With our beloved editor-in-chief, Joe Caporoso, away on business, scouting locations for the new Turn On The Jets headquarters, the normal Friday 12 pack will be replaced with a 12 part Q & A on all things Jets, NFL, and NFL Draft. We received some excellent questions via twitter last night, so let’s not waste any time getting into them. Thanks to everyone who participated!
The New York Jets should cut Tim Tebow as soon as possible
For some reason the New York Jets decided to have a conference call with fans this past week featuring new GM John Idzik and Head Coach Rex Ryan. Not surprisingly there was a question about TIM TEBOW that was responded to in a manner that hinted he could remain on the team next season. Shame on Idzik for not answering the question “We don’t want Tebow. Nobody wants to trade for Tebow so we are going to have to cut Tebow…and there goes any small percentage of trade leverage we had.” By giving the only answer he had a choice to give, a non-answer, he spawned articles like this from Ian Rapoport at NFL.com and a slew of others arguing for the Jets to keep Tebow. Um, what?
Checking the accuracy about the Tim Tebow goal line dominance stories today
Shockingly enough the New York media and the mainstream media will occasionally twist headlines to generate some type of controversy. We will use this series of columns to review what was actually said and whether there is any reason to be up in arms about it. Today’s topic is Tim Tebow’s performance in the goal line segment of Jets practice –
Here are the headlines
What actually happened –
Mark Sanchez ran four goal line plays with the Jets first offense against the first defense. He ran for a touchdown and threw a touchdown. Tim Tebow ran four goal line plays with the Jets second offense against the second defense. He ran for two touchdowns and threw a touchdown.
Apparently scoring one more touchdown than Sanchez against backups, while Sanchez was going against the first team (a unit who is supposed to be one of the league’s best) equates to complete dominance and complete ignorance of Sanchez.
There is nothing wrong with being excited about Tebow performing well as a goal line rushing option. Yet, can we not forget Sanchez had the same amount of rushing touchdowns as Tebow last year, with six? His ability to play fake and bootleg is a weapon around the goal line is a weapon as well.
Ultimately the onslaught of headlines about Tebow going 3/4 against backups is…like most aspects of the coverage of Jets camp (which we will get into later)…complete overkill. Can’t you already hear Skip Bayless and Ron Jaworski yelling for Tebow to start next pre-season game because he beat Garret McIntyre to edge a couple of times in practice?
Can the New York Jets find the proper way to use Tim Tebow in 2012?
The New York Jets voluntarily put themselves into a complex situation by trading for Tim Tebow this off-season. He is a polarizing player and a lightning rod for fans and critics alike. Keeping the focus to the football field, Tebow has the ability to help the Jets significantly this season if used properly. However, if not used properly, his presence could end up torpedoing the Jets season.
What is the best way to use Tebow? The New York Jets are thin at running back despite talking like they will be the most run-heavy team in the NFL. Despite also being the backup quarterback, Tebow is in position to be the de-facto number two running back. He could very well end up with the second most carries on the team behind Shonn Greene and should be a major factor in short yardage situations and around the goal-line.
There is no questioning the value of having a quarterback who can run the football like Tebow, who is more of a threat to throw than Brad Smith ever was. Tebow should be given the opportunity to throw a few times a game to keep defenses honest and to take advantage of his deep ball ability.
That being said, timing is everything. Considering the Jets…being well, the Jets…the following scenario can’t be allowed to happen – Mark Sanchez comes out on fire, goes 4/4 leads his team to the 18 yard line and is then promptly pulled for Tebow who sails a post pattern over Santonio Holmes head, which is then intercepted.
Tony Sparano has a very delicate balance to deal with. Tebow needs to be used as a complimentary part of the offense. A weapon that makes converting a 3rd and 2 an easy task or any time the team is within the 3 yard line an automatic touchdown. His role should never exceed 10-15 plays. Let’s not forget Mark Sanchez had 6 rushing touchdowns last year and is terrific with his play fakes by the red-zone. His bootlegs and quarterback draws will remain effective…just like surprising the defense with a Tebow pass on 3rd and short would be effective.
Mark Sanchez’s rhythm needs to be a major consideration. You don’t pull a hot hand at quarterback for any reason. On the other hand, you don’t send Sanchez to the bench for a full series because he went 0/3 on the last drive. Knee jerk reactions must be avoided that could lead to ping ponging between the two quarterbacks throughout the game.
The special teams chatter about Tebow? It is overrated. If Tebow plays more than 20 total plays on special teams this year it would be surprising. There could be a fake punt or field goal at some point or Tebow lined up as the personal protector to give the return team something to think about…but that is about it. He isn’t going to be the next Wallace Wright, chasing down kick returners and always lining up in the second line of the kick return team.
Outside of Tebow lining up under center offense, a few trick plays from time to time make sense. Maybe that is Tebow lining up at fullback or H-Back to take a handoff or throw a surprise pass but it won’t be a regular occurrence.
The Jets need to improve their running game and Tebow provides a needed runner who can do that. Hopefully Tony Sparano recognizes that is what his primary use should be.
TOJ’s weekly Fact or False from Chris Gross – Focusing on the newest members of the New York Jets roster
Our weekly Fact or False from Chris Gross…make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter and let him know what you think –
The New York Jets have experienced yet another exciting offseason of player acquisitions. While the early weeks of free agency had the majority of Jets Nation convinced there was a new mentality in the front office due to the lack of pursuit of the marquee free agents, General Manager Mike Tannenbaum returned to his roots as “Trader Mike” and made the splash of the offseason in trading for the most polarizing figure in the NFL, Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow. Beyond the Tebow trade, Tannenbaum and the Jets achieved, what could prove to be, their best draft in recent years. With the acquisitions of eight players in this year’s draft, there are plenty of newcomers on board with Gang Green this season, many of whom have already stood out at OTAs and Mini-Camp.
The Jets filled a great amount of needs on their roster this offseason, particularly at the safety position where they added four new players (two rookies, two veterans) to the position that was popularly considered the worst on the defense last year. New York has also gone international with the signing of Aussie Rugby Star Hayden Smith, who is vying to make the team as a Tight End, another position in need of depth on the Jets roster. It seems that Mike T and Co. have added players via every means possible this offseason – signings, trades, draft picks, international, domestic, you name it. With so many new additions to the team for the 2012 season, what can we expect from those who will wear the Green and White for the first time this year? This week’s New York Jets Fact Or False takes a look at the “New” New York Jets.
Chaz Schilens will have the greatest impact of all newcomers at the Wide Receiver position. False. While the Jets certainly have a young and promising group of speedy, athletic receivers, Schilens was signed to a one year deal after a season of just 23 receptions in 2011, prior to the Jets selections of rookies Stephen Hill and Jordan White in this year’s NFL Draft. While Schilens certainly has the physical tools (6’4” 4.3 40 yard dash) to be a dangerous weapon in New York’s receiving corps this year, durability will be the key issue, as it has been throughout his career. Schilens has already missed 20 games due to injury in his short four-year career, and has never once recorded 30 receptions in a single season.
However, Schilens showed flashes of brilliance during mini-camp after obtaining a surplus of reps due to injuries to Hill, White, and Santonio Holmes. While Schilens could certainly be a diamond in the rough for Gang Green if he can stay healthy, history does not look favorable for the four-year veteran out of San Diego State. In terms of Jets newcomers at the wide receiver position, Hill, who will likely be starting opposite Santonio Holmes come week 1, is the most likely to have the greatest impact among the new wide outs. Jordan White is certainly another name to keep an eye on if he can come back completely healthy from a foot injury that will have him sidelined until training camp.
Quinton Coples will have the largest impact of all rookies. Fact. DeMario Davis is another candidate here, however with Coples likely to crack the starting lineup right out of the gate this year, he will ultimately have more opportunity to provide a greater impact to the team this season. We’ve repeatedly gone over the physical intangibles of Coples here at Turn On The Jets, not to mention how the shift toward more four-man fronts will benefit his skill set. However, what has not been discussed to a great extent is the work ethic Coples has been displaying since joining the Jets.
Heading into the draft, Coples unfairly saw his character and work ethic come into question, although review of his college game film proves he is anything but lazy and unmotivated. So far, we have yet to hear these concerns about Coples. The first round selection out of North Carolina has displayed nothing but high character and a tremendous work ethic during OTAs and Mini-Camp practices, and has earned praise from the coaching staff and media alike. Coples has the ability to fill the void the Jets defense has been truly lacking since the days of John Abraham, a pass rusher that opposing offenses must game plan around. Rex Ryan will use his vast defensive knowledge and creativity in order to ensure Coples is in every position possible to succeed.
Hayden Smith will make the active roster. False. The idea of Hayden Smith is a very intriguing one for Gang Green. The Jets took a shot at signing the Aussie Rugby star who has never played a down of football in his entire life, but has the physical tools (6’6” 255 lbs) to be an elite tight end in this league. While Smith is highly unlikely to develop into the next Jimmy Graham or Antonio Gates, he could end up being a solid contributor down the road for the Jets. Rex Ryan has already praised his tenacity and work ethic, and for good reason. Smith seems poised to learn the game of football from both an intellectual and fundamental standpoint. However, his development will likely take more than just one offseason before he can contribute, not only on the Jets, but also at the NFL level in general. A year on the practice squad is likely the destination for Smith this year, but that may be just what he needs to build his game and become a contributor in 2013.
Yeremiah Bell will provide more bang for the Jets buck than LaRon Landry. Fact. This could easily turn if Landry stays healthy for the entire year, as New York obtained the Pro Bowl caliber player on a rather cheap one-year contract, however, like Schilens, Landry comes with serious durability concerns. When healthy, Landry has been extremely productive, but over the past two seasons, the former first round selection out of LSU has played in just 17 total games. Bell, on the other hand, has not missed a game in the past four seasons and has accumulated over 100 tackles in each. While the ex-Miami Dolphin was certainly a bit more of an under-the-radar signing than Landry, his impact will likely be much greater with the Jets defense this season due to his durability and production.
Of the two rookie safeties, Josh Bush will see the majority of the reps. Fact. This is a no brainer. Antonio Allen is absolutely a very young, promising prospect for the Jets. However, like Landry and Bell, Allen fits the mold of an in the box, strong safety type player. Conversely, Bush is the only true free safety on the Jets roster and will likely see his reps increase as the season progresses, while picking up the defense a bit more each week. Bush has been widely regarded as one of the better cover safeties in this year’s rookie class, as shown by his All-American and All-ACC honors last season at Wake Forest. While Allen could certainly be used on special teams and in some sub packages, primarily as a blitzer, Bush fills a greater need for the Jets as of right now, and will likely see the majority of the reps among the two.
Tim Tebow will cause a Quarterback controversy in New York. False. While everyone from fans and mainstream media are drooling at the prospect of seeing Tebow come in and replace Mark Sanchez, the reality of the situation is that there will be no controversy at the Quarterback position for the Jets this season. It is certainly easy to argue against this proclamation as Sanchez is coming off of his most criticized season as a pro, despite accounting for 32 total touchdowns in 2011, while the Tebow magic is still fresh in the minds of everyone who witnessed arguably the most polarizing figure in all of sports defy all the odds last season in leading Denver to a playoff victory.
While Tebow will remain the number two quarterback in the event that Sanchez gets injured, he was not brought to New York to take the job from number 6. Tebow will likely be used at quarterback in some wildcat and spread option sub packages, however he will take very little, if any, snaps at QB when the regular offense is on the field. Despite the fact that Sanchez is poised for a breakout season, Tebow’s unique skill set is too diverse to see him taking snaps under center this year. Expect to see Tebow in a variety of roles including H-Back and Running Back. New York has already begun to get him reps here, all of which will likely increase heading into the season. Remember, Sanchez AND Tebow, not Sanchez OR Tebow.
Mike Donnelly with a needed reminder to Jets fans: It is not Sanchez vs Tebow…it is Sanchez AND Tebow
Mike Donnelly with a much needed rant to New York Jets fans to kick your week off…
Read that title again, Jets fans, and let it sink in. I’ve observed an inordinate amount of arguing, fighting, name-calling, and general assholery permeating through the Internet since the Jets traded for Tim Tebow — and it is only getting worse as we get closer to the season. I’ve seen trouble-making writers with bad hairpieces like Mike Florio play the Tebow vs. Sanchez card to generate some interest in their columns or blogs; I’ve seen fans spew vitriol on Twitter toward one another in an attempt to bash and belittle Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow, depending which one they support; I’ve witnessed people call other people idiots — that’s the G-rated version — for supporting either Sanchez or Tebow, respectively.
These things are to be expected from the men and women of the media who are always trying to create a buzz, or from rival Patriots and Dolphins fans engaging in varying levels of trash talk (Speaking of which, if Dolphins fans want to talk down about Sanchez, all Jets fans should throw the big LOL right back at them for the lethal Garrard to Ochocinco connection). But that’s only a small part of it. The majority of these comments and attacks I’m talking about aren’t coming from bozo writers or Masshole Pats fans; they are coming from Jets fans and are directed at Jets fans, and it’s getting ugly. That’s right, it’s Jet fan on Jet fan crime, and it has to stop.
Take a deep breath and let the following sink in:
Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow are both Jets players. It’s not Mark Sanchez versus Tim Tebow this year. It’s Mark Sanchez AND Tim Tebow, and they’re taking on the NFL. As teammates. As New York Jets.
Full disclosure here: I am an unabashed Mark Sanchez fan and supporter. I am Team Sanchez all the way, and I’ll defend him against any and all critics. Is he the best QB in the NFL? No, certainly not. But he’s a damn fine quarterback with a ton of potential who has been mishandled by the Jets organization throughout his career (Check out the book excerpts I was fortunate enough to be able to share in that column). Despite that, he’s improved every season, showed great big-game moxy, and led the team to four road playoff wins in his first two seasons. The Jets can win with Mark Sanchez as they’ve shown, and I support him all the way. Under no circumstances do I think he should be replaced by Tim Tebow this season, or ever.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t support Tim Tebow, too. Trust me, that’s allowed, I checked it out and everything. Tebow is a Jets player now, and when he’s on the field I’m going to be rooting for him to do well and help the Jets win a football game. All Jets fans should. We don’t have to choose just one of them to root for, because it’s Sanchez and Tebow. On the same team.
Now I’m not naive enough to think that is going to actually be the case with all Jets fans this year, however. I know full well that whether I’m sitting in the stands of MetLife or watching the game from a sports bar, I’m going to hear nonsensical comments from both Jets fans and Jets haters (unfortunately sometimes one person fits both categories). I know there will be Sanchez fans who won’t cheer if Tim Tebow makes a big play, just like there will be Tebow fans openly upset when they see Mark Sanchez throw strikes down the field to Stephen Hill with great success. I know this is going to happen.
Jets fans, we’re going to hear enough crap this year from all angles when it comes to the Jets and their quarterback spot; we don’t need to give it to each other too. There are already enough Jets — and Sanchez — haters out there. We already see and hear enough garbage about Sanchez: the made-up stats like “near-interceptions”, the discrediting of his good play by saying “Oh, he was wide open, so what?”, or pointing to his stellar line and running game his first two years, as if he’s the only quarterback who needs help on the field and can’t do everything himself. The haters like point to Sanchez’s shortcomings like his completion percentage instead of acknowledging the positives like the 32 touchdowns he contributed last year. And it comes from all over the place. Heck, we even had disgruntled former Jet Plaxico Burress take shots at Sanchez recently and imply he doesn’t think Mark can lead the team to the Super Bowl (That’s probably good though, since before the genius shot himself in the leg, he had similar things to say about Eli Manning and we know how that turned out).
And if you think all of that’s bad, get ready, because we’re going to hear more than our fair share of Tim Tebow chatter coming up. Every time he skips a pass across the turf or gets sacked this year, there will be pointing and laughing form rival fans. We know that. So if you’re really a fan of the Jets, there’s no need to pile on and hurl insults at your fellow Jets fan standing there in his Tebow jersey; just like I don’t need that same guy with #15 across his chest telling me I’m an idiot for supporting Mark Sanchez while he’s rooting for him to fail so the Messiah–err, I mean Tebow, can come into the game. The goal of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow this year is for the Jets to win games. That should be what we want too, no matter how it happens. We’re all in this together.
So think about it, Jets fans. I know how many of you feel. I was against the Tebow trade at the time like many others, but there’s nothing to be done about that at this point; he’s a Jet now, which makes him one of us. And as a Jets fan, if he’s out on the field helping the Jets win football games, we should all support that and cheer when he does so. You don’t have to love him as a person, or get down on your knee to “Tebow” when he scores, but you absolutely can cheer that he helped the Jets win without feeling guilty about it, or as if you are cheating on Mark Sanchez (you can also do everyone a favor and just take that snarky Tebow joke you spent half the night thinking of and lock it up in a box somewhere).
And I didn’t forget about you Jets fans who loved the Tebow trade or just simply think Sanchez should be benched for some silly reason. As much as it may pain you to do so, when Mark Sanchez makes a few nice passes this year and leads a touchdown drive without Tebow, take that sour puss off your face, unfold your arms, and cheer! Be happy that Mark Sanchez just helped the Jets win. Get used to it too, because it’s going to happen a lot; and when it does, we can all do without your half-assed (or worse) analysis of why you think he still stinks and Tebow is better, thanks. Afterall, if Tim Tebow is on the sideline cheering his teammate on — and you know he will be — why can’t we all?
Remember, it’s not Mark Sanchez versus Tim Tebow this year. It’s Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow versus the NFL. It’s Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow versus the Patriots, versus the Bills, the Dolphins, the Steelers, the haters, the critics, the writers, and we should be supporting both of them the whole way. It’s Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow versus the world pretty much. Together. As teammates.
As New York Jets.
Chris Gross weekly Fact or False looks at the New York Jets passing game
The New York Jets passing offense of 2012 will likely be one of the hottest topics in the NFL this season. Countless story lines centered around the heavily criticized Mark Sanchez, the polarizing Tim Tebow, and new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano are sure to have every major media outlet placing New York’s passing attack under the microscope. For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, lets examine what we should and should not expect from Sanchez, Tebow, and the rest of the bunch this season.
1.) Chaz Schilens will play a significant role this season. False. The Jets signed Schilens to a 1-year, $765,000 contract this off-season. Prior to the start of free agency, the only other receiver with significant playing time that would have been capable of starting opposite Santonio Holmes was Jeremy Kerley. While Kerley is certainly a very promising young talent, he is best suited as a number 3, slot type receiver, rather than a number 2. As a result, the Jets grabbed Schilens as a cheap, low risk option to add depth to their receiving corps. However, with the addition of second round pick Stephen Hill in this year’s draft, Schilens may struggle to find a spot on the roster.
Schilens and Hill are both similar in size, both around 6’4” in the 215-225 lb range. However, Hill has much more upside than Schilens due to his youth, big play ability, and willingness to block. This is not to say that Schilens will not display such attributes, however with his history, it is highly unlikely. Since entering the NFL in 2008, Schilens has had an injury-plagued career and has played in only 44 out of a possible 64 total NFL games. His production has been very sub par, as he has recorded just 72 catches for 902 yards over his brief four-year career in Oakland. Of course, a fresh start in New York could replenish Schilens, but don’t count on it.
Schilens was seemingly brought in for his size and speed, however with the addition of Hill, the Jets got a much better, younger player to add that dimension to their offense. Schilens will likely remain on the roster because he is such a cheap option, but if rookie Jordan White emerges during training camp, as I fully expect him to do, Schilens could find himself battling it out with Patrick Turner, Scotty McKnight, and a few others for the fifth receiver spot on the roster. Regardless of whether he makes it or not, I wouldn’t expect Schilens to contribute in a significant manner for the Jets this season.
2.) Rookie Stephen Hill will open up the passing offense early and often. Fact. While we all know Hill is certainly a raw product, having come from the triple option offense at Georgia Tech, the threat of his size and speed alone will add a new dimension to the passing game this season. While Hill should certainly develop into a more polished receiver as his career progresses, his fantastic size and speed (4.30 40 yard dash) will make him an immediate deep threat. Defenses will have no choice but to account for him, whether it be through double teams, or sliding their coverage toward him when he is on the field. This should, realistically, open up a great amount of underneath and sideline work for Holmes, Kerley, and Tight End Dustin Keller, which is where they have thrived in the past. Hill’s big play ability will be a plus for the Jets this season, not only in making those plays, but for what his presence alone will bring.
3.) Santonio Holmes will make the Pro Bowl this season. False. While it is highly likely that Holmes will improve drastically from last season, I wouldn’t bank on him making a Pro Bowl, at least for this year. Holmes has never been voted to the Hawaiian exhibition, and while there is certainly a first for everything, especially for a talent like #10, who many forget achieved a career high in touchdown receptions last season (8), the Jets will be going back to their ground and pound approach under Tony Sparano this year. Unfortunately, this is not exactly the philosophy that will statistically get a wide receiver a Pro Bowl nod.
However, elite talent knows no boundaries. Brandon Marshall made two Pro Bowls playing in this system in Miami, so if Holmes can re-establish himself to the level that earned him a Super Bowl MVP trophy in 2009, a Pro Bowl is certainly not out of the question in the future. For this year though, it could be tough for him to accumulate numbers worthy of the honor in the inaugural season of a new offensive system. Still, expect to see Holmes return to his 2010 form.
4.) Jordan White will make an impact as a rookie. Fact. Anyone who has read my rookie analysis series knows what I think of Jordan White. White is an extremely tough, hard working, determined player who put up a career of immense production at Western Michigan (306 receptions, 4,190 yards, 32 touchdowns). His route running ability and knowledge of the game is NFL ready, which will give him an immediate advantage heading into training camp. White will undoubtedly prove his worth on special teams, and not only do I expect him to make the active roster, but I would be shocked if he did not contribute to the offense at some point during the season. White is a player whose intelligence, work ethic, and reliability, could make him a perfect fit with Quarterback Mark Sanchez.
5.) Tim Tebow will become the starting quarterback at some point this season. False. Most people seem to be afraid to touch this issue because, like ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, they believe the fix is in for Tebow to dethrone Sanchez as the Jets starting quarterback. However, let’s all take a deep breath and think about this situation. People can say that the Jets brought in Tebow for the publicity factor that he would bring with him. While this could be the case, that does not mean they brought him in to be the starting quarterback. Regardless of what everyone thinks, Tebow will be a role player this year. Teams do not place players whom they feel are going to be their starting quarterback on special teams. In today’s NFL, that will simply never happen. There is far too much of a liability factor involved to be risking the health of your offensive general as a personal protector on the punt team. If the Jets seriously thought Tebow was going to beat out Sanchez, they would not even consider placing him anywhere other than an offensive formation.
The Jets have been criticized for bringing in Tebow, as many see this move as the team ultimately setting up Sanchez to fail. Yet, remember how New York was bashed after the Drew Stanton signing? Most observers felt this was yet another incompetent quarterback who would not realistically challenge Sanchez. The same people who stressed the importance to bring in competition to push Sanchez, highly due to the publicized notion that the organization babied their young quarterback, are now the ones who are criticizing the Tebow move. The Jets traded for arguably the hardest working, most encouraging player in all of professional football, who will undoubtedly push Mark Sanchez to get the most out of himself this season, not by breathing down his neck, but by providing stability behind him, while contributing as a significant role player, whether it be in the wildcat, as a running back, or as an H-back.
Like any backup quarterback, Tebow will be ready if Sanchez fails to get New York to where they need to be. However, that will not happen this season, nor is it why Tebow was brought to New York. He was brought here because he is a terrific overall football player, and an even better teammate, something greatly needed in a locker room that is currently being rebuilt. Tebow will certainly get his plays this year, but barring an injury, don’t expect to see #6 on the sidelines watching him run the every down offense.
6.) Mark Sanchez will silence all of his critics. Fact. Every hater of Sanchez and the Jets are on the edge of their seat waiting to see, not if, but when he will finally succumb to all the pressure and negativity, and pack it in, paving the way for Tim Tebow to enter and install the heroics he displayed in Denver last year. I apologize in advance to these people because this is simply not going to happen.
Despite Sanchez putting up a career high in touchdowns last season (32 overall), many still insist that the young quarterback regressed in his third year as a pro. Unfortunately, those who believe this are completely ignorant to an abundance of facts. First of all, Sanchez was under the tutelage of arguably the least competent Offensive Coordinator in the league last season. Brian Schottenheimer saw Sanchez’s strengths in his first two years, yet seemingly wanted to become some type of mastermind, genius coordinator, and force his quarterback into game plans he clearly was not comfortable in (see 12/24/11). The Jets offensive line was also the worst it has been since Sanchez arrived in 2009, yet the kid showed his tenacity and competitiveness by hanging in there game in and game out, taking repeated beatings, while never breathing a word of negativity about the lack of blocking he was getting, despite the unwarranted claims that he is mentally weak.
The Jets replaced a Sanchez favorite in Braylon Edwards with the prehistoric Plaxico Burress, who could not get separation between the twenties if his life depended on it. The struggles of the offensive line also hurt the Jets once elite running attack, which in turn, all but eliminated the play action pass, something Sanchez is highly successful at.
However, this season, Sparano brings in a new offensive regime. The Jets have seemingly addressed what issues caused the struggles for Sanchez last season. They have hired a coordinator who vows to return to the philosophy that gave the Jets so much success in 2009 and 2010. They drafted youth and speed at vital positions of the offense, and they have added a new dynamic to that offense with Tebow. New York will be tougher, faster, and flat out better, in every area that the offense struggled in last season, and I firmly believe that the new coaching staff will reveal an improved Wayne Hunter for 2012. Sparano has already stressed the need to create “chunk” plays offensively, many of which are likely to come via play action pass, especially in this run heavy offense. Expect to not only see Sanchez make strides under Sparano, but to lead New York back to the playoffs, while establishing himself as the unquestioned leader of the Jets and silencing all of his critics along the way.
Turn On The Jets Assistant Staff Writer Mike Donnelly breaks it down with Part 2 of his NFL Offseason Review, as graded by the Richter Scale. In case you missed Part 1, be sure to check it out Here, for a full explanation of each category. Also, make sure you are following Mike on twitter: @TheMikeDonnelly, along with the rest of the TOJ Staff. – CG
Magnitude: 6 – 6.9 – “Strong” (Can be destructive)
6.0 – Salary Cap Violations against Redskins and Cowboys– This was a pretty important story that kind of got swept under the rug, but these two teams were hit hard for supposedly cheating the system during the uncapped season. The Redskins were docked a whopping $36 million in cap space (spread over two seasons), while the Cowboys were docked $10 million. For two teams that play in the same division as Super Bowl champion New York Giants, that’s a major disadvantage. At least last time Mike Shanahan cheated the salary cap, he got two rings out of it. This time? Not so lucky.
6.6 – Calvin Johnson signs 7 year / $132 million extension with $60m guaranteed– Megatron wasn’t a free agent who could have left Detroit or anything, but any time a player shatters the previous record for highest contract ever, it certainly can cause damage around the league. Not only will Calvin be playing to prove he’s worthy of it and continue to dominate defenses on the field, but now off the field every player is going to try to surpass this deal when their time comes. Could be big trouble.
6.7 – Mario Williams signs with the Bills– The only reason Mario’s 6 year / $100 million contract with $50m guaranteed is rated slightly higher than Calvin’s is because Mario was actually a free agent, welcome to sign with any team he chose. And for some reason, he chose to live in Buffalo for the next 6 years.
On the field, this gives them a potentially dynamic defense with Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Nick Barnett, and rookie Stephon Gilmore. Oh, and yes, the Jets are planning on blocking him with Wayne Hunter or Vlad Ducasse. Should be fine.
Magnitude: 7 – 7.9 – “Major” (Can cause serious damage)
7.0 – NFL suspends 4 Saints players for roles in “Bountygate” – (To be clear, this is JUST the impact of the player suspensions, not the bounty scandal as a whole). Jonathan Vilma (1 year), Anthony Hargrove (8 games), Will Smith (4 games), and Scott Fujita (3 games) all had the hammer dropped on them by Commissioner Roger Goodell for their role in the bounty scandal, where they intentionally tried to injure opposing offensive players. Vilma got the harshest penalty, because he was found to be the one offering up cash rewards for injury inducing hits. Such harsh punishments show that Goodell means business and there is now a precedent set for future infractions. This is a big deal. In terms of this season’s impact on the field, it’s pretty big, but not Vince Wilfork big. Vilma is a shell of the player he used to be, Hargrove is now a backup for Green Bay, and Fujita was never that great to begin with. Smith’s absence will hurt the Saints, but they’ll get by.
7.2 – Tim Tebow traded to the Jets – While I was publicly against this trade, it is undeniable how big of an impact this move will have. Had this been graded strictly on his play on the field, it would be in the 5.0 range (or a -1.5 if based only on his passing), but there is so much more when it comes to Tim Tebow. The media attention, the scrutiny, his impact in the locker room and on Mark Sanchez, the off the field nonsense, and the fact that the possible Messiah will now be in the world’s greatest city is all enough to push this into the 7’s. If he runs in more than a few touchdowns and helps the Jets win a lot of games, this can easily register an even greater impact.
7.3 – Terrell Suggs tears Achilles tendon – Yikes. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year and unquestionably the most important player on the league’s most imposing defense tears his Achilles in May, likely knocking him out for the season. That’s a pretty major deal. Suggs claims he’ll be back in October, but logic seems to dictate otherwise. If Suggs is out for the season, or even severely limited upon his return, a Super Bowl contender takes a major step back. Unless of course Joe Flacco actually plays like the league’s best quarterback, which he hilariously claimed to be this offseason. (You read that right. He really said that.)
Magnitude: 8 – 9.9 – “Great” (Can be devastating)
8.0 – Redskins trade three 1st-Round picks, one 2nd round pick for Robert Griffin III – If you’re saying that’s an awful lot to trade, give yourself a prize, because you are correct. The Redskins have been desperate for a franchise quarterback for a very long time now, and after the Shanahans (Mike and Kyle) hilariously thought they could make chicken soup out of chicken sh– err, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck, they needed to make a splash and get one of the best QB prospects to come out in years. Redskins fans finally have some hope as the RG3 era begins. Rarely do you see a player carry the entire weight of a franchise on his shoulders, but that’s what RG3 is doing here. Tough situation to be in.
8.5 – NFL Suspends Saints Coaches and Executives for roles in “Bountygate” – (As with the players section, this is strictly about the impact of the suspensions on the coaches and executives) A case could be made that no coach in the NFL has more of an impact on his team than Sean Payton does with the Saints. It’s as if he and Drew Brees share a brain out there. If Brees is the driver of the luxury automobile that is the Saints offense, then Payton is the engineer who specifically tailored every nook and cranny to fit Brees and the rest of the personnel to a T. Well, none of that will be happening in 2012, as Payton was given a full year suspension and is forbidden from contact with the team. Yikes.
Joining him on the couch this year is the new (and now former) St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was allegedly the mastermind of the whole bounty program. Williams was given an indefinite suspension and may never be allowed to return to the league. Good riddance. Interim Head Coach Joe Vitt was unable to escape punishment either, and was given a 6 game ban. General Manager Mickey Loomis was given 8 games. So if you’re scoring at home, the Saints decision maker (Loomis) is gone half the season, the Head Coach (Payton) is out for the entire season, and the guy replacing him (Vitt) is also missing 6 games. Yeah, this is going to have a pretty big impact on the Saints and the league in general.
9.0 – Junior Seau’s Suicide – In a truly sad story, legendary linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide on May 2nd. The motives are still currently unknown, but it very likely was the final call for help from the former player. This tale is sadly becoming all too prevalent amongst former players, and his death is hopefully going to be the wakeup call the league and players everywhere need. The sad truth is, many of these men are unprepared for life after football both physically and mentally. Things in the NFL are going to change in a big way going forward, and that’s why this gets such a high score.
Magnitude: 10+ “Massive” (Never recorded, widespread devastation)
10.0 – Colts cut Peyton Manning, draft Andrew Luck #1 overall – Never before has a team had a “once in a generation” player run their team for 14 years, then cut that player and be in a position to get the next “once in a generation player” that very same year. Think about this: Peyton Manning led this Colts team to the playoffs 9 consecutive seasons before he was knocked out of the entire 2011 season due to injury. In that time, he won a Super Bowl, played in another, won a whopping four MVP awards, and won at least 10 games in 11 of his 13 seasons as the starter. Not only that, but without him in 2011 the team, with largely the same players, went from 10 wins in 2010 and a division title to 2 wins and the #1 overall draft pick. Wow. You can see why many consider him to be the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill, but if anybody can do it, it’s probably Andrew Luck. The Stanford product is considered to be the best quarterback prospect to enter the league since–you guessed it– Peyton Manning. Over the last 30 years only Manning, Troy Aikman, and John Elway were considered such sure-things. That’s some pretty excellent company for young Mr. Luck. He’ll take his lumps early in his career on this poor team, but before long he will make Colts fans realize they made the right decision by cutting the legend for the young buck. There’s a very good chance you’ll never see a scenario like this unfold again.
10.0 – Broncos sign legendary QB Peyton Manning, trade possible Messiah– I could have lumped this one in with the last one, but it deserves its own section. How many times are you going to see a sure-fire Hall of Fame quarterback, perhaps the best of all time, who likely still has a few seasons left, come available in free agency? The answer is never. But that’s exactly what we saw happen this year, and the Broncos were the lucky winners of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. That alone makes this worthy of a 10, but when you add the Tim Tebow factor, it really goes off the charts. When have we ever seen a player (who may or may not have magical powers) become so simultaneously beloved, hated, respected, worshipped, and criticized, lead a team to a playoff win, become a local hero, then get dumped by that team after his second year in the league because a legend like Peyton freakin’ Manning was signed to take his place? I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. This Peyton Manning thing has had major implications for three NFL teams: the Colts, Broncos, and Jets. It’s rare you see such a wild chain of events, but we did. And that’s why this gets a 10.
10.0 – Dolphins sign Jamaal Westerman – Just kidding.
10.0 – BountyGate – We’ve already covered the coaches and players getting suspended, but the “BountyGate” scandal is far bigger than any individual players or coaches. We are talking about one of the biggest scandals in NFL history, where players and coaches were rewarded with money bonuses for purposely injuring opposing players. That is reprehensible, and something we have never seen before (and hopefully never see again). This is the kind of thing that causes major changes in the league, and Roger Goodell has shown he isn’t taking this stuff lightly any longer. This was a major story, not just for the Saints, but for the NFL as a whole, and that’s why this gets a 10 spot.
One of the most intriguing New York Jets story lines heading into the summer is whether or not the Jets will be able to, once again, establish themselves as an elite rushing offense. During Rex Ryan’s first two seasons as Head Coach of the Jets, they were ranked 1st and 4th in rushing offense, respectively. Last season, they dipped to the 22nd best rushing team in the NFL. This, of course, was largely due to the fact that former Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer seemingly forgot his bread and butter, and what his offense was built on.
During Ryan’s first two seasons with the Jets, there was no mistake that New York was a ground and pound, in your face, physical, run first, run second offense. Last year, though, they were extremely confused as to what their identity was. In an attempt to re-obtain that identity, the Jets replaced Schottenheimer with former Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano this offseason. Sparano has made it clear since he came to New York, that the Jets will, once again, be a run first offense, while stating the necessity of returning to the ground and pound style of play. We’ve already seen that Mark Sanchez is at his best when he has a solid running game to work with, as he greatly excels in the play action pass, so getting back to the top tier of rushing teams in the NFL is vital to the success of this offense.
For this edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we examine what to, and what not to, expect from the newly run Tony Sparano offense this upcoming season.
1.) Shonn Greene will finally have a breakout season and prove to be the Jets’ Bell Cow. Fact. As much as everyone likes to assert the opinion that Shonn Greene is not the guy to carry the running load for the Jets, it is often forgotten that he compiled 1,054 yards last season under the philosophically challenged Brian Schottenheimer. Although he only ran for 6 touchdowns, he had an average of 4.2 yards per carry. Even more impressive is his career average of 4.3 yards per carry.
Greene has all the tools to be an excellent every down back in this league. At 5’11” 226 lbs, he is certainly big enough to withstand the physical toll that an NFL season can take on a running back, and contrary to popular belief, he has a great ability to explode into the second level. Although he isn’t the greatest receiving threat out of the backfield, he still obtained 30 catches for 211 yards last season. Of course, this is likely a direct result of Sanchez’s numerous amount of check downs, but for the Jets, Greene’s ability to catch out of the backfield should have nothing to do with his status as the bell cow running back.
Greene needs to be the guy to wear down defenses with his big, physical style of running, while opening up the big plays for Joe McKnight and the receiving corps. Last year, Greene played in an offense that was utterly confused with what their identity was and still churned out over 1,000 yards. This season, there is no mistake the Jets are a run first, run second team, and Tony Sparano’s presence will establish Greene as “the guy” when it comes to running the football for the Jets. It should not be a shock to anyone to see Greene compile over 1,500 yards with double digit touchdowns this season. Sparano made a 1,000 yard rusher out of Reggie Bush who, prior to joining Miami last offseason, had a career high of 581 rushing yards, coming in his second NFL season. The season before signing with Miami, Bush ran for a pitiful 150 yards over only 8 games. If Sparano can get that type of production out of Bush, he can certainly propel Greene to finally become the guy everyone has expected him to be since being drafted by the Jets three years ago.
2.) Joe McKnight will obtain 1,000 yards from scrimmage. Fact. Although Joe McKnight has struggled to find his niche in the offense during his first two seasons, this could be the year that the former USC Trojan finally bursts onto the scene for Gang Green. With LaDanian Tomlinson now out of the picture, McKnight will immedeately step into the number two role behind Greene, and due to his fantastic athleticism and speed, could prove to be a very vital piece to the Jets offense this year. He showed his big play ability and explosiveness on special teams last season, a year in which he improved tremendously from his rookie campaign. Expect McKnight to take yet another step to improve his game and contributions to the team.
McKnight has reportedly come into OTAs at about 16 pounds heavier than his normal playing weight, with an eye on taking more of an involvement in the offensive game plan. He certainly has the tools to strike the big play, whether it be as a runner or a receiving threat out of the backfield. McKnight certainly seems poised for a breakout season, and 1,000 total yards from scrimmage should be fairly attainable for the third year pro.
3.) The WildCat will not be used frequently. False. This story line isn’t going anywhere Jets fans. Tony Sparano is one of the founding fathers of the wildcat offense, and Tim Tebow is the perfect wildcat quarterback. Rex Ryan has already proclaimed that Tebow will likely see up to 20 snaps per game, and based on how he has thrown the ball throughout his young career in a traditional quarterback role, the majority of those 20 plays are going to come out of this formation.
The Jets are no stranger to the wildcat, which was formerly run by Brad Smith, who played quarterback in college at the University of Missouri. However, Tebow is much more athletic, and contrary to popular belief, is a better passer than Smith. Everyone saw how much Rex gloated about the wildcat being used after the Redskins game last season, so expect to see a great amount of this, particularly in short yardage, and goal line situations. If Sparano can stay creative enough with this scheme to keep opposing defenses guessing, combining his intuition with Tebow’s athletic ability could make this a very potent offensive threat.
4.) Wayne Hunter will improve from his poor 2011 performance. Fact. There is certainly a great lack of faith in Hunter among Jets Nation, and for valid reason. Hunter, to put it nicely, was god awful last season. After allowing 11 sacks, along with 32 QB pressures, he certainly has a long way to go before winning over any fans of the green and white. However, with such a horrible performance last season, an improvement is seemingly inevitably. Is it humanly possible that Hunter could play worse than he did last season? I don’t think so.
Hunter will be coming out with a serious chip on his shoulder. Many of his detractors have considered him the worst lineman in the National Football League. However, we must not forget, that before stepping into a full time starting role, Hunter was exceptional as a reserve player. Filling in for Damien Woody in late 2010, Hunter earned himself his current contract with Gang Green, due to the high level of potential he displayed. Hunter is a physical freak, and certainly has a mean streak, as displayed by his on the field altercation with Santonio Holmes last season. Couple these facts with Sparano’s more physical style blocking approach,and Hunter could shock the world in 2012.
It is important to remember that in 2010, the Jets were a physical, smash mouth team. Last season, they seemingly got away from that style of play, focusing on more of a finesse type of offensive blocking scheme. This year, Sparano will bring the Jets offensive line back to where they thrived the most with a tough, man on blocking approach. Hunter will undoubtedly improve from 2011, and could actually surprise many by having an average to decent season as the Jets’ starting Right Tackle.
5.) Dustin Keller will prove to be a solid blocking Tight End under Tony Sparano. False. Keller has succeeded up until this point in his career for his athleticism and receiving skills. In fact, he was drafted so high because of these same attributes, after an impressive career at Purdue, followed by a lights out combine heading into the 2008 NFL Draft. Blocking has never been a strong point in his game, and New York shouldn’t expect that to start anytime soon.
This is not to say Keller will not be a valuable piece in Sparano’s system. In fact, Keller should realistically thrive as a receiving threat under Sparano. Miami Tight End Anthony Fasano had just one career touchdown before falling under the tutelage of his former head coach. Since then, Fasano has reeled in 18 touchdowns. If Sparano can get this type of production out of a one time anemic player at the position, imagine what he can do with an athlete like Keller.
As for the blocking aspect of the tight end position in this system, expect the Jets to closely monitor the development of Hayden Smith. At 6’6″ nearly 260 lbs, Smith certainly has the physical tools to be a great blocker, and his experience as a former rugby player prove that he has the tenacity needed to get in the trenches with some of the toughest defensive lineman in the NFL. What will matter most for Smith is how fast he can pick up this game and prove his worth to the coaching staff before the final roster adjustments need to be made. If he cannot convince them he will be a worthy piece of this offense, expect the Jets to look into free agency for a blocking Tight End, perhaps free agent Visanthe Shiancoe, who at 31 years old, certainly has some good years left in him.
6.) Terrance Ganaway will beat out Bilal Powell as the third RB. Fact. Although Powell may not have gotten the fairest chance to prove himself as a rookie last season (13 car, 21 yards, and a fumble), he does not seem to quite fit in with the direction the Jets are heading offensively. At 5’10” 204 lbs, Powell is a smaller back, who is certainly in no position to beat out Joe McKnight as the home run threat to the rushing attack this season.
Ganaway, on the other hand, fits the bill of the Jets new offensive identity to a T. He is very big at about 6’0″ 240 lbs, and has displayed excellent agility and elusiveness during his time as a Baylor Bear. Coming from Baylor, he has a high level of experience playing in an option type offense, and was seemingly drafted to play a similar role in New York’s wildcat package with Tim Tebow. The Jets certainly seem to have a plan in place for Ganaway, and barring something unforeseen, expect Powell to be on the outside looking in after training camp.
For our first edition of New York Jets Fact or False here at Turn On The Jets, we observe some of the most prominent story lines that have been emerging since the end of the 2012 draft. For most teams, the period between the end of the draft and the beginning of mini camp is typically a quiet time. However, the Jets are not most teams. There are still several unanswered questions heading into the season ranging from the Jets’ Right Tackle situation to the name of Tim Tebow’s dog. With Gang Green, there is surely never a dull moment. For our inaugural NYJ Fact or False, we address the six most pressing issues heading into June for the New York Jets.
1.) The Jets will add a Right Tackle in Free Agency. False.
Everyone has seemingly been waiting for the Jets to pull the trigger and acquire a tackle to replace the not-so-dynamic duo of Wayne Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse. However, New York’s lack of activity in free agency and during the draft at the position, has our earlier notion suggesting that Mike Tannenbaum and co. still have faith in either one of these two, looking more factual by the day. The Jets passed on the opportunity to sign Eric Winston, Demetress Bell, and every other free agent tackle this offseason. They also neglected the position in the draft, having selected Guard Robert T. Griffin as their only offensive lineman this year. Take all of these facts, and combine them with new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo’s recent praise of Wayne Hunter, and it seems fairly obvious that the Jets will start some combination of Hunter and Ducasse at Right Tackle next season. They could always add a veteran at some point during training camp, but that is unlikely given the fact that the team recently guaranteed Hunter’s salary for 2012.
2.) At least 3 rookies will contribute significantly this season. Fact. Quinton Coples and Stephen Hill will contribute from week 1, if not in a starting role, then in a heavy amount of packages, before stepping in as starters at some point during the season. Rex has already declared this, and rightfully so. These two need to be on the field for a significant amount of time for the Jets to improve from their 8-8 record last season. Beyond the first two of the Jets’ eight selections in this years draft, there are two names that come to mind when thinking of who can contribute this season.
DeMario Davis should be an absolute monster on special teams. His tenacity and great speed, combined with his known ability to make big hits, should make him a favorite for Mike Westhoff. Davis will also likely play in several defensive packages, primarily on third downs in coverage or as a blitzer.
Also, expect Safety Josh Bush to develop into a solid contributor this year. His coverage skills are much better than Eric Smith’s, who will likely be the starter until Bush picks up the defense. Don’t be surprised to see Bush getting significant reps by midseason.
3.) The media’s portrayal of Tim Tebow as a super hero will die down. False.
Let’s face it, the mainstream media has a serious crush on Tim Tebow, as do the majority of football fans. There is certainly good reason for this. Tebow is a proven winner, an extremely hard worker, a great role model, and most importantly, he is a fantastic human being. The NFL’s most popular player will likely draw more attention this season than the man whose job he is trying to assume. Each week, be prepared to hear speculation of everything, from how many reps Tebow will get, to what he eats for his pregame meal. Also, get ready for media and fans alike to be calling for Tebow to take the helm the second Sanchez shows any sign of inconsistency. Until number 6 proves everyone wrong, he will most popularly be considered the villain, while Tebow will widely be viewed as the heroic savior.
4.) Tony Sparano will revive the Jets’ dominant run game. Fact. Word out of OTAs is already extremely complimentary of new Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano. Sparano’s ideals seem to be identical to what Rex Ryan wants his offense to be. The Jets have a very talented group of running backs in Shonn Greene, who was able to rush for more than 1,000 yards last season despite playing for the philosophically confused Brian Schottenheimer, Joe McKnight, Tim Tebow, and promising rookie Terrance Ganaway. If the Right Tackle situation works out, the Jets will undoubtedly have an elite run offense once again.
5.) Darrelle Revis will hold out again. False. Although Revis is certainly worthy of being paid as the best defensive player in football, he knows this would be horrible timing for a hold out. As one of the unquestioned leaders of the Jets, Revis would be the ultimate hypocrite to hold out this year. First of all, he has two years remaining on his current contract. It is not the typical formality for a player to hold out with more than one year remaining on his current deal. Revis has already exercised this rare practice, and would be foolish to do so again.
More importantly though, is the picture a hold out would paint of Revis as one of those unquestioned leaders. How can the team’s best player bail on training camp, arguably the most important time for developing team chemistry, after the epic fallout of last season? It would be shocking to see Revis hold out this year, as it would put his character into serious question. The Jets need Revis more than ever in terms of both play and leadership, and he knows this. However, if no resolution is made in terms of an extension this season, it will be almost guaranteed that Revis does, in fact, hold out heading into 2013.
6.) Rex Ryan will tone down the bravado. Fact.
This is an evolution in Ryan that we are currently witnessing. Usually by this time every year, Rex has already predicted a Super Bowl victory. The brash head coach finally realizes that he can no longer put that type of pressure on his team. He saw what it caused last year, and he knows very well, that if he allows that type of melt down again, there is a good chance it will cost him his job. Expect Ryan to remain the jovial, confident coach that we have all come to know and love, but don’t expect many guarantees this year, if any.