Green and White Scrimmage Recap

Green and White Scrimmage Recap

The Jets defense is way ahead of their offense, but hey…we knew that already. The Jets ‘Green and White’ scrimmage didn’t do anything to change that notion. Neither the first or second offense was able to manage any points (keep in mind, a couple of fourth down conversions were attempted and failed in field goal territory), the lone touchdown of the day came from the third offense, when backup receiver Paul Raymond scored on a 15 yard reverse. Let’s go over what we saw from each position….

Quarterback – Kellen Clemens didn’t turn the ball over, which was a positive. However, he didn’t do anything to separate himself from Mark Sanchez. He mostly threw short, safe passes and finished roughly 5-7 for 26 yards. His best throw was probably a 11 yard completion in the seam to Dustin Keller on a third down. His worst throw was on a 3rd and 20, when Chansi Stuckey got behind Drew Coleman and Clemens under threw him, leading to a jump ball that was nearly intercepted.

Mark Sanchez played very well and drew a high amount of praise from Rex Ryan. The rookie was victimized by four dropped passes, including two from Britt Davis (who received some press earlier in the day as the “mystery” receiver the Jets organization was excited about, maybe they jinxed him…) and one by Jack Simmons, who also didn’t help himself with an offsides penalty. Unofficially, Sanchez was 9-15 for 70 yards. He showed his chemistry with Wallace Wright, hitting him 3 times for 23 yards including a nice throw on a deep comeback route for about 15 yards. He didn’t have any turnovers but did take a sack, when he failed to notice a backside corner blitz. Sanchez made the quarterback battle even tighter with his performance today, I’d say right now it is an even 50-50, after it being slightly tilted in Clemens favor most of the week.

Erik Ainge actually played half way decent, hitting Marcus Henry for a 38 yard gain, which was the day’s biggest offensive play. He led the offense on their only scoring drive of the day.

Running Back – Thomas Jones was relatively quiet, except for a monster blitz pick-up. Leon Washington had 3 catches for 12 yards. Shonn Greene was the best news of the day on offense. The rookie third-round pick had 25 yards on 6 carries, including a 12 yard run when he broke to the outside. He also had a 33 yard reception on a screen pass. You have to get excited when thinking about the Jets potential three-headed monster at running back.

Receiver – Britt Davis received the hype today and struggled to validate the coaching staff’s excitement with two key drops. David Clowney had a quiet day with 1 catch for 7 yards. Brad Smith didn’t do anything of note. Chansi Stuckey and Jerricho Cotchery had 2 catches a piece. Marcus Henry had the play of the day with a 38 yard reception over Drew Coleman. Wallace Wright had a strong outing and is pretty much locked into a roster spot. The only way Davis or Henry make the roster at this point is if the Jets decide to keep 6 receivers.

Tight End – Jack Simmons had a drop and a penalty. Kareem Brown had a 8 yard catch. Dustin Keller had one catch for 11 yards…the Jets still need help at this position.

Offensive Line – Three plays were called as “sacks,” although two came from members of the secondary which could fall on the running backs and their blitz pick-up. The best news? No injuries.

Defensive Line – Mike DeVito left with an injury but according to Rex Ryan it isn’t that serious. The Jets showed some unique looks on the defensive line, with Shaun Ellis sliding over to nose tackle and Sione Pouha dropping to MLB (no, that wasn’t a error).

Linebacker – Vernon Gholston had an active today, which is a step in the right direction for him. He was around the ball alot and made a handful of tackles. Marques Murrell had a tackle for a loss, Kenwin Cummings had a tackle for a loss, Jamaal Westerman had a sack, Brandon Renkart had a quarterback pressure. Ryan singled out Cummings and David Harris as having particularly strong days.

Secondary – The secondary continued their excellent training camp. Darrelle Revis was lockdown as usual, Lito Sheppard played well and did good in run support. Dwight Lowery had a sack, Drew Coleman had a couple of passes defensed. James Ihedigbo had a sack, Kerry Rhodes had a tackle for a loss. The Jets secondary is going to be very good this season, especially if second-tier players like Ihedigbo, Coleman, and Eric Smith keep playing well.

Tomorrow – The Jets have off and are taking a trip out to the pro football Hall of Fame…however, I won’t take off and will write an article about what we have learned through the first week of Jets training camp.

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 3rd

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 3rd

Story of the Day: Brawling…the Jets had three fights today in practice, one between Thomas Jones and James Ihedigbo, another between Howard Green and Brock Christopher (a backup FB), and finally one between Ahmad Carroll and Nevin McCaskill. Rex Ryan likes the aggressive attitude on the field and most of the players seem to agree with their coach about the intense competition level being a good thing. Training camp fights are going to happen and as long it isn’t the same guys getting into it every single day or nobody gets hurt, it is not a bad thing. It is amazing how blatantly different this team’s mentality so clearly is, only a few days into camp. I don’t know how good the Jets are going to be this year, but I am confident they are going to at least be fun to watch.

Quarterback Daily News: Kellen Clemens had a very sharp overall day with the first offense but continued his disturbing tradition of ending a great drive with an interception. This time it was Darrelle Revis who picked one off and by all accounts would have taken it back to the house. Six interceptions in six practices isn’t good, period. Without those INT’s, Clemens would be way, way ahead in this battle so far. Mark Sanchez hasn’t been given enough reps yet with the first unit to put up a fight. The rookie has been pretty good, but needs a strong pre-season to win the job. This Thursday is a big night in the QB battle, when the Jets have their “Green and White Scrimmage,” if Sanchez can outplay Clemens there, he will likely receive a substantial bump in his first team reps.

Receiver Daily News: Chansi Stuckey has easily been the second best wide receiver behind Jerricho Cotchery thus far. Yet, the Jets love him in the slot, which could lead to extended reps for Brad Smith and Wallace Wright at split end. Yes, I mentioned Wright before I mentioned David Clowney who is still struggling with drops. Brian Schottenheimer talked on 1050 ESPN Radio today, and he mentioned Wright a few times and didn’t say much of anything about Clowney. Smith has had a pretty good camp, which is usual for him. He is built like a split end and needs to step up to allow Stuckey to do his thing in the slot.

A Word on Running Back Contracts: It really seems like Thomas Jones has accepted he isn’t getting a new contract and is ready to simply go to work this year, a rare occurrence in the NFL. Jones has enough money to stage a holdout but maybe realized the Jets had all the leverage because of also having Leon Washington and Shonn Green at running back. Also, Jones is a 30+ year old running back, who agreed to sign a front-loaded contract. Washington is having a terrific camp despite being openly unhappy about his deal. Negotiations have hit a bump but hopefully something will get worked out, because the guy deserves a raise.

Offensive MVP’s Thus Far: Dustin Keller, the previously mentioned Washington, and D’Brickashaw Ferguson whoRyan was raving about today. Keller is going to catch a ton of balls this season and Washington has been all over the place on offense. D’Brick is a predicting a pro-bowl appearance for himself this season.

Lockdown: Darrelle Revis just keeps getting better and isn’t going to see alot of balls thrown his way if opposing offenses are smart, memo to Kellen Clemens…stop throwing at #24. It is also encouraging that Dwight Lowery is having such a good camp, because it improves the Jets overall depth and will push Lito Sheppard to play better. The secondary has looked great overall, which likely a combination of their overall talent but also because of the inexperienced Jets WR core.

Love Affair: Rex Ryan can’t say enough about rookie UDFA inside linebacker, Jamaal Westerman who has been thriving in the Jets system since the day he stepped on the field. Marques Murrell is also having a strong camp. Vernon Gholston? I don’t know, I feel like I hear alot more about these other two lesser known linebackers making plays. There are also players questioning Gholston’s fire and passion for the game, which is never a good thing.

Transactions: The Richard Owens era is over at tight end, the Jets dropped the journeyman rookie today and signed Rutgers UDFA Kevin Brock to replace him. Tight end is a major issue for the Jets right now. Jack Simmons (who I of course, jinxed by talking him so much before camp) is struggling with drops and penalties and Kareem Brown has been invisible.

What I Hope For Tomorrow: No interceptions from Kellen Clemens. First team reps for Mark Sanchez. David Clowney catching a few long balls. A Vernon Gholston sighting.

Tomorrow’s Schedule: Two practices – 8:15 AM and 4 PM.

Jets Training Camp: Five Under the Radar Players to Watch

First a few updates:

1. Daily running back contract updates – It is apparently now 50-50 that Leon Washington will have a new deal in place before training camp starts on Friday. Washington’s agent is meeting face to face with Mike Tannenbaum tomorrow, hopefully to iron out the final details of the contract. The Jets aren’t planning on making any new offers to Thomas Jones and there hasn’t been any news about him planning to hold out, so I guess we’ll just have to see what happens on Friday.

2. TV Discussion of the Day – I was a big fan of the third episode of Entourage, much better than the first two. Funny cameo by 50 Cent and some progress in the plot line.

Jets Training Camp: Five Under the Radar Players to Watch

Anybody can watch out for Mark Sanchez and other high profile players, but here are some lesser known players to keep an eye on during Jets training camp.

1. Jamaal Westerman – Linebacker

The Jets signed the former Rutgers defensive end to a free agent contract immediately after the draft. Westerman stood out in both OTA’s and mini-camp impressing the coaching staff with his versatility and ability to learn both outside and inside linebacker. Rex Ryan said Westerman will begin camp at inside backer but he should still receive some work at outside, especially with Calvin Pace suspended. The backup positions at linebacker are wide open and from the way Ryan has praised Westerman’s early work, the UDFA should have a good shot at grabbing one of the Jets 53 spots.

2. Mario Urrutia – Wide Receiver

Urrutia has something no other Jets receiver has, height. He stands at 6’6 and weighs 232 pounds. The Jets receiver position is wide open after Jerricho Cotchery, giving a little known player like Urrutia a chance to battle for a roster spot. He had a huge freshman and sophomore year at Louisville before having a let down junior year and then becoming a 7th round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008. They cut him after the season and the Jets picked him up, hoping he could develop into a red-zone threat. You can’t teach height and Urrutia displayed a ton of talent in his first two seasons at Lousville, maybe the Jets found a diamond in the rough to help their thin receiver core.

3. Jack Simmons – Tight End

Simmons is the only Jets tight end on the roster except for Dustin Keller, who played the position last season giving him a potential edge in the battle for the #2 tight end spot. He was a three year starter at Minnesota and caught 34 passes for 331 yards and 2 TD’s last year. Simmons was impressive in mini-camp, showing good hands and an ability to block, something the Jets desperately need at the tight end position. After Keller, it is wide open for the #2 and #3 tight spot, giving Simmons a great chance to be on the active roster despite being a rookie UDFA.

4. Ropati Pitoitua – Defensive End

After spending last season on the practice squad, Pitoitua could have a chance to work himself into the defensive end rotation in 2009. He has great size at 6’8, 310 pounds and the Jets are thin at his position, with inexperienced players behind starters in Shaun Ellis and Marques Douglas. If Pitoitua has a strong pre-season, he could end up on the active roster and be a part of the Jets long term defensive line plans.

5. Ahmad Carroll – Cornerback/Safety

Carroll is a former first round pick who was just about out of the NFL until the Jets took a shot on him last season. He responded by becoming one of their better special teams players, providing speed on their coverage units. The word out of the OTA’s was that Carroll looked good in his defensive back drills and Rex Ryan’s aggressive man to man scheme plays to his athletic strengths that made him a first round pick. Carroll could be a surprise contender for the nickel-back role or a spot in the Jets dime packages. The Jets are also a little thin at safety after Rhodes, Leonhard, and Eric Smith and Carroll has the size to potentially move over and play both corner and safety.

Jets Highlight of the Day: Thomas Jones may not be getting a new contract, but he is getting a highlight today on TurnOnTheJets.com (Turn off the music, if you don’t want to hear explicit lyrics)

5 Things We Learned From Jets Minicamp

First a few updates:

1. The Jets released tight end Martrez Milner yesterday, which is a good sign for undrafted free agents Jack Simmons and J’Nathan Bullocks both of whom had pretty good OTAs. Kareem Brown has also progressed nicely at tight end and might be able to handle splitting the #2 spot with Bubba Franks.

2. Plaxico Burress’ trial is apparently going to be pushed back until sometime in 2010, which improves the chances of him being able to play this year. Everybody is expecting him to receive a 4 game suspension from the league though, which is something the Jets will have to consider if they are going to sign him. Regardless, it seems they have a genuine interest in bringing him in.

3. Congrats to the Pittsburgh Penguins for winning the Stanley Cup and congrats to the Orlando Magic for choking away game 4…can you make some free throws? The ghosts of Nick Anderson are still haunting this franchise.

5 Things We Learned From Jets Minicamp:

1. It’s going to be a tight one – The battle for starting quarterback that is, which is bad news for Kellen Clemens. The Jets veteran has been consistent and shown a good command of the offense but hasn’t done anything spectacular that is making the Jets regret trading up for Mark Sanchez. On the other hand, Sanchez started out slow but progressed nicely over the past month and is proving to be a quick learner. The guy is getting one of the most complex defenses in the NFL thrown at him everyday in practice as a rookie and handling it pretty well. I’d be shocked if Sanchez isn’t under center week one against Houston.

2. Receivers Battling – Chansi Stuckey has begun to pull away as the #2 receiver behind Jerricho Cotchery. Stuckey doesn’t make many mistakes and catches everything he can get his hands on. He had a pretty good season last year and if he wasn’t phased out of the offense in the middle of the year, probably could have been a 45-50 catch guy. Brad Smith is making his usual acrobatic catches that excites the coaching staff and is probably the #3 receiver now. David Clowney had a case of the drops the past month but has too much talent to fall too far down the depth chart. Wallace Wright impressed the coaching staff and will be on the roster in September because of his special team skills, but he may be working himself a spot on the offense.

3. Defense Rules – The consensus has been that the Jets defense is miles ahead of the offense right now. It makes sense since the Jets are being led by an inexperienced quarterback and were without Thomas Jones and Leon Washington for long periods of time. Beyond that, the Jets defense is just pretty damn good. Kris Jenkins should be even more effective than he was in last year’s scheme, Darrelle Revis remains a lockdown corner, and Bart Scott has added some intensity and swagger to the unit. This is a very deep and talented group, especially when you throw Calvin Pace, Kerry Rhodes, Lito Sheppard, Shaun Ellis, and David Harris into the mix.  

4. Making a Name – Eric Smith, James Ihedigbo, Marques Murrell, and Jamaal Westerman all have impressed the coaching staff and look like locks for backup positions on the Jets defense. Smith recorded 5 interceptions in 3 days this past week is a good #3 safety, Ihedigbo will likely be the #4 safety and has some experience from last year. Murrell could see reps off the bench as a pass rusher and is pushing Vernon Gholston for time. Westerman is an undrafted free agent who the Jets love. He has been working at inside linebacker, after playing defensive end in college.

5. Swagger – The Jets new head coach has tons of it, throwing himself into a verbal battle against both the Patriots and Dolphins. This team couldn’t have a more different personality than they did last year, when Eric “10 hour bus ride” Mangini led without any emotion. Rex Ryan put it best, the Jets aren’t in the AFC East to “kiss Bill Bellicheck’s rings.”

Where to Begin? Recapping an Active Week of Jets Football

I’m back from vacation and finally finished going through the massive amounts of Jets stories/happenings from the past eight days. I was able to follow what was going on in Vegas to an extent but I was beilacked out from any type of updates in Mexico. Fortunately, there was no shortage of information or sources to read through all day today about everything that has been going on in the world of the Jets, here’s my extended reaction and opinions in an attempt to catch up, followed with regular, daily updates for the rest of the year starting with coverage of practice tomorrow:

First a few vacation thoughts:

1. It was my first time in Vegas and it met and exceeded expectations. I was lucky enough to actually win some money, thanks in part to hitting on Leon Washington’s #29 on the roulette tab.

2. American Airlines? Can you give me something to eat? A five hour flight from Dallas (we had a stopover) to Jersey and nothing more than some ginger ale…give me a break. I almost stormed first class in search of a sandwich but figured the risk outweighed the reward.

3. Cabo is one hell of a place…really beautiful. Obviously, I will let you know if I get the swine flu but from my perspective there was absolutely no danger in traveling there.

Back to the trash-talking, swaggalicious Jets:

1. Who isn’t excited about AFC East football this year? There is no need to repeat all of the quotes that have been thrown around by Rex Ryan, Channing Chowder, Kerry Rhodes, Joey Porter…etc but the trash-talk is flowing in full force already in June. I think Ryan’s quote about “not kissing Bellicheck’s rings” is music to Jets fans/players ears. I also don’t think there is anything disrespectful about what Ryan said. You can’t be standing around in awe of New England’s past success and expect to beat them out in the AFC East. The Jets need to be aggressive and hit the Patriots in the mouth to show they aren’t going to back down from them. I don’t care about regular season records, neither of them made the playoffs last year and they split their regular season games, there is no reason the Jets shouldn’t expect to beat the Patriots at home in week 2 this year.

I think it is comedic how concerned the Dolphins are about what analysts are saying about their team in June. They should enjoy flying under the radar and let all the pressure be on the other AFC East teams and then worry about sneaking up on everybody again. What do they care if Vegas sports books are picking them to win 8 games this year? The whole Channing Crowder/Rex Ryan exchange is a little more light-hearted than people are making it out to be. Of course now that I said that, watch the two of them rumble at the 50 yard line before the Jets/Fins Monday Night game.

Crowder also came after Mark Sanchez and Kerry Rhodes. His comments on Sanchez basically claimed he was soft because of his photo spread and that Chad Pennington/Chad Henne were tougher because they wouldn’t do that stuff. All I know is that if Sanchez isn’t throwing 4 INT’s in a playoff game like Pennington or riding the bench like Henne, he can take all the pictures in GQ he wants. Obviously, he needs to produce this year to silent critics of his photo shoot and critics in general.

Crowder went below the belt by saying Rhodes should worry about his off the field problems. Rhodes isn’t a suspect in any criminal investigation and never called out Crowder by name. All Rhodes did was post on twitter his belief that the Jets would have the best defense in the league. I love the confidence of the group and the support he received from other players and Ryan who backed him up, but still you need to show it on the field first before saying you are the best overall in the league.

Regardless, how different is this team from Eric Mangini’s group of robots from last year? I love the new confidence/emotion/swagger but it remains to be seen if it will lead to an improvement from 2008. I would take a group of 11-5 robots over a 7-9 group of trash-talking, emotional players. As of right now though, I agree with Kris Jenkins…hiring Ryan was an even better decision than building their new state of the art facility.

2. Mark Sanchez signed his contract today, which is for 5 years and about 50 million dollars making him the highest paid player in Jets history…pressure, anyone? It is great that the Jets wrapped this up long before training camp, which will allow Sanchez the best possible opportunity to win the starting job and excel in Brian Schottenheimer’s offense.

Turning the focus to on the field, Sanchez has been making steady progress and has flashed better than expected arm strength. The general consensus is that quarterback battle has been about even so far, with Kellen Clemens probably having a slight edge. However, you still have the feeling that inevitably Sanchez is going to keep improving and lock down the starting job by week one.

3. Leon Washington spoke to the media and made it clear that he wants a “fair market value” deal. He showed up for the last week of voluntary workouts as a goodwill gesture but no deal appears imminent. Can we please give this guy his money? He is too valuable to the Jets offense and special teams to be missing any parts of training camp. Thomas Jones still isn’t talking to the media and there are rumors circulating that the Jets may look to trade him this summer. I know they like Shonn Greene, but why trade away a pro-bowl running back when you are going to be starting an inexperienced quarterback? The Jets need to find some way to placate Jones for this season so Green has a year to learn behind him and carry a lighter workload. In 2010, I’d feel much better about Green/Washington backfield than I would in 2009.

4. Chansi Stuckey seems to be creating some space in the battle to start opposite Jerricho Cotchery. Stuckey is the most accomplished guy in the competition, runs fluid routes, and has great hands. He is probably better suited to be in the slot as a #3 guy but if he is the best guy, he deserves to start. Wallace Wright has been flashing a little bit on offense and did show some potential in 2007. Over at tight end, Dustin Keller has had a strong May/June and even drew a compliment from Bart Scott, who said he could be a top 5 receiving tight end in the league. Kareem Brown is also making strides in his transition from defensive end to tight end. Also, if you asked me if I would want Plaxico Burress for 12 games this year…the answer would definitely be yes.

5. On defense, Eric Smith pulled in 3 interceptions the other day and has played well in OTAs. He provides good depth behind Kerry Rhodes and Jim Leonhard. Inside linebacker Jamaal Westerman continues to be a favorite of Ryan, who can’t stop raving about him. Ahmad Carroll has also continued his strong play at cornerback and could see some time on defense this year.

6. The Jets cut punter Eric Wilbur and re-signed Reggie Hodges…thrilling stuff in the punting battle. They also signed LB Craig Kobel and cut LB Nate Harris and DL Brian Schafering.

Tomorrow: Coverage of Thursday’s OTA and more reaction to AFC East trash talking.

5 Questions the Jets Defense Must Answer in 2009

First a few things:

1. Congratulations to Erik Boland of Newsday who recently got moved over to the Yankees beat. Boland ran a great Jets blog “E-Boland & Gang Green,” which was always a daily stop for me and countless other Jets fans to read up on the team. He also took the time to reach out and complement my work over at MVN, which was much appreciated. Good luck with the Yankees, Erik.

2. Brett Favre and Brad Childress are meeting to discuss Favre’s potential comeback to football, this time for the Vikings. Honestly, I am so sick of Favre, reading about him, talking about him, and basically everything about him. Have fun with him Minnesota and yes I will be rooting my ass off against him this year. The guy never wanted to be on the Jets and killed our playoff run last year. He has an obsession with Minnesota to have the chance to play against the Packers, well it looks like he is finally going to get his wish. I hope he goes 10/26 with 4 INTs in Lambeau this year, stay retired Brett and learn how to tell truth for once in your life.

3. A quick run-down of the Jets with different numbers this year – Erik Ainge (#10), David Clowney (#87), Mark Sanchez (#6), Marques Douglas (#71), Vernon Gholston (#50), Howard Green (#95), Larry Izzo (#53), Jim Leonhard (#36), Dwight Lowery (#21), Lito Sheppard (#26), Donald Stickland (#34).

4. Some belated second round NBA Playoffs picks: Magic in 7, Cavs in 5, Lakers in 7, and Denver in 6. Also while we are talking about other sports, am I the only one who hates the new Yankees Stadium and are we ever going to beat Boston this year?

5 Questions the Jets Defense Must Answer in 2009

Yesterday I talked about how good the Jets defense has the potential to be in 2009. However, there are a number of variables or questions that need to be answered which will determine how productive the unit will actually be this year. Here is a look at the five most pressing questions the defense has to answer in 2009:

1. Can Kris Jenkins Stay Healthy? – It all starts up front. If the Jets want to stop the run they need a healthy Kris Jenkins plugging up the middle and keeping blockers off Bart Scott and David Harris. Jenkins faded down the stretch last year with hip problems. The Jets must find a way to rest him during early parts of the season, which means players like Sione Pouha and Howard Green (pictured above) need to step up. Pouha didn’t do much last year and Green has never been more than a role player, but for Jenkins to be fresh in the fourth quarter of both games and the season, the two of them need to improve.

2. Are Marques Douglas/Mike DeVito NFL Starters? – Douglas was signed to provide depth and DeVito (pictured above) has made a minimal impact in the NFL during his three years. Yet, with Kenyon Coleman being traded to the Browns in the Mark Sanchez deal, one of these two will be asked to start at defensive end, with other receiving extended time off the bench. Apparently, Rex Ryan thinks DeVito can be a strong pass rusher in his system but it remains to be seen, since he currently has 0.5 career sacks. Douglas is good against the run and has been a productive role player throughout his career but he has never been asked to be a full time player.

 

3. Can Lito Sheppard Stay Healthy and Reclaim his Pro-Bowl Form? – Sheppard has battled injuries the past few years and lost his starting job to Asante Samuel in Philly last season. Yet, he is only a few years removed from being a pro-bowler and a guy who was considered one of the elite corners in the NFL. At his best, Sheppard can match up with the NFL’s top receivers. He won’t be asked to do that for the Jets because we have Darrelle Revis, but the defense needs him to stay healthy, face a ton of balls thrown his way as teams avoid Revis, and provide some stability to the #2 corner spot. Donald Strickland and Dwight Lowery are better suited to be nickel-backs or back-ups than full time players and the Jets could be in trouble if they are asked to be full time players because Sheppard is hurt.

4. Can Vernon Gholston Reach his Potential? – Vernon Gholston did nothing for the Jets last year despite being the #6 overall pick in the draft. One of Rex Ryan’s biggest tasks is going to be pushing Gholston to reach his potential. Gholston has the talent to be a Terrell Suggs type player, but at this point the Jets would be happy if he could just lock down a starting outside linebacker spot and provide a consistent pass rush. The Jets defense could go from good to great if Gholston develops into the double-digit sack guy the Jets drafted him to be.

5. Depth? – The Jets need somebody to step up as their number four safety and number five corner. I am holding out hope Ryan’s scheme will help Ahmad Carroll reach his first round potential, as either a corner or safety. Drew Coleman was an Eric Mangini guy and probably won’t make it through camp. James Ihedigbo is only known for a holding penalty that negated a Leon Washington kick return touchdown last year. At linebacker, there is high hopes for undrafted free agent Jamaal Westerman who looked great in the Jets rookie mini-camp. Marques Murrell, Jason Trunsick, and Kenwin Cummings will battle it out for the key back up spots at both inside and outside linebacker. On the defensive line, the Jets better sign a veteran or pray one of their UDFAs is ready to contribute this year.

Who are the Jets Top Playmakers?

First a few Monday Updates:

1. The Jets have made a couple of minor moves, signing tryout player tight end Jack Simmons. He made an impression at the recent rookie mini-camp, both with his blocking footwork and his pass catching skills. Simmons was a three year starter at Minnesota. Last season he had 34 catches for 331 yards, with two touchdowns. He obviously has a real shot to make the roster because right now his competition is Kareem Brown and James Dearth. The Jets also added defensive tackle Anthony Harris, who was last in camp with the Carolina Panthers before the 2008 season.

2. Pro Football Talk floated a rumor today out of a Cleveland newspaper that discussed a potential Thomas Jones-Braylon Edwards trade. Unless Jones sits out of mandatory mini-camp on June 9th-June 11th and then misses the beginning of training camp, the Jets aren’t moving the AFC’s leading rusher from last year. Rex Ryan wants to run the ball next year, which means it doesn’t make sense to trade your best running back. The plan is for Jones to finish out his contract and hope that Shonn Greene can develop enough this year to take over for him in 2010. 

3. Rutgers defensive end Jamaal Westerman could be a player to keep an eye on. Rex Ryan had him switch out to strong side linebacker during mini-camp and he impressed the coach with his smooth transition. The Jets pursued him heavily after the draft, and he accepted less money as an undrafted free agent to join the Jets. There are definitely back up spots to be won in the Jets linebacking core, so Westerman has a shot.

Who are the Jets Top Playmakers?

We spend alot of time talking about who the Jets still need to improve their offense, but lets take a look at who on the current roster the Jets will look at to create points:

1. Leon Washington – The Jets most versatile and dynamic playmaker. Washington can score on any given play as a runner, kick returner, wide receiver, and any other place he can get the ball. The biggest problem  has been getting him enough touches. Brian Schottenheimer must find a way to get him the ball at least 12-15 times a game on offense. He probably won’t return punts anymore, which should keep him more fresh for offense and let him focus on kick returns, where he truly excels. Washington had half as many rushing touchdowns as Thomas Jones, on 1/4 of the carries last year, and also added 2 receiving TD’s and a kick return TD. He has the ability to play the traditional half-back position (as he showed in 2006), fullback (for pass plays and misdirection handoffs) slot receiver, split end, and be used on a variety of trick plays. The bottom line is that Schottenheimer’s play sheet should have “GET 29 THE BALL” written on it across the top.

2. Thomas Jones – Jones is a great north/south runner who can excel behind a very good offensive line. He is a one-cut back, who isn’t going to rip off many long runs but can wear on a defense, especially in the fourth quarter. Beyond that, Jones also showed his receiving ability last year by catching 36 passes and 2 touchdowns. After being an awful goal-line/short yardage back in 2007, Jones came back in a big way with 13 rushing touchdowns last year (plenty of credit goes to Tony Richardson and the new offensive line however). Hopefully, the Jets can settle his contract issue for this upcoming season because Jones remains a very good back who can carry the ball 20-25 times a game.

3. Dustin Keller – Outside of Leon Washington, the Jets most difficult player to match-up with. He gashed the Patriots and Titans during the Jets mid-season run last year before fading slightly down the stretch (thanks in part to being in Eric Mangini’s doghouse). Overall he had 48 catches for 535 yards, with 3 touchdowns last season. Keller is too fast for most linebackers to cover, and has a size advantage on cornerbacks and safeties. With Chris Baker in New England and Laveranues Coles in Cincinnati, Keller should be on the field even more this year and be the Jets #2 receiving option behind Jerricho Cotchery. The Jets will especially look to him on third downs and in the red-zone.

4. Jerricho Cotchery – The Jets unquestioned number one wide receiver. Cotchery is probably better suited to be a #2 but still is a very good all around football player. He has great hands and is a strong runner after the catch. However, he lacks deep speed and has never faced the attention that comes with being a #1 receiver for a full season. The Jets are going to need more than 71 catches for 858 yards, with 5 touchdowns from him this year. 

5. Chansi Stuckey/David Clowney/Brad Smith – Who is going to step up from this group? Stuckey was a good #3 receiver for the Jets last year and should keep improving. He is good option on third downs and a tough cover in the slot. Clowney is a burner, who has the potential to be the home run threat the Jets have lacked since Santana Moss. Smith has the speed, height, and versatility to be a major playmaker for this offense but he hasn’t put it all together yet.