Jets Special Teams Concerns & Draft Talk

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First a few updates:

1. Just a short article today to preclude a furious onslaught of draft coverage Monday through Thursday.

2. When is this Jason Taylor decision coming?

3. There is a report out that the Jets offered Denver their first round pick for Brandon Marshall during the owner’s meetings but the deal didn’t get done because the Jets couldn’t work out a long term deal with him. In the end it is probably for the best, considering the lack of risk involved in the Santonio Holmes deal and how the Jets have been able to hang on to their first round pick to add a needed defensive player.

4. I was disappointed by the lack of upsets on day one of the NBA Playoffs…is there a bigger team of cry babies than the Celtics by the way? I am pulling for D-Wade to lead the Heat back for the round 1 upset.

5. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook…Not because you want to….because you need to.

Jets Special Teams Concerns & Draft Talk

The Jets didn’t have one of their best years when it came to special teams last season. Whether it was Ted Ginn Jr ripping off two kick returns in a single game or botching three field goal attempts against Atlanta…Mike Westhoff’s unit wasn’t up to their usual standards. Unfortunately it is hard to picture the special teams being any better this year considering the way the off-season has went so far.

First off, the Jets have substantially downgraded at the kicker position. Jay Feely played at a pro-bowl level for most of last season, connecting on 30/36 field goals, hitting a 55 yard yarder and putting up a respectable 11/14 on 40-49 yard kicks. He also contributed on covering his own kicks with 4 tackles and stepped upt a punter in the Jets wild-card game when Steve Weatherford was unable to go. To replace Feely, the Jets currently have Dallas castoff Nick Folk who melted down in 2009 after a pro-bowl season in 2008. Folk was only 6/13 on 40-49 yard field goals and 20/31 overall last year. How could you trust this guy in a big spot? Mike Tannenbaum better be keeping his eyes open for somebody to compete with him training camp.

In two moves that received substantially less press coverage. the Jets let special teams ace Wallace Wright walk and he has been picked up by the Carolina Panthers. Wright has been the Jets top coverage guy the past few years and had 23 tackles on specials last year. They also decided to replace long time long snapper James Dearth with the unproven Tanner Purdum, who to my knowledge has never long snapped in a regular season NFL game. Two quiet moves that could end up making a big difference in a negative way at some point in the season.

A few quick thoughts on the draft:

Photobucket The only way I could see the Jets trading up is if Earl Thomas slips into low to mid twenties. Thomas would be a big time addition to the Jets secondary and could immediately slide next to Jim Leonhard at safety. Beyond that, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Jets trade back one or two times to add a few more picks later in the draft.

– The most common names you have been hearing associated with the Jets and the draft: Thomas, Brandon Graham, Jerry Hughes, Jared Odrick, Sergio Kindle, Ricky Sapp, Mike Iupati, Terrence Cody.

– Despite the addition of Antonio Cromartie, expect to see the Jets draft a corner by round 4 and don’t be shocked if they add a second one in round 6 or 7.

Earl Thomas Highlights

Jets Positional Analysis: Special Teams

Jets Positional Analysis: Special Teams

Third article of the day, but hey training camp starts this week so it is time to step up. Of course since I mentioned the Yankees potentially having the best record in baseball, they are losing 6-1. Anyway, here is my next to last positional analysis (still have inside linebackers, which I will get to before Friday morning). Tomorrow I am planning to look at some under the radar players in training camp and I got a few other article ideas to get up before daily coverage of training camp starts at the end of the week.

Jay Feely #3, Kicker, Last Season: 24/28 Field Goals (2/2 50+ yards, 4/5 40-49 yards) 39/39 PAT’s

History: Political commentator, twitter enthusiast, and weight-room fanatic, Jay Feely became the Jets kicker in week 2 last season after Mike “Second Round Pick?!” Nugent was hurt. As you can tell from the numbers, he had a pretty good season which earned him a new contract with the Jets. Feely hit his two most clutch kicks last season, a game winner against the Patriots and a 50+ yarder that sent Oakland into overtime. He has decent length on kickoffs and didn’t struggle with the Meadowlands winds.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Feely has a similar season to last year and hits his clutch kicks, while Mike Nugent is booting kickoffs to the 20 yard line in the UFL.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Feely misses too many FG’s, gets cut week 3 and joins the FOX News staff.

Prediction: I don’t see any reason why Feely can’t be a productive kicker for the Jets this season.

Reggie Hodges #5, Punter, Last Season: Average Yard Per Punt 42.8 yards, 14 Punts Inside the 20, 6 Touchbacks

History: Hodges was signed to replace Ben Graham last season and did an okay job. He was cut by the Jets after the season but then re-signed a few months ago.

Chance of Making Roster: 50%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Hodges is a good punter for the Jets…what else can I say?

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He gets beat out in training camp and is cut.

Prediction: I am going with the rookie in his punting battle royale, meaning Hodges will join Nugent and Brooks Bollinger in the UFL.

T.J. Conley #9, Punter, Rookie

History: A UDFA out of Idaho, who had the highest net average of all college punters last season.

Chance of Making Roster: 50%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He wins the job and becomes a punting prodigy.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He gets cut, meaning nobody has my number on the Jets.

Prediction: Maybe it’s just because I like his number, but I am picking Conley to win this punting job…bold stuff, I know.

The Other Guys:

Long Snapper: James Dearth – One of the best in the business.

Kick Returner: Leon Washington – One of the best in the business.

Punt Returner: Jim Leonhard – Will take pressure off Washington and did a good job returning for the Ravens last season.

Overall Position Analysis: I always feel good about this group because Mike Westhoff is in charge and he is a hall of famer. Punter could obviously be a position of concern, though.

Jets Special Teams Highlight: Leon Washington is gone.

Jets Positional Analysis: Tight Ends

First a few updates:

1. A little double post action today, because I want to get through all the different position analysis articles. If you scroll down on the main page or click back through the archives, you can see the previous ones on the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers.

2. Jets training camp opens on July 27th for rookies and July 30thfor veterans…at least we are in the same month now. The pre-season opener is Friday, August 14th at home against the Rams.

Jets Positional Analysis: Tight Ends

Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to go through all of the Jets positions and assess each player, continuing today with the tight ends:

1. Dustin Keller #81, Last Season: 48 Receptions, 535 Yards, 3 TD’s

History: Keller was a first round pick of the Jets last year. After beginning the season quietly, Keller broke out in a 4 game stretch during the middle of the season. Against the Rams in week 10 he had 6 receptions for 107 yards and a TD, in the following three games his lines were: 8 Receptions, 87 yards, 6 receptions, 42 yards, and 7 receptions, 77 yards. He didn’t produce as much in the Jets final four games but stilled showed tremendous potential and athleticism during his rookie season. With Chris Baker now in New England, Keller will have increased reps and pressure to improve his blocking and become an every down tight end.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Keller takes his game to the next level and thrives with the increased reps and balls thrown his way because of the departure of Laveranues Coles and Chris Baker. He plays at a pro-bowl level and becomes the Jets go to guy when they throw the ball, especially in the red zone.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Keller regresses from his rookie year, doesn’t improve his blocking and struggles with drops.

Prediction: Keller is going to have a ton of balls thrown his way in 2009 and proved last year he is immensely talented. I don’t think he is ready to be a pro-bowl caliber player yet, but I do think you will see a nice jump in his numbers from last year, especially in touchdowns. Keller is going to be the Jets primary target inside the 20 yard line.

2. Bubba Franks #88, Last Season: 6 Receptions, 47 Yards, 0 TD’s

History: I am only listing him as the #2 because he is the only other Jets tight end with NFL experience at the position. Franks signed with the Jets last year and struggled with injuries, only playing in 8 games. Rex Ryan is hoping he can provide some blocking and experience to the position. He hasn’t participated in off-season activities because he is still recovering from knee surgery but he is expected to be ready for training camp.

Chance of Making Roster: 75% (Depends on Health)

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Franks stays healthy and provides the Jets with a reliable, consistent #2 tight end. He blocks well and catches the ball the few times it is thrown to him.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He can’t get healthy in time for the season and the Jets eventually just cut him.

Prediction: I am not that confident in Franks after what I saw last year and since he is currently recovering from surgery. However, I don’t think the Jets would have re-signed him if they didn’t think he would be ready for at least most of training camp. I think Franks plays this year but struggles with injuries occasionally, but when he is on the field is able to do his job adequately.

3. Kareem Brown # 84, Last Season: Played Defensive End

History: Brown has been a backup defensive end for the Jets the last couple of years. He was moved to tight end this off-season and has apparently made some decent progress after going through mini-camp and OTAs. Brown lost 30 pounds to make the transition and because of the Jets amazingly thin depth at TE, probably has a good chance to make the roster because of his versatility and ability to play special teams.

Chance of Making Roster: 75%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Brown becomes a capable #2/#3 tight end. He is able to block for the Jets in their running sets and able to handle catching a few short passes.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Brown can’t handle the transition to offense and is too light to play defense.

Prediction: I think Brown sticks on the roster as the #3 tight end because of his ability to play special teams and his athleticism/potential.

The Other Guys:

James Dearth, #85 – The Jets long snapper, hasn’t caught a pass since 2001. He will make the roster but hopefully not be forced into any offensive action.

Jack Simmons, #46 – A UDFA the Jets signed this year. He caught 34 passes for 331 yards and 2 TDs last year for Minnesota. He is 6’4, 246 lbs and apparently made a good impression on the Jets coaches during OTAs. Hey, if there is a team for a UDFA tight end to make it on, this is it.

J’Nathan Bullock, #48 – Another UDFA the Jets signed, although Bullock wasn’t a football player in college. He played basketball at Cleveland State. Bullock is 6’4, 240 lbs and showed good athleticism during OTAs.

Overall Position Analysis: The Jets are in need of a veteran in a big way. They would be crazy to go into the season with Franks and Brown as Keller’s top backups. Hopefully, Simmons or Bullock will step up in training camp and show some potential. If the Jets are looking for help, my coaches always joked about me moving from receiver to tight end because of how slow I was…and yes, I am available.