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.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Defensive Line Edition

This week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False. Chris Gross on what to expect from a revamped Defensive Line this season.

The New York Jets defensive line is poised to have a completely new look this season. With a new coach in Karl Dunbar, the addition of first round pick Quinton Coples, and New York’s intention to use more 4 man fronts this season, here’s a look at what we should and should not expect from the Jets’ D-Line this year in this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.

1.) Quinton Coples will be Vernon Gholston 2.0. False. The comparisons that have been drawn between Coples and former Jets’ first round bust Vernon Gholston are completely unwarranted. Work ethic, passion, talent, size, speed, and all intangibles could be taken into account to realize that Coples is the superior player, however the key factor that will keep Coples from turning into Big Vern is that he is being brought to New York to play in his natural position as a defensive lineman.

When the Jets drafted Gholston, he was expected to make the conversion from defensive end to outside linebacker in the Jets 3-4 scheme. This transition proves to be extremely difficult for players year in and year out. Many of them fail to successfully make that transition simply because, as a linebacker, the cerebral reaction time can only be attained by few. For defensive lineman, reaction time and play is based primarily on physicality. Defensive linemen rely on their technique and instinct more so than their ability to read opposing offenses and make decisions on the fly. Of course, there is still a cerebral part of the game for defensive lineman in terms of reading the stances of the opposing offensive lineman, their splits, alignment, and where on the field the tight ends and backs are, but it is nowhere near as complicated and dense as it is for a linebacker.

While Rex Ryan has acknowledged the fact that Coples is athletic enough to play that outside linebacker position, he made it clear he is coming to New York to play with his hand on the ground. This is one of the smartest statements Rex has made since becoming the head coach of the Jets. Coples is a natural talent for the position, and has the size (6’6” 280 lbs) to be extremely versatile along the Jets several defensive fronts this season. There is no need to fix what isn’t broken. Coples will prove to be light years ahead of where Vernon Gholston ever was, starting in week one (Remember, all it will take is a single sack).

2.) Outside of Tony Sparano, the addition of Karl Dunbar will prove to be the most significant of the offseason. Fact. Many people forget that for the past two seasons, the Jets have had a secondary coach coaching the defensive line. While Mark Carrier certainly had a solid work ethic, and likely brought everything he had to his job every day, like a player playing out of position, it is extremely difficult for a coach to adapt to an area outside his realm of expertise, particularly in the NFL. Prior to coming to the Jets, Carrier played in the NFL as a Safety from 1990-2000 for Chicago, Detroit, and Washington, respectively. As a coach, Carrier served as the defensive backs coach at Arizona State for two seasons before joining the Baltimore Ravens as the team’s secondary coach from 2006-2009, just prior to joining the Jets, where he was seemingly given an opening on the staff as the Defensive Line Coach, a position in which he had no previous experience. This is a huge reason for New York’s pass rushing woes over the past two years.

Enter Karl Dunbar. As a player, Dunbar was a second-team All-SEC defensive tackle during his career at LSU, before bouncing around the NFL and other various professional football leagues during the early 90s. Following his playing career, Dunbar came onto the coaching scene in 1998 and, besides two seasons as the strength and conditioning coach at LSU, has coached only Defensive Line throughout his entire career.

Dunbar joins the Jets after six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. During his time in Minnesota, Dunbar orchestrated one of the best d-lines in all of football. Last season, Minnesota led the NFL with 50 total sacks, including a Vikings single season record 22 out of NFC Defensive Player of the year Jared Allen. In fact, since coming under the tutelage of Dunbar, Allen hasn’t had a season with fewer than double-digit sacks, while leading the NFL in the category twice (2007, 2011).

In Dunbar’s six seasons in Minnesota, the Vikings ranked in the top 10 in sacks four different times. In three of those seasons, Minnesota ranked in the top four in the category, two of which led the league. Conversely, Minnesota ranked first in rush defense during Dunbar’s first three seasons, second in his fourth, and in the top eleven during in his final two.

The acquisition of Dunbar is going to pay dividends for the Jets early and often. In Minnesota, Dunbar produced 3 Pro-Bowlers, including Allen, the three time All-Pro Defensive End. Considering he worked with only 4 starters, 75% of his starting line earned trips to the Pro Bowl. Dunbar will undoubtedly be able to maximize the talents of players like Coples, Mohammed Wilkerson, Aaron Maybin, and Sione Pouha. Expect the Jets defensive line to have a completely different look under Dunbar this season.

3.) Quinton Coples will be used solely as a Defensive End. False. Don’t be confused by this. Coples will be used primarily as, but not limited to, a Defensive End, and will see time elsewhere. The common assumption would be to think outside linebacker, however, as previously stated, Coples is coming to New York to play with his hand on the ground. Expect to see several formations that slide Coples to the inside in a defensive tackle role, especially during passing situations.

As a junior at North Carolina, Coples was forced to play defensive tackle for the majority of the season due to the immense amount of players the program lost due to suspension. During his time there, Coples recorded 10 sacks, an astonishing number for an interior defensive lineman. He certainly has the size to compete on the inside, and his speed will give him a superior advantage against guards and centers.

Coples has the potential to turn into what Justin Tuck was early in his career for the Giants, seamlessly switching from the outside and inside on the defensive line, while being able to defend the run and rush the passer from either position. On passing downs, the Jets will likely replicate what so many teams around the league are doing these days by placing their best pass rushers in the game, regardless of their roster position. Don’t be surprised to see Coples and Pouha line up on the interior with Wilkerson and Maybin lining up at end in a variety of passing situations this year.

4.) The Jets will be in a four man front for the majority of their defensive snaps in 2012. Fact. This could very well be 51% to 49%, but don’t be surprised if it is even greater. The Jets know the strength of their team lies in the secondary and in their defensive line depth. While the line backing corps is promising, outside of David Harris there are still some question marks. Bart Scott has reportedly dropped weight and looks rejuvenated in comparison to his play last season. DeMario Davis is turning heads at OTAs, and should eventually prove to be an excellent piece of this defense, but the Jets are wise enough not to depend on the rookie out of Arkansas State too much in his first year. Maybin should have a very promising season, but like Davis, needs to show consistency before the team can lean on him as a pillar of the defense. Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace are nearing the back end of their careers, and each need to have bounce back years after a disappointing 2011.

In order for the Jets to be successful on defense this season, they need to have their best 11 players on the field for the majority of plays. This includes their defensive line, and their secondary. Although the safety position was a bit of a hole last year, the Jets have certainly addressed the need this off-season by adding LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell in free agency, while drafting the young and talented duo of Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. New York also has arguably the best cornerback trio in all of football in Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and the up and coming Kyle WIlson.

WIth the addition of Quinton Coples via the draft, the Jets now have one of the most youthful, talented defensive lines in the league. The key for their success will be how they mold together. Mohammed Wilkerson is poised for a breakout season after a very impressive rookie campaign. Then, of course, there is Mike DeVito and Sione Pouha who are the heart and soul of this unit. You won’t see too many flashy numbers from either of these two, but their presence alone, presumably both at defensive tackle in a four man front, will not only help with the development of the young guys, but will command respect from opposing offensive lines across the league. Marcus Dixon and Kenrick Ellis should be able to provide some quality depth as well. This could be a very dangerous group as they develop together throughout training camp and into the season.

5.) Mike DeVito will be far less significant this season than he has been in the past. False. The notion that DeVito is slowly going to ride off into the sunset due to the addition of Coples may hold some truth down the road. However, for this season, that assumption could not be farther from the truth. We already know the Jets’ plan to use more four-man fronts this year, and a big part of that is because of DeVito. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and Rex Ryan realize what DeVito brings as a competitor, player, and leader, and have openly acknowledge the importance of getting him on the field.

Outside of his play, DeVito will play a key role in rebuilding the Jets fractured locker room. While this is certainly already in progress, as displayed by the new attitude we have seen from the team thus far, DeVito is at the point in his career in New York where he is respected as an unquestioned leader of this team. DeVito is one of the hardest working, most blue collared players on the entire roster. His influence over the young guys, particularly on the defensive line, will go miles in terms of their development. Coples, Wilkerson, and Ellis are fortunate to be in an environment with a player like DeVito.

6.) At least one player on the Jets defensive line will get double digit sacks this season. Fact. This is an extremely bold prediction considering the fact that the Jets have not had a single player record double digit sacks since John Abraham notched 10.5 in 2005, a six-year drought. However, the Jets have some serious under the radar talent when it comes to pass rushers. Aaron Maybin, who will likely fluctuate between linebacker and defensive end this year, led the Jets with six sacks last season after missing the first four games. With a full season ahead of him, combined with a complete off-season with the team, and the fact that he has added over 10 lbs since the end of last year, Maybin could turn into a significant force in the Jets pass rush.

Aside from Maybin, Muhammed Wilkerson is due for a big year after his impressive rookie campaign in which he started from day one and recorded 3 sacks. Quinton Coples’ talent level alone will give him the potential to achieve this accomplishment in each year of his career, however he will be asked to live up to that potential and rise to the occasion very early for Gang Green. How he handles this will ultimately be the key to his success, and should determine his degree of achievement.

Each of these young men should benefit greatly from the new scheme, as well as the addition of Dunbar. There is far too much talent and potential on this unit for someone to not reach the double-digit mark in sacks. Adding the expert that is Dunbar will surely maximize that potential, and ultimately allow a player to reach this feat.

TOJ New York Jets Beat Writer Power Rankings – June 6th

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

Welcome to Turn On The Jets weekly ranking of the New York Jets beat writers, which will be compiled every Wednesday by myself, Chris Gross, and Mike Donnelly. These rankings are based on our composite votes and each of us will take two different writers to explain their position. As always feel free to agree or disagree here on the site, our Facebook Page or on Twitter

1. Jenny Vrentas, The Star LedgerVrentas was the consensus number one pick for all three of us. She puts out consistently high quality content, doesn’t look to sensationalize negative stories about specific players, and digs deeper for interesting angles the other writers ignore. A perfect example was from OTAs last week, Vrentas noted that Demario Davis was working with the first team sub defense, which was a great nugget of information gleamed over by the other beat writers. Her piece featuring Dustin Keller talking about the Jets offensive identity was another interesting angle from her recent work. Vrentas is a strong writer, although we’d like to see more interaction from her on Twitter with fans. The fact that she doesn’t use Sulia is also a big plus. – Joe Caporoso

2. Rich Cimini, ESPN – Cimini generally does a very good job of covering the New York Jets, and is personally one of my favorite beat writers. He consistently keeps his coverage on point, up to date, and relevant. He usually keeps his columns creative, particularly his “Sunday Notes,” and more recently his “Take Five.” Cimini does a good job of using the resources he has at ESPN to provide quality, well-researched analysis, and typically stays engaged with his Twitter followers and readers as displayed by the replies shown on his timeline, and particularly the Jets chat that he holds on ESPNNEWYORK.com.

What keeps Cimini from the top ranking for the inaugural week is his habit of sensationalizing any negative stories revolving around the Jets. If there is a rocky situation, Rich tends to blow it even more out of proportion. For instance, he repeatedly made note of Santonio Holmes’s absence from OTAs, while seemingly poking fun at the fact that he was visiting injured US Troops in Germany via twitter.

He also loves the Tebow drama, but he cannot be faulted for this in these rankings because so does just about every other Jets beat writer. Drama is what sells, and in Cimini’s defense, he usually doesn’t let that get in the way of his analysis, with some exceptions. – Chris Gross

3. Manish Mehta, The Daily News–  Manish took over the Daily News beat from Rich Cimini a little over two years ago, and has become one of the most prolific writers on the Jets beat, as evidenced by his over 30,000 Twitter followers. When Manish took over, he was like a breath of fresh air for Jets fans, and it seemed like he really connected with his audience. He churned out great articles and feature columns like they were going out of style (Which technically they kind of were, since he works for a newspaper and all.. maybe not the best choice of words there). He quickly earned himself many fans with his excellent writing and great information, and I was one of the biggest–until about 6 months ago.

Perhaps fueled by seeing fellow AFC East beat writers like Ian Rappaport and Jeff Darlington receive “promotions” to the national scene for NFL Network, it seemed as though our boy Manish wanted in on the action and decided the easiest way to do so would be to create controversy. And so shortly after the 2011 season ended, that’s what we got: We got harsh articles on players like Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez with sensationalistic headlines. We got anonymous quotes–A LOT of anonymous quotes–that always seemed a little too perfect and wrapped his controversial stories up in nice little bows. It got to the point I jokingly started referring to him as Scott Templeton, which you Wire fans out there will know is no compliment. More recently, he was one of the main conductors of the Tebow Hype Train, and seemingly couldn’t wait to force Mark Sanchez out of town. He even resorted to charting every single pass thrown by the two at OTA’s in MAY, four full months before the season. It was a far cry from the thoughtful and well-written articles I came to love reading two years ago.

Other random critiques of Manish that we’ve heard from many anonymous sources (see, I can do it, too) are that he doesn’t interact with his Jets fans enough on Twitter, unless of course he’s sending them condescending DM’s as seen below so nobody can see how salty he’s being. (Sorry, Manish, but you don’t need Jets credentials to write about the team.) Also, it’s worth mentioning that he’s gone way overboard with this annoying Sulia stuff on Twitter, which is something that should be outlawed. It may seem like I’m being hard on Manish or that I dislike him. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I actually like him and his work very much, and if I’m hard on him, it’s because I’ve seen what he can do on the Jets beat, and I wish we saw more of that guy. Come back, Manish. We’ve missed you. Your spot at #1 can be reclaimed. – Mike Donnelly

4. Jane McManus, ESPNMcManus covers both the Jets and Giants for ESPN and has been a strong writer in the New York market since she started out in 1998. It is hard to put her higher on the list because she simply doesn’t put out the same volume of content as others ahead of her, however she has a unique, engaging writing style and is an entertaining follow on Twitter. She doesn’t use Sulia, which we love and knows how to handle an angry Bart Scott. It would be nice to see less Tebow talk from her and more content on other aspects of the team.  – Joe Caporoso

5. Brian Costello, New York Post–  Brian Coz, as he’s known on Twitter, is a guy I’ve read in the Post for a while now, but only recently started following on Twitter. I’ve always enjoyed his writing and think his columns are enjoyable and good reading for Jets fans. He doesn’t try to create controversy or sensationalize headlines to get attention. He just reports on and writes what he sees.

That being said, Costello has a tendency to be a little bit bland with his columns. He seems to write on the same topics all the other reporters do on a given day and never really goes “outside the box”. By that, I mean I never really get the feeling something is MUST-SEE, to the point I feel like I have to go and post it on a Jets message board immediately to get the reaction of fellow Jets fans. It’s more like bathroom reading that’s used to kill a few minutes–not that there’s anything wrong with that. Also, his Twitter account leaves something to be desired. There are not that many tweets, there’s not much breaking news or info, and he doesn’t interact with fans much. Again, I like Brian Costello, and I’m going to be paying closer attention in the coming weeks, hoping we can move him up this list. – Mike Donnelly

6. Kimberly Martin, NewsdayMartin has certainly shown some promise in the early stages of her career as a Jets beat writer. According to her Newsday bio, the National Association of Black Journalists named Martin the 2011 Emerging Journalist of the Year. While she certainly has credentials, and has displayed some promising work, there is not quite enough of a sample of that work to rank her ahead of the first five. As the season unfolds, though, she could easily move up the rankings.

Since we don’t have enough material from Martin to give her a fair analysis yet, this week’s honorable mention for the absolute bottom of the barrel of Jets writers goes to ESPN AFC East Blogger James Walker. Although he certainly likes to bury the Jets every chance he gets, as he displayed by ranking Matt Moore above Mark Sanchez in his AFC East QB rankings last week, Walker earns a bit of a pass here for his most recent article defending Sanchez. If not for this article, which is the first coherent, intelligent analysis I’ve truly seen him give, I would have used this as a forum to bash Walker for his repeated use of minute points and incoherent analysis.

Take his AFC East QB rankings for example. Walker defers to the “Sanchez-Fitz-Moore Watch” as the measuring system used to determine who is the number two quarterback behind Tom Brady in the division. However, when digging deeper into this, Walker’s system goes back to week one of last season when it was initially the “Sanchez-Henne-Fitz Watch.” Walker explains that the column will be a scorecard held throughout the season to determine who deserves to be recognized as the East’s second best quarterback. What credentials does he use in his evaluation you ask? To answer, we have a quote from the first ever edition of the column:

“ Each week, the AFC East blog will keep an updated scorecard on the three quarterbacks, grade each performance on a variety of factors, and determine who’s better at the end of the season.” – James Walker, AFC East Blog, 9/14/11

That’s it. No explanation of what the “variety of factors” is, just simply a “variety of factors.” This leaves his analysis far too open ended, as these factors could vary week to week based on how Walker is feeling. By not clearly stating what he is using in his evaluation process, Walker is ultimately giving himself the ability to rank the quarterbacks on his opinion, since there is no accountability without a clearly defined “variety of factors.” So, Walker claims to have put Moore ahead of Sanchez “fair and square,” but it seems as if his idea of that is based on whom he prefers. I’d love to be proved wrong on this, but unfortunately, the print doesn’t lie.

So, now you have Matt Moore ranked ahead of Mark Sanchez by Walker, who then goes on to praise Sanchez in a defense article noting his ability to play big in big spots, and his habitual winning, less than a week later. A bit contradictory if you ask me. Perhaps Walker smartened up and actually did some research on this one. For that, JW gets a slight pass, but it will be a long season, and he is sure to cause some rumblings in these rankings again.

Still, Walker is not completely off the hook just yet. As pointed out by our good friend Kristine Reese, James is the biggest proponent of retweeting himself on twitter, which would be the equivalent to him “liking” his own status on Facebook. It is simply just not in good taste. Retweeting yourself is a no-no. Get it together James. – Chris Gross

New York Jets: Davis and Maybin X-Factors At Linebacker

Demario Davis and Aaron Maybin have the skill set to be x-factors on the Jets defense this season

The New York Jets were slow at linebacker last season. Slow may actually be an understatement to describe Bart Scott trudging after running backs and Calvin Pace needing a sun dial to time his rush to the quarterback. Even the young players the Jets turned to when there were injuries, like Garret McIntyre and Josh Mauga were sluggish in the speed department.

Fortunately the coaching staff recognized this issue and made improving team speed a point of emphasis this off-season. Bart Scott has reportedly dropped 15 pounds and one hopes he could perform similar to how he did in 2009 and 2010, when he was a very good 2 down, run stopping linebacker.

More importantly, the Jets added linebacker Demario Davis in the third round who has impressed the coaching staff enough to already be running with the first team in sub packages. His speed at the position gives the Jets versatility they have been lacking since Rex Ryan took over. Davis has the ability to run with running backs and tight ends in pass routes, unlike any other linebacker on the team’s roster. Look for him to make an immediate impact in passing situations and to gradually take more reps away from Scott as the season progresses.

Aaron Maybin will be entering his second year with the team and with a full off-season with the coaching staff under his belt, should move towards becoming a more complete player. Last year it was all speed rushing and hustle with Maybin. While he doesn’t need to change his motor, he does need to add some inside pass rushing moves and work on tackling in space. Maybin led the team with 6 sacks last year despite not joining the team until week 4. Look for him lining up at both defensive end and outside linebacker in pass rushing situations, likely replacing Bryan Thomas most of the time.

When looking at the grotesquely overpaid Pace, who is coming off his worst season with the team, hopefully the pieces around him will make him stronger. When breaking down the Jets 46 alignment, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com points out that with Muhammad Wilkerson, Sione Pouha and Quinton Coples up front, you could see Pace spend a good chunk of time lined up at defensive end alongside them. Pace should also be improved in his traditional 3-4 outside linebacker spot as Maybin becomes more respected as a pass rusher and Coples becomes a factor up front.

Ultimately, you have a general feeling what kind of production you will get from David Harris, Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas, and Calvin Pace. However, Davis and Maybin have the opportunity to bring a unique element to the position group. Can Davis help solve the Jets problems covering the tight end and dealing with faster running backs? Can Maybin be a double digit sack guy with a full off-season to prepare in Rex Ryan’s defense? Positive answers to these questions could lead the Jets to having one of the league’s top defenses once again.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Passing Game Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False looks at the New York Jets passing game

The New York Jets passing offense of 2012 will likely be one of the hottest topics in the NFL this season. Countless story lines centered around the heavily criticized Mark Sanchez, the polarizing Tim Tebow, and new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano are sure to have every major media outlet placing New York’s passing attack under the microscope. For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, lets examine what we should and should not expect from Sanchez, Tebow, and the rest of the bunch this season.

1.) Chaz Schilens will play a significant role this season. False. The Jets signed Schilens to a 1-year, $765,000 contract this off-season. Prior to the start of free agency, the only other receiver with significant playing time that would have been capable of starting opposite Santonio Holmes was Jeremy Kerley. While Kerley is certainly a very promising young talent, he is best suited as a number 3, slot type receiver, rather than a number 2. As a result, the Jets grabbed Schilens as a cheap, low risk option to add depth to their receiving corps. However, with the addition of second round pick Stephen Hill in this year’s draft, Schilens may struggle to find a spot on the roster.

Schilens and Hill are both similar in size, both around 6’4” in the 215-225 lb range. However, Hill has much more upside than Schilens due to his youth, big play ability, and willingness to block. This is not to say that Schilens will not display such attributes, however with his history, it is highly unlikely. Since entering the NFL in 2008, Schilens has had an injury-plagued career and has played in only 44 out of a possible 64 total NFL games. His production has been very sub par, as he has recorded just 72 catches for 902 yards over his brief four-year career in Oakland. Of course, a fresh start in New York could replenish Schilens, but don’t count on it.

Schilens was seemingly brought in for his size and speed, however with the addition of Hill, the Jets got a much better, younger player to add that dimension to their offense. Schilens will likely remain on the roster because he is such a cheap option, but if rookie Jordan White emerges during training camp, as I fully expect him to do, Schilens could find himself battling it out with Patrick Turner, Scotty McKnight, and a few others for the fifth receiver spot on the roster. Regardless of whether he makes it or not, I wouldn’t expect Schilens to contribute in a significant manner for the Jets this season.

2.) Rookie Stephen Hill will open up the passing offense early and often. Fact. While we all know Hill is certainly a raw product, having come from the triple option offense at Georgia Tech, the threat of his size and speed alone will add a new dimension to the passing game this season. While Hill should certainly develop into a more polished receiver as his career progresses, his fantastic size and speed (4.30 40 yard dash) will make him an immediate deep threat. Defenses will have no choice but to account for him, whether it be through double teams, or sliding their coverage toward him when he is on the field. This should, realistically, open up a great amount of underneath and sideline work for Holmes, Kerley, and Tight End Dustin Keller, which is where they have thrived in the past. Hill’s big play ability will be a plus for the Jets this season, not only in making those plays, but for what his presence alone will bring.

3.) Santonio Holmes will make the Pro Bowl this season. False. While it is highly likely that Holmes will improve drastically from last season, I wouldn’t bank on him making a Pro Bowl, at least for this year. Holmes has never been voted to the Hawaiian exhibition, and while there is certainly a first for everything, especially for a talent like #10, who many forget achieved a career high in touchdown receptions last season (8), the Jets will be going back to their ground and pound approach under Tony Sparano this year. Unfortunately, this is not exactly the philosophy that will statistically get a wide receiver a Pro Bowl nod.

However, elite talent knows no boundaries. Brandon Marshall made two Pro Bowls playing in this system in Miami, so if Holmes can re-establish himself to the level that earned him a Super Bowl MVP trophy in 2009, a Pro Bowl is certainly not out of the question in the future. For this year though, it could be tough for him to accumulate numbers worthy of the honor in the inaugural season of a new offensive system. Still, expect to see Holmes return to his 2010 form.

4.) Jordan White will make an impact as a rookie. Fact. Anyone who has read my rookie analysis series knows what I think of Jordan White. White is an extremely tough, hard working, determined player who put up a career of immense production at Western Michigan (306 receptions, 4,190 yards, 32 touchdowns). His route running ability and knowledge of the game is NFL ready, which will give him an immediate advantage heading into training camp. White will undoubtedly prove his worth on special teams, and not only do I expect him to make the active roster, but I would be shocked if he did not contribute to the offense at some point during the season. White is a player whose intelligence, work ethic, and reliability, could make him a perfect fit with Quarterback Mark Sanchez.

5.) Tim Tebow will become the starting quarterback at some point this season. False. Most people seem to be afraid to touch this issue because, like ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, they believe the fix is in for Tebow to dethrone Sanchez as the Jets starting quarterback. However, let’s all take a deep breath and think about this situation. People can say that the Jets brought in Tebow for the publicity factor that he would bring with him. While this could be the case, that does not mean they brought him in to be the starting quarterback. Regardless of what everyone thinks, Tebow will be a role player this year. Teams do not place players whom they feel are going to be their starting quarterback on special teams. In today’s NFL, that will simply never happen. There is far too much of a liability factor involved to be risking the health of your offensive general as a personal protector on the punt team. If the Jets seriously thought Tebow was going to beat out Sanchez, they would not even consider placing him anywhere other than an offensive formation.

The Jets have been criticized for bringing in Tebow, as many see this move as the team ultimately setting up Sanchez to fail. Yet, remember how New York was bashed after the Drew Stanton signing? Most observers felt this was yet another incompetent quarterback who would not realistically challenge Sanchez. The same people who stressed the importance to bring in competition to push Sanchez, highly due to the publicized notion that the organization babied their young quarterback, are now the ones who are criticizing the Tebow move. The Jets traded for arguably the hardest working, most encouraging player in all of professional football, who will undoubtedly push Mark Sanchez to get the most out of himself this season, not by breathing down his neck, but by providing stability behind him, while contributing as a significant role player, whether it be in the wildcat, as a running back, or as an H-back.

Like any backup quarterback, Tebow will be ready if Sanchez fails to get New York to where they need to be. However, that will not happen this season, nor is it why Tebow was brought to New York. He was brought here because he is a terrific overall football player, and an even better teammate, something greatly needed in a locker room that is currently being rebuilt. Tebow will certainly get his plays this year, but barring an injury, don’t expect to see #6 on the sidelines watching him run the every down offense.

6.) Mark Sanchez will silence all of his critics. Fact. Every hater of Sanchez and the Jets are on the edge of their seat waiting to see, not if, but when he will finally succumb to all the pressure and negativity, and pack it in, paving the way for Tim Tebow to enter and install the heroics he displayed in Denver last year. I apologize in advance to these people because this is simply not going to happen.

Despite Sanchez putting up a career high in touchdowns last season (32 overall), many still insist that the young quarterback regressed in his third year as a pro. Unfortunately, those who believe this are completely ignorant to an abundance of facts. First of all, Sanchez was under the tutelage of arguably the least competent Offensive Coordinator in the league last season. Brian Schottenheimer saw Sanchez’s strengths in his first two years, yet seemingly wanted to become some type of mastermind, genius coordinator, and force his quarterback into game plans he clearly was not comfortable in (see 12/24/11). The Jets offensive line was also the worst it has been since Sanchez arrived in 2009, yet the kid showed his tenacity and competitiveness by hanging in there game in and game out, taking repeated beatings, while never breathing a word of negativity about the lack of blocking he was getting, despite the unwarranted claims that he is mentally weak.

The Jets replaced a Sanchez favorite in Braylon Edwards with the prehistoric Plaxico Burress, who could not get separation between the twenties if his life depended on it. The struggles of the offensive line also hurt the Jets once elite running attack, which in turn, all but eliminated the play action pass, something Sanchez is highly successful at.

However, this season, Sparano brings in a new offensive regime. The Jets have seemingly addressed what issues caused the struggles for Sanchez last season. They have hired a coordinator who vows to return to the philosophy that gave the Jets so much success in 2009 and 2010. They drafted youth and speed at vital positions of the offense, and they have added a new dynamic to that offense with Tebow. New York will be tougher, faster, and flat out better, in every area that the offense struggled in last season, and I firmly believe that the new coaching staff will reveal an improved Wayne Hunter for 2012. Sparano has already stressed the need to create “chunk” plays offensively, many of which are likely to come via play action pass, especially in this run heavy offense. Expect to not only see Sanchez make strides under Sparano, but to lead New York back to the playoffs, while establishing himself as the unquestioned leader of the Jets and silencing all of his critics along the way.

Why Do You Hate The Jets? AFC South Edition

In our latest edition of Why Do You Hate The Jets? we examine the AFC South to see who, if anyone, has the unconditional right to look down upon the Jets. Spoiler Alert: not one team in this division holds such an honor. Here’s why:

Just Shut Up

Jacksonville Jaguars – Other than the fact that Jacksonville has been 20-28 over the past three seasons, the Jets absolutely dominated them in every facet of their week 2 match up last season. They have a notable lack of talent across the roster, specifically on the offensive side of the ball with the exceptions of Maurice Jones-Drew and Mercedes Lewis. They’ve brought in Mike Mularkey as their new head coach, who has only two seasons of experience at the position, both of which were with the Buffalo Bills, where he compiled a 14-18 overall record. Although Mularkey is certainly a good offensive mind, and helped tremendously in the development of Matt Ryan in Atlanta over the past four seasons, he will surely have his work cut out for him as he attempts to rebuild this team, which has fallen far from grace recently.

New owner Shahid Khan could very much be a breath of fresh air for the franchise and the city, however, like so many new owners, he seems enthralled by the spotlight. Following the start of free agency this year, the Jags signed former Miami Quarterback Chad Henne to back up and possibly compete with the young Blaine Gabbert, who many have unfairly deemed a bust already. Just weeks after the signing, Khan was outbid by the Jets to acquire Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos. Surely, from a business standpoint, this was a smart move for Khan, as Tebow, a Jacksonville native, would helped ticket sales tremendously, but talk about a swing and a miss. Now the Jaguars are stuck with Gabbert, who not only has to deal with the constant criticism, but also has to live with the idea that his team was willing to give up on him after only one season, where he had virtually no supporting cast to work with. The Jets are often criticized for how they have dealt with the development and psyche of Mark Sanchez, but is this act by Jacksonville really any better?

Jacksonville’s need to blackout home games in order to increase ticket sales, or the constant rumors of relocation could surely be mentioned here as well, but there’s no need to take unnecessary shots below the belt.

Tennessee Titans – Where to begin with Tennessee? This is the same team that spent the third overall selection on Quarterback Vince Young in 2006, only to release him after 5 seasons with the club. Although Young looked somewhat promising early in his career, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2006, despite throwing only 12 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, he had a memorable meltdown during his third season, in which he was replaced by the then 35 year-old Kerry Collins. That same season, the Brett Favre led Jets went into Tennessee and handed the 10-0 Titans a 34-13 beating.

When the Young era ended heading into 2011, the Titans made a trade with Seattle for veteran Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to lead the helm and help develop first round pick Jake Locker. Although Hasselbeck fared decently last season (3,571 yards, 18 touchdowns), the Titans struggled all year largely due to the inconsistency of running back Chris Johnson and missed the playoffs after a 9-7 finish.

Speaking of Chris Johnson, Tennessee waited so long to pay the NFL’s leading rusher since 2008, that he entered training camp late, causing his production to drop drastically. After the Titans finally caved and gave the three time Pro Bowler a four year $53.5 million contract extension, Johnson compiled only four 100+ yard games last season. In fact, he did not even reach 65 yards on the ground in any other contest, and went five games without reaching 25 yards. Although you certainly have to question the player for this immense drop in production after receiving his massive payday, something must be said about the Titans management skills in dealing with this situation.

As for their young quarterback, Locker showed great promise in the 5 games he appeared in last season, throwing for 542 yards, and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions, while attaining a 51.5 percent completion percentage. So, how did Tennessee owner Bud Adams express his excitement and confidence in Locker? During the frenzy over Peyton Manning, following the future Hall Of Famer’s release from Indianapolis, Adams publicly declared his desire to land Manning. Even after he chose the Broncos over Tennessee, Adams publicly acknowledged his disappointment.

“I want to thank the whole organization for their efforts in trying to sign Peyton and also to Peyton for the time he put into the process. Peyton called me this morning to inform me of his decision and obviously I am disappointed, because I thought we would be a perfect fit.” –Adams on Manning choosing Denver over Tennessee.

Stay Classy Bud

The naysayers will certainly criticize the Jets for giving Mark Sanchez his contract extension after realizing they were not in the running for Peyton Manning. However, the Jets were smart enough to nip that situation in the bud before having it escalate to where Sanchez was poorly affected by it. Yes, they still brought in Tim Tebow, but Manning would have all but ended Sanchez’s run in New York. With Tebow, Sanchez is rightfully still the starter, until he proves otherwise.

Tennessee has been a bit better than Jacksonville over the past three seasons with a 23-25 overall record during that time, however they have not won a post-season game since 2003. The Jets, who have won 4 since 2009, all of which were on the road, have been 28-20 under Rex Ryan during the past three seasons.

Houston Texans – Although the Texans are certainly a franchise on the rise, they have never beaten the Jets since entering the league in 2001. They are very young and talented, and took a huge step in the right direction last season, by winning the AFC South for the first time in franchise history, as well as securing their very first post-season victory by way of a 31-10 rout over Cincinnati in Reliant Stadium. While I absolutely believe they will be a force, not only in the AFC South, but in the NFL for years to come, they still have not even sniffed the recent success of the Jets, and until they snag a W from Gang Green, they have no basis to look down upon them.

Some Room To Talk

Indianapolis Colts – If I were writing this piece three years ago, the Colts would be placed in the Unconditional Bragging Rights category. However, since Ryan has come to New York, Indianapolis really hasn’t been much better than the Jets. Over the past three seasons Indy has compiled a very mediocre 26-22 overall record. Now, obviously this number is a bit misleading due to the fact that arguably the greatest quarterback in league history missed all of last season, leading to a 2-14 record, but the bottom line is that he is just one player. Outside of Manning, if the Colts were truly that much better than the Jets, they would have been able to muster up more than 2 victories in 2011. Last season displayed how poorly the team was actually built, and because of it, both Polians lost their jobs in the Colts’ front office. For as much criticism as the Jets take with Sanchez, it is never argued that if he were to miss playing time, the Jets would be much worse. This is a result of two things. Yes, Manning is that important to a team, and is certainly superior to Sanchez, but also, the Jets have been built better from top to bottom, rather than the top heavy team that Indianapolis was exposed as last season.

One of the biggest knocks on the Jets is that they love being in the spotlight. Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, and Owner Woody Johnson have been deemed as attention hogs, who are willing to do anything to gain the back page headline in New York. While this notion is certainly exaggerated, if it were in fact the case, the Colts still would have no ground to criticize them for it. Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay is one of six NFL owners on twitter, but is by far the most active user of his account. Since the saga with Peyton Manning began prior to the start of last season, Irsay has done enough to make himself the center of attention in Indianapolis. He glorifies not only his team, but himself as well, through the media, and especially through social media. Seriously, go look at the guy’s Twitter timeline and tell me he isn’t all about stealing the spotlight. Irsay is far more vain than Woody Johnson and Co. have ever been.

Beyond that, we all know who eliminated the Colts the last time they were in the post season. In the 2011 playoffs, the Jets marched into Indianapolis and avenged their 2010 AFC Championship Game loss by knocking out the Manning led Colts on their home turf on a last second field goal by Nick Folk. Manning’s reaction to Caldwell’s incompetence will forever be remembered as the legendary quarterback’s last moments in a Colts uniform.

New York Jets: We Talking About Practice?

2 weeks worth of thoughts on the New York Jets after leaving the country

A huge thanks to Chris Gross for running Turn On The Jets, while I spent a couple of weeks aboard in Ireland, Netherlands, and Germany. It is good to be back and getting after it here at TOJ, stay posted throughout the week as myself, Chris, and the rest of our writing staff will be bringing you the high quality content you have come to expect.

1. How could you not laugh at the reaction to Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow’s performance in a 7 on 7 OTA practice? Get used to the meticulous tracking of every throw and movement they make at each practice and the unavoidable overreaction to it. Personally, I think without question Sanchez is the superior quarterback, should start and shouldn’t necessarily have a quick hook. However, I can admit it is crazy to get down on Tebow because he threw a pair of interceptions in his first practice in a new offense. Practice is important but nobody remembers your completion percentage in practices when the bullets start flying in a game. Sanchez is going to start the season under center and the media/certain fans will be screaming for him to be pulled after one bad game, regardless of how much he outperforms Tebow this summer.

2. I am very happy with the decision to sign Yeremiah Bell over Jim Leonhard, which is exactly what it was regardless of what Rex Ryan says. Bell has more size and athleticism than Leonhard and has simply been a more productive player over the past few years. Yes, the Jets are going to have coverage issues with Bell and LaRon Landry starting, along with Eric Smith coming off the bench but Bell provides both needed insurance to Landry at strong safety and more athleticism than Smith would at free safety. His signing hurts the chances of rookie Antonio Allen seeing much playing time this year. On the other hand, rookie Josh Bush should remain a factor in a centerfield type role in certain three safety looks.

3. It is a shame to hear about Kenrick Ellis, as his jail sentence will obviously slow his development. Hopefully, he can get it split so he doesn’t miss any training camp. Regardless, with a crowded depth chart at defensive line, his chances of becoming a major factor this year have only got slimmer.

4. Today, the Jets signed veteran tackles Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis. Both are journeyman but between them have 61 NFL starts. Considering the depth on the offensive line right now, don’t be surprised to see one or maybe both stick on the roster. These signings don’t bode well for Austin Howard.

5. I have no problem with Wayne Hunter and new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo talking tough about the upcoming season. I would hope they would project confidence in Hunter’s ability to handle a starting position. It is more than reasonable to be skeptical about Hunter but it certainly sounds like he will have every chance to prove his critics wrong.

6. Interesting but not surprising to hear Visanthe Shiancoe linked to the Jets in free agent rumors. They still badly need a number two tight end and Shiancoe is a proven veteran, who will give them a ton of versatility in their two tight end sets.

Happy Memorial Day From Turn On The Jets

As you all enjoy the end of your Memorial Day Weekend, we at Turn On The Jets would not only like to wish everyone well on this holiday, but more importantly would like to thank all the devoted men and women who have served, and are currently serving our great nation over seas. On days of reflection like Memorial Day, we realize how lucky we are to be able to enjoy the luxuries of sports, entertainment, and all other everyday freedoms we too often take for granted. Never forget, the United States of America is the land of the free, because of the brave. So, to all the proud veterans out there, Thank You for everything you have given us in order to enjoy all that we have.

As the long weekend finally winds down, I have just a few quick New York Jets thoughts to share before another full week of content at TOJ.

1.) On Karlos Dansby expecting the Dolphins to win the AFC East. I actually have absolutely no issue with Dansby’s comments. As a competitor and a professional football player, he should always expect his team to succeed and win, otherwise what would be the point of playing the game? Rex Ryan has not been shy about what he expects from the Jets, so Dansby’s attitude should be viewed no differently. There is a certain degree of respect you must have for someone to show that much confidence, not only in themselves, but in the men they compete alongside.

The issue I do have, though, is the Dolphins faithful that have been emerging arguing that they would rather have their 53 than the Jets’. Again, I respect the confidence, but as a fan, you need to be realistic. Other than OLB and Offensive Tackle, every position on Miami’s roster is inferior to New York’s. Miami fans should be excited about the idea of a new coaching regime and quarterback, but there comes a point when you must look in the mirror and realize you are still very far away from being a competitive team in this league.

2.) On the Jets stealing the headlines once again. Many believe that the Jets acquired Tim Tebow strictly for the publicity factor he would bring to the team. While I strongly disagree with this notion, if this was, in fact, their motivation for bringing in Tebow, it certainly worked. As pointed out by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, SI‘s Peter King reported that 77 percent of the coverage in the five New York newspapers last Friday focused on Tebow, while only 23 percent focused on the foot injury of the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks.

The injury to the reigning Super Bowl MVP’s top target is certainly more significant than Tebow throwing two interceptions in a May session of 7 on 7, but the Tebow headline sells more. So, if Woody Johnson and Mike Tannenbuam’s sole motivation to bring in Tebow was to steal the headlines from the defending Super Bowl Champs, kudos to them.

3.) On Wayne Hunter declaring that Jets fans will see “a new Right Tackle” this season. One thing anyone can tell from listening to Wayne Hunter talk is that he is brutally honest. Hunter does not hide the fact that he was the weak link to an offensive line that struggled horribly at times last season. While he acknowledges the fact that he owes a lot to Brian Schottenheimer and Bill Callahan for the opportunity, he also makes it clear that new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and staff are certainly a breath of fresh air. Hunter points out that, in order to succeed, he needs to get out of the “reserve” mentality and be consistent on every single play. Why he is just coming to this revelation now is beyond me, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

4.) On Rex Ryan not ruling out a possible Jim Leonhard return. We will look at this possible scenario deeper during the week, but at the right cost, this would be a good thing for the Jets. Although New York suddenly has an abundance of Safeties, other than rookie Josh Bush, there is not a true cover safety in the bunch. No one knows the defense better than Leonhard, and he is the perfect personality to mentor the young talent on the roster. Of course, his health and cost will be the biggest issues for a possible reunion. If he can be had at a discount, it may be worth bringing him back.