 65 receptions for 815 yards and 5 touchdowns. The top five tight ends last year, Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Gonzalez, and Jason Witten each had 99, 90, 83, 80, and 79 receptions, respectively.

Keller is certainly still young and improving, however he does not yet deserve to be paid like an elite tight end, which is why he wisely would not comment on whether or not Gronkowski’s recent extension gave him leverage. In his second season as a Patriot, Gronkowski set an NFL record for touchdown receptions by a tight end with 17, and had previously caught 10 in his rookie year of 2010, exactly twice the amount of Keller’s career high. Gronkowski has proved to be a perfect fit in the role he plays in the Patriots’ offense. Keller will not comment on Gronkowski’s deal because he knows it has nothing to do with his contract situation.

A realistic contract for Keller would be more comparable to the five year, $37 million extension given to 49ers tight end Vernon Davis prior to the 2010 season. Although Davis was coming off of a career year before he received his deal, his most recent numbers have been very comparable to those of Keller. Last season, Davis had only two more receptions than Keller with 23 fewer yards, and only one more touchdown. If he can prove to be productive in the new system, expect a deal similar to Davis’s for Keller. Again, this is a crucial if.

Patience will need to be very prevalent within Keller’s camp in working toward any movement on a new contract. The Jets will likely not budge, and the tight end will need to let his play do the talking. While it may seem unfair for a player who has done all the right things during his NFL career, while improving his play nearly every year, it is simply the nature of the business. The Jets would be foolish to shell out a bunch of money to a player who is currently surrounded by question marks with regard to how he will fit in the offensive system. Although Keller has become not only a staple of the offense recently, but a leader of the team as well, there is a new offensive coordinator in town, and in a contract year, he needs to earn his money before receiving it.

New York Jets: What To Look For At Mini-Camp

Turn On The Jets takes a closer look at the top storylines heading into the New York Jets 3 day mini-camp

The New York Jets have a 3 day mini-camp kicking off tomorrow. It will be the last time the full team is gathered before training camp which starts at the end of July. The skill position offensive players will be gathering in the coming weeks for Mark Sanchez’s “Jets West” camp but that will smartly be closed to the media. I threw the question out on Twitter earlier today, “What is one storyline you’ll be focusing on for #Jets mini-camp the next 3 days? (Non-Tebow related).” Here are a few responses I received, along with more extended commentary on them than what I could give in 140 characters –

@GreenLanternJetWhat other RBs will step up to spell Greene and be 3rd down back?

The Jets current depth at running back is absolutely a cause for concern. For starters, Shonn Greene is going to need an improved performance from what we have seen the past two seasons. He is never going to be an elite back but if he gives the Jets 1,200 yards, keeps his YPC comfortably over 4.0 while protecting the football, it is satisfactory. However, he will need support. Ideally, Joe McKnight will seize the 3rd down role and be able to handle being his primary backup. McKnight’s potential was never fully realized in Brian Schottenheimer’s scheme (a recurring theme for many players). It will be interesting to see if Tony Sparano can find a way to use McKnight in similar ways to how he used Reggie Bush in Miami.

Outside of Greene and McKnight, the Jets need either Bilal Powell or Terrance Ganaway to step up as a short yardage, power running option off the bench. Ganaway is comfortable with the option from college, which could help get him on the field with Tim Tebow. Powell disappointed last season but was taken in the fourth round for a reason and should benefit from his first full NFL off-season. If both players struggle in camp, could the Jets consider adding Cedric Benson?

@TeamThirstTrap – How the 46 defense will function/look?

This year’s defense should have more depth and versatility than any unit Rex Ryan has had since taking over as the Jets head coach, particularly on the defensive line. One of the most interesting things to watch the next 3 days and all throughout training camp is the number of different positions certain players are lining up at. The Jets have the ability to run a hybrid 3-4/4-3/46 that will give offensive coordinators and opposing quarterbacks nightmares. Up front, Quinton Coples, Aaron Maybin, Calvin Pace and Muhammad Wilkerson should be all over the place depending on the personnel group. On the back end, Ryan has to figure out how to best utilize his three strong safeties: Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry, and Eric Smith while piecing together coverage from whomever lines up at free safety.

@KristineReese – I am very anxious to hear how Wayne Hunter is coming along

Aren’t we all? Considering that Vlad Ducasse has spent all of OTAs filling in for Matt Slauson at guard and that Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis are career journeyman, it looks like Wayne Hunter is a safe bet to be the opening day right tackle. Skepticism of this decision is more than warranted but it is also reasonable to assume that Hunter has a chance to improve to his 2010 level of play, particularly with a new coach and system that supposedly will play better to his strengths.

@e_man – Holmes

Enough said. Holmes will be the most closely scrutinized player on the Jets roster heading into the season who isn’t a quarterback. The New York media will do no favors for him but he isn’t going to help his cause by throwing helmets at open practices. How will he develop in Tony Sparano’s offense? Will he ever receive credit for doing positive things, like mentoring the younger receivers on the roster? Will his stand-off relationship with the local media continue to sour? #10 is certainly worth keeping your eyes on in the coming months.

LaRon Landry getting acclimated to the defense

I received multiple questions about Landry. He is expected to be attendance but I’m not sure anybody knows how far along he is in his rehab. It will be good to have him around the team but I wouldn’t expect to see him taking extended reps until we get into training camp. By all accounts, Yeremiah Bell has looked terrific since joining the team, so it would be nice to see how Rex plans to use him in tandem with Landry. Unfortunately, we probably won’t have a clear picture of that until week 1.

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack – The Other Guys

TOJ shines the light on 12 New York Jets who haven’t received much attention this off-season

The goal of this Friday’s 12 pack is to discuss twelve players on the New York Jets roster who haven’t been mentioned much, if at all this off-season. Middle class and bottom of the roster players play a crucial role in forming a deep, playoff-caliber team. Let’s give “the other guys” their day in the sun here at Turn On The Jets. Crack open the 12 pack, give us a follow on Facebook and Twitter…and enjoy –

1. Greg McElroy – The other guy in the quarterback room besides Tebowmania and The Sanchize. McElroy showed promise last pre-season and looked like he could be a long term backup for the team. He surrounded himself in some controversy by criticizing the locker room environment last year. This is an important season for McElroy to establish that he can be a backup quarterback in the NFL.

2. Josh Mauga – A forgotten man at linebacker since the Jets selected Demario Davis in the third round. However, Mauga has the skill set to be a very good special teams player and a capable backup at inside linebacker. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him in certain sub packages on defense because he has decent coverage skills compared to the rest of the linebacker group.

3. Ricky Sapp – He has received a little hype from the coaching staff as a role player/backup at outside linebacker. If he can stay healthy and produce with the second team in the pre-season, there is no reason he shouldn’t stick on the 53 man roster. Sapp has intriguing pass rushing skills.

4. Ellis Lankster – It looks like he will be the fourth corner heading into the season, which is an important part of Rex Ryan’s defense. Lankster will also be relied on to be a core special teams player, replacing Marquice Cole on many of the coverage units. The fact that the Jets didn’t sign Chris Johnson, after kicking his tires, shows their faith in Lankster to take on an expanded role.

5. Patrick Turner – By all accounts, he had a very strong practice this week and took advantage of Stephen Hill being on the sideline with a hamstring injury. Turner has good size and is familiar with Tony Sparano’s offense. He had a few catches last season and will battle it out with Chaz Schilens and Jordan White for the 4th and 5th spot on the receiver depth chart behind Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley.

6. John Conner – What ever happened to “The Terminator?” He was average at best last season and didn’t contribute much overall. Can he take on a bigger, more important role in Tony Sparano’s offense? His lead blocking will be crucial to helping establish the Jets as a power running team again and he also is a good short yardage back.

7. Jeff Cumberland – If the season started today, he’d be the number two tight end. Cumberland has good size and hands but similar to Dustin Keller, he is more of a receiver than blocker. If Cumberland can become more consistent blocking, he should see a good chunk of playing time in Tony Sparano’s offense.

8. Bilal Powell – Many (including myself) think that rookie Terrance Ganaway has the ability to pass him up on the depth chart. However, let’s not forget Powell was a fourth round pick and despite a disappointing rookie year should get a good chance in the pre-season to stake a claim on the third running back spot on the depth chart.

9. Matt Kroul – Competing with Caleb Schlauderaff (Mike Tannenbaum’s favorite player) for the backup center position behind Nick Mangold. He also has the ability to play guard. Kroul is a former defensive lineman. You know who also used to be a defensive lineman? Brandon Moore.

10. Tanner Purdum – You never want to hear about the long snapper but Purdum will be back for his second season with the team. The James Dearth era is truly over.

11. Martin Tevaseau – Competing with Kenrick Ellis for reps in the defensive line rotation. He has the advantage of Ellis missing the first few days of training camp because of a jail sentence.

12. Nick Bellore – A linebacker who will have a tough time seeing any reps on defense but does have the ability to become a quality special teams player. He is firmly on the bubble of the 53 man roster after the Jets selected Demario Davis in the third round.