Three Game Losing Streak No Stranger To Rex’s Jets

Rex Ryan’s tenure with the New York Jets has been a successful one to date. However, there has always been bumps in the road. Is this recent three game losing streak the biggest bump they have encountered under his leadership?

In 2009, the team started 3-0 and followed with three straight losses. An ugly loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, a last second loss on the road to the Miami Dolphins and then a 5 interception Mark Sanchez performance in an overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills. If you remember at that point, most people were calling for a Sanchez benching and Brian Schottenheimer to be fired. After a win in Oakland, the Jets lost another three straight, falling at home to Miami and Jacksonville and then getting crushed by New England on the road putting their record to 4-6. You can imagine how loud those calls for Sanchez and Schottenheimer’s head were then.

The team did respond in 2009 to win 5 of their last 6 and make the playoffs. In 2010, the Jets didn’t have a 3 game losing streak but did have ugly back to back losses late in the year to New England and Miami. The peaks and valleys have always been present under this regime, which doesn’t make them acceptable but does mean they could be overcome.

We are all fed up with the offense at this point. Sanchez is in his third year and has enough talent around him to put a more consistent product on the field. Some of the blame falls on him. Some falls on Schottenheimer. Some falls on Rex Ryan. Some falls around to the other players on the unit. There is no single culprit. You can run the football, while mixing in a downfield passing attack. It is possible. I am not sure why every other team in the NFL can hit a 15 yard dig route a few times a game, while the Jets may hit it once every 4 games. When is the last time the Jets hit a pass when the ball traveled over 30 yards in the air?

Rex Ryan needs to always be involved on both sides of the football, not just when crisis strikes. He is the head coach, not a glorified defensive coordinator. Brian Schottenheimer needs to run the football 25-30 times a game and still take shots down the field that utilize the Jets weapons. If he can’t do that, turn the offense over to Bill Callahan. Mark Sanchez needs to be more accurate and consistent. The receivers can’t drop passes and the offensive line has to protect Sanchez and get a better push up front. There isn’t an easy answer. The answer is that the entire unit has to get better.

On defense, the Jets aren’t a great unit. They are a good but inconsistent unit. Here it is on Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine to scheme around their deficiencies at safety and linebacker, while hoping somebody like Jamaal Westerman can build on his performance last week.  The Jets need Westerman, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Kyle Wilson to grow up fast in contributing roles. Eric Smith needs to not be on the field on passing downs and instead be replaced by Brodney Pool. Long term, the linebacking core needs more speed, the safety position needs more size and talent, and the defensive line needs more options. Yet, for now they have to work with what they have.

Everything the Jets want is still on the table in front of them. If they win their next two games at home, they have a bye week to prepare for Buffalo and New England in back to back weeks, which will be their last chance to make a move in the AFC East. Otherwise the rest of the year will be a scrap to stay around .500 and hope for a break in the wild-card race.

Preliminary Thoughts: Jets vs. Raiders

The New York Jets have their first road game of the 2011 season this Sunday when they face the 1-1 Oakland Raiders. In their last trip out to Oakland in 2009, the Jets rolled to a 38-0 win, however that had a large part to do with JaMarcus Russell being under center. Oakland has since improved but is coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Buffalo Bills, where they allowed a massive second half comeback led by Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson.

On offense, Oakland begins and ends with Darren McFadden. Jason Campbell is a decent quarterback and rookie wide receiver Denarius Moore had an incredible game last week. Yet, a Campbell/Moore combination doesn’t do much in the face of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Rex Ryan blitzes. The Raiders best chance lies in a huge day from McFadden both running and catching the ball out of the backfield. On defense, the Jets may want to consider having a safety like Brodney Pool shadow McFadden out of the backfield, so he can avoid being matched up on a linebacker.

The Raiders are solid on defense but are clearly missing Nnamdi Asomugha, as they were carved apart by Fitzpatrick last week and couldn’t cover Stevie Johnson or David Nelson. Fred Jackson was also able to pile up well over 100 yards on their rush defense, which looked terrific the week before against Denver. But then again, doesn’t everybody look great stopping the run versus Denver? Mark Sanchez should be able to move the football, even with the absence of All-Pro center Nick Mangold.

In order to protect rookie Colin Baxter, who will be starting in Mangold’s place. The Jets must implement a high amount of quick passes to the outside. Get the ball in the hands of Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress in space, as both should have mismatches this week. Dustin Keller should also be a major factor in the short/intermediate passing game. The Jets can also help Baxter by shifting their rushing attack to the outside, which could lead to an increased use of 2nd year back Joe McKnight and hopeful Brad Smith clone, Jeremy Kerley.

Jets/Jaguars Final Updates

Inactives: Kevin O’Connell, Logan Payne, Emmanuel Cook, Bilal Powell, Rob Turner, Caleb Schlauderaff, Kenrick Ellis

No real surprises here. The good news is that Santonio Holmes and Eric Smith are both active and expected to start. Let’s hope Holmes is doing the smart thing by not resting today with games against Baltimore and New England on the horizon.

By the way, that Jason Hill scrub is inactive for Jacksonville.

Thoughts On New York Jets 2011-2012 Captains

Rex Ryan has recently named the five Jets captains for the 2011-2012 season, he came to the decision on his own as it wasn’t based on a team vote, which is a more traditional method of selecting them. Here a few quick thoughts on the five:

Darrelle Revis – This was no surprise as Rex Ryan had mentioned making Revis a captain of the defense over the off-season. He is the unit’s and the team’s best player and has done a terrific job mentoring second year player Kyle Wilson. Revis is obviously the kind of player the Jets want to keep around for the long haul, so it makes sense entrenching him as a captain. He is one of the faces of the franchise and of course has one of the better nicknames in team history.

Mark Sanchez – Another no brainer, as Sanchez has truly embraced a leadership role and taken over the offense in the past year. One of the main reasons the Jets moved up to get him in the first round a few years ago was because of that leadership and “it” factor, which he has demonstrated throughout his brief career. His continued improvement this year will go a long way to determine if the Jets can get over the hump and finally reach a Super Bowl.

Eric Smith – Considering the team needed a special teams captain, this makes plenty of sense. Without Brad Smith around, Eric Smith is clearly the team’s top all around special teams player, although as a starting safety you have to wonder if the team is going to stretch him thin by having him on too many units. There is going to be a high amount of turnover on all of the units this year, so having Smith as a strong leader will only help Mike Westhoff breaking in new players to new roles.

Sione Pouha – Considering how young the defensive line has quickly become, Pouha has emerged as a vocal leader of the group and took the initiative to put together off-season workouts for the unit. The Jets need Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis to grow up quickly, and Pouha will go a long way to helping that process. It has been nice to see how far Pouha has came in the past few years. He was terrific filling in for Kris Jenkins in 2009 and 2010, and has developed into one of the better nose tackles in the league.

Santonio Holmes – Maybe the most surprising decision, as Holmes is only entering his second season as a Jet and has a history of off the field problems. Yet, considering how much they just invested on him for a long term deal and how he is one strike away from a season long suspension this is a smart move to show how much the organization values and expects out of him. He is now the leader of the receiver group and needs to develop into Mark Sanchez’s security blanket, on top of being a big play threat.

Ryan could have easily picked David Harris and Nick Mangold over Pouha and Holmes, yet linebacker and offensive line are solid, veteran positions on the Jets roster. The defensive line and wide receiving group are areas that need leadership and clearly Ryan thinks Pouha and Holmes can provide that.

Despite One Loss, New York Jets Put Together Strong Off-Season

Prior to the past week’s free agency frenzy starting, we knew the following, whether you wanted to believe it or not –

  • The Jets prioritized Santonio Holmes well ahead of Braylon Edwards
  • The Jets needed a number two cornerback
  • Brad Smith wasn’t coming back
  • Their remaining group of veteran free agents would be a toss up on who stayed and left

Nnamdi Asomugha was a long shot who stormed out of nowhere to become a reality that quickly captivated Jets fans and their free agency coverage, and why wouldn’t he as the top player on the market? The contenders for his services began to drop off making it look like Asomugha ending up on the Jets was a sure thing.

We obviously know what happened. He shocked everybody by choosing the Philadelphia Eagles. Was it a stinging loss? Yes. Was it a death blow to the Jets free agency plans this off-season? Absolutely not. Asomugha was a luxury. Your off-season isn’t a failure if you can’t land both the best offensive free agent, which the Jets did in Santonio Holmes, and the best defensive free agent. Your team isn’t not a Super Bowl contender because they don’t have the two best corners in football on their team, especially when you still have arguably the best tandem in the league.

In the end, the Jets got Antonio Cromartie back on a reasonable contract and did keep that best tandem of corners in the league together. They did the right thing by bringing back Santonio Holmes over Braylon Edwards and suffered the obvious but necessary consequences of seeing Edwards and Brad Smith leave. Fortunately, there isn’t a gaping hole opposite Holmes as the Jets found a cheaper, short term alternative in Plaxico Burress, who does come with plenty of questions but also with plenty height, experience and talent.

Drew Coleman left but Donald Strickland was signed and if he is healthy can be a more than adequate replacement, never mind the hopeful improvement of 2010 first round pick Kyle Wilson. Eric Smith and Wayne Hunter were brought back to start at safety and right tackle, respectively. Were Brodney Pool and Damien Woody better options? Maybe, but the gap isn’t substantial enough to expect a major drop off at either position. When you throw in the expected return of Shaun Ellis and James Ihedigbo, along with the potential addition of another outside linebacker it is looking like another strong off-season for the Jets led by Mike Tannenbaum.

Is the team better on paper than it was last year? Probably not, but the potential is there for it to be substantially better especially if players like Kyle Wilson, Jamaal Westerman and Joe McKnight bring something to the table this year and the Jets get contributions out of rookies like Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, and Jeremy Kerley. Never mind the continued growth of quarterback Mark Sanchez.

With a few minor moves left to finish up, the Jets are still a Super Bowl contender and will be a handful for any team to deal with on both sides of the ball. If you don’t think they have something good going on in Florham Park, you’ll have to explain why Bart Scott and Calvin Pace restructured their contracts, LaDainian Tomlinson took a pay cut, Mark Sanchez volunteered to restructure his contract, Santonio Holmes took less money to stay here, and Plaxico Burress came here despite likely being able to get a better deal somewhere else.

Yes, I know Jason Taylor did leave for the Dolphins…but hey, we never liked him anyway.

NFL Free Agency 2011: New York Jets Day Three Primer

And the madness continues…

– The most encouraging thing to start your day: How about this Tweet from Adam Schefter:

Jets are more than $10 million UNDER salary cap, according to two NFL capologists. Might make the Jets the favorite to land Nnamdi Asomugha.”

Mike Tannenbaum how do you do it? If the Jets don’t land Asomugha, you would think they still have a good shot to bring back Antonio Cromartie or at least another veteran to compete with Kyle Wilson like Chris Carr. It seems to sound like Asomugha will reach a decision in the next day or two between the Jets, 49ers, and Texans and after him the rest of the cornerback dominoes will fall.

– The Denver Broncos are reportedly interested in Eric Smith but the Jets are going to make a strong effort to retain him. Drew Coleman is also continuing to receive interest from a handful of other teams. I am surprised we haven’t heard more about Brodney Pool yet.

– Considering Sidney Rice has signed with Seattle and Steve Breaston signed with Kansas City, you have to think a move for Braylon Edwards is coming soon for some team. I wouldn’t completely write the Jets off because if they can’t secure Asomugha, maybe they will look back towards Edwards but it does seem highly unlikely at this point that he will be back.

2011 NFL Free Agency: New York Jets Day Two Primer

Let’s get right to it

The only official move the Jets have made so far is resigning right tackle Wayne Hunter to a 4 year, 13 million dollar deal. It is also being reported that in conjunction with this move Damien Woody has retired.

– The Washington Redskins have resigned Santana Moss to a 3 year, 15 million dollar deal and just signed Donte Stallworth to a one year deal. This would seem to indicate they have less money to throw at Santonio Holmes, but you never know with Daniel Snyder.

– Speaking of Holmes, Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger is reporting the Jets have made a formal contract offer to him. ESPN’s Rich Cimini has also followed up today that it is likely Holmes will end up staying in New York.

– Manish Mehta of The Daily News is reporting cornerback Drew Coleman is likely to leave via free agency.

– It is being widely reported that wide receiver Brad Smith will likely sign with the Chicago Bears today.

– ESPN’s Rich Cimini is reporting the Jets are pursuing outside linebacker Antwan Barnes and cornerback Drayton Florence.

– It is widely being reported the Jets are making a strong push to bring safety Eric Smith back. We haven’t heard anything about Brodney Pool yet.

– And now the biggest news, the Nnamdi Asomugha to the Jets talk is heating up by the second. After The Star-Ledger reported yesterday the team made formal contact with him, the NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi has stated today “I keep hearing from well place reliable NFL source that this Jet talk and Nnamdi Asomugha is serious, and I mean serious.”

We can only imagine the smile on Rex’s face.

TOJ Free Agency Link Dump: Flip Flopping On Cromartie

Throughout the off-season, I have been adamant about the importance of the New York Jets re-signing Antonio Cromartie and I still believe from a football perspective it is the right move. He fits well in the system opposite Darrelle Revis and is a better option than any one available in free agency (not counting Nnamdi Asomugha who the Jets can’t afford) and Kyle Wilson. However, it is hard not to get the impression that he is going to receive an offer from another team too pricey for the Jets to match or exceed.

His recent comments to Adam Schein indicate he will be waiting to see how much Nnamdi Asomugha is paid before making a decision, making it impossible for the Jets to lock him down in their window of exclusivity. He will also be offering no type of hometown discount to the Jets and appears anxious to explore what other teams will offer…despite the Jets fronting him $500,000 last year for child support problems he was having. Perhaps Rex Ryan’s love of corners and his defense will make him a high enough priority to receive a big contract from Mike Tannenbaum, but the momentum appears to be going the other way, especially if the Redskins drive up the price for Santonio Holmes who is a higher priority for the Jets, leaving less money to sign Cromartie.

For further thoughts on Cromartie and Jets free agency from myself and others, track the SB Nation New York stream.

A good piece expressing frustration with Cromartie from Jeff Capellini over at CBS/WFAN

Anybody care to explain to me how Santonio Holmes is a better fit in Washington than he is in New York?

Any of these potential free agents interest you on the Jets defense? I am sure Joey Porter’s name will get thrown around with the Jets if he gets released.

Eric Smith would be a cheaper alternative to bring back at safety than Brodney Pool.

If you didn’t see this yet, have a laugh at the expense of the Miami Dolphins.

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New York Jets Free Agency: The Other Guys

There has been no shortage of talk about the appropriate fates in free agency for Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Antonio Cromartie, and Brad Smith…but what about the other unrestricted free agents the New York Jets have to make decisions on?

Shaun Ellis – Personally, I think it is a smart investment to bring Ellis back on a one or two year deal to help him mentor rookie Muhammad Wilkerson. He is also a leader in the locker room who clearly has plenty left in tank, as evidenced by his performance against New England in the playoffs last year. Unfortunately, I could see the Jets not matching his contract demands, especially after his request for a restructured deal last season didn’t happen.

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets let him walk.

Brodney Pool – He came on strong at the end of last year and finally began to look like the playmaker the Jets signed him to be. Pool should command a good amount of interest in the open market, so it will be up to the Jets to determine how much of an upgrade he is over Eric Smith.

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets bring him back.

Trevor Pryce – Rex Ryan compared Muhammad Wilkerson to a young Trevor Pryce and he would be a cheaper, although less productive, mentor to the rookie than Shaun Ellis. I could very easily see the Jets choosing to bring him back over Ellis in order to save money.

  • TOJ Votes – Let him walk.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets bring him back.

Tony Richardson – Likely to retire and if he decides not to, the Jets aren’t going to bring him back considering they have John Conner ready to step into the starting role.

  • TOJ Votes – Retire T-Rich, you had a great career.
  • TOJ Predicts – T-Rich retires.

Steve Weatherford – Despite an inconsistent performance in the playoffs, Weatherford was still pretty good overall last year, especially at pinning teams deep. Considering the musical chairs they played at punter before Weatherford, I think the Jets will bring him back…besides, who else is bringing the shake weights to camp?

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets bring him back.

Wayne Hunter – Originally it looked like he could compete with Vladimir Ducasse for the starting right tackle spot. I now think because of the lockout, the Jets will opt to bring Damien Woody back and have Ducasse spend a year learning behind him at the position, which likely means good-bye to Hunter.

  • TOJ Votes – Let him walk, spend the money on Woody instead.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets let him walk.

Lance Laury – A special teamer, who was fairly quiet on special teams for the Jets last season. However, they are very thin at linebacker.

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets let him walk to give more of a chance to players like Josh Mauga.

Eric Smith – A versatile safety, who is also very good at special teams. The Jets will ultimately have to choose between him and Brodney Pool and I think Pool projects better as a starter opposite Jim Leonhard.

  • TOJ Votes – Let him walk.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets let him walk.

Drew Coleman – Struggles in coverage, but he is a playmaker at the nickel back position. The decision on Antonio Cromartie could go a long way to determining his fate. He isn’t helped by the fact that the coaching staff likely wants to give more reps to Kyle Wilson, who was a first round pick last year.

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets let him walk to give Kyle Wilson and Marquice Cole more playing time.

James Ihedigbo – An effective blitzer in many of the Jets packages and a good special teams player, who seems to be a Rex Ryan guy.

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets bring him back.

Nick Folk – Inconsistent at times last year but I don’t see the Jets just handing the job off to Nick Novak.

  • TOJ Votes – Bring him back.
  • TOJ Predicts – Jets bring him back.

As for Kellen Clemens, I think we all know he is gone. Perhaps if Justin McCariens didn’t have a bad day back in 2007, things would have went differently…

TOJ As Tannenbaum: Free Agent Decisions For New York Jets

I am trying to be an optimist with this whole lockout thing, so if free agency does actually start some time in the next month here is TOJ sitting in the big chair as Mike Tannenbaum and making personnel decisions for the Jets this off-season:

1. Sign Santonio Holmes to a long term deal – Yes, this will likely mean the end of Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith’s stay in New York but in the long run making sure Holmes remains a Jet is the right decision. He is a uniquely gifted and clutch playmaker who can change a game at any second.

2. Sign Antonio Cromartie to a long term deal – You need a consistent, athletic corner opposite Darrelle Revis. Antonio Cromartie handled the job well last season. He is already familiar with the defense and it is too risky to hand the starting job over to Kyle Wilson or a free agent. If the Jets want a bigger role for Wilson in year two, they should let Drew Coleman walk.

3. Bring back Damien Woody – Don’t risk the right tackle spot to Vladimir Ducasse after he didn’t have a proper off-season. Let him spend a full year learning behind Woody at the position and have him take over next year. Wayne Hunter will likely walk in free agency if this happens but the Jets should at least make sure they bring back the versatile Robert Turner for depth.

4. Bring back Shaun Ellis – He is a longest tenured player on the team, a leader on the defense and would be a perfect mentor to Muhammad Wilkerson. The Jets should be able to work a short term deal to allow him to retire in green and white.

5. Bring back Brodney Pool – Pool began to develop into the playmaker most of us thought he would be at the end of last season. With a year of this system under his belt, he should flourish in his second year. Eric Smith likely won’t be back if this happens, but if the Jets can bring back James Ihedigbo and if a young player like Emmanuel Cook steps up, their depth should be fine.

6. Veteran Stopgap Receiver – We all have heard all kinds of name thrown around but if Braylon Edwards leaves, I expect the Jets to sign either Randy Moss or Plaxico Burress. Personally, I would sign Burress to a short, incentive-laden deal. He is a more physical player that should be able to do many of the things Edwards did for the Jets offense last season.

7. Linebacker Depth – The Jets need to add another linebacker to their depth chart, whether it requires bringing Jason Taylor back or signing somebody on the cheap like Matt Roth.