New York Jets GM Search Marches On

The New York Jets GM search continues to march on

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Last Saturday we published this article citing a report from our friends at The Jets Blog that the New York Jets had hired Tom Gamble to be their new General Manager. While the contract remains on the table, the deal is not completed and is appearing less and less likely to be consummated with each passing day. If the report turns out to be ultimately inaccurate, we apologize for jumping the gun…so is the life and lessons of an independent website that has freedom to publish such things.

Anyway, since then the net has been cast wide on the General Manager search with some negative, perplexing and yes a few positive trends becoming apparent. Let’s take a run through who remains an option and try to make sense of this thing –

Tom Gamble – Originally considered a top of the line candidate and the Jets top option, Gamble has completely fell off the map…not just with the Jets but with other teams around the league. There are only two other GM openings left besides the Jets, Kansas City and Cleveland, and Gamble doesn’t appear to be a serious candidate for either of those jobs. He also lost out in San Diego to Tom Telesco and never got serious consideration in Jacksonville or Carolina. We heard from Pro Football Talk that Gamble didn’t interview well with the Jets and from an independent source that Gamble has no grasp on the salary cap. Could these be true or did Gamble want no part of the Jets because of the forced marriage with Rex Ryan, and the team is now spinning to the media? Only time will tell but his ascension to a GM position could very well not happen until a future off-season.

Marc Ross – He received an interview with the Jets Monday but has since not been mentioned as a serious candidate. Carolina went with Dave Gettleman instead of Ross out of the New York Giants front office and Ross doesn’t appear to be an option in Cleveland or Kansas City. Ross has an impressive resume and would be a strong hire but it doesn’t sound like the Jets are serious about him.

Dave Caldwell – Pretty simple here – Used his second interview with the Jets to leverage more money out of Jacksonville before taking the job.

John Dorsey – Expected to head to Kansas City. We haven’t heard a peep about him and the Jets in days.

Brian Gaine –  Out of the Bill Parcells tree, Gaine had his name pushed to Rich Cimini and Jason La Canfora from day one of the off-season because he wasn’t mentioned as a candidate for any team, anywhere this year except from those two in the first week of GM interviews. After the Jets went through the top tier candidates, Gaine has headlined the second group giving credence to a rumor that Korn Ferry (the firm in charge of the search) is heavily monitoring the media reaction to candidates. Despite his roots in NY and with the organization, he has a so-so resume and has too much of a Terry Bradway/Mike Tannenbaum influence. It is important to note, he was or is not a candidate for any open GM jobs this off-season except for the Jets.

Scott Cohen – A fallback, internal candidate. This would be a tough hire to sell. There is no logic behind promoting Mike Tannenbaum’s #2. There is a reason Cohen didn’t receive any interview requests this off-season from other teams. There is a reason he didn’t jump ship for a GM job after successful 2009 and 2010 seasons for the Jets. He is a Tom Heckert/Tannenbaum discipline. Do better, Jets.

Jerry Angelo – A big name in the second tier of GM candidates. Angelo has been out of work for a year after helping build a Chicago Bears team who reached the Super Bowl. Does he still have the fire/motivation to deal with a rebuilding process in New York, nevermind the media?

Omar Kahn – From everything we are hearing and reading, he sounds like the Pittsburgh Steelers version of Mike Tannenbaum, which is fine if you remove Terry Bradway’s influence from the scouting department and remake it entirely.

Jim Popp – The most intriguing candidate in the 2nd tier of GMs the team is interviewing. Popp is an extremely successful Canadian Football League General Manager, who interviewed for the Colts GM job last off-season and the Panthers GM job this off-season, ultimately losing out to Tom Telesco. Shake your initial laughter of hiring out of the CFL, Popp is highly regarded around the league and would an interesting, outside the box hiring by the Jets. The hiring would be enhanced if brought along Marc Trestman to be the team’s offensive coordinator. Trestman is currently the coach of Montreal Alouettes but has extensive NFL experience as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Simply put, he is a quarterbacks guru and the Jets need that desperately.

Breaking Down the New York Jets Roster – Again

Mike Donnelly breaks down the entire New York Jets roster and looks at who will and won’t be back next season

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Now that Rex Ryan has been retained as Jets Head Coach and he and Woody Johnson went ahead with their press conference/public stoning by the media, the big story in JetsLand these past few days has been who the new General Manager is going to be. The bigger issue, however, is what that new GM is going to do once he takes over the office previously occupied by Mike Tannenbaum. It’s impossible to say what free agents or rookies the new guy will bring in, but we can certainly analyze the current roster and who may or may not be back in 2013.

As you may recall, I broke down the roster from 1 through 53 back in October to show how little talent the Artist Formerly Known as Tanny assembled from top to bottom. While many players have either improved or worsened their stock since then, overall the talent level is still in pretty sad shape. I present to you the Jets roster from top to bottom, with a letter grade assigned for each player, and their percentage chance of returning in 2013. As with last time, the players will also be placed into one of 6 groups, split up as follows:

  • Group 1, The Darrelle Revis Division: An excellent NFL player who would either start for every team in the league, or would have any team in the league loving to get him (example: Quinton Coples falls into this category because of his potential, recent draft position, and big upside).
  • Group 2, The Jeremy Kerley Division (formerly the Dustin Keller Division): A good NFL starter that just about any team in the NFL would like to have, or a player with a lot of value.
  • Group 3, The Mike DeVito Division: A solid NFL player that has a role in the league and can contribute to a winning team.
  • Group 4, The 2011 Calvin Pace Division: A below average NFL player that shouldn’t be starting for any team, but could contribute in the right situation — in small doses — as a role player, or on special teams
  • Group 5, The Antonio Allen Division: An unproven young NFL player that may or may not develop into something for the team down the road. Too early to pass any real judgment for the most part.
  • Group 6, The 2012 Calvin Pace Division: Useless players. As opposed to group 5, they’ve had a chance to show what they have.. and what they have sucks.

Group 1, The Darrelle Revis Division

1. Darrelle Revis, A++. Obviously Revis is still the best player on this team and one of the best players in the whole league. I expect him to get a contract extension and be here for a very long time. – 99% to return.

2. Muhammad Wilkerson, A+. Wilkerson has improved his stock a great deal since the season began. Aside from J.J. Watt, there may not be a finer 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. – 100%.

3. Nick Mangold, A+. Still an elite offensive lineman and will be for at least a few more years. – 100%.

4. Antonio Cromartie, A+. When Revis went down, Cromartie rose to the occasion and showed himself to be a top 5 corner in the NFL. There’s a small chance he could be moved his offseason to clear cap room while his value is it’s highest, but I doubt it. – 90%.

5. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, A+. Brick bounced back from an off-year in 2011 and turned in a terrific season. An excellent Left Tackle. – 100%.

6. Quinton Coples, A. Coples doesn’t get the A grade based solely on his rookie production. He gets the A for the immense potential he showed and for his ability to cause havoc up front. There’s not a team in the league that wouldn’t take him. – 100%coplessmoke

7. LaRon Landry, A-. Landry managed to stay healthy and turned in a Pro Bowl season this year. It’s just a shame the team will likely be unable to meet his salary demands and bring him back next year. – 25%.

Group 2, The Jeremy Kerley Division

8. Santonio Holmes, B+. Holmes is still a very good WR capable of being a #1 and making big plays, but his season-ending foot injury combined with his high salary drop him down a peg or two. He’s still the biggest playmaker on the Jets and one of the most talented receivers in the league. – 90%.

9. David Harris, B. There is no question that the 2012 season was not what we have come to expect from the “Hitman”. His coverage ability slipped and he too often was out of position against the run, but the lack of talent around him and injuries at defensive tackle definitely played a big role in it. I expect him to bounce back in 2013, but the contract is still a big problem for our new GM. – 99%.

10. Jeremy Kerley, B-. Kerley isn’t a superstar or anything, but he’s a very reliable slot receiver and led the team in yardage this year. He could play for just about any team in the league and produce. He is also a valuable special teamer and makes hardly any money. – 100%.

11. Brandon Moore, B-. Moore’s play has slipped the past two years a little bit, especially in the run game, but he’s still a pretty solid starting NFL guard and provides veteran leadership. He’s a free agent and getting older, though, so let’s say.. – 50%.

12. Dustin Keller, B-. I’m not the biggest Keller fan, but his lack of production this year was due mainly to several injuries and the overall ineptitude of the offense. For the right team (he’s a free agent), Keller can really thrive. – 50%.

Group 3, The Mike DeVito Divison Part I

13. Mike DeVito, B-. DeVito is the kind of guy that every team in the league would love to have. He is excellent against the run, he is willing to play any position across the line, and he will never complain. Would be a big loss if he walks as a free agent. – 50%

14. Shonn Greene, C+. When used properly, Greene can be quite effective. He’s more of a 1B back suited for 12-15 carries to come in and deliver blows to a worn down defense like he did in 2009 and 2010. He’s also a free agent and I think the Jets are going to move in another direction, but he will help someone. – 40%.

15. Sione Po’uha, C. Po’uha was excellent the previous 3 seasons, but he really took a turn for the worse in 2012 after suffering a back injury in training camp. He’s getting up there in age and will definitely be cut in the offseason as a salary dump. There’s a chance he can come back on a reduced salary though to groom Kenrick Ellis for the job. – 33%.

16. Kyle Wilson, C. Kyle Wilson is nothing special, but I must admit he did play better in the second half of the season, and he even stopped doing that ridiculous finger wag. He could start for a few teams and provides us with a solid nickel option. – 100%.

17. Yeremiah Bell, C. Bell had a very solid season for us, and provided a big upgrade over Eric Smith, Jim Leonhard, and Brodney Pool. Unfortunately that isn’t saying much at all. Would like him back next year. – 66%.

18. Stephen Hill, C. Based on his performance in 2012, he clearly would be ranked lower than a C. However, he is still an extremely young player who could improve. I’m not sure guys suddenly learn how to catch the ball in their 20’s, but let’s hope he does. And let’s also hope our new GM isn’t stupid enough to rely on such a raw prospect to be a starting WR. – 100%.

19. Austin Howard, C. He provided some very good run blocking and some not-so-good pass blocking. He improved as the season went on, and I expect him back as a decent RT option. – 100%.

20. Kenrick Ellis, C. Ellis played very well in his limited action due to a knee injury. He very well could be our starting Nose Tackle next season. – 100%.

**The Mark Sanchez Group**

21. Mark Sanchez, C. Sanchez deserves his own special group. Not because he’s special in any way or such a great player, but because nobody seems to know what the hell to do with him. I’m not saying he deserves another chance to start here, but with his contract, I think that’s the road the team is going to go down. He will compete against a low-sanchezsadcost veteran, probably win the job, and then…. well, who knows what will happen then. But with some real quarterbacks coaching from a competent coach for the first time in his career (hopefully), there’s a chance the Sanchize can get back on track. Is it likely? No, probably not. But it’s what we have to hope for, and I just hope Jets fans will at least give him a chance in 2013 should he start game 1. If he’s released or traded, don’t be surprised to see him resurrect his career on a new team where the media pressure isn’t quite as severe and he actually has some weapons around him. He still has value, it just may not be in a Jets uniform. – 70 % he’s back.

And now back to…

Group 3, The Mike DeVito Division, Part II

22. Bilal Powell, C. Powell came on pretty strong in the second half of the season after battling some injuries and showed he’s a capable #2 back. I expect his role to expand a little bit next year. – 100%

23. Braylon Edwards, C. The majority of Jets fans were thrilled to see Braylon back this year. Sure, some of that was due to the fact Tannenbaum littered our roster with horrendous receivers throughout the season, but it was also because Braylon brings a lot to the team. He is a big, tough target, he can get down the field, and he can block. He has more value to the Jets than anyone else probably, and there is really no reason he shouldn’t be brought back next season. –  51%.

24. Matt Slauson, C. Slauson is just “meh”. He’s the epitome of average. There’s a place for him in the league, but the Jets should absolutely be looking for an upgrade along the offensive line this year. It’s clear the Jets are ready to move on from him because they let VLAD DUCASSE rotate with him. That’s not something you want on your resume. – 25%.

25. Demario Davis, C. Lots of Jets fans were excited for our 3rd round linebacker, but we didn’t get to see much of him this year. With the mass exodus of linebackers expected to take place on the roster, 2013 will be his chance to show what he’s got. – 100%.

26. Joe McKnight, C. I always find myself asking to see more of Joe McKnight because he shows big-play capability. Unfortunately, he always seems to be banged up and he seems unaware that fumbling is bad. Still an elite kick returner. – 100%.

27, 28, 29. Nick Folk, Robert “Mayday” Malone, Tanner Purdum, C. Gotta lump these 3 together. Folk put together very good season, as did our punter Mayday Malone. What, am I the only one who calls him that? Whatever. And you gotta admit, Tanner Purdum can snap a football!

Group 4, the 2011 Calvin Pace Division

30. Jeff Cumberland, C-. I’ve come around a little bit on Cumberland. He’s graduated from “totally useless” to just “borderline useless”. 50%.

31. Bart Scott, C-. I’ve always been a fan of Bart, but his play has clearly slipped. He’s still very good plugging the run, but his lack of speed is a big problem. He can find a spot in this league, and don’t be shocked if he’s back on a reduced contract next year. -20%.

32. Tim Tebow, C-. TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW. – 0%.

33. Garrett McIntyre, C-. Much like Cumberland, McIntyre is a guy I’ve really come around on. He was our best OLB this year probably, and although that isn’t saying much at all, the guy does try hard and occasionally makes a play. He has a role as a backup next year. – 100%.

34. Bryan Thomas, D+. He’s old, slow, and always injured. He had a decent season, but it’s over for BT. He had a solid career, but I’ll never forgive him for not being Ed Reed, who should have been the Jets selection in 2002. – 0%

35. Aaron Berry, D+. He was seemingly injured while signing his Jets contract, but he can provide a solid option against slot receivers in 2013. – 50%.

36. Josh Mauga, D+. I think Mauga can be useful as a backup inside linebacker and on special teams. He was going to take on a larger role this year but injuries nixed that. He’ll likely be back next year. – 90%.

37. Nick Bellore, D. Very good special teamer. Every team needs a guy like this. How are we only at #37?!?! – 90%.

Group 5, The Antonio Allen Division (no letter grades for these players, they all get Incompletes)

38. Greg McElroy.  Well, I guess not every late rounder who steps in to start for his team turns into Tom Brady. Oh well, he can still be a solid backup. – 90%.

39. Antonio Allen. He started to see the field more down the stretch of the season, and with both of our starting safeties being free agents, Allen could end up with a larger role next year. – 100%.

40. Josh Bush. (See Antonio Allen). – 100%.

41. Damon Harrison. He was curiously kept on the roster all season long, so Rex must see something in him. With Po’uha possibly gone, Big Dame could have a role in 2013. – 75%.

42. Clyde Gates. Of all the players here in Group 5, Gates played the most. He clearly isn’t the most polished receiver, but he shockingly had a few good moments. With big supporter Tony Sparano getting the ax though, he may not be back in green next year. – 50%.

43. Ricky Sapp. Ricky “the Tease” Sapp. He always gets coaches and other players talking about his potential, then he never delivers on the field, whether due to injury or lack of opportunity. He’ll be in camp next year, but it remains to be seen whether or not he can make his mark. – 50%.

44. Hayden Smith. The Australian rugby star has some ability. We’ll see if he can put it together in year 2. –  75%.

45. Isaiah Trufant. Last time I said this about him: “He’s a poor man’s Ellis Lankster. And considering Lankster has a homeless man’s amount of ability, I’m not even sure what that would make Trufant.” That was a bit harsh, because when he played this year he actually showed some promise. – 75%.

46. Josh Baker. God, do you know how hard it is to write 2-3 sentences about all these guys?! I mean look at this roster… – 50%.

Group 6, the 2012 Calvin Pace Division

47. Calvin Pace, F. Pace took the torch as my most loathed Jet in 2012. The master of the “run into offensive lineman, extend arms, stand there til play ends” pass rush move will not be a Jet in 2013. He may not even be in the league. – 0%.

48. Ellis Lankster, F. Ellis Lankster stinks. – 25%.Vladimir Ducasse

49. Vlad Ducasse, F. Ducasse became the face of the Fire Tannenbaum campaign. How could this man have been a second round pick?! – 25%.

50. Eric Smith, F. I’m really hoping he is roughing punters and slowly running behind tight ends and wide receivers for the Buffalo Bills next year. – 0%.

51. Chaz Schilens, F. Mike Tannenbaum thought Schilens and Stephen Hill would make for a fine #2 WR platoon this year. In related news, Mike Tannenbaum got fired. – 0%

52. Jason Smith, F. At least he wasn’t Wayne Hunter. – 0%

53. Caleb Schlauderaff, F. Mike Tannenbaum spoke of him as a possible “next Victor Cruz”. Again, is it any wonder Mike Tannenbaum was fired? – 25%

54. Konrad Reuland, F. With all the good tight ends coming out of Stanford, we got stuck with this one? – 25%.

55. Lex Hilliard, F. The fullback who somehow was worse than John Conner. Couldn’t run block, couldn’t pass block, couldn’t catch, and couldn’t pick up short yardage. – 0%.

As you can see, the new General Manager (whoever the hell that ends up being) has a lot of work to do. There are clearly some pieces in place to lead the team, but the “middle class” of the roster needs an overhaul. To win in the NFL you need quite a few role players to chip in and help out. When a starter goes down, there needs to be a next man up to fill that role. On this roster, the next man up is too often Vlad Ducasse or Konrad Reuland, and that needs to change.

Turn On The Jets Off-Season Roundtable – Quarterback

The Turn On The Jets staff discusses how the New York Jets should handle the quarterback position this off-season

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Welcome to our off-season review of the New York Jets roster at Turn On The Jets. Each week we are going to attack a different position. We will have a roundtable discussion on it, Steve Bateman will submit a film breakdown examining it and our draft staff will look at potential prospects the Jets could add. This week, we start at quarterback…

How should the New York Jets handle quarterback this off-season?

Joe Caporoso – There are few people who were bigger Mark Sanchez defenders/apologists heading into this season than myself. However, at this point I truly think he cannot play quarterback for this team any more. There is too much vitriol from the fan-base towards him and players in the locker room have to question his ability to lead them to victories. New York has worn him down and he is in need of a fresh start elsewhere. Despite the cap hit, the Jets must completely cut ties with their quarterback situation from last year (which includes ridding themselves of the Tebow Media Circus). The recruitment of a capable veteran will be harmed by Sanchez’s presence both because of his contract and how last season played out. Tebow’s presence would also discourage veterans from signing here for obvious reasons.

The answer isn’t a sexy one. It likely involves finding a low cost veteran like Matt Moore, Kyle Orton, or Brian Hoyer and hoping he can hold the fort for a year or two. This year’s draft is heavy on mid-round quarterback prospects and it wouldn’t hurt to take one in the 3rd or 4th round in hopes of finding the next Russell Wilson or at least a developmental project. Overall, these decision are going to be heavily influenced by the offensive coordinator hiring and what type of system he runs.

A few names Jets fans should forget about happening – Mike Vick and Alex Smith because of their price tags. Kirk Cousins because of RG-III’s injury. Matt Flynn will also likely fall out of their price range. Greg McElroy because he simply doesn’t have the physical tools to start in the NFL.

Chris Gross – As the Jets continue with their rebuilding of the front office, the ultimate elephant in the room remains – what will the organization decide to do at the quarterback position? As the season ending press conference revealed today, all offensive personnel decisions will rely largely on who the new Offensive Coordinator will be. Personnel depends on system in football. It is mightily difficult to assume what the Jets will do at quarterback until they have an idea of what type of offense they will have next season. That being said, here are a few possible scenarios:

Mark Sanchez – By now, it is no secret that Mark Sanchez will be the most difficult piece of this roster to move this offseason. His guaranteed $8 million + make him a very unappealing trade part, while the dead money in excess of $12 million to be left if he is outright released will make it extremely tough for him to be cut. Are the Jets stuck with the former 5th overall pick? Maybe, maybe not. The bottom line will end up being how the new General Manager views Sanchez as a fit in the new Offensive Coordinator’s system. If he feels that a new coach and plan can resurrect his career, he will be on the roster to compete for the starting job heading into next season. If the GM feels that there is no way that Sanchez can make a turnaround, look for him to try and move the player who was once viewed as the franchise quarterback. Only time will tell.

Tim Tebow – If I had to guess, I’d say Tebow will be released once the front office is put into place. However, like Sanchez, this could depend heavily on the new coordinator and how he views Tebow as a fit to his system. If the new GM is convinced that Tebow can be a vital piece of the Jets offensive plans moving forward, perhaps he could be brought back to compete in camp as well. On the other hand, if the new GM wants nothing to do with the media circus that surrounds the most polarizing figure in professional football, expect him to be moved rather quickly once he officially gets to work.

Matt+Moore+Washington+Redskins+v+Miami+Dolphins+qZak_tDNg42lVeteran – This is a very likely move. Regardless of who remains on the roster out of Sanchez and Tebow, a competent veteran will need to be brought in to compete for the starting job. Again, who that player is will depend on how he is viewed as a fit in the new offensive system. Possible names to keep an eye on include Matt Moore, Jason Campbell, Alex Smith, Matt Flynn, and Brian Hoyer. A trade for Redskins backup Kirk Cousins would be an ideal, low cost move, however with the recent injury to Robert Griffin III, it is highly unlikely that Washington will part ways with Cousins.

Draft – The draft class of quarterbacks is average at best this year. Surely, many of these guys will see their stocks rise and fall as the Senior Bowl, Combine, and individual workouts unfold, but it is highly unlikely that the Jets use anything earlier than a fourth round pick on a quarterback, considering the vast holes all over the roster. We will have a more in-depth look at potential quarterback prospects later in the week.

Ultimate Prediction – Sanchez is brought back due to the handcuffs his contract places on the organization. Tim Tebow will either be traded or released, paving way for a free agent veteran signing, or trade. Question is, what free agent will be willing to come here knowing how much Sanchez will be making next season, particularly looking at what happened at the position this past year. However, some players will need a job, and with a coach in Rex Ryan, who is clearly no longer committed to Sanchez as this team’s starting quarterback, the Jets will surely be able to lure someone to come in and compete with him for the starting job next season. The Jets may look to draft a developmental player in the later rounds, but this need could get pushed until next year’s draft when a stronger class of quarterbacks is expected to be in play. The Jets would be wise to focus on their other needs in the draft this year, while bringing Greg McElroy back to compete with Sanchez and a veteran addition in training camp.

Mike DonnellyAs everyone knows, quarterback is the most important position football and arguable in all of sports. Unfortunately for us long-suffering Jets fans, it’s also the position that our favorite team has failed to find a long-term answer at for going on four decades now. Our latest failed experiment was in the form of 2009 #5 overall pick Mark Sanchez, whose very name being mentioned these days elicits all kind of anger and hatred from this fan base. Well I’m here to tell you that you may as well get ready for one more season of the Sanchize.

By now, we all know that the cap ramifications of cutting Sanchez are far too great to go down that road. What the team should –and likely will– do, is bring in a veteran like Matt Moore to compete with Sanchez in the offseason and have the best man play. Just as importantly, they need to get a REAL quarterbacks coach (Norv Turner!) in here to coordinate the offense and develop whichever guy is throwing passes for us, because for the past 4 seasons the offensive coaching here as been abysmal.

Forget about drafting a QB at #9 because there really are no players entering the draft worthy of that spot. Forget about trading for a stud, because there are none available out there. Forget about signing an established player, because they don’t exist. The Sanchez/mystery-decent-veteran-QB combo is going to be our best available option for 2013 and I full expect that to be what happens. I just hope the fans who wrote Sanchez off this year are able to let bygones be bygones and actually cheer for him when he wins the job next year rather than boo from day 1 and carry over the toxic atmosphere from this season. WIshful thinking, I’m sure…

Rob Celletti – The New York Jets are at a crossroads with their quarterback, and in a league that requires stability and quality at that position to ensure consistent success, the decisions the Jets make in the coming months are crucial. The way I see it, there are three options for the Jets GM-to-be:

1) “The Obvious Option” – Acquire a middling, veteran, game-manager type quarterback and bring him in with the idea that he’s probably going to be your opening day starter. Think along the lines of Alex Smith or Matt Moore.

2) “The Revolutionary Option” – Rehabilitate Mark Sanchez. I call this the “Revolutionary Option” for two reasons: 1) In order to do this, the Jets will need to revolutionize (see what I did there?!) their offense, i.e., new system, new players; 2) If the Jets choose this option, there’s a good chance there’s a fan revolution at Florham Park in August.

3) “The Nuclear Option” – Michael Vick. Odds are the Eagles will let him go. Vick turned the ball over about as frequently as Sanchez, and also plays a physically taxing style that leads to frequent injury. But acquiring Vick would be exciting, and his style of play does fit the modern NFL. At least if the Jets lose, they’d be scoring points while doing so. I probably like this option more than I should.

As I wrote in my Sanchez wrap-up last week, none of these options is particularly appetizing.  It doesn’t look like there’s an Andrew Luck in the draft that’s going to fall into Gang Green’s lap.  Our new colleague Steve Hunter, who knows more about the X’s and O’s of football than I ever will, still gives Sanchez a puncher’s chance at becoming a successful NFL quarterback. I could give the kid another year personally, but I know most Jets fans cannot.

Steve Bateman – This won’t make me popular amongst the masses, but despite enduring a season that was in parts nothing less than shocking, my belief is that Mark Sanchez is still equipped to lead the Jets offense in 2013.

I think it’s fair to say that personnel-wise the 2012 season was – in almost every imaginable way – a freak, and it’s probably wise to bear that in mind and carry some perspective forward going into next season. Sanchez had a year to forget, that’s way beyond dispute, but let’s not suppose that his troubles necessarily herald the end of his career in the Big Apple. On the contrary, things may just be about to get interesting…

If Sanchez is to survive this storm he needs to be supported – not in the sense of the tired old argument that “he needs more weapons” or the ridiculous tabloid caricature that he’s some kind of feeble-minded kid trapped inside a man’s body – but in a much simpler, and more obvious way. Essentially, it’s time for the Jets to respect the fact that Sanchez is the hub of their offensive unit and finally begin to act according to that fact.

Early indications suggest that this season’s car-crash may have been the short, sharp shock that the Jets needed – long-time QB coach Matt Cavanaugh has already been shown the door, and it appears to be a matter of time until offensive coordinator Tony Sparano follows him. Now the front office has to get it right and acknowledge that for way too long they have been trying to ground and pound a round peg into a square hole.

At long, long last it’s time for the Jets to give the Californian what he needs and return him to the environment that made him a first-round draft pick in the first place. Sanchez can still succeed, but that can only happen when the West Coast Offense makes its way East.

TJ Rosenthal – Mark Sanchez has dwindled into a mental molecule. A new Jets OC and QB coach will have to re-program his mind in order for Sanchez to face his own home stadium, let alone opposing defenses. Keeping Sanchez while he rehabs his emotional state as an experienced vet is added to compete for and hopefully win the job, makes the most sense. Sanchez as a backup who has won four playoff games already? We’d sign on for it. Give him a chance to repair but no way Rex. No pilot’s license for 6. Even if that means changing your the jersey number on your tattoo.

12 Pack Of New York Jets Off-Season Thoughts – 2013, Edition #1

Turn On The Jets with 12 off-season thoughts on the New York Jets

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The 12 packs do not stop here at Turn On The Jets. Every week, this space will now be used for a collection of 12 weekly off-season thoughts on the New York Jets (This will normally run on Fridays, not Mondays). Some exciting things to look forward to in the coming weeks 

On to the 12 pack…

1. The hiring of Tom Gamble as the New York Jets General Manager is not official yet and many are beginning to panic since he is interviewing with San Diego, while the Jets still interview Marc Ross and Scott Cohen. We remain confident in Bassett’s report and think the outline he provided this morning is a sensible explanation. Nothing is 100% until the contract is signed but it would take a major turn of events for this not to go through. The Jets must interview Ross today to comply with the Rooney Rule and need to get their act together for the season ending press conference tomorrow, while Gamble is posturing for further leverage knowing he is team’s top choice. If he isn’t officially hired by Wednesday night/Thursday morning…then it is time to panic (although ending up with Ross wouldn’t be a disaster at all).

2. Tomorrow’s press conference should be an interesting one to say the least. Expect an angry, vindictive New York media coming hard after Rex Ryan and Woody Johnson. What is the over/under on tattoo and Tebow questions? Do not look for too many answers of note coming out of either Johnson or Rex. The entire organization is in flux until the GM hiring becomes official.

3. I have been banging this drum pretty loudly on Twitter the past few weeks but a few cost effective upgrades for the Jets on offense could be letting Dustin Keller and Shonn Greene walk and replacing them with Delanie Walker and Chris Ivory, respectively. You can get familiar with the entire free agent list right here. (Note that Ivory is going to be a Restricted Free Agent this off-season, not Unrestricted).

4. It is hard not to look forward to the complete house cleaning of the Jets linebacker position, which outside of quarterback is the biggest disaster on the team. Bryan Thomas, Bart Scott and Calvin Pace will all be let go, with Thomas and Scott likely retiring. Pace could probably find a taker on a minimum contract from a team who plays 3-4 but at this point, he is strictly a 2 down linebacker. David Harris will be back but remains one of the most overpaid players in the league and is coming off a career worst season. It is going to take an aggressive approach in the draft and free agency to fix this mess. There will be some intriguing options likely available at #9 and the list of available linebackers in free agency is deep this season (Paul Kruger, Conner Barwin, Antwan Barnes, Manny Lawson, Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler).

5. LaRon Landry is going to be a tough player to bring back in 2013. He was a good fit in Rex Ryan’s defense as an in the box safety and earned himself a trip to the Pro-Bowl. However, he has limitations in coverage and is likely going to be seeking a contract out of the Jets budget. Paying 3 million per year for Landry is one thing, paying 7 million a year for him? Probably not a wise move, particularly with so much money already tied up in the secondary.

6. Plenty of superlatives being thrown out for Buffalo’s hire of Doug Marrone. Somehow I don’t think we’d be hearing so many if Woody Johnson made the decision to hire a college coach who went 25-25 at Syracuse. This isn’t to say Marrone will be a bad coach but it is interesting how heavily he is being praised already with such an unproven record. Similar to the Jets, Buffalo won’t be going anywhere until they find a quarterback.

7. The Jets will likely be looking at 4-6 new starters on each of the football in 2013. We haven’t seen roster turnover like that since between the 2005 and 2006 season. Similar to now, that team was expected to be entering a long rebuilding phase. However they surprised everybody by going 10-6 thanks primarily to Chad Pennington putting together a steady year at quarterback, a strong draft and a few savvy low-cost free agent signings/trade acquisitions. Nothing wrong with looking for a silver lining, right?

8. The Jets need to find a way to bring Mike DeVito back. Mike Tannenbaum allowed too many players like DeVito to leave over the years and it caught up to him. DeVito is a versatile, blue-collar player who is essential to the Jets defensive line rotation. He is also one of the leaders in the locker room and one of the team’s most high character guys. Besides, if he walks…you know he is ending up in New England.

9. Whoever is in charge of Gameday Operations for Jets games – No more C-List celebrities leading awkward J-E-T-S chants before the game. No more special teams being called out as starters. No more fireworks and poorly timed music being blared. Thank you.

10. Quinton Coples led the Jets this season with 5.5 sacks, despite only playing in 47% of the team’s snaps. It was quietly a very strong year for Coples, who will only get better as his technique improves and playing time increases. I was as critical about the pick as anybody but he proved his critics wrong and could be a double-digit sack guy next year playing alongside Muhammad Wilkerson and improved outside linebackers.

11. As for the other rookies, it is easy to be down on Stephen Hill’s future after a disappointing rookie year but we knew he was far from a finished product coming out of Georgia Tech. Shame on the Jets for forcing him into the starting line-up with no capable veterans at split end to help ease him in. Hill has the physical skills but still needs to improve his hands and route-running. He can be an consistently explosive player in this league, it is just going to take time. Demario Davis didn’t get much of a shot this year, so it will be interesting to see how he fits in the new GM’s plans. Antonio Allen has potential going forward as a situational player and special teamer.

12. Words I never want to hear again associated with the Jets: Wildcat, Process, (Insert Number Here) is eligible, Ground and/or Pound, TEBOW, Pump fake.

Turn On The Jets – Wild-Card Weekend NFL Picks

THe TOJ staff gives their picks for WIld-Card Weekend

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The Race for Steak continues. Only 11 games to go… 

CURRENT STANDINGS

1. Rob Celletti (137-112-7)

2. Chris Gross (129-120-7)

3. Mike Donnelly (129-122-5)

4. Chris Celletti (126-124-6)

5. Joe Caporoso (114-135-7)

Joe Caporoso

Last Week (12-4)

Cincinnati (+4) at Houston – This is a popular pick…almost popular enough to make me want to change it. However, Matt Schaub has never played in a playoff game and has looked generally mediocre the final month of the season. The Texans defense has started to slip due to injuries and they lack weapons in the passing game outside of Andre Johnson. Beyond that, they are terrible on special teams which is a key ingredient in allowing any upset to happen. The Bengals are quietly very good on defense, good enough to think they will be within 3 points and maybe steal a win.

Green Bay (-8) vs. Minnesota – There is nothing comfortable about betting against Adrian Peterson. Yet, sometimes it is as simple as Christian Ponder in Lambeau in January. What happens if this game gets to 21-7. How does Minnesota come back?

Baltimore (-6.5) vs. Indianapolis – Hate to go against Chuckstrong but the Ravens will be motivated for the last home game of Ray Lewis’ career. They have been far from impressive down the stretch but this is a veteran, playoff tested team who will be playing at home against a rookie quarterback surrounded by a ton of inexperienced players. Andrew Luck has been terrific but remains prone to turnovers. Look for the Ravens to take advantage of that and both win and cover.

Seattle (-3) at Washington – The best game of the weekend. Seattle has a far superior defense which will be the difference here. Robert Griffin III is clearly not at 100% right now, which means Washington won’t have enough to overcome Seattle’s pass rush and the playmaking ability of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. Also Seattle has a nice special teams advantage with Leon Washington returning kicks and punts.

Mike Donnelly

Last Week (11-5)

  • Houston (-4) over Cincinnati 
  • Green Bay (-8) over Minnesota
  • Baltimore (-6.5) over Indianpolis 
  • Washington (+3) over Seattle 

Rob Celletti

Last Week (8-8)

  • Cincinnati (+4) over Houston
  • Green Bay (-8) over Minnesota
  • Indianapolis (+6.5) over Baltimore
  • Washington (+3) over Seattle 

Chris Celletti

Last Week (9-7)

Check Best Bets for more details

  • Cincinnati (+4) over Houston
  • Green Bay (-8) over Minnesota
  • Indianapolis (+6.5) over Baltimore
  • Washington (+3) over Seattle 

Chris Gross

Last Week (8-8)

  • Cincinnati (+4) over Houston
  • Minnesota (+8) over Green Bay
  • Baltimore (-6.5) over Indianapolis 
  • Seattle (-3) over Washington 

How Tanny And Tony Tanked The New York Jets Running Game

Steve Bateman on how Tony Sparano tanked the New York Jets running game by employing a gap-blocking scheme

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We are thrilled to welcome Steve Bateman to our writing staff as a full time contributor. He will be providing weekly film breakdowns and contributing to our roundtables among other things. Check out our About page to learn more about Steve’s previous work and make sure to give him a follow on Twitter

All New York Jets fans know that 2012 wasn’t a vintage year for offensive production. And most are equally aware of the fact that the franchise can only solve that problem by blowing up the roster and getting shot of Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene, Matt Slauson and so on. But wait. Maybe I use the word ‘fact’ when really I should say ‘media-driven hype’ because – as we’re about to see – sometimes common wisdom isn’t quite as wise as the newspaper men might like us to believe it is.

But before we start looking at the real reason why the Jets’ trademarked ground-and-pound (and the Sanchez-led passing game that depends on it) crashed-and-burned last year, let’s remind ourselves of the fact that much like chess, the outcome of a football game generally depends on the people who move the pieces as much as it does upon the pieces themselves. This truism is what first set me to thinking about how the Jets running game had suddenly degenerated from being adequate enough to secure back-to-back AFC Championship appearances to being the, if-you’ll-excuse-me, butt of cheap jokes throughout the league.

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Cast your mind back to the time when offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and his chief henchman, offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo (left), first arrived at the New Meadowlands amid fanfares and proclamations that their new ‘Power Running Game’ would revitalize the Jets’ flagging ground attack. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it – power running? In actual fact it’s no more or less powerful than any other kind of running scheme – it simply sounds as if it is. So let’s refer to it instead by it’s slightly less deceptive name and call it gap-blocking.

Now, throughout the years when the Jets’ rushing game was at its peak under former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and line coach Bill Callahan, zone-blocking schemes were the order of the day. This revelation in itself begs a couple of important questions, namely: In terms of execution, how similar is one scheme to another, and can somebody who’s effective as a zone-blocker be equally successful in a gap-blocking schematic? Let’s dig a little deeper…

The basic difference between the two is that in gap-blocking, linemen will be assigned to block a certain defender one-on-one and the running back will look to exploit a predetermined lane (or hole) through the defensive line. In zone-blocking schemes on the other hand, each player is told to move in the direction of the play and double-teams are formed against the opposing linemen. Then when a defender is taken out of the play or “washed down”, one of the double-teamers will come off him and look to make a second-level block on a linebacker or safety. Meanwhile, the ball-carrier is left to make a read on where the best running lane is.

In terms of the differing types of personnel that are required, because zone-blocking relies on linemen double-teaming defenders, strength and size are not terribly important. What’s far more useful is a combination of agility and speed so that the secondary blocks can be made against the smaller but more slippery linebackers and safeties.

Gap-blocking requires the exact opposite of these attributes – linemen in this kind of scheme benefit from having the size and strength that’s required to shunt defenders off the line of scrimmage in a man-to-man confrontation.

In summary, then, not only do zone-blocking (Schottenheimer/Callahan) and gap-blocking (Sparano/DeGuglielmo) differ massively in a schematic sense, they also demand entirely different types of personnel. Yet all of this seems to have been lost on the 2012 Jets, because for reasons best known to themselves, they opted to switch from zone to gap-blocking whilst maintaining almost exactly the same front-five lineup. This was hardly a recipe for success.

But the greatest madness of Sparano’s scheme centered on running back Shonn Greene (below, right). The man known to fans as ‘War Machine’ is a classic example of a runner who is suited to one kind of scheme and one only. Effectively Sparano could not have done more to mismanage his number one back.shonn-greene_mad_bro

Zone-blocking demands what’s generally referred to as a ‘one-cut runner’ – somebody who is powerful, disciplined and capable of running downhill (ie going to the ground while at the same time driving through tackles). It’s also essential that he has excellent vision as he’ll be required to flow in the direction of the play and then cut back to exploit any holes that open up. Agility and speed are not really factors because he’ll always find himself running through areas that are congested by defenders AND linemen who are making their downfield blocks. He cannot be an egotist who thrives on big plays – on the contrary he must be a team player who’s happy to collect 80+ yards per game in 4-5 yard chunks. Greene has all of these qualities in abundance.

But to succeed in a gap-blocking scheme such as the one that Sparano implemented, a back must have explosive speed out of the backfield so that he can quickly hit the pre-designated point of attack, and use his elusiveness to evade would-be tacklers at the line of scrimmage. Then, once he’s downfield, he can take advantage of his speed and agility to capitalize on the open space by spinning and juking past unblocked defenders. Anybody who has watched Greene play football for five minutes should know that he is probably the last running back in the NFL who could be said to fit that description.

So why did Sparano commit to a gap-blocking system, and where do the Jets go from here? Well, the simple answer to the first part of the question is that it’s what he’s always done; cats don’t bark, dogs don’t meow, and Tony Sparano doesn’t run zone-blocking offenses. So in many ways the responsibility for this mess lies with former General Manager Mike Tannenbaum – the man who hired him in the first place. But the issue runs much deeper than that, and it highlights a significant problem that the Jets must resolve going forward, namely that whoever replaces Tannenbaum must be able to compensate for coach Rex Ryan’s almost complete ignorance of offensive strategy. Essentially Sparano’s hiring was an institutional failure, and that must never be allowed to happen again.

greg-knapp_slick_dudeIn terms of how to resolve the situation, the Jets have to do one of two things – either a) they replace Sparano with an offensive coordinator who is familiar with the zone-blocking scheme (my personal prayer goes out to Norv Turner, although realistically I’d be happy with somebody like former Raiders man Greg Knapp, left), re-sign Greene, and return to the ground-and-pound of old, or b) they abandon Greene to free agency, hire somebody with an ideology that’s similar to Sparano’s (Mike Mularkey would fit the bill) and look to rebuild both their offensive line and running back corps.

Fortunately it appears that the most sensible option is also the more likely one: Because of the current cap calamity in Florham Park it would be suicidal for the Jets front office to waste cap space and draft picks on rebuilding two areas of the team that were never really broken. And while Greene’s style of running will always make him unpopular with fans, the stark reality is that he is both perfectly serviceable and incredibly cheap (his average salary over the past 4 years has been just $663,750 per annum – by way of comparison, Reggie Bush’s earnings have averaged out at $4.9M per annum over the past 2 years).

Drawing to a conclusion, the Jets’ 2012 campaign was an almost unmitigated offensive disaster, but fortunately a quick off-season autopsy identifies the cause of death quite clearly. If the situation is to be remedied then it can only be realistically done so via a return to tried-and-trusted principles – any other kind of fix would just be inviting more disaster further down the road.

Over the next few weeks we will have some idea of where the franchise is heading when owner Woody Johnson announces who his offensive coordinator will be in 2013. Then, when the NFL carousel moves to Radio City in the spring, we’ll get an even better indication by looking at which areas the new General Manager chooses to rebuild.

The 2013 off-season is set to be a critical point in the development of the New York Jets franchise, and the two key decisions of who to hire as General Manager and offensive coordinator will almost certainly dictate whether the next 3-5 years see a recovery or an even deeper nosedive.

The past season, it seems, was nothing more than an appetizer for the real drama which is yet to come.

Closing the Book on Another New York Jets Quarterback

Rob Celletti closes the book on another New York Jets quarterback

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The first time I sat down to write for this website, this is what came out: http://turnonthejets.com/2011/07/two-decades-of-jets-quarterbacks-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/. Heading into the 2011 season, it was a simple overview of the five primary Jets starting quarterbacks I had watched since becoming a fan of this team over twenty years ago. I started with Boomer Esiason in 1993, as my memories from before then are foggy at best. So, after doing some simple math, I realized that the Jets have burned through five quarterbacks – actually six, if you count Brett Favre – in 19 years. That averages out to a new quarterback every 3 or 4 seasons.

Success in the NFL is defined by stability in two places: head coach and quarterback. After the 2010 season, Jets fans could not be blamed for believing that they had finally found both key pieces. Now, less than two calendar years removed from the second greatest win in franchise history, the Jets are back to square one at one at quarterback, which is a bad, bad place to be in the pass-happy NFL of 2013.

I have argued, and will always argue, that the Jets were as responsible for the failure of Mark Sanchez as he was himself. It’s a true 50/50 split. Yes, Sanchez turned the ball over at a ridiculous rate, and unlike other turnover-prone quarterbacks like Philip Rivers and Eli Manning, did not have the big play capability to make up for it. He threw interceptions on screen passes. He gave us the butt-fumble: the type of thing that makes the Jets seem a lot more like the Cleveland Browns than they actually are.

But Sanchez was also failed by the organization’s refusal to embrace a modern approach to NFL offense. Sure, you can argue that going into 2011, the Jets wanted to “open it up” and throw more. They said they did. But getting Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason was the absolute worst way to go about doing that. Still, Sanchez was one of the better red zone quarterbacks in the NFL that season, and actually made strides in every area statistically, throwing what will likely be a career-high 26 touchdowns and running for 6 more.

But instead of building around their quarterback with better skill players and protectors along his offensive line, the supporting cast deteriorated. Rex Ryan announced that the Jets were going back to their “ground and pound” roots. The problem with this theory? In order to win that way in the NFL, you need a running back with the initials AP or MJD, supplemented by an all-world defense. The Jets had neither. They hired a totally incompetent offensive coordinator to replace a bad one. The team got progressively worse in all facets on the side of the ball that has become more important in the NFL over the past decade.

So as this season spiraled into the utter disaster it became, one thing became clear: Mark Sanchez was broken. He was undone by his own mistakes, by the deterioration of the situation around him, by the shortcomings of a coach that simply doesn’t know offense, by the vitriol of an impatient and unrealistic fan base. It came to a head when Sanchez needed to be benched for the Jets to beat the woeful Cardinals, and exploded fantastically (and in true, Same Old Jets fashion) on a Monday night just a few weeks ago in Tennessee.

The Jets need to find a new general manager before they can find their next quarterback, but the immediate solutions are not appetizing. As the Colts and Redskins have shown this year, one-year rebuilds in the NFL are possible, if Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III happen to fall into your lap. The Jets are likely entering a “stop-gap” phase at quarterback, which means, most-likely, mediocrity.

At the risk of beating the dead horse, the simple truth is this: you must throw the ball to be successful in the NFL. To be honest, I’m tired of hearing otherwise. Eleven – that’s right, ELEVEN – quarterbacks threw for more than 4,000 yards this year, and Eli Manning was just 52 yards away from being number 12. That’s why the Tim Tebow trade drove me to the edge as a fan. It was symbolic of just how out of touch the Jets are with the league they’re competing in.

So as fans wait for this team to join the 21st century on offense, they’re left to wonder: who is the quarterback that will lead them there? It certainly seems as though Mark Sanchez’s time is up.

No Sympathy Among New York Jets Fans For Local Media

The New York media is finding no sympathy among fans for the Jets delaying their year end press conference

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The New York media is angry. How dare the New York Jets not send Rex Ryan to them in a timely manner that suits their needs at the end of the season. The snarky Tweets and bitter character assassination pieces are already swirling. Mike Francesa’s head almost exploded yesterday. Manish Mehta is digging back for old quotes from whispers in the wind that can conveniently fit a headline and get him another interview with Mike Florio so they could have a chuckle about dumb old Rex. They are demanding answers and in the most comical way possible – by saying the fans deserve to know…it is the fans who need answers and the beat writers are ready to inform and educate the public!

Of course, anybody with a shred of common sense who has been following this team all year is laughing at the local media and gladly siding with a team they have plenty of reasons to hate right now. The Jets have been a mess…on the field and off the field. Their approach to PR and media needs to be completely revamped, which is why every fan is happy to see them keeping their mouths shut right now while they get their house in order.

Why send Rex Ryan out there when he has no answers? He might not even be the team’s coach by this time next week. He doesn’t know who is coming back on his staff. He doesn’t know what is happening with Mark Sanchez. The Jets are waiting to get an idea of who their GM will be and where their approach will head so a unified, sensible voice can finally be projected from the organization. They are supposed to rush Rex out their prematurely so satisfy this media after this year?

How can somebody on The Daily News staff talk about ethics and professional behavior after their conduct this year? Anybody who took an intro level communications class in high school knows how low they sunk with their standards this year. Anonymous quotes. Selective use of outdated quotes and information. Blurring the line between on the record and off the record, as it suits the punchy headline’s need. Nevermind Manish Mehta claiming Rex Ryan asked out of his job with shaky sourcing and then not even showing up at his press conference the next day when Rex addressed the article. Hopefully the Jets are taking this time to research how much they can limit that publication’s credentialed access this season.

Beat writers demanding answers for fans is such a joke because we have been watching and listening this year. The media embarrassed themselves in the daily press conferences. We heard more about Tim Tebow shirtless than any action on the actual field. No questions about upcoming games…just questions about an irrelevant backup quarterback who made no impact this year. Nothing on Muhammad Wilkerson turning into a All-Pro caliber player. Nothing on Quinton Coples exceeding everybody’s low expectations in his rookie year. Not a peep on questioning why younger players didn’t get more reps down the stretch. No exploration into if Nick Mangold was more hurt than he was letting on, leading to a declined level of play. You know…football coverage, not TMZ TEEE-BOWWW coverage!

In some of their shocked and angry responses to fan’s backlash today, the media showed how out of touch they really are. This is 2013. We can all watch Rex Ryan’s press conference stream live online. We don’t need you reporting what happens there. Fans would be content if the Jets streamed Rex live to an empty room over the Internet this Tuesday. We can get injury updates and practice reports from the team in training camp or just go watch ourselves or read what other fans are Tweeting out about it.

There is endless in-depth actual football coverage of the team going on outside of the “credentialed” press. I want film breakdowns or roster analysis, I have a great staff here. I want informed commentary on all the day’s issues with the team I read The Jets Blog. I need to understand the salary cap situation and want more roster analysis, I read NY Jets Cap. I want to hear player interviews and fan interaction, I listen to Flight 5 Live. Social media trends? I got Jets Twit. Feature length commentary? Green Lantern and The Jet Report. This list of quality content goes on – The Jet Press. Jet Nation. Nevermind the endless amount of feedback and discussion that can be had on Twitter with other followers of the team.

There are writers on the Jets beat who do good work on a daily basis but how can they not understand where the Jets and their fans are coming from right now? The lack of professionalism from primarily The Daily News has merited this while the team works to get their house in order. Fans care about that…not about hearing Rex torn to shreds this Thursday instead of next Tuesday.

New York Jets – An Off-Season Roster Checklist

An overview of where the New York Jets need to improve their roster

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We are going to have an in-depth look through the entire New York Jets roster from our staff, supported by film breakdown from Steve Bateman and draft coverage from Chris Gross, along with roundtables featuring Mike Donnelly, TJ Rosenthal, Chris Celletti and Rob Celletti. However, today I wanted to start off with a general overview of where the roster stands…and it ain’t pretty. This team will not be an easy sell to any GM candidate.

Quarterback – An unmitigated disaster. Currently you have Mark Sanchez who is currently incompetent as a starting quarterback in the NFL and doesn’t look like he can realistically play another down in New York. Unfortunately he is owed over 8 million dollars next year. The new GM must see if there is a team willing to take him for a low draft pick if the Jets agree to pay the overwhelmingly majority of the contract. If there is not, he has to decide whether to release him and take the cap hit or keep him on the roster to let him compete for a starting job. Yet, what veteran is going to believe they have a fair crack at starting with Sanchez likely making nearly four times what he is? The best move is to cut your losses with Sanchez and move on.

Beyond that, you have Tim Tebow who will either be released or traded to Jacksonville, which is more dead money you are eating nevermind the two draft picks you wasted last year. Greg McElroy looks like a number three quarterback/practice arm and cannot be a serious contender for a starting job in this league. There is no easy solutions here. The best answer is probably signing a low-cost veteran like Matt Moore and hoping he could hold the fort until a long term starter is found.

Running Back – Shonn Greene is heading into free agency and should not be brought back. He is a thoroughly average back who lacks explosiveness and cannot get yards that are not blocked up for him, while also struggling in the passing game. Bilal Powell has a better all-around skill set and is under contract for barely any money next year. He has the ability to be a very capable 1B option. Joe McKnight still has never received a fair chance here on offense. Yet, considering his durability issues it is hard to expect him to take on a major role in 2013. It would be nice to see the Jets think outside the box here and take a look at restricted free agent Chris Ivory who is buried on the New Orleans depth chart but would be an upgrade over Greene. There is also a good amount of mid-round talent at the position in the draft. Lex Hilliard was below average at fullback and won’t be back.

Tight End – Dustin Keller is heading into free agency and is another player the Jets should strongly consider letting walk. Why not pay half the money to Delanie Walker or Anthony Fasano and get a more capable all-around tight end? Keller is only going to thrive in a pass-happy offense as a H-Back. He cannot be relied on for blocking. Jeff Cumberland is basically a poor man’s version of Keller and shouldn’t be more than a situational player that utilizes his pass catching ability. Konrad Reuland is average at best and can’t be relied on as a 20-25 snap per game guy. Hayden Smith remains a developmental project and it is doubtful that he will be a major contributor next year.

espnny_a_kerley_d1_600Wide Receiver – The big decision will be how to handle Santonio Holmes. Do you release him or see if you could find a partner willing to take him in a trade if you eat some of the contract? It remains to be seen how effective of a player he will be coming off major surgery, even at 100% he isn’t a true number one receiver. Outside of Holmes, the depth should be solid. Jeremy Kerley is coming off a very good year where he made immense strides. Braylon Edwards showed he has something left in the final three games and can be brought back on the cheap and Stephen Hill should improve in year two if not forced into extended reps. The physical tools are all there for Hill but he still has a ways to go in terms of development. Chaz Schilens and Clyde Gates probably will not be back. Jordan White will have a tough time making the roster next year.

Offensive Line – Tough decisions need to be made, with Brandon Moore, Matt Slauson and Austin Howard all free agents. Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson aren’t going anywhere. Ferguson had a very good 2012 and was a borderline Pro-Bowl player. Mangold’s play has been down the last two years but he has been banged up. Ideally, the Jets will find a better long term answer at right tackle than Howard but that is easier said than done. At guard, the sensible thing to do would be to pay Slauson and then find a replacement for Moore who is likely nearing retirement. The Jets are going to have to address offensive line early in the draft and in free agency.

Defensive Line – One of the few spots on the roster to feel good about. Muhammad Wilkerson is a stud and is coming off a terrific second year. Quinton Coples had an encouraging rookie season, leading the team with 5.5 sacks. When the Jets actually get some edge rushers, watch out for these two upfront. Kenrick Ellis flashed at times but was banged up over the second half of the season. Regardless, he looks like the long term answer at nose tackle. Mike DeVito is a versatile, valuable player upfront who the team should bring back. You can’t have enough guys like DeVito. Sione Pouha is likely to be cut in a cap savings move. Damon Harrison can provide some long term depth.

Linebacker – Another disaster position that needs to be completely remade. Bart Scott, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas are all gone next year and all struggled mightily this past season. David Harris is the most overpaid linebacker in football, getting paid 10.9 million dollars in 2013 coming off a below average season in the middle. Hopefully he bounces back next year. 2012 3rd round pick Demario Davis is likely to start alongside him at inside linebacker. The team must address the gaping holes at both outside linebacker spots through the draft and free agency. Garret McIntyre is a capable backup/situational player and Josh Mauga should be back next year to provide depth at inside linebacker.

Secondary – A strength in 2012 that could be in flux next season. LaRon Landry will be difficult to bring back at the salary he commands, whether Jets fans want to hear it or not. Yeremiah Bell will likely be brought back on a one year contract. Darrelle Revis will be back and looking to receive a long term contract. Antonio Cromartie is coming off a career year, which makes him an enticing trade piece. When you have as many holes as the Jets, keeping two of the league’s five best cornerbacks may not be a sensible approach.

Kyle Wilson showed no ability to be a starting cornerback this year and is a borderline 3rd corner at best. Darrin Walls, Aaron Berry and Isaiah Trufant all have long term potential, particularly Berry if he can stay healthy. Ellis Lankser is best suited strictly as a special teams player. Antonio Allen flashed as an in the box safety and should be a capable situational player in 2013. Josh Bush didn’t do much as a rookie and may not be around for long.

Special Teams – There is no reason to change the kicker, punter or kick returner. Nick Folk, Robert Malone and Joe McKnight were all good this year. It would be nice to find a reliable punt returner next season, somebody in the Jim Leonhard or Jerricho Cotchery mold who is going to catch everything no matter what. Mike Westhoff is retiring but probably a year too late. This unit had way too many mistakes in 2012 and must clean itself up next season.

New York Jets – In Post Black Monday Limbo

The New York Jets are currently in limbo while they attempt to find their new General Manager

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The New York Jets have made a collection of intelligent decisions since their embarrassing season ending loss in Buffalo. Firing Mike Tannenbaum was a much needed start coupled with hiring Jed Hughes to lead the search for the team’s new General Manager. Credit Woody Johnson for recognizing he is not a football expert and needs assistance in selecting the proper person to run his team. Hughes has a distinguished resume and hasn’t wasted any time in requesting interviews with three strong GM candidates: Tom Gamble, Marc Ross, and Dave Caldwell. All three are highly sought after around the league and the Jets won’t be an easy sell but at least it shows they are on the right track.

While the GM search plays out, the entire coaching staff remains in limbo. If you are able to snare a candidate like one of the previously mentioned ones, they must have full autonomy on how to proceed at Head Coach. There can be no requirements that force him to keep Rex Ryan. If he wants to keep Rex, great but if not…he must be allowed to make that call. The same goes for the rest of the coaching staff.

Personally, I have no problem with Rex being brought back but think he needs to be managed in the proper way. He cannot have too much say in personnel decisions and he must be forced to embrace a 21st century offense and offensive coordinator. Let Rex lead and motivate the men in his locker room. Let him scheme up defensive game plans. Get him better media training so there is a more consistent and unified voice coming out of the organization.

Regardless of who the new GM is, they must revamp the team’s media and PR approach. The New York media can complain right now all they want about the lack of a season ending press conference for Rex Ryan and Woody Johnson but they sound absurdly hypocritical. Why should the Jets treat them with transparency and industry standards when the media (cough, cough Daily News) has buried them with anonymously sourced and misquoted material? Hopefully, the Jets are currently ironing out a better way to handle their local coverage.

This is a team currently in limbo. The entire coaching staff’s job security is up in the air. No approach has been decided on how to handle quarterback or the messy cap situation. None of the other dominoes can begin to fall until the General Manager is hired…then look for them to fall fast and furiously. The sooner, the better because there are many critical decisions and steps that need to be taken.