Five Questions About The Jets Special Teams

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First a few updates:

1. After a few reports came out yesterday about the Jets bringing back defensive end Marques Douglas by the week’s end, it now sounds like the Jets are content with their youth movement on the defensive line and won’t pursue him. This is a statement of confidence in players like Mike DeVito, Matt Kroul, and Ropati Pitoitua to give the Jets quality reps in their defensive line rotation. DeVito is going to be the starter, after putting together a pretty strong season in 2009. Kroul and Pitoitua are untested and of course there still is that Vernon Gholston fellow, looking for his first career NFL sack.

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

3. The Jets are expected to sign quarterback Mark Brunell tomorrow, with a release of Kellen Clemens following shortly after.

Five Questions About The Jets Special Teams

As training camp rapidly approaches, here are five questions about the Jets special teams that still need to be sorted out –

1. What The Folk?

– The Jets parted ways with Jay Feely this off-season, who was not only a reliable kicker but a good tackler and a political pundit. They replaced him with Dallas Cowboys castoff, Nick Folk, who despite being an All-Pro kicker in 2007 and hero of my fantasy football team that season, struggled heavily in 2009. The best way to describe Folk’s play for Dallas last year is absolutely brutal. He made 64.3 percent of his field goal attempts, spearheaded by him going 5/12 from the 40-49 yard range. He was cut after shanking a 24 yard field goal in a crucial late season game against the Saints. The Jets are confident that special teams guru Mike Westhoff can get him back on track but the reality is the Jets are taking a major risk by relying on Folk to be their kicker. In OTAs and mini-camp, Folk would have days where he missed four straight field goals and then follow up by going 7 for 7 the next day. The consistency clearly isn’t there yet and for a team built on defense and running the football, it is scary to have a kicker who isn’t reliable.

2. How much Antonio Cromartie will we see on kick and punt returns?

– The Jets were giving Cromartie reps at both kick and punt return during their off-season workouts. He is an explosive player in the open field with the ball in his hands, displayed by his four career return touchdowns. However, none of those were on kick or punt returns. They were from taking a missed field goal back, along with a few interceptions. Cromartie did have a 91 yard kick return in 2006. The Jets kick return job is open since Leon Washington is no longer on the roster and regardless of who the primary return guy is, Cromartie still could get put back there once or twice a game.

3. Can Kyle Wilson handle full time punt return duties?

– After the Jets drafted Wilson, Rex Ryan claimed he would be the team’s starting nickel back and primary punt returner. It is a big task for a rookie to be pressed into the punt return job, where any small mistake or misjudgement can swing an entire game. Do you remember when the Titans had a rookie back there last year against the Jets? From all reports in OTAs and mini-camp, Wilson looked terrific fielding punts. However, it is different when you are under the bright lights of Monday Night Football week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jerricho Cotchery or Jim Leonhard still put back deep in certain situations, especially if a team is punting into the Jets endzone. Regardless, Wilson should provide the Jets some explosiveness in the punt return game they were lacking last year.

4. Will Steve Weatherford last the season as the Jets punter?

– The Jets went through about 27 punters last season before finally settling on Weatherford, who was pretty good in 2009. The best part about Weatherford may be that he averaged a whopping 26 yards per carry last season and he took the time to compliment Turn On The Jets on Facebook, which of course puts him alongside David Clowney and Donovan Warren with first team all TOJ status. In all seriousness, it will be interesting to see if Weatherford can make it through another full season as the Jets punter or if the team has a quick trigger finger like they did before the 2009 season kicked off.

5. Who will return kicks for the Jets in 2010?

– There are a ton of candidates on the roster to take over the primary kick return duties. Brad Smith did a good filling in for Leon Washington last season and is the favorite to take the majority of kicks back for the Jets this season. However, Joe McKnight, Kyle Wilson, Aundrae Allison, David Clowney, and Danny Woodhead are also all in the mix. As previously mentioned, Antontio Cromartie should also get a few chances back there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a committee approach to the kick return job this season, unless Brad Smith can do more of this on a consistent basis:

New York Jets Special Teams Questions

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First a few updates:

1. The NBA Playoffs is finally coming around a little bit. How can you not enjoy watching the Phoenix Suns play? They are like a #15 seed in the NCAA Tournament going for a upset with the amount of energy they play with. I just hope the Magic can overcome the corpse of Vince Carter dragging himself around the court to get another win tonight.

2. Some highlights from Rex Ryan’s video chat with fans today:

  • He was adamant that Nick Mangold isn’t going anywhere and that the organization will do what it takes to keep him a Jet for a long time.
  • He talked up Brandon Moore as one of the best guards in the NFL.
  • When discussing the running backs, he deflected a question about there being a battle for the starting running back job but said there would be weeks when Shonn Greene will have more carries and weeks when LaDainian Tomlinson will have more carries and that Tomlinson would also be the third-down back while Joe McKnight gets up to speed. He also raved about John Conner and discussed how he pushed for Mike Tannenbaum to draft him.
  • Ryan shot down the chemistry concerns and joked that nobody on the team but Eric Smith could pass a chemistry class.
  • He again penciled in Kyle Wilson as the starting nickel but said Dwight Lowery would still be used frequently at both corner and safety.
  • If the season started today Eric Smith would start at safety because of his knowledge of the defense but he expects Brodney Pool to be the opening day starter.
  • He talked up Brad Smith and the Jets use of the “Tiger” formation this year.
  • The player who has made the biggest improvements since he arrived is Mark Sanchez.
  • The biggest surprise and guy who has jumped out the most at OTAs has been Kenwin Cummings at inside linebacker and as of today he is the team’s #3 inside linebacker.

3. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets), I need all the ammunition I can when I talk with the Jets media relations guy in the coming weeks about getting a press pass for training camp and the pre-season games.

New York Jets Special Teams Questions

Hey, it is one-third of the game. No Jets fans can sleep on the importance of special teams after watching the negatives of Ted Ginn Jr. take two kicks back for a touchdown in a single game last season and Jay Feely miss three kicks versus Atlanta along with the positives of Brad Smith taking a kick back to the house in Indy and the Jets executing four successful fake punts in 2009. The Jets were up and down last season despite having one of the best special teams coaches in the business with Mike Westhoff and they still have plenty of questions heading into this year.

Kicker – The Jets got a problem here. Jay Feely was a reliable kicker the past two seasons and the Jets decided not to bring him back and replace him with Dallas castoff Nick Folk, who was an ugly 18/28 last season before being cut. Apparently Folk had an ugly start to his Jets career last week by missing just about every kick he took during OTAs. I know I don’t feel confident in Folk lining up for a big kick this season and if he continues to struggle this off-season look for Matt Stover to be added to the roster sooner rather than later. Stover might not have the greatest leg strength at this stage of his career but he is reliable in the 40-45 yard range and you can’t say the same for Folk right now.

Punter – Steve Weatherford managed to keep his job throughout the entire 2009 season and did an okay job. It looks like he will be the Jets guy going forward and hey the guy averaged 21 yards per carry last season. Hopefully a full off-season of working with Westhoff will improve Weatherford’s consistency in 2010.

PhotobucketKick Return – It will be very interesting to see what the Jets do here. Brad Smith did a pretty gob job in this role last season. Antonio Cromartie got some reps in OTAs and was impressive. Rookies Kyle Wilson and Joe McKnight will likely get some opportunities in training camp and the pre-season. David Clowney could get a shot. Aundrae Allison was impressive last pre-season and is probably the fastest guy on the team. Dwight Lowery took some reps last year before Smith locked the job down. If I had to guess today, Smith and McKnight will be the primary guys with Cromartie getting occasional reps. However, keep an eye on Allison during training camp as a dark horse.

Punt Return – This will be Kyle Wilson’s job to lose, although I could see Jim Leonhard or Jerricho Cotchery getting some reps in a big spot or when a team is kicking from around mid-field, when it would be better to have an experienced veteran back there.

Coverage – The Jets lost valuable special teams players like Wallace Wright, Larry Izzo, and Ryan Fowler this off-season but did sign Lance Laury who was a stand out special teams player in Seattle. They will also look to guys like Kenwin Cummings, Jamaal Westerman, and Marquice Cole to fill the void. Eric Smith, Brad Smith, and John Conner should all also be core special teams players.

Maybe the play that saved the Jets season in 2009

Devil's Advocate: Why The Jets Won't Be Good This Year

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First a few updates:

1. You know I love updates but I have to cut them somewhat short today because I have to figure out how to get TOJ The Podcast up and running this week and do some filming for TOJ TV. Don’t forget the Jets DVD Contest…E-Mail me 5 new fans you got to become fans of the Facebook Page and you will have a chance to win a free copy of “New York Jets Best Games of 2009.”

2. It is a real shame Brian Cushing will remain Defensive Rookie of the Year…I am not sure what kind of message it sends to give him the award again after it has been proven that he cheated.

3. How entertaining is tomorrow night’s Cavs/Celtics game going to be? The entire fate of the NBA for the next 10 years could be on the line. How will LeBron respond to all the criticism he is receiving? If you aren’t tuning in tomorrow…you aren’t a sports fan.

Photobucket4. Thoughts On Lost Season 6, Episode 15 “Across the Sea” – You will be hard pressed to find a bigger defender of LOST than me. I think the show is terrific and the writers take too much crap from fans, who have ridiculous expectations. Season six has been very good and even great at times, but last night’s episode was a swing and miss. I have only watched it once and maybe on a re-watch, I will appreciate it more. Look I understand, you can’t have something tangible as being the reason the Island is special, so I don’t have a problem leaving it as this ambiguous entity, but the imagery of that yellow cave was lame. The kid actors were crappy and I didn’t like the whole “drink this wine and now you are the protector of the island” scene. However, I expect more details on “rules” of the island and what actually happened when the MIB was thrown into the cave to be fleshed out in the final 2 episodes. In terms of theories, I do believe the original woman on the Island was the smoke monster herself and had orchestrated a long plan to get herself a replacement as both the island protector and as the smoke monster. Regardless, I am looking forward to getting back to the main characters this week.

5. So much for having short updates today.

Devil’s Advocate: Why The Jets Won’t Be Good This Year

For the first time since 1999, I genuinely 100 percent believe the Jets are one of the five best teams in the NFL heading into a season. I don’t think my fandom is clouding my vision when I say I expect the Jets to win 11 or 12 games and be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Yet, as we see every year in the NFL expectations aren’t always met and teams frequently come out of nowhere to make the playoffs and occasionally win the  Super Bowl. Despite the optimism I share with many fans for 2010, thee are two sides to every argument. So, let me play a little devil’s advocate to myself and feelings on the 2010 Jets, by looking at why the Jets won’t be good this season and by not good, I mean 8-8 or less.

Let’s start on offense where the Jets could have problems at three crucial positions: quarterback, running back, and left guard. Mark Sanchez was Jekyll and Hyde last year, what if he comes back in 2010 with a bunch of Buffalo/Atlanta/At New England performances? He missed time this off-season rehabbing from injury and still has a long way to go from his 12 touchdowns/2o interceptions performance in 2009. Defenses will scout out what the Jets did to protect Sanchez down the stretch last year and how they played to his strengths in the playoffs, and come up with new ways to confuse him. Sanchez may become a franchise quarterback one day but there is a really good chance he isn’t ready to be consistent enough to lead a team past Tom Brady for a divisional title. Beyond that, Sanchez hasn’t shown he knows how to avoid taking a hit when scrambling and he is coming off surgery. If he gets hurt, who is stepping in? Kellen Clemens? Erik Ainge? Mark Brunell? I’d feel okay about Brunell if he was throwing to Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith but this isn’t ten years ago.

At running back, there is no proof Shonn Greene can handle being a number one back for an entire season. Despite not receiving substantial playing time until the stretch run last year, he dealt with multiple injuries and on top of that had a fumbling issue. It is a big step to go from 108 carries to being asked to carry the ball 20 times each week from September to January. If Greene struggles or gets hurt, LaDainian Tomlinson is past his prime as a #1 back and Joe McKnight is a rookie fourth round  pick who can’t get through a practice in shorts and a t-shirt without throwing up.

PhotobucketAt left guard, the Jets are expecting either last year’s sixth round pick, Matt Slauson, who received no real experience last season or a rookie from a I-AA school, Vladimir Ducasse, to fill in for Alan Faneca. There are inevitably going to be bumps in the road for whomever wins the starting job and problems at one spot on the line can trickle down to the rest of the unit.

On defense, the Jets are very thin at the defensive end position. They are starting a backup caliber player in Mike DeVito opposite Shaun Ellis, who is getting up there in age. They will be relying on Jason Taylor to be their top pass rusher and there are also concerns about his age, along with whether his heart is really in New York. Brodney Pool is being relied on at safety but can he stay healthy? Antonio Cromartie also has to prove that he can be the player he was in 2007 and not the lazy disappointment he was last year.

What about on special teams, where the Jets have replaced Jay Feely with Nick Folk who was awful last season on Dallas. The Jets are a team built to play close football games but don’t have a reliable kicker. Their coverage teams were poor enough last year and they lost their top special teams player in Wallace Wright. They are also breaking in a new long snapper, which could be problematic in a big spot.

Overall, the Jets were only a 9-7 team last year who happened to get hot at the right time, along with some assistance from teams resting starters. Whenever there is high expectations for the Jets, they struggle to live up to the hype. There is a ton of attention around the team, more than ever in the team’s history, will they be able to handle it? Could it be possible I was naive in overlooking potential chemistry concerns?

I need to go wash my hands.

Nah, I think we’ll be alright next year

A Defense Of The Jets Off-Season

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First a few updates:

1. The Patriots have finally cut ties with outside linebacker Adalius Thomas. Will the Jets still puruse Thomas, who excelled in Rex Ryan’s system during his time in Baltimore? Initially you would think not, considering they just signed Jason Taylor and still have Calvin Pace and  Bryan Thoams in place as starters. However, you could never have enough pass rushers, especially in this defensive system. The Jets may be able to get Thomas at a low price depending on the amount of interest he generates around the league and his desire to reunite with Ryan and stick it to the Patriots for cutting him. I say if they can get him at a reasonable price, then why not? Also keep in mind Thomas is versatile enough to play multiple positions in Rex Ryan’s defense. Overall, don’t be shocked to see the Jets add yet another big name in the next few days.

2. The Jets have restructured Vernon Gholston’s contract to make it primarily incentive based. Apparently, Gholston approached the team about redoing the deal in an attempt to actually earn his contract money. If that is true, than it is a very admirable move by Gholston who will hopefully begin to turn his career around somewhat at the defensive end position.

3. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook…Good links today on the Jets/Giants business relationship and Peter King’s inside information of what went down before the Leon Washington deal.

A Defense Of The Jets Off-Season

I have been caught off guard by the amount of negativity expressed by many Jets fans after their draft weekend decisions. On the whole most people who follow and write about the NFL initially praised the Jets pro-active approach this off-season, however there is starting to be some questions asked about adding too many big name players, destroying team chemistry, and an overall skepticism about the direction Mike Tannenbaum/Rex Ryan have taken this team. You can poke holes in any team’s roster and any personnel decision they make, yet I have this to say to people who haven’t liked the Jets off-season: are you kidding me?

Let’s start with the defense. The consensus weakest part of the Jets defense last year was their secondary outside of Darrelle Revis. Everybody agreed they needed a major upgrade at corner after Revis and that Kerry Rhodes was a disappointment in Rex Ryan’s system who wasn’t a good fit in the locker room with his “Hollywood” personality and selfish anger over Jim Leonhard calling the shots in the defensive backfield. What did the Jets do? They replaced Lito Sheppard with Antonio Cromartie as the other starter at corner. They replaced Dwight Lowery with Kyle Wilson as the nickel back and they shipped Rhodes to Arizona for two draft picks.

Photobucket Cromartie and Wilson should be substantial upgrades over the players they replaced. Cromartie is out to prove he can return to his all-pro level in Ryan’s man to man scheme and validate the Jets decision to give him a chance, along with a nice advance on his contract to help pay his child support. Wilson was a steal at #29 in the first round and should immediately be one of the most talented nickel backs in the NFL. Everybody wants to criticize the Jets chemistry for this upcoming year but didn’t they improve it by shipping out the disgruntled Rhodes? Brodney Pool has been tabbed as his replacement and had more sacks and interceptions than Rhodes last year, despite only playing in 11 games. Yes, Pool has injury concerns but if he gets hurt, wasn’t Eric Smith just as productive as Rhodes last season. Beyond that the Jets didn’t break the bank for Cromartie, Pool, or Wilson considering where he was selected.

The other big problem on the Jets defense last year was their lack of a pass rush. In order to improve this they added Jason Taylor, who notched seven sacks last year despite not being put in the best position to rush the passer in Miami’s defense. Rex Ryan should be able to put together enough schemes and blitz packages to get somebody with Taylor’s talent 9-12 sacks. Also don’t forget Kris Jenkins is coming back from injury and while he won’t ever rack up monster sack numbers his presence on the line will open up things for everybody else. Beyond that, there is a decent chance Adalius Thomas will also be thrown in the mix as a pass rusher at outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and defensive end.

So on defense the Jets replaced three starters: Kerry Rhodes, Lito Sheppard, and Marques Douglas with three younger players in Brodney Pool, Antonio Cromartie, and Mike DeVito. They removed the biggest personality/chemistry problem by getting rid of Rhodes. Yes, Douglas was a quality player and it remains to be seen if DeVito can be a full time starter but the Jets defense isn’t dropping from the number one spot in the league because they removed the 60 tackles and 1.5 sacks from Douglas. On top of that, they now have Jason Taylor as their top reserve at linebacker instead of Vernnon Gholston and Kyle Wilson at nickel back instead of Dwight Lowery. So tell me what the problem is again? It sounds to me like there is a good chance the Jets will be repeating as the league’s #1 defense.

PhotobucketNow let’s look at the offense where there is a popular misconception that the Jets signed LaDainian Tomlinson to replace Thomas Jones. Actually it will be Shonn Greene replacing Thomas Jones, with LaDainian Tomlinson taking over the #2 role and stepping in as the goal-line/short yardage back. The Jets also replaced Leon Washington, who may have begun the season on the PUP list with a player who has the skill set to be a young, healthier version of him in Joe McKnight. Washington also would have been leaving the Jets after this season anyway because of his contract situation, while the Jets now have McKnight for the next 4-6 years at a minimum.

Most people agreed the Jets needed to upgrade their receiving core. They responded by adding Santonio Holmes for a fifth round pick. Holmes has the talent to be a #1 receiver on many teams in this league, yet will basically be the Jets #3 receiver when he begins playing in week five. They will also be benefitted by having Braylon Edwards spend a full off-season with the team and having both Edwards and Holmes looking to prove they deserve long term contracts from the Jets or another team.

Yes the Jets had to make the tough choice of parting ways with Alan Faneca. However, considering they just gave Brandon Moore a long term deal and will have to give Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson ones after this season, did they really have a choice? Let’s have a little faith in Bill Callahan, widely considered one of the best offensive line coaches in the game, to develop Vladimir Ducasse or Matt Slauson into capable starters this year and long term quality players for the team.

PhotobucketSo on offense the Jets replaced two starters: Thomas Jones and Alan Faneca. Two guys who were productive last year and well-respected in the locker room, yet two guys who are 31 and 33 years old, respectively. Shonn Greene certainly looked the part of a a number one back in the playoffs last year and if he struggles the Jets have quality depth behind him in LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight. Ducasse and Slauson are unproven but will be surrounded by four high quality players and a great offensive line coach. Beyond that, they moved from having their number three receiver either being Brad Smith or David Clowney to being Santonio Holmes. Mark Sanchez should also be better in his second year but hey the Jets went to the AFC Championship game with him throwing 20 INTs to 12 TDs, along with a 53 completion percentage, so imagine what they could do if he makes strides this season.

I am sure players hated to see people like Faneca, Jones, and Washington leave the team. Yet, let’s not go crazy with the chemistry or leadership concerns. Last time I checked on offense the Jets will still have Tony Richardson, Jerricho Cotchery, and Damien Woody in the huddle, along with the same quarterback, three other returning starters on the offensive line, the same top two tight ends, and a new strong veteran presence in LaDainian Tomlinson. On defense Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, and Shaun Ellis will still be out there along with Kris Jenkins returning to the huddle.

You want to criticize the Jets for something? Fine, they downgraded at kicker by replacing Jay Feely with Nick Folk, yet somehow I think Tannenbaum will find a way to add another kicker at some point this summer.

Like I said before, you can poke holes in any roster or personnel decision. Yet, sometimes you just have to call things as you see them. The Jets are loaded right now, on both sides of the football. This team is built to be a legit Super Bowl contender and in my mind are the second best team in the AFC right now and a top five overall team in the NFL.

Let’s Go

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 Have Plenty Of Work To Do In April

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First a few updates:

1. How about me getting off from both class and work today to enjoy this weather? I have moved my office (my laptop and myself) outside and just might have to double up on posts today since I didn’t post on Saturday or Sunday. I can save looking for a job and catching up on schoolwork for another day.

2. What was with the Yankees pitching last night? Let’s not get all crazy about one game but nobody ever likes losing to the Red Sox, especially with that sorry excuse for a line-up they assembled this year. 9 runs? Go buy yourself and the bullpen some Subway sandwiches and get it together CC.

3. NBA Playoffs is starting up soon and I couldn’t be more pumped about it. I am still deciding which teams to adopt this year, considering the Knicks never make the playoffs. I am probably going with the Thunder in the West (Durant and Westbrook are a dirty combination) and anybody who is playing the Celtics in the East. I am torn about the Cavs because I love watching LeBron rip it up but I am kind of pulling for a first round exit for them so he is more inclined to head over to New York next year.

4. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook, because I promised Rex Ryan we’d have 300 fans by the end of April and we are still 54 away.

5. What the hell were the Eagles thinking with that trade? They traded their Pro-Bowl quarterback to a division rival, who is a quarterback away from being a good team and now has a coach who has a reputation for getting the most out of his quarterbacks…really smart move. I love how everybody in Philly is saying “bring on the Kevin Kolb era” like the guy didn’t only start 2 games last year and only win 1 of them…against the Chiefs, I could have started against the Chiefs last year and won a game. I am looking forward to Philly fans booing their faces off at Kolb when the Eagles start 2-5 and then pelting Andy Reid with snowballs in December as they finish up a 6-10 season.

Jets Have Plenty Of Work To Do In April

PhotobucketThe most encouraging news of the weekend was that the Jets are bringing in former Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers for a visit tomorrow.Most people around the organization seem to think it is a done deal that Rackers will be in a Jets uniform by the week’s end because let’s face Mike Tannenbaum always gets who he wants. Rich Cimini at The Jets Stream did a comparison of Jay Feely’s and Rackers numbers from the past few years and found some encouraging things

  • Over the last 2 years, Rackers was 41/45 on field goals (91%), while Feely was 54/64 (84%).
  • Rackers was 21/24 outdoors (88%), while Feely was 23/29 (79%)
  • In games where the margin was 0-7 points, Rackers was 10/10 and Feely was 17/20…they both had bad moments in the playoffs last year with Feely missing a pair of FGs in the AFC Championship Game and Rackers having an ugly shank when he had a chance to beat the Packers in regulation during the wild-card round.
  • They are both going to be 34 at the beginning of the year.

Doesn’t sound like a bad trade off, right? Fortunately, it looks like the NIck Folk era is only going to last a few weeks. Speaking of Cimini he wrote an article in today’s Daily News speculating about the Jets being active before the draft and during the draft to improve their roster. He doesn’t name any specific moves or players they could target but continues to insist the Jets aren’t interested in Brandon Marshall, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. What other work could the Jets do this month to improve their roster before OTAs start?

PhotobucketI think they should pull the trigger on bringing back Laveranues Coles. It doesn’t seem like he is generating much interest in the free agent market so the Jets should be able to grab him cheap. Bringing Coles in gives the Jets a little more flexibility on when they have to target a receiver in the draft because as it stands now they will likely draft one in either round one or two. Coles could be a productive slot receiver for a year or two and be a solid mentor to a late round pick.

Cimini mentions Tannenbaum could look over the RFA market and make a move on somebody but at this point I’m not sure who is really available for the Jets to target. There a few lower tier offensive lineman the Jets could look at add for depth. On the unrestricted market, the Jets could consider former Cowboys safety Ken Hamlin who was recently cut and could provide a little more competition/talent to the safety position. Darren Sharper remains a distant possibility because the Jets would have to get very creative financially to bring him in under the final four rules. The Jets may also look to add a veteran quarterback if they aren’t satisfied with Kellen Clemens (and how could you be) but the pickings are slim with people like Kyle Boller, Daunte Culpepper, Josh McCown, and Patrick Ramsey on the market.

One place I could definitely see Tannenbaum making move is the draft. The Jets are kind of stuck in no man’s land at #29, which could lead to either a trade up on trade down to acquire more picks. Jared Odrick has been a favorite of mock drafters for the Jets but there are rumors the Browns are interested in him at #7…yes, #7 so it may be hard to see Odrick fall anywhere near the Jets. However, if he does or Dez Bryant does for whatever reason, I could see Mike T making a big move to grab one of those two guys. Beyond that, unless there is a defensive lineman/outside linebacker or receiver the Jets really fall in love with available at #29, expect the Jets to trade back and look to improve their depth at multiple positions.

I would say most people agree the Jets needs list, currently looks something like:

  1. Defensive Line – Especially considering Marques Douglas hasn’t been brought back yet.
  2. Outside Linebacker – They need another pass rusher, if they don’t add a defensive lineman who could get to the quarterback.
  3. Wide Receiver – They still need a #3 guy behind Braylon and Cotchery.
  4. Secondary – They need better depth at corner and safety.
  5. Offensive Line – They need depth and players to develop behind Faneca and Woody.
  6. Veteran backup QB – It couldn’t hurt.

Neil Rackers: Fantasy File

Calm Down About Last Night, #28 Is On The Way

Jets Send Us Into Weekend With Headache

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First a few updates:

1. Big list of quality Jets material published within the last two days, of course you can easily find the links to every Jets related piece of material you should be reading on the Internet by following Turn On The Jets on facebook…go ahead and do that right now…in case you are being stubborn here are a few highlights with some analysis

Photobucket2. First off, ESPN finally launched their ESPN New York site here {http://espn.go.com/new-york/), Jane McManus is doing the Jets blog for it. This is just what I need, another site to check on a daily basis sandwiched between the 19 other Jets sites, Barstool Sports, Lost blogspot and lostpedia so I can figure out what the hell is going on, the message board for our touch football league which I make I living talking trash on, and of course the occasional stop at my school email address…anyway Jane’s first post was on LaDainian Tomlinson who defended his lack of production the last few years by blaming it on the Chargers,“Because the things that happened in San Diego, everything was taken away from me. There wasn’t an emphasis on running the football anymore, my best fullback was gone, the linemen were pass blocking and it was a passing QB and a passing coach.”…well LT will have no such excuses in New York running behind T-Rich and the Jets offensive line. Tomlinson also went on to say he hopes Shonn Greene and himself will be like Jordan and Pippen…does that make Leon, Toni Kukoc?

3. Great article by Tim Graham on his AFC East Blog (http://espn.go.com/blog/afceast/post/_/id/12137/jets-overtake-patriots-as-the-team-to-hate) about the Jets now being the team to hate in the division. Personally, I love the Jets new style and I say bring the hate on.

4. Rich Cimini also a few recent posts, highlighting some locker room talk (http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/jets/) and a few other things. He also discusses the Jets off-season motto “212 degrees,” which is the temperature at which water boils. I think is is clever enough.

Jets Send Us Into Weekend With Headache

PhotobucketWhy are the Jets sending me into the weekend with a headache? The primary reason is that Jay Feely just signed with the Cardinals and it is being reported the Jets had a chance to match the offer and chose not to. Really? The front office and coaching staff is really satisfied going into the year with Nick Folk at kicker? I understand we saved a million dollars because Folk was signed basically for the veterans minimum but there was a reason the Jets were able to sign him for that…because he was awful last year.

I don’t understand how a team who is essentially built to play close football games and plays their home games in a stadium that is notoriously difficult to kick in could undervalue the kicker position so much. The Jets had a very good one in Jay Feely and made a poor decision to be cheap in this instance.

The Jets have developed a reputation as a high spending team yet they lowballed Leon Washington, which could eventually lead to a separation between the two. They went cheap at kicker. They have decided not to re-sign their reliable long snapper for the past decade, James Dearth. Why would you switch your long snapper? If it isn’t broke don’t fix it. They refuse to pay Marques Douglas who wouldn’t even cost that much money and was very productive last year. They went cheap at safety to replace Kerry Rhodes with a guy who is one head injury away from having his career be over.

I am big Mike Tannenbaum fan and maybe these moves are all in preparation of long term deals for Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and Braylon Edwards (if he has a good year in 2010) but as of right now the Jets are taking some key risks:

  • They have damaged their relationship with Leon Washington, who has been a great player for them on the field and a great role model off the field. He is rightly a fan favorite but now you have to worry about the Jets ability to ever lock down a long term deal with him, and still be concerned about a team offering him a contract in the next month as a RFA.
  • They are going into the year with a kicker coming off a terrible season, with nobody to compete against him in training camp.
  • Their depth in the secondary is questionable at best. They lost two corners (Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland) and only replaced them with one (Antonio Cromartie). Brodney Pool is injury prone at safety and they only have in-house backups to compete with him for the starting spot.
  • They are thin on the defensive line because of the decision not to bring back Marques Douglas. This could be remedied after the draft but as of now, Shaun Ellis and Mike DeVito are the starters with zero viable backups unless they plan on sliding Sione Pouha or Howard Green out to defensive end.

And if that isn’t enough to give you a headache, Mark Sanchez hasn’t been cleared to run yet even though his surgery was 6 weeks ago. He isn’t going to take part in OTAs, which means it is the Kellen Clemens show in June. Where is the Advil?

This Cheers Me Up

Five Sunday Thoughts On The Jets

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First a few updates:

1. News has been slow on our Jets the past few days, clearly the front office is trying to catch their breath after the Hard Knocks frenzy. News has been slow enough that Mark Sanchez calling Brandon Marshall to wish him a happy birthday is being reported as a story. I am hoping I won’t wake up tomorrow to read about LaDainian Tomlinson not liking his eggs at a local Jersey diner. Going back to Marshall, I’d be shocked at this point to see him end up in a Jets uniform.

2. There is a general impression from some people that Rex Ryan is trying to run Leon Washington out of town. Honestly, I don’t see it that way at all. Leon is going to be back with the Jets in 2010 because no team is giving up a second round pick for him and I believe after a slow start, he will gradually turn into the player he has always been for the Jets. By the end of the year, I expect him to be getting more touches than Tomlinson on a weekly basis.

3. The 2010 draft section has been updated. As soon as I can figure out how to record Skype conversations on my Mac for phone interviews the first TOJ Podcast will be up and running.

Five Sunday Thoughts On The Jets

No Friday thoughts on the Jets this past week, but here are five Sunday thoughts as we get a week closer to the NFL Draft.

1. You have to wonder how long Bill Belichick will hold on to Adalius Thomas to prevent him from coming to the Jets. It is clear neither side is interested in Thomas spending another year with the Patriots but everybody in New England knows the second he is cut, he is signing with Rex Ryan and the Jets. I wouldn’t have a problem with another year of Bryan Thomas at outside linebacker, but it would be a nice improvement to the Jets pass rush if Adalius was rotating in on passing downs.

2. Jay Feely and Marques Douglas…still on the market. How could a team built around defense, running the football, and playing low scoring/close games feel good going into the season with Nick Folk at kicker? Can’t we pay Feely, who did a very good job the past two years and has proved he can handle kicking in the swirling winds of the Meadowlands? Douglas is a quality 3-4 defensive end, who is a perfect fit in Rex Ryan’s defense. Mike DeVito is miscast as a starter and is better served as a rotational player. Mike Tannenbaum, you do a great job but pay the men.

3. I feel good about Kris Jenkins having a big bounce-back year. He sounds motivated to give the Jets a few more high quality years and apparently has looked good in their off-season workouts. It will obviously be a major boost to the Jets front seven, who was still very productive without him last year, to have Jenkins back. If he can be the player he was in 2008, it is hard not to see the Jets defense repeating as one of the league’s top, if not the top unit, in the NFL.

Photobucket 4. How is Darrelle Revis going to follow up his performance last year? It will be interesting to see how much teams keep away from him and how he affects offensive game plans on a week to week basis. Antonio Cromartie is going to have every chance to be the ten interception guy he was in 2007 because there will be no shortage of balls coming his way. I wonder if Revis will be given enough opportunities to match or exceed the six interceptions he had last year. He has went from three in 2007 to five in 2008 to six last year, it would be nice to see seven or eight so he could get that DPOY Award he deserves.

5. When is the last year the Jets had a player with double digit sacks? The answer is 2005…when John Abraham had 10.5. We have to be due for it this year right? Calvin Pace? Shaun Ellis? David Harris? Bryan Thomas? Adalius Thomas? Vernon Gholston? Just kidding about the last one.

Jets Defense: You Shall Not Pass

Jets Need Minor Moves To Supplement Major Ones

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First a few updates:

1. LaDainain Tomlinson and Mike Tannenbaum had a conference call with reporters today. There was nothing too newsworthy to come out of it. Tannenbaum was evasive about the decision to part ways with Thomas Jones and didn’t go into any details about the contract situation of either him or Tomlinson, along with how that factored into the Jets decision making. Tomlinson said the deciding factors in his decision was the familiarity with the Jets offense and a desire to play in New York. The best things to hear from Tomlinson was his comfort level in backing up  Shonn Greene, his sense of humor about Greene mocking his touchdown celebration last year, and his understanding that the Jets were a successful team without him and his goal to help push them over the top to a title.

2. In the category of big news that will likely fly under the radar, the Jets announced today that they re-signed Tony Richardson. Make no mistake, this a very smart move by the Jets. Despite his age, Richardson has been a very productive player for the Jets the past two years and is a crucial part of their running game. You can’t run the ground and pound without a quality fullback and now the Jets have one for at least one more season.

3. In the category of minor news, the Jets also signed defensive end Rodrique Wright. He was a seventh round pick in 2006 of the Miami Dolphins and in 13 games with them recorded 37 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery. However, after being waived he was out of football last season.

Jets Need Minor Moves To Supplement Major Ones

Unless you are a believer in the Brandon Marshall rumors, it would seem that the Jets won’t be making any more major acquisitions the rest of the off-season. They parted ways with three starters (Kerry Rhodes, Thomas Jones, Lito Sheppard) and filled their places with Antonio Cromartie, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Brodney Pool. The Patriots haven’t released Adalius Thomas yet, but considering he missed the beginning of their workouts today because “he didn’t know about them,” I would say that move is eventually coming and hopefully he will end up in New York. The Jets off-season moves so far has left them with plenty of flexibility in the draft to take the best player available at each spot because they don’t have any glaring holes, that being said here a few loose ends the Jets should tie up:

  1. Re-Sign Tony Richardson– Check, the Jets must have read my mind because they took care of this today right after I saved the first draft of this article. As I said before, a very smart move to bring him back and not leave fullback in the hands of Jason Davis, just like it was smart not to leave the third running back spot in the hands of Chauncey Washington.
  2. Re-Sign Marques Douglas – The guy was very productive last year as a 3-4 defensive end, which is hard to come by. The Jets don’t have great depth along the defensive line so why wouldn’t they bring back one of their starters from last year? Douglas is a Rex Ryan guy, who likely prefers the Jets to any of the other teams currently showing interest in him. He won’t command a huge contract but the Jets should do what it takes to bring him back.
  3. Re-Sign Jay Feely – A pipe dream? Nobody has signed him yet, so I am holding out hope. I just can’t accept Nick Folk kicking field goals next season…not now, not never. You can’t underestimate the importance of a good field goal kicker.
  4. Sign Corey Ivy – Add a little depth to the cornerback position. Ivy is a Rex Ryan guy who could play the nickel role if Dwight Lowery reverts to Indianapolis mode or whoever the Jets draft isn’t ready to contribute yet.
  5. Keep Working On Long Term Extensions For Darrelle Revis and Nick Mangold – The sooner the best center and cornerback in the league are wrapped for the long term, the better.

If the Jets took care of all those moves, they would have tremendous flexibility in the draft. They could add depth to their defensive line and wide receiver core in the first two rounds, add another corner and safety to the mix in the middle rounds, and finish up by adding some developmental offensive lineman to learn from Damien Woody and Alan Faneca. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a pretty balanced, deep, and talented roster to me.

Yes, Somebody Actually Made A Jay Feely Slideshow On Youtube…95 Views and Counting

Free Agent Anxiety: Where Do The Jets Go From Here?

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I was clearly spoiled by the past two off-seasons from the Jets. Since Thursday, they have pulled off two pretty major trades and I am still sitting here getting anxious because there isn’t much talk out there about any substantive transactions on the horizon for them. Only one new player has been added so far: Antonio Cromartie, while Kerry Rhodes, Donald Strickland, Lito Sheppard, and likely Thomas Jones have all been let go. The future in green and white of Marques Douglas, Wallace Wright, Howard Green, and to some extent Leon Washington remain up in the air. I am confident Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets scouting department will do a good job in the draft with their current six selections, but beyond that what is left for this Jets off-season? Let’s take a quick position by position run through –

Quarterback – It doesn’t look like the Jets will be bringing in a veteran backup for Mark Sanchez. I can’t see any team showing any interest in Kellen Clemens as a RFA or even in a trade, meaning he will likely be back. The Jets organization seems to be pretty high on the potential of both Erik Ainge and Kevin O’Connell, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the three of them battle for the #2 spot behind Sanchez in 2010. The idea of Chad Pennington coming back ended when he re-signed with the Dolphins and there has been other movement with backup quarterbacks, David Carr to San Francisco, AJ Feely to the Rams and rumors of other movement, Jim Sorgi to the Giants and Jeff Garcia to multiple teams but there hasn’t been anything reported on the Jets showing interest in any quarterbacks.

PhotobucketRunning Back – Thomas Jones has most recently been linked to the Chiefs and it sounds like a long shot he will end up back with the Jets. Mike Tannenbaum has said the Jets will add a veteran running back but I think he could wait until the summer to see what some of the training camp cuts are. He discussed Tony Richardson in a conference call with reporters today, saying it was a “priority” to re-sign him which is good news. I am sure at his age, Richardson would like to come back for another year with the Jets instead of moving out to another team. There is no reason to go cheap at fullback, especially with a lack of veteran leadership now at the running back position. I still doubt any team signs Leon Washington to a contract as a RFA, but that could just be a hopeful thought.

Wide Receiver – Another key point of Tannenbaum’s conference call today was confirming the Jets interest in Laveranues Coles. It has been reported over the past week that LC has an interest in returning to New York and I think he could be a good fit in the Jets offense. He has the skill set to be a very good slot receiver, as long as at this stage of his career he can accept a more limited role.

Tight End – The Jets re-signed backup tight end Ben Hartsock to a 2 year deal today. I believed the Jets could upgrade over him to a slightly more versatile guy. Hartsock is basically another tackle out there, but I suppose his value as a blocker is crucial in the type of offense the Jets run.

Offensive Line – Haven’t heard much of anything at this position but I still expect the Jets to spend a mid or late round pick on an offensive lineman.

Defensive Line – Marques Douglas is rightly attracting alot of interest in the free agent market but as I have written many times here before, the Jets would be foolish not to bring him back. Pay the guy his money. Quality 3-4 defensive ends are hard to come by and the Jets had one last year in Douglas. Even if the Jets bring Douglas back, I could still see them taking a defensive lineman in the first or second round…Dan Williams and Jared Odrick are some first round names that have been linked to the Jets in a few mock drafts.

Linebackers – Adalius Thomas hasn’t been released by the Patriots yet but when he is, I would expect the Jets to act quickly. They could also look for a pass rushing prospect at outside linebacker in the first or second round of the draft.

Secondary – Mike Tannenbaum has made it sound like he will be adding two or three more members to the Jets secondary before the off-season is done. Whether it is through the draft or free agency, I would expect to see a new safety, a nickel back, and a depth player at either corner or safety brought in.

Special Teams – Wallace Wright was just signed by Carolina, which is a shame. He has been the Jets top special teams player for a few years now.  Jay Feely hasn’t been signed by anybody yet, so I could hold on to the thought that Nick Folk won’t be kicking for us next year.

Dusting Off LC Footage