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.

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.

New York Jets: Enough Free Agent DBs To Make Your Head Hurt

Who should stay and who should go?

When discussing the New York Jets free agents, it is easy to get caught up in the Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and to a lesser extent, Brad Smith debate. They are big name players and everybody wants to make sure Mark Sanchez has the necessary weapons to succeed. However, don’t overlook how many free agents the Jets have in their secondary, which is priority number one on a Rex Ryan football team —

Antonio Cromartie

  • Starting Corner – 42 tackles, 17 passes defensed, 3 INTs
  • Physical freak, good compliment to Darrelle Revis
  • Always provides an intriguing quote
  • Inconsistent at times, can struggle with penalties
  • Still not a very good tackler

I won’t add too much on to the 1,000,000 words I have written this off-season about the importance of Cromartie returning. The bottom line is that Kyle Wilson isn’t ready to take over as a starter yet so the Jets need Cromartie back.

Drew Coleman

  • Nickel Corner – 41 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 5 Forced Fumbles
  • Nose for the football and making big plays
  • Valuable special teams player
  • Struggles in man coverage
  • Lacks ideal size

Say what you want about Coleman, he makes plays and he was the Jets third best corner last season, which is a big role in a Rex Ryan defense. Will the coaching staff let him walk to give Kyle Wilson more reps?

Brodney Pool

  • Starting Safety – 53 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 Forced Fumble
  • Came on strong at end of last year
  • Has tough time staying healthy
  • More reliable in pass coverage than Eric Smith

Pool probably has more upside than Eric Smith as a starting safety opposite Jim Leonhard, but can he stay healthy for 16 games?

Eric Smith

  • Starting Safety – 54 tackles, 1 sack
  • Smart, physical player
  • Excellent on special teams
  • Struggles in pass coverage
  • He has also dealt with injury issues

Smith is a more valuable all around player than Brodney Pool who Rex Ryan has grown to love. He is really better suited to be a #3 safety and a special teamer than a full time starter.

James Ihedigbo

  • Extra Defensive Back, Blitz Specialist – 22 tackles, 3 sacks
  • Very good special teams player
  • Physical and aggressive
  • Limited range in pass coverage

Ihedigbo has turned into a nice role player on the Jets defense, who remains a core special teams player. They should be able to work something out to bring him back. He is capable of being a #3 safety if Smith or Pool leaves.

Quick Thoughts On Bob Sanders and Jets Safety Position

It is being reported today that the New York Jets had former Colts safety Bob Sanders in for a visit. Any time you have a former Defensive Player of the Year in the building at a position that needs improvement, it is going to generate some excitement.

However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Sanders has played nine regular season games in the past three years…yes, nine. The thought of signing Sanders to anything more than a heavily incentive based contract that has a base salary near the veterans minimum is insane. If Sanders was willing to play under those terms, it is worth a shot because the Jets currently only have one true safety  under contract, Jim Leonhard, who is coming off season ending surgery.

Ever since Rex Ryan has taken over, the Jets haven’t had much production out of the safety position. Leonhard is a steady but unspectacular quarterback of the secondary who needs to be complimented by a playmaker.

The Jets will have decisions to make on Brodney Pool, Eric Smith, and James Ihedigbo this off-season. Smith and Ihedigbo are better suited as role players and special teams contributors. Pool came on strong at the end of last year but I am not sure you can rely on him to be the long term answer at the position.

Unfortunately, playmaking safeties aren’t easy to come by. The Jets could look at one with their first or third round pick in the upcoming draft but that would mean they are neglecting their defensive front seven.

It could very well be Pool or Smith alongside Leonhard again in 2011 and while I think Pool has more upside, Smith provides more all around value. It will be interesting to see who Mike Tannenbaum settles on bringing back, along with if they make room for Ihedigbo who is valuable in blitz packages.

Leonhard with his lone interception last year

12 Pack of Jets Off-Season Thoughts – Edition #1

We can’t just stop the 12 pack because the Jets decided to only play one half in the AFC Championship Game. On to edition #1 of the off-season 12 pack, but not before a friendly reminder to follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (@TurnOnTheJets)…check out that new Twitter bar on the side of the home page, not bad right? A special thanks to Will Horton who migrated TOJ off the Fanball server and on to our new one.

1. The Running Backs – I am certainly not against LaDainian Tomlinson coming back for another year with the New York Jets. He is a valuable outlet for Mark Sanchez and provides necessary leadership on the offensive side of the football. However, the Jets have to be careful to not let him stunt the growth of Joe McKnight and especially Shonn Greene. Due to Tomlinson’s strong start, Greene never really received the chance to develop into the number one back we all envisioned him as. Down the stretch when he started to play better, he still wasn’t getting enough carries because Tomlinson maintained a big role in the offense.

Joe McKnight wasn’t ready to contribute this past season but did show signs of hope towards the end of the year. The coaching staff apparently loves his skill set and the only way to see if he can become a part of this offense is to give him a chance. If Tomlinson returns, it needs to be in a reduced role that allows Greene to get 17-20 carries a game and McKnight to get 7-9 offensive touches himself at running back and receiver. The future of this backfield is Greene, McKnight, and John Conner at fullback and the future should start in 2011.

2. The Mark Sanchez Question – I am still amazed at how hesitant some people are to give Sanchez credit for the type of season he put together in 2010. There is no question he struggles with inaccuracy at times and hits stretches of inconsistency, however on the whole he threw 5 more touchdowns and 7 less interceptions, along with over 800 more yards than he did his rookie year. He took major strides forward in his second year as a starting quarterback and is developing into one of the best quarterbacks in the league at avoiding the pass rush and making a play outside of the pocket. Most importantly, he has the necessary intangibles to be a leader of a team and consistently plays well in big spots. The guy has four road playoff victories in his first two years and has a bright future as the Jets offense becomes more aggressive.

3. Changing Faces – Marcus Dixon, Marquice Cole and James Ihedigbo are three role players who I expect to see more playing time on defense in 2011. They all showed potential in limited reps and with at least a few defensive backs and defensive lineman leaving as free agents or being released, should get an opportunity to create bigger roles for themselves.

4. Bye, Vernon – Mike Tannenbaum made it pretty clear today that we shouldn’t expect to see Vernon Gholston back in 2011. Why would the team even bother at this point? Three seasons, zero sacks, and limitless hype and “Gholston is finally getting it” stories…it is time to move on.

5. Let’s Not Repeat – Let’s face the reality that Kyle Wilson showed signs of being a bust in his rookie year. He seemed overwhelmed by the NFL game and was out-played by Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery all season. Wilson will be given every opportunity to be at least the nickel back if not the starter opposite Darrelle Revis (if Antonio Cromartie leaves) and he needs to take advantage of it. Hopefully, he will learn from his rookie mistakes instead of losing confidence from his struggles.

6. Scary Stats Part 1 – Bart Scott has 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble in two seasons with the Jets. Drew Coleman had 4 sacks and 5 forced fumbles this season for the Jets…Bryan Thomas had less than 40 total tackles this season despite starting every game at outside linebacker…Dwight Lowery had the same amount of regular season touchdowns this season as Shonn Greene.

7. Preparing For Life Without Brad – We all want him back and we all know how valuable he is, but I have hard time seeing the Jets pay Brad Smith, Josh Cribbs type money in a year they have to pay David Harris, Antonio Cromartie, and Santonio Holmes. Joe McKnight needs to pick up the slack on kick return and as an option running the football. Patrick Turner can help fill the void at receiver and will get more playing time any way with Braylon Edwards likely leaving.

8. To Shaun Ellis and Mike Tannenbaum – Let’s have cooler heads prevail this off-season and work something out. Nobody wants to see Ellis finish his career in a different color jersey than Green and White and he would be a great mentor to whatever young defensive lineman the Jets draft this year.

9. Already Excited – New York’s current JV team (the Giants) at New York’s finest this season…you know that game has Monday or Sunday night football written all over it.

10. Plax and Aso – There has been plenty of chatter about both Plaxico Burress and Nnamdi Asomugha joining the Jets this year. However, I would say there is less than a ten percent chance of either happening. Asomugha is only coming here if he agrees to take much less than he is worth, which I doubt he will do. I could see the Jets exploring Burress but I’d be surprised to see them add another sideshow especially since there is no guarantee he’d be anywhere near the player he once was considering his time off.

11. Anybody Else – Been spending time wondering what would have happened if Ben Roethlisberger didn’t complete that third and six pass to Antonio Brown?

12. Video Therapy (Wide Receiver Edition) —

Enjoy your weekend…

New York Jets Defense – Three Layers Of Excellence

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Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets) and subscribe to the YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/turn0nthejets)

The New York Jets had the NFL’s number one ranked defense last season and there is plenty of reasons to believe they will improve in 2010. Whether it is the increased familiarity the returning players have with Rex Ryan’s system or the influx of talent through trades, free agency, and the NFL draft; the Jets are position to improve their defensive weaknesses from 2009 and become an even more dominant unit.

PhotobucketThe Jets had the number one ranked total defense thanks to their number one ranked passing defense, which blew away the rest of the NFL by allowing 153.7 yards per game. The second place team was over 30 yards behind. There is no reason to think the Jets pass coverage should suffer in 2010, considering they upgraded their second, third and fourth cornerback and replaced the underachieving Kerry Rhodes with Brodney Pool.

Despite having such an exceptional pass defense, the Jets didn’t rack up impressive sack totals in 2009. They finished tied for 18th in the league with 32.0 sacks. This number should improve in 2010 because of the addition of Jason Taylor, who Rex Ryan will use as a pass rush specialist. The return of a healthy Kris Jenkins will also help push the pocket on the quarterback. Finally, the Jets will have their returning sack leader, Calvin Pace, for 16 games instead of the 12 they had him for in 2009.

The Jets had the 8th ranked rushing defense in the NFL in 2010, nothing to be ashamed of but also nowhere near the level of their pass defense. Again the return of Jenkins at nose tackle should lead to improvement and having Pool at safety instead Rhodes, who struggled in run support and tackling in general last season, will help.

PhotobucketThe return of Kris Jenkins at nose tackle gives the Jets a legitimate All-Pro caliber player at all three levels of their defense. Jenkins on the defensive line, David Harris at linebacker, and Darrelle Revis in the secondary. This is a luxury few teams in the NFL currently have and means you need to have exceptional talent on the offensive line, running back, and receiver position to handle all three of these players.

Jenkins is flanked by a collection of blue-collar players who fit well into Ryan’s system. Shaun Ellis is the most well-know of the rest of the bunch and is one of the better 3-4 defensive ends in the league. He has the ability to stop the run and provide a solid pass rush. Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito aren’t household names but they did more than an adequate job when Jenkins went down last season and are good run stopping defensive lineman.

PhotobucketHarris is surrounded by two borderline pro-bowl caliber players in Bart Scott and Calvin Pace at linebacker, along with Taylor who is a former All-Pro that should benefit from only having to focus on rushing the passer and from Ryan’s aggressive scheme overall. Bryan Thomas is the lowest profile player in the linebacker group but remains a competent starter who does many of the little things for this defense that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

Revis is now paired with Antonio Cromartie at cornerback, who could have made the claim to being the best corner in the NFL after the 2007 season. I don’t know if Cromartie will ever play at that level again but he will certainly have opportunity to flourish in New York because of how his skill set matches up to the Jets defensive system and because of how many balls will be thrown his way. Rookie first round pick Kyle Wilson will be asked to step into the nickel role, which speaks to the talent in front of him. Former starter/nickel back Dwight Lowery can now slide into the #4 corner/extra safety in certain packages role, which best suits him. The Jets don’t have big names at safety in Jim Leonhard and Brondey Pool, but Leonhard is consistent and won’t give up the big play and Pool will have the chance to shine the way Rhodes was supposed to in 2009. Reserve safeties Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo are also key contributing members to this unit off the bench.

There are questions about the Jets heading into the 2010 season but it is hard to see their defense not being an elite unit in the NFL again. Considering what they did last year and their influx of talent, it would be a legitimate disappointment if they didn’t have the NFL’s number one ranked unit.

What To Watch

Jets Area Of Strength – Secondary

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First a few updates:

1. It is more than a little ridiculous that a player who has never won a ring is announcing his free agency decision during a 1 hour primetime special. Yet, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t be watching it tomorrow night. I think it is down to the Bulls, Cavs, and the Knicks at this point for LeBron’s destination. For a guy who is so obsessed with his legacy, he wouldn’t be doing it much service by playing second fiddle in Miami to Dwayne Wade. The Bulls give him the best shot to challenge for a title immediately. The Knicks can now offer Amare Stoudermaire to run with him and the potential of acquiring another major free agent next year.

2. I am interested to see how Miami fills out their roster around Wade and Chris Bosh. Right now, they literally have two other players under contract along with their draft picks.

3. It has been very quiet on the contract negotiations front, especially considering how slow NFL news is right now. The pressure has to pick up on the Jets in the next week or two as training camp begins to creep closer and the question of how Darrelle Revis and Nick Mangold will handle their contract situation grows bigger. It wouldn’t be quality premium cable to start Hard Knocks without the Jets best offensive and defensive player.

4. I am still holding out hope that the Jets will sign Marques Douglas to a minimum deal at some point this summer to boost their depth on the defensive line and that they decide to pass on Mark Brunell unless he is coming in as their number three quarterback.

5. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets) and check out the new episode of Turn On The Jets TV, where we run through some of the top highlights from last season as we look forward to why the Jets have the potential to be so good in 2010.

Jets Area Of Strength – Secondary

Today we cover another area of strength for the Jets headed into the 2010 season, joining the linebackers and receivers, the Jets secondary should be one of their deepest, most talented position groups this year.

PhotobucketAny talk about the Jets secondary starts with cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is coming off one of the best individual defensive seasons in recent NFL history. There isn’t a better cover guy in the league, period. Revis has the rare ability to completely take a team’s top receiving top target out of the game, while still creating turnovers. The Jets defensive scheme dares teams to take a shot at Revis and when they did in 2009, they failed an overwhelming majority of the time. In the end, the Jets will find a way to appease his contract demands. Mike Tannenbaum can be stubborn in his contract negotiations but he isn’t stupid. Revis has the ability to become one of the greatest players in the organization’s history.

In 2009, the weakest spot of the Jets defense was the corner position opposite Revis. Veteran Lito Sheppard struggled to stay healthy and productive, when he actually was on the field. Dwight Lowery was doing an adequate job filling in Sheppard for a little while, but ultimately lacked the physical skills to match up with starting receivers on a consistent basis. The Jets didn’t hesitate this off-season to fix this weakness.

Former All-Pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie was acquired in a trade from the San Diego Chargers. Cromartie is one of the most physically gifted players in the NFL and had a 10 interception season in 2007, along with creating a reputation for racking up highlight reel plays. He has struggled the past few years. However, the Jets are banking on their aggressive man to man scheme bringing the best out of Cromartie, along with him recovering from a hip injury that nagged him last year. Cromartie is a huge boom or bust player heading into 2010. Hopefully, he won’t replicate the bust performance offered by Lito Sheppard last season.

The Jets added further support to the corner position by drafting Kyle Wilson out of Boise State in the first round of the NFL Draft. Wilson was a player who shot up most draft boards after a strong performance during Senior Week. He was rumored to potentially be a top 15 selection. Fortunately for the Jets, he managed to slip all the way to number 29 for them to snatch up. Rex Ryan instantly handed Wilson the starting nickel job, where he could face some early struggles adjusting to playing in the slot. However, his physical skills are far superior to Dwight Lowery and as the season progresses, Wilson should develop into a integral part of the Jets defense. Ryan will utilize his athleticism as both a cover guy and a blitzer off the edge.

PhotobucketWith the acquisitions of Cromartie and Wilson, Dwight Lowery bumps down to the team’s number four corner. In terms of the fourth guy, Lowery has tons of experience and should be used in a selective way as both a corner and safety in certain packages that allow him to take advantage of his ball hawking skills. Marquice Cole and Drew Coleman round out of the cornerback position, as primarily special team players.

At safety, the Jets traded away Kerry Rhodes who has already ticked off his new teammates in Arizona with his desire to vacation over working out in the off-season. Brodney Pool was signed from Cleveland to replace Rhodes. Despite having his season cut short by a head injury in 2009, Pool had a much better statistical season than Rhodes in only 11 games. The coaching staff has been raving about his work ethic this off-season, and that work ethic combined with his athleticism gives Pool the potential to have a big season in the Jets defense.

Jim Leonhard returns as the other starting safety. Most people look over Leonhard when discussing the Jets defense, but he was one of the most consistent players on the team last year and has a complete mastery of the Rex Ryan’s system. He won’t rack up a ton of big plays but he will always be in the right place at the right time and won’t give up big plays either.

The Jets have excellent depth behind Pool and Leonhard. Eric Smith is a versatile player, who has extended starting experience. He will see plenty of action in the multiple packages the Jets use on defense. James Ihedigbo came on towards the end of last year as a quality reserve off the bench and somebody who was effective as a blitzer off the edge. The Jets also added UDFA Donovan Warren from Michigan this off-season, who was talked about as a second round pick before a poor combine showing.

Revis

Cromartie

New TOJ TV

12 Reasons Why The Jets Will Win 12 Games

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First a few updates:

1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets). Also check out the new episode of TOJ TV at the bottom…And now follow Turn On The Jets on YouTube at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/Turn0nTheJets

2. I will making an appearance on Marty Schupak’s Green Rewind Podcast tonight, I will post the link once he has it up and running.

3. The Jets signed 4th round pick Joe McKnight today. They still have to sign Kyle Wilson and Vladimir Ducasse to finish up their draft pick deals.

12 Reasons Why The Jets Will Win 12 Games

I was amazed by  how high the levels of optimism were when I was interviewing Jets fans at mini-camp practice this past week. Out of the 40 people we interviewed, not a single person put their record below 11-5. Personally, I share the optimism because I genuinely believe this is a 12 win, division winner type team this season just I like I genuinely believed they would be a 10 win, wild-card  type team last season (close enough on the win total). Am I being blinded by the fact I am a Jets fan? I don’t think so, why should I say a team that should win 12 games, shouldn’t? Here are 12 reasons, why the Jets will win 12 games in 2010

Photobucket 1. Familiar With Defensive System – This is year two in Rex Ryan’s defensive system, which means all of the returning starters will be substantially more comfortable. They were already number one in the league and now they will have the ability to expand into more complex packages and blitz schemes. The players will also be given more of a chance to freelance and create plays based on what they see from the offense.

Some quotes from Bart Scott earlier in the off-season on this issue…

“Now it’s not what the coaches can do more of, it’s what the players can do more of. Last year we were doing everything pretty much straight by the book. Now we can improvise…The only field coaches we had last year were me, Marques Douglas and Jim Leonhard.  Now you’ve got 22 people here that know the defense and can teach the defense.”

2. Improved Sanchez – I find it hard to believe after the solid postseason Mark Sanchez had, an off-season spent at the team facility, and a year of experience under his belt that he won’t improve on his 20 interceptions to 12 touchdowns from last season. The Jets won 9 games with Sanchez having a pretty awful statistical season, just imagine how many they could win if he makes the expected improvements to his touchdowns, interceptions, completion percentage, and QB rating.

3. Welcome Back – One of the top defensive lineman in the NFL will be returning to the Jets this season. They did struggle against the run at times last season, especially in the wild-card round against the Bengals but the return of Kris Jenkins should alleviate those problems. He will also provide a much better push on the pocket in passing situations.

4. First Down – The addition of Santonio Holmes will allow the Jets to run a wide variety of personnel groupings and formations with their three wide receivers, who are as good of a top three as any in the NFL. Watch for Jerricho Cotchery to become to one of the best slot receivers in the NFL on third downs this season, while all the attention is being paid to Holmes and Braylon Edwards on the outside.

5. No More Corner Problems – The Jets weak spot on defense last year was the cornerback position opposite Darelle Revis. How do you solve a problem like that? You trade for a former All-Pro corner who is one of the best overall athletes in the NFL and spend a first round pick on one of the draft’s top corners. I doubt you can name a team with four corners better than Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, and Dwight Lowery.

Photobucket6. A Mismatch NightmareThe Jets loaded receiver position and number one ranked rushing attack, makes you forget they have one of the better pass catching, and most athletic tight ends in the NFL in Dustin Keller. His regular season numbers weren’t overwhelming last season but in the playoffs, he caught a touchdown in every single game and appeared to finally be on the same page as Mark Sanchez. Keller will get plenty of favorable match-ups this season with attention focused on the Jets receivers and running backs.

7. Defensive Depth – The growth of young players Jamaal Westerman and Kenwin Cummings, along with the additions of veterans Jason Taylor and Lance Laury has given the Jets solid depth at the linebacker position. You already read about their corner depth, which is matched by quality depth at the safety position with Eric Smith, James Ihedigbo, and Donovan Warren. The defensive line could use a little more but that problem could be solved if they add Marques Douglas to the roster over the summer.

8. Safety Valve – The Jets have added two very good pass catching running backs, LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight which will benefit Mark Sanchez. Unlike previous years, the Jets screen game was nearly non-existent last season. Sanchez lacked a good outlet out of the backfield. The presence of Tomlinson and McKnight will help his completion percentage and also create some big plays in the screen game.

9. Playing For The Money – The Jets have three very, very talented players in Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Antonio Cromartie playing for a contract that will secure them for the rest of their careers.

10. Safety Upgrade – Despite not having as big of a name, Brodney Pool will prove to be an upgrade for the Jets at the safety position over Kerry Rhodes, who was a major disappointment last season.

11. Offensive Line – Even with the subtraction of Alan Faneca, who was arguably the Jets fifth best lineman last year anyway, the Jets will still have a very good offensive line in 2010. Nick Mangold is an All-Pro. D’Brickashaw Ferguson is a Pro-Bowl player. Brandon Moore should have been a Pro-Bowl player last year. Damien Woody is a solid, consistent veteran. Their experience will help overcome the growing pains of Vladimir Ducasse.

12. Special Playmakers – The Jets have a serious collection of playmakers for their return game. Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, Joe McKnight, Brad Smith, Aundrae Allison, and David Clowney give Mike Westhoff plenty of options.

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Jets Defense: Looking At The Bench

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First a few updates:

1. The sun is shining a little brighter today because America’s favorite touch football team had a nice second round upset victory in their march to a title yesterday. Next stop is the AFC Championship Game and we won’t be repeating the Jets performance in that particular game this year.

2. I am not a big soccer guy, but when I sat down to eat breakfast this morning and saw Portugal put a 7-0 whooping on North Korea, it caught my attention. If there is one place you don’t want to be heading back to after losing by 7 goals in soccer, it is North Korea.

3. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

Jets Defense: Looking At The Bench

We basically know who the Jets starting eleven will on be on defense this season:

  • DE – Mike DeVito
  • DT – Kris Jenkins
  • DE – Shaun Ellis
  • OLB – Calvin Pace
  • ILB – David Harris
  • ILB – Bart Scott
  • OLB – Bryan Thomas
  • CB – Darrelle Revis
  • CB – Antonio Cromartie
  • S – Brodney Pool
  • S – Jim Leonhard

However, there is going to be major roles for players not listed above. After watching all that basketball over the past two months, you can’t count out the value of a solid bench. Rex Ryan loves to throw different personnel groups out there and bring in a variety of players. Here is a look at who the key players off the Jets bench should be on defense this season:

Secondary

Nickel Back – Kyle Wilson: Wilson was handed the starting nickel job on the day he was drafted. He will see plenty of action in the slot and I am guessing will quickly become one of Ryan’s favorite guys to blitz off the edge. The amount of reps Wilson plays will obviously be bumped up when the Jets play teams who like to spread it out (New England, Green Bay, Houston) but I am sure he will still be worked heavily into the game plan, even against offenses who are more run orientated.

Fourth Corner – Dwight Lowery: As a fourth guy, Lowery is a very good option. He has starting experience over the past two years. While he lacks the physical skills to be an every down starter, he has good ball anticipation skills and a knack for creating turnovers. Lowery is the type of guy who will likely see a bunch of reps in certain game plans and then be used less frequently against run heavy offenses. However, he does still have very good value as a depth player and special teams option.

Fifth Corner – Drew Coleman/Marquice Cole: I expect both of these guy to make the roster again, but only of them will probably be active on a weekly basis. Coleman has a ton of speed but has a knack for getting burnt whenever the ball is thrown at him. Cole looked pretty good last pre-season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leap over Coleman on the depth chart this season.

PhotobucketSafety – Eric Smith: A versatile player who became a key contributor off the bench last season. He has the ability to play both safety positions, be used in coverage on tight ends or running backs out of the backfield, and be used frequently as a blitzer off the edge. There will be some weeks where he plays near a starter’s amount of reps and some weeks where he won’t be as big as a factor. However, he is a core special teams player and a very good depth guy to have in the secondary.

Safety – James Ihedigbo: As the season went on last year, Ihedigbo gradually received a bigger role on the defense. He is a good blitzer off the edge and had a couple of sacks last season and a forced fumble. In the AFC Championship Game, he played a ton of reps for Bart Scott in the dime package. Similar to all the bench players, his number of reps will be game plan specific but I think overall you will seeing a decent amount of Ihedigbo.

Linebacker

Outside Linebacker – Jason Taylor: Taylor was brought in to provide energy to the Jets pass rush. Rex Ryan will be lining him up all over the place to get him the cleanest rush possible to the quarterback. Expect to see a ton of Taylor on third downs and when teams are in two minute mode against the Jets. He should also get some reps at defensive end in certain packages.

Outside/Inside Linebacker – Jamaal Westerman: Westerman had a nice sack in week one last year but was relatively quiet on defense after that. The coaches love his long term potential and versatility. He should find his way on to the field in a few different packages this season at both the inside and outside spot.

Inside Linebacker – Kenwin Cummings: The coaching staff has been raving about him this off-season but unless there is an injury, he shouldn’t see any type of substantial time on the defense. I could see him coming in a goal-line look when the Jets load up on defensive lineman and  linebackers or maybe if Bart Scott or David Harris need a quick break.

Defensive Line

PhotobucketDefensive Tackle/End – Sione Pouha: The Jets top defensive lineman off the bench, who will be a key player in the effort to keep Kris Jenkins fresh and healthy. Ryan could also experiment with some looks that have both Jenkins and Pouha on the field at the same time.

Defensive End – Vernon Gholston – It would be nice to get ten productive reps out of Gholston a game, to spell Shaun Ellis and Mike DeVito and to provide a boost to the pass rush.

Defensive End – Ropati Pitoitua – Similar to Gholston, it would be nice to see him contribute ten or so reps off the bench to improve the Jets defensive line depth.

Defensive Tackle/End – Matt Kroul – The coaches have hyped him up this off-season, let’s see if can turn into  Mike DeVito part two.

Overall, I would say Wilson and Pouha will get the most total reps off the bench with Taylor and Smith not too far behind. Yet, for the Jets defense to remain at the top of the league they will need all the guys listed above to settle into their roles as productive players. The Jets depth is key to throwing different schemes and personnel groups at offenses, along with keeping their starters fresh.

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