Turn On The Jets counts down the top 50 New York Jets currently on the roster, finishing today with the top 9 players on the team
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)
9. Dustin Keller, Tight End – Keller has played great for stretches of time and put together a few monster games here or there but has never consistently played at a Pro-Bowl level for an entire season. He is coming off his best statistical season with 65 receptions, 815 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2011. The hope is that with Tony Sparano calling the plays, Keller will get the chance to stretch the field a little more and not have stretches where he seems to be forgotten in the game plan.
8. Antonio Cromartie, Cornerback – Cromartie catches flak from fans at times for giving up big plays and not creating enough on his own. Yet few players in the NFL could stand up to the number of targets he faces opposite Darrelle Revis. Cromartie remains a very good corner, capable of manning up most receivers in the league which is essential in Rex Ryan’s defense.
7. Brandon Moore, Guard – One of the most underrated guards in the NFL, Moore has played at a Pro-Bowl level the past few seasons and is a key part to paving the way for the Jets running game. He is one of the most respected players in the locker room and a leader on the offensive side of the football.
6. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Tackle – Despite coming off a disappointing season, Ferguson is one of the top left tackles in football. Considering his level of play since being drafted in 2006, it is hard not to expect him to come back strong in 2012.
5. Santonio Holmes, Wide Receiver – The biggest playmaker on the Jets offense and a receiver capable of taking over games. Holmes looked the part of a number one receiver in 2010 but struggled last season without a viable threat opposite of him. Hopefully with Stephen Hill’s speed and a further developed Jeremy Kerley, Holmes will see more favorable match-ups and go back to creating the big plays we expect of him.
4. Sione Pouha, Defensive Tackle – Has worked his way into being one of the best run stopping defensive tackles in football. Pouha is an essential piece of the Jets 3-4 and is versatile and athletic enough to play in a 4 man front as well. Arguably the best move the Jets made this off-season was signing him to a contract extension. Along with Brandon Moore, Pouha is one of the players on the team who actually deserves a “C” on their chest for his leadership abilities.
3. David Harris, Linebacker – A tackling machine and one of the best inside linebackers in football. It is crime that he hasn’t been a perennial Pro-Bowler and has only made the All-Pro team once (2nd team in 2009). He isn’t a flashy player but is more important to the Jets defense than any player not named Revis.
2. Nick Mangold, Center – A laughable joke that he wasn’t named to the NFL’s Top 100 player list. Mangold is the best center in the NFL and has been All-Pro the past three seasons. The Jets badly missed him in 2011 when he missed a handful of games due to injury. He is the leader of the offensive line and the anchor for the Jets rushing attack.
1. Darrelle Revis, Cornerback – The best corner in the NFL and arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. Outside of a handful of quarterbacks, there is nobody in the league who dominates their competition more thoroughly than Revis does on a week to week basis. Simply put, a beast and a guy well on his way to being a first ballot Hall of Famer.
It seems that Darrelle Revis is not the only New York Jet seeking a new deal heading into the 2012 season. Recent reports have revealed that Tight End Dustin Keller is also eager to ink an extension with the Jets. However, the former Boilermaker has confirmed that there has been no movement in that area thus far. While Keller is rightfully a fan favorite among the Jets’ faithful for his reliability and chemistry with Quarterback Mark Sanchez, the Jets would be foolish to jump the gun on committing a long-term deal to the four-year veteran.
Although Keller has proved to have the best chemistry with Sanchez, his contract with New York should, and likely will, be based on how he fits in the new offensive scheme of Tony Sparano. There have been some serious concerns about how Keller will fare under Sparano, primarily due to the amount of blocking the tight end is relied upon for. While Keller has always impressed with his athleticism and receiving skills, blocking has never quite been the strongest part of his game. This is not to say that Keller will not develop into a more efficient blocker under the tutelage of Sparano and new offensive line coach David DeGuglielmo, however this is going to be a major point of focus in working toward a new contract. Keller must prove his worth in this system, otherwise the Jets will surely let him walk. Giving him an extension prior to the season, before evaluating him in any real game situations in the new system, could prove to be a poor waste of money if he ends up struggling under Sparano. Not only would they be wrongly committed to him in years and dollars, but his trade value would likely plummet as well.
While Keller’s blocking ability will be a focal point for how he fits under Sparano, it may not be the deciding factor in whether or not he remains with the Jets beyond 2012. In the event Keller fails to develop into a capable blocker, the Jets could find a more suitable tight end to serve in that role, while allowing Keller to thrive in the receiving role where he has had his greatest success. Last season, Miami Dolphins Tight End Anthony Fasano was tied with Keller in receptions with 65, as well as touchdowns with 5. More impressively, though, Fasano also tied Keller with 12 receptions of 20 or more yards. While Fasano is certainly a higher quality blocker than Keller, he is not nearly as athletic. If Sparano, who emphasizes “chunk plays,” can get that type of receiving production out of Fasano (4.74 40 yard dash), than he should, realistically, be able to work wonders with Keller (4.55 40). If Keller fails to prove his worth as a blocker, but improves dramatically as a receiver in this system, it would be difficult for the Jets to not give Sanchez’s favorite target a new deal. Still, Keller needs to let his play do the negotiating.
While it may be unfair to claim that Keller, coming off of a career year with the Jets, still needs to prove himself in order to obtain a contract extension, it is the reality of the situation. While he did post career highs in three statistical categories last season, he is still nowhere near the production level of an elite tight end at this point in his career. Last season, Keller had 65 receptions for 815 yards and 5 touchdowns. The top five tight ends last year, Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Gonzalez, and Jason Witten each had 99, 90, 83, 80, and 79 receptions, respectively.
Keller is certainly still young and improving, however he does not yet deserve to be paid like an elite tight end, which is why he wisely would not comment on whether or not Gronkowski’s recent extension gave him leverage. In his second season as a Patriot, Gronkowski set an NFL record for touchdown receptions by a tight end with 17, and had previously caught 10 in his rookie year of 2010, exactly twice the amount of Keller’s career high. Gronkowski has proved to be a perfect fit in the role he plays in the Patriots’ offense. Keller will not comment on Gronkowski’s deal because he knows it has nothing to do with his contract situation.
A realistic contract for Keller would be more comparable to the five year, $37 million extension given to 49ers tight end Vernon Davis prior to the 2010 season. Although Davis was coming off of a career year before he received his deal, his most recent numbers have been very comparable to those of Keller. Last season, Davis had only two more receptions than Keller with 23 fewer yards, and only one more touchdown. If he can prove to be productive in the new system, expect a deal similar to Davis’s for Keller. Again, this is a crucial if.
Patience will need to be very prevalent within Keller’s camp in working toward any movement on a new contract. The Jets will likely not budge, and the tight end will need to let his play do the talking. While it may seem unfair for a player who has done all the right things during his NFL career, while improving his play nearly every year, it is simply the nature of the business. The Jets would be foolish to shell out a bunch of money to a player who is currently surrounded by question marks with regard to how he will fit in the offensive system. Although Keller has become not only a staple of the offense recently, but a leader of the team as well, there is a new offensive coordinator in town, and in a contract year, he needs to earn his money before receiving it.
One of the most intriguing New York Jets story lines heading into the summer is whether or not the Jets will be able to, once again, establish themselves as an elite rushing offense. During Rex Ryan’s first two seasons as Head Coach of the Jets, they were ranked 1st and 4th in rushing offense, respectively. Last season, they dipped to the 22nd best rushing team in the NFL. This, of course, was largely due to the fact that former Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer seemingly forgot his bread and butter, and what his offense was built on.
During Ryan’s first two seasons with the Jets, there was no mistake that New York was a ground and pound, in your face, physical, run first, run second offense. Last year, though, they were extremely confused as to what their identity was. In an attempt to re-obtain that identity, the Jets replaced Schottenheimer with former Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano this offseason. Sparano has made it clear since he came to New York, that the Jets will, once again, be a run first offense, while stating the necessity of returning to the ground and pound style of play. We’ve already seen that Mark Sanchez is at his best when he has a solid running game to work with, as he greatly excels in the play action pass, so getting back to the top tier of rushing teams in the NFL is vital to the success of this offense.
For this edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we examine what to, and what not to, expect from the newly run Tony Sparano offense this upcoming season.
1.) Shonn Greene will finally have a breakout season and prove to be the Jets’ Bell Cow.Fact. As much as everyone likes to assert the opinion that Shonn Greene is not the guy to carry the running load for the Jets, it is often forgotten that he compiled 1,054 yards last season under the philosophically challenged Brian Schottenheimer. Although he only ran for 6 touchdowns, he had an average of 4.2 yards per carry. Even more impressive is his career average of 4.3 yards per carry.
Greene has all the tools to be an excellent every down back in this league. At 5’11” 226 lbs, he is certainly big enough to withstand the physical toll that an NFL season can take on a running back, and contrary to popular belief, he has a great ability to explode into the second level. Although he isn’t the greatest receiving threat out of the backfield, he still obtained 30 catches for 211 yards last season. Of course, this is likely a direct result of Sanchez’s numerous amount of check downs, but for the Jets, Greene’s ability to catch out of the backfield should have nothing to do with his status as the bell cow running back.
Greene needs to be the guy to wear down defenses with his big, physical style of running, while opening up the big plays for Joe McKnight and the receiving corps. Last year, Greene played in an offense that was utterly confused with what their identity was and still churned out over 1,000 yards. This season, there is no mistake the Jets are a run first, run second team, and Tony Sparano’s presence will establish Greene as “the guy” when it comes to running the football for the Jets. It should not be a shock to anyone to see Greene compile over 1,500 yards with double digit touchdowns this season. Sparano made a 1,000 yard rusher out of Reggie Bush who, prior to joining Miami last offseason, had a career high of 581 rushing yards, coming in his second NFL season. The season before signing with Miami, Bush ran for a pitiful 150 yards over only 8 games. If Sparano can get that type of production out of Bush, he can certainly propel Greene to finally become the guy everyone has expected him to be since being drafted by the Jets three years ago.
2.) Joe McKnight will obtain 1,000 yards from scrimmage.Fact. Although Joe McKnight has struggled to find his niche in the offense during his first two seasons, this could be the year that the former USC Trojan finally bursts onto the scene for Gang Green. With LaDanian Tomlinson now out of the picture, McKnight will immedeately step into the number two role behind Greene, and due to his fantastic athleticism and speed, could prove to be a very vital piece to the Jets offense this year. He showed his big play ability and explosiveness on special teams last season, a year in which he improved tremendously from his rookie campaign. Expect McKnight to take yet another step to improve his game and contributions to the team.
McKnight has reportedly come into OTAs at about 16 pounds heavier than his normal playing weight, with an eye on taking more of an involvement in the offensive game plan. He certainly has the tools to strike the big play, whether it be as a runner or a receiving threat out of the backfield. McKnight certainly seems poised for a breakout season, and 1,000 total yards from scrimmage should be fairly attainable for the third year pro.
3.) The WildCat will not be used frequently.False. This story line isn’t going anywhere Jets fans. Tony Sparano is one of the founding fathers of the wildcat offense, and Tim Tebow is the perfect wildcat quarterback. Rex Ryan has already proclaimed that Tebow will likely see up to 20 snaps per game, and based on how he has thrown the ball throughout his young career in a traditional quarterback role, the majority of those 20 plays are going to come out of this formation.
The Jets are no stranger to the wildcat, which was formerly run by Brad Smith, who played quarterback in college at the University of Missouri. However, Tebow is much more athletic, and contrary to popular belief, is a better passer than Smith. Everyone saw how much Rex gloated about the wildcat being used after the Redskins game last season, so expect to see a great amount of this, particularly in short yardage, and goal line situations. If Sparano can stay creative enough with this scheme to keep opposing defenses guessing, combining his intuition with Tebow’s athletic ability could make this a very potent offensive threat.
4.) Wayne Hunter will improve from his poor 2011 performance.Fact. There is certainly a great lack of faith in Hunter among Jets Nation, and for valid reason. Hunter, to put it nicely, was god awful last season. After allowing 11 sacks, along with 32 QB pressures, he certainly has a long way to go before winning over any fans of the green and white. However, with such a horrible performance last season, an improvement is seemingly inevitably. Is it humanly possible that Hunter could play worse than he did last season? I don’t think so.
Hunter will be coming out with a serious chip on his shoulder. Many of his detractors have considered him the worst lineman in the National Football League. However, we must not forget, that before stepping into a full time starting role, Hunter was exceptional as a reserve player. Filling in for Damien Woody in late 2010, Hunter earned himself his current contract with Gang Green, due to the high level of potential he displayed. Hunter is a physical freak, and certainly has a mean streak, as displayed by his on the field altercation with Santonio Holmes last season. Couple these facts with Sparano’s more physical style blocking approach,and Hunter could shock the world in 2012.
It is important to remember that in 2010, the Jets were a physical, smash mouth team. Last season, they seemingly got away from that style of play, focusing on more of a finesse type of offensive blocking scheme. This year, Sparano will bring the Jets offensive line back to where they thrived the most with a tough, man on blocking approach. Hunter will undoubtedly improve from 2011, and could actually surprise many by having an average to decent season as the Jets’ starting Right Tackle.
5.) Dustin Keller will prove to be a solid blocking Tight End under Tony Sparano.False. Keller has succeeded up until this point in his career for his athleticism and receiving skills. In fact, he was drafted so high because of these same attributes, after an impressive career at Purdue, followed by a lights out combine heading into the 2008 NFL Draft. Blocking has never been a strong point in his game, and New York shouldn’t expect that to start anytime soon.
This is not to say Keller will not be a valuable piece in Sparano’s system. In fact, Keller should realistically thrive as a receiving threat under Sparano. Miami Tight End Anthony Fasano had just one career touchdown before falling under the tutelage of his former head coach. Since then, Fasano has reeled in 18 touchdowns. If Sparano can get this type of production out of a one time anemic player at the position, imagine what he can do with an athlete like Keller.
As for the blocking aspect of the tight end position in this system, expect the Jets to closely monitor the development of Hayden Smith. At 6’6″ nearly 260 lbs, Smith certainly has the physical tools to be a great blocker, and his experience as a former rugby player prove that he has the tenacity needed to get in the trenches with some of the toughest defensive lineman in the NFL. What will matter most for Smith is how fast he can pick up this game and prove his worth to the coaching staff before the final roster adjustments need to be made. If he cannot convince them he will be a worthy piece of this offense, expect the Jets to look into free agency for a blocking Tight End, perhaps free agent Visanthe Shiancoe, who at 31 years old, certainly has some good years left in him.
6.) Terrance Ganaway will beat out Bilal Powell as the third RB.Fact. Although Powell may not have gotten the fairest chance to prove himself as a rookie last season (13 car, 21 yards, and a fumble), he does not seem to quite fit in with the direction the Jets are heading offensively. At 5’10” 204 lbs, Powell is a smaller back, who is certainly in no position to beat out Joe McKnight as the home run threat to the rushing attack this season.
Ganaway, on the other hand, fits the bill of the Jets new offensive identity to a T. He is very big at about 6’0″ 240 lbs, and has displayed excellent agility and elusiveness during his time as a Baylor Bear. Coming from Baylor, he has a high level of experience playing in an option type offense, and was seemingly drafted to play a similar role in New York’s wildcat package with Tim Tebow. The Jets certainly seem to have a plan in place for Ganaway, and barring something unforeseen, expect Powell to be on the outside looking in after training camp.
After breaking down the tape, here is how Tony Sparano can get the most out of Mark Sanchez this year
While staff writer Chris Gross has been spending his time in the film room breaking down the New York Jets draft picks, I have spent the bulk of the my time in the film room going back through Mark Sanchez’s first three years as a NFL quarterback. There is no reason to sugarcoat the reality, this is a make or break year for Sanchez. There isn’t a backup quarterback in the NFL breathing heavier down the starter’s neck (for the wrong or right reasons) than Tim Tebow.
Sanchez has had more success in terms of winning football games than any other quarterback in franchise history, outside of Joe Namath. Unfortunately for him, NFL fans and New Yorkers in particular have a short memory. Right now all everybody can remember is Eli Manning hoisting up his second Super Bowl trophy in five years and Sanchez flaming out at the end of last season, most notably against those Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
So for better or worse, Sanchez’s time needs to be now. I have seen every snap he has taken since coming into this league but I wanted to go back to confirm my observations, with a particular focus on his best games and his worst games. What are the elements that went into the game plans that made him successful? What was missing in the games he struggled in? What is the best approach for Tony Sparano and the new offensive staff to take in order to get the most out of their starting quarterback?
Let’s start with a few general observations before getting into a specific games –
Sanchez’s arm strength is not an issue. A common misconception about Sanchez’s game is that he lacks the arm strength to make all the throws necessary in a NFL playbook. He actually throws a very good deep ball when given the opportunity and has zipped plenty of passes into tight windows through bracketed coverage. Brian Schottenheimer did not ask Sanchez to throw outside the hashes a high percentage of the time but he has completed his share of deep outs and comebacks.
He is a very good athlete. Sanchez is more mobile than people give him credit for and has an ability to extend the play. This has been a gift and a curse to him throughout his NFL career, as it has led to big plays and head scratching interceptions.
He throws well on the run/is a good play action quarterback. It is head scratching why Brian Schottenheimer didn’t move the pocket more last season with the Jets suspect line. Sanchez throws very well on the rollout and has consistently succeeded off play action throughout his career.
Coverage/Defense recognition. Many of Sanchez’s interceptions come from him not recognizing a defense properly, most notably not taking into account a defender playing underneath his target in a zone. The only solution to this is film study.
Quick Trigger. When Sanchez is getting poor protection his defensive recognition goes from questionable to non-existent. He will often lock into to his first read and if that isn’t open, look immediately to his check down with an inaccurate pass. There have been times he has extended a play with his legs and created something down field, which is something he needs to do more often. Sanchez also must do better with blitz recognition pre-snap.
Accuracy Inconsistencies. A factor in Sanchez’s low completion percentage throughout his career has been working with a different group of starting receivers every year of his career, including a few who couldn’t get separation. However, he is too often hot/cold when it comes to his accuracy. Sanchez must find a way to break himself out of slumps quicker.
The best stretch of football Sanchez played in his career, came in week 2-4 of the 2010 season. When he posted the following stat lines against his divisional rivals
Week 2 – Vs. New England – 21/30, 220 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
What were the common denominators in these games? Three key things: Dustin Keller, running the football, and limited passing attempts. Keller had 115 yards receiving against New England with a touchdown, 98 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns against Miami, and 28 receiving yards and 2 more touchdowns against Buffalo. An involved Keller means a productive Sanchez.
The Jets ran the ball well in all three games, going for 136 yards, 146 yards and 273 yards respectively. In each game, they averaged well over 4 yards per carry. Finally, they kept Sanchez’s pass attempts at 30 or under. The offense was well balanced but tipped slightly towards running the football.
It is interesting to note that Sanchez had one other very strong stretch in 2010 in week 9-11 that broke with the trends from the earlier stretch.
Week 9 – At Detroit – 22/39, 336 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Week 10 – At Cleveland – 27/44, 299 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Week 11 – Vs. Houston – 22/38, 315 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Note that despite Sanchez playing well, he turned the ball over in every game because his pass attempts went above 30. The Jets also didn’t run the ball as well producing 110 yards, 172 yards and 103 yards respectively and never cracking over 4 yards per carry. The Jets did win all three of these games but all were under extraordinary circumstances against subpar competition.
Sanchez had one last very good stretch of football in 2010, the divisional round against New England and the AFC Championship Game against Pittsburgh, with the best game coming against the Patriots. He went 16/25, for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns. Once again, under 30 attempts and a strong rushing effort (120 yards, 4.1 yard per carry) were present. Keller wasn’t a factor but Jerricho Cotchery filled the safety blanket void by coming up with 96 receiving yards. In the AFC Championship Game, Sanchez did just barely crack 30 attempts, going 20/33 for 233 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs but Keller had 8 receptions.
Looking at 2011, Sanchez didn’t really have a game that touched his stretch early in the 2010 season. He did have a few games that mirrored the middle stretch where he threw the ball a ton, racked up a bunch of passing yards but also turned the ball over. Sanchez threw the ball over 30 times in 10 games and the Jets had a 4-6 record in those contests. He actually threw the ball 35 times or more in 7 games and the team had a 2-5 record when that occurred.
Not surprisingly, his three best games from the standpoint of quarterback rating came when he threw 21 times, 26 times, and 25 times respectively. The running game was good not great in those games but in reality the running game was never great for the Jets last year, which was a major contributor to Sanchez’s and the team’s struggles.
What was most perplexing about last season is that the Jets waited until they had a questionable offensive line to drop Sanchez back at a much higher rate. 35 passes against Baltimore with Colin Baxter and Wayne Hunter starting? 59 passes against the Giants pass rush, with Wayne Hunter still starting? 40 passes in Denver, with yes…Wayne Hunter starting? That is poor coaching and those were three of Sanchez’s worst games last year. As you could imagine, the Jets averaged 75 rushing yards per game in those three losses and Dustin Keller averaged 43 yards receiving and had zero touchdowns.
On top of that, Sanchez was dealing with play calls that forced him to focus seemingly exclusively inside the hashes, where the most possible traffic was. The options on the outside were limited thanks to a sluggish Plaxico Burress and a struggling Santonio Holmes.
When it comes to coaching Sanchez this season, Tony Sparano would be wise to focus on building a reliable, power rushing attack. Ideally, Sanchez should be dropping back 22-28 times per game and be able to take advantage of his play action skills on a big chunk of those pass attempts. He should frequently be moved outside the pocket and Dustin Keller always needs to be a big part of the game plan. Rookie Stephen Hill and second year receiver Jeremy Kerley should help clear more space in the intermediate passing game for him. Finally, Sparano can’t be afraid to let Sanchez throw outside the hashes and down the field.
Without question, one of his biggest challenges will be game planning around the right tackle’s deficiencies, whether it is Wayne Hunter or Vlad Ducasse. If Sparano could protect Sanchez adequately, he has a quarterback more than talented enough to win with.
The New York Jets process of learning Tony Sparano’s new offense officially started today
The headlines surrounding the New York Jets first day of voluntary workouts centered on Santonio Holmes tone with reporters and his entertaining decision to Tweet a picture of himself wearing a shirt that said “captain.” Personally, I couldn’t give a damn if Holmes gave an attitude to reporters and how could you not crack a smile at that picture?
Let’s talk about more important things. In case you haven’t noticed, the Jets roster isn’t going to look much different from last season. They are relying on improvement to come from within and from a new offensive system led by Tony Sparano.
Not only does Sparano have to teach starting quarterback Mark Sanchez a new offense, different from the only one he has ever learned in the NFL, he needs to figure out how to best incorporate Tim Tebow’s Wildcat/Option package. He also needs to help the Jets rediscover their elite power running game, which was absent last year and find a way to hit big plays down the field in the passing game. Should be a busy man, no?
At a minimum, Tebow’s arrival should make the running game more dangerous and dynamic. If designed properly there will be more lanes for Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight from Tebow’s presence under center. Yet, the Jets will need Tebow to not just be their backup quarterback but be a primary ball carrying option. Greene hasn’t proven to be the “bell cow” the team thought he could be and McKnight, despite showing potential, hasn’t shown he is capable of being a 1B option full time.
Basically you are hoping Greene can be a 1A when he has produced like a 1B and that McKnight can be a 1B when he has produced like a backup. If they can both improve and Tebow gives them 5-10 strong carries a game, the Jets have the makings a capable three headed monster running the football. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they spent a late round pick on a running back to compete with Bilal Powell for a roster spot.
In the passing game, Sparano must find a way to compensate for Wayne Hunter or Vladimir Ducasse’s shortcomings at right tackle in pass protection. If the Jets can protect Sanchez, he has the ability to connect on passes down the field and outside of the hashes, areas he rarely had the opportunity to throw to in Brian Schottenheimer’s scheme.
Who will stretch the field? Santonio Holmes isn’t a true vertical receiver. He works better in the intermediate passing game and then making people miss after the catch. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t shake a defender with a double move every now and then, as he did in the Washington game last season on his game winning catch. Chaz Schilens has the top end speed and the size to be a good candidate to run go routes down the sideline, but can he stay healthy and can he produce consistently? Perhaps at a minimum he can give the Jets a Dedric Ward type threat. In 1998, Ward caught only 25 passes but averaged 19.8 yards per catch and hauled in 4 long touchdowns.
Dustin Keller and Jeremy Kerley both have the ability to get down the seam. Yet, with Kerley I would expect him to be used in a Davone Bess type role in Sparano’s offense, working in the slot and primarily in the short passing game. Bess averaged between 10 and 10.5 yards per catch the last four seasons under Sparano.
When it comes to Keller, interestingly enough Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano has averaged more yards per catch in three of the last four seasons. Most people have talked about Sparano using the tight end primarily as a blocker yet he has found ways to create a higher YPC for Fasano, despite him being much less than athletic and versatile than Keller. As we say every year, Keller has the skill set to consistently be a big play weapon. Can Sparano get the most out of him and have him picking up the big chunks of yardage this offense desperately needs?
Despite a lack of depth of receiver, running back, and right tackle, this offense still has talent. It is now up to Sparano to do what Brian Schottenheimer couldn’t, maximize that talent.
Wayne Hunter, Right Tackle – We have already discussed the futility of trading Hunter but apparently a NFC team actually engaged the Jets in discussion for him. I can’t see them finding a willing trade partner, even for a conditional seventh round draft pick. Most likely Hunter will be brought back as a highly paid backup.
Bart Scott, Inside Linebacker – Similar to Hunter, there isn’t going to be much of a market for Scott. Maybe…maybe if a team suffered an injury at linebacker, they’d give up a late round conditional pick for him. However, are the Jets going to hold on to him that long? I can’t see him lasting with the team much longer when he clearly wants more playing time and the Jets aren’t going to give it to him.
Calvin Pace, Outside Linebacker – Pace has a contract that exceeds his actual production but that doesn’t mean he isn’t an effective player, particularly as a run stopper in a 3-4 defense. The Jets would love to dump his hefty contract but whomever they trade him to, would likely want to renegotiate with him first. He is a player they could get some decent value for and might be somebody they need to part with in their quest to fill their long list of needs. They could carry on at outside linebacker by signing Jarret Johnson, bringing back Bryan Thomas on a veteran’s minimum deal and then picking a player like Melvin Ingram in round one.
Mike DeVito, Defensive End – The Jets could save 3 million this year by parting ways with DeVito, a valuable run stopper in the 3-4 defense. Yes, he is a good player and a strong fit in Rex Ryan’s defense but he had issues staying healthy last year as a full time player and the Jets have decent depth behind him with Marcus Dixon, Ropati Pitoitua, and the potential of Kenrick Ellis sliding over for reps as he continues to grow. DeVito would be highly coveted by any team who runs a 3-4 and needs help at defensive end.
Dustin Keller, Tight End – A player who has been good, not great for the Jets and might never get the chance to be great in Tony Sparano’s offensive system. Keller’s skill set, which includes plenty of receiving but not alot of blocking could thrive in the right offense. Would the Jets part with Mark Sanchez’s best friend and a player he has good chemistry with on the field? Probably not but if the right offer comes along that helps them improve safety, offensive tackle, linebacker…they just might.
Antonio Cromartie, Cornerback – In order to improve other parts of their defense, the Jets could look to pick away at one of their strengths at cornerback. Kyle Wilson took positive steps last year and if the right offer came along for Cromartie, wouldn’t you have to consider moving him and giving your previous first round draft pick a chance to start?
TOJ with a 12 pack of thoughts on the Jets most talked about players so far this off-season
March 13th is getting closer by the second, along with the days prior to it which be filled with endless free agency rumors. The dry spot in the NFL schedule is just about done with the combine underway and Rex Ryan giving a quote filled press conference yesterday. Let’s celebrate with a 12 pack of thoughts on the names most frequently being discussed when it comes to the New York Jets off-season these days —
1. Mark Sanchez – Where is he? Well we know he was at a Knicks game last weekend with D’Brickashaw Ferguson. He took the time to tweet Santonio Holmes a Valentine’s Day Card and that he is probably spending some nights with Kate Upton…lucky guy. Regardless, it is time for Sanchez to end his media silence and speak up for himself. I want to hear Sanchez, say “this is my team, the front office can bring in whoever they want to compete with me but I will be starting quarterback and will get this locker room fixed. Me and Santonio have been successful in the past and we will be again. As for my work ethic, I challenge whoever said this about me to show their face because I pride myself on being the first one in the building and the last one out everyday. I expect to see all my skill position players at Jets West in the coming months!”
You can take that verbatim if you want, Mark. Just cite me (@TurnOnTheJets).
2. Peyton Manning – Rex Ryan left the door open yesterday by saying the Jets were open to exploring all opportunities at every position. Listen, the Jets are going to kick the tires on Manning like 26 other teams in the league are, that doesn’t mean he is coming here. I am not sure if he is healthy. I don’t think he wants to play for the Jets and I don’t think it is smart move for this organization. Yet, until he is in a Cardinals or Redskins uniform, we won’t stop hearing about Manning and the Jets.
3. Santonio Holmes – He has sent out a sporadic tweet here and there about being excited for next season, of course followed with the #ToneTime hashtag. Santonio is who he is and that certainly isn’t a captain but at that same certainly the kind of receiver you can win with. He is on the team for the next two years so let’s hope he bounces back and starts playing like the number one receiver we paid him to be.
4. Sione Pouha – The big fella is the only major free agent the Jets have to worry about bringing back. They aren’t going to franchise tag him but are apparently working feverishly to get him under contract before free agency starts. Hopefully, they lock him down to a 2-3 year deal so he can keep anchoring the run defense until Kenrick Ellis is ready.
5. Shonn Greene – Is a lead back? Is he not a lead back? Will the Jets get him support via free agency or the draft? Personally, I am leaning towards thinking he isn’t a true lead back. Yet, the Jets don’t have the means to add a big name at running back. Look for them to add a journeyman veteran like Tim Hightower or Tashard Choice, a mid-round draft pick and then hopefully expand Joe McKnight’s role in the offense.
6. Courtney Upshaw/Melvin Ingram/Trent Richardson/Mark Barron – Popular names being thrown around with the Jets for the upcoming draft. Upshaw is the most ready to contribute 3-4 outside linebacker in the draft, which means if he gets near number 16, Mike T needs to make a move to get him. Ingram has potential but I worry about his migration to the 3-4 system. There is some chatter about Richardson falling a bit now due to his recent surgery. I still don’t think the Jets have a shot at him and that is probably a good thing, I am not sold on the value of first round running backs. Mark Barron would be an ideal addition if the Jets found way to maneuver their picks to get him in the 25-35 range.
7. Bart Scott/Calvin Pace – Also known as “those two slow Jets linebackers who never get to the quarterback.” There are rumors about both of them being cut. I would guess the Jets eat the guaranteed money and cut Scott but hold on to Pace, who is valuable against the run and can be a good secondary pass rushing option. As for the filling the hole at inside linebacker, I wouldn’t be surprised if they handed his role off to Josh Mauga for the time being and spend a middle round pick on one.
8. Jeremy Kerley – A player we are all excited to see in a bigger role next season. A role that could be bigger than expected if the Jets don’t invest in the free agent wide receiver market. TOJ is hoping they take a long look at a player like Robert Meachem or Laurent Robinson but not overly confident that will happen. The Jets could add a cheaper player with deep speed (maybe Harry Douglas of Atlanta?) and then add a draft pick at WR with some size.
9. Every Ex-Jet Imaginable – There is an ongoing infatuation among Jets fans about bringing ex-players back, most notably Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, John Abraham, and Dwight Lowery. Honestly, I do think Braylon makes a good amount of practical sense…I just doubt it happens.
10. Dustin Keller – It is going to be interesting to see how he fits in Tony Sparano’s offense and if the Jets bring in a blocking tight end to pair with him. Expect to see Anthony Fasano in green and white, if he hits the open market.
11. Wayne Hunter – Who are the Jets going to bring it to challenge him for the right tackle position? Vernon Carey seems like a logical move, as does bringing in a draft pick. It is a scary thought to imagine Hunter starting again next year, even if Sparano can protect his deficiencies better.
12. Eric ‘Freaking Smith – How are the Jets going to improve their safety position? They need a complete overhaul, which in my mind is signing a free agent (Reggie Nelson, Tyvon Branch, Michael Griffin are out there), investing a high pick on one and then bringing Jim Leonhard back on a veteran’s minimum deal as insurance. If Eric Smith comes back it has to be in a reserve/situational/special teams role.
Where is Dustin Keller going to fit into Tony Sparano’s offense?
There has been some minor speculation this off-season about the potential of Dustin Keller being traded. Yet, it remains more likely he will remain on the New York Jets roster next season as an integral part of their offense. The question is, how will Tony Sparano use a tight end who is not much of a blocker and has a skill set more suited to being a wide receiver?
First off, the Jets are going to add a blocking tight end after parting ways with Matthew Mulligan (better known as “Holding. Number 82”). If Anthony Fasano gets cut, which seems like a strong possibility, look for the Jets to add him. Fasano or whatever blocking tight end is added is going to have a large role on the offense as a key part of the running game.
Keller is likely to see less reps in the traditional tight end spot. Look for Sparano to have him help fill the gaping hole the Jets currently have at split end by using him both as a H-Back and putting him out wide.
We have discussed the possibility of adding Robert Meachem, Pierre Garcon or Laurent Robinson here. Unfortunately, those three remain fairly long shots. Garcon is likely headed back to Indianapolis, where the Colts have prioritized him over Reggie Wayne. Robinson and Meachem will both be sought after by many teams. Are the Jets and their Ground and Pound approach really going to spend big money on a wide receiver in the free agent market? Beyond that, couldn’t you see them having reservations about coming into this offense, especially with both coming from wide-open passing attacks?
I think it is more likely the Jets will spend a 3rd or 4th round pick on a wide receiver with some size and groom him for the starting spot opposite Santonio Holmes. For the upcoming year, Keller could spend a chunk of reps at receiver, along with Jeremy Kerley taking some reps on the outside, while the rookie is working up to speed.
Tony Sparano is going to look at Dustin Keller and see more of a wide receiver than a tight end, so anticipate him being used that way and for the Jets to spend more money on a free agent tight end than a free agent wide receiver.
Would you consider trading Dustin Keller this off-season? TOJ explores…
Whether there is any validity to the rumors that New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller is on the trade market remains to be seen. Most of the speculation likely stems from the fact that he is entering the final year of his contract and is entering a new offense that may not be an ideal fit for his skill set. Tony Sparano is expected to want a strong blocking tight end and Keller isn’t that and probably never will be. He is at his best when he is being moved around the formation to create mismatches because of his receiving skills.
The Jets have an extensive list of needs on both sides of the football, including right tackle, linebacker, safety, wide receiver, backup quarterback, and running back. A trade of Keller could go a long way to helping fill one of these needs.
All that being said, I do think the speculation about a Keller trade is overstated. When Sparano is breaking down the Jets tape from the past year he is going to see Keller as the Jets most productive and consistent receiver. His versatility can help cover for the deficiencies at wide receiver and are you really going to take away Mark Sanchez’s security blanket and the player he has the best chemistry with? If Sparano is a good coach, he will find a role…a big role for Keller in the Jets offense if he has him on the roster.
Keller isn’t an untouchable player. I would say the Jets only have four of those: Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, David Harris, and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. The right offer for Keller might not be able to be ignored. Would you trade Keller under any circumstance? What would it take for you to move him?
TOJ on the New York Jets who actually lived up to or exceeded expectations this season
Despite many players falling well short of expectations for the New York Jets this past season, not every player had a disappointing year. Here is a look at the guys who carried their weight in 2011 –
Darrelle Revis – The best corner in football played like the best corner football. Beyond being his usual lockdown self, Revis also made a number of big plays that led to victories. The only thing more you’d like to see from him at this point is a more assertive leadership role taken.
David Harris – This was one of the most productive years of his career. Harris is solid in both run and pass defense and remains a key part of the Jets 3-4 scheme.
Kyle Wilson – After a rough rookie season, Wilson took a step towards shedding the “bust” label by having a solid year as the Jets nickel back. I am not sure if he is ready to be a full time starter yet but he is moving in that direction.
Muhammad Wilkerson – The rookie had a good, not great year from start to finish. He started every game, was good against the run, and provided an occasional push against the pass. Look for a big jump from him in year two.
Sione Pouha – Pouha has established himself as one of the best run stopping defensive lineman in the league and took leadership over a position group that overachieved all season.
Marcus Dixon – He has turned into a quality rotational player that did an admirable job filling in for Mike DeVito when he was injured.
Aaron Maybin – The only player this year who provided some kind of a pass rush.
Brandon Moore – A Pro-Bowl caliber guard and a leader in the locker room who did the right thing by standing up to Santonio Holmes criticism of the offensive line earlier in the year.
Nick Mangold – The best center in football, who showed his true value by missing a few games this year.
Dustin Keller – His most productive season and one of the few Jets pass catchers who didn’t mope around at all this year.
Jeremy Kerley – One of the only explosive players on the Jets offense. He showed a ton of potential this year and should be a big part of the offense next season.
Joe McKnight – A Pro-Bowl caliber special teams player, who showed glimpses on offense. Is he ready to be a full time third down back?