Armando Salguero: A Dolphins Beat Writer Living In A Fantasy World

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Since the beginning of the Rex Ryan era, one of my favorite beat writers to read has been Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald. It is always entertaining to get a cheap laugh from the nonsense he has to say in relation to the New York Jets and their rivalry with his Miami Dolphins. It is clearly bothering Armando to be working in a JV sports town like Miami. You know Miami, the city that puts less people in the seats for a Heat game than a WNBA pre-season match-up, despite having a perennial playoff team and one of the best players in the league? The same city that has more fans in green and white than orange and blue during Jets/Dolphins games in their home stadium. We can only hope D-Wade moves on to a real sports town, where his talent can be appreciated and The Miami Herald soon hires a Jets beat writer to cater to all the team’s fans in the area.

Anyway back to Armando who recently wrote a gem of an article entitled “Miami Dolphins Are Not Concerned by New York Jets’ Moves.” He decided to beat the old drum about the Jets crowning themselves as champions in the off-season. Don’t you remember this story from last year when Miami was attacking the Jets for having the same attitude? I remember and I also remember how that attitude brought them within one half of a Super Bowl appearance with a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach while the Dolphins enjoyed the Miami weather with some golf and relaxation. Their off-season started when the regular season ended, while the Jets played until the end of January.

PhotobucketArmando didn’t like how Mark Sanchez said he was confident his team would return to the White House in February, after he returned from a visit himself when he was invited to meet Mexico’s President and his wife. I don’t mind seeing our young quarterback having confidence in his team, instead of spending time criticizing the abilities of college players who are heading into the NFL Draft. Don’t you remember Chad Henne saying he didn’t think Tim Tebow could cut it at this level? Obviously, Henne is an authority on what it takes to be an NFL quarterback considering his 75.2 QB rating last season and his 14 interceptions to 12 touchdowns.

I know, I know those stats are better than Mark Sanchez’s last season, right? Sure they are, but last time I checked Sanchez got better when the games counted more while Henne got worse. I seem to remember Sanchez leading a 4-6 team to the playoffs with big wins in November and December, followed by winning two road playoff games. I also remember Henne having Miami in position to grab a playoff spot at 7-6, before he finished with a 0-3 record leading his to team to a quite impressive 7-9 finish.

Armando also didn’t like Bart Scott talking about the Jets striving to be the greatest defense in NFL history. Why set such high goals, right? The problem is that Scott just can’t say he wants the #1 defense in the NFL, because the Jets already did that last year. Armando has never liked the Jets boasting and bragging. He likes to paint them as a low character team, led by a buffoon of a head coach who flaps his gums too much.

My favorite part of Armando’s latest article was who decided to use for quotes. He went to Jason Ferguson…the guy who is suspended for 8 games this season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. High character indeed. Starting corner Sean Smith was also cited with a few laughable quotes about winning his battles against Braylon Edwards last year. Don’t you remember Smith? The guy hanging on to Edwards for dear life as he carried him into the end-zone during their week 8 match-up. As Manish Mehta of The Daily News recently pointed out on his blog, Edwards had 9 catches for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Dolphins last season. I hope Sean Smith remains satisfied with his level of play because I am sure the Jets would take those numbers again from Braylon.

But back to the picture Salguero like to paint of the Dolphins. The high character team, with no issues to speak of unlike the Jets. Nobody is saying the Jets brought in a bunch of choir boys this off-season but let’s not ignore Miami signing Richie Incognito one of the NFL’s dirtiest players…actually maybe the NFL’s dirtiest player. The guy has had four games in three years, where he had two personal foul penalties in a single game. He also got into a screaming match on the sideline with his coach last season, which was followed by a $50,000 fine by the league and him subsequently being cut.

What about last off-season when four Miami Dolphins were arrested? Ronnie Brown, DUI. Will Allen, DUI. Randy Starks, assaulting a police officer. Tony McDaniel, domestic battery. All of them are still on the team. Oh and don’t forget about Brandon Marshall who was recently acquired and who has a record of quitting on his team, beating up women, and getting involved in gang fights. What about GM Jeff Ireland who was kind enough to ask Dez Bryant in a pre-draft interview if his mother was a prostitute? High class, all the way around in Miami.

PhotobucketSalguero wrote in his article “Miami Dolphins Have True Character, While Jets Are Full of Characters” last November that “The Dolphins are a team with character. The Jets are a bunch of jerks.” Very eloquent and mature writing, Armando…you would think Bart Scott and David Harris took his lunch money or something. Salguero also scripted up these zingers…

“The Jets? They are a beaten, battered bunch…go for it Rex. Have your locker room filled with big talk and so little in the form of results. Have a locker room that drips sarcasm when a little humility is more appropriate.”

He went on to praise the “resilience” and “character” of the Dolphins. Funny enough, after their November match-up the beaten and battered Jets went to the AFC Championship game while the resilient Dolphins finished with a 3-5 record. The Jerks from New York found a way to get the job done.

Salguero has never been too fond of Rex Ryan. He took a cheap shot at him on Twitter the other day, when he praised Tony Sparano for losing 30 pounds this off-season…without the help of a lap-band. Another mature and professional comment. Way to attack a guy who is trying to get healthy and who has attempted to lose the weight without a medical procedure but has now been forced to use that option so he could be around for his family and his football team.

When Salguero discusses Sparano and Ryan, you would think the Dolphins coach has a glittering record of accomplishments. I actually do think he has done a pretty job in Miami but let’s not forget in two seasons, he has zero playoff wins while Ryan has two wins in one season. Sparano made the playoffs once but was smacked around by the Baltimore Ravens, who were led by Ryan on defense, to the tune of 27-9. Salguero must have been cringing with each of the five turnovers Ryan’s defense forced that day.

The final Salguero piece I need to touch on is another funny read “Miami Dolphins, Jets similarly matched despite offseason boasts” from May 16th. Armando seems to be convinced the Jets and Dolphins are basically even on both sides of the ball heading into this season.

PhotobucketThe last time I checked both of Miami’s starting corners would be battling to be a nickel back on the Jets. Their big time acquisition at receiver, Brandon Marshall, will be taken out of the game by that Darrelle Revis guy, leaving the likes of Davone Bess, Greg Camarillo, and Brian Hartline to get open on Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson. Somehow I don’t think Rex Ryan is losing sleep over that. The Jets have a substantial advantage on the offensive line, even without Alan Faneca which compensates for the Dolphins having more talent at running back. Beyond that, I am fascinated to see how Miami plans to cover Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes (in their second match-up), Jerricho Cotchery, and Dustin Keller with their collection of defensive backs. Finally, the Jets have a clear advantage at both outside linebacker and inside linebacker. You couldn’t find a GM in the league who would take Channing Crowder, Karlos Dansby, Cameron Wake, Charlie Anderson, and Koa Misi over Bart Scott, David Harris, Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, and Jason Taylor.

How does Salguero expect the Dolphins to beat the Jets without Ted Ginn Jr. on the roster? The only reason Miami beat the Jets twice last year was for some reason the first round bust decided to actually produce against the Jets. Without Ginn’s heroics against the Jets in 2009, the Dolphins would have been a 5-11 team.

Keep on writing in your fantasy world, Armando and if you ever want debate Jets/Dolphins, I’d love to make an appearance on your radio show.

Did You Win This Battle, Sean?

Jets vs. Dolphins: Game Breakdown

First a few updates:

1. According to Rex Ryan there is a chance that Jerricho Cotchery won’t play on Monday night because of a hamstring injury, which would be a big blow to the Jets passing game. Brad Smith would likely step into the starting line-up, with David Clowney seeing a substantial bump in reps. If the Jets were without Cotchery, the Dolphins would have no problem doubling Braylon Edwards and leaving the inconsistent Smith (3 catches, 22 yards) singled up. Damien Woody didn’t practice today but Ryan sounded optimistic about his chances of playing. Donald Strickland is out. Lito Sheppard will start at corner, with Dwight Lowery sliding into the slot.

2. Make sure you check out Episode V of Turn On The Jets TV tomorrow, in a special Saturday edition. I was going to post it tonight, but I kind of spent 12 hours working on a hellacious mid-term and I am about to collapse after writing this article.

3. How about those Yankees?

4. Apparently Channing Crowder and Rex Ryan squashed the beef at some point this off-season, with Crowder sending Ryan a gift basket. Leon Washington responded to Crowder’s recent trash talk by saying he eats “clam chowder for breakfast”…clever stuff.

Jets vs. Dolphins: Game Breakdown

Jets Offensive Game Plan: Expect to see the Jets get back to the ground and pound approach this Monday Night, especially if Jerricho Cotchery doesn’t suit up. The Jets may have got a little too comfortable with Mark Sanchez and forget the fact that he is a rookie, they have Thomas Jones, Leon Washington, Shonn Greene, and supposedly one of the best offensive lines in the league. Regardless of Miami’s success against the run this season, it is time to give Thomas Jones his 20 carries, Leon his 15 carries, and yes even Shonn Greene his 5 carries.

An element that has been missing from the Jets offense this year is their screen game. We finally saw a successful one last week when they hit Leon Washington for 15 yards, but the Jets need to go back to it more often to all their players. What happened to the old receiver screen to Jerricho Cotchery or Dustin Keller, like we saw week one? Thomas Jones was a big part of the Jets passing game last season, and is yet to get involved so far in 2009. The screen game is a good way to get Mark Sanchez going early and pick up some easy yards against an aggressive Dolphins defense.

When the Jets do decide to go down the field, obviously an active Jerricho Cotchery would be a big plus. If he is in the game, Sanchez will have his pick of single coverage on either him or Braylon Edwards, which is obviously a positive. If Cotchery isn’t in the line-up, David Clowney obviously the speed to make the Dolphins below average secondary pay in single coverage but he is yet to have a single ball thrown his way this season. Brad Smith his a history of dropping passes, which means between him and Edwards, Sanchez might want to pull his hair out by the end of the night.

Jets Defensive Game Plan: I have confidence in Rex Ryan’s ability to stop the wildcat, based on what I saw last season. When the Dolphins are in a traditional set, expect the Jets to have just about everybody in the box. If the Jets can force Miami into third and longs, the Dolphins are in big trouble. I got news for you, Chad Henne isn’t going to have much success with the Jets pass rush, now including Calvin Pace, coming after him and receivers like his matched-up on cornerbacks like ours. I don’t understand people who are saying that Miami matches up well with the Jets, because they don’t have nearly enough talent on offense to move the ball on a defense like the Jets.

The only way the Jets can get in trouble on Monday is if they allow Ronnie Brown to get going. They were only average against the run the past two weeks, and Miami loves to hang around by holding on to the football through their running game. However, I expect the Jets to improve this week because of the return of Calvin Pace and I don’t think they are concerned about being beat through the air by the likes of Chad Henne, Ted Ginn Jr, and Devone Bess. If you can’t already tell from my writing, I am pretty damn confident in our defense against their offense.

Special Teams Breakdown: Hopefully Leon Washington will finally get a chance to return a kick. Is it me or is every kicker the Jets face have a ridiculously strong leg and boot the ball 8 yards into the end-zone? You know he is chomping at the bit. Jim Leonhard has quietly been very good on punt returns this season and Miami has below average special team units, so maybe he can break one. How about Jay Feely turning into one of the most reliable kickers in football? I am sure he will have revenge on his mind this week since the Dolphins cut him….maybe he will have a big hit on kickoff or something, or just do some extra bicep curls this week.

The Jets Will Win If…They establish the running game and slow down the Dolphins running game. Mark Sanchez doesn’t have any turnovers. Chad Henne is overwhelmed by the Jets pass rush and has a few turnovers. Calvin Pace plays like a mad man who is desperate to make up for 4 weeks in one night. The Jets play with some extra motivation coming off their first loss and jump out to an early lead, forcing Miami to throw more frequently than they like to.

The Jets Will Lose If…Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams keep the chains moving, allowing Chad Henne to simply manage the game. The Jets can’t get their running game going and Mark Sanchez tries to do too much again, leading to some easy points for Miami. Braylon Edwards is quiet in his debut and struggles because Jerricho Cotchery isn’t active.

Funny Video About Cleveland…originally posted over www.thejetsblog.com

More on Braylon & New York Jets: Hi Hater

First a few updates:

1. Feeling pretty good about the Yankees right now, up 6-2 in the 7th inning with CC rolling. How about the captain with that 2 run home run to tie the game up before? The Yanks are making my time between Jets game go much quicker.

2. Mark Sanchez was fined $5,000 for his hit on Jonathan Vilma. He called to apologize about the hit and VIlma made amends with him. I am sure the rookie learned his lesson and won’t be getting called for a personal foul anytime soon.

3. The Dolphins have been carrying on with the endless amounts of trash talk this week. Today something came out about Channing Crowder hating Leon Washington and saying he is going to curse out Mark Sanchez, which of course begs the question…who is Channing Crowder and does anybody care about what he has to say? The Dolphins are 1-3…1-3. They need to worry about winning some games instead of talking like they are some type of contender this season.

4. Site updates…I have updated the depth chart, reflecting the trade. Tomorrow I will write my normal Wednesday article about the key individual match-ups for the Jets/Dolphins game…Friday I will write my excessively comprehensive game breakdown AND post episode V of TOJ TV, which I know everybody is waiting on. Saturday, I will be grading out the Jets/projecting their stats through the first quarter of the season. Sunday, I will be watching football and tracking my horrible fantasy team. Monday, I will be writing on the Jets recent domination of their rivalrywith Miami, including some great video footage. Set your schedules accordingly

More on Braylon & New York Jets: Hi Hater

Wrapping up the Deal: The terms of the deal have been confirmed as Chansi Stuckey, Jason Trusnik, a conditional third round pick and a fifth round pick. Only if Edwards has an inordinate amount of catches this season, could the third rounder be bumped up to a second rounder. It appears that the Jets will likely be without their 3rd, 4th (Lito Sheppard trade), and 5th round pick in the 2010 draft. Mike Tannenbaum said there are no immediate plans to restructure Edwards’ contract. It will depend on the Collective Bargaining Agreement whether Edwards is a restricted or unrestricted free agent (similar to Leon Washington) after the season. Obviously his on field production and off the field behavior the rest of the season will determine how the Jets handle his contract this off-season, though an eventual long term deal makes sense since they sacrificed two draft picks for him.

Minor League: Final condolences to Chansi Stuckey and Jason Trusnik who are now joining the Jets AAA affiliate in Cleveland. I heard a rumor the Browns will soon be trading Joe Thomas, Shaun Rogers, and Josh Cribbs for Wayne Hunter, Mike DeVito, Wallace Wright, and Drew Coleman. How about nine former Jets currently on the Browns active roster? I always liked Stuckey but the guy is built to be a #3 receiver, while Edwards is built to be a legit #1. Trusnik is a very good special teams player with a history of injuries.

Press Conferences: Ryan sounded confident in his ability to handle Edwards, who he believes will fit right in with the rest of the team. He said Edwards “better be ready to go” as a starter this Monday night because that is what the Jets brought him in for. He also talked about his firsthand knowledge of the difficulty to cover Edwards and how he is confident the acquisition will open up the Jets offense. He didn’t offer any tantalizing soundbites on the Jets/Dolphins game but joked that Channing Crowder could find him Monday night in a white #77 jersey. Ryan also confirmed what Mike Tannenbaum said about the Jets doing a thorough background check and being confident that Edwards will stay out of legal trouble the rest of the year. I would imagine that any legal problems involving Edwards and LeBron’s entourage would result in a suspension in 2010, not this season.

Edwards press conference didn’t offer anything too noteworthy. He repeatedly expressed how excited he was to be in New York (obviously) and how the constant losing in Cleveland was beginning to wear on him. Edwards said he is comfortable with the guys in the Jets locker room, who welcomed him with some jokes about the suit he was wearing. He also discussed his excitement about working with Mark Sanchez and his belief that Jerricho Cotchery and himself could compliment each other. Interestingly enough, he even mentioned looking forward to contributing to the running game by adding some down field blocking for Thomas Jones. Edwards didn’t discuss his off the field troubles but instead talked about his desire to change the perception of himself, and the positive off the field work he has done in his career.

Hi Hater: You have to love the hate from president of the New England Patriots fan club aka Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who will find anyway to demean the Jets for this move, where if it was another team they would be praised for making a bold decision. I love how PFT writes a story about Derek Anderson being thrilled with Edwards leaving, like it is supposed to concern Jets fans. Derek Anderson? The guy has been straight awful since his 2007 season, does anybody care about his opinion? He started out the year backing up Brady Quinn, which should show how talented he is.  Also, I loved reading the Patriots and especially the Dolphins fans criticizing the moves on the ESPN message boards for the Jets. You want to hear something funny? Ted Ginn Jr has 4 career touchdown receptions…that means Braylon Edwards had 4 times as many touchdown receptions in his 2007 season than Ginn does for his whole career. You can hear the insecurity and nervousness from the Pats and Dolphins fans as the Jets clearly established themselves as the team to beat in the AFC East with this move. Yes, I just said as of right now the Jets are the team to beat in the AFC East. Not Miami, who will promptly be put in their place (TOJ TV spoiler alert) as a 4-12 team by the Jets this Monday Night and not New England, who already lost to the Jets and only has three wins because of Leodis McKlevin’s charity and insanely terrible officiating/Mark Clayton’s dropped pass in the Ravens game.

Jets/Dolphins Week: Get Fired Up

NFL Week 4 Recap/Jets vs. Dolphins First Look

First a few updates:

1. The Jets actually jumped up a spot to number 5 in ESPN’s Power Rankings despite their 14 point loss to the Saints. Their defense made a strong statement to the rest of the league that they are one of the elite groups in the NFL, regardless the offense has something to prove these next few weeks.

2. The trash talking has begun this week, courtesy of Dolphins linebacker Akin Ayodele discussing the Rex Ryan/Channing Crowder feud in the off-season, “Their head coach really blew the fire even more this offseason with Channing and both of them going back and forth. How does a head coach, why would you even try and go with words, you know battle with a player. That to me doesn’t make any sense so yeah, the animosity is there, the hatred is there. You know there’s no love, It will feel great once we put that whooping on them”.

3. MLB Playoff Predictions? Twins over the Tigers tonight. Yankees over the Twins. Red Sox over the Angels. Dodgers over the Cardinals. Phillies over the Rockies.

NFL Week 4 Recap/Jets vs. Dolphins First Look

Wrapping Up Jets/Saints

Defensive Player of the Game: Darrelle Revis – Another lockdown effort by the Jets corner, who held Marques Colston without a reception when he covered him. On the day, Revis only allowed one reception for 14 yards to Devery Henderson and also collected three passes defensed along with doing a strong job in run support.

Offensive Player of the Game: Shonn Greene – Why Shonn Greene who only had 4 carries for 23 yards? The reason is because his production provided some extra motivation for Thomas Jones who started out with 6 carries for 12 yards, and then after Greene took a series from him, came back with 8 carries for 37 yards and a touchdown. Hopefully, Greene will be healthy for this week and provide another weapon for the Jets rushing attack and keep Jones on his toes.

Honorable Mentions: Jerricho Cotchery for having another strong game…Alan Faneca for some superb run blocking…Bryan Thomas for a productive, all-around game…Dwight Lowery for holding his own as the Jets starting corner the past two weeks…David Harris for racking up 12 tackles…Kerry Rhodes for piling up 8 tackles and a key pass defense.

AFC East Observations

New England Patriots – The Patriots scored a big victory over the undefeated Baltimore Ravens at home. They were aided by a few ridiculous roughing the passer penalties and a key drop by Mark Clayton on the Ravens final drive, but a win is a win. Also, Tom Brady appears to be looking like his normal self again. New England has another tough task this week, as they travel to Denver to face the undefeated Broncos.

Buffalo Bills – Yuck, what an embarrassing performance by the Bills in Miami who appear to be quitting on their coach. The Dolphins ran all over them and Trent Edwards and the rest of the Bills offense looked awful. The good news? They get to face Eric Mangini and the Browns this weekend.

Miami Dolphins – They got their first win of the season over Buffalo, who didn’t put up much of a fight. The Dolphins continued to run the ball successfully but let’s see what happens when a team stops the run and Chad Henne has to complete some passes for them to move the football.

TOJ Top Five

  1. New York Giants – They will roll over Oakland this weekend and head to New Orleans at 5-0.
  2. Indianapolis Colts – Their offense is scary good right now, even without Anthony Gonzalez.
  3. New Orleans Saints – Big play defense to match their big play offense.
  4. Minnesota Vikings – Let’s see how Favre holds up into November/December.
  5. Denver Broncos – Their defense is legit…chance to make statement against NE this weekend.

TOJ Bottom Five

  1. Oakland Raiders – JaMarcus Russell is terrible.
  2. Kansas City Chiefs – They showed some fight in the 2nd half against Giants but lack talent to compete.
  3. Tampa Bay Bucs – Josh Johnson at least let them be competitive on Sunday.
  4. Cleveland Browns – Good effort against the Bengals.
  5. St. Louis Rams – Wow…I think losing by less than 20 is a victory for them.

Jets vs. Dolphins First Look

The Opponent: Last year’s Cinderella story got a healthy dose of reality the first three weeks of the season with losses to the Falcons, Colts, and Chargers. They did respond with an impressive win over the hapless Bills last week, to move their record to 1-3. Chad Henne will be making his second career start against the Jets (Rex Ryan is salivating more than he does over a fresh pie of pizza). Miami relies on their rushing attack led by Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Regardless, their gimmick based offense didn’t work in playoffs against Ryan last year and the Jets defense is better than any unit they faced this season. Miami had plenty to say about Ryan and the Jets this off-season, so let’s see if they can back their words up or if they are in over their head against an opponent with more talent.

Miami Dolphins Starters/Key Reserves

OFFENSE

  • Quarerback: Chad Henne – 24/41, 207 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • Running Back: Ronnie Brown – 72 carries, 369 yards, 4 TD’s
  • Running Back: Ricky Williams – 50 carries, 248 yards, 2 TD’s
  • Running Back: Patrick Cobbs – 5 carries, 37 yards
  • Wide Receiver: Ted Ginn Jr – 14 receptions, 138 yards
  • Wide Receiver: Devone Bess – 20 receptions, 157 yards
  • Wide Receiver: Greg Camarillo – 11 receptions, 86 yards
  • Wide Receiver; Brian Hartline – 6 receptions, 53 yards, 1 TD
  • Tight End: Anthony Fasasno – 4 receptions, 18 yards
  • Left Tackle: Jake Long
  • Left Guard: Justin Smiley
  • Center: Jake Grove
  • Right Guard: Donald Thomas
  • Right Tackle: Vernon Carey

DEFENSE

  • Defensive End: Kendall Langford – 10 tackles, 1 sack
  • Defensive Tackle: Jason Ferguson – 6 tackles
  • Defensive End: Randy Starks – 8 tackles, 1 sack
  • Defensive End: Phillip Merling – 8 tackles, 1 sack
  • Outside Linebacker: Joey Porter – 6 tackles, 2 sacks
  • Inside Linebacker: Channing Crowder – 14 tackles
  • Inside Linebacker: Akin Ayodele – 16 tackles
  • Outside Linebacker: Jason Taylor – 8 tackles, 3 sacks
  • Outside Linebacker: Cameron Wake – 6 tackles, 3 sacks
  • Corner: Will Allen – 16 tackles, 2 INT’s – 6 tackles
  • Corner: Sean Smith – 7 tackles
  • Corner: Vontae Davis – 3 tackles, 1 INT
  • Safety: Yeremiah Bell – 28 tackles
  • Safety: Gibril Wilson – 17 tackles

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Kicker: Dan Carpenter
  • Punter: Brandon Fields
  • Kick Returner: Patrick Cobbs
  • Punt Returner; Devone Bess

Key Players: Ronnie Brown is their most dangerous player on offense, especially out of the Wildcat formation. Devone Bess and Greg Camarillo are decent possession receivers. Tedd Ginn Jr has big play capability. On defense, they have a variety of pass rushers including Joey Porter, jason Taylor, and Cameron Wake.

Injuries: Joey Porter is recovering from an injury and missed last week. Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland have missed the past two weeks, but should be back. Damien Woody has a bad ankle but is expected to play.

Early Story Lines: Channing Crowder vs Rex Ryan…Mark Sanchez bouncing back from his first bad game…Jets/Dolphins rivalry…How the Jets respond to their first loss of the season…Calvin Pace returns from his suspension.

Dolphins/Bills Highlights

Jets 2009 Offense: The Elephant in the Room

First a few updates:

1. Miami linebacker Akin Ayodele kept up the ongoing war of words between the Jets and Dolphins, by claiming that it was “immature” of Rex Ryan as a head coach to respond to Channing Crowder’s trash talk. Hey, it is a slow time in the NFL schedule so this qualifies as an update. What is with these Miami linebackers and Rex Ryan? They must still be hurting from that playoff loss last year, when Ryan’s defense beat their offense like a drum up and down their home field…oh well.

2. I was prepared to write an article Monday and Tuesday, but I had some car problems Monday night which disrupted my article and some computer problems Tuesday which disrupted my article. Regardless, no crappy car or computer can keep me quiet about the Jets for more than 2 days.

3. Jets Feel Good Moment of the Day (New Installment here at Turn On the Jets): November 18th 2001: The Jets traveled to Miami as a 6-3 team to play the 6-2 Dolphins, and whooped up on their rivals 24-0 to win their 8th straight against Miami. Aaron Glenn (60 yards) and Victor Green (63 yards) both returned interceptions for touchdowns.

Jets 2009 Offense: The Elephant in the Room

When you look at the 2009 New York Jets, you have to feel good (maybe even great) about their defense. There is a ton of talent at all three levels of the unit and they are being led by one of the brightest defensive minds in the NFL. However, it is hard to have the same amount of confidence about the other side of the ball. There is talent and potential on the Jets offense but some major questions that need to be answered if the Jets are going to be a playoff team.

It all starts with the quarterback position. Who is the Jets quarterback going to be in 2009? The smart bet is Mark Sanchez, who enters the QB battle with better odds than Kellen Clemens regardless of what any of the coaches say. The sooner the Jets establish their starting quarterback, the better. The entire offense needs to know who they will be rallying around all season and you want the #1 to get as many reps with the first-string offense in training camp/pre-season as possible.  Whether it is Sanchez or Clemens under center in 2009, the Jets quarterback needs to effectively manage games. Nobody expects a pro-bowl quarterback not named Eli to come out of New York this year, but the Jets need a guy who can go 14/19 for 175 yards with 0 INTs on a weekly basis. There will be bumps along the way, but those bumps need to be balanced by hitting some big plays down the field when the box is stacked.

The Jets have one of the best running back groups in the NFL. Unfortunately, the two most important components of that group are currently unhappy with their contract. The Jets can’t have Thomas Jones or Leon Washington missing time in training camp. Too much of the Jets offense revolves around #20 and #29 for them to be practicing without them, especially with a young quarterback. You have to figure on a good a day those two will combine for 30-35 offensive touches…that is an awfully high percentage of your offense to have unhappy with their contract. Leon Washington deserves a new, long-term deal. He has done more than the Jets could have ever imagined when they took him in the fourth round and always represents the organization well. I know Jones is old for a RB, but the Jets have enough money to at least reach a one year compromise with him, like they did with Chris Baker and Laveranues Coles last year.

The Jets wide receivers and tight ends remain a major question mark. Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller need to have big years in 2009. Cotchery needs to produce like a #1 receiver and Keller needs to become a more well-rounded tight end, while developing into the Jets #2 pass catching option. Outside of Leon Washington, he is the most difficult person on the Jets offense to match-up with. The more Keller produces, the less pressure there will be on Chansi Stuckey, Brad Smith, and David Clowney at wide receiver. Regardless of how well Keller plays, Stuckey still needs to make enough plays on the outside to keep constant double teams off Cotchery and Clowney needs to provide the Jets with some type of deep threat.

One thing to feel good about is the Jets offensive line. They are returning all five starters and their top two backups. You have to keep your fingers crossed that everybody stays healthy but when they are on the field, this is one of the league’s best units.

The success of the Jets offense will depend on an inexperienced quarterback developing into a steady, consistent player, a group of running backs being used properly (attention Brian Schottenheimer, get Leon Washington the ball more), a second year tight end taking his game to the next level, a career number two receiver developing into a number one, and a group of role players emerging to form a decent receiving core opposite him. I know it doesn’t sound pretty but remember 2006 when Kevan Barlow, Cedric Houston, and a no-name fourth round pick named Leon Washington carried the Jets rushing offense, and a career backup receiver named Jerricho Cotchery emerged as a big play threat and a questionable quarterback situation stabilized to lead the Jets to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth.

Turn On The Jets Interview with Tim Layden

First a few updates:

1. I would have to say at this point there is a less than a 10 percent chance of the Jets signing Plaxico Burress or trading for Brandon Marshall. Beyond those two, what other veteran options could they consider at receiver? Marvin Harrison might not be a bad option, regardless of his diminishing skills, he could still be a very competent number 2 receiver.

2. It’s funny how much negative press the Jets inexperienced receivers get, in comparison to all the hype and positive press the Giants inexperienced receivers get. What have Sinorce Moss and Mario Manningham ever done to merit so much optimism? I do think Domenick Hixon and Steve Smith are good players but certainly no better than Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey.

3. The only enjoyable part of my daily commute to the PVSC (Passaic Valley Sewage Commission) in Newark, New Jersey (where I am working this summer as a landscaper…yes, a landscaper at the Sewage plant, awesome stuff I know) is I get to pass by the brand new Giants/Jets stadium every day. The new building puts the old one to shame and is going to be great for all NY/NJ football fans.

4. Congratulations to Brooks Bollinger for being drafted in the UFL. It seems just like yesterday he was leading the Jets to a 4-12 record in 2005.

Turn On the Jets Interview with Tim Layden

Tim Layden is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated and recently did a great feature on Rex Ryan, which can be accessed here http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1156765/index.htm  . He was kind enough to let me interview him yesterday about Ryan, the Jets, and the AFC East. Here is what we talked about in the first ever interview at TurnOnTheJets.com:

JC: How much of Buddy Ryan do you see in Rex?

TL: I think Rex developed his passion for coaching from watching his father work growing up. There is no question he has alot of Buddy in him, yet it ends at a certain point. Rex’s mother is a very cerebral person and you can see that in Rex also. Unlike his father, Rex is a little more calculating when talking to the media and his players. He has an ability to treat different people in different ways, which is important in the NFL. I think he is also a little more reserved than Buddy and does hold back a little sometimes, in a positive way. I think you will see Rex be more successful as a head coach in the NFL than his father.

JC: When you were talking to the Jets players, did you sense that they are enjoying the switch from Eric Mangini to Rex Ryan? Both guys are obviously polar opposite in terms of how they run their team.

TL: When I was talking to Kris Jenkins, he expressed that he did like Eric Mangini and was okay with the way he ran things but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t enjoyed the new attitude Rex has brought to the Jets. Whenever there is a new head coach, people are going to focus on their positive qualities. Rex is a very likable guy and certainly a players coach so you would expect the players to be excited about him.

Kerry Rhodes admitted he is still adjusting and as I mentioned in the story, is used to holding himself back a little more on the field and with the media but is now learning more emotion is ok. Speaking of Rhodes, I really think he is guy you are going to see flourish in Rex’s system.

Bart Scott also made a good point not to get too carried away with the fun and emotional side of Rex. He noted they had success in Baltimore because of their scheme and execution. Rex is a well prepared, confident guy which leads to the swagger his defenses have. Scott said people don’t spend enough time talking about Ryan’s X’s and O’s and how smart he is when crafting a defensive scheme.

JC: What do you think of the recent comments he made about New England and his back and forth with Channing Crowder?

TL: I think with the Bellicheck ring statement, I mean…what is he supposed to say? Rex is confident in his guys and doesn’t say anything he knows his players won’t hear. He doesn’t want them to be afraid of New England and their past success. He isn’t intimidated by New England and believes he was brought to New York to beat them, not to look up to them. I don’t think it is a condescending statement to the Patriots at all.

In terms of the Crowder stuff, Rex has a great gift for conversation and humor. It is entertaining to listen to him speak and I think all that stuff was very light-hearted and also probably blown out of proportion by people criticizing him.

JC: Do you think Rex and the Jets should be as confident as they are heading into the season?

TL: One thing I know about Ryan is that he has never coached a bad defense. Even when some of those Baltimore teams had injuries, they were still consistent and successful. The Jets defense is going to be good this year, maybe great. I think the confidence is good thing and is rubbing off on the players. Bart Scott was telling me how he can’t wait to play against Tom Brady and New England. He wants to challenge them because he believes they can get to Brady and he wants to see how he will respond to the constant pressure coming off that leg injury.

JC: Switching to some more player specific questions, how does Ryan feel about Mark Sanchez?

TL: Ryan has a good amount of measured excitement about him. He knows he has the talent but understands he still has a ton to learn at this level. He doesn’t want to go too far praising Sanchez, in fear of losing Kellen Clemens, because there is still a chance he could be guy this September. Is Sanchez going to be Matt Ryan or Rex Grossman? I don’t think anybody can answer that yet. It will be tough in New York but Ryan believes Sanchez has the right make up for this city. Remember that Rex wants to win games 17-13 and isn’t going to be asking Sanchez to throw the ball over the field. He just wants him to protect the ball and make a few plays when the opportunity is there.

JC: What did Ryan have to say about Vernon Gholston?

TL: Ryan didn’t talk all that much specifically about Vernon Gholston. I know alot of people are trying to match up Baltimore players to Jets players, comparing Gholston to Terrell Suggs and Kerry Rhodes to Ed Reed but Ryan doesn’t want to do that. A key thing that both Ryan and Bart Scott said about the Jets linebackers is that everybody is going to have the chance to makes plays and it will be hard for the offense to know where the pressure is coming from. In Baltimore, the Ravens funneled everything to Ray Lewis, in this defense it won’t be that way.

JC: One last question, how do see the AFC East shaking out this year?

TL: I guess I would say New England is probably the best team but they aren’t head and shoulders above anybody in this division. Don’t think for a second they are a 14-2 team, that is a group of older guys with some question marks at linebacker and in the secondary and you can’t be 100 percent confident that Brady is going to be back to his old self. I am not confident in Miami repeating their success from last year and honestly think the Jets are probably the second best team right now and will be in the wild-card hunt and the division hunt until late in the year.

Three Moves the Jets Need to Make & A Rant on Mike Freeman

First a quick rebuttal to Mike Freeman of CBS Sports:

Mike Freeman of CBS Sports wrote an article (http://www.cbssports.com/columns/story/11849129) the other day where he pours it on Rex Ryan and the Jets organization as a whole. While I can understand a little bit of where he is coming from, he goes way overboard and makes a few questionable statements.

Yes, I understand Rex Ryan is a rookie head coach and may be doing a little too much talking for his own good. Yet, he didn’t say anything that outlandish or out of line. He is an accomplished defensive coordinator in this league and there is no reason he can’t have confidence in his group of guys or not stand in awe of New England’s past success. The guy never guaranteed anything or disrespected any of the Jets opponents.

Here are a few of Freeman’s excerpts, with my responses:

“Typical Jets: patting themselves on the back even before the season begins. The New York Jets — kings of June wind sprints.”  — Typical? When is the last time the Jets have patted themselves on the back before the season begins? I don’t remember many Junes where the Jets have been made any kind of bold proclamations about the upcoming season.

“Not certain about the rest of you, but I would love to see an organization with the sort of losing and embarrassing history of the Jets, oh, you know, win before the head coach starts beating his chest and running his mouth like he’s Big Pussy from The Sopranos.”  — Yes, the Jets don’t have one of the most illustrious histories in sports. However, the past decade they have been one of the better franchises in the NFL, with playoff appearances in 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2006 along with a .500 or better record in 1999, 2000, and 2008. Big Pussy from the Sopranos? Oh yes, clever reference since the Jets play in New Jersey but why Big Pussy, why not Paulie or Tony?

“Remember these are the Jets. It was this team that made one of the worst acquisitions in recent history with Brett “The Vikings love me/they love me not” Favre.” — Of course it is easy to say acquiring Brett Favre was stupid now, but at the time the Jets were universally praised for acquiring a hall of famer to fill the one glaring hole on their roster. Nobody was thought it was a bad acquisition when the Jets were 8-3 and had just blown out the undefeated Titans in their building. Yes, Favre and the Jets melted down the stretch but if it is another team that Freeman doesn’t hate, that’s on Favre not the organization for taking a chance by bringing him in.

“Ocho Rexo sounds just as silly as pops. He’s the guy with a larynx larger than his biceps who has had a few too many beers taking on the biggest, meanest guy in the bar. Challenging New England the way he has without a win under his belt puts Ocho Rexo in the same category as Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. Rex has failed to also show the current division champions, the Miami Dolphins, a modicum of respect”— Did he challenge New England or did he just say he wasn’t going to “kiss their rings?” Should he kiss Bellicheck’s rings? Should the Jets play scared of New England because they won a few Super Bowls a few years ago? The Giants weren’t scared of the undefeated Patriots and they beat them up. Ryan also never disrespected the Dolphins (unless you consider his what his defense did to the wildcat last year as disrespect) he only talked trash to one of their average players, who came at him first.

“This season, after the Jets win five games and Mark Sanchez is a bloodied mess, Ryan’s faux bravado and words will haunt him.”— So now because Ryan is a confident guy the Jets are going to be a 5 win team? It sounds like some wishful thinking by Freeman, but why would a team that won 9 games last year and added Bart Scott, Lito Sheppard, Jim Leonhard, Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene, Donald Strickland, and Marques Douglas become 4 games worse? Also, why will Mark Sanchez be a bloodied mess, because he is playing behind one of the top five offensive lines in the league? An offensive line that is returning all 5 starters and their top two backups, all of whom played together in every single game last year. An offensive line that has pro-bowlers Alan Faneca and Nick Mangold on it…yea, I think Sanchez will make it through the year in one piece.

Three Moves the Jets Need to Make

1. Don’t Trade Thomas Jones –  This is more in the “non-move” category but the Jets need to find a way to make Jones happy for this upcoming season. It would be foolish to trade away a workhorse pro-bowl running back when you are going to start an inexperienced quarterback. I know they like Shonn Greene but give the rookie a year to develop behind Jones and Leon Washington before you start giving 15-20 carries a game. I am not saying the Jets have to give him a long term contract, but they could advance him his signing bonus from next year or reach some kind of compromise.

2. Keep Monitoring the Plaxico Burress Situation – If Burress is going to be able to play football this season, the Jets should take a chance and sign him, even if they only get him for 12 games. Burress is a legit number one receiver who would provide a huge security blanket to either Mark Sanchez or Kellen Clemens. He would also allow Jerricho Cotchery to go back into his more natural #2 role. The Jets offense would be pretty difficult to stop with Burress and Cotchery split out, Keller at tight end and Jones and Leon Washington in the backfield.

3. Sign Another Veteran Tight End – I am still not comfortable with an aged and banged up Bubba Franks or a converted defensive lineman, Kareem Brown as the #2 tight end. The Jets are in major trouble if Dustin Keller gets hurt. There are still veterans on the market who could provide 20 snaps a game as a blocker.

Where to Begin? Recapping an Active Week of Jets Football

I’m back from vacation and finally finished going through the massive amounts of Jets stories/happenings from the past eight days. I was able to follow what was going on in Vegas to an extent but I was beilacked out from any type of updates in Mexico. Fortunately, there was no shortage of information or sources to read through all day today about everything that has been going on in the world of the Jets, here’s my extended reaction and opinions in an attempt to catch up, followed with regular, daily updates for the rest of the year starting with coverage of practice tomorrow:

First a few vacation thoughts:

1. It was my first time in Vegas and it met and exceeded expectations. I was lucky enough to actually win some money, thanks in part to hitting on Leon Washington’s #29 on the roulette tab.

2. American Airlines? Can you give me something to eat? A five hour flight from Dallas (we had a stopover) to Jersey and nothing more than some ginger ale…give me a break. I almost stormed first class in search of a sandwich but figured the risk outweighed the reward.

3. Cabo is one hell of a place…really beautiful. Obviously, I will let you know if I get the swine flu but from my perspective there was absolutely no danger in traveling there.

Back to the trash-talking, swaggalicious Jets:

1. Who isn’t excited about AFC East football this year? There is no need to repeat all of the quotes that have been thrown around by Rex Ryan, Channing Chowder, Kerry Rhodes, Joey Porter…etc but the trash-talk is flowing in full force already in June. I think Ryan’s quote about “not kissing Bellicheck’s rings” is music to Jets fans/players ears. I also don’t think there is anything disrespectful about what Ryan said. You can’t be standing around in awe of New England’s past success and expect to beat them out in the AFC East. The Jets need to be aggressive and hit the Patriots in the mouth to show they aren’t going to back down from them. I don’t care about regular season records, neither of them made the playoffs last year and they split their regular season games, there is no reason the Jets shouldn’t expect to beat the Patriots at home in week 2 this year.

I think it is comedic how concerned the Dolphins are about what analysts are saying about their team in June. They should enjoy flying under the radar and let all the pressure be on the other AFC East teams and then worry about sneaking up on everybody again. What do they care if Vegas sports books are picking them to win 8 games this year? The whole Channing Crowder/Rex Ryan exchange is a little more light-hearted than people are making it out to be. Of course now that I said that, watch the two of them rumble at the 50 yard line before the Jets/Fins Monday Night game.

Crowder also came after Mark Sanchez and Kerry Rhodes. His comments on Sanchez basically claimed he was soft because of his photo spread and that Chad Pennington/Chad Henne were tougher because they wouldn’t do that stuff. All I know is that if Sanchez isn’t throwing 4 INT’s in a playoff game like Pennington or riding the bench like Henne, he can take all the pictures in GQ he wants. Obviously, he needs to produce this year to silent critics of his photo shoot and critics in general.

Crowder went below the belt by saying Rhodes should worry about his off the field problems. Rhodes isn’t a suspect in any criminal investigation and never called out Crowder by name. All Rhodes did was post on twitter his belief that the Jets would have the best defense in the league. I love the confidence of the group and the support he received from other players and Ryan who backed him up, but still you need to show it on the field first before saying you are the best overall in the league.

Regardless, how different is this team from Eric Mangini’s group of robots from last year? I love the new confidence/emotion/swagger but it remains to be seen if it will lead to an improvement from 2008. I would take a group of 11-5 robots over a 7-9 group of trash-talking, emotional players. As of right now though, I agree with Kris Jenkins…hiring Ryan was an even better decision than building their new state of the art facility.

2. Mark Sanchez signed his contract today, which is for 5 years and about 50 million dollars making him the highest paid player in Jets history…pressure, anyone? It is great that the Jets wrapped this up long before training camp, which will allow Sanchez the best possible opportunity to win the starting job and excel in Brian Schottenheimer’s offense.

Turning the focus to on the field, Sanchez has been making steady progress and has flashed better than expected arm strength. The general consensus is that quarterback battle has been about even so far, with Kellen Clemens probably having a slight edge. However, you still have the feeling that inevitably Sanchez is going to keep improving and lock down the starting job by week one.

3. Leon Washington spoke to the media and made it clear that he wants a “fair market value” deal. He showed up for the last week of voluntary workouts as a goodwill gesture but no deal appears imminent. Can we please give this guy his money? He is too valuable to the Jets offense and special teams to be missing any parts of training camp. Thomas Jones still isn’t talking to the media and there are rumors circulating that the Jets may look to trade him this summer. I know they like Shonn Greene, but why trade away a pro-bowl running back when you are going to be starting an inexperienced quarterback? The Jets need to find some way to placate Jones for this season so Green has a year to learn behind him and carry a lighter workload. In 2010, I’d feel much better about Green/Washington backfield than I would in 2009.

4. Chansi Stuckey seems to be creating some space in the battle to start opposite Jerricho Cotchery. Stuckey is the most accomplished guy in the competition, runs fluid routes, and has great hands. He is probably better suited to be in the slot as a #3 guy but if he is the best guy, he deserves to start. Wallace Wright has been flashing a little bit on offense and did show some potential in 2007. Over at tight end, Dustin Keller has had a strong May/June and even drew a compliment from Bart Scott, who said he could be a top 5 receiving tight end in the league. Kareem Brown is also making strides in his transition from defensive end to tight end. Also, if you asked me if I would want Plaxico Burress for 12 games this year…the answer would definitely be yes.

5. On defense, Eric Smith pulled in 3 interceptions the other day and has played well in OTAs. He provides good depth behind Kerry Rhodes and Jim Leonhard. Inside linebacker Jamaal Westerman continues to be a favorite of Ryan, who can’t stop raving about him. Ahmad Carroll has also continued his strong play at cornerback and could see some time on defense this year.

6. The Jets cut punter Eric Wilbur and re-signed Reggie Hodges…thrilling stuff in the punting battle. They also signed LB Craig Kobel and cut LB Nate Harris and DL Brian Schafering.

Tomorrow: Coverage of Thursday’s OTA and more reaction to AFC East trash talking.