Interview With Former New York Jets Scout Connie Carberg, Part 1

TJ Rosenthal sits down with former NFL Scout, Connie Carberg to talk about her time with the New York Jets

TJ Rosenthal was fortunate enough to sit down for a lengthy interview with Connie Carberg, the NFL’s first female scout. We are going to run the interview in two parts. Today she talks about her career with the New York Jets and tomorrow she and TJ discuss the 2012 Jets roster. Enjoy and make sure to follow both TJ and Connie on Twitter –

For Connie Carberg the NFL’s first female scout, the New York Jets have always been family. Literally. From growing up the daughter of a team doctor to becoming a scout, from 1974-1980 (the one who found Mark Gastineau) few if any bleed the Green and White more than Connie. We truly thank her for taking the time to go through some of her personal Jets history with us while giving us a look through a professional’s eyes on how the NFL has changed. As well giving us some thoughts on the current 2012 New York Jets –

1974-80: Growing up a Jet:

You experienced so much as a scout for the Jets from 1974-80. Mark Gastineau. You found him. How did that process take place from your initial sighting of him to the Jets selection of him in 1979?

Walt Michaels was coaching. North team on Senior Bowl, Mike Stensrud was injured and my boss Mike Hickey asked me to find somebody, watched tapes of all 6, read reports, and made phone calls. Gastineau was in perfect shape and had the same passion off the field as he did on. He wasn’t an act. He had total enthusiasm, and I suggested we take him, and he became the defensive MVP of the game. We drafted in him in the 2nd round after we took Marty Lyons first.

Wow, what a 1-2 by the staff that year. Now you grew up as a kid in the Jets family. So were players house guests who would come over and raid the fridge? Who were the ones you knew and or liked the best growing up? Pre scouting days..

I have been part of the Jets family since I was 12 years old when my dad Dr. Cal Nicholas became the Jets doctor. His office was connected to the house, and players often came over to be examined, and would hang out in the house with the rest of the family.  The first player we had over for dinner was Gerry Philbin, and I remember meeting him and watching him at dinner, thinking “I’ve never seen anybody drink so much milk in my life”. Wonderful man,  Great DE. George Sauer was always over and was my tennis partner at the Long Island Yacht Club. He would play guitar while I played piano.  He loved to play games in the backyard, like wiffleball or basketball with my brothers and myself.

We were very close with the Hampton family, Bill Hampton was the Jets Equipment Manager, and his son Clay is now the Director of Operations for the Jets. We’d have pool parties with our large families, in Babylon and Bayshore. Emerson Boozer and Ralph Baker were often there.

The Jets had a basketball team in the offseason, with people like Bake Turner, Jim Turner, Randy Beverly, Ralph Baker, Emerson Boozer, and John Schmidt who would come over to the house afterwards. My mom would cook a big turkey and they could all eat.

My favorite growing up was WR Bake Turner, who played guitar and sang incredibly. I still have a tape of him and George Sauer playing guitar together at the house, singing all sorts of songs on reel-to-reel, in 1969. Country Songs.

It was an amazing way to grow up, and then I went off to college, first to an all girls school, Wheaton College, and later I transferred to the Ohio State University, graduating in 1974.

I came back, and went to work for the Jets, and times were changing a bit and people weren’t at the house as much as in the past, but always for treatment and checkups. I was a lifeguard at the Long Island Yacht Club, and would bring the kids over to meet Joe Namath, who was always so good signing for kids. As long as the kids were well behaved. It was a great time. There was no player I didn’t truly like.

Let’s do a little word association: In a few words or less can you help describe some of the names, nicknames and places from that 1974-80 era?

Walt Michaels – Tough, Fair, Paul Brown Disciple, Mentor, All-Pro LB

Owner Leon Hess – Hands off owner, not much football knowledge, very nice man, let coaches handle team

Lou Holtz- Motivator, great college coach, family man, answered every letter sent to him, Great man.

Shea Stadium – Home of the Jets, Diamond Club, Captain Kangaroo at every game, Bob Cleveland Orchestra, family

Joe Klecko – Strong, All Pro, Sack Exchange.

Richard Todd – Tough job following Namath, especially from Alabama, but did take us to AFC Championship game, if tarp had been down, could have been different.

Wesley Walker – Best Deep threat of last 30 years, vision in only one eye (same as me now), memorized eye charts. Great moves and hands.

Joe Namath – Quickest release ever, charisma and star power, forced AFL-NFL merger, so good to young fans, as big as the Beatles.

The Sack Exchange – Still a favorite, ability to pressure without the blitz, front four that could do it all. 

Scouting

Now we know that you still keep a close eye on things. How Much has the NFL changed to you…on the field talent and equipment wise?

Quite a bit, from the equipment (helmets), and the helmet is now a weapon. In the old days, players didn’t trust the helmet to be used as a reasonable weapon and launch with it. Now it’s supposed to be for safety.

Players are faster and stronger, due to far more lifting weights (they didn’t as much in the old days). No offensive lineman were over 300 lbs. It’s common. Middle Linebackers were 215-225, now they are 230-250.

The fundamentals of tackling are poorer. Everyone started wanting to be on the highlight reel of ESPN, not just form tackling, and with the new CBA, you only have one-a-days and the lack of ability to practice tackling. Tackling needs to get much better.

Rules wise?

Watch Ben Davidson hitting Joe Namath. He’d be fined for every single shot he took at Joe. Quarterbacks are protected far more now.

Marketing wise?

There were no jerseys back then, or Jets shirts or hats. You just looked for a green t-shirt. That’s why I wished we were red like the KC Chiefs, as it’s so much easier to find a red shirt than a green shirt. There was no Nike or Reebok.

Back then we were a Kelly green color, not as dark as now. It felt like more of a high-flying offense, while the darker green suits our defense today.

No sports talk radio, ESPN, NFL network, only the home team was on TV, so everybody always rooted for their home team. That was the only game you saw. You had no fantasy football, and didn’t know all of the stats. A lot less betting as well as no free agency, meaning that when you had a player, they were yours for life and as a fan, you lived and died with those players. He was your boy for life. I loved it that way.

The scouting profession? 

Back then – Character was most important for the Jets, and RB’s were incredibly important, whether OJ, Gale, Sweetness, or Freeman. It was usually one RB + FB to lead block. Speed was important but big and strong were emphasized.

Lots of guys didn’t make the NFL because they were tweeners, but today they become specialty players, for pass rushers (like Maybin), and are put into unique packages, situational players. Everybody played 3 downs. There was no rotation. Everybody played where they played. There was no nickel or dime packages.

What did you rank higher: IQ or athleticism?

IQ was important, but there were 2 types.  It was football and book IQ – Marino didn’t get the highest score like Ken O’Brien on his Wonderlic but his football IQ and ability to audible was off the charts.

Production, Motor, and Heart was the centerpiece of drafting then and now too because you need dependable players. The tweeners were primarily the different things that exist today. Guys just never asked to come off the field after a run or a catch like they do now.

MAKE SURE TO CHECK BACK TOMORROW FOR PART 2

New York Jets: Pass Coverage Still A Concern

The New York Jets could still have major issues covering tight ends and running backs in 2012

The New York Jets defense struggled heavily when it came to covering the tight end last season. Basically, if a team had a good receiving tight end, they exploited the hell out of Rex Ryan’s defense. Jason Witten finished with 110 yards, including a 64 yarder. Fred Davis grabbed 6 passes for 99 yards. Brent Celek went off for 156 yards and a touchdown. Rob Gronkowski pulled in 113 yards and 2 touchdowns in primetime and in the Jets/Patriots other meeting, it was Aaron Hernandez who racked up 56 yards. Antonio Gates had 54 yards and a touchdown. Hell, even Ed Dickson was able to get 45 receiving yards on them.

Their coverage of running backs out of the backfield also left something to be desired. The lack of speed at linebacker position allowed the Jets to be taken advantage of on checkdowns and screen passes.

The Jets solution to the problem this off-season was to completely re-tool their safety position (signing Yeremiah Bell and Laron Landry, and drafting Josh Bush and Antonio Allen) and adding linebacker Demario Davis in the third round.

Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry will be a more athletic starting duo than Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith, with substantially more size. However, both players are strong safeties, not free safeties. It will be on Bell to spend more time at the free safety position than he is accustomed to. Landry has the ability to be a highly productive player inside the box but can he stay on the field? As defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman said, Eric Smith is good at 300 reps but not necessarily 900 reps and he might be at the number if Landry isn’t healthy.

The Jets did add two rookie safeties in the late rounds with Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. Bush will get the chance for immediate playing time because he is the only natural free safety who will make the active roster but how much can the Jets really expect from a rookie sixth round pick? Allen is built to play inside the box and for now just provides depth behind Landry and Smith.

The 2012 schedule is going to provide plenty of challenges from the tight end position, including Vernon Davis in week 4, Owen Daniels in week 5, Gronkowski/Hernandez in weeks 7 and 12 and Antonio Gates in week 15.

It is going to be on Bell to handle free safety responsibilities when they are handed to him and on Bush to grow up faster than most 6th round picks. Landry and Demario Davis should be able to help slow down the releases tight ends are getting but you don’t want them running with them past 5-7 yards. Their presence should also help contain running backs shaking loose for big gains on checkdowns or screen passes.

Kerry Rhodes certainly couldn’t tackle but the Jets haven’t found a free safety since he was traded. Bell could be a stopgap and maybe Bush is the future. If not, the Jets will once again be looking to retool a position they haven’t seemed able to get right since Rex Ryan has taken over.

No Huddle: New York Jets Areas Of Caution

TJ Rosenthal goes into the No Huddle to look at five areas of their team the New York Jets should be concerned about

TJ Rosenthal is back with the No Huddle, today looking at five areas of the New York Jets that could be a cause for concern in 2012. Make sure to give TJ a follow on Twitter and keep an eye out for a few exciting interviews by him in the coming weeks – 

As a lifelong New York Jets fan it’s hard to deny that there have been LONG stretches of years that have warranted seeing things through a glass half empty. The bright pockets of time for this organization have come in quick bunches thanks to the late 1960’s crew, some of the clubs from 1981-86, Bill Parcells, Herm Edwards, and Rex Ryan. The rest of the club’s fifty year history has essentially featured one harrowing crash on the runway after another. Especially in December.

History aside, we will soon be embarking upon a new Jet adventure. One that again will arrive for the die hard with excitement, eternal hope, paranoia, and of course, habitual doubt.

The Jet Report can envision 2012 heading in both directions. One that leads the club late into January with a shot at glory, and the other, well, yet another disappointment. Our personal goal for this season is to enjoy it with zero expectations. Despite the two near misses in 2009 and 2010 and a 2011 that contributed to helping springboard the other New York team to a world title.

In this week’s no huddle we approach five concepts whose success could collectively combine to catapult the Jets towards the Super Bowl. Knowing that they all should be approached with caution. After all, many of us still carry scars that forever force us to sleep with one eye open.

At all times.

1. The Rookies Will Have A Major Collective Impact In Year One –

Will they? Well we hope so. Then again, we always hope that draft picks blow up into legends and do so right out of the gates.

Coples, Davis, Hill and Co. will be used and much needed in spots, but demanding week in week out veteran type play from them is unfair. And unrealistic. How many rookies have become first team all pros in the last decade? Not as many combined as the Jets plan to put on the field this year all at once.

Let’s ease up on what we demand from this group and instead, enjoy the promise of individual break out moments and timely performances that we know these kids can give us.

2. Santonio Holmes Will Be Happy All Season – 

Santonio Holmes is a great clutch player. Period. He makes big plays with the money on the line. His unhappiness last year should have never been confused and mixed in with his reactions. We all wasted so much time wondering why Holmes behaved the way he did and spent little time asking “how the hell did Holmes not see more balls last year?” Was it Schotty’s fault? Sanchez’s fault? Well who cares whose fault it was. Just give him damn the ball please (to quote another Jets WR). Even if this team runs 60 percent of the time.

If the Jets win games and run the ball, Holmes will be a good teammate and accept it. We truly believe that. Fail to get him the rock AND lose games? Why wouldn’t he get pissed off? Why shouldn’t he?

The Holmes happy meter will be a reasonable measuring stick regarding the entire happiness of the Jets situation. Just win baby. This guy didn’t come from the Super Bowl champion Steelers to win four games for the Jets in one season to then just run around like a silly decoy all day.

Let’s make everyone happy by letting him help win games like he can. Or by having a ground game that is so exceptional, he can collect his big paychecks without having to jump over safeties downfield to haul in bombs.

We can live with either one of those scenarios. So can Santonio Holmes.

3. The Jets Will Of Course Return To The Postseason – 

Tell the Bills that. How many divisions send three teams to the playoffs? Not many. If you are thinking what we’re thinking (The Patriots are always in the playoffs when Tom Brady is healthy) then let’s make sure that the upstart buzz team Bills don’t finish with a better record or divisional record than the Jets do.

After you consider the Bills and the AFC East logjam, add the Ravens, Steelers, Bengals, Broncos, healthier Chiefs, and pissed off Chargers for starters into the equation and what you have is a crowded AFC wildcard race.

With little breathing room for third place teams to enjoy. Better stay ahead of Buffalo gentlemen.

Or else the road to the playoffs will grow quite slim and narrow.

4. The Jets safety situation has improved – 

Provided that LaRon Landry is healthy well maybe it has. Of course the only photos of Landry’s biceps that we have been to find on Google to this point, are one’s of him in his Redskins gear. He better not be damaged goods.

Yeremiah Bell is poised to help out but he is 33. Sorry to bring that up folks.

On the younger side, Josh Bush is a late round pick. Give us his energy. Just don’t let us get bitten by his youthful over excitement on play action or pump fakes.

The Leonhard, Pool and Smith Experience were often times late to the party but when Jimmy was healthy, this unit was never an X’s and O’s meltdown. Except when it had to cover the tight end. Better to give up twenty yards at midfield than be toast downfield every week due to miscommunication though, right?

Eric Smith is back and healthy again but even when healthy, is limited as a cover guy. Bell, Landry and Smith. Let’s see a few series of plays with them this August first.

5. The Ground and Pound Is Set To Roll – 

First of all, who is ground and who is pound? The Jets have walked away from the Ryan blueprint of a veteran RB leading the way for the rookies and the younghans in this latest version of the ground game. There is also no back with a bell cow track record statistically in this corps right now. Shonn Greene is the group’s only 1,000 yard rusher, having squeaked by in 2011 with 1054 yards after a non existent start into mid October. Everyone else (Joe McKnight, Terrance Ganaway, Bilal Powell) is unproven except for Tim Tebow who as a QB has rushed for 12 TD’s in two years.

The offensive line is coming off a rough year and has to gel once again. Plus, we have to see how Mark Sanchez looks. If he can keep defenses honest in the passing game then hey, this new ground and pound mentality can work. Like the new safeties though, we have to wait and see how it all comes together. The potential is there but potential and results don’t always meet together when asked to.

These “no huddle” keys may all work out just fine in 2012. It IS possible. Yet we have no idea to what extent they will be a success at this point in time. Patience and time will play a key part. It’s a long season. The coaches, players and fans better have to remember to let this all build naturally.

The potential is there.

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack: New York Jets Statistical Predictions

The Turn On The Jets 12 Pack breaks out some stat predictions for the 2012 New York Jets

This week’s 12 Pack is going throw out some statistical predictions for members of both the New York Jets offense and defense. Credit for the idea goes to (@ItsOasus) on Twitter. Give the man a follow and while you are it give our fellow writers Chris GrossMike Donnelly and TJ Rosenthal a follow. 

In case you missed it this week…

Turn On The Jets shirts (designed and created by Bark Tees NY) are being shipped out this upcoming week and should be for sale no later than July 20th. 
Check out Gameday Goods for 10% off all New York Jets apparel. All you have to do is use the promo code “TurnOnTheJets”

1. Mark Sanchez – 256/432, 59.2 completion percentage, 3,360 yards, 25 touchdowns, 13 interceptions – I am basically projecting Sanchez for 16/27, 210 yards on a weekly basis. The yardage total might seem a little high but I think the Jets will attack down the field more often with Tony Sparano calling plays, will use Santonio Holmes more vertically and should have a viable deep threat in Stephen Hill. Yes, I believe he will do a better job of protecting the football and will cut 5 interceptions off his total from last season.

2. Shonn Greene – 280 carries, 1,175 yards, 4.2 yards per carry, 5 touchdowns – Greene isn’t anywhere near an elite level back but considering their depth chart at running back and the offensive system the Jets are going to give him 17-20 carries per week. He should be able to translate that into a little under 1,200 yards considering his history. His touchdown total will be disappointing because Tim Tebow will be a major presence around the goal-line.

3. Santonio Holmes – 72 receptions, 1,044 yards, 7 touchdowns – Holmes averaged 15 yards per catch over the 3 years prior to 2011, let’s put him at 14.5 this season…a nice bump up from the 12.8 of last season. Sparano should also do a better job of getting the ball in his hands than Brian Schottenheimer did last season, so 4.5 catches per game seems reasonable. Holmes had 8 touchdowns last year, which tied a career high. He will end up with 7 this season.

4. Dustin Keller – 64 receptions, 832 yards, 7 touchdowns – Yes, I do think Holmes and Keller will equate for this large of a share of the Jets passing game. Keller was at 12.5 yards per catch last year, he’ll bump up to about 13 in Tony Sparano’s offense. 7 touchdowns would be a career high but he is due to be a sustainable red-zone presence throughout an entire season.

5. Stephen Hill – 40 receptions, 630 yards, 5 touchdowns – The reception total won’t be high but Hill will be a big play threat for the Jets, hence the high yards per catch average. His size and leaping ability ability will also make him a consistent red-zone threat.

6. Tim Tebow – 80 carries, 440 yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, 250 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns – Tebow is going to be a major factor in the red-zone as a rusher and overall should average out to about  5 carries per week. His passing totals are hard to project, because it remains to be seen how often the Jets will use him a passer. For the record, I do think Mark Sanchez, barring injury, starts every game this season at quarterback.

7. Aaron Maybin – 10.5 sacks, 26 tackles, 5 forced fumbles – With a full off-season under his belt, Maybin will become the first Jets defender to hit double digit sacks since John Abraham (!). If that forced fumble total seems high, remember he forced 4 last season in 13 games with a very limited role.

8. David Harris – 90 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 interceptions – Another rock solid, Pro-Bowl caliber season from the Jets inside linebacker. Don’t look for any drop-off in his regular production.

9. Quinton Coples – 30 tackles, 5.5 sacks – Rex Ryan and Karl Dunbar will get Coples in the proper position to make an immediate impact as a pass rusher. Towards the end of the season, he will begin to come on more as a complete player, particularly in run defense.

10. Muhammad Wilkerson – 55 tackles, 6 sacks, 10 tackles for a loss – I am on the Wilkerson bandwagon, who I think will play at a Pro-Bowl caliber level as a two way defensive end. Wilkerson and Coples will give the Jets their best pass rushing duo up front since John Abraham and Shaun Ellis were young pups.

11. Joe McKnight – 75 carries, 325 yards, 32 receptions, 320 yards, 2 offensive touchdowns, 1 special teams touchdown – A good all-around year for McKnight who will be able to handle the role of 3rd down back and be a reliable checkdown/screen option for Mark Sanchez. He also will remain one of the league’s better kick returners.

12. Jeremy Kerley – 45 receptions, 460 yards, 2 touchdowns – Kerley won’t have a high yards per catch but will develop into a reliable third down target, being a good option in the short to intermediate passing game.

 

Comparing AFC East Teams To The Corleone Children

Turn On The Jets compares the teams of the AFC East to the Corleone children from The Godfather

This is the time of the NFL season where it is important to do things like compare AFC East teams to the Corleone children in The Godfather. If you didn’t comprehend that first sentence, go watch all three movies…thank me…and then come back to read this article. The original inspiration for this article came from a group of Buffalo Bills fans referring to themselves as #BillsMafia on Twitter, where I couldn’t help but respond by calling them the Fredo of the AFC East as they promptly lost 8 of their last 9 games. Let’s fill out the rest of the family heading into the 2012 NFL season –

New England Patriots – Michael Corleone – The head of the family and the head of the division. Sneaky, ruthless and willing to do whatever it takes to maintain power. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady came out of nowhere to run the AFC East, just like Michael came out of nowhere to run the family. Belichick is notoriously paranoid about every piece of information surrounding his team, while Michael was paranoid enough to kill his own brother. We know that Belichick back-stabbed the Jets by resigning from their head coaching position and Michael was never shy to back-stab anybody on his rise to the top. The Patriots have the media (Peter King, Pro Football Talk) in their pocket just like the Corleone’s did under Michael’s leadership. Beyond that, couldn’t you see Belichick showing up at the Spygate hearings in the NFL office with a member of the family of anybody who was going to testify against him?

New York Jets – Sonny Corleone – Hotheaded and a little too outspoken for their own good at times. Rex and the Jets had a short reign at the top after knocking New England out of the playoffs in 2010 before coming crashing down from their brash words and actions in 2011. Sonny got hit on the causeway because Carlo gave him up. Who is Carlo? I am going with Brian Schottenheimer and his atrocious playcalling throughout the 2011 season, most notably dropping Mark Sanchez back over 60 times against the Giants pass rush in a game that all but ended their playoff hopes.

Buffalo Bills – Fredo Corleone – Always looking for respect when they have done nothing to deserve it. Every year they are hyped up as a contender but are then “stepped over” in the division by the Patriots and Jets. Buffalo can’t compete with their brothers, considering their combined record against the Pats and Jets since 2009 is 2-10. Yes, we hear everybody saying they can handle things in 2012 and will be a contender but we think they will be stepped over yet again.

Miami Dolphins – Connie Corleone – Not taken seriously. Connie is a floozy bouncing in and out relationships, while still being financially dependent on her brothers. The Dolphins put tarps over their seats, sell Jets apparel in their gift shop and will have David Garrard throwing passes to Chad Johnson Ochocinco Johnson this season. Hysterical…

Unfortunately, the New York Giants have to currently be Don Corleone since they are the reigning champs and their cloud hangs over the Patriots and Jets. Yes, it isn’t always being a Jets fan but “this is the business we have chosen”

New York Jets: What Are Reasonable Expectations?

What are reasonable expectations for the New York Jets in 2012?

The general consensus from the mainstream media about the 2012 New York Jets isn’t positive. We have seen them ranked as low as 27th in Power Rankings by Evan Silva of Rotoworld, along with most commentators pegging them for 3rd or 4th in the AFC East behind Buffalo and in some cases behind Miami. This line of thinking isn’t that surprising when you step back and consider a few things.

Most people view the Jets as a brash talking organization who has seen their small window close. They are a roster stuffed with overhyped, overpaid players who had an ugly meltdown to end the 2011 season. Everybody who doesn’t wear a green and white jersey on Sundays is giddy at the thought of Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez failing and being out of a job this time next year.

The hate towards Ryan makes sense. He bit off more than he could chew last year when his big words weren’t matched by a successful January run that came up just short of a Super Bowl appearance. Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants made him look foolish and petulant. He is an easy target because of his personality. Yet, it doesn’t mean the man can’t coach the hell out of a defense or that he wasn’t more successful than 95% of NFL coaches are in their first three years.

The hate towards Sanchez is a little more perplexing because few individuals in the league face more unwarranted criticism. It could be because of the Hollywood, appearing on GQ Cover persona. It could just be having Rex Ryan as his head coach. Whatever it is, Sanchez is treated as a backup, masquerading as a starter instead of a young, developing quarterback like his counterparts Josh Freeman (who was truly awful last year) and Joe Flacco. Nobody is saying Sanchez has been anywhere near a great quarterback the past three years, but he has had more than enough great moments to merit faith in him being the future quarterback of a successful team.

Certain prominent players on the Jets roster have a negative public perception which blurs objectively looking at their talent on the field. Santonio Holmes is a selfish diva, not a former Super Bowl MVP who had 4 game winning receptions for the Jets in 2010 and 2 more in 2011. Antonio Cromartie is a guy with a ton of kids, not one of the best number two corners in football. Other prominent players are soft-spoken and stay out of the limelight leading to them being overlooked. People forget David Harris is a top five inside linebacker in football. Nick Mangold is the best center in the NFL and Sione Pouha is one of the league’s top nose tackles. Is there 10 better guards in the league than Brandon Moore or 5 better left tackles than D’Brickashaw Ferguson? I’m not so sure.

It almost seems that with each passing month the Jets 2011 record got a game worse. You would think from commentary on their team that they finished at 4-12 or 5-11 last year. The reality is that they were 8-5 and lost their last 3 games to finish a very average 8-8. A tip here or a tip there away from being a playoff team at 9-7 or 10-6.

So where does that put them heading into 2012?

It is equally as foolish to rank the Jets as a top five team heading into the 2012 season, as it is to rank them a bottom five team. The Jets didn’t get worse this off-season by making their starting tandem at safety Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry instead of Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith. They didn’t get worse by adding Quinton Coples, Stephen Hill and Demario Davis through the draft. And if used properly, they didn’t get worse by adding Tim Tebow and all that he brings to their offense. Finally, they certainly didn’t get worse by replacing Brian Schottenheimer with Tony Sparano at offensive coordinator.

Considering the talent on their defense (which was still top five in the NFL last season by the way) and a schedule that features games against offensive juggernauts like St. Louis, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Miami (twice) and Seattle, the Jets have the look of a team that will range between 7-9 and 11-5 depending on how they play in close games.

The Jets are built to play tight, low scoring football. The results of these games will depend on winning the turnover battle, special teams, and finding a way to make the big play at an opportune time.

A large burden falls on Mark Sanchez to protect the football and hit big plays when they are available. He has a wide receiver who has the longest resume of clutch receptions currently in the NFL. A very good receiving tight end who he is comfortable with and a rookie speedster who is 6 foot 4. This team doesn’t need 45 pass attempts and 350 yards from Sanchez. It needs 18/25 for 200 yards but most importantly accuracy and smart decision making in big moments, which Sanchez has displayed in the past. They have the makings a competent, not great running game that could be dynamic at times if Tim Tebow is used properly.

Ultimately, there is too much talent on this roster to see the Jets as a 5 or 6 win team but there is enough questions to prevent expecting double digit wins. The difference between another 8-8 year and a playoff run into January will be their offense or special teams doing more of this in big spots –

And less of this –

Turn On The Jets Beat Writer Rankings: All-Time Edition

Turn On The Jets looks back at some of the all-time greats on the New York Jets beat

Today’s edition of the Turn On The Jets beat writer rankings focuses on former writers on the New York Jets beat – 

Old School

Paul Zimmerman, New York Post – An all-time great in sports journalism, more popularly known as “Dr. Z” from his time at Sports Illustrated. Zimmerman was on the Jets beat in the late 60s for the New York Post and covered their only Super Bowl victory. He was a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee until recently suffering a stroke in 2008, which he is still recovering from. When correctly picking the Giants to beat Patriots in the 2007 Super Bowl, he referred back to the Jets upset over the Colts in Super Bowl III as his inspiration –

“I can only go back to Super Bowl III, when I was the New York Post‘s beat man covering the Jets, and I had a hunch that they were primed for a major upset over the Colts even though it didn’t seem logical. So I chickened out and picked the Colts by less than the huge spread.”

Paul Needell, New York Daily News – Covered the Jets from 1983-1995 for the Daily News, before moving on to the Star-Ledger as a NFL reporter. Give this a read for a comical overview of Needell’s time with the team, who never provided a dull moment throughout the 80s, just like they never provide a dull moment these days.

Gerald Eskenazi, New York Times – He has worked at the New York Times for over five decades, covering a wide range of sports and other topics. Eskenazi documented his days with the Jets in this book and was another one of the beat writers who covered the team’s Super Bowl III victory.

Dave Anderson, New York Times – Another long running, well-respected journalist who spent time on the New York Jets beat. When writing on the long standing Jets/Raiders rivalry, Anderson commented about Weeb Ewbank’s mistrust of Al Davis

“Whenever a helicopter flew anywhere near a Jets practice the week before a game against the Raiders, Ewbank would look up and shake his fist. He just knew Davis had somebody spying on the Jets.”

New School

Erik Boland, Newsday – Unfortunately only spent about one year on the Jets beat for Newsdsay before moving on to cover the Yankees but was very popular with fans. Boland distinguished himself for being highly interactive with fans and having in-depth articles while maintaining a sense of humor.

Rod Boone, Newsday – Recently moved to the Brooklyn Nets beat, Boone was another fan favorite because of his in-depth writing and unique perspectives on the different issues surrounding the team. He is already establishing himself with excellent Nets coverage and is a must follow on Twitter (@RodBoone)

Dave Hutchinson, The Star Ledger – Covered the Jets for well over a decade before being moved over to the Mets beat in recent years. Hutchinson was a detailed writer who always seemed to come up with good scoops and was well respected by the other writers and fans alike. The Ledger’s coverage has remained top notch in Hutchinson’s absence with Jenny Vrentas taking over, who is our currently top ranked beat writer.

Randy Lange, The Record – A personal favorite of TOJ, as Lange was the beat writer for my hometown paper when I was growing up. He covered the Jets for 13 years for The Record before getting hired by the New York Jets website as their Editor-In-Chief where he currently does an excellent job.

Tim Graham, ESPN – Graham ran the ESPN AFC East blog before moving on to cover the Bills for Buffalo News. He did a terrific job with AFC East coverage and made the blog a must read for a fan of any team in the division. Since he has moved on, Erik Frenz of The Bleacher Report has become our go to guy for AFC East coverage.

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch 7/10 – Jets West Edition

Mike Donnelly’s weekly TOJ Stock Watch is buying Jets West and selling on Evan Silva’s rankings

It is a bit of a dead period in the sports world right now, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of stuff going on that I can make jokes about and sell for profit in our fantasy land stock market. And after last week’s bear market where I sold any and all things, I’ll even recommend a few buys this week. Let’s dive in..

BUY: Jets West Camp – Last year with the lockout going on, it was harder for the Jets players to organize “Jets West” properly. Rookies couldn’t get their playbooks from the team or speak to coaches, and then there was the little issue of not even knowing who was going to be on the team. Santonio Holmes was a free agent, Braylon Edwards was in limbo, Jeremy Kerley was a rookie, and Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason were, well… Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason.

This year, Mark Sanchez got the band back together and just about all of the offensive skill position players are expected to be in attendance. Even bad guy Santonio Holmes is there and already causing major problems, as this Twitter photo he posted shows. By making that X with his chop sticks, he’s obviously conveying his hatred for his quarterback. Oh wait, sorry, I was doing my Mike Florio impression there and didn’t warn you, nevermind. Not only is Santonio there, but he’s going to be a major positive influence on players like Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley. Despite what the media would have you believe Santonio is actually a very good teammate and teacher to the young wide receivers. Speaking of the media, this year Mark has decided to close the camp to the public, which is a great idea, since the mythical figure that is Tim Tebow will be there. People can make all the jokes they want, but this 5 day camp out in California is going to be a major positive.

BUY: Spending a Month at Cortland – And if you think the few day “Jets West” is going to be a major step in the right direction, just wait until the team heads off to Cortland for four weeks. Everyone underestimated just how much of an impact the lockout had last year, not just with the rule changes and having to cram 6 months worth of activity into about 6 weeks, but it precluded teams like the Jets from going away to training camp. On a team with so many big personalities (to put it kindly), that bonding time is extremely important. In 2009 and 2010, many players spoke of how important that time bunked up in dorm rooms with only each other to lean on was. Well, it’s back this year, and I suspect it’s going to help solve a lot of the turmoil that may be carried over from last season. Plus, Vladimir Ducasse will get a chance to defend his King Ugly crown. That’s very important, too.

SELL: Evan Silva ranking the Jets 27th in the NFL in Power Rankings – I was going to break this one into 2 different sells, because Evan Silva deserves his own. That guy is just the worst. The. Worst. He got his foot in the door of the NFL world by being the guy who copies what beat writers post on Twitter, and pasting it (usually incorrectly) onto RotoWorld.com, a fantasy football site. He’s probably the guy at the office who makes inappropriate Tim Tebow jokes repeatedly and creeps out all his co-workers.  Somehow all of that qualified him to be an NFL analyst and post nonsense like this.

I’ve been over this before, but just for fun, let’s show Mr. Silva one more time why the Jets won’t finish as the 27th best team in the NFL:

  • Top 5 defense, arguably #1
  • Great backup QB, so an injury won’t cripple the season
  • Coming off a very disappointing year in which they still won 8 games
  • They dumped Brian Schottenheimer, major addition by subtraction there
  • Games vs. the awful Dolphins (twice), the hilariously overrated Bills (twice), the Colts, the Rams, the Seahawks, the Cardinals, the Titans, the Jaguars, and the Chargers at home in December. They’ve also got the Texans and 49ers at home, the declining Steelers on the road, and a hopeful split against the Patriots.

Not only will the Jets not finish in the bottom 6 teams of the NFL with 5 or fewer wins, they won’t even finish with an under .500 record. You’ve been put on notice, Silva. I’m going to call you on your crap all year, both Jets related and your horrible fantasy football advice.

And now, this week’s edition of “Why the Bills Hype is Wrong”… 

SELL: The Bills – While many in the media are tripping over themselves to fit Ryan Fitzpatrick for his Super Bowl ring, I’d just like to remind everyone of a few things:

The 2011 Eagles – Signed Nnamdi Asomugha to a mega-deal, and also added Cullen Jenkins, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They finished 8-8 in hilarious fashion, and they were FAR more talented than this Bills team.

The 2009 Redskins –  Signed Albert Haynesworth for $100 and two years later he is out of the league, while the Redskins are a perennial laughingstock. In fact, the Redskins make huge splashes all the time and are the winners of the offseason. Then they’re the losers on the field. Take notes, Buffalo.

The Chargers, Cowboys, Redskins – Every year they are the offseason darlings and paper champions. How’s that working out?

The “Chic” Pick – Every year there’s a team that the media drools over heading into the season for various reasons–strong finish to the last season, great draft, big free agent, whatever it may be. And it NEVER works out. In 2010 it was the 49ers, last year it was the Rams and Cardinals. This year it’s obviously the Bills, despite the fact they lost 8 of their last 9 games, have Ryan Fitzpatrick as their QB, and just gave the largest contract to a defender in NFL history to a guy coming off serious surgery and whose team improved last year after he got injured. They’re more likely to win 6 games again than they are to win 10. (Add the Lions to the Chic Pick teams that are going to fall on their faces this year).

BUY: BIlly King and the Brooklyn Nets! – Just as I’ve been saying for weeks, there’s a method to Billy King’s madness and he’s going to build a powerhouse. Ok, I’ve actually been mocking him relentlessly and selling Billy King stock like it was the plague, but whatever. If the proposed Dwight Howard trade goes through, the Nets will officially be a powerhouse and I will apologize for all the terrible things I said about Bill along the way. I still think the Gerald Wallace contract is terrible and was unnecessary, but the way he brilliantly handled the Mirza Teletovic contract–not giving him the full mid-level exception–can not be overstated, and opened the door for a potential Howard trade. Now, if the Howard trade doesn’t go through, they’re still stuck fighting for a 5 seed every year and suddenly he doesn’t look so smart anymore. But I’m pulling for him.

SELL: Tony LaRussa not starting R.A. Dickey in the All-Star Game – In the B.S. move of the week, Tony LaRussa reminded everyone why we hated him all these years, and he decided to start Matt Cain over Dickey for strategic reasons in an ALL-STAR GAME, despite Dickey being better than Cain in literally EVERY SINGLE STATISTICAL CATEGORY. I can not stress enough how terrible I think this is. Dickey is 37-years-old and has been the story of baseball this year. He earned this. He deserve the start, especially since he likely won’t have another opportunity like this in his career. And I don’t want to hear about the “strategy”. To say it’s better to bring him and his knuckleball in during the middle innings to throw the opposing hitters off is dumb, because with all the substitutions, they likely won’t even be the same hitters who faced the fireballing Cain earlier.

TOJ’s Top 50 New York Jets Countdown: 1-9

Turn On The Jets counts down the top 50 New York Jets currently on the roster, finishing today with the top 9 players on the team

Frustrated and confused after seeing the NFL’s Top 100 player list? TOJ was as well. Due to that, we have decided to rank the current New York Jets on the roster from 50 all the way down to 1. Along the way, we will be classifying the players into the following five categories:

  • Bottom of the Roster (strictly a depth and developmental player)
  • Middle Class (Situational player, spot starter)
  • Quality Starter (Capable starting player or very good role player)
  • Red Chip (Swiping this term from Michael Lombardi, an above average stater/borderline Pro-Bowler)
  • Blue Chip (Another swipe from Lombardi, an elite player at his position)

READ NUMBERS 40-50 HERE

READ NUMBERS 30-40 HERE

READ NUMBERS 20-30 HERE

READ NUMBERS 10-20 HERE

(STILL IN QUALITY STARTER CATEGORY)

9. Dustin Keller, Tight End – Keller has played great for stretches of time and put together a few monster games here or there but has never consistently played at a Pro-Bowl level for an entire season. He is coming off his best statistical season with 65 receptions, 815 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2011. The hope is that with Tony Sparano calling the plays, Keller will get the chance to stretch the field a little more and not have stretches where he seems to be forgotten in the game plan.

RED CHIP

8. Antonio Cromartie, Cornerback – Cromartie catches flak from fans at times for giving up big plays and not creating enough on his own. Yet few players in the NFL could stand up to the number of targets he faces opposite Darrelle Revis. Cromartie remains a very good corner, capable of manning up most receivers in the league which is essential in Rex Ryan’s defense.

7. Brandon Moore, Guard – One of the most underrated guards in the NFL, Moore has played at a Pro-Bowl level the past few seasons and is a key part to paving the way for the Jets running game. He is one of the most respected players in the locker room and a leader on the offensive side of the football.

6. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Tackle – Despite coming off a disappointing season, Ferguson is one of the top left tackles in football. Considering his level of play since being drafted in 2006, it is hard not to expect him to come back strong in 2012.

5. Santonio Holmes, Wide Receiver – The biggest playmaker on the Jets offense and a receiver capable of taking over games. Holmes looked the part of a number one receiver in 2010 but struggled last season without a viable threat opposite of him. Hopefully with Stephen Hill’s speed and a further developed Jeremy Kerley, Holmes will see more favorable match-ups and go back to creating the big plays we expect of him.

BLUE CHIP

4. Sione Pouha, Defensive Tackle – Has worked his way into being one of the best run stopping defensive tackles in football. Pouha is an essential piece of the Jets 3-4 and is versatile and athletic enough to play in a 4 man front as well. Arguably the best move the Jets made this off-season was signing him to a contract extension. Along with Brandon Moore, Pouha is one of the players on the team who actually deserves a “C” on their chest for his leadership abilities.

3. David Harris, Linebacker – A tackling machine and one of the best inside linebackers in football. It is crime that he hasn’t been a perennial Pro-Bowler and has only made the All-Pro team once (2nd team in 2009). He isn’t a flashy player but is more important to the Jets defense than any player not named Revis.

2. Nick Mangold, Center – A laughable joke that he wasn’t named to the NFL’s Top 100 player list. Mangold is the best center in the NFL and has been All-Pro the past three seasons. The Jets badly missed him in 2011 when he missed a handful of games due to injury. He is the leader of the offensive line and the anchor for the Jets rushing attack.

1. Darrelle Revis, Cornerback – The best corner in the NFL and arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. Outside of a handful of quarterbacks, there is nobody in the league who dominates their competition more thoroughly than Revis does on a week to week basis. Simply put, a beast and a guy well on his way to being a first ballot Hall of Famer.

TOJ’s Top 50 New York Jets Countdown: 10-20

Turn On The Jets counts down the top 50 New York Jets currently on the roster, continuing today with numbers 10-20

Frustrated and confused after seeing the NFL’s Top 100 player list? TOJ was as well. Due to that, we have decided to rank the current New York Jets on the roster from 50 all the way down to 1. Along the way, we will be classifying the players into the following five categories:

  • Bottom of the Roster (strictly a depth and developmental player)
  • Middle Class (Situational player, spot starter)
  • Quality Starter (Capable starting player or very good role player)
  • Red Chip (Swiping this term from Michael Lombardi, an above average stater/borderline Pro-Bowler)
  • Blue Chip (Another swipe from Lombardi, an elite player at his position)

READ NUMBERS 40-50 HERE

READ NUMBERS 30-40 HERE

READ NUMBERS 20-30 HERE

(STILL IN QUALITY STARTER CATEGORY) 

19. Bryan Thomas, Outside Linebacker – Doesn’t necessarily fill up the stat sheet but does all the little things that are needed to make a defense succeed. Thomas sat out the bulk of last season with a torn Achilles and the Jets badly missed him, struggling to find an adequate replacement. He will return to his starting role in 2012 and even though he will primarily be a two-down player, should still be a major part of the Jets ability to defend the run.

18. Bart Scott, Inside Linebacker – Coming off a rough 2011 season, Scott has dropped weight and earned rave reviews from the coaching staff this off-season for his increased speed on the field. Despite remaining a two-down  linebacker and having his replacement, Demario Davis, waiting in the wings, Scott is still capable of being a run stuffing linebacker and an emotional leader on defense.

17. Mike DeVito, Defensive End – A blue-collar 3-4 lineman who specializes in stopping the run. DeVito struggled with injuries last season and will likely see a decline in his playing time this year due to the selection of Quinton Coples and the Jets using more 4 man fronts. However, he remains a valuable part of the defensive line rotation and similar to Thomas and Scott will be key to the Jets run defense.

16. Tim Tebow, Quarterback – Who? Tebow will backup Mark Sanchez this season and be utilized in a variety of ways beyond that. If used properly, Tebow should add a dynamic dimension to the Jets offense and give them a valuable rushing weapon, particularly in short yardage situations. He remains limited as a passer but does have the arm to take advantage of defenses who stack the box against him.

15. Shonn Greene, Running Back – The Jets starting halfback, who has been one of the most discussed players on the roster this off-season. Greene has been very average the past two seasons but the Jets need him to be their primary go to back on a week to week basis if the Ground and Pound is going to work. He doesn’t need to be an elite back, because he doesn’t have the skill set to be, but the Jets need over 4 yards per carry and around 1,200 yards from him.

14. LaRon Landry, Safety – If healthy, Landry has the skill set to be a great in the box safety for Rex Ryan’s defense. However, his health remains a major question mark, so much so that the Jets are basically paying his contract out on a week to week basis.

13. Yeremiah Bell, Safety – The Jets recently added Bell as insurance for Landry and he has quickly impressed by picking up the defense and taking on a leadership role in the secondary. Bell is a natural strong safety but has more range than Eric Smith or LaRon Landy so could also see reps at the free safety position. I would not surprised if he makes a much larger impact than Landry in the secondary.

12. Calvin Pace, Outside Linebacker – Coming off a disappointing season where he struggled to get after the passer. Pace has been a good player since joining the team in 2008 but has never played to the level of his massive contract. Regardless he does a very good job at setting the edge and has the ability to get 7-9 sacks a season. He should benefit from the Jets trying more 4-3 and 46 looks this season. He is versatile enough to put his hand in the dirt and line up at defensive end along with his normal outside linebacker position.

11. Muhammad Wilkerson, Defensive End – This high on the list because of his potential. Wilkerson had a very good rookie season despite not having a full off-season to work with. The team is anticipating him making a huge leap in year two. From all reports, he has put together a terrific off-season and seems poised to meet his high expectations.

10. Mark Sanchez, Quarterback – One of the most unfairly criticized players in the NFL. Sanchez is far from a polished product or an elite quarterback but has demonstrated the ability to both win and perform successfully at this level. Tony Sparano’s offense should play more to his strengths than Brian Schottenheimer’s did and we anticipate a solid “bounce-back” year for Sanchez who did struggle down the stretch in 2011 but still finished with career highs in touchdowns, passing yards, completion percentage and quarterback rating.