Pre-Draft Thoughts On The AFC

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First a few updates:

1. I will be catching up on the “2010” Draft Section today, www.thejetsblog.com has been ripping through those potential prospects the past few days. Speaking of the draft, Clemson OLB Ricky Sapp is visiting today. As I said yesterday, he could be a target for the Jets at #29 or they could trade back a few spots and look to grab him. Here is a look at his highlight tape:

2. Tim Graham had a few interesting pieces up on his AFC East Blog today, one of which discussed the teams that passed up Rex Ryan as a potential head coach…I must say I am happy that Buffalo decided to stay with Dick Jauron these past few years instead of hiring Rex and now they are stuck with Chan Gailey. He also discusses the potential of Syracuse receiver Mike Williams, who I am familiar with because I covered Syracuse football for Fan University during my undergraduate years. I absolutely agree with the assessment given by the scout in Graham’s article, Williams is a first round talent and he is going to be available in the mid-rounds because of questions about his character. He could be a guy the Jets take a risk on if they don’t end up adding a receiver in round one or two, who turns into an absolute steal.

3. Follow Turn On The Jets on facebook…because we are only 2 fans from 250 and you want the honor of being #250.

4. Eric Allen of www.newyorkjets.com compiled this list of players visiting Florham Park this week as the Jets prepare for the draft:

  • OT Anthony Davis – Rutgers
  • RB Montario Hardesty – Tennessee
  • CB Kareem Jackson – Alabama
  • RB Ryan Matthews – Fresno State
  • CB Devin McCourty – Rutgers
  • DL Jared Odrick – Penn State
  • DT Cory Peters – Kentucky
  • OL Maurkice Pouncey – Florida
  • CB Patrick Robinson – Florida State
  • OLB Ricky Sapp – Clemson
  • TE Micky Shuler Jr. – Penn State
  • S Major Wright  – Florida

Pre-Draft Thoughts On The AFC

A quick look at where all the teams in the AFC currently stand heading into the draft:

Division Title Contenders

New England Patriots – As I covered in my team to beat in the AFC East article, the Patriots haven’t had a very active off-season but are overloaded with draft picks and remain the primary competition to the Jets for a division title. They still need help at running back, in the secondary and need somebody to step up to fill the void of Wes Welker until he returns from injury but with Brady and Belichick they remain a playoff caliber team.

Baltimore Ravens – Regardless of the season the Bengals put together last year, I see the Ravens as the team to beat in the AFC North. The only thing holding them back last year was the struggles of their passing game. However, I think Joe Flacco will play better this season than he did at the end of last year, especially with the addition of Anquan Boldin. Beyond that, if they get something out of Donte Stallworth they could have a real strong three wide set with Boldin, Stallworth, and Derrick Mason. On defense they added Cory Redding to their line rotation but still could use some help at corner.

Indiannapolis Colts – Peyton Manning = double digit victories and most likely another AFC South title. They will be also be getting Anthony Gonzalez back at receiver to add to Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, and Pierre Garcon.

San Diego Chargers – They remain the best team in their division. However, they need to find more balance on offense and improve their running defense.

PhotobucketNew York Jets – I do think the Jets defense will be even better in year two under Rex Ryan and with the addition of Antonio Cromartie. On offense, Mark Sanchez should keep improving and allow them to have a very good chance to overtake the Patriots for the division title.

Pittsburgh Steelers – If Ben Rothlisberger’s legal situation is under control, it is hard not to expect to see the Steelers battling for that AFC North title again. They made some smaller moves like adding Antwaan Randle El, Arnaz Battle, Larry Foote, and Will Allen which will improve their overall depth and special teams.

Cincinnati Bengals – I know the Bengals won the AFC North last year but for some reason I have tough time seeing them repeat as champs. They faded down the stretch last season and aren’t going to sneak up on anybody this year. However, Antonio Bryant was a nice addition on offense and they can run the ball and play defense so I could be wrong.

Playoff Contenders

Miami Dolphins – Miami hasn’t done much this off-season outside of adding Karlos Dansby to their defense. They are still weak at receiver and have Ronnie Brown coming off a serious injury. Regardless if they keep running the football the way they did last year and the defense continues to improve they could be back over .500.

Denver Broncos – They haven’t done much this off-season except add a potential quarterback controversy by bringing in Brady Quinn. Also when they trade Brandon Marshall they will be getting rid of a headache but losing their top playmaker on offense.

Houston Texans – Every single year everybody says this is the year the Texans will make the jump to being a playoff team and every year they fall just a little short. Yes, they have plenty of talent but when are they going to win a big game? Every time they have a chance to make a move towards being a playoff team, they lose. They also have questions at running back since Steve Slaton can’t hold on to the football.

Tennessee Titans – If Vince Young plays the way he did after he took over for Kerry Collins for a full season, the Titans could be back in the mix as a threat to the Colts for the division title.

Jacksonville Jaguars – A young team who overachieved a little bit last year. They are stuck in a tough division but will be a difficult match-up on a weekly basis. Aaron Kampman should improve their pass rush.

Likely Basement Dwellers

Cleveland Browns – They have actually had a pretty good off-season thus far by bringing in some quality veterans like Sheldon Brown, Ben Watson, Scott Fujita, Chris Gocong and getting rid of their two ineffective quarterbacks. They also have a high amount of draft picks this year. Yet, how many games can they win with Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace behind center?

Buffalo Bills – No quarterback. A weak offensive line. Questions in the front seven of their defense. They are looking like the worst team in the AFC East by a few games.

Kansas City Chiefs – I feel bad that Thomas Jones is likely going to be stuck on a 5-11 team next year.

Oakland Raiders – It is always entertaining to watch what the Raiders do in the draft. They are assembling a nice All-Bust team on offense led by JaMarcus Russell, Darius Heyward-Bey, and Darren McFadden.

Mike Williams Highlights

Jets Playoff Pipe Dream: Week 14 Viewing Guide

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First a few updates:

1. Obviously the big news of the day is that Kellen Clemens is going to start this Sunday against Tampa Bay. Sanchez didn’t practice today and Rex Ryan announced the decision at his press conference today. Apparently, Sanchez is angry with the decision but in reality this is the right move for the long run. He is a rookie and there is no reason to throw him out there at 80-85 percent with no practice. Let him get three more days of rehab over the weekend and come back at 100 percent for the final three weeks. The bottom line is that the Jets should be able to beat the 1-11 Bucs with their backup quarterback. All I know is that the Jets may set a record for rushing attempts this Sunday, Ryan can talk all he wants about having confidence in Clemens but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene both get 20 plus carries. Overall, I agree it is better to be overly cautious with your franchise quarterback…so let’s pretend it is 2007 and try to excited about Kellen Clemens taking snaps.

2. It looks like Kerry Rhodes is going to start this Sunday. I am not sure why he got his job back but apparently he is back with the base unit, although Rex Ryan insists Eric Smith will still see plenty of time. A friendly Turn On The Jets reminder to Kerry Rhodes…you need to use your arms to tackle.

3. Donald Strickland, Dwight Lowery, and Larry Izzo were all limited in practice today. I wouldn’t bank on seeing Strickland or Lowery suit up.

4. A few notes from Sanchez’s press conference today: He basically reaffirmed his belief that he could play Sunday and his frustration with the decision. However, he said understood where Ryan was coming from and that he was confident in Kellen Clemens playing well. He also said there is no doubt at all that he will play next week against Atlanta.

Jets Playoff Pipe Dream: Week 14 Viewing Guide

For at least another week, the Jets playoff pipe dream remains alive thanks to a victory over Buffalo, a shocking Pittsburgh loss, a Baltimore loss on Monday night, and a few other somewhat favorable outcomes. Here are what games to keep an eye on this weekend and who you should be rooting for, preceded by the current AFC standings:

  1. Indianapolis (12-0)
  2. Cincinnati (9-3)
  3. San Diego (9-3)
  4. New England (7-5)
  5. Denver (8-4)
  6. Jacksonville (7-5)
  7. Miami (6-6)
  8. Baltimore (6-6)
  9. NY Jets (6-6)
  10. Pittsburgh (6-6)
  11. Houston (5-7)
  12. Tennessee (5-7)

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6) At Cleveland Browns (1-11) – If you decide to pass on watching NBC Must See TV and the trainwreck “Jersey Shore” (which completely disgraces my state and ethnicity) on Thursday night, turn in to the Steelers and Browns on the NFL Network. Can Eric Mangini and former Jets legends Eric Barton, Hank Poteat, Jason Trusnik, Chansi Stuckey, Abram Elam, CJ Mosley, and David Bowens knock off the slumping defending champs? If Pittsburgh can lose at home to Oakland to the Bruce Gradkowski/Louis Murphy connection, why can’t they lose in Cleveland? Let’s go Mangini…let’s play some consistent, fundamental football in all three phases of the game because that is always a function of winning.

New York Jets (6-6) At Tampa Bay Bucs (1-11) – Can the Jets avoid the traditional late season loss in a bad spot to a really awful team? Let’s keep it entertaining for at least another week.

Miami Dolphins (6-6) At Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5) – Tough call here. I have been torn most of the week on who to root for in this game. I have decided to go with Miami. Why? Here is my scenario: the Dolphins win and the Jets win putting both of them and the Jaguars at 7-6. My man Vince Young beats the Dolphins in week 15 and the Jaguars lose to the Colts on Thursday night in football in the last game of the year Indy plays with all their starters the full game and Jacksonville continues their tailspin by losing in New England the following week. Miami beats Houston in week 16 by closes the season with a loss to Pittsburgh to finish 8-8. This allows the Jets to lose in Indy, which will inevitably happen if Peyton Manning plays into the second half and creep in with a 9-7 record if a few other things break their way…complicated? I know. The bottom line is that the best thing here would be a tie. The Jets are helped in some ways and hurt in some ways regardless of the outcome.

Detroit Lions (2-10) At Baltimore Ravens (6-6)Daunte Culpepper will be making the start in this game. I vote that he decides to throw it back to the old school, mistake Calvin Johnson for Randy Moss and lead the upset charge. One thing about the Ravens, they get called for pass interference on every other pass attempt so maybe the Lions can keep it close.

Denver Broncos (8-4) At Indianapolis Colts (12-0) – The best thing that could happen here is that Indy could run it up on the Broncos like they always seem to and throw the Broncos into a self-doubting tailspin. This tailspin carries over to the following week where they lose to sudden juggernauts Oakland Raiders, followed by another loss to the Eagles and what do you have? Another Denver December meltdown.

Carolina Panthers (5-7) At New England Patriots (7-5) – The best way to attack the Patriots is through the air. Throwing the football isn’t Carolina’s strong suit, even with Matt Moore now in at quarterback. The only way I could see this game even being close is if Steve Smith makes 5 or 6 ridiclous catches and Bill Belichick continues to refuse to kick field goals or punts on 4th down.

Kellen Clemens Starting For the Jets in 2007…Wow, I don’t miss Justin McCariens