Three In a Row: Jets Embarrass Bucs, Stay Alive in Playoff Race

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Three In a Row: Jets Embarrass Bucs, Stay Alive in Playoff Race

Another week, another ugly win for the Jets. It took more than half of the season but the Jets have finally found their identity over the past three games. When you look at the AFC standings, you have to be encouraged about the Jets still being very much alive heading into their final three games but feel a little disgusted looking at that three way tie at 7-6 with Jacksonville and Miami, considering the way the Jets lost games to them.

Today it was all about the defense, who completely dominated Tampa Bay. The Bucs are bad enough as is, but the Jets made them look like a division 3 team. They recorded three interceptions, including another one by Darrelle Revis who now has a INT in the past three games and is making a hell of a push for defensive player of the year consideration. David Harris picked one off on the first play of the game, setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon. Yes, even Kerry Rhodes got in on the fun with his third interception of the season. Calvin Pace, Donald Strickland, and James Ihedigbo all had a sack.

On offense, Kellen Clemens was okay. He started out poorly but got into a rhythm late in the third quarter, and showed some of his arm strength. Brad Smith was all over the place, finding success in the wildcat, on special teams by completing a 27 yard pass, and catching a pass. Danny Woodhead chipped in 52 total offensive yards. Thomas Jones continued to have a pro-bowl caliber season with another strong performance, finishing with 99 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.

Turn On the Jets Interview With David Clowney

First a few updates:

1. Rex Ryan has made the decision to make James Ihedigbo and Marques Murrell inactive for this week’s game against Oakland for their role in a fight with Buffalo’s Derek Fine in OT, which drew a personal foul penalty against Ihedigbo. I can’t argue with the decision because this team needs to be more disciplined and both players deserve to be punished. You can’t afford 15 yard penalties in overtime.

2. I liked Mark Sanchez’s demeanor and attitude in his press conference today. He seems to have the right mindset to get back on track. Let’s not forget he responded with a strong performance against Miami after a rough game against New Orleans. Hopefully, he can do the same thing this Sunday in the Black Hole, where at least he will be accustomed to the weather.

Turn On The Jets Interview With David Clowney

New York Jets wide receiver David Clowney has been kind enough to take the time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for me here at Turn On The Jets. Clowney has seen an increased role the past few weeks and is gradually becoming a bigger part of the Jets offense. Two weeks ago against Miami, he recorded 4 catches for 72 yards and he got his first start last week against Buffalo. Make sure to check out David’s website at www.davidclowney87.com and also make sure to stop by www.playerpress.com. Special thanks to Todd Schmerler for helping set up this interview.

JC: Does the team and yourself personally still have confidence that you can win games with Mark Sanchez under center?

DC: Without a doubt, we have confidence in all three quarterbacks we have. Mark is the future of this team so we’re going to ride with him.

JC: Were you frustrated that you played the entire game Sunday but didn’t have a single ball thrown your way despite clearly getting yourself open a few times?

DC: Anybody that plays offense would be frustrated when you don’t get the ball in your hands. I’m pretty sure the coaches want and expect guys to be upset about that. I always want to be that guy that wants to make a play, that’s the type of guy I am. When there’s a play to be made I’m always hoping to get my hands on that ball.

JC: Do you feel a sense of satisfaction and that you are proving you belong in the NFL as a full time player from the past two weeks: Having big game on Monday Night Football and then making your first career start against Buffalo?

DC: Without a doubt, I believe I did that in the preseason last year and this year. That’s like your interview, your audition. I also felt I showed it at the end of last year when I got into some games. I hope to continue showing it, because you have to if you want to have one of those 16-year careers like my coach Henry Ellard.

JC: We all know about your speed, but what is the one aspect of your game that people are overlooking?

DC: The way I block in the running game. I love blocking. I love football, so I love every aspect of the game. The running backs and linemen have to block in the passing game, in order to get a ball to the wide receiver the quarterback needs the running backs to help block. So when they’re running the ball I have to do my job by blocking, making sure the running back gets to the corner and then maybe get another block downfield to stretch the play from 10 to 20 yards.

JC: What have your learned from playing with Jerricho Cotchery the past couple of seasons?

DC: Jerricho’s a very very very humble person. He doesn’t say too much but he’s the kind of player you can learn a lot from watching. As far as football is concerned, it’s his route running. He’s one of the best route runners in the game. I try to compete with him at route running to try to do it as well as he does on a consistent basis.

David Clowney Shows Off His Moves This Past Pre-Season

Turn Off The Jets: Comically Bad Loss to Bills Reaction

Being a season ticket holding Jets fan my entire life, I have sat through some bad football games. Today was among the worst I have ever seen. The Bills were awful. The officiating was awful. Most importantly, the Jets were awful. It was a long, painful game to watch with no rhythm or tempo. By the fourth quarter, it wasn’t a question of if the Jets were going to lose, it was how they were going to lose. They found a uniquely, cruel and unusual way to drag it out today but sure enough they did lose in the end and are now 3-3.

Paging Kellen Clemens…Paging Erik Ainge…Paging Kevin O’Connell…Just kidding, but wow Mark Sanchez was bad today. I understand he is a rookie but that can’t be an excuse to throw five interceptions. The kid looked shaken today. He was on nowhere near the same page as his receivers and repeatedly killed the Jets with turnovers. There are plenty of things to point fingers at today but the bottom line is that you aren’t going to win with 5 interceptions. We know the talent is there but how many more performances like this is Sanchez going to have this year? He has already cost the team two games.

Airing of Grievances…The early reports is that Kris Jenkins is out for the season, when it rains it pours. The Jets defense was already struggling the past few weeks but is now going to be in serious trouble without Jenkins, who is their most valuable player on that side of the ball…Before you even think about saying the Jets defense played anywhere near good today, remember they recorded 1 sack for 5 yards against an offensive line starting three rookies, Rex Ryan’s blitz schemes aren’t fooling anybody and nobody on the Jets is talented enough to beat their blocker and make a play…Ryan Fitzpatrick led a 10 point second half comeback on the road against the defense…Lito Sheppard was beat like a drum all day by Lee Evans before finally being pulled for Dwight Lowery…There is no excuse for Steve Weatherford for dropping that snap and denying Jay Feely at a chance at winning the game in OT…The amount of penalties on the Jets was astronomical, every single drive in OT started with a penalty and they had the game pulled out of their hands by the officials thanks to a holding call, after Thomas Jones ran down to the 13 yard line in OT.

More Grievances…James Ihedigbo should be cut for punching somebody on the opening kickoff in OT and costing the Jets 15 yards…Mark Sanchez also can’t keep taking 15 yard sacks, throw the ball away. Dustin Keller and Mark Sanchez look they have never been in the same room as each other and are running different offenses…Brian Schottenheimer’s playcalling still leaves something to be desired.

Welcome back to mediocrity Jets fans. We had a nice three weeks in the beginning of the year without it, but now we are back where we belong. You are kidding yourselves if you feel confident about flying out to Oakland next week and getting a win. The Jets never play well on the West Coast, particularly in Oakland and the Raiders just took care of the Eagles today, who are much better than the Jets. Also, Mark Sanchez is currently playing like JaMarcus Russell.

Grading Out the Jets/Ravens Game

First a few updates:

1. John Clayton speculated it would take a 1st and 4th round pick for the Jets or any other team for that matter to acquire Brandon Marshall from the Broncos…that is a steep price for the Jets, who only drafted three players last year and still badly need to add depth/talent to the WR, TE, and OL/DL. However, how much better would Mark Sanchez be with a guy like Marshall to throw to? It is an interesting debate, as of now I still wouldn’t expect anything to happen.

2. The Rex Sox just acquired Billy Wagner…did somebody say desperate? Also, it is really historically unbelievable how bad the Mets season has gone, in terms of injuries and everything else that has happened around the team.

3. I just found out you can download something called “NFL Replay” which allows you to watch any NFL game on your computer within 24 hours of it ending. Thank god…I was contemplating not going to Italy with my family because I would miss the Jets/Colts week 16 game.

4. My fantasy football league is holding our live draft this Saturday…and I am stuck the #5 pick. Suggestions are still welcome.

Grading Out the Jets/Ravens Game

Quarterbacks: D+ – Yeeesh. Let’s be honest here, outside of one play it was an ugly, ugly night for Mark Sanchez. The rookie threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown (a ridiculously athletic play by Haloti Ngata), threw another ball right into the arms of Ray Lewis, fumbled an exchange, had two delay of game penalties, and a miscommunication with Jerricho Cotchery. Yes, he did make an athletic play and a great throw on a 19 yard touchdown pass to Leon Washington on a third down, which shows some character and a short memory, both necessary for a successful quarterback but outside of that play, he was simply bad. Hopefully, this night be will remembered as an important part of his development and learning curve as a NFL QB. The Ravens in their building are as good as it gets in the NFL…Sanchez will learn from last night and be better prepared the next time around.

Kellen Clemens had a real shot to make the quarterback battle alot more interesting last night but didn’t respond to the challenge. He threw a horrible interception at the end of the first half, which was returned for a touchdown and only completed 50 percent of his passes. He did drop in a nice 28 yard touchdown to David Clowney (who else?) and threw a beautiful long ball to Brad Smith that was dropped (shocking…I know).

The Jets are built to play defense and run the ball. They need a quarterback who can protect the football and not give points to the opposing team. If you take away the 2 INT’s for touchdowns last night, the Jets win that game handily. They can’t have turnovers from the quarterback position, period.

By the way, Erik Ainge looked pretty good last night and is probably on his way to being the #2 quarterback next year when Clemens isn’t resigned.

Running Backs: A – Pay Leon Washington. Pay Leon Washington. Pay Leon Washington. Pay Leon Washington. #29 is the engine the keeps the Jets offense running. He put on a display last night that clearly showed his value to the Jets. 48 rushing yards on a 6.0 yards per carry (just like last season…give him more touches), 2 receptions for 35 yards including a 19 yard touchdown, and a 52 yard kickoff return. Pay Leon Washington. Thomas Jones also looked like he was in 2008 form with 32 yards on 8 carries. Shonn Greene had a nice 15 yard catch but took a rib shot that limited his action. I am still not that impressed with Danny Woodhead, who isn’t going to make the roster. Brock Christopher looked pretty good filling in for Jehuu Caulcrick. Good to see Tony Richardson back out there.

Wide Receivers: D – Nothing from Jerricho Cotchery or Chansi Stuckey, who combined for 1 catch for 7 yards. Brad Smith dropped a touchdown and had an offensive pass interference penalty. Britt Davis dropped a long touchdown. Marcus Henry couldn’t get open on the 2 point conversion that could have won the game. Wallace Wright was quiet. On the positive side, David Clowney just keeps making plays as he caught another touchdown pass, using his speed to blow by Frank Walker. How can Clowney not be the Jets #2 receiver right now? Everybody talks about how much they love Stuckey in the slot, so put Clowney and Cotchery on the outside and have Stuckey work the slot.

Tight Ends: C – Quiet night from Dustin Keller. Jack Simmons had a drop and Kareem Brown didn’t have a catch, although they all deserve some credit for strong blocking in the running game.

Offensive Line: B+ – It says alot about Nick Mangold and Alan Faneca that they strapped it up last night…that is exactly what you want to see from your veterans, that they are excited about the team/season and are raring to get back out there. The offensive line did a great job opening up holes in the running game and did decent in pass protection, considering the amount of blitzes the Ravens threw at them. Wayne Hunter played much better filling in for Damien Woody than he did last week.

Defensive LIne: B+ – Very strong games from both Howard Green and Ropati Pitoitua, who both recorded a sack and are showing that the Jets have pretty good depth along their defensive line. The run defense was great and the entire line got a solid push all night. It will be a huge boost to get Kris Jenkins back in the next couple of days.

Linebackers: B – David Harris is going to record alot of sacks in Rex Ryan’s defense. He continued his terrific pre-season with 5 tackles and a sack. Bart Scott missed a tackle in the backfield on third down that would have ended a drive. Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace both had productive games, including another sack from Pace who the Jets are going to miss badly for the first four games this year. Kenwin Cummings and Marques Murrell were both active. Vernon Gholston did nothing except get out-run by Joe Flacco.

Secondary: C – They badly miss Darrelle Revis. Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman were picked on all night. Coleman had a nice pass deflection but was toasted deep by Derrick Mason. Lito Sheppard was beat a couple of times. Kerry Rhodes was pretty active and had a nice pass deflection, to break up a screen play. Marquice Cole had a nice interception but was beat deep later in the game. James Ihedigbo had an interception called back on a penalty.

Special Teams: C – Average punting, decent kicking, a big kick return by Leon Washington, a nice job on punt returns by Jim Leonhard and a near turnover by Aundrae Allison.

Highlights From the Game Last Night:

Jets vs. Ravens: Five Players to Watch

First a few updates:

1.  The Jets had their first annual “King Ugly” contest which names the three ugliest players/coaches in the organization. According to the beat writers and David Clowney’s twitter (also an interesting follow), first place was James Ihedigbo, second place was defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, and third place was Leon Washington. Hey, it’s not a big deal guys…you play a sport with helmets on and I am pretty sure Pettine will be tucked safely away in the booth.

2. I was cleaning out my closet today and went through all my NFL Jerseys, which was obviously overloaded with Jets no longer on the team and WR’s and CB’s from other teams. For some reason when I was in high school I  wasted hundreds of dollars on jerseys of receivers and corners cause I played both positions. Anyway, look at this depth chart of jerseys and please if you are interested in buying any of them except for the guys currently on the Jets, feel free to let me know:

Jets Jerseys:

Still On The Team – Dustin Keller, Jerricho Cotchery, Kerry Rhodes

Legends – Curtis Martin

Out of Date – Santana Moss, Laveranues Coles, Curtis Conway (Yes, Curtis Conway), Jonathan Vilma, Chad Pennington, #9 Caporoso Jersey (a horrible gift from an ex-girlfriend)

Other NFL Jerseys:

Recievers: Anquan Boldin, David Boston, Issac Bruce

Corners: Terrence Newman, Phillip Buchannon, Charles Woodson, Quentin Jammer

Jets vs. Ravens: Five Players to Watch

I am going to do a full preview of the game before Monday Night but for now here is five players in particular to watch out for when the Jets play the Ravens:

Mark Sanchez – Obviously…the rookie is making his first start and it is on the road against one of the NFL’s best defenses. What will be the most interesting to see is how he handles the intense amounts of pressure the Ravens will throw at him. Can he avoid sacks and move the pocket? Can he make the proper check at the line to a quick pass? Can he find the back or tight end to dump the ball off too? Even better, will he make the Ravens pay for crowding the box? Leading a scoring drive against the Rams is one thing but if Sanchez can put up some points against Baltimore’s first defense, that would be pretty impressive and leave us all feeling better heading into the season.

David Clowney – Can the speedy receiver keep up his pre-season dominance and more importantly, can he stay healthy? I would like to see Clowney catch a few balls that aren’t deep bombs (obviously in addition to catching a deep bomb or two) to show that he could work in traffic and be a complete receiver. Teams are going to start respecting his deep speed, which will open up the deep curl and comeback for him. Clowney has had some issues catching the football, so he needs to prove he can pull in a few difficult passes. Also, we’d all like to see him catch another touchdown and do that bizarre dance.

Vernon Gholston – Paging Mr. Gholston…paging Mr. Gholston….will you ever record a sack? Even in a pre-season game? Why can Kenwin Cummings get a sack last week but you can’t? I am tired about hearing how strong he is at the point of attack and how he has all the tools. It is time for Gholston to make a pass rush move and use his speed to put the quarterback on the ground.  We are all sick of seeing the #6 pick in the draft end of the game stats be 2 assisted tackles and 0 impact plays.

Dwight Lowery – The second year corner is coming off a rough outing against the Rams and should start again in place of Darrelle Revis and also see extended reps because Donald Strickland is sitting out with a sore toe. Lowery apparently struggled last game because he was dealing with some personal issues involving a friend nearly being deported. Hopefully, he can put that behind him, go out and have a strong bounce-back performance. You can never have enough depth in the secondary and Lowery is a talented guy who has a chance to be a big part of the Jets nickle and dime packages on defense this season.

Wayne Hunter – The backup tackle will start again for Damien Woody. Hunter struggled last week, giving up a 3rd down sack to Leonard Little of the Rams. It would be nice to see Hunter have a solid performance against a top tier defense, showing the Jets have somewhat decent depth on the offensive line. Also, keep an eye out to see if he gets any reps at tight end with the second offense.

Another Funny Jets Commercial, this time starting Fireman Ed:

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 Positional Analysis: Safeties

First a few updates:

1. Yankees are one game out of first place because no matter what they can’t beat the Angels. The Mets would have a good shot of being in first place right now if they were in a AA league.

2. If you read the comments under the article on the home page entitled “End of the Weekend Jets Ramblings” you can find a prolonged debate between reader dmd13 and myself about Leon Washington. I am carving him up right now like Will Ferrell carved up James Carville in Old School.

Jets Positional Analysis: Safeties

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

1. Kerry Rhodes #25, Last Season: 84 Tackles, 1 Sack, 8 Tackles For Loss, 5 Passes Defensed, 2 Interceptions

History: Rhodes has been starting for the Jets since his rookie season in 2005, after the Jets selected him in the fourth round. He had a breakout season in 2006 and was robbed by not being selected to the pro-bowl for a season that saw him record 5 sacks, 4 INTs, 3 Forced Fumbles, 13 Passes Defensed, and 98 tackles. His numbers dipped slightly the year after and even further this past season. Many people blame Rhodes lack of big play production on Eric Mangini/Bob Sutton’s poor use of him and him lacking a partner at safety with range to cover and stop the run. The Jets signed Jim Leonhard this season to allow Rhodes to have more freedom and make plays for the defense.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Rhodes becomes New York’s version of Ed Reed and is constantly creating big plays in Rex Ryan’s attacking scheme. He makes his first pro-bowl appearance and establishes himself as one of the elite safeties in the game.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: His numbers continue to decline, making it look like 2006-2007 were fluke seasons for Rhodes.

Prediction: I think Rhodes is going to thrive in Rex Ryan’s system and he will be greatly aided by having Jim Leonhard, someone with strong pass coverage skills, next to him. Expect his numbers to be very similar to what they were in 2006.

2. Jim Leonhard #36, Last Season: 69 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Tackle For Loss, 6 Passes Defensed, 1 INT, 1 Touchdown

History: Leonhard didn’t do much his first two seasons in the NFL but did an excellent job of stepping in for an injured Dawan Landry last season, showing his ability to play at this level. His play improved as the season went on and he had a huge impact in Baltimore’s playoff run. He is comfortable with Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme and should help Kerry Rhodes make plays in the same way his abilities helped Ed Reed make plays.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Leonhard builds on last season and gives the Jets consistent play at safety opposite Rhodes for the first time in years. He helps teach Ryan’s defense to the entire secondary, easing their transition to a new scheme.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Leonhard struggles adjusting to becoming a full time starter for an entire season. He eventually loses his job to Eric Smith, meaning the Jets wasted money signing him in the off-season.

Prediction: Leonhard will be a steady, consistent player in the Jets secondary. I dont’ expect tons of big plays from him but definitely a major improvement in pass coverage from Abram Elam last year.

3. Eric Smith #33, Last Season: 32 Tackles, 1 Tackle For Loss, 4 Passes Defensed, 1 INT

History: Smith was drafted by the Jets in 2006 and had a pretty good rookie season. He has struggled with injuries the past couple of season and didn’t seize the starting job last year when given the opportunity. However, he did have a good mini-camp/OTA’s recording numerous interceptions and impressing Rex Ryan.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Smith develops into a valuable role player on defense and continues to play well on special teams. If Jim Leonhard or Kerry Rhodes gets hurt he is able to step in and do the job adequately.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Smith struggles to find a role on the defense and doesn’t provide any valuable reps to the unit.

Prediction: Smith will be a quality third safety for the Jets and contribute in some nickle and dime packages, while also playing special teams.

4. James Ihedigbo #44, Last Season: 8 Tackles, 1 Killer Holding Penalty on Special Teams

History: Ihedigbo has bounced around the Jets practice squad and inactive roster the past couple of years. However, he was active for a few games last season but unfortunately his most memorable play was a holding call that brought back a Leon Washington kick return touchdown against the 49ers. Rex Ryan did say he liked what he saw from him during OTA’s as the Jets #4 safety.

Chance of Making Roster: 75%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Ihedigbo is the Jets #4 safety and a core special teams player.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He gets cut because he is beat out by one of the Jets UDFA’s.

Prediction: I expect him to make the roster and be the number 4 safety.

The Rest of the Guys:

5. Emanuel Cook #38 – A UDFA who probably should have been drafted but has some character issues. He has some talent and has been compared to Abram Elam because of his hard hitting style of play.

6. Keith Fitzhugh #37 – Another UDFA who will compete for a roster spot as a special teams player and reserve DB.

Overall Position Analysis: Rhodes and Leonhard will be the starters, with Smith providing a quality backup to both spots. Ihedigbo should be the fourth safety but keep an eye on Cook during training camp.

Highlight of New Jets Player of the Day: Safety Jim Leonhard records a sack and has a nice punt return on consecutive plays last year:

Sanchez Ends OTAs With a Bang

Today was the Jets final OTA, which means tomorrow begins a quiet period for the Jets and the NFL in general until training camp starts up at the end of July. Here’s a run down of what happened on the field today with some analysis, along with a look at what to expect for the next 6 weeks until training camp starts on July 31st:

1. Mark Sanchez responded to a quiet start by closing the Jets OTA on a very high note. He was forced to resort to dump offs in his first 11 on 11 series and was intercepted by Eric Smith, who recorded his fifth take away in two days. However, in his final 11 on 11 series Sanchez gave his coaches, teammates and fans something to feel good about for the next 6 weeks. After hitting Wallace Wright with his first pass, he found David Clowney three straight times and then closed the drive with a 17 yard fade for a touchdown to his new favorite target, Wright. Yes, it is only going for 5/5 with a TD on one 11 on 11 series but still it shows the progress Sanchez has made in the past few weeks. Kellen Clemens played relatively well today also. Rex Ryan stated that he was encouraged by the competition and believes it is about even so far.

2. Back to the wide receivers, Ryan heaped the praise on Wallace Wright today who had a very strong set of OTAs. Wright hasn’t been mentioned much as a factor at the wide receiver position but don’t sleep on this guy. He did pretty well in 2007 when given the chance and could work his way into the rotation this year. Brad Smith made an acrobatic one-handed grab today and Ryan talked about his belief that Smith could be a dangerous slot receiver. He has all the physical talent necessary for the position but needs to show he can be consistent in games, not just practice. Chansi Stuckey continued to play very well is looking the part of a number two receiver. David Clowney has struggled with drops occasionally but still is flashing his speed and big play ability on a daily basis. If the season started today, Cotchery and Stuckey would be the starters with Smith probably receiving the next most reps, followed by Clowney and Wright.

3. Ryan singled out linebacker Marques Murrell for praise today. Murrell has flashed decent pass rush skills in the past and may be able to work his way into the rotation on defense, especially if Vernon Gholston doesn’t step up. Jason Trunsick and Murrell provide the Jets with solid depth behind their group of starters.

4. As I mentioned before, Eric Smith had another strong practice and has made a strong impression on Ryan who raved about him and James Ihedigbo as guys who provide excellent depth behind starters Kerry Rhodes and Jim Leonhard. Smith should see plenty of action on defense in nickel and dime packages and could even push Leonhard for reps if he keeps playing this well.

5. Kris Jenkins has been getting moved around a little bit on the defensive line, seeing some reps at end. He has actually been held out of some drills because of how dominant he is up front, according to Ryan. Howard Green and Sione Pouha have looked good so far as Jenkins primary backups.

6. Apparently the Jets quarterbacks have given up throwing at Darrelle Revis who looks every bit of the lockdown corner he proved to be last year. Dwight Lowery had been quiet but flashed today with a sack and a pass breakup. Lowery was a Mangini guy, so it will be interesting to see where he fits in Ryan’s new defense. He has very good ball skills but lacks speed.

So what to write about for the next six weeks, while the Jets retreat back to their homes for some relaxation before they head to upstate New York for training camp? Fortunately, I never get tired of discussing this team and have plenty of ideas on how to fill up this blog every day. Overall, this may be a slow time for Jets news but it won’t be here. There is plenty to write about: the quarterback battle, the questionable depth at receiver, the ongoing contract issues with Thomas Jones/Leon Washington, potential trades or free agent signings, examining how the Jets can attack their AFC East rivals, breaking down the schedule overall, predicting who will make the roster, looking at camp battles, and providing closer/statistic based breakdowns of the Jets starters, key reserves, and bubble players.