New York Jets: Last Second Free Agency Considerations

TOJ with some last second considerations for the New York Jets on the first day of free agency

The NFL free agency floodgates open at 4 PM today. Here are a few last minute thoughts related to the New York Jets before anything can become official later this afternoon –

1. Jamaal Westerman, Matthew Mulligan, and Marquice Cole weren’t tendered, leaving them unrestricted free agents. Mulligan is a goner, which is a good thing unless you are in favor of penalty yardage. Rex Ryan is a big Cole fan and he is a very good special teams player, so I would expect the Jets to make a strong push to resign him. Westerman could probably go either way, I am sure Greg Schiano will want to bring his former college player in for a visit to Tampa Bay. How hard the Jets work to bring him back, will likely depend on their luck bringing in other linebackers in free agency.

2. Bryan Thomas gave an interview yesterday to Jenny Vrentas of The Star Ledger about his desire to return to the team. It makes sense for the Jets to monitor his progress rehabbing from his injury last year and then consider bringing back on a veteran’s minimum deal. Thomas is a good fit in Rex Ryan’s defense and is stout against the run. If Thomas comes back healthy, they could sign Jarret Johnson and spend a first round pick on a player like Courtney Upshaw, Melvin Ingram or Andre Branch, it gives them leverage to move Calvin Pace in a trade.

3. If the Jets are looking improve wide receiver through free agency, they’d be wise to make a strong push to sign former San Francisco 49ers receiver Josh Morgan, who likely won’t be brought back now that the team has signed Randy Moss. Morgan will likely come much cheaper than Laurent Robinson or Robert Meachem, but could have way more upside.

4. I still remain hopeful the Jets will seek out Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson, particularly if they can’t sign Jameel McClain. It is hard to feel comfortable cutting Bart Scott until you sign a viable replacement. It certainly didin’t look like Josh Mauga was ready to be a full time starter last year.

5. It will be interesting to see who the Jets get after first later today. I can’t see any fathomable reason for them not to redirect any previous plans and shift their primary focus to Eric Winston but you easily them focusing on players with a history with their coaching staff out of the gate like Chad Henne, Ronnie Brown, Vernon Carey, Jarret Johnson, and Jameel McClain.

New York Jets: Westerman Provides Shot In Arm To Linebackers

Jamaal Westerman provided much needed speed and playmaking ability to the outside linebacker position for the New York Jets on Sunday

The New York Jets have missed outside linebacker Bryan Thomas since his season ending injury in week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens. It has been clear the impact Aaron Maybin has provided to the Jets. Yet, he isn’t a traditional outside linebacker and is used specifically as a pass rusher, primarily out of a sprinter’s stance on the defensive line. The carousel of players attempting to replace Thomas began with Jamaal Westerman, then moved to Josh Mauga, and most recently to Garrett McIntyre.

After failing to lock down the job in his first attempt, Westerman replaced a benched McIntyre in the base defense starting in the second half against Washington. He responded with 5 tackles, a sack, and 2 tackles for a loss. It wasn’t his first batch of impact plays in the 2011 season, as he has 3.5 sacks so far and forced a safety against New England a few weeks back.

Despite lacking size, Westerman provides much needed speed to a painfully slow linebacker group. He also looked much improved against the run in the second half versus Washington. Perhaps he realizes that if he doesn’t make an impact in these final stretch of games, he may never get the chance again to be an impact player on this defense.

Prior to the year, Ryan dubbed Westerman his DPR or “Designated Pass Rusher” but it has been Maybin who has taken over that title, literally. He was announced in the starting line-up at the Jets/Pats game as it. With likely another shot at the starting outside linebacker spot, Westerman has a chance to still develop into the impact player the coaching staff envisioned him as.

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Young Pups Could Lead To Big Second Half For New York Jets Defense

TOJ on the development of the younger players on the New York Jets defense and how it could lead to a second half improvement

The New York Jets defense has problems and shortcomings, as any unit in the NFL does. However, thanks to Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine’s ability to gameplan on a weekly basis they can still come up with big time performances, which will allow the Jets to remain a playoff contender throughout the rest of the year.

One of the other reasons for optimism with the Jets defense in their final nine games is the development of their young players.

Let’s start with the defensive line, which has quickly been rebuilt for the long haul. First round draft pick Muhammad Wilkerson has put together a strong start to the year, particularly with his showings against Jacksonville, Baltimore, and San Diego. Third round pick Kenrick Ellis has shown potential in his limited role and should get more reps as the season moves on. Beyond that both Ropati Pitoitua and Marcus Dixon are quality rotational players to support Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito, who should still have their best years in front of them.

At linebacker, the Jets are sorely lacking speed. Josh Mauga and Jamaal Westerman are platooning as replacements for Bryan Thomas at outside linebacker and both have taken their lumps. Yet, Westerman has shown some of the pass rush ability the coaching staff has talked up with 2.5 sacks and Mauga should get better as the season progresses. Beyond that, Aaron Maybin has been a revelation with 3 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in only four games with very limited reps. His role will continue grow and he just may be the double digit sack guy the Jets have been looking for.

In the secondary, outside of Darrelle Revis putting together another monster season the most encouraging thing has been the growth of Kyle Wilson. The Jets 2010 first round pick is substantially improved in his second year and is turning into a very good nickel back, which is a key spot in Ryan’s defense.

In the long term, the Jets will need more young talent, particularly at safety and linebacker. However, they do have enough this year to make that run Rex Ryan talked about in his most recent press conference.

New York Jets Monday Notes – Bryan Thomas Done For Season

A round-up of Jets headlines today —

1. As expected, Bryan Thomas is out for the year with a torn Achilles. It sounds like the Jets will use a committee of Jamal Westerman, Aaron Maybin, Josh Mauga, and Garret McIntyre to replace him. Thomas is a valuable player who does a lot of the dirty work on the defense, but this was likely his last year with the team anyway. Let’s hope one of these young players can step up.

2. The Jets are considering signing tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, who I will just call “Manu” from now on. They could use him as a hybrid tight end/tackle to provide extra blocking…since Wayne Hunter is pretty damn awful.

3. Rex Ryan proclaimed the Jets would return to their Ground and Pound roots from now on. Considering they have 92 carries for 284 yards this season, I will believe it when I see it. However, it should at least help keep Mark Sanchez somewhat more safe and allow their defense to keep them in games.

4. No grade report, because it is all F’s for the offense and all A’s for the defense. No final thoughts on Jets/Ravens tomorrow because this team needs to bury this game and move forward. It is New England week.

Final Thoughts On Jets/Raiders

Game MVP – LaDainian Tomlinson, who ripped apart the Oakland defense as a receiver out of the backfield. For the second year in a row he is off to a very strong start.

Game Goat – Antonio Cromartie…the feast or famine act is growing old very quickly.

Play of the Game – Cromartie’s muffed kick is where the game went down the toilet. Fortunately, I can’t find a YouTube video link of it because I don’t want to see it again.

Trending Up

  • LaDainian Tomlinson – The Jets most consistent playmaker on offense through three weeks.
  • Plaxico Burress – He is still a match-up nightmare when given the chance.
  • Derrick Mason – Finished with 6 receptions and a handful of huge third down conversions.
  • Colin Baxter – Held his own in his first NFL start.

Trending Down

  • Wayne Hunter – A weekly regular in this category.
  • Antonio Cromartie – A lung injury could keep him out this week.
  • Santonio Holmes – Not necessarily on him but Jets must do a better job of getting #10 involved.
  • Bart Scott/ Calvin Pace/Bryan Thomas/David Harris – Not a pretty week for the Jets highly touted LBs.

1. I said before this game that the only way the Jets would lose is if they laid a complete egg. They found a way to do that in spectacular fashion for a key stretch of the game that put them in too big of a hole to climb out of. Penalties, turnovers, and missed tackles equal losses. It happens in the NFL. Too many people are making broad proclamations about the implications of this game as I will get into later today.

2. Jamaal Westerman is not an answer as a pass rusher. This team has to stop procrastinating each off-season when it comes to adding a player who can get after the quarterback.

3. Look for more Joe McKnight on kick return, especially if Antonio Cromartie will be nursing an injury. If Cromartie can’t play on defense, Kyle Wilson will likely get the start. He will get quite the chance for redemption after his rough season opener against the Baltimore Ravens in 2010.

TJ reviews his top five from the game

NFL Week 3 highlights

Grading Out Jets/Raiders

Check out the week 3 video recap

Quarterback (B-) – One of the best statistical days of Mark Sanchez’s career (27/43, 369 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 1 rushing TD) wasn’t one of his best overall games. He had a killer turnover and missed a few big throws, most notably a 4th and 2 slant to Plaxico Burress. He is also taking a beating behind his offensive line which continues to struggle which appears to be rattling him a little bit.

Running Backs (A) – LaDainian Tomlinson with 154 total yards and a touchdown gave one of his best performances in a Jets uniform. Shonn Greene also showed signs of life with 106 total yards. The Jets seemed to find something by running the football to the outside.

Wide Receivers (B) – Derrick Mason had his best game as a Jet with 6 receptions for 45 yards. Plaxico Burress made plays when given the chance and the offense did a poor job of getting Santonio Holmes involved as he finished with only 1 reception. Jeremy Kerley lost yardage on his first Wildcat snap of the season and Patrick Turner had a drop.

Tight Ends (D) – Jeff Cumberland and Matthew Mulligan both dropped touchdown passes. Cumberland is also now out for the year with a torn Achilles, taking away a promising part of the Jets passing attack. Dustin Keller had another solid day with 87 yards receiving.

Offensive Line (D) – Do they realize if Mark Sanchez gets hurt who the backup is? The only positive I can take away is that rookie center Colin Baxter held his own. Wayne Hunter looks clueless. Brandon Moore could still be feeling the effects of off-season hip surgery. It isn’t pretty right now.

Defensive Line (C) – A quiet day and they didn’t do enough to stop the run.

Linebackers (D) – No pressure and way too many missed tackles. Honestly, they looked slow out there and by the way Jamaal Westerman is not an adequate answer as a pass rusher.

Secondary (D) – The Cromartie curve ruins the grade for the whole unit. I know some of those penalties were awful calls but on the whole it was a terrible day for him. Darrelle Revis was himself. The safeties didn’t make an impact except in the missed tackle category.

Special Teams (D) – Cromartie curve. Considering his lung injury look for more Joe McKnight on kick return. Jeremy Kerley was terrific on punt returns.

Coaching (D) – No sufficient second half adjustments from the defense and a lack of preparation on the final drive both contributed to the loss. The Jets should have been kicking a field goal and then attempting an onside kick on the final drive, not going for it on 4th down.

Jets vs. Jaguars: Game Breakdown

Offense: For the second week in a row the Jets are facing a defense that will be more susceptible to the pass than the run. Jacksonville is solid up front and won’t be easy to run the football on. However, that doesn’t mean the Jets need to be dropping Mark Sanchez back 44 times in this game. You would like to see them try to establish some type of balance and get Shonn Greene rolling with some type of confidence. The Jets are going to have favorable match-ups in the passing game that will be there to exploit, but being able to create the threat of the run will only open that up more.

Sanchez needs to do a better job of protecting the football this week and getting the offense off to a quick start. He can contribute to that by getting Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller involved early.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joe McKnight get a few reps on offense this week, along with Jeremy Kerley maybe getting a longer look. The Jets are going to show the Wildcat at some point and using Kerley and McKnight in the backfield together could be a good way to break through against the Jaguars tough front seven.

Also keep an eye out for former Jets defensive backs Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman, who both have quickly picked up large roles on the Jacksonville defense. Coleman had a sack last week and Lowery recorded an interception.

Defense: Jacksonville is lacking on major offensive threats in a big way. Maurice Jones-Drew is a beast but if the Jets can contain him, which they are equipped to do, Jacksonville doesn’t have many options to turn to. Mercedes Lewis is a very good tight end who would have the ability to gash a Jets defense that struggles to stop his position but he isn’t expected to play on Sunday. Their top two receivers, Mike Thomas and Jason Hill, shouldn’t be able to get free on Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Yet, let’s hope Cromartie is motivated to return with a strong game after a weak opening performance.

The Jets took the time to look at multiple pass rushers on the free agent market this week, including Tully Banta-Cain. It Is time for Jamaal Westerman to break through and make a statement if he wants to be a major part of this defense moving forward. I would also like to see Muhammad Wilkerson come up with an impact play or two. Jacksonville will be running right into the teeth of the Jets defense early and often, so Wilkerson should be able to fill up the stat sheet a little bit.

Luke McCown is going to be asked to manage the game and not make any turnovers. If the Jets can establish an early lead, they should tee off on McCown who is lacking in experience. I simply can’t see him being able to find open receivers down the field with a myriad of Jets blitzes coming at him.

Special Teams: It was hard not to be very impressed with both Nick Folk and TJ Conley last week. Let’s hope they can keep it up and maintain some degree of consistency. Mike Westhoff said this week Antonio Cromartie is going to handle the majority of kick return duties, with Joe McKnight occasionally spelling him. Cromartie has the natural ability to be one of the league’s best returners but he needs to refrain from trying those 109 yard returns. Jeremy Kerley will continue to handle punt return duties and did a nice job fielding the ball last week.

New York Jets: Pass Rush Needs To Shine Sunday Night

Rex Ryan prides himself on his defense, in particular he prides himself on the ability to confuse and get after the quarterback. On Sunday night, he will be facing a quarterback who missed the majority of last season with an injury and an offensive line starting two rookies and a center with one career NFL start.

If Ryan wants to stop hearing questions about his pass rush. If Calvin Pace wants to stop hearing about when he will finally break through and put up a double digit sack season. If Jamaal Westerman wants to answer the skepticism about him being the team’s designated pass rusher…Sunday is a hell of an opportunity to make a statement.

There is no excuse for the Jets to not constantly be in the face on Tony Romo and knocking him to the ground. Despite being a playmaker, Romo is prone to making a handful of poor decisions a game that can result in turnovers. The pass rush should be able to both sack him and force a few passes that should be intercepted.

The top two pass rushers on the team are supposed to be Pace and Westerman. This is the first time in two years Pace will be on the field week one and he can get a jump on a breakout season by turning in a big performance Sunday night. Westerman has proven nothing as a defensive player at this level and needs to make a few plays to demonstrate he has the ability to be a pass rush specialist on this defense. Ryan will also be sending his defensive backs at the quarterback as usual, so players like Kyle Wilson, Donald Strickland, and Eric Smith need to take advantage of their blitzes.

A great defense takes advantage of an offensive line with such a lack of experience. Let’s see if the Jets will take a first step towards being that great defense this year.

Five New York Jets In Need Of A Big Game

In some situations it isn’t a big deal for a player to have a quiet pre-season but for the following players, it is time to put together a big performance to assert themselves as key parts of the team in 2011 –

5. Scotty McKnight – He is looking more and more like a practice squad player. The bottom line is that Patrick Turner offers more as a receiver and Logan Payne offers more on special teams. McKnight is going to need a big night on both offense and specials the next two pre-season games to have a chance at making the final roster.

4. Vladimir Ducasse – He is another poor performance away from the Jets signing a veteran offensive lineman and burying him on the depth chart. The 6th lineman on the Jets roster gets a decent amount of action as an extra tight end or tackle in certain running packages. Saturday is the time for Ducasse to show the coaching staff he can at least handle being the top backup for now.

3. Muhammad Wilkerson – The Jets first round pick has put together a solid overall camp. Yet, heading into the year as a full time starter it would be good for his confidence to come up with a tackle for a loss, a sack, or even just a couple of quarterback pressures. The more confident he goes into the season, the better, because he will be playing major reps right from the get go.

2. Shonn Greene – Despite looking good in his only pre-season game so far against the Texans, Greene could use a quality 8-12 carries with a good average behind his starting offensive line to head into the season with the proper momentum. There is no reason he can’t be a 1,200 yard back in this offense.

1. Jamaal Westerman – Rex Ryan called him his “designated pass rusher” early in training camp. Yet, how does a designated pass rusher in a Ryan defense not get near the quarterback in two straight pre-season games? I do think Westerman has the potential to be a big factor on this defense but he needs to come up with a play or two Saturday afternoon. If Aaron Maybin makes an impact against the Giants, he could begin pushing Westerman for reps.

What We Need To See From New York Jets Starters On Saturday

The New York Jets starters are going to play into the third quarter this Saturday night against the Giants. Considering that this will be their last major tune-up before the regular season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, what are a few things we should to hope to see from the starters and top reserves?

Offensively, the consistency needs to improve, particularly in the red-zone and on third downs. Mark Sanchez has looked very good this pre-season but I’d like to see him be more accurate on third down situations and also take a few more shots down the field. Shonn Greene missed last week, so it is important for him to get 8-12 carries and put a solid performance under his belt. This is also the first time the entire starting offensive line will play together, so even though they are experienced , they will need to work out any kinks since they won’t see any kind of extended action again before the opener.

On defense, the pass rush still needs to kick into gear. Muhammad Wilkerson, Calvin Pace, and Jamaal Westerman in particular need to get after Eli Manning. In the secondary, Kyle Wilson needs to be able to handle either Domenick Hixon or Victor Cruz in the slot, while Darrelle Revis should get a good test against Hakeem Nicks. Bart Scott will be back on the field after missing last week and I can already see him and Brandon Jacobs yapping at each other.

On special teams, it will be interesting to see if one of the kickers can finally pull ahead. It has been a back and forth battle so far between Nick Folk and Nick Novak. It looks like TJ Conley will probably end up being the punter and Jeremy Kerley will be the primary kick and punt returner.

Most importantly, the Jets need to leave this game healthy. All you have to do is look at how banged up the Giants have gotten this pre-season to be grateful that the Jets haven’t suffered any major injuries.

Of course, it would also be nice to see Plaxico Burress score a touchdown and 75,000 Giants fans throwing up simultaneously as he does the Flight Boys celebration in the end-zone…