Will the lowered expectations for the New York Jets 2012 season, equal better than expected results?
The prognosticators aren’t going to be kind to the New York Jets in the coming months. Who wouldn’t want to kick Rex Ryan and his fat mouth when he is down? His team is coming off a 8-8 season playoff-less season and they had a controversial and potentially ineffective off-season. Beyond that. Ryan admittedly lost the locker room last season to petty in-fighting.
This year’s “it” pick in the AFC East will be the Buffalo Bills to challenge and potentially unseat the New England Patriots and grab a playoff spot or division title in the process. New York’s other, other team had a flashy off-season by bringing in Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to beef up the now supposed best front seven in football. They also kept the core pieces of their offense intact by resigning Stevie Johnson and extending Fred Jackson’s contract.
Of course, everybody is too busy criticizing Mark Sanchez to take the time to question Ryan Fitzpatrick. In case you haven’t noticed, Fitzpatrick was awful the second half of last season, has never won anything in his NFL career and is a substantially bigger question mark than Sanchez heading into this season.
Regardless of the Jets perceived hierarchy in the AFC East, there are valid questions about their roster which will lead most to pick them to go anywhere from 6-10 to 9-7. The looming quarterback controversy between Sanchez and Tebow, the shaky right tackle and safety situation, and lack of a proven big time running back will all be consistently referenced.
Fortunately, lower expectations may not be a bad thing for this team. As a matter of fact, if recent history proves anything…it is that when the Jets have low expectations, they exceed them and when they have high expectations, they struggle. Remember in 2004, 2006, and 2009 nobody expected the Jets to sniff the playoffs and they made it all three of those years and in 2007, 2008, and most recently last year when they were a popular pick as a contender and flamed out.
I firmly believe you will see a toned done Rex Ryan to the public this year, further removing the target from the Jets back. Nobody thinks the Jets have an elite defense anymore. Nobody thinks they have an elite offensive line. Everybody thinks Santonio Holmes forgot how to get open and that Mark Sanchez is seconds from the bench. David Harris is under still under the radar and most assume Quinton Coples will be a bust. We can only hope the Jets are reading their press clippings this season and saving every single one of them maybe then they can get back to surprising teams with a hit in the mouth.
Turn On The Jets gives out 12 post-draft predictions for the 2012 season
The New York Jets had open media availability yesterday and the top stories of the day were Tim Tebow’s dog, Darrelle Revis hating the Patriots and where Tim Tebow doesn’t live. Unfortunately, if you are looking for a 12 pack of information on that you are on the wrong site and should instead read some of the local newspapers. Instead I give you a 12 pack of post-draft predictions for the Jets 2012 season. If you are looking for more reading throughout the day, check back later this afternoon as Chris Gross will finish up our draft pick analysis by looking at Quinton Coples. I will also provide links to our other articles covering the rest of the picks.
On to the predictions…
1. Wayne’s World – The Jets opening day starter at right tackle will be Wayne Hunter. Should you be thrilled about this? Probably not, but perhaps this article from our good friend Jeff Capellini will make you feel better. It has become clear the Jets are content to let Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse battle for the position. While I think the organization would love to see Ducasse win, I think Hunter is the day one starter in camp and is steady enough to hold off Ducasse who hasn’t shown much of anything through two years. Tony Sparano will feel better going with a guy who has over a season of starting experience instead of the unproven Ducasse. For those who are asking, I do not think Austin Howard is a factor in this competition. If he was, the Jets wouldn’t have paid Hunter 2.5 million to comeback. They would have just let Howard compete with Ducasse.
2. Slow Safety – The Jets opening day starting safeties will be LaRon Landry and Eric Smith. At this point, I don’t think they will add Yeremiah Bell and even if Jim Leonhard returns, I don’t think it will be in a starting role. Look for rookie Josh Bush to be a factor in a centerfield type role when the Jets go to three safety looks and for rookie Antonio Allen to get on the field as a blitzer or to fill in for Landry if he gets hurt.
3. Out Wide – Braylon Edwards isn’t coming back. The Jets wide receiver depth chart will be Santonio Holmes as the starting flanker, Stephen Hill as the starting split end and Jeremy Kerley as the slot receiver. Behind them, I expect Chaz Schilens, Patrick Turner and Jordan White to stick as backups. White could be relegated to the practice squad unless he shows value on special teams.
4. Must Addition – The Jets will add a blocking tight end at some point. How can you run Tony Sparano’s offense without a single blocking tight end on the roster?
5. Where The Rookies Land – As I mentioned previously, I do think Stephen Hill will start from day one. Quinton Coples will be a de facto starter on the defensive line but will be rotated through with Mike DeVito, Muhammad Wilkerson, Marcus Dixon and Kenrick Ellis. Demario Davis will be a key special teams player and play in some defensive packages, same for Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. Robert T. Griffin has practice squad written all over him. Jordan White could join him unless he sticks as the #5 receiver and a special teamer. Finally, I think Terrance Ganaway will beat out Bilal Powell and be the third rushing option behind Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight.
6. Everybody Loves Tony – Leading up to the regular season, Tony Sparano will be one of the most popular men in the Jets organization with fans and players, simply because of how much everybody disliked Brian Schottenheimer.
7. Puppy Eyes – Tim Tebow’s popularity will be at a fever pitch heading into the season. He has already won over the media and skeptics of the trade with his quotes and smiles. Listen, I won’t argue that Tim Tebow seems like genuinely a great human being. It is good to have a player like that part of this organization. I also won’t argue that he works his ass off to get better. However, Mark Sanchez works hard too. Mark Sanchez is a better quarterback than Tim Tebow…by a good amount. If the Jets are going anywhere this season, it is with Sanchez as their starting quarterback and Tebow as a versatile weapon off the bench. Don’t forget that, regardless of how many times Tebow smiles for the camera.
8. Bounce Back – Santonio Holmes is going to have a very good year from start to finish. Why? Great football players are motivated to bounce back from down years and I don’t care what you think of Holmes personally, he is a great football player and the Jets top playmaker on offense. I think he will use everything the media has said about him as fuel. So let him keep being snippy with them, as long as he is catching touchdowns.
9. K-Ball – Josh Brown is going to be the Jets kicker this year, not Nick Folk. TJ Conley isn’t going to be the punter either. You could tell from Mike Westhoff’s quotes last week that he wants no part of Folk and Conley for another year.
10. Big Plays – Look for an increase in Dustin Keller’s yards per catch this season, same goes for Holmes. Anthony Fasano was posting higher yards per catch than Keller in Sparano’s offense and Keller has much more athleticism than him.
11. Annoying Training Camp Stories About Things That Will Have No Impact On The Jets Season – Anything related to Tim Tebow’s personal life. Any story on Matt Simms. Excessive coverage of Hayden Smith. Amateur psychology pieces on Mark Sanchez’s facial expressions during press conferences and practices. Rex Ryan looking skinnier (no joke).
12. Low, Low Expectations – Expect most people to pick the Jets to finish either 3rd or 4th in the AFC East, with a record between 6-10 (pessimistic) or 9-7 (optimistic).
The early returns on the Jets top draft picks were positive, but let’s not get carried way
The New York Jets, not unlike many other teams in the NFL, had rave reports about their rookies and how they performed at mini-camp over the past weekend. DeMario Davis is the next Ray Lewis. Stephen Hill was a man among boys. Quinton Coples had six sacks in a single practice.
This isn’t a criticism of Rex Ryan’s effusive praise or the fan’s excitement about new players. Every team around the NFL is taking part in the same practice right now. Robert Griffin III has already been crowned Sonny Jurgensen by a Washington writer. You would think the Colts are improving from Peyton Manning in his prime this season with Andrew Luck under center. And Ryan Tannehill apparently threw some of the prettiest 10 yard out routes ever seen on tryout NFL players not wearing equipment.
The point is not to get carried away. Should you be excited about DeMario Davis because he is fast and seems to have natural leadership skills? Yes. Should you be fantasizing about 90 yard Stephen Hill touchdown receptions? I know I am. But as Bill Parcells used to say after a particular player was being hyped a little too much early in his career, “let’s not put him in Canton yet.”
Let’s see how the rookies handle the veterans and full contact practices, then let’s see them making plays in the pre-season, then let’s see them playing when it really counts. I do think that Stephen Hill and Quinton Coples will start this year. I’d be surprised if DeMario Davis wasn’t in a number of defensive packages and a special teams ace but they all have a long way to go.
In case you weren’t keeping track, here are the player comparisons we have heard so far for prominent Jets rookies –
Coples – Trevor Pryce, Shaun Ellis, Muhammad Wilkerson
Hill – Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Keith Jackson
Davis – Ray Lewis, Bart Scott
And our very own at TOJ, from the rookies Chris Gross and myself have reviewed
Jordan White – Jerricho Cotchery
Antonio Allen – James Ihedigbo
Terrance Ganaway – A quicker Shonn Greene (hopefully).
The TOJ 12 pack looks at the moves made in the AFC East that should get the New York Jets attention
In case you haven’t noticed, all three of the New York Jets division rivals have been fairly active this off-season. Today’s 12 pack is dedicated to examining which of those moves will have the biggest impact. I can promise you the Jets will be a consensus pick to battle for last place with Miami this year while Buffalo will be everybody’s sweetheart pick to challenge New England and grab a playoff spot. To that I say…good. I am glad this team is back to playing with low expectations and in more of an underdog role.
12. Watch Him – Under the radar signing, corner/safety Richard Marshall going to Miami. He is a good, versatile player who will be a nice addition to that defense.
11. Bit Pieces – New England made a handful of minor moves on their defense by signing Jonathan Fanene, Bobby Carpenter, and ex-Jet Marquice Cole. These are the kind of transactions that don’t get much press but then you see all three of them making impact plays for the Patriots.
10. Mid-Round Steals – Credit Buffalo for getting great value in the second and third round of the NFL Draft. Cordy Glenn has a good chance to start immediately at tackle and I wouldn’t be surprised to see wide receiver T.J. Graham starting by the end of the year.
9. Quiet Secondary – New England didn’t make any major splashes in improving their consistently awful secondary this off-season. However, keep an eye on free agent Steve Gregory and second round pick Tavon Wilson to make immediate impacts at the safety position.
8. We Want An Island – Buffalo selected highly touted cornerback Stephon Gilmore in the first round to help sure up the back end of their secondary. He has the skill set to make an immediate impact on a defense that allowed Mark Sanchez to throw four touchdowns against it last season in a single game.
7. No Law Firm – New England decided to let BenJarvus Green-Ellis leave for Cincinnati in a somewhat surprising move. They will be relying heavily on Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen to step up to fill the void. Personally, I am happy to see Green-Ellis go. He was a savvy, hard running and productive back. I wouldn’t be surprised if New England added Joseph Addai in the coming weeks.
6. Light On Receivers – Miami surprisingly shipped wide receiver Brandon Marshall off to Chicago in a trade, leaving them thin at the wide receiver position unless you consider Brian Hartline and Davone Bess major threats.
5. Linebacker Nation – New England drafted two players in the first round to boost their pass rush and linebacker play, by grabbing Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower. Jones will line up all over New England’s formation and Hightower should be an instant upgrade at inside linebacker.
4. If It Ain’t Broke, Or Was It? – Buffalo decided to continue to roll with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback and Stevie Johnson as their top wideout. One thing that everybody forgets when discussing the Bills as a contender is that Ryan Fitzpatrick, outside of a few early season flashes…kind of sucks. Johnson has a weird ability to get open on Darrelle Revis on short and intermediate routes but is also an idiot and a loose cannon who frequently hurts his team more than he helps it.
3. Receivers On Receivers – New England had depth issues at wide receiver last year…not anymore. They added Brandon Lloyd, who is a viable deep threat and one of the more productive receivers in the league the past few years, along with Jabar Gaffney, Anthony Gonzalez, and Donte Stallworth. So long Ochocinco.
2. Miami Drafts Tannehill – The Dolphins finally decided to take a quarterback in the first round, not the second round. It is hard to imagine a scenario where Tannehill doesn’t start at some point this season, with apologies to the immortal Matt Moore and David Garrard. Opinions were mixed on him coming out of college, so he could be a boom or bust prospect. However, we do know there were not mixed opinions on his wife.
1. Buffalo Gets After The Quarterback – The biggest free agent signing of the NFL off-season not involving Peyton Manning was the Buffalo Bills getting Mario Williams to lead the improvement of their stagnant pass rush. They supplemented the move by bringing in Mark Anderson who had 10.5 sacks last season for New England. The popular line of thought is that Buffalo has the best front seven in football now, we’ll see about that. Either way, Tony Sparano has his work cut out for him with Wayne Hunter, Vlad Ducasse and Caleb Schlauderaff all potential parts of the line.
How can the 2012 New York Jets draft picks find themselves playing time this season?
The New York Jets eight draft picks and a large collection of undrafted free agents and tryout players will gather for a mini-camp this weekend. Focusing down on the eight draft picks, what will it take for each of them to receive playing time this season? Who will be their primary competition? Let’s take a closer look –
Quinton Coples – Regardless of whether Coples starts at defensive end or not, he is going to see substantial reps on the defensive line rotation particularly on third downs. In a way Marcus Dixon, Kenrick Ellis and Mike DeVito are competing for playing time with him but in reality Coples has a much different skill set than all three and will likely be used in many unique ways by Rex Ryan. Ideally, at a minimum Coples is a pass rushing specialist this year and then sees the rest of his game develop in the coming years.
Stephen Hill – Unless he bombs out in the pre-season, Hill will be the opening day starter at split end. He has too much speed and size to keep on the bench. Chaz Schilens and Patrick Turner will be competing to be his backup but shouldn’t see anywhere near the amount of playing time Hill does this season.
DeMario Davis – Outside of Aaron Maybin, Davis will be the fastest of the Jets linebackers. While I do not think we will see him in a starting role this season unless there is an injury, he should fill in for Bart Scott at inside linebacker in certain packages and could also line up at outside linebacker for Bryan Thomas to utilize his ability to cover the tight end. He will be competing with players like Josh Mauga, Nick Bellore and Garret McIntyre but considering his skill set and where the Jets drafted him, I’d look for Davis to both make the roster and be a regular contributor on defense.
Josh Bush – Bush’s skill set make him the most natural free safety on the Jets roster. Unless he is beat out by Tracy Wilson or DeAngelo Smith, he should immediately contribute in a handful of defensive packages and be the top backup to Eric Smith who is technically the team’s free safety even though he is miscast in that role.
Terrance Ganaway – He will be competing with Bilal Powell to be active on a weekly basis and then competing with Joe McKnight and Shonn Greene for playing time. His comfort of playing in an option offense makes him an immediate candidate to be a factor on offense when Tim Tebow is under center. Don’t be surprised if Ganaway ends up contributing a few hundred yards of offense this season.
Robert T. Griffin – As our breakdown later in the day will show, Griffin has a long, long way to go before becoming a contributor on a NFL team. This season he will compete with Caleb Schlauderaff and Austin Howard for a spot on the active roster. However, it is much more likely he will end up on the practice squad.
Antonio Allen – Make sure you click the link to read Chris Gross’ full breakdown of Allen, who should end up being LaRon Landry’s backup this season, a contributor as a blitzer and play special teams. I’d be surprised to see a journeyman like Tracy Wilson or DeAngelo Smith beat him out.
Jordan White – Make sure you click the link to read Chris Gross’ full breakdown of White. He will compete with Patrick Turner and Eron Riley for a roster spot and projects to backing up Jeremy Kerley in the slot if he can make the roster.
The New York Jets have made their primary goal this off-season to get faster…thank god
When talking with reporters yesterday, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan revealed the team motto for 2012 is “One Step Faster,” and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine conceded the Jets were a “dinosaur” last year when it came to matching the increased speed of the league. It is encouraging to hear the coaching staff admitting a problem that was disturbing to watch last season.
To say the 2011 New York Jets were slow is an understatement. Plodding? Sluggish? Decrepit? These are the type of words that come to mind when I think of Plaxico Burress trying to get separation between the 20 yard lines, Shonn Greene racking up 2 yards a carry, and Calvin Pace and Bart Scott needing a sun dial to time their rush to the quarterback. The Jets couldn’t make a big play against a 9 man defense last year and had circles run around them by the faster offenses in the league.
How will this problem be remedied? Replacing Burress with rookie Stepehen Hill is a nice start. Hill runs a 4.3 forty while I think Burress might have run a 5.3 forty last season. Yes, Hill needs to refine his route running but at a minimum he has speed and size that a defense must respect and should open up things underneath for Dustin Keller and Santonio Holmes. Beyond that, Jeremy Kerley will have a more prominent role this season and provides very good quickness and speed from the slot position. Chaz Schilens will be reduced to a reserve role after the selection of Hill but still can be utilized in certain situations. If you go 4 wide with Holmes, Hill, Kerley, and Schilens there is some serious speed on outside and in the slot.
At running back, Greene is who he is and that is not a big play back. However, better usage of Joe McKnight will bring needed speed to the running back position. Hopefully Tony Sparano uses McKnight in some of the ways he used Reggie Bush last year and can get him out in space. Tim Tebow isn’t a burner but obviously brings a potential big play element running the football from the quarterback position in the Jets Wildcat.
On defense, draft picks Quinton Coples and DeMario Davis add immediate speed to the front seven, while the rest of the unit was asked to drop weight. Ideally, their additions to the line-up will help free up Aaron Maybin, the team’s top speed rusher and Muhammad Wilkerson, last year’s first round pick. Calvin Pace may actually even be able to crack 5 sacks this year.
In the back end, the Jets did add Josh Bush and Antonio Allen through the draft and signed LaRon Landry. None of these guys are true burners but they should be able to help in the coverage of tight ends. Allen and Landry have the skill set to be physical off the line with them and Bush is a natural free safety that can line up in the centerfield spot. It should also be noted that one of the reasons the Jets drafted the previous mentioned Davis at linebacker was because of his speed and ability to match up with tight ends.
Are the Jets going to be the greatest show on turf? No. But hopefully they can start making plays over 20 yards with some type of consistency and won’t be sluggish chasing after players like Darren McFadden, Rob Gronkowski, and Tim Tebow (well, we don’t have to worry about that anymore).
The New York Jets should consider making the following moves to solidify their roster
After reviewing the New York Jets post-draft depth chart, it becomes clear the team should consider making moves to solidify their roster. Nothing major is coming at this point as the team is clearly banking on substantial improvement from within by making better use of their resources, most notably on offense with Tony Spranao taking over for Brian Schottenheimer. However, that doesn’t mean a few tweaks can’t go a long way to helping insure the Jets are competing for a playoff spot this season.
You can argue about right tackle until your lungs are sore. At the moment it appears the plan is for Wayne Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse to compete for the position. You can allow that to occur while still protecting yourself to some degree. Keep in mind the Jets let Robert Turner walk in free agency and have very questionable depth behind their starters. Mike Tannenbaum can praise Caleb Schlauderaff all he wants, he has still never played a meaningful NFL snap. Right now he and the loser of the right tackle battle project the team’s top two backups. There is no logical reason to not bring a low cost veteran for insurance purposes. Vernon Carey makes too much sense to ignore since he is experienced at tackle and guard and has played in Tony Spranao’s offense.
Why not get him in sooner rather than later? Why wait until the offensive line shows signs of struggling in the pre-season? If not Carey, at least get another veteran who has seen some type of NFL action on the roster. You are currently one injury away from starting both Wayne Hunter and Caleb Schlauderaff, did we learn nothing last year?
Beyond that on offense, the Jets would be wise to add a blocking tight end. Simply put they don’t have one on their roster. Billy Bajema, Justin Peelle, and Jeff Dugan are all examples of players the Jets could sign to the veteran’s minimum and would help on a run heavy offense.
I don’t see them adding to wide receiver or running back at this point. A player like Braylon Edwards would only slow down Stephen Hill’s development. You traded up to get him, so put him out there. If healthy, Chaz Schilens will provide adequate depth. Edwards is more likely to go somewhere that he has a clearer chance to start, maybe St. Louis with Brian Schottenheimer now running their offense. At running back, there aren’t many impact players left out there. I’d rather see the team give Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell and Terrance Ganaway a real chance to become impact players instead of putting another veteran in the mix.
On defense, the Jets would be wise to add Yeremiah Bell and Chris Johnson, both who visited with the team last week. Many fans get sentimental about bringing Jim Leonhard back and while we respect what Jim did for the Jets the past few years, let’s be realistic here. Bell is bigger, more athletic and more durable than Leonhard. At this point, Eric Smith knows Rex Ryan’s defense well enough to mentor the younger safeties and if you are looking for a leader in the secondary, Darrelle Revis better be able to fill that role by now.
Johnson is a more reliable 4th corner than Ellis Lankster or Isaiah Trufant would be and would be another low cost addition. He would also be a solid special teams contributor.
You can never underestimate the importance of depth on a NFL roster and the Jets could go a long way to solidifying theirs by making a few minor moves.
Chris Gross looks at what cornerbacks the New York Jets could target in the middle and later rounds of the NFL Draft
With the departure of Donald Strickland and Marquice Cole, the New York Jets have a need to find more depth at the cornerback position. Here are some names to keep an eye on that Gang Green could target in the middle rounds.
1 – Trumaine Johnson, Montana – Of the bunch, Johnson is the least likely to be available past the second round. However his lack of elite top end speed, combined with the fact that he did not play his college football at the highest level of competition could cause him to fall into the early third. Johnson is a very big (6’2” 204 lbs) corner who has reportedly been in for a visit with the Jets. What could make Johnson so appealing to New York would be his ability to play both corner and safety. At 6’2” he certainly has the size to make the transition if necessary, while displaying impressive strength at the combine with 19 reps on the bench press. Johnson would give the Jets their fourth corner, while providing depth at the safety position, something that may be appealing enough for New York to spend their second rounder on him, depending on how everything plays out in front of them. On film, Johnson shows very good ball skills, with above average route recognition. He also played a big role in Montana’s return game, so there are a number of spots he could be utilized at.
2 – Brandon Boykin, Georgia – Boykin had a very impressive career at Georgia with 9 interceptions, 17 passes defended, and 143 tackles in his 4 seasons as a Bulldog. He proved to be very promising during his week of practice leading up to the Senior Bowl, however a leg injury in that game has caused his draft stock to plummet. He was unable to participate in drills at the combine, and his lack of testing numbers, combined with concerns over how healthy his leg will be at the start of the season are causing Boykin to fall down draft boards. However, he could end up being a steal in the third round or later. He shows great range on film, and has proved to be a very versatile weapon, having seen time on both special teams and offense at Georgia.
3 – Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech – Hosley posted an above average 40 time (4.47), and decent numbers at Virginia Tech last season (59 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 Forced Fumbles). Although these numbers certainly aren’t head turners, they may be a result of his very impressive 2010 campaign. As a sophomore, Hosley had an impressive 9 interceptions and 7 passes defended, so quarterbacks most likely tried to stay away from him the majority of the time last season. At 5’10” 178 lbs, he has decent size and could be a nice fit as the Jets fourth CB, where he could develop tremendously under the tutelage of Darrelle Revis.
4 – Ron Brooks, LSU – Of the five players discussed here, Brooks is easily the most athletic. At 5’10” 190 lbs, he showed tremendous speed at the combine for his weight, running a 4.37 40 yard dash. Brooks had 2 interceptions at LSU last year, both of which were returned for touchdowns. Having played his entire career in the SEC, he has faced some of the best athletes in college football during his 4 years as a Tiger. Although his statistics aren’t mind blowing, Brooks’ elite speed combined with his decent size fit well with his impressive ball skills, giving him the potential to be a quality-starting corner down the road. With the Jets, he has the potential to play as the fourth cornerback right away, while contributing on special teams.
5 – Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina – Norman is an extremely impressive player who has had a very good career at Coastal Carolina (196 Tackles, 35 Passes Defended and 13 Interceptions). He is another big corner (6’0″ 197 lbs) with very impressive stats from a smaller school. He does not possess the elite speed (4.66 40), but like Johnson, his size gives him the versatility to line up at multiple positions in the secondary. He will likely have to improve his speed to be a starter in the future, but he could develop into a solid role player immediately. On film, Norman has arguably the most impressive ball skills out of the five players discussed here. He has remarkable closing speed, showed an excellent ability to locate and make a play on the ball, and displayed tremendous range. Norman also has 4 career blocked kicks, so he could be a special teams contributor right away as well.
TOJ make the case for the New York Jets to trade up for running back Trent Richardson
Let me start off this article by saying I believe the New York Jets will end up with Melvin Ingram in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday and that I support the move, even if it involves trading up a handful of spots. However, stranger things have happened and I do think the Jets will be watching the top six picks very closely with an eye to potentially make a blockbuster move to acquire running back Trent Richardson.
There is increasing chatter that the St. Louis Rams are looking hard at moving up to #3 to take Richardson and that if they don’t Cleveland will take him with the 4th pick. At this point it would be a shock if Richardson slides out of the top five, meaning that if the Jets want him, it is going to cost them.
Basically you are looking at swapping your first round pick, giving up a third rounder this year and your first rounder next year to get into the necessary position to take Richardson, the consensus third best player in this draft and without question the best running back available. Is it worth it?
The initial reaction by nearly everybody I have discussed this with is no. The Jets have glaring needs at safety, linebacker, right tackle and wide receiver that need to be addressed. You are giving up a valuable middle round pick this year and an important building block next year with your first round pick to acquire one player.
Yet, let’s think this through a little further. The Jets attempt to portray themselves as a “Ground and Pound” team. The problem is that they don’t have an elite running back. With Richardson, you are arguably getting the safest bet in this draft. A player who can step in immediately, play on all three downs and give you 20 carries a game. You want a 1,500+ yard back to spearhead your offense and make defenses fear your running game to help protect Mark Sanchez, now you have him. Beyond that, could you imagine attempting to defend Tim Tebow and Trent Richardson in the same backfield in short yardage situations? Good luck.
There is a trickle down effect to drafting Richardson. Shonn Greene now rolls down into the supporting back role he thrived at earlier in his career. He can give you 10-12 carries a game against defenses worn down by Richardson and finally begin popping some of the big runs he did earlier in his career when he was behind Thomas Jones on the depth chart. Joe McKnight can focus on becoming one of the league’s elite return men and be used on a specific package of plays that utilize his speed.
The Jets shortcomings on the offensive line will be minimized to an extent. Richardson is a good enough prospect to compensate for the occasional breakdowns in run blocking because he can make people miss. There will also be fewer pass attempts on offense with Richardson, Greene, McKnight and Tebow all there as rushing options. Beyond that, when you do throw, the play action will hold defenses more with a big time threat at running back in Richardson. Let’s face it, defense aren’t that scared of a potential handoff to Shonn Greene.
What about the rest of the holes? When you take Richardson, you are making that much more of a commitment to the running game, lowering the importance of the #2 wide receiver spot. Sign Braylon Edwards to the veteran’s minimum and spend one of your many compensatory picks on a prospect to develop behind him. Use your second round pick on a safety and sign Yeremiah Bell for depth. Linebacker? That is a tough one but maybe you give up Dustin Keller to acquire a middle round pick to draft one. Or you hope Bryan Thomas, Calvin Pace, and Aaron Maybin can hold the fort for a year. Your defense will be better as a byproduct of a dominant running game.
There are inevitable issues with trading for Richardson but a minimum you should have one of the league’s best running games, that in turn will make your quarterback, who thrives off play action, that much better. Even if the Jets make zero additions to their current defense, they will be decent on that side of the ball. They could pair that defense with an offense that actually strikes some fear into their opponents by adding a blue chip player like Richardson.
The New York Jets are wisely exploring making veteran additions to their secondary
The New York Jets are having both veteran free agent safety Yeremiah Bell and cornerback Chris Johnson in for visits today. While it is doubtful either will be signed before the draft, it is a smart move to prepare contingency plans depending on what happens this weekend.
We have already discussed the reality that the Jets need more than one player added to their safety depth chart. While he isn’t the Pro Bowl player he was a few years back, Bell is a productive, reliable player who would provide needed insurance for LaRon Landry at strong safety. Beyond that, he has more size and athleticism than Jim Leonhard at free safety, if the Jets end up starting a veteran at that position. Bell is familiar with the Jets through offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. He would be a low cost addition that would provide much needed piece of mind to a depth chart at safety that is currently paper thin and one injury away from being a complete disaster.
Chris Johnson saw his role decline greatly in Oakland last year but he has starting experience and would fill the hole the Jets currently have at their fourth cornerback spot. Donald Strickland isn’t coming back and was average at best last year. Marquice Cole has left for New England. Johnson would have a small role on the Jets defense in their dime package, provide depth if one of the top three corners got hurt and be a quality special teams player. He should be a nice upgrade over what Strickland gave them last year.
Unless the Jets leave the draft with two safeties they feel very good about, look for Bell to be signed in the coming weeks. Similarly, unless they add a corner in the middle rounds, I would look for Johnson to be signed sooner rather than later in the days after the draft. Both players would be needed veteran additions at positions that could used improved depth. Don’t be surprised to see the same approach taken at wide receiver. If the Jets don’t add a player in the first three rounds, they will likely add Braylon Edwards at some point in May if his knee checks out.