TOJ Roundtable: Best and Worst Off-Season Move?

Welcome to the TOJ Roundtable, where our writers debate a pressing New York Jets question

What was the smartest move the Jets made this off-season? Which one will they regret the most?

Joe Caporoso: In retrospect I think locking down Santonio Holmes will prove to be the smartest move. He provides Mark Sanchez with a legitimate number one receiver to grow with for the next five years and he should continue to flourish in this offense, while consistently providing the Jets with clutch plays. I think they will regret their handling of the Shaun Ellis situation the most. He could have provided a valuable and necessary mentor to rookies Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis, easing their transition into the NFL. Wilkerson now faces the pressure of being an immediate starter, which could backfire and hurt the Jets depth up front in 2011. Beyond that, they have to watch him go against their offensive line twice this year for the hated New England Patriots. You never want to see a decorated 11 year veteran of your franchise play for your rival.

Chris Celletti: I think the smartest move the Jets made was bringing back Santonio Holmes. If it was between keeping Holmes or Braylon Edwards, it was the right move for the Jets to pony up the cash for Holmes. He is a better all-around player than Edwards, and having him around long-term will only help further the development of Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense.

The move they will regret the most is letting Shaun Ellis walk to the Patriots. Firstly, losing Ellis to anyone is bad for the young Jets’ defensive line. Who is the leader of this group? Sione Pouha? Rex Ryan seems to really believe in first round pick Mo Wilkerson and fellow draft choice Kendrick Ellis, but keeping Shaun Ellis would have made the transition for those guys a lot easier. Ellis had his best game as a Jet in the playoffs against the Patriots last year, so you know he can still play. Lastly, Ellis going to New England strengthens the Jets’ chief rival.

TJ Rosenthal: Smartest Move: Going after big play WR Santonio Holmes immediately. The Jets haven’t stretched the field the way they have been with Holmes since Wesley Walker was racing down the sidelines. Keeping that connection intact before anyone else were to jump in, and there were teams rumored to be willing to break the bank over Holmes, is being overlooked right now due to the headlines garnered over players the Jets DIDN’T keep. It shouldn’t be. Holmes is a home run hitter who will keep the Jets in games for a long time to come.

Move They’ll Regret: Backup signal caller. Not upgrading the QB2 position frightens us. We like Mark Brunell as a third string QB/ coach type who, for the price of what Kellen Clemens played for last year, would give the Jets deep security and a wealth of knowledge. Should Sanchez be out of action for a length of time however, we seriously question whether Brunell could physically handle the various throws and play designs well enough to carry the offense over a lengthy stretch. We hoped that the Jets would have, through free agency, or via trade, taken the doomsday scenario regarding Sanchez more seriously.

Rob Celletti: I would say the smartest move was the re-signing of Santonio Holmes. His impact on the team after serving his 4-game suspension was undeniable, as ‘Tone basically won the Jets 3 games singlehandedly.  I think he wanted to be an unquestioned number one, and now he has that chance.  I think he’ll thrive in that role.

I think the Jets will regret the moves they didn’t make: mainly not significantly improving their pass rush.  The Jets were the worst defense in the league on third down last year, and the lack of a pass rush is the primary reason for that abysmal statistic.  I don’t want to make too big a deal out of them letting Shaun Ellis go, but clearly this team lacks defensive ends and outside linebackers that can pressure the quarterback consistently.  A lot of people are looking at Calvin Pace to finally reach his potential and become that elite, go-to pass-rusher, but I have my doubts about that and was hopeful that the Jets would look to improve this area of their team via free agency.  We’ll see

TOJ Roundtable – A Tribute To Jerricho Cotchery

The NFL is a cold business sometimes and that was on display today as the Jets decided to release veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, in favor of signing Derrick Mason. Our writers discuss the move and their memories of Cotchery with the Jets, who gave them his entire seven year career.

(The photo above is Cotchery’s last reception as a New York Jet, a touchdown in the AFC Championship Game)

TJ Rosenthal

All heart. all soul. What a sad day. Many are asking us why is the release WR Jerricho Cotchery imminent. J-Co is a staple of consistency, toughness and symbolic of the notion of the phrase “Play Like A Jet.” The answer is simple. It’s business. A cruel business. Football is the greatest sport but the business aspect of it is the worst.

Cotchery had back surgery in February. We’ll assume that his health is playing a primary part in this decision. Derrick Mason is now a Jet, replacing one vet for for another.

To remember Cotch here in New York, you only have to look back to one play. One day. One moment that embodied the quiet class and leadership from a guy who has done nothing but what he’s been asked to do here.

It happened at the Dog Pound last season, when Cotchery pulled his groin BEFORE making a key drive saving third and nine catch in OT at Cleveland. The first down never amounted to the game winning drive. That took place later for the Jets, but it was the “team first” effort, the willingness to sacrifice the body in order to help the team, that stuck with players and fans after the game. It was a play repeatedly shown on ESPN and all of the sports news sites.

Damien Woody called it one of the best plays he’d ever seen. We call it the symbol of what Jerricho Cotchery was here. A player who provided the Jets heart, soul, and selfless spirit.

You will be sorely missed J-Co. Get healthy and get back onto the field. You will be a great addition to any club that hires you.

Derrick Mason has been a productive player for years. His presence has dropped since he landed in Baltimore but what WR ever thrives there? He’s 37. The Jets would be taking a chance if they felt he could provide extensive production at this point in his career, one that includes 900 plus receptions.

The Jets can take what they can get out of his experience, especially on third down. All the while hoping that a speedier option like a Jeremy Kerley turns into a slot weapon a some point in 2011.

Rob Celletti

To no one’s surprise, the Jets continue to roll the dice, looking to catch lightning in a bottle on offense, but this move will certainly be met with some negative reaction.  A lot of people looked at Cotchery as a comparable receiver to Mason, although Mason has quietly put up eight 1,000 yard seasons in his career.  Still, something about this move just doesn’t seem right.  Cotchery is 8 years younger than Mason, and you’d think that the Jets would want to keep as many pieces around Sanchez in tact as possible as they shift to a more pass-oriented offense.  It’s a shame the Jets couldn’t find another way to save $900k, instead of losing a heart-and-soul guy like Cotchery.

It’s tough to pick one favorite Cotchery play, but one comes to mind immediately: In 2006 vs. the Patriots, the Jets were mounting a furious comeback after falling behind 17-0 at halftime, and Cotchery made one of the most hard-nosed, heads-up plays I’d ever seen.  He caught a pass from Chad Pennington and was knocked off of his feet by Chad Scott, but somehow fell directly on top of Eugene Wilson and never hit the ground.  What looked like a tackle and the end of the play to the other 21 players on the field plus the 80,000 in attendance was turned into a touchdown by Cotchery, who athletically got to his feet and coasted home for six.  The comeback fell short of course, but this play typified #89.  As Herm Edwards used to say about Cotchery and his penchant for timely heroics, “there goes 89 again, makin’ a play.”  J-Co will be missed.

Chris Celletti

This is just a head scratching move as far as I’m concerned. Santonio Holmes is a given, but who knows what you’re going to get from Plaxico Burress? He’ll be 34 in a few days and has already picked up an injury in training camp. Not to mention he’s spent the past 24 months in the slammer. Derrick Mason has been productive the past few years but his reception and yardage totals have gone down each of the past three seasons. At 37 years old, how are we to expect that trend will reverse? I know they won’t be expecting a ton out of Mason, but what if Burress is not healthy, or not close to his old self? Cotchery would have been a perfectly reliable number two if Burress goes down. You’d much rather have Cotchery in that situation than Mason.

Cotchery’s catch against the Browns last season when he came up lame in mid-route and still made a diving catch summed him up as a player. It was a gritty, selfless, and clutch play. Cotchery embodied those three traits, and he’ll be seriously missed.

Joe Caporoso

Jerricho Cotchery was never truly appreciated during his time with the New York Jets. Whenever he was given the chance, he found ways to make plays, specifically at the most important of times. I will always remember Cotchery consistently moving the chains on third downs, running impeccable routes, and carrying himself with a degree of humbleness and class only matched by Curtis Martin since I have watched this team.

Favorite play? Too many to pick. I will remember him as a Patriot killer. In 2006, staying on his feet when everybody thought he was down and turning it into a 70 something yard touchdown at the Meadowlands. Later in the season, when the Jets upset New England in their building, he pulled in a ridiculous over the shoulder touchdown to ice the game and then in their playoff meeting scoring a 77 yard touchdown to give the Jets a first half lead. What about in 2008, when he acrobatically pulled in a bomb from Brett Favre with the ball pinned against his shoulder and helmet? In 2009, he turned the momentum in the Jets week two upset of New England with a huge catch to start the second half and of course last year, he scored a TD against them in week two and swung the momentum in their playoff game with a 58 yard 4th quarter reception.

Derrick Mason is 900K cheaper and has had a much more productive career than Cotchery, and I do think he can be a valuable addition. However, let’s not turn a blind eye to him being 8 years older than Cotchery and the Jets continually switching up the wide receivers around quarterback Mark Sanchez. Do you think Plaxico Burress or Derrick Mason will be here in a year or two? I am not so sure. Sanchez has continually been asked to work with a receiving group filled with moving parts.

In the end, I have faith in Mike Tannenabum and like his desire to constantly improve. However, that doesn’t mean I have to approve of he handles veterans of this organization who are leaders in the locker room and examples of how you want your players to act. This was a cold move, but let’s hope it proves to be a smart one.

TOJ Roundtable: This Year’s Breakout Player?

TOJ Roundtable: where a collection of our writers offer a quick opinion on a pressing Jets question of the day.

Who will be this year’s breakout player on the New York Jets?

Joe Caporoso: I have faith in Rex Ryan finding ways to get after the quarterback so when he names a player his “Designated Pass Rusher” as he did yesterday with Jamaal Westerman, I tend think we could see a major leap in production from him this year. The Jets need Westerman to fill Jason Taylor’s role from last year and hopefully at least give them 5-7 sacks and create a few big plays. I think he steps up and becomes a valuable part of their defense after being a special teams player the past two seasons.

Rob Celletti: I don’t want to jinx him, but I’m going to go ahead and say Muhammad Wilkerson.  After the abject failure that was Vernon Gholston, I think the Jets would be very, very careful about speaking too highly of rookie front-7 players.  Considering the heaps of praise from Rex Ryan as well as the New York media in the first few days of camp, early returns on Wilkerson seem to be very good.  The Jets need to find ways other than all-out blitzes to generate a pass rush, so maybe Wilkerson will be the guy to help them achieve that.

TJ Rosenthal: Joe McKnight. We see him as the a Jamaal Charles type. If a game presents itself where there is ground to gain outside, he may break out and become a serious part of the rotation. Another breakout player, Calvin Pace, It’s time. The Jets have waited since he arrived to take over as a pass rushing threat. Now more than ever, the Jets could use one as the defense inches closer towards completion. Pace CAN have that breakout year, provided that he finally can stay healthy over a full season.

Chris Celletti: Is it possible to be one of the highest paid players in the league at your position and be eligible as a breakout player? Well, for Calvin Pace, it is now or never. He’s never had double digits in sacks in his career, and the only area the Jets are really lacking is consistently pressuring the quarterback. Pace needs to be the one doing so and I think (and hope) he will this year. I think in 2011 he finally reaches the double-digit sack plateau.

TOJ Roundtable: Expectations For Plaxico?

TOJ Roundtable: where a collection of our writers offer a quick opinion on a pressing Jets question of the day.

What type of production should we expect from Plaxico Burress this year?

Joe Caporoso: The Jets don’t need Burress to start the season off giving them 60-70 snaps a game. He can roll through with Jerricho Cotchery at the number two spot as he gets more comfortable back on the field. The biggest place he can make an impact is in the red-zone where the Jets have struggled the past couple of years. You can bet new offensive consultant Tom Moore will be drawing up pages of plays to get the ball in his hands inside the 20 yard line. I wouldn’t be shocked if Burress only had 40-50 receptions for 600-700 yards, yet as long as he adds 7-10 touchdowns, this move will be well worth it. The size and reputation he brings to the offense will also create more favorable match-ups for Santonio Holmes, Cotchery, and Dustin Keller.

Rob Celletti: It’s too difficult to try and project raw numbers, but in the end, this can only help the Jets as a team and Mark Sanchez in particular.  A young quarterback with spotty accuracy can only be helped by a big target with great hands, and that’s what Plaxico Burress provides.  The Jets’ red zone woes have been well-documented, so hopefully this signing puts them on track to get that corrected.  Hard to not dream about Plax catching a big touchdown on Christmas Eve against the Giants.

TJ Rosenthal: I’m not worried about Burress in terms of numbers. I want to see Burress simply grow into re establishing himself as a threat. In the red zone he can be a killer. The great hands and ability to leap make him a very likeable target for any QB.  Plax was a game breaking killer for Big Blue. We don’t expect him to pick up where he left off in mid 2009, now two years later we simply hope that as he gets his game speed back, he becomes a player that needs to be accounted for at all times. That way, the Jets won’t lose a beat on offense with the loss of Braylon Edwards who did a very good job in New York.
 
When both are at the top of their games though, Edwards is second to Burress in most phases of the position. We expect very good things from the new #17. He has alot to prove. That inner motivation may also bode well for the Jets who cant afford a drop off in production at the position.

Chris Celletti: I think you can expect Burress to take a little time to get back into football shape. He may even be the third option behind Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery until about the halfway point of the season. But I think as the year goes on, he’ll become a go-to for Mark Sanchez, especially in the red zone. While I think he may rank behind Holmes and maybe Dustin Keller in receptions, he may lead the team in receiving TDs when all is said and done.

TOJ Roundtable: More Worried About Haynesworth Or Bush?

TOJ Roundtable: where a collection of our writers offer a quick opinion on a pressing Jets question of the day.

Are you more concerned about Albert Haynesworth going to New England or Reggie Bush going to Miami?

Joe Caporoso: I think you have to be more worried about Haynesworth because if he plays anywhere near his potential, it gives the Patriots a lethal combination of him and Vince Wilfork up front. Fortunately, the Jets do have Nick Mangold and Brandon Moore but that is still a scary combination regardless. Haynesworth has been good enough to be the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. Reggie Bush has never been anywhere near that kind of player, he is a nice speciality running back but I certainly hope Miami is foolish enough to think he can be a lead back and give him 15-20 carries a game.

Rob Celletti: Absolutely, 100% Haynesworth, and it’s not even close.  The Dolphins are really a non-factor for me right now, whereas anything the Patriots do has the potential to doom the Jets’ chances at making a run for the division.  Like the Jets, the Pats wouldn’t make a move without doing their due diligence and making sure that the situation, salary and compensation were the right fit.  Throw in Belichick’s coaching and the fact that Haynesworth is only 30, this could turn out to be an absolute steal for New England.

AJ Malvisi:I think I’m more concerned about Haynesworth.  He has to know Bellicheck will not take any of his nonsense and see his value is way down from when the Redskins signed him. This is a crucial year for him if he wants to get another pay day. I do think he is not the player he once was and I have faith the Jets line will be able to handle him when the time comes. New England is just another stop on the long, strange trip that has been Albert Haynesworth’s career.

TJ RosenthalHaynesworth: If motivated, he could be a force inside with Vince Wilfork. If so Patriots run defense will be as tough as anyone’s. The question is, can a guy who has been an enigma for the past two seasons find his way again? If Haynesworth can’t kickstart his career with the great Bill Belichick, his days in the NFL may be over.

Bush: Reggie adds a nice dynamic of outside speed and big play ability for the Dolphins however, Miami has not had running problems. They’ve had issues throwing the ball down the field. If they don’t acquire a Kyle Orton type QB here in the free agency period, then Chad Henne has to step up. If not, the addition of Bush will have alot less of an impact.

Chris Celletti: You have to be more worried about Haynesworth to the Patriots. Bill Belichick has proven he can deal with a headache personality (see Randy Moss). He’s always been able to field a good defense with lesser name players so if he could keep Haynesworth in check and get him to play to his potential, that’s a great weapon for the Pats defense. Bush and the Dolphins? Well, not much the Dolphins can do would worry me right now.

TOJ Roundtable: Is Asomugha Coming To New York?

UPDATE: Jets have officially reached out to Asomugha

TOJ Roundtable: where each of our writers offers a quick opinion on a pressing Jets question of the day.

What is the percent chance of Nnamdi Asomugha signing with the New York Jets?

Joe Caporoso: 10-15%…I never write off Tannenbaum’s creativity or Rex’s ability to recruit but I think Houston or Dallas will make an offer too good for him to ignore

Chris Celletti: I’d say it’s very, very low, probably 10%. He’ll probably go to the highest bidder and I don’t think that’s the Jets. With Holmes as their number one priority, and the fact that they already have the best corner in the league on the roster, it’d be misguided to give Asomugha a huge deal.

Justin Fritze: 5%.  Nnamdi will not happen, it would thin the defense out too much as per salary cap.

Rob Celletti: I’d put this at a very slim 5%.  If the Jets didn’t have so many other roster issues to worry about, I’d say it was higher.  I know how much Rex loves corners, but the Jets led the league in defense two years ago with the following guys playing across from Revis at one point or another: Lito Sheppard, Donald Strickland, Marquice Cole, Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery.

TJ Rosenthal: 30%, Asomugha is either using the Jets and the bright lights of New York as leverage to obtain more dollars in places such as Houston, or he is being genuine about wanting to be a Jet. Our guess is, he wants to be a Jet, so the question then becomes, at what price? To make room for a salary like Asomugha’s, current Jets like Mark Sanchez will have to restructure their deal. Sanchez today stated that he has no problems doing that.

The second part of the equation will be how much the Jets can live with being handcuffed in trying to retain their own top level guys, or other free agents on the market due to the high cost of Asomugha. Third, is whether or not Asomugha himself would be willing to play for less than his own market value, or inflated market value from desperate teams. Should all three parts work into the process positively, then we expect the Jets to have the best chance of any team in football to acquire him. Should one of the three go against what it would it would take to make this happen, we see Asomugha on another team.

TOJ Roundtable: Is Santonio Holmes Coming Back?

Welcome to our first ever TOJ Roundtable, where each of our writers offers a quick opinion on a pressing Jets question of the day.

By the way, how about that new banner? Well done by Randy Yaws again. Remember to follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter.

Who has the best chance of coming back to the Jets: Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, or Antonio Cromartie?

Joe Caporoso: I would still say Holmes has the best chance of returning. We have consistently heard he is the Jets number one priority and I think Tannenbaum will work out a contract competitive enough to what Washington offers, along with the Jets offering a much more appealing situation than the Redskins do.

Chris Celletti: I think it’s Holmes. He seemed to really enjoy his time in New York last season, and started creating a good rapport with Mark Sanchez. I think the Jets recognize this and would risk losing both Edwards and Brad Smith if it meant keeping Santonio in town. The only thing that scares me is a team like Tampa Bay, who is so under the cap and needs to hit the salary floor, blowing Holmes away with a ridiculous contract offer to eat up some of the money they need to spend.

Justin Fritze: I think Holmes is coming back, but two things will come into play. Does he want a Superbowl or money? The Redskins are not a top tier organization, and when you don’t have a quarterback with experience, the Jets look better and better. I think Braylon genuinely wants to remain a Jet unless he finds a better quarterback and receiving core. The jets did stick by him but never count out the idea of being the prime receiver on another team. I think Cromartie has turned off teams with his comments. He remains hard to pin down.

TJ Rosenthal: What it will come down to is whether the Jets feel as though matching offers for Holmes and Cromartie play into a gameplan that we feel seriously includes Asomugha. Putting those two issues together, we see Asomugha as a Jet, and Edwards the cheaper choice of the two starting WRs with a Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress, or even a lesser priced Roy Williams brought in as the number two. What you would lose there is vertical speed and a resume of late game winning plays with Holmes. What you gain is a complete shut down on the outside defensively.

Rob Celletti: Everything I’ve heard points to Holmes being the Jets number one priority, which makes me believe that he’ll be back.  There are pros and cons to any of the three, but in the end, Holmes was the most important player and I have to believe the Jets will be able to bring him back.

UPDATE: The Jets have officially offered a contract to Santonio Holmes, coupled with Santana Moss resigning with the Washington Redskins for 3 years at $15 million dollars.