The New York Jets have reportedly agreed to terms with recently released OLB Calvin Pace on a one year deal. While this move may not be entirely popular among Jets fans, bringing Pace back without long term ties is a sensible move for a variety of reasons.
The TOJ staff discusses how the New York Jets should handle the linebacker position this off-season
Welcome to our off-season review of the New York Jets roster at Turn On The Jets. Each week we are going to attack a different position. We will have a roundtable discussion on it, Steve Bateman will submit a film breakdown examining it and our draft staff will look at potential prospects the Jets could add. So far we have covered quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive line, and defensive line This week we move to linebacker –
Who are the biggest question marks on the New York Jets heading into the 2012 season?
The New York Jets have a handful of sure things on their roster. You know Darrelle Revis is going to be a lockdown corner. You know Nick Mangold is going to anchor the offensive line. You know David Harris and Sione Pouha will play at a Pro-Bowl level and not receive the recognition for it. However, who are the team’s biggest question marks? Let’s take a quick run through
Austin Howard – Right Tackle – Howard has put together one pretty good pre-season and has the honor of replacing the least popular tackle in New York football history, Wayne Hunter. Let’s not forget he was an undrafted free agent who has never started a game before this season. If Howard starts to stumble, the Jets will likely have a quick hook to give the recently acquired Jason Smith an opportunity. He will be tested right out of the gate when facing Mario Williams or Mark Anderson week one and then Pittsburgh’s endless collection of pass rushers week two.
Kyle Wilson – Nickelback – Nickelback is a crucial spot in Rex Ryan’s defensive back heavy defense. Wilson has had a rough pre-season and patience is rightfully wearing thin with him. He is entering his third year and the former first round pick has never looked anything like one. Teams are going to pick on him with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie on the outside but Wilson must do a better job of locating the ball in the air and avoiding giving large cushions when he can’t afford to.
Stephen Hill – Wide Receiver – The Jets are relying on Hill to start right out of the gate despite how raw he is. He has shown an ability to get open and make plays down the field in the pre-season, while showing a consistent problem with drops. Hill is a rookie receiver from a triple-option offense. Can his positives outweigh his negatives as a full time player?
Mark Sanchez – Quarterback – I don’t see Sanchez as anywhere near as big of question mark as most people do. Outside of his interception against the Giants, he has been accurate and in-control of the offense despite a shaky offensive line and a banged up group of receivers. At his worst Sanchez will be an effective game manager, at his best he can be the player who led four 4th quarterback comebacks and won a playoff game in New England back in 2010. The biggest question around him this year is how he will handle being pulled from the game for Tebow when the Jets use the Wildcat.
Tim Tebow – Backup Quarterback – Not sure why more people aren’t concerned that the Jets backup quarterback had a 26.5 QB Rating and 38 percent completion rate in the pre-season. How can this offense function if Sanchez goes down for an extended period of time unless they are going to let Tebow just run 20 times per game from the QB position?
Jeff Cumberland – Backup Tight End – Hopefully Mike Tannenbaum isn’t foolish enough to go into the season with him as the primary backup. Simply put he is a less talented version of Dustin Keller and is an even worse blocker. The Jets are in trouble if he gets pushed into extended duty.
LaRon Landry – Safety – He has been terrific this pre-season but if he gets hurt the Jets are right back to Eric Smith.
D’Brickashaw Ferguson – Left Tackle – It was a surprisingly down year for ‘Brick last year. The Jets badly need him to bounce back and be the Pro-Bowl caliber tackle he was throughout the early years of his career.
TJ Conley/Nick Folk – Punter/Kicker – The value of these guys on the Jets is extremely enhanced because of the type of football they are likely to play. Folk had a great pre-season but can’t afford to miss the chip shots this year that he did in the past. Conley has been inconsistent and is now in competition with the recently signed Spencer Lanning. You can’t shank punts when you are desperately battling for field position.
Shonn Greene – Running Back – Considering his primary backup has under 30 career NFL rushing yards, he better stay healthy and productive. Greene had a disappointing pre-season and has been a notorious slow starter. The Jets can’t afford that this year as he will be getting 20+ carries a game right out of the gate.
Chris Gross weekly Fact or False on the New York Jets answers your submitted questions on the team
Throughout the season, we will periodically poll our Twitter followers for what they want to see addressed in New York Jets Fact Or False. For our inaugural edition of The Tweeter’s Choice, our readers brought the heat. Not one person disappointed with the issues they wanted to read about, which proves we have one of the most, if not the most, knowledgeable fan bases in all of football. Huge shout out to @Crazychimpan, @bleist25, @ItsOasus, @DrewFromJersey, and @Jetsforlife25 for sending in their suggestions this week. Be sure to give each of them a follow on twitter, and be sure to keep a look out all season, as we will certainly run another edition of this in the future. Thanks again, and enjoy!
The Jets will carry more than 5 RB/FBs going into season. (@Crazychimpman). False.
While five is a great over/under for the number of backs that will be on the active roster come opening day, don’t expect any more or any less. The three guaranteed spots will be Shonn Greene, who will presumably be the starter barring an injury, Joe McKnight, for his Special Teams value will lock him in, regardless of whether or not Bilal Powell gets the nod as the third down back, and John Connor, who established himself as the starting Fullback early in training camp as the team has already decided to waive journeyman Fui Vakapuna.
The next two spots are the intriguing ones. You’d have to think that, with all the talk about Powell, he will make it. However, Powell must truly prove that he is worthy of being a valuable option as a third down back. McKnight isn’t going anywhere, due to his worth on Special Teams, so for the team to carry two backs with strikingly similar skill sets, Powell must go above and beyond what’s asked of him.
Rookie Terrance Ganaway is also a very interesting case. Ganaway was seemingly drafted because he looks to be a perfect situational fit for this season, with the hope that he will develop into a perfect schematic fit long term. He has great experience in the option offense, running for an astounding 1547 yards and 21 touchdowns last season at Baylor, while posting a remarkable 6.2 YPC, which makes him the most logical back in any Tebow package. Ganaway also has tremendous size at about 6’0” 240 lbs, which makes him an ideal fit for the Ground and Pound that New York plans to implement under Tony Sparano. Unless Ganaway really struggles to prove he is not yet NFL ready, he should remain on the roster.
The Jets will likely remain set with these five backs. Unless Powell is written off, it looks very doubtful that New York will look to add a veteran. If Powell does not prove to be worthy of a spot by the time the season begins, the Jets still may remain content with just four backs, while relying on Tim Tebow to be a huge contributor to the run game. The only way I truly see New York adding a veteran is if Powell tails off, and Greene struggles immensely during the pre-season. Otherwise, it looks like the Jets are ready to roll into the season with what is currently on the roster.
Trader Mike will make a move for another RT before camp is over (@bleist25). Fact.
Tannenbaum took a shot swinging a deal with the Panthers for Tackle Jeff Otah, which clearly did not work out due to the former first rounder’s inability to pass a physical. With the Otah trade nullified, New York is back to square one with Wayne Hunter and Austin Howard as the two most logical choices at Right Tackle. Hunter has a serious edge over Howard, who will likely not see a significant down all season. That is a scary thought. Clearly, Mike T is aware of this, as displayed by the failed Otah trade. By now, I’m not sure anyone can argue with the notion that the Jets are not comfortable with the competition they currently have at the Right Tackle position.
The next logical step for Tannenbaum is to look to Free Agency. Many questioned why he hesitated to bring in a veteran during the offseason, but he likely wanted to see how Hunter and the other tackles looked during mini-camps and OTAs. Since Tannenbaum and the rest of the organization were clearly not satisfied, they can now look to add someone like Vernon Carey, who will come at a discount in comparison to what he may have cost them a few months ago.
“Mayhem” will play on more than just passing downs this season (ItsOasus). Fact.
Aaron “Mayhem” Maybin is already earning high praise from the media and coaching staff in the early stages of training camp. He has reportedly bulked up to 240+ pounds, which will help him greatly against the run. Calvin Pace will likely remain on one side of the field for the majority of downs, however the other side is open for competition. While most expect Bryan Thomas to retain the spot opposite Pace which he occupied prior to his season ending injury last year, there is a good chance we could see him in a limited role this season. While he has had success setting the edge on run-downs in the past, the praise Maybin has been receiving for his added size and relentless motor could propel him into an increased role to play a surplus of downs in a variety of spots on the outside. His versatility will be a huge weapon for Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine this season. Expect them to utilize that to the fullest extent.
Ricky Sapp will have more sacks than Calvin Pace this season (@DrewFromJersey). False.
Although Sapp has very exciting potential, he has still yet to record a sack at the NFL level. While he could very well break that trend this season, I wouldn’t give him an edge over the seasoned veteran that is Calvin Pace, even if he is entering the twilight of his career. Since joining the Jets, Pace has gotten to the Quarterback a total of 26 times. Sure, his sack total has decreased each year since 2009, however his experience, along with the amount of reps he will receive should make him good for at least 4 sacks, if healthy. Sapp, on the other hand, may still be able to compile 2-3, but will likely be used far less. Additionally, players with very little experience in real NFL game situations, unless tremendously talented, tend to compile more QB hurries and knockdowns, rather than actual sacks. Timing is everything on getting to the Quarterback before he gets rid of the ball, and it will likely take a full season of game experience before Sapp gets used to executing his moves just at the right time.
Early Camp Star Ellis Lankster will become a serious playmaker and collect at least 3 Interceptions as a shutdown nickel-guy this year (Jetsforlife25). False.
Lankster’s progress is extremely encouraging for New York thus far. With a serious question mark heading into training camp as to who would assume the role of the fourth cornerback, Lankster has provided a breath of fresh air for coaches and fans. However, he has played in just 17 total games over the course of his career, and has yet to register an interception. Additionally, the amount of reps he gets will likely be very limited. The Jets have a surplus of defensive backs including three excellent corners in All-World Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson, whom many believe is on his way to becoming a very good corner in this league, as well as the Safeties Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry, and Rookie Josh Bush, who is realistically the best cover Safety on the roster. For Lankster, it will all come down to scheme. His inexperience will have some, but not much, effect on his ability to become a playmaker.
However, if the Jets choose to put out more packages of Revis, Cromartie, Wilson, and two safeties, which seems like the most logical approach, other than third and long scenarios, Lankster may not get the amount of snaps necessary to truly establish himself as a serious playmaker, while compiling 3 interceptions. As well as Lankster has been playing, it is unlikely he will beat out Wilson for reps as the third CB. You’d like to think with improved Defensive Line and Safety play, New York will not see a surplus of third and long scenarios this season. However, if these positions fail to live up to their potential, then all bets are off.
Josh Baker is the 2nd best TE on the roster (DrewFromJersey). Fact.
Baker wins the spot as New York’s second best TE, somewhat by default. Jeff Cumberland has great potential, and has showed flashes of solid play in the past, but he has participated in just 4 career contests. Baker, on the other hand, saw action in 11 games last season, while hauling in 3 balls for 27 yards, including a touchdown on Christmas Eve against the Giants. Hayden Smith is very intriguing, but as a guy who has never played a down of football in his life, he certainly does not have the edge over his competition just yet. The key for whoever becomes the second Tight End this season will be their ability to block. Unfortunately for New York, not one of them has truly proved to be able to do that, so it will be very interesting to see how this plays out.
Josh Bush will struggle in a forced role as the Jets only true cover safety (Jetsforlife25). False.
The fact that Bush will be forced into a role as the only true cover safety on the roster will actually benefit him. Prior to becoming a safety at Wake Forest, Bush was a corner, and has been noted for his cover abilities throughout his career. Last season, Bush had a team best 6 interceptions earning him First-Team All ACC accolades, as well as a spot as a third teamer on the All-American squad. Bush has sub 4.5 40 speed, and under the tutelage of savvy veterans like Landry, Bell, and Revis, he should fit nicely in a center field type role for the Jets. Sure, he will have his growing pains, but Bush will ultimately succeed more often than not this season.
A closer look at what roles individual players will play in the New York Jets 46 defense
This video on NFL.com provided an encouraging look at the New York Jets 46 defense, which has repeatedly been talked up by the coaching staff as a major part of their scheme for 2012. The decision to hire Karl Dunbar and draft Quinton Coples only reinforces that. We already discussed the 4-3 looks the Jets could use this season, so let’s take a closer look at how their personnel could be deployed in the 46:
NT – Sione Pouha is going to receive the lion share of the reps here. Ideally, Kenrick Ellis could provide quality reps off the bench this season but he is far from a proven commodity. The Jets also still have Martin Tevaseau behind Pouha, who does have some experience. Finally, Mike DeVito does have the ability to slide into this spot if there was an emergency.
DT – Surrounding Pouha up front, the Jets will likely have Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples starting out, with DeVito and Marcus Dixon rotating in off the bench. Obviously, Coples is a better option on passing downs and DeVito is a better presence against the run at this stage of their careers.
DE – Calvin Pace could see the majority of reps here because of his ability to set the edge and occasionally get after the passer. He also has a good amount of experience with his hand in the dirt. Aaron Maybin could also line up here on passing downs, where he could utilize his speed.
LB (On Line) – The LBs you see diagrammed lined up alongside the defensive line will likely be Bart Scott in the interior and Bryan Thomas on the outside as starters. Scott can utilize his run stopping ability here and Thomas has proven he can set the edge against the running game. However, Demario Davis should replace either Thomas or Scott in passing situations, where the Jets could use him to either cover the tight end or get after the quarterback. Finally, the Jets could also line up one of their many strong safeties on the edge occasionally, whether it is LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, or Eric Smith.
LB (Off Line) – Lined up alongside the strong safety, David Harris will be the primary player in this spot. He will have the ability to roam free and do what he does better than anybody on the defense, make tackles. In certain passing situations, I could see the Jets putting Yeremiah Bell or Eric Smith in this spot, alongside LaRon Landry at strong safety.
SS – LaRon Landry’s skill set fits best to this position. However, we could also see him and Bell be interchangeable in this spot, along with E. Smith occasionally seeing reps there, particularly if the Jets line up Landry up on the line in certain situations.
CB – Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie get the opportunity to take advantage of their man to man skills in this scheme. Could the Jets deploy a formation where Cromartie drops to FS and Kyle Wilson comes in at corner? I wouldn’t put it past Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine.
FS – The Jets lack a proven one on their roster. You could see Bell or E. Smith getting reps here, along with rookie Josh Bush or maybe even Cromartie as previously mentioned. Ideally, Bush picks up the defense quickly and becomes a capable centerfielder because he has the best skill set for this spot.
There is plenty of versatility with this formation. For example, the Jets could opt to take advantage of their collection of strong safeties by putting Landry on the line as the outside LB, putting Bell at the off the line LB and having E. Smith as the strong safety. Demario Davis has the speed to set the edge on either side or line up as the off the line LB in passing situations. Calvin Pace can play on either side of the formation, with his hand in the dirt or standing upright.
What is nice about the 46 and the Jets personnel is the ability to mix and match the player’s positions, which is something Rex Ryan loves to do and will keep offenses on their toes.
The New York Jets are putting the pieces in place to spend more time in the 4-3 this season
Rex Ryan has never been hesitant about using a variety of defensive looks since becoming the head coach of the New York Jets. However, they have predominantly been a 3-4 team. After a disappointing 2011 season, it appears the Jets will looking to use more 4-3 alignments this season and will be looking for different things out of a few key players in their system.
Surprisingly, defensive line has developed into the deepest position on the Jets roster. They have one of the best nose tackles in football in Sione Pouha, a promising second year player in Muhammad Wilkerson and one of the league’s better run stoppers in Mike DeVito. Behind them, Marcus Dixon was very good off the bench last year at both defensive end and defensive tackle. Last year’s third round pick Kenrick Ellis has the physical potential to be a force inside and Martin Tevaseau is a capable rotation player. Finally, they surprised many by selecting defensive end Quinton Coples in the first round.
On the other hand, the Jets have many questions at linebacker outside of David Harris. Calvin Pace is coming off his worst season with the team and appears to have lost his burst getting after the quarterback. Bart Scott is also coming off his worst season with the team and is a major liability on passing downs. Bryan Thomas is going to be 33 years old and is coming off major surgery. Aaron Maybin is a hybrid defensive end/linebacker and is predominantly just a pass rush threat. Demario Davis has plenty of potential but is ultimately still a third round rookie.
Outside of Maybin (who is built like a safety), the Jets have asked their linebackers to lose weight and improve their speed. Pace and Thomas are going to spend more time being pure linebackers instead of having different formations where they put their hand in the dirt because the Jets have enough capable defensive lineman.
It is a smart move by Rex Ryan to cater his defense to his depth chart. These is no need to fit square pegs in round holes. You play to your strengths and the Jets strength should be their defensive line more so than their linebackers. Ryan wisely hired a defensive line coach in Karl Dunbar, who was coaching a 4-3 in Minnesota to help with this adjustment. The Jets have a versatile front with most players being able to slide between defensive tackle and defensive end. Ryan should be able to send out a myriad of lineups that could both stop the run and rush the passer.
For example, a line-up with DeVito and Pouha at defensive tackle with Coples and Wilkerson at end, should be capable against the run while still getting push to the quarterback. On third downs, you could slide Coples inside to defensive tackle, bring Aaron Maybin in at end and then replace Bart Scott with Demario Davis or an extra safety to get after the quarterback.
Regardless of what the Jets de facto starting line-up ends up being, expect to see four to five defensive lineman getting major reps throughout the game while a player like Bryan Thomas could end up playing less than 50% of the snaps. It is also hard to see a scenario where Pace and Scott don’t see a decline in their reps.
The Jets strength on defense is cornerback and defensive line, Rex Ryan should be smart enough to build his game-plans around these two positions.
TOJ looks at 12 New York Jets who need to have bounce back seasons for the team to improve this season
Assuming the New York Jets don’t make any more major moves this off-season, it appears they will be relying on much of their improvement to come from within their current roster and whatever draft picks they add. What players in particular will need to bounce back from a rough 2011 season to take the Jets from 8-8 and out of the playoffs, to back to 11-5 and the AFC Championship Game (and hopefully beyond)? In descending order of importance…
12. Kenrick Ellis – The Jets didn’t get anything from him in his redshirt season. If he can play to his potential in his second year, the Jets will have a huge addition to their defensive line rotation that will help stop the run and push the pocket on the passer.
11. Antonio Cromartie – He didn’t have a bad year in 2011 but also didn’t have a great one. We are still waiting to see a playmaker who can pull in more than 4 interceptions in a season and maybe create a defensive touchdown or two.
10. Bryan Thomas – Thomas missed the bulk of last season with an ACL injury. Even if the Jets spend a first round pick at outside linebacker, they will need Thomas to mentor him and on running downs. He is a valuable veteran who is productive in Rex Ryan’s defense.
9. Mike DeVito – He missed 4 games last season and battled injuries all season. DeVito is a big part of the Jets run defense and the Jets need him healthy and productive for all 16 games next season.
8. Eric Smith – Hopefully after the draft, Smith will be relegated to being a role player on defense. Yet, you can be assured he will see significant time on defense next season and when he is on the field, the Jets need him to limit the big plays and at minimum be a sure tackler. This team really needs help at safety.
7. Bart Scott – Scott’s value has always been stopping the run, being a sure tackler, and providing leadership on the field. He did none of that last season, missing a ton of tackles and creating issues in the locker room over his lack of playing time. Scott claims to be refocused and lighter this year, we’ll see if that translates to him playing like he did in 2009 and 2010.
6. Shonn Greene – He didn’t have an inspiring 1,000 yard season in 2011. Greene must do a better job of breaking tackles and occasionally popping a big play. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry as a rookie and has since fell down to 4.1 in 2010 and 4.2 in 2011. The Jets need that number to get closer to 5 again.
5. Calvin Pace – At the amount of money he is making, 4.5 sacks isn’t cutting it. The Jets should give him some support on passing downs with their first round pick and Aaron Maybin in his second year so Pace shouldn’t see many, if any double teams. Regardless of his production against the run, the Jets need 7-9 sacks from him.
4. Wayne Hunter/Vladimir Ducasse – As of right now, they are battling to be the starting right tackle. We can only hope Tony Sparano and his new system can move Hunter from being awful to mediocre or that Ducasse with a full off-season under his belt at right tackle can show some of the signs of why he was a second round pick.
3. Santonio Holmes – The Jets paid him to be their number one receiver and he didn’t perform like one. Some of that was on Brian Schottenheimer and some of that was on Mark Sanchez, yet a share of blame goes to Holmes who dropped his share of passes and couldn’t consistently beat double teams. If Holmes can produce like he did in 2010 when he returned from suspension, the Jets offense will be in much better shape.
2. D’Brickashaw Ferguson – The Jets Pro-Bowl left tackle didn’t play like one last season. His struggles combined with Wayne Hunter’s incompetence left Mark Sanchez constantly under pressure. Brick must return to his regular level of play, particularly if Hunter remains as the right tackle.
1. Mark Sanchez – On the whole Sanchez didn’t have anywhere near the awful year that is portrayed by the mainstream media. However, he did something he had never done so far in his career…he struggled in the games that were the most important. Most notably, the final three games of the season. Sanchez is without question the most important factor in the Jets success this season. If he struggles, their season is going to turn into a quarterback controversy circus and Tim Tebow will be overextended as a full time quarterback. If he plays well, they have a shot to be a contender and Tebow can thrive as a role player.
What New York Jets could be on the trading block in the coming weeks?
We have documented Mike Tannenbaum’s propensity for getting involved in trade market here at TOJ last week, so with that in mind which current players on the Jets roster could be on the trading block?
Please Take Him
Wayne Hunter, Right Tackle – We have already discussed the futility of trading Hunter but apparently a NFC team actually engaged the Jets in discussion for him. I can’t see them finding a willing trade partner, even for a conditional seventh round draft pick. Most likely Hunter will be brought back as a highly paid backup.
Bart Scott, Inside Linebacker – Similar to Hunter, there isn’t going to be much of a market for Scott. Maybe…maybe if a team suffered an injury at linebacker, they’d give up a late round conditional pick for him. However, are the Jets going to hold on to him that long? I can’t see him lasting with the team much longer when he clearly wants more playing time and the Jets aren’t going to give it to him.
Calvin Pace, Outside Linebacker – Pace has a contract that exceeds his actual production but that doesn’t mean he isn’t an effective player, particularly as a run stopper in a 3-4 defense. The Jets would love to dump his hefty contract but whomever they trade him to, would likely want to renegotiate with him first. He is a player they could get some decent value for and might be somebody they need to part with in their quest to fill their long list of needs. They could carry on at outside linebacker by signing Jarret Johnson, bringing back Bryan Thomas on a veteran’s minimum deal and then picking a player like Melvin Ingram in round one.
Mike DeVito, Defensive End – The Jets could save 3 million this year by parting ways with DeVito, a valuable run stopper in the 3-4 defense. Yes, he is a good player and a strong fit in Rex Ryan’s defense but he had issues staying healthy last year as a full time player and the Jets have decent depth behind him with Marcus Dixon, Ropati Pitoitua, and the potential of Kenrick Ellis sliding over for reps as he continues to grow. DeVito would be highly coveted by any team who runs a 3-4 and needs help at defensive end.
Dustin Keller, Tight End – A player who has been good, not great for the Jets and might never get the chance to be great in Tony Sparano’s offensive system. Keller’s skill set, which includes plenty of receiving but not alot of blocking could thrive in the right offense. Would the Jets part with Mark Sanchez’s best friend and a player he has good chemistry with on the field? Probably not but if the right offer comes along that helps them improve safety, offensive tackle, linebacker…they just might.
Antonio Cromartie, Cornerback – In order to improve other parts of their defense, the Jets could look to pick away at one of their strengths at cornerback. Kyle Wilson took positive steps last year and if the right offer came along for Cromartie, wouldn’t you have to consider moving him and giving your previous first round draft pick a chance to start?
TOJ with a 12 pack of thoughts on the Jets most talked about players so far this off-season
March 13th is getting closer by the second, along with the days prior to it which be filled with endless free agency rumors. The dry spot in the NFL schedule is just about done with the combine underway and Rex Ryan giving a quote filled press conference yesterday. Let’s celebrate with a 12 pack of thoughts on the names most frequently being discussed when it comes to the New York Jets off-season these days —
1. Mark Sanchez – Where is he? Well we know he was at a Knicks game last weekend with D’Brickashaw Ferguson. He took the time to tweet Santonio Holmes a Valentine’s Day Card and that he is probably spending some nights with Kate Upton…lucky guy. Regardless, it is time for Sanchez to end his media silence and speak up for himself. I want to hear Sanchez, say “this is my team, the front office can bring in whoever they want to compete with me but I will be starting quarterback and will get this locker room fixed. Me and Santonio have been successful in the past and we will be again. As for my work ethic, I challenge whoever said this about me to show their face because I pride myself on being the first one in the building and the last one out everyday. I expect to see all my skill position players at Jets West in the coming months!”
You can take that verbatim if you want, Mark. Just cite me (@TurnOnTheJets).
2. Peyton Manning – Rex Ryan left the door open yesterday by saying the Jets were open to exploring all opportunities at every position. Listen, the Jets are going to kick the tires on Manning like 26 other teams in the league are, that doesn’t mean he is coming here. I am not sure if he is healthy. I don’t think he wants to play for the Jets and I don’t think it is smart move for this organization. Yet, until he is in a Cardinals or Redskins uniform, we won’t stop hearing about Manning and the Jets.
3. Santonio Holmes – He has sent out a sporadic tweet here and there about being excited for next season, of course followed with the #ToneTime hashtag. Santonio is who he is and that certainly isn’t a captain but at that same certainly the kind of receiver you can win with. He is on the team for the next two years so let’s hope he bounces back and starts playing like the number one receiver we paid him to be.
4. Sione Pouha – The big fella is the only major free agent the Jets have to worry about bringing back. They aren’t going to franchise tag him but are apparently working feverishly to get him under contract before free agency starts. Hopefully, they lock him down to a 2-3 year deal so he can keep anchoring the run defense until Kenrick Ellis is ready.
5. Shonn Greene – Is a lead back? Is he not a lead back? Will the Jets get him support via free agency or the draft? Personally, I am leaning towards thinking he isn’t a true lead back. Yet, the Jets don’t have the means to add a big name at running back. Look for them to add a journeyman veteran like Tim Hightower or Tashard Choice, a mid-round draft pick and then hopefully expand Joe McKnight’s role in the offense.
6. Courtney Upshaw/Melvin Ingram/Trent Richardson/Mark Barron – Popular names being thrown around with the Jets for the upcoming draft. Upshaw is the most ready to contribute 3-4 outside linebacker in the draft, which means if he gets near number 16, Mike T needs to make a move to get him. Ingram has potential but I worry about his migration to the 3-4 system. There is some chatter about Richardson falling a bit now due to his recent surgery. I still don’t think the Jets have a shot at him and that is probably a good thing, I am not sold on the value of first round running backs. Mark Barron would be an ideal addition if the Jets found way to maneuver their picks to get him in the 25-35 range.
7. Bart Scott/Calvin Pace – Also known as “those two slow Jets linebackers who never get to the quarterback.” There are rumors about both of them being cut. I would guess the Jets eat the guaranteed money and cut Scott but hold on to Pace, who is valuable against the run and can be a good secondary pass rushing option. As for the filling the hole at inside linebacker, I wouldn’t be surprised if they handed his role off to Josh Mauga for the time being and spend a middle round pick on one.
8. Jeremy Kerley – A player we are all excited to see in a bigger role next season. A role that could be bigger than expected if the Jets don’t invest in the free agent wide receiver market. TOJ is hoping they take a long look at a player like Robert Meachem or Laurent Robinson but not overly confident that will happen. The Jets could add a cheaper player with deep speed (maybe Harry Douglas of Atlanta?) and then add a draft pick at WR with some size.
9. Every Ex-Jet Imaginable – There is an ongoing infatuation among Jets fans about bringing ex-players back, most notably Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, John Abraham, and Dwight Lowery. Honestly, I do think Braylon makes a good amount of practical sense…I just doubt it happens.
10. Dustin Keller – It is going to be interesting to see how he fits in Tony Sparano’s offense and if the Jets bring in a blocking tight end to pair with him. Expect to see Anthony Fasano in green and white, if he hits the open market.
11. Wayne Hunter – Who are the Jets going to bring it to challenge him for the right tackle position? Vernon Carey seems like a logical move, as does bringing in a draft pick. It is a scary thought to imagine Hunter starting again next year, even if Sparano can protect his deficiencies better.
12. Eric ‘Freaking Smith – How are the Jets going to improve their safety position? They need a complete overhaul, which in my mind is signing a free agent (Reggie Nelson, Tyvon Branch, Michael Griffin are out there), investing a high pick on one and then bringing Jim Leonhard back on a veteran’s minimum deal as insurance. If Eric Smith comes back it has to be in a reserve/situational/special teams role.
A look at the New York Jets players who disappointed on defense and special teams
Yesterday we looked at the New York Jets players on offense who disappointed. Today we will focus on the defense and special teams. Unfortunately these two lists combine to be much longer than the players who exceeded expectations in 2011.
Bart Scott – Over his first two years with the team, Scott was praised for his ability to do the dirty work alongside David Harris at inside linebacker. He was a reliable tackler, was comfortable in Rex Ryan’s system, and a supposed leader on the team. This past season he struggled so much he was reduced to being a situational player, leading to reported dissatisfaction in the locker room from him. The Jets owe Scott about 4 million dollars in guaranteed money next year but it is still being reported that he will likely be cut.
Calvin Pace – For the amount the Jets paid Pace before the 2008 season, they aren’t getting a quality return on their investment. Pace is a pretty good three down linebacker in the Jets 3-4 system but can’t consistently get pressure on the quarterback and fails to make an impact in too many games. The Jets lack speed at linebacker and Pace is a big part of that.
Eric Smith – I think most of us did a double take when the Jets gave Smith a seemingly big contract to return as their starting safety this past year before they brought back Brodney Pool. He had always struggled in pass coverage and often look over stretched in a full time role. 2011 emphatically proved that Smith is not a capable NFL starter. Apparently, the Jets have an out on his contract and it is hard to see him back in a starting role or in any role at all next year with the team.
Jim Leonhard – It was disappointing to see Leonhard suffer a season ending injury for the second year in a row. Prior to that, he was average at best. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets brought him back on a veteran’s minimum deal to play alongside the new safety or two they bring in via the draft and free agency this year.
Antonio Cromartie – When you think about Cromartie’s 2011 season, what do you remember? I remember two muffed kicks, Miles Austin ripping the ball out of his hands for a touchdown, and Brad Smith beating him for a ridiculous touchdown catch. Outside of a big game against Jacksonville in week 2, when else did be bring the big play element to the Jets defense that he was supposed to? He settled down in coverage towards the end of the year but on the whole it wasn’t a very good season for #31.
Nick Folk – It was just an okay year for Folk who took a small step back this year and missed key short kicks against New England and the Giants.