Pre-Draft Thoughts On The AFC

Photobucket

First a few updates:

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-Draft Thoughts On The AFC

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

Division Title Contenders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Playoff Contenders

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

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

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

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

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

Likely Basement Dwellers

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

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

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

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

Mike Williams Highlights

It Is Good To Be Back: Jets Prepare For Win and In Sunday Night

Photobucket 

First a few updates (or more accurately a little background):

1. What a day. I returned from Italy at about 3 PM today. Somehow I successfully went my entire vacation without finding out a single word about the Jets/Colts game and the wait proved to be well worth it. During week 16 I happened to stumble into a bar in Venice around 9:30 PM which was playing the 4th quarter of the Ravens/Steelers game. I sat down…Houston beat Miami? New England beat Jacksonville? The Steelers were going to hold off the Ravens? The Giants lost 41-9 to Carolina? The football gods were clearly smiling on the Jets.

I somehow communicated to the bartender a question about which game was on next, he grabbed the remote and showed Jets/Colts with a 10:15 PM kickoff. I thought about it…I could sit there until 1:30 AM, scare all the Italians in the place by pacing around the bar like a maniac during the game, and likely be disappointed by a season ending loss, have to get up 6 AM the next day for touring the rest of the trip and be in a bad mood for the next 4 days. I decided against it, I left and went back to my hotel room. I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. I tried counting hypothetical Mark Sanchez interceptions in my head, but I still toss and turned all night wondering what the hell was going on.

PhotobucketThe next day on the tour bus, somebody in our group tried to offer me an American newspaper with all the NFL scores in it. I took it…folded it up and threw out at our next stop. I instructed my family to wait it out and that nobody was allowed to find out the score…we were waiting until we made it back to Ringwood. Somehow I made it back without hearing anything. I saw a guy in a huge Colts jacket in Florence and my Dad started up a J-E-T-S chant to gauge his reaction but he kept walking, while people gawked at us.

Anyway, I got back today to a VHS copy of the game. I sat down with my family (which I is something I never do, I prefer my Jets suffering in solitude) and promised if they somehow won, dinner was on me tonight. Well it was the best 40 dollars I ever spent on some local takeout…because the Jets are playing the day after tomorrow for a playoff spot on Sunday night football…who would have thought?

It Is Good To Be Back: Jets Prepare For Win and In Sunday Night

Some scattered observations as I try to get my stuff together before unpacking and then heading off to a full day of tailgating for the Jets/Bengals game on Sunday (just bought my ticket).

1. On Jets/Colts – Very weird game. The timing of the Colts starters being benched seemed off to me. I am not sure why a 15-10 score inspired it but believe me I didn’t relax until the clock was 0:00. I was waiting for Manning to come back in down 21-15 and even 29-15 to lead a comeback and yes if a Colts starter or a fan, I would be royally pissed.

2. All the critics of the Jets (which I have caught up on the past few days) and how they have a chance to make the playoffs…cry me an ‘effin river. This is a franchise that never receives any type of break or luck and finally got one, took advantage of it and now has a chance to close out Giants Stadium the proper way (not by being humiliated by a 6-8 team by 32 points…owch G-Men). I am sorry but who deserves the AFC wild card more than the Jets? The Broncos and their 2-7 record after their 6-0 start? The Steelers and their three straight losses to the Chiefs, Browns, and Raiders? Trust me Lamar Woodley nobody is scared to play a defense that lets Bruce Gradkowski drive down the field in their building for a win. The Dolphins who choked against the Titans and Texans the past two weeks? Ha! The Jaguars who didn’t even get off the bus in New England for their week 16 game? The Texans who were embarrassed by the Jets in their building?

The Jets have the league’s #1 ranked defense and #1 ranked running game, why don’t they deserve a shot to play for a playoff spot?

3. I thought Mark Sanchez played well in a big spot. Not great…but he protected the football and made some tough throws on third downs and converted both two-point conversions. How about our other rookie Shonn Greene stepping up with 95 big yards? The Jets are obviously going to be extremely run heavy the rest of the way so Greene needs to keep it up to support TJ.

4. Brad Smith’s kick return couldn’t have come a better time. It gave the Jets the shot of the confidence they needed and obviously needed points because our offense still can only score about 10 a game. Calvin Pace is quietly putting together another very good year and Marques Douglas has been a big upgrade over Kenyon Coleman.

5. I think the back and forth between Revis and Ochocinco has been entertaining as hell. They are friends and will provide a great match-up to watch Sunday night. You think Revis is going to allow Ochocinco to do his O-C-H-O chant in our end-zone? I think not.

6. Speaking of Revis, congrats to him, Nick Mangold, and Alan Faneca for making the pro-bowl. David Harris and Brandon Moore also deserved a spot on the roster.

7. I am pretty confident New England will play their starters and beat the Texans, locking the Bengals in to the #4 seed. I wouldn’t be shocked to Cincy backups in the second half but honestly remain confident even if the Jets see their starters the whole game. Maybe that is crazy but I like the Jets on Sunday in a low scoring, defensive battle and if they do win…trust me that I am going to like them the following week in Cincy during wild-card weekend.

Photobucket8. I like how the Jets match-up with the Bengals offense, which has struggled throwing the ball all season and lacks big play capability. The front seven is good enough to slow down Cedric Benson and Revis can take care of Ochocinco. Carson Palmer isn’t very mobile which will aid the Jets pass rush and while Laveranues Coles (haven’t had to type that name in awhile) will get his catches on Lito “toast” Sheppard, he won’t kill the Jets with big plays. The Jets offense will have a tough time throwing on a strong Bengals secondary but if they lean on TJ, Greene and a short passing game that allows Braylon, Cotchery, and Keller to run after the catch they could be alright.

9. Stats and game highlights are updated…better later than never.

10. I hope to see you at the stadium on Sunday…let’s send it off the right way.

11. Only a Jets win could give me the energy to write this at 2 AM with extreme amounts of Jet lag.

We Have to Run This Town Sunday Night