TOJ Interview – New York Jets LB Demario Davis

Joe Malfa continues our Turn On The Jets interview series by sitting down with New York Jets starting inside linebacker, Demario Davis. Don’t miss his conversation with TJ Barnes from last week. A big thanks to Demario for taking the time to speak with us…

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TOJ Interview – New York Jets LB Demario Davis

Turn On The Jets Interview with New York Jets Linebacker Demario Davis

Staff writer Joe Malfa was able to get a few minutes with third year New York Jets linebacker Demario Davis. Check out the interview below and let us know your expectations for Davis this season down in the comment section…

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New York Jets – Demario Davis Has “It”

Cole Patterson on New York Jets linebacker Demario Davis, who head coach Rex Ryan believes has “it”

Demario Davis’ career as a New York Jet began with a staggering comparison and 36 tackles. When the Jets called his name with pick number 77 in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Jet fans were left wondering who the linebacker was. This reaction was justified as Davis had not been linked to the Jets and had a fifth round or lower grade from most “draft experts”.

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Turn On The Jets Off-Season Roundtable – Linebacker

The TOJ staff discusses how the New York Jets should handle the linebacker position this off-season

Welcome to our off-season review of the New York Jets roster at Turn On The Jets. Each week we are going to attack a different position. We will have a roundtable discussion on it, Steve Bateman will submit a film breakdown examining it and our draft staff will look at potential prospects the Jets could add. So far we have covered quarterbackrunning backwide receiveroffensive line, and defensive line This week we move to linebacker – 

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New York Jets – Who Needs To Make The Jump?

What current New York Jets need to make the jump in 2013 to help expedite the team’s rebuilding process?

In a previous article this off-season, we discussed the necessary components of a rebuilding process for the New York Jets. When citing an example from how they quickly turned a disastrous 2005 season into a productive 2006, we mentioned younger players “making the jump” and having career years. A few examples of this in 2006 were Jerricho Cotchery becoming a capable, productive starting receiver, Victor Hobson becoming a playmaking linebacker, Bryan Thomas having a career high in sacks and Kerry Rhodes putting together a Pro-Bowl caliber season at safety.

The Jets aren’t going to be able to fill all their holes via free agency and the draft, there are simply too many. They are going to need young players currently on the roster to take their games to the next level the way Jeremy Kerley did in 2012, as one of the team’s few bright spots on offense.

Kerley having 56 receptions, 827 yards and 2 touchdowns in last year’s passing offense is a borderline miracle. He needs to continue building on that production because nothing is guaranteed with Santonio Holmes coming off such serious surgery and the rest of the wide receiver position in flux. Kerley showed he was capable of being more than a pure slot receiver and hopefully new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhingweg is more creative at using him than Tony Sparano was. But what rostered players outside of Kerley will the Jets need to make “the jump”?

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New York Jets Defensive Film Breakdown: Week 7

Chris Gross breaks down the defensive game film from Jets/Patriots

Week 7 saw the New York Jets face a familiar foe in the AFC East. New York traveled to Foxboro to take on their divisional rival New England Patriots. While New York came up short in a hard fought, over time loss, this team played well, defensively, for the majority of the contest. There were certainly some lapses that led to 3rd down conversions, long drives, and touchdowns, but outside of about 2 total drives by New England, New York put together a very impressive effort against the Patriots’ high octane, hurry up offense.

Schematically, New York did an excellent job of putting themselves in the best positions possible to succeed against Tom Brady and his plethora of weapons. However, this game revealed some serious issues with this defense. Issues that, if not fixed in the future, will prevent this team from ever truly having a dominant defense in this league.

For this week’s film breakdown, we will take a different approach than we have in the past. Since the effort in the front 7 was much more about the cohesion of the unit and the scheme, there was not necessarily any individual performances that stood out. This week, the play of the defensive line and linebackers will be much better explained if their evaluation is grouped together. This will allow for a better understanding of exactly what the Jets were doing in the box to defend Tom Brady and Co, as well as how the Patriots responded to each of the Jets adjustments. The secondary, as usual, will have its usual mention. Let’s get into it:

Defensive Line/Linebackers: The defensive line has been extremely strong over the past 2 weeks prior to facing New England, showing very solid efforts against Houston and Indianapolis. Quinton Coples is beginning to come into his own as he grows with each and every rep he gets. Muhammad Wilkerson is starting to build a little more each game toward becoming the type of defensive lineman this coaching staff expects him to be. However, as previously noted in our earlier film breakdowns, the remainder of the defensive line, without Kenrick Ellis and Sione Pouha, are extremely average, and vulnerable.

The vulnerability of the depth behind Coples and Wilkerson are going to begin to damper this defense until Ellis and Pouha can return. The issue is, without a true nose capable of being an every down player, the Jets have been forced to play Mike DeVito a heavy amount at the 0 and 1 technique. We have discussed DeVito being a poor fit at this position, as he is much more of a 3 technique player, but due to injury, New York has felt that he is still their best option to play there until this unit returns to full health. DeVito’s struggles at this spot are beginning to become magnified and problematic, not just for his own play, but for the play of the rest of the defensive line.

Since DeVito is not a true nose, he does not garner the respect from offensive line that a true nose would. In New England, the Patriots offensive line left DeVito to be blocked by one man, whether it was the center or guard, unlike someone like Ellis or Pouha who command a double team about 99% of the time. By using only one man to block the nose, New England was then able to block the remainder of the line (in the base 3 man front) using two separate double teams on both Coples and Wilkerson. This was a very intelligent scheme by the Patriots, as they were able to neutralize the Jets two best playmakers on the defensive line, without skipping a beat. Due to this, Rex Ryan was forced to get creative with his blitzes and pressure packages to get penetration and pressure on the quarterback. What is most worrisome for New York is that New England’s blocking scheme may now be the blue print for offensive lines moving forward. Until Ellis and Pouha get back, the Jets need to find a way to neutralize this type of scheme, possibly by working in more true 4 man fronts, without the use of a nose guard.

The problem with the 4 man fronts the Jets were using in New England on Sunday were basically the same as the problems they were running into using the 3 man fronts. Rather than bring in an extra defensive tackle, and sliding DeVito to a 3 technique, with Wilkerson and Coples at the end spots, New York would slide either Wilkerson or Coples inside, and put Calvin Pace at the other defensive end spot. Unfortunately for them, the Patriots gave Pace about as much respect as DeVito, as they were able to block him with just one man as well. Therefore, Coples and Wilkerson were either left in a 2 on 3 scenario, or more double teams, if a back or tight end was left in to block. It is extremely hard to get sacks in this league as it is, but when constantly facing double teams, the numbers are likely close to being statistically impossible.

Against the run, the front 7 was generally solid. Coples and Wilkerson continued to face a good amount of double teams, but this ultimately helped the linebackers get through and make plays. DeMario Davis, although making mistakes at times, was very effective against the run, and proved to be lighting quick in getting down hill and stuffing the running lanes. Comparatively speaking, he is an upgrade over Bart Scott. While Scott may not make the cerebral mistakes that Davis will, Davis’s speed and athleticism alone make him more effective than Scott, even with his mental errors. He should see the majority of the reps at linebacker down the stretch.

New England ran the ball a surplus of times out of a heavily unbalanced package. In these packages, the Patriots would line up not just two, but three tight ends to one side of the line. Yes, this package makes it obvious where the ball is going most of the time, but against the hurry up, the Jets struggled to make adjustments to the formation, and were repeatedly gutted for positive yards. That is, until Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine did finally get to making the adjustment of bringing LaRon Landry down into the box who proved to be far to fast for any of the tight ends or offensive lineman to get out on in space. His presence in the box alone assisted in shutting this formation down, and New England used much less of it down the stretch.

David Harris was generally solid in this one, however he continues to look sluggish for his position. He does a good job of filling runs that are directed right toward him, however, he has struggled to scrape sideline to sideline this season, a trend that continued on Sunday. He was also too slow to beat offensive lineman at times, as he got sealed with a lane block on more than one occasion. The hope with Harris is that now with Davis getting a vast amount of reps, he will be able to complement the speed of the rookie with his size and tenacity.

The pass rush on this defense is obviously the most concerning issue, probably on the entire team, even more so than the quarterback position. As touched upon earlier today by TJ Rosenthal, the Jets defense lacks a true closer that can get after the quarterback late in games and cause sacks or bad throws. As much as we have praised Calvin Pace’s technique in this column all season, it is clear at this point that it will not be enough to propel him into recording a surplus of sacks. Aaron Maybin, on the other hand, regressed tremendously from his solid performance against the Colts. Perhaps Maybin got caught up in the moment of a big game, trying to make the big sack, but he reverted to his old ways of sprinting directly up the field, and ending up 5 yards directly behind the quarterback.

New York needs true pass rushing outside linebackers in the worst way possible. Bryan Thomas, Pace, and Maybin are all in contract years, and unless something drastic happens with their play, it would be shocking to see anyone of them resigned next season. With a rather depleted and aging 2013 free agent class, look for New York to target two OLB’s in next April’s draft. Combining a vicious edge rush with this very young and talented defensive line could finally put the Jets over the hump, and give them a truly dominant defense for the future.

Secondary: This was arguably the best game the secondary has played all season. Considering Isaiah Trufant’s lack of experience, he did a fantastic job on Wes Welker, who’s box score lies with regard to how well he was defended by Trufant. Two of Welker’s catches came on long catch and runs off of screens. Welker also hauled in a couple of overtime passes. However, these were obtained after a very questionable adjustment that moved Trufant over to Branch, and DeMario Davis on Welker. Brady recognized the switch, and did an excellent job of taking advantage of the mismatch, the linebacker on the speedy wide out. As much as Rex’s defensive mind is respected throughout this league, this could go down, with his conservative defensive approach late in the game, as the most questionable decision he and his staff have made all season. Why take Trufant, who was quite effective on Welker for the majority of the game, and move him on Branch, who was a non-factor? More importantly, why replace him with a linebacker to cover the fastest wide receiver on the team? A true head scratcher.

Antonio Cromartie continued to be a dominant force, holding Brandon Lloyd to just a single reception, further cementing his status as an elite cornerback in this league. Cromartie did drop a late interception that could have changed the landscape of the game, but played excellent regardless.

Kyle Wilson is continuing to grow as well. We have watched Wilson go from a heavily criticized nickelback, to a very capable starting cornerback. The pass interference penalty he was called for in overtime on Aaron Hernandez was very questionable, but his ability to bounce back the next time Brady went at him and break up the attempted pass proved that he has a short term memory, something vital for the position.

The safeties were generally effective as well. Landry was excellent against the run, and made some very nice plays in coverage. Bell continued to be solid, despite not putting up any flashy numbers or making any highlight reel plays. Antonio Allen did a very good job jamming the tight end, but was often caught trailing in coverage. In fact, the pass to Danny Woodhead that set up the game tying field goal in the fourth quarter was a result of Allen missing him as he came out of the backfield. Allen has struggled in coverage, but has proved to be effective as a blitzer, as well as being very physical, which is exactly what we expected out of him this season.

Watching the film of this matchup was truly remarkable. Ryan’s defensive mind against New England’s offensive coaching staff resulted in constant checks and adjustments throughout the entire game, a true chess match if their has ever been one. Hopefully, for the sake of New York, it is Ryan and Co that force New England into checkmate on Thanksgiving when the two teams meet for the final time this season.

New York Jets: Rookie Defenders Should Make Immediate Impact

What kind of impact will the New York Jets rookie defenders make in 2012?

The New York Jets drafted four defensive players in the 2012 NFL Draft, three of them are locks to make the roster and contribute in some capacity in their rookie year. How much will the Jets be asking from their newest additions and will they be able to handle the workload? Let’s run through the four selections and discuss what reasonable expectations should be –

Strong Safety – Antonio Allen – 7th Round – Allen fell further down the draft board than most people expected. He is a natural strong safety who basically played like an extra linebacker at South Carolina. Talent-wise the Jets got great value with Allen but it will be extremely difficult for him to make any kind of impact this season on defense. LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell and Eric Smith are all similar players to Allen and ahead of him on the depth chart. Unless there is significant injuries throughout the Jets secondary, it is difficult seeing Allen being active on a weekly basis. The only way he will be, is if he proves to be a monster on special teams. It isn’t out of the question for Allen to be a practice squad player in 2012 as he projects to make a bigger impact down the road after Landry, Bell or Smith have moved on.

Free Safety – Josh Bush – 6th Round – Walked into a better situation than most 6th round picks. Bush is entering training camp as the team’s fourth safety and only true free safety likely to make the 53 man roster. If he can hold his own throughout August, he will see significant playing time particularly in the Jets sub and nickel packages. Don’t be surprised to see Bush playing a Dwight Lowery type role in Rex Ryan’s defense, bouncing between safety and corner to take advantage of his coverage skills. If Bush can’t establish himself as a competent role player with long term potential in 2012 it will be disappointing and hurt the Jets already questionable depth at safety. Bush is a likely candidate for an extensive role on special teams, particularly on coverage units.

Demario Davis – Linebacker – 3rd Round – The pre-training camp darling of the Jets draft class who has already been given comparisons to Ray Lewis (seriously, come on Rex) for his intensity and natural leadership. Davis has something the other Jets linebackers lack: speed. It is going to get him on the field immediately on passing downs and he is already running with the first unit in the sub package. Davis will also be a fixture on just about every special teams unit from day one. The question is, can Bart Scott hold him out of the starting lineup for the entire season? Make no mistake, Davis will be the opening day starter at inside linebacker in 2013 but will he crack the starting lineup in 2012?

Quinton Coples – Defensive End – 1st Round – We won’t hide from our initial criticism of the Coples selection however with the Jets apparently moving to a defensive scheme that is more 4-3 and 46 heavy it at least makes a little more sense. Beyond that, Coples put together a very strong OTAs and says everything you want to hear from a first round pick with motor questions. He is going to start from day one and is physically the most talented pass rusher the Jets have had on their roster in awhile. Alongside Muhammad Wilkerson, he has the chance to be a special player in this defense.

TOJ’s Top 50 New York Jets Countdown: 30-40

Turn On The Jets counts down the top 50 New York Jets currently on the roster, continuing today with numbers 30-40

Frustrated and confused after seeing the NFL’s Top 100 player list? TOJ was as well. Due to that, we have decided to rank the current New York Jets on the roster from 50 all the way down to 1. Along the way, we will be classifying the players into the following five categories:

  • Bottom of the Roster (strictly a depth and developmental player)
  • Middle Class (Situational player, spot starter)
  • Quality Starter (Capable starting player or very good role player)
  • Red Chip (Swiping this term from Michael Lombardi, an above average stater/borderline Pro-Bowler)
  • Blue Chip (Another swipe from Lombardi, an elite player at his position)

(STILL IN THE BOTTOM OF THE ROSTER CATEGORY)

39. Jeff Cumberland, Tight End – Currently projects as the team’s backup tight end. Cumberland is a taller, slower version of Dustin Keller which isn’t good for a team who wants to run the football as often as the Jets do. He does have potential to be a weapon in the red-zone and in certain packages, however it wouldn’t be surprising if the Jets signed a blocking tight end before camp which would bump him down the depth chart.

38. Stephon Heyer, Offensive Tackle – A six year veteran with a good amount of experience. He started 16 games for the Redskins in 2009 and started 2 games last year for Oakland. He projects as the top backup at tackle and could push for playing time if Wayne Hunter struggles in camp.

37. Martin Tevaseu, Defensive Tackle – He has bounced between the Jets practice squad and active roster over the past couple of seasons. Last year he outplayed rookie third-round pick Kenrick Ellis and leaped him in the defensive line rotation.

36. Kenrick Ellis, Defensive Tackle – Putting him over Tevaseu based on his potential, which he will hopefully begin to recognize this year after his first full off-season as a professional. Ellis is currently serving a jail sentence but it was split so he won’t miss any training camp. The Jets are hoping he can develop into a big part of the defensive line rotation in 2012 and be Sione Pouha’s long term replacement.

35. Josh Mauga, Linebacker – Worked himself into a good amount of playing time last season at both inside and outside linebacker, finishing with 25 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 interception. This year he projects to being more of a special teams player but could see action in certain packages due to his pass coverage ability from the linebacker position.

34. Patrick Turner, Wide Receiver – Saw his most extensive playing time as a professional in 2011, finishing with 8 receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. Turner has good size and chemistry with Mark Sanchez from their time together at USC. He also can contribute on special teams. Turner is the current favorite to be the team’s fifth wide receiver.

MIDDLE CLASS

33. Marcus Dixon, Defensive Lineman – Dixon was a solid, reliable part of the team’s defensive line rotation last year and stepped in to start a few games for an injured Mike DeVito. He finished with 16 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Dixon can line up at both defensive end and tackle, increasing his value. In 2012, he should remain a key part of the defensive line rotation.

32. Chaz Schilens, Wide Receiver – Signed as a free agent from the Oakland Raiders this off-season, Schilens has all the desired measurables for a wide receiver at 6’4, 225 pounds and with a 4.3 forty. However, he has been unable to stay consistently healthy throughout his four year career. In those four seasons he has racked up 72 receptions for 902 yards and 7 touchdowns. Schilens was one of the most impressive players in the Jets off-season workouts and could carve himself out a nice sized role on offense if he keeps performing.

31. Josh Brown, Kicker – Working off the assumption that he will be out Nick Folk this summer. Brown has been a very good kicker at times throughout his career but is coming off a somewhat disappointing year with the Rams. He is a career 80.9 percent kicker with a long of 58 yards.

30. Demario Davis, Linebacker – The rookie third round linebacker is generating a ton of buzz this off-season as the steal of the Jets draft class. Teammates and coaches have been raving about his natural leadership skills, speed and tenacity. At a minimum, Davis will play in the Jets sub-packages and be a major factor on special teams. He will also take over for Bart Scott alongside David Harris at inside linebacker, no later than the beginning of next season.

Check back later for the 12 Pack and on Monday for numbers 20-30

New York Jets Fact Or False: New Jets Edition

TOJ’s weekly Fact or False from Chris Gross – Focusing on the newest members of the New York Jets roster

Our weekly Fact or False from Chris Gross…make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter and let him know what you think –

The New York Jets have experienced yet another exciting offseason of player acquisitions. While the early weeks of free agency had the majority of Jets Nation convinced there was a new mentality in the front office due to the lack of pursuit of the marquee free agents, General Manager Mike Tannenbaum returned to his roots as “Trader Mike” and made the splash of the offseason in trading for the most polarizing figure in the NFL, Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow. Beyond the Tebow trade, Tannenbaum and the Jets achieved, what could prove to be, their best draft in recent years. With the acquisitions of eight players in this year’s draft, there are plenty of newcomers on board with Gang Green this season, many of whom have already stood out at OTAs and Mini-Camp.

The Jets filled a great amount of needs on their roster this offseason, particularly at the safety position where they added four new players (two rookies, two veterans) to the position that was popularly considered the worst on the defense last year. New York has also gone international with the signing of Aussie Rugby Star Hayden Smith, who is vying to make the team as a Tight End, another position in need of depth on the Jets roster. It seems that Mike T and Co. have added players via every means possible this offseason – signings, trades, draft picks, international, domestic, you name it. With so many new additions to the team for the 2012 season, what can we expect from those who will wear the Green and White for the first time this year? This week’s New York Jets Fact Or False takes a look at the “New” New York Jets.

Chaz Schilens will have the greatest impact of all newcomers at the Wide Receiver position. False. While the Jets certainly have a young and promising group of speedy, athletic receivers, Schilens was signed to a one year deal after a season of just 23 receptions in 2011, prior to the Jets selections of rookies Stephen Hill and Jordan White in this year’s NFL Draft. While Schilens certainly has the physical tools (6’4” 4.3 40 yard dash) to be a dangerous weapon in New York’s receiving corps this year, durability will be the key issue, as it has been throughout his career. Schilens has already missed 20 games due to injury in his short four-year career, and has never once recorded 30 receptions in a single season.

However, Schilens showed flashes of brilliance during mini-camp after obtaining a surplus of reps due to injuries to Hill, White, and Santonio Holmes. While Schilens could certainly be a diamond in the rough for Gang Green if he can stay healthy, history does not look favorable for the four-year veteran out of San Diego State. In terms of Jets newcomers at the wide receiver position, Hill, who will likely be starting opposite Santonio Holmes come week 1, is the most likely to have the greatest impact among the new wide outs. Jordan White is certainly another name to keep an eye on if he can come back completely healthy from a foot injury that will have him sidelined until training camp.

Quinton Coples will have the largest impact of all rookies. Fact. DeMario Davis is another candidate here, however with Coples likely to crack the starting lineup right out of the gate this year, he will ultimately have more opportunity to provide a greater impact to the team this season. We’ve repeatedly gone over the physical intangibles of Coples here at Turn On The Jets, not to mention how the shift toward more four-man fronts will benefit his skill set. However, what has not been discussed to a great extent is the work ethic Coples has been displaying since joining the Jets.

Heading into the draft, Coples unfairly saw his character and work ethic come into question, although review of his college game film proves he is anything but lazy and unmotivated. So far, we have yet to hear these concerns about Coples. The first round selection out of North Carolina has displayed nothing but high character and a tremendous work ethic during OTAs and Mini-Camp practices, and has earned praise from the coaching staff and media alike. Coples has the ability to fill the void the Jets defense has been truly lacking since the days of John Abraham, a pass rusher that opposing offenses must game plan around. Rex Ryan will use his vast defensive knowledge and creativity in order to ensure Coples is in every position possible to succeed.

Hayden Smith will make the active roster. False. The idea of Hayden Smith is a very intriguing one for Gang Green. The Jets took a shot at signing the Aussie Rugby star who has never played a down of football in his entire life, but has the physical tools (6’6” 255 lbs) to be an elite tight end in this league. While Smith is highly unlikely to develop into the next Jimmy Graham or Antonio Gates, he could end up being a solid contributor down the road for the Jets. Rex Ryan has already praised his tenacity and work ethic, and for good reason. Smith seems poised to learn the game of football from both an intellectual and fundamental standpoint. However, his development will likely take more than just one offseason before he can contribute, not only on the Jets, but also at the NFL level in general. A year on the practice squad is likely the destination for Smith this year, but that may be just what he needs to build his game and become a contributor in 2013.

Yeremiah Bell will provide more bang for the Jets buck than LaRon Landry. Fact. This could easily turn if Landry stays healthy for the entire year, as New York obtained the Pro Bowl caliber player on a rather cheap one-year contract, however, like Schilens, Landry comes with serious durability concerns. When healthy, Landry has been extremely productive, but over the past two seasons, the former first round selection out of LSU has played in just 17 total games. Bell, on the other hand, has not missed a game in the past four seasons and has accumulated over 100 tackles in each. While the ex-Miami Dolphin was certainly a bit more of an under-the-radar signing than Landry, his impact will likely be much greater with the Jets defense this season due to his durability and production.

Of the two rookie safeties, Josh Bush will see the majority of the reps. Fact. This is a no brainer. Antonio Allen is absolutely a very young, promising prospect for the Jets. However, like Landry and Bell, Allen fits the mold of an in the box, strong safety type player. Conversely, Bush is the only true free safety on the Jets roster and will likely see his reps increase as the season progresses, while picking up the defense a bit more each week. Bush has been widely regarded as one of the better cover safeties in this year’s rookie class, as shown by his All-American and All-ACC honors last season at Wake Forest. While Allen could certainly be used on special teams and in some sub packages, primarily as a blitzer, Bush fills a greater need for the Jets as of right now, and will likely see the majority of the reps among the two.

Tim Tebow will cause a Quarterback controversy in New York. False. While everyone from fans and mainstream media are drooling at the prospect of seeing Tebow come in and replace Mark Sanchez, the reality of the situation is that there will be no controversy at the Quarterback position for the Jets this season. It is certainly easy to argue against this proclamation as Sanchez is coming off of his most criticized season as a pro, despite accounting for 32 total touchdowns in 2011, while the Tebow magic is still fresh in the minds of everyone who witnessed arguably the most polarizing figure in all of sports defy all the odds last season in leading Denver to a playoff victory.

While Tebow will remain the number two quarterback in the event that Sanchez gets injured, he was not brought to New York to take the job from number 6. Tebow will likely be used at quarterback in some wildcat and spread option sub packages, however he will take very little, if any, snaps at QB when the regular offense is on the field. Despite the fact that Sanchez is poised for a breakout season, Tebow’s unique skill set is too diverse to see him taking snaps under center this year. Expect to see Tebow in a variety of roles including H-Back and Running Back. New York has already begun to get him reps here, all of which will likely increase heading into the season. Remember, Sanchez AND Tebow, not Sanchez OR Tebow.

A Visit To Florham Park: Observations From Jets Mini-Camp

TOJ’s Mike Donnelly spent the day in Florham Park yesterday for New York Jets mini-camp. Here are his observations

Turn On The Jets own Mike Donnelly spent yesterday in Florham Park for the last day of New York Jets mini-camp. Here are his observations and make sure you give Mike a follow on Twitter – 

With the Jets Mini-Camp coming to a close on Thursday, I decided to call out sick from work (Sorry, Brian) and take a drive over to Florham Park with my buddy Dan, pretty much on a whim. Camp was open to the public and I figured it would be a better way to spend the day than sitting in an office. I was right.

I also had grandiose images dancing in my head of showing up, observing all the comings and goings, taking Twitter by storm with my hilarious commentary and finally cracking that illustrious 100 follower milestone. I’d also befriend all the players, meet all the beat writers that we’ve begun ranking each week here on this very site, and then leaving triumphantly after Mark Sanchez gave me his cell phone number to meet up for a beer later in the day. Unfortunately, I was unprepared to accomplish any of this, as my phone was half-dead after my charger didn’t work the night before, I didn’t have my car charger or my iPad, and I was forced to rely on the power of memory. Damn you, stupid phone charger. Fortunately, between Dan and myself, we were able to piece together the entire day. Here is a rundown of my thoughts from my day at Jets Camp, in no particular order:

The Jets D-Line looks tremendous – You can read and hear about how big and athletic these guys are, but when you see them up close, it’s really something. Quinton Coples stands out and just looks like a physical freak, Sione Pouha is massive, and Mo Wilkerson looked awesome out there. On the very first play of team drills, he knocked down a pass and gave a Dikembe Mutombo-style finger wag to Mark Sanchez.  I said it a few weeks ago in my Stock Watch column, but it bears repeating: Mo Wilkerson is going to be a stud for this defense. That autograph I got from him today is going to be worth a fortune! (Ok, not really, but I’m still glad I got it.)

Speaking of autographs.. – Many of the players were extremely fan-friendly and personable. I didn’t run around trying to get them to sign my little “Jets Mini Camp” cardboard paper thing they handed out at the entrance, but many of them did come by where I was standing and signed it. Aaron Maybin was extremely personable and even posed for many photos with fans. Nick Mangold, Pouha, and Wilkerson all also came by and were very cool about signing for the fans, especially kids, which is always nice. Joe McKnight also signed a ton of stuff, gave away his gloves, and even cracked some jokes about eating McDonalds. Rookies Stephen Hill and Demario Davis signed for a while, and I was fortunate enough to get both of their John Hancocks (check out the picture below of DeMario’s signature, which has got to be the funniest one of all time). I also saw Dustin Keller, Brandon Moore, Matt Slauson (hold that thought on Slauson for a minute) and a few others spending more than their fair share of time signing stuff. Also signing autographs for a few minutes until it got a little out of control? Mr. Mark Sanchez. And yes, the Sanchize graced my little piece of paper by scribbling a few lines on it.

Matt Slauson’s shoulder is fine, and he isn’t happy playing RG – Here’s my semi-juicy nugget of information I came across while in Florham Park. While signing autographs, a fan asked Slauson how his shoulder was and why he was playing RG instead of LG. He said his shoulder is 100% healthy and that he doesn’t know why he’s playing RG. He then added with a bit of a smile although he didn’t seem pleased, “I told Vlad I’m not happy about it.” Bears watching when training camp starts. Are they grooming Vlad to be the new LG while reducing Slauson to more of a “swing role” since he has more versatility? Guess we’ll find out. (My guess: No. Vlad stinks.)

Aaron Maybin and Tim Tebow are HUGE – Much has been made of Tebow’s size the past few days in the media, especially from our pal Manish Mehta, who whipped out his tape measure and scale to compare Tebow’s height and weight to everyone from David Harris to Rex Ryan this week. But the fact is he does looks enormous, which is a good sign for our short yardage wildcat package and punt team I suppose. Maybin, who recently tweeted a picture of himself on the scale weighing 254 lbs, looks every bit of it. His arms and upper body were completely jacked, and you have to think that will only help him on the field.

Hard to get a read on the Offense – Any time Sanchez or Tebow throw an incomplete pass, everyone wants to jump all over them and say the offense sucks. We have the Sanchez fans rip the Tebow fans, the Tebow fans rip the Sanchez fans, and everyone hates everything. Like I wrote in my Take a Deep Breath column, everyone needs to relax. It’s June, and although Chaz Schilens was pretty impressive, these quarterbacks are still playing without Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill, not to mention they’re learning a new system and going up against arguably the best defense in the NFL. Speaking of which, this is not exactly breaking news, but Darrelle Revis is still very awesome. Throwing to his side is a lost cause.

The #2 TE spot is not looking promising – Jeff Cumberland is a guy a lot of coaches and fans had high hopes for, but man oh man did #86 look awful on Thursday. He dropped a bunch of passes, and Tony Sparano was completely ripping into him about his curious pass-catching technique where he runs down the field and doesn’t turn his head around to look where the ball is, only to have it land a few feet away from him. Hayden Smith also doesn’t appear to be ready to play football at this level, which makes sense since he’s been playing rugby in Australia the past few years, but you can tell he has some potential — just not for this year probably.

Manish Mehta is a cool guy – I know, I know, judging by some of the feedback we’ve gotten in our Beat Writer Power Rankings, many of you have turned on Manish lately because of his apparent Tebow love and Sulia usage on Twitter. I get it, I agree with most of it, and I wrote about that in our initial rankings (I also mentioned how it wasn’t too long ago he was far and away the best Jets writer, though). But when he was standing a few feet away from me on the other side of the fence, I couldn’t help but to call out to him and introduce myself as the guy who has been grading his performance weekly online. Instead of blowing me off or just calling me an asshole, he couldn’t have been nicer. Manish was gracious enough to came over and chat for a few minutes. We joked about the power rankings and his placement in them (“As long as I stay in the top 6, we’re cool”), talked about the Tebow phenomenon (“He’s popular, what can I say?”), and even his Sulia love (“Ahh come on man, what do you want me to do?”).

We also talked about Revis, David Harris, TurnOnTheJets.com, and probably would have continued a little longer since it was a down period in practice if his colleague at the Daily News, old fart Gary Myers, didn’t come over to ask him if he was paying attention to practice or if he was “holding a dissertation over here”. Gary is lucky he’s not a beat writer, or else I’d rank him 17th out of 6 this week. Speaking of which, there is no truth to the rumor I happily accepted a bribe from Manish to move him up to #1 this week. Or is there? Guess we’ll see on Wednesday.

So there you have it. My day at Jets Camp. We’d love to hear stories from anybody else who was in attendance this week, and maybe I’ll see some of you in Cortland in a few weeks.