Why Do You Hate The Jets? AFC East Edition

Chris Gross looks at what AFC East teams have the right to run their mouths about the New York Jets

In a new column, Chris Gross will be going through the NFL by division and determining which teams and fan-bases actually have a good claim to hating the New York Jets and running their mouth on the organization and which do not, up first the AFC East –

Since Rex Ryan became Head Coach of the New York Jets, his brash personality has caused his team to become one of the most hated, if not the most hated, teams in professional football. Other than Jets fans, it seems as if everyone who has even the slightest knowledge of the NFL loves nothing more than to see Gang Green face hardships. Mark Sanchez has become the punch line of every joke related to football, as has Santonio Holmes’ personality, Antonio Cromartie’s kids, and Rex Ryan’s weight. People truly love to take shots at the Jets, and will not waste any opportunity to do so.

However, only a handful of teams actually have the right to poke fun at the Jets. Since Ryan took the helm in New York, the team has gone from a mediocre, occasional playoff team, to a serious contender each year, regardless of the abysmal 8-8 performance last season. Rex has let it be known that the Jets will be in contention every single year that he is the head coach, and he has actually lived up to those statements. Although he has yet to deliver on his Super Bowl guarantees, Ryan has put the Jets on the map, and whether or not people like to admit it, they will be in the mix in the AFC each year he remains in charge.

This simple fact surely irks anyone who is not a fan of the Jets. Although his bold predictions haven’t quite come true, the Jets have proved they will compete every year under Ryan. What other first time head coaches have combined with their rookie quarterback to win 4 road playoff games in their first two seasons together?  That’s correct, none. In fact, only a handful of teams have had more success than the Jets in the three years Ryan has been the head coach.

When it comes to hating on the Jets and making jokes about the team’s scarce struggles, there are three basic categories. There are the teams that have absolutely no right whatsoever to engage in such practice, there are teams that historically have been more of a laughing stock than the Jets have ever been, but have earned some recent bragging rights, and then there are teams that do, in fact, have the right to make all the fun of the Jets they want, until they are unseated from such a position. When looking division by division, the list of teams that has no ground to ever breathe a word of negativity about the Jets organization is much larger than the other two categories.

In the coming days, we will give a close examination of each NFL team by division, and place them into one of these three categories. For our inaugural TOJ Why Do You Hate The Jets?, let’s take a look at New York’s very own AFC East.

Just Shut Up:

This section contains the teams that have been inferior to the Jets during the past three seasons. The majority of these teams have also been dominated by New York during that time, and have historically faced much greater hardships then the Jets have had under Ryan.

Buffalo Bills – The self proclaimed “Bills Mafia” that has recently become the favorite to unseat the New England Patriots in the AFC East, while having been handed two victories against the Jets in 2012 already, should take a long hard look in the mirror. Mario Williams has been painted as the “savior” for a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1993. However, Buffalo shelled out 100 million dollars to a player whose sack production has dropped steadily in each of the past 5 seasons. In 2007, Williams tallied 14 sacks, followed by 12, 9, 8.5, and 5 in each of the following seasons, respectively.

Then, there is Stevie Johnson, the Bills supposed marquee offensive playmaker. This is the same guy who was more focused on mocking Plaxico Burress last season, than he was on catching passes. This is the same guy who blamed God for dropping an overtime touchdown pass against Pittsburgh in 2010. Say what you want about Tim Tebow praising God, but there is nothing more ridiculous and childish than a professional athlete publicly blaming his lack of ability on a higher power.

As for the AFC Title Game loss jokes, lets not forget that the Bills are the team that lost in 4 straight Super Bowls. You tell me what hurts worse.

And last, but certainly not least, the Bills have not even appeared in the post season since 1999, when they saw their season end on one of the most hilarious plays in NFL playoff history.

I could certainly go on and talk about how the Bills are 1-5 against the Rex Ryan led Jets, or how Chan Gailey has had a joke of a career as an NFL head coach (28-36 overall record), but the numbers speak for themselves.

Some Room To Talk:

These are the teams that have recently had success against the Jets, earning themselves some bragging rights. However, these teams have also been subpar in the grand scheme of the NFL during that same time period, and although have played the Jets tough, have not even sniffed their overall success.

Miami Dolphins – Much to their credit, the Dolphins took advantage of the Jets’ end of the season meltdown last year, and were able to put the fork in a team that had been done for a month leading into the game. Miami certainly has more room to talk than Buffalo, having actually won the division in 2008, even though they were bounced out of the first round in a dominating performance by the Baltimore Ravens. Miami has consistently been able to challenge the Jets, as Ryan is just 2-4 against the fish. However, the man who led those Dolphins teams to so much success against New York, is now the Jets Offensive Coordinator.

The quarterback situation in Miami is a laughable one. With the quarterback duo of Sanchez and Tebow, the Jets are an easy target for a QB joke, however when a team’s backup quarterback has the same amount of playoff wins as all of another team’s quarterbacks combined, where is the real joke? The Dolphins haven’t had a legitimate threat at quarterback since Dan Marino’s departure, minus the year that ex-Jet Chad Pennington led them to a division title.

Also, who is catching passes in Miami this year? The team traded away the only valuable offensive asset it had in Brandon Marshall this offseason, and did nothing to replace the void left in the receiving core. The Jets may not have the world’s greatest depth at wide receiver, but any of the receivers on New York’s roster would likely be a starter for Miami this season.

Unconditional Bragging Rights

These teams have every right to make any joke they please at the Jets. Other than a few bright spots, they have either repeatedly asserted their dominance over the Jets, or amongst other teams in the NFL during the three years that Ryan has been in New York.

New England Patriots – Jets fans certainly do now want to hear this, but New England has every right to make as many jokes about the Jets as they want. Other than Gang Green’s epic playoff victory in Foxboro during the 2011 playoffs, Bill Belichick has had his way with Rex’s Jets. Posting a 2-4 record against New England since Ryan’s arrival, the Jets have been outscored by the Patriots during that span by a score of 160-98. While the rivalry hasn’t been completely one sided, it has included two blowouts and a sweep last season, not to mention, the Patriots’ Super Bowl appearance last year.

New York has proved that it can challenge New England for the crown in the AFC East, however they need to do it consistently. Until that time, the Patriots, unfortunately, have unconditional bragging rights. Meanwhile, New York can hang onto this in the process of taking the reigns in the division.

A Final Look At The New York Jets 2012 Draft Class

Chris G gives one final round-up of the New York Jets 2012 draft class

After watching hours of film on every selection made in the 2012 Draft by the New York Jets, we have analyzed each player and where we think they will fit in with the team, based on their skill set and potential. Now, it’s time to have fun with some predictions for each of these rookies in 2012 and beyond. Let’s have a look at what a yearbook of the Jets’ 2012 Draft Class would probably read.

Most Likely To Succeed – DE Quinton Coples. This was a very tough decision, as I think Stephen Hill will undoubtedly have a successful career in the NFL. However, Rex Ryan is a defensive minded coach, and besides Darrelle Revis, has yet to have a player in New York with the physical upside of Coples. With all the criticism emerging from the Jets’ decision to pass on Melvin Ingram for Coples, expect Rex to make it a priority to ensure the young DE out of North Carolina will thrive underneath him.

Most Likely To Be Considered A Steal – LB DeMario Davis. Davis has the passion, drive, and physical ability to be an elite NFL linebacker down the road. It will benefit him greatly to play in a system designed by Rex Ryan, while learning under the tutelage of David Harris and Bart Scott in the early years of his career. From what Davis was able to demonstrate in college, along with his tremendous speed and size for the position, there is a very high chance that, in the coming years, people will be questioning how he ever fell to the third round.

Biggest Sleeper Pick –WR Jordan White. Not too many people are talking about White, but when taking a closer look, this kid has all the potential in the world to be a very solid NFL Wide Receiver. His production at Western Michigan speaks for itself, while he has repeatedly proved to be tough, physical, and athletic on film. His intelligence displayed by his ability to find holes in the defense, as well as his fantastic route running ability will put him right where he needs to be in camp in order to compete for a roster spot. I would be shocked if he is not on the active roster at some point this season, while developing into a reliable safety net for Mark Sanchez in the future.

Best Value – S Antonio Allen. After reviewing the game film of safety Josh Bush, I have an excellent feeling about his play and how he will succeed as a Jet. However, I have had Allen rated as the third best safety in this year’s class right behind Harrison Smith. A further review of his game film only solidified that notion, and in the 7th round, the former Gamecock was certainly the best value pick by New York this year. The Jets likely selected Bush ahead of Allen because of their greater need for a true centerfield-type safety, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum were ecstatic to see him still on the board in round 7.

Least Likely To Ever Play A Significant Down – G Robert T. Griffin. Don’t get me wrong, Griffin’s massive frame, and great tenacity give him tremendous upside. However, he appears to be light years away from being a capable NFL offensive lineman. His skill set is very far behind in terms of his strength, footwork, and technique. There’s always a chance that he proves this assertion to be false, but in all likelihood, Griffin will find a home on the practice squad and settle there for a few years, before becoming a career backup, at best.

Only time will truly tell how each of these young men will fare as NFL players. Surely, they have all done things well enough to find themselves in the rare position that they are in. There’s no doubt that they are all good football players, but which of them will go the distance to ensure success in the NFL?

New York Jets Draft Pick Analysis: Defensive End Quinton Coples

Chris Gross breaks down New York Jets first round pick, defensive end Quinton Coples

Today we come to the end of our complete breakdown of every New York Jets draft pick, by looking at first rounder Quinton Coples. In case you haven’t been paying attention, here are the links to all the previous articles. Another huge shout out to Chris Gross, TOJ’s own Mike Mayock, who didn’t leave the film room the past two weeks. 

When the New York Jets selected Quinton Coples with the 16th overall selection in this year’s NFL draft, the organization immediately found itself under heavy criticism. Many expected the Jets to trade up for DE/OLB Melvin Ingram, but when he fell to New York at 16, it was seemingly too good to be true. When the Jets opted to pass on the highly touted player out of South Carolina, the reaction was not very warm among the green and white faithful. What made the decision to pass on Ingram even worse was the scrutiny that Coples found himself under in the weeks leading up to the draft. Once regarded as the best pass rushing prospect in this year’s class, red flags regarding his character and effort level began to surface on draft boards throughout the entire nation.

However, it is an unfortunate occurrence when individuals let others decide their opinion. With several draft experts in the media declaring Coples a talented, but lazy player, unworthy of the spot he was drafted in, people adopted this opinion as their own. But on what basis were these declarations made? On what grounds do analysts have the proper footing to deem Coples a lazy, unmotivated player? For the final edition of our draft analysis here at Turn On The Jets, my primary goal in evaluating Coples was to generate a completely objective opinion. I shelved everything I had heard about him, and simply watched him as if he were any other player. Some concerns about Coples may not be totally unwarranted, however to declare this young man as a waste of a selection and label him as a guy with a bad work ethic is completely unfair.

The first characteristic that stands out on Quinton Coples when evaluating his game film is, undoubtedly, his explosiveness. Coples gets off the ball perhaps faster than any defensive player in this year’s draft class. He also plays with excellent leverage, as he demonstrates the ability to get underneath offensive lineman, which is even more impressive when considering his 6’6” stature. The majority of the time, he is very aggressive in his approach to an opponent by showing an attack first mentality. Rarely does he allow the offensive lineman to initiate the contact with him. He is adamant about striking fast, and controlling the blocker.

Along with explosion, Coples, most notably, has exceptional pass rush skills. He reads his keys extremely well, and displays tremendous ability to “run the circle.” For a defensive lineman, the ability to run the circle refers to how well the player can dip their shoulder to gain leverage on the opposing lineman, while maintaining enough speed and coordination to stay in their pass rush lane and get to the quarterback. Coples does this just as good, if not better, than anyone I have evaluated in this year’s class, including Ingram and Courtney Upshaw of Alabama.

Coples is also very versatile. During his reign at UNC, he lined up at defensive end, tackle, and even some outside linebacker. His physical tools give him the ability to move all over the field, something Rex Ryan will surely take advantage of. He is very powerful, but at the same time, is extremely agile and smooth in his movements. During his junior season, Coples played primarily defensive tackle, and registered 10 sacks. His ability to play both inside and outside on the defensive line should make his value immeasurable to a creative coach like Ryan.Although Coples effort and work ethic came into question following his senior season at North Carolina, there is not enough substantial evidence to label him anything remotely close to “lazy.” Countless times, Coples showed valiant effort in his play either by continuing to work up field on a pass rush with double moves, spin techniques, or an extra push, or on run plays where he repeatedly screamed down the line of scrimmage chasing runs away from his side of the field.

The knocks on Coples being inconsistent are generally the only ones that I found to be true. There are times during games when he does not consistently play at a high level. However, there are several factors that are rarely considered as to why this happens. The first, and probably most obvious, is that regardless of the player, it is just about impossible to maintain an elite level of production on every single play. Secondly, with the immense amount of success Coples had during his junior year, coupled with the threat his physical abilities make him to opposing offenses, teams clearly game planned around him last season. There were numerous plays in which Coples faced double, and even triple, teams last year. It is very likely that #90 was circled on every offensive game plan among North Carolina’s opponents in 2011. A player like Coples needs to be accounted for at all times, because if he is not, it can cost coordinators and coaches their jobs.

Another very important factor that may have played into Coples inconsistency was the amount of turmoil that the North Carolina football program faced during his time as a Tar Heel. Besides the heavy amount of negative publicity and suspensions the team was dealt within the past two years, Coples also had the unfortunate burden of playing for four different position coaches in each of his four years with the program. It is very difficult for a player to get comfortable and gain consistency when there is no stability whatsoever. The fact that he still was able to perform at a level high enough for him to be considered one of the best, if not the best, defensive lineman in the draft should speak volumes to his character, rather than tarnish it. Granted, the argument can be made that as a division I scholarship athlete, there should be no excuses like these, but it is often forgotten that these players are simply kids. Instability within a program can be detrimental to a young man.

With all of that being said, I still did not find enough substantial evidence to consider Coples a “lazy” player. He is ferocious off the ball, chases plays down, and has great tenacity. He even showed enough of a motor in the Virginia Tech game last year to have ESPN analyst, Jesse Palmer refer to him as a “high effort player.” To me, it is a mystery as to where the claims on Coples’ motor came from. Inconsistent, perhaps, but the bottom line is that he shows passion in his play and gets after it far more often than not.

Coples’ largest challenge as a Jet is going to be earning the love and respect of the fans. Although it is completely out of his hands, the choice by New York to pass on the highly regarded Ingram for Coples will be criticized until he lets his play speak for him. He needs to come out of the gate in a dash and keep his foot on the pedal without a second of hesitation. He will most likely be compared to Ingram, at least for this season, in terms of production and quality of play. Coples needs to show why Rex Ryan and the Jets have so much faith in him, and everyone in New York will soon forget about all of the other defensive players taken following the 16th pick.

Coples true character should show early in the season. One would expect a player as highly criticized as he has been to come out with a chip on his shoulder, looking to prove all of his doubters wrong. Expect Coples to display high energy, tenacity, and motor from the moment he takes the field this season. If he does anything else, then, and only then, will it be time to raise the red flags.

As far as his role with the Jets, Rex Ryan has already declared that he will see the majority of defensive snaps this season. While this is not necessarily a statement I am too fond of, for a player should have to earn that type of recognition, it is certainly something that needs to be done. Coples is far too big, strong, athletic, and versatile to be wasting time on the sidelines. He needs to play immediately and prove his worth as the 16th overall selection. Rex will certainly utilize his abilities to the highest degree. Expect to see Coples in a vast amount of packages, primarily at defensive end, while sliding all over on passing situations. Ryan feels he can get double-digit sack production out of Coples, and based on the UNC product’s abilities, there is no reason to think otherwise. Consistency of play is going likely going to be the most important factor in his success.

New York Jets Draft Pick Analysis: Receiver Stephen Hill

Chris Gross breaks down New York Jets second round pick, wide receiver Stephen Hill

The 2011 New York Jets lacked many assets to make them a playoff team, as displayed by their .500 record. Among their several missing pieces was a big, playmaking, wide receiver that could stretch the field and open up the offense. Plaxico Burress fit the “big” bill, but having been over a full year removed from football, he lacked the speed to create any separation from defensive backs, and his presence hardly garnered any respect from opposing defenses. The Jets desperately needed to add a speedy, home run threat to their offense this offseason, and that may be just what they got in their 2nd round selection, wide receiver Stephen Hill.

Having come from Georgia Tech’s triple option offense, it is difficult to get a diverse sample of film on Hill to evaluate his receiving skills. In fact, during a 20 play stretch against Georgia last year, the Yellow Jackets ran the ball 18 times, while passing just twice. However, during that sample of plays, Hill was able to display his terrific blocking skills. What makes his blocking so effective is that he works his hands and feet tremendously. His hand placement is near perfect the majority of the time, complemented flawlessly by his ability to move his feet with the defender. Hill is also very aggressive and stronger at the point of attack than one might expect him to be. He blocks right until the whistle, and has shown he can crack down on toss sweeps, displaying some pancake blocks along the way.

As far as receiving skills go, from the small sample of plays that the offense did actually throw the ball last season, Hill stands out. He repeatedly showed the ability to blow by man coverage, and proved that he can adjust to the ball very well. The quarterback play at Georgia Tech last season was subpar at best, so there were many plays where Hill had to comeback for a ball or adjust his route to make the play. His speed can certainly hurt opposing defenses as well. Several times last year, Hill was able to take advantage of any cornerback that peeked into the backfield, blowing by the coverage, while the safety was usually one step too slow to make it over in time.

Hill also has very strong hands and does a good job of utilizing them to catch the ball. Of all the film I reviewed on him, not once did he catch a pass against his body. He can make the highlight reel plays too, as he displayed numerous amazing one handed catches last year, most notably the one against North Carolina.

Hill is excellent after the catch. Besides the obvious fact that he is extremely fast and agile, he is also much stronger than you would expect, and he proved to be very difficult to bring down. Hill has a very rare combination of size, speed, and physicality that could make him a nightmare for defenses as he develops down the road.

What is also appealing about Hill is that he seems to have a blue-collar mentality. Although he came from a run first offense, that didn’t necessarily utilize his skill set to the greatest extent, Hill showed no sign of moping around like a typical diva wide receiver that wasn’t getting the ball. Instead, he went out and continued to work on every play, whether that meant blocking or running routes. This speaks very well to his character, something this team needs, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

The biggest concern about Hill is how he will adjust from the triple option scheme to an NFL type offense. Although his route running is much better than I expected it to be, he still has a lot of work to do in this area, specifically on underneath routes, in order to ever be a true number one receiver. He also sometimes tends to focus on the run after the catch, before actually catching the ball, which caused for some drops last season.

Hill is a raw product. He has all the physical tools needed to make him an elite NFL wide receiver, but it will take him some time to develop. He clearly has tremendous upside, and the Jets offensive scheme will play to all of his strengths, which is going to make him an early contributor. He is big, strong, fast, and a great blocker, while he also has the ability to stretch the field and be the long home run threat that New York’s offense lacked in 2011. Hill will be able to create separation between the 20s due to his tremendous speed, while his height and jumping ability will make him a valuable red zone threat.

Hill and the Jets are seemingly a perfect fit for each other. With the offense that Tony Sparano is going to implement, a run heavy scheme with a desire for “chunk” plays, Hill is the ideal wide receiver. He should be able to block and stretch the field for the Jets right away, while working on developing a more balanced game for the future. Quarterback Mark Sanchez will likely enjoy having Hill in his weaponry because the former Georgia Tech product fits his skill set so well. Yesterday at Turn On The Jets, Joe Caporoso noted that one of Sanchez’s strongest points is his play action pass. Hill’s ability to stretch the field should prove to be a vital weapon on these play action passes as he will be able to take the top off of any defense and really open the offense up.

Editor’s Note – Physically, Stephen Hill has everything you would look for in a number one receiver. What is most encouraging is the mental attitude he brings along with the physical skills. It is not easy to be a wide receiver in a run heavy offense but Hill embraced it and blocks with a skill and tenacity that his highly admirable. He is coming into the perfect situation with the Jets. He is not ready to be a number one target because his route running is too raw, however with Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller on board he doesn’t have to be. Hill will see favorable match-ups and be able to focus on being a deep threat this year and in time can develop into being this team’s number one receiver. I think five years from now, we will remember this as the “Stephen Hill draft.”

New York Jets Draft Pick Analysis: Safety Josh Bush

Chris Gross breaks down New York Jets safety Josh Bush, one of the team’s sixth round picks this year

With immense struggle at the Safety position last season, one of the New York Jets’ most pressing needs heading into the 2012 draft was to find players to add to the back of their defensive secondary. New York was repeatedly hurt by their safety play last year, especially after the season ending injury to Jim Leonhard. Opposing tight ends generally had field days against the Jets, most notably New England’s Rob Gronkowski. In his two games against Gang Green last season, Gronkowski caught 12 balls for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns. If New York ever wants to take the reigns from New England in the AFC East, one of the many things they will have to do is shutdown the young TE duo of Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who also had 9 catches for 97 yards in his two games against the Jets last year.

New York addressed the safety position via free agency with the addition of former first round selection LaRon Landry. However, Landry is known for his physicality and play as a Strong Safety, rather than his coverage ability. The Jets desperately needed to add a quality cover Safety, and that is exactly what they did when they selected Josh Bush with the 187th overall pick in this year’s draft. While Landry will serve an in the box type role this season, Bush has the ability to take over for Leonhard in the center field role for New York. Eric Smith will likely begin the season as the starter, but with Bush’s strong cover skills, there is certainly a chance for him to see significant time, and eventually surpass Smith by mid to late season.

The most obvious trait that stands out on Bush is his athleticism. He has very smooth hips and makes seamless transitions from his backpedal into his forward progressions. He shows fantastic ability to read routes and react to the ball. His has good closing speed which gives him great range and the ability to roam the field freely. This is crucial to the position, because it allows him have the liberty to navigate the secondary.

Bush’s run game skills are excellent as well. His pursuit angles are what a safety’s should be. He will not take poor angles to try and make a play, but instead will take the longer, safer angles, while allowing everyone in front of him to make the tackle before the ball carrier gets to his level, literally making himself the last line of defense. In terms of run defense, this is exactly what a free safety should be doing.

As a true free safety, Bush knows his assignments, and does a great job of orchestrating the defense by getting his teammates in the right spots before the snap. He can certainly make the big play, demonstrated by his 6 interceptions at Wake Forest last season, but he will not be depended on to do so, especially in New York’s star studded secondary. Instead, Bush will need to be cerebral and be able to blanket the Tight End, along with anything else over the middle, something he is no stranger to. Last season against Clemson, Bush was a problem for the Tigers’ All American Tight End, Dwayne Allen. Against Bush and the Wake Forest defense, Allen amassed only 4 catches for 48 yards.

Bush’s strong points are an excellent fit for the Jets. He is very fast, extremely quick, and similar to his rookie counterparts that we have previously reviewed, he is very tough. Bush also demonstrates a vast knowledge of the defense and his responsibilities. He knows his job and constantly executes his assignments with one hundred percent effort. Bush does not get caught up worrying about his teammates’ assignments, which shows he has great trust in those around him, something vital to the success of any defense.

While Bush certainly possesses athleticism, passion, and confidence, there are some aspects of his game that, if improved upon, will only make him a better, more complete player. His ability to shed blocks is somewhat poor, and his tackling skills, although good, are far from perfect. As a Free Safety, Bush’s play in these areas will not determine his success at the position, but improvement here will not only make him a better player, it will enhance the entire defense as well.

In evaluating film of Josh Bush, there is certainly great question as to how he flew so far under the radar in college. Despite being a third team All American, and first team All ACC selection, Bush was snubbed for the Senior Bowl and did not receive an invite to the NFL Combine. He moved from the Cornerback position to Safety for his senior season, so perhaps there were concerns about his level of experience. He also does not have elite size, but at 5’11” 203 lbs, he is certainly big enough to develop into a very productive NFL safety.

Overall, Bush surely has the ability to be an early contributor. His athleticism and coverage skills will make him a great fit for the role he will be placed in with the Jets. Combine that with the extreme lack of depth the Jets have at the Free Safety position, and he will more than likely always be a play or two away from getting on the field. Eric Smith is expected to begin the season as the starting FS, but if he begins to struggle again, expect New York to take a shot with Bush. If he can develop intellectually, he will prove to be a stronger, faster, more athletic Jim Leonhard. The key will be how well he can grasp the defense and how confident he will be in taking command.

Editor’s Notes – Bush reminds me an awful lot of Dwight Lowery. He is a hybrid safety/corner with average size and speed that has very good ball skills and instincts. When the Jets go to a three safety look, he is a logical player to drop into a centerfield type role. It wouldn’t shock me if he found his way on to the field as a starter at some point considering the Jets depth chart but ideally he will spend this season only playing in sub packages and on special teams.

New York Jets Rookie Mini Camp Report

Chris Gross on the five most important takeaways from New York Jets rookie minicamp

We let Chris Gross out of the film room long enough to break down five key points from the New York Jets rookie mini-camp. Check back tomorrow for his breakdown of safety Josh Bush and then throughout the week for our closer look at DeMario Davis, Stephen Hill and Quinton Coples.

1.) DeMario Davis needs to continue leading. Rex Ryan and the Jets’ coaching staff raved not only over Davis’s tremendous speed, but also how vocal and assertive he proved to be during team drills. While this is exactly what you want from one of your linebackers, Davis needs to prove that he can be just as confident and vocal when the veterans come into camp. It is often natural for guys to feel comfortable around their peers, however, the true test will come when respected and established players line up alongside Davis. Ryan has compared his demeanor and confidence to that of future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis’s. He needs to not be afraid to step on anyone’s toes, and just continue to be himself. This will be key to his development and success this season.

2.) Don’t get your hopes up on Robert T. Griffin. Griffin has generated some interesting buzz coming out of rookie mini camp. He reportedly has been quite impressive to coaches and media alike. While I am not doubting Griffin’s potential, it is simply foolish for anyone to declare him in competition for playing time after three days of non contact drills. It is not difficult for offensive lineman, especially those with size comparable to Griffin’s, to look decent while scrimmaging without pads on. As we previously noted here at Turn On The Jets, Griffin is a long way from being a productive NFL lineman. He will not be the solution to New York’s Right Tackle situation anytime soon.

3.) No Surprises. Out of all the stories that came out of training camp, one that should not have come as a surprise to anyone is Stephen Hill’s impressive display of speed and size. We all know the physical ability of Hill, so it shouldn’t be shocking that he stood out during the weekend long camp. What will be interesting to see is how he plays when he eventually gets reps against the Jets’ first team corners in training camp. It will benefit Hill greatly to be able to compete against two of the best corners in the league in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie during practice.

4.) Let Him Play! After an impressive first day of camp, first round selection Quinton Coples was told by coaches to sit out of team drills. While this was most likely a ploy for the coaches to fairly evaluate the tryout players who were overmatched by Coples, they have to be careful with this approach. For a player who has been labeled lazy at times, perhaps a bit unfairly, the last thing he needs in his quest to earn respect is for his peers to see the coaches pampering him by giving him rest, while they are all on the field working. Again, I’m sure this is not too big a deal, but New York needs to be careful not to turn their newest pass rusher into a prima donna.

5.) The Headline Grabber. In typical New York Jets fashion, the team was highly discussed on Sunday and Monday due to the signing of QB Matt Simms, son of New York Giants great Phil Simms. The Jets simply have too many holes on the roster to carry four quarterbacks. We all know Sanchez and Tebow aren’t going anywhere, and Greg McElroy is light-years ahead of Simms as an NFL Quarterback. At best, Simms provides a body through training camp, and then lands a practice squad deal for the season. This is seemingly a move consisting of Mike Tannenbaum being Mike Tannenbaum and generating that coveted buzz that he appears to enjoy so much.

New York Jets Draft Pick Analysis: Running Back Terrance Ganaway

Chris Gross breaks down New York Jets 6th round pick, running back Terrance Ganaway

TOJ’s very own Mike Mayock, Chris Gross has been breaking down all of the New York Jets draft picks in the film room. Check our his previous entries –

Today we look at 6th round pick, running back Terrance Ganaway.

Yesterday at Turn On The Jets, we reviewed the New York Jets selection of Robert T. Griffin out of Baylor University. Just prior to selecting Griffin with the 203rd overall pick, the Jets used the 202nd pick to obtain his teammate, Running Back Terrance Ganaway. Ganaway had a very productive senior season at Baylor last year, rushing for 1,547 yards and 21 touchdowns on just 250 carries, while playing alongside two first round selections in QB Robert Griffin III and WR Kendall Wright. Ganaway is a very big back at 6’0” 240 lbs, and will pair with Shonn Greene (5’11” 226 lbs) and Tim Tebow (6’3” 236 lbs) to form one of the biggest, most powerful backfields in the NFL. However, Ganaway is more than simply a power back, and will bring an interesting dynamic to the Jets’ run game this season.

One of the things about Terrance Ganaway that is very eye opening on film is how elusive he is for his size. Being such a big running back, you’d expect him to be strictly a downhill power threat. However, he has repeatedly shown the ability to make people miss, while displaying an excellent burst. Ganaway has great patience in allowing his blocks to develop, coupled with a fantastic ability to hit the seam and take off the second it opens. He has exceptional vision, and when he gets to the second level he is deceptively shifty and agile, making his game very multidimensional.

Along with his elusiveness, Ganaway is an extremely strong runner. Rather than being strictly powerful, by displaying the ability to run people over on contact, Ganaway is flat out strong. Very rarely does just one player take him down, and he has dragged and pulled defenders on multiple occasions. He is great after contact and falls forward when tackled, rather than being knocked backwards.

Ganaway will always fight for extra yardage, and proved to be a workhorse in every phase of the game. He not only runs hard, but simply plays hard. Not once did he take a play off on film, displaying an excellent drive and great work ethic. Whether he is getting the ball, blocking, or running a route, Ganaway is going 100 mph, 100 percent of the time. His pass blocking is not perfect, but very effective. He is tough, does not shy away from contact, and most importantly is more than willing to block. His technique could use a little work, as he tends to lunge and drop his head at times, however he has proved to be an effective blocker, overall. Ganaway’s ability to block is going to help him tremendously at the next level, as it will keep defenses honest when he enters the game. A running back that is unable to block in the NFL simply becomes one dimensional, and defenses know to key them as they’re the most likely to get the ball when they check in.

With the several aspects of Ganaway’s game that are good and promising, there are certainly legitimate red flags that caused the former Baylor back to fall to the sixth round. His senior year was his only significant year of production and playing time. In 2010 and 2009, he had a combined 114 carries for just 510 yards. He ran for 5 touchdowns in ’09, but just 2 the following year, so there are definitely some concerns about his consistency. Ganaway also does not possess elite receiving skills, nor does he have much experience in this area with only 12 career catches, but he hasn’t proved to be completely awful here. He is certainly capable of catching passes, he just needs to prove he can do it more regularly.

Ganaway’s lack of elite top end speed was also a cause for his slide in the draft, however he plays much faster than his 4.67 40 time shows. He was not caught from behind once on film, and claims to have never been in his entire playing career. Clearly, this is bound to happen at some point in the NFL, but he certainly shows to be much faster than he appears on paper.

The good thing about Ganaway is that he has tremendous amount of room to grow. He can complement Greene and Tebow in the Jets power running game, bringing his elusiveness and agility as a big back, to add a very interesting dynamic to the Jets’ sudden surplus of runners. I’d expect Ganaway to couple with these two to wear defenses down and open up the possibility of big plays, with Joe McKnight playing the role of the home run hitter out of the backfield.

I would not necessarily expect Ganaway to be a third down back due to his lack of receiving experience out of the backfield, however he has the ability to develop into this role in the future. He will certainly be a viable option to spell Shonn Greene, and has proved to be conditioned and durable enough to sustain long drives if necessary.

Ganaway’s role on the 2012 Jets will most likely come down to how well the offensive staff feels he can complement the other runners, something I think he will do very well. I am not sure how much the play of Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell will affect his status, because their style of play differs so greatly. I expect Greene to be the main workhorse, with Tebow running in select formations, and Ganaway developing into Greene’s primary backup. The Jets have assisted in aiding their identity of becoming a run first team with big play potential. Greene and Ganaway have the ability to wear down defenses, while McKnight and 2nd round pick Stephen Hill possess the quick strike, home run threat.

Editor’s Notes – I love Ganaway’s value in the sixth round. He has the size, downhill running style and option experience to be a perfect fit in the Jets offense this season and become an immediate contributor. Personally, I think his upside is substantially higher than Bilal Powell’s and he will be the backup to Shonn Greene this year while playing in a certain package of plays, primarily with Tim Tebow. His pass protection and receiving have a long way to go but the size and motor are hard to ignore. Outside of Stephen Hill and DeMario Davis, Ganaway is the draft pick I am most excited about.

New York Jets Draft Pick Analysis: Safety Antonio Allen

Chris Gross breaks down New York Jets seventh round draft pick, safety Antonio Allen

Chris Gross will be in the film room for Turn On The Jets breaking down all eight of the New York Jets draft selections. Today we look at 7th round pick, safety Antonio Allen. (At the bottom of the article, I offer a brief commentary on White from the film I have watched). – JC

When watching game film of New York Jets seventh round selection Antonio Allen, one thing is obvious; he is very much a true Strong Safety. Having played the “Spur” position during his collegiate career at South Carolina, Allen was a rover type safety for the Gamecocks, a position that is almost a strong safety/outside linebacker hybrid. Very rarely was he ever lined up as a true safety, and often times he was placed right in the box alongside the linebackers. Allen’s experience here has allowed him to develop many qualities that should assist his play at the next level.

One thing that stands right out about the 2011-second team All-American is his willingness to tackle. Allen is certainly not afraid to make a big hit, and fills the gap just as good, if not better, than most linebackers do. He seems very comfortable in the box, and is excellent against the run, a vital need for a strong safety in the NFL. He is no stranger to physicality, as on some formations at South Carolina he would line up right on the line of scrimmage, even in a three point stance during some goal line situations. His ability to shed blocks is elite for his position, and he is very aggressive when taking on lead blockers and pulling lineman, one of the reasons he led his team’s defense with 88 tackles. Allen is a tough kid who plays a very physical brand of football.

While his play against the run is very good, his pass coverage skills will most likely be more important to his success in the NFL due to the style of football that is most prevalent around the league. The majority of teams are moving toward pass-oriented offenses, many of which are using two tight end sets, especially in the AFC East with New England leading the charge. Allen’s play in this area during his collegiate career was not necessarily elite, but impressive.

Early in the 2011 season, Allen seemed much more raw in his coverage skills than he did later on in the year. The primary flaw in his game was that he seemed unsure of what he wanted to do. He would repeatedly fail to engage the offensive player, whether it was a slot receiver or tight end, as he would hesitate and allow them to initiate the contact. He would then have to rely on his long frame (nearly 6’2”) and strength to compensate. Allen would frequently be indecisive at jamming players, waiting until the last possible second to do so, often causing him to lunge at his target. This would usually throw off his balance and leave him a step or two behind in coverage. Because of this, Allen had to rely on his excellent range and closing speed to make plays. Although he was successful at this at the college level (second on the team in interceptions with 3), receivers in the NFL will be faster, and he will have to be much more fundamentally sound in his technique to avoid falling behind in coverage.

As the year progressed, though, Allen seemed to become much more polished with his hand speed and coverage ability. Later in the season, he became confident in what he wanted to do, whether it was jam his player or run with them, making him very effective in this area. He is a tremendously strong player, and when he uses his hands violently on his jams, he has a great ability to throw off the route of the offensive player, including the tight ends that he was often times manned up on. This will be key to his success with the Jets, as New York is desperate for players who cannot only cover the tight end, but also players who can disrupt what they want to do. Allen will benefit greatly from the Jets’ defensive coaching staff, especially with their planned intent to emphasize schemes and technique on how to defend tight ends during the offseason.

One of the brightest spots in Allen’s game is his blitzing ability. He is excellent at timing his blitzes, making him a serious threat to rush the passer. Sometimes, he comes in a bit recklessly, causing him to miss some tackles and run by plays, but for the majority, he is fantastic in this area and excels more often than not.

Allen’s role with the Jets will likely be limited this season if LaRon Landry can stay healthy. However, his aggressiveness and superior blitzing ability should get him into some packages that will allow Rex Ryan to send him after the quarterback or disguise various blitzes and coverages. For his rookie season, I’d expect New York to use him much like it used James Ihedigbo a few years ago, primarily as a blitzer, with a heavy role on special teams. Allen will provide good insurance in the event that Landry does get hurt, and should benefit greatly learning underneath the former first round selection out of LSU. Allen certainly has the potential to develop into a very important piece of New York’s secondary in the coming years. How he progresses in his coverage ability will be the key to his success.

Editor’s Notes – Allen is built to be the edge blitzer that Rex Ryan loves using his defensive backs for. The James Ihedigbo comparison makes sense but I think Allen has more potential in pass coverage. By that I mean, he can be utilized to jam tight ends off the line and help in short to intermediate coverage. Even if the Jets add another veteran to the safety position, Allen should stick on the roster because he fits in perfectly as a backup to LaRon Landry. Unless Landry gets banged up this season, I would only expect to see Allen in a handful of select packages on defense and on special teams where he has the physical skills to be an immediate asset.

The Jets got great value with Allen in the 7th round and he could very well be their long term strong safety if he reaches his potential and is utilized properly.

New York Jets Draft Pick Analysis: Wide Receiver Jordan White

Chris Gross breaks down New York Jets 7th round pick, wide receiver Jordan White.

Chris Gross will be in the film room for Turn On The Jets breaking down all eight of the New York Jets draft selections. Today we look at 7th round pick, wide receiver Jordan White. (At the bottom of the article, I offer a brief commentary on White from the film I have watched). – JC

With the 244th overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Wide Receiver Jordan White out of Western Michigan. In a move that first seemed to be New York looking to add some wide receiver depth to increase the competition heading into camp, this selection has the potential to be much more significant to the Jets. When putting in the game film of Western Michigan from last season, there are several things about Jordan White that jump off the screen right away. He is very confident, extremely tough, and runs some of the best routes you will see from any wide receiver in the draft this year.

Before becoming the Jets’ version of Mr. Irrelevant, White was posting Biletnikoff worthy numbers at Western Michigan. Last season, he caught an astonishing 140 balls for 1,911 yards and 17 touchdowns. Remember, Biletnikoff Trophy winner Justin Blackmon had 121 receptions for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns. Not to compare the two, but White’s production as a Bronco should certainly be noted. In 2011, White also had 8 games with over 10 receptions, including a season high 16 against Toledo, a game in which he racked up 238 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also had 7 multi touchdown games last year, and had at least one catch of 20 yards or more in every contest, including his season long 61 yarder against Ball State.

Prior to 2011, White also had 94 receptions for 1,378 yards and 10 touchdowns as a Junior. At Western Michigan, he was undoubtedly the workhorse of an offense that averaged over 35 points per game in 2011, while establishing himself as Quarterback Alex Carder’s unquestioned favorite target.

White’s immense production at Western Michigan can be linked to countless aspects of his game. His ability to find holes in coverages and create separation for himself is equivalent to, if not better than, some polished NFL veterans. He has excellent awareness, strong hands, and his route running has the capability of translating to the NFL immediately. He uses double moves effectively, and is very intelligent, constantly knowing when to cut routes short, or extend them.

One of the most important factors that hurt White’s draft stock was his limited sample of play against elite competition. Having played in the MAC West, White was hampered by the notion that he was excelling at a lower level, and could not have that same type of success in the NFL. However, in White’s small amount of play against more respected football programs, he rose to the calling in a big way. In 2011, three of his most productive games came against Big Ten opponents. In the season opener against Michigan, White had 12 catches for 119 yards. Against Illinois, who was ranked in the AP top 25 at the time, he tallied 14 receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown. And in White’s last game as a Bronco, the 2011 Little Caesars Bowl against Purdue, he reeled in 13 balls for 265 yards and 1 touchdown. Although the experience may not be great, he has certainly shown that he can succeed against higher-level defenses when asked to.

Along with the notion of not having faced enough elite competition, White’s physical traits were most likely the reasons for his draft slide. He does not possess the elite size, standing just under 6’0” 208 lbs, nor does he have the speed (4.69 40) to make him a number one receiver in the NFL. Many times in the draft, production like White’s takes a backseat to potential, especially in the later rounds.

Although White does have several positive aspects to his game, there are certainly some holes as well. He does not have great elusiveness, but makes up for it with his willingness to fight for extra yards. He is not going to make many people miss after the catch, but he will plug straight ahead and use his drive and strength to get the most out of every play. White also has much better speed coming out of his breaks than his 40 time would suggest, however it is unclear on how much that will assist his game at the next level.

While White does have good hands, and will make some spectacular catches at times, his range is very limited by his size and speed. Often times on deep routes, if the ball was slightly out of his reach, White would have difficulty transitioning to make the play. However, it is highly unlikely that he will be asked to run deep routes in the NFL, so this should not affect his play too significantly. He also needs to work on selling his routes on run plays to the opposite side of the field.

So how can White fit with the Jets? Of the games I watched on him last year, I could not help but compare his play to that of Jerricho Cotchery’s. White will never be a true number one receiver in this league, but has the potential to be a vital piece of any passing game. He was most productive last season between the 20’s, with 116 of his 140 catches coming in that area. This could make him a very valuable weapon to keep the chains moving throughout drives. Although most of his catches in 2011 came on first down with 63, he was also very effective on third downs, averaging 12.6 YPC. He could develop into a very nice third down safety net for Mark Sanchez. He is strong, smart, and most importantly, consistent. Sanchez would love to have someone he can consistently rely on, other than Dustin Keller.

For White, his place with the Jets will ultimately come down to a few key things: how well he picks up the offense, how he takes advantage of what limited reps he will get in practice, and the type of relationship he develops with Sanchez. While I do not think that any of these things will be a problem for White, especially with how reliable he became to Carder at Western Michigan, coupled with his displayed intelligence and high work ethic, he is going to have to prove why he was so productive in college, and may only have a small window of opportunity to do so. White can also show his worth by contributing on Special Teams, something that I would fully expect him to be able to do.

Although there are certainly no guarantees in this league, especially for late round draft picks, I would not be surprised at all if White ended up beating out Patrick Turner, Scotty McKnight, Logan Payne, and Eron Riley for a roster spot. His production in college combined with his obvious work ethic shown on film actually makes it likely that White will end up having some type of role with the 2012 Jets. Although his impact this year may not be significant, Jordan White could develop into a very solid NFL player at some point down the road.

Editor’s Notes – I really like the comparison Chris made to Jerricho Cotchery because that is who I was consistently reminded of when watching film on White. It is impossible to ignore the astronomical numbers he put up, regardless of the level of competition. White has a natural ability to find the soft spot in a defense and has reliable hands, particularly in traffic. The main question for him is, can he consistently get separation from NFL caliber cornerbacks? The Jets could offset some of these issues by working White out of the slot, where I expect him to spend most of his time.

In the immediate future, White projects as a logical backup to Jeremy Kerley in the slot receiver role. He will need to beat Patrick Turner and Eron Riley for a roster spot this season and to do that he must make an impact on special teams.

New York Jets Draft Fit Over “Need”

Chris Gross breaks down the New York Jets drafting strategy to select players who fit their offensive and defensive scheme in 2012

With the 2012 NFL Draft officially in the books, the common theme among draft analysts seems to be placing grades on how each team did based on the players selected, and at which point they were taken. However, it is unfair to grade each team or each pick this early. Other than the fact that some of these guys have most likely not even arrived at their team facilities yet, there never seems to be enough emphasis placed on the value they hold with the particular team they’ve been drafted by. Often times when teams complete their drafts they are analyzed by how well they filled their needs and whether or not they got good value at the point in which they took particular players. However, there are variables not accounted for in this practice.

The first is that a team may not necessarily view their biggest needs the same as the people analyzing their draft. The Jets, for example, opted to pass on selecting what seem to be their most pressing needs this year – a Right Tackle, and a pass rushing Outside Linebacker. However, New York may not have viewed these positions as their highest priorities heading into the draft. There are several reasons for this.

First, with a new offensive coaching staff in place, and an offensive coordinator whose main area of expertise is with the offensive line, the team may feel that the players currently on the roster may be their best options at Right Tackle. Previously, at Turn On The Jets, we reviewed the idea that Mike Tannenbaum may still have faith in Vladimir Ducasse, a notion that seems to be getting stronger as each day passes without any activity at the position. It seems as though the Jets are confident that Tony Sparano will be able to get the most out of some combination of Ducasse, Wayne Hunter, and Austin Howard opposite D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Therefore, the Right Tackles available at certain points throughout the draft may not have held the same value to the organization as they would have with other teams.

Second, schematics of a team are often times omitted in draft evaluations. When Sparano arrived in New York this offseason, he made two things that he intended to do with the Jets’ offense very clear. He wants to be a run first team, and he wants to be able to stretch the field with big plays. Based on this, the Jets did very well in this year’s draft. Although the question marks with the team’s approach at Right Tackle will certainly be questioned into the season, and rightfully so, New York’s first three offensive selections all hold the potential to be excellent fits in Sparano’s system.

Terrance Ganaway is a very big, physical back, who will form a hard-nosed trio of runners with Shonn Greene and Tim Tebow. Robert T. Griffin should, at the least, provide some added depth to the interior of the offensive line this year, which has proved to be very crucial to this team, as displayed through the struggles it faced during Nick Mangold’s absence last season. Griffin has potential to develop and contribute nicely down the road.

Stephen Hill holds the greatest potential of all the offensive players selected by the Jets this year. Aside from the fact that his physical abilities give him one of the highest ceilings out of any player in his class, Hill seems to be perfect for the type of offense Sparano plans to implement. He has great size at nearly 6’5” and plays in the 215 lbs range with blazing speed (4.31 40). He comes from a run first offense at Georgia Tech, therefore he has a large amount of blocking experience, which will be critical to the Jets’ ground and pound approach. Most importantly, though, is his big play ability. The Jets were looking for a wide receiver to stretch the field and take the top off of opposing defense, and that is exactly what they got in Hill, who had nine catches of over 30 yards last season. He also has proved he can make people miss and create after the catch, so his big play ability is not just limited to the deep ball. To New York, Hill’s value was most likely higher than other receivers because of how well he fits with what they plan to do on offense.

Defensively, the Jets seem to have taken a similar approach. Although the verdict on selecting Quinton Coples over Melvin Ingram will be open for some time, New York most likely viewed Coples’ value as higher for what they plan to do schematically on defense. Rex Ryan seems to be focused on building this team’s pass rush from the interior before focusing on obtaining an edge rusher. Ryan has already declared that, although Coples has the athleticism to play OLB, he was brought to New York to put his hand in the dirt. Expect Ryan to run several different fronts defensively this year, as he could show more 4-3 looks than the Jets are used to. The Jets depth at defensive line is greater than it has ever been in the Ryan era, so it will be interesting to see how Rex uses that.

Among the other defensive players, DeMario Davis has the ability to be used all over the field. He will be more of a fit in the Jets’ scheme as a 3-4 ILB, but if Rex does choose to show more 4-3 looks this season, he has experience as an OLB there as well. Either way, his speed will likely make him a situational weapon for the Jets this year, as he will be able to provide help on passing downs in coverage and with blitzes from the interior.

Of the two safeties selected, Josh Bush has the potential to play right away because the Free Safety position is more open. Bush has deemed himself a safety with cornerback cover skills, so it will be interesting to see how the first team All-ACC product will do in the area the Jets struggled so badly last year. Antonio Allen will provide much needed depth at Strong Safety, while giving New York a bit of an insurance policy if LaRon Landry gets injured. Allen should contribute on special teams, and could be groomed behind the veteran leadership of Landry for the future.

It is difficult to judge how the Jets did in their draft this early. Many view them neglecting the most glaring needs on their team. While this may be the case, it is just hard to imagine an NFL team doing something like that without a plan. It is certainly fair to assume that the Jets did their homework on each player selected, and depending on what they intend to do in all three phases of the game this year, these guys were most likely viewed as the best fits for New York, which in turn made their value with the team higher than it may have been somewhere else. While the future of this team and these players is somewhat unclear at this point, the Jets, if anything, seem to have drafted for a particular type of identity, something that could finally provide some much needed stability in New York.