New York Jets Fact Or False: Sanchez, Holmes, and Linsanity Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False focuses on Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Lin

With less than a week to go before the New York Jets report to Cortland for the start of training camp, there have been countless topics and stories emerging on the Gang Green front, some good, some not so good. Regardless of what most sports books are predicting, we are carrying on as usual here at Turn On The Jets. For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we’ll examine some of those recent Jets topics heading into training camp, along with a little dose of Linsanity and America’s #1 new soap opera “As The Dwight Turns.”

Mark Sanchez is “The East Coast Alex Smith.” False.

In a recent article on Bleacher Report, columnist Michael Schottey referred to Mark Sanchez as “Alex Smith with a Jheri curl.” However, Schottey fails to provide any factual argument to back his proclamation. This is likely because there are no facts to support the comparison between the two. Smith has played three more seasons in the NFL than Sanchez has, yet has thrown for only 3,334 more yards, less than the total number of yards Sanchez threw for last season alone. Additionally, Smith has thrown for only 13 more touchdowns than Sanchez has while compiling a total of 7 more interceptions than number 6. Again, Smith has played six full NFL seasons to Sanchez’s three. Numbers aside, Sanchez has already won 4 playoff games on the road, while Smith has won just a single playoff game, at home. It is surely shocking how far people will go in their attempst to bash Sanchez, and this ignorant comparison is just the tip of an iceberg of criticism that the Jets’ QB has faced this season.

A more realistic comparison to Smith would actually be Jets’ backup Tim Tebow. Both players have a similar style of play and both played in the same system in college under Urban Meyer. However, Tebow also has 2 national championship victories and a Heisman trophy on his resume, while winning a playoff game in only his second season as opposed to Smith who took six seasons to finally win in the post season. As the roster stands now, Smith would be the third best quarterback on the Jets if he were in New York. As for the comparison to Sanchez, there is no debate.

Santonio Holmes will be the Jets scapegoat all season. Fact.

The perception of Holmes as the largest villain to grace Gotham City since the Joker isn’t dying anytime soon. In an interview on NFL Network this past week, Holmes simply stated the obvious fact that even the most casual NFL fan knows, when he said that teams cannot succeed in a two quarterback system. Could you imagine if Marques Colston or Hakeem Nicks said the same thing? They’d be laughed at for stating something so obvious, while lauded for praising their starting quarterbacks.

Not only did Holmes simply state what everyone already knew, but he actually defended Sanchez, while subtly telling everyone to pump the brakes on Tebowmania in New York for now. Holmes noted that, in order for a Quarterback to get into a rhythm, he needs to be allowed to make mistakes early in games, while settling in and growing comfortable. Holmes is far from stupid. He knows, just as everyone else covering the Jets knows, that the moment Sanchez makes the slightest mistake, most fans will be calling for Tebow to take the helm. However, Holmes also knows that this would not put his team in the best position to win games. Sanchez will make his mistakes, every quarterback does. The key to his success, as well as the success of the Jets, will be his teammates and coaches being confident enough to allow him to correct those mistakes.

The bottom line with Holmes is that he simply wants to win. However, no matter what he says, it will likely be turned in a negative, selfish manner, until he lets his play do the talking.

 The Jets will add RB depth heading into training camp. False.

Cedric Benson recently revealed that the Jets were one of the teams to check in with the free agent veteran running back this offseason. While Benson joining Gang Green surely isn’t out of the question, don’t expect any moves to be made on this front anytime soon. The Jets are moving forward with Shonn Greene as the starter this season, regardless of what some may think. They are also ready to see what Joe McKnight can do as the primary backup to Greene, and rightfully so. McKnight has improved drastically since his rookie season when he was questioned for his work ethic and commitment. With an increased role on Special Teams last season, McKnight thrived as a kick returner. The Jets are hoping a similar increased workload on offense will produce parallel results.

Aside from Greene and McKnight, New York is also very eager to see if Bilal Powell is serviceable, as well as what newcomers Terrance Ganaway and John Griffin can do. They added these players because they are confident that Tony Sparano’s system will allow each of them to produce. If they prove incapable of such a feat over the course of the preseaosn, then the Jets may revisit bringing in a veteran like Benson. For now, they are more than ready to move forward with what they have.

Mark Sanchez will make the Pro Bowl this season. False.

While Sanchez is poised for a breakout year, the odds are against him to make the Pro Bowl this season. The new offensive system under Tony Sparano will likely limit the amount of passing attempts Sanchez has, thus limiting the statistics that would get him elected to a Pro Bowl. Additionally, outside of Santonio Holmes and Tight End Dustin Keller, Sanchez has an entirely new arsenal of weapons this season, most of whom come with very limited, if any, NFL experience. While Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schillens, and Jordan White could all prove to be productive, it is going to take time for them to develop chemistry with Sanchez. While I firmly believe that Sanchez will be a Pro Bowl caliber Quarterback at some point in his career, this season is more about improving his accuracy and developing relationships with his new targets.

The Knicks made the right move letting Jeremy Lin leave. Fact.

Knicks fans seem split on this issue. Some are up in arms that James Dolan and co. allowed such a young and exciting player to leave after his brief stint of success last season, while others are perfectly content with the club’s decision to move in another direction. While Lin could certainly become a very good point guard, the luxury tax ramifications the Knicks would have had to pay in the third year of the deal he agreed to with Houston would have been far too large of a financial commitment to a player who is still somewhat unproven. Remember, Lin’s numbers dropped after the departure of Mike D’Antoni. The Knicks already have an abundance of money committed to Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, so taking a risk on Lin simply would not have been worth it. Additionally, what no one seems to be talking about, is the fact that Chris Paul will be a free agent next summer. Surely, there are no signs that Paul wants out of Los Angeles, but don’t forget, he is good friends with Anthony, and even hinted at the idea of playing with him and Stoudemire at Anthony’s wedding last summer. While this is a shot in the dark, don’t think for a minute that this did not cross the minds of the Knicks’ brass in weighing the decision of whether or not to re up on Lin.

Dwight Howard will start the season in Orlando. False. The ongoing saga of this situation is growing far too annoying, not only to NBA fans, but to people around the league as well. Howard wants out of Orlando, seemingly worse than Carmelo Anthony wanted out of Denver, and will not ease his stance on this issue. The Magic will soon realize that they need to rid themselves of this headache and start fresh. While General Manager Rob Hennigan has been rightfully patient in weighing his options, the alleged three-team deal that could soon be in place soon between the Lakers, Cavaliers, and Magic will reveal itself as the best option for all clubs involved. With Howard now committing to signing long term in LA, Mitch Kupchak and co. will go above and beyond to get a deal done. My prediction? Howard starts the season in the purple and gold.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Secondary Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly Fact or False, this week focusing on the New York Jets secondary

Chris Gross is back with his weekly Fact or False, this week focusing on the New York Jets secondary. Make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter

The New York Jets have one of the most intriguing defensive secondaries in the NFL. While they have, arguably, the greatest trio of cornerbacks in the league in (All-World) Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson, they have not been very strong at the safety position as of late. However, the Jets addressed this issue the best way they possibly could this offseason, by adding 4 newcomers. The two free agents, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, along with the two rookies, Josh Bush and Antonio Allen, have the chance to revitalize this position for New York, and officially give the Jets the best secondary in the league. Will these additions, along with the players already on the roster, combine to make such a secondary? Find out all you need to know in this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.

Kyle Wilson will emerge as a starter this season. False. Although I fully expect Wilson to improve greatly this season, as we witnessed a fairly decent leap in play from his rookie to sophomore season, he is still not ready to take over as a full time starter. Last season, Wilson ranked 59th among active cornerbacks in the NFL in completion percentage when targeted, as opposing quarterbacks completed 66.7% of their passes when throwing at the former first round pick out of Boise State. While this number is certainly a bit inflated due to the fact that Wilson is picked on as the nickel corner in the same secondary as Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, this number will need to decrease if Wilson is going to become a starter on this defense. Players are not selected in the first round to serve as situational/back up players, so look for the Jets to attempt to increase Wilson’s role in the defense, but only if he proves capable.

There is not one Wide Receiver in the AFC East that will escape Revis Island this season. Fact. We’ve previously gone over why Chad Ochocinco is no threat to Revis, but the obvious argument here is Buffalo Wide Receiver Stevie Johnson. Many feel that Johnson “owns” Revis due to the fact that over two games last season, Johnson caught 11 balls for 159 yards and a touchdown. While these numbers certainly are not Revis-like, let’s not put Johnson in that life boat just yet. Although he did beat Revis on a 52 yard catch down the sideline during their week 9 match up in Buffalo, the sole touchdown that Johnson has on Revis in his career was a clear case of miscommunication within the defense.

Prior to the 5 yard touchdown Johnson snagged off of a slant route, Revis was lined up in what appeared to be man coverage, as displayed by the rather tight alignment to the line of scrimmage. Just before the snap, though, an obvious check in the coverage was made as Revis bailed out just as the play began. Johnson hit the slant, which should have been covered by Calvin Pace, who was running around like a chicken with his head cut off, as he clearly missed the check. So, while Johnson did have his 5 seconds of fame against Revis, he by no means “beat” the All-Pro corner. This is not to say that Johnson is incapable of such a feat, but let’s see him gain some consistency against 24 before declaring him the victor in any such matchup.

The Jets will add another Cornerback before the season. Fact. While the Jets have arguably the greatest trio of corners in the NFL in Revis, Cromartie, and Wilson, there is not too much experience on the depth chart behind them. The five other cornerbacks currently on the Jets roster have played in a combined 31 NFL games. While Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant have contributed on Special Teams in the past, it would not be wise for the Jets to enter the season with this amount of inexperience at the position, particularly if none of them stand out in training camp. One name that has been discussed greatly among Jets Nation is former Jet Drew Coleman. A free agent, Coleman is coming off of a career year in Jacksonville last season with 46 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 9 passes defended. Coleman is also familiar with Rex Ryan’s scheme having played in it in 2009 and 2010. This would be a great fit for both sides if the Jets decide to add depth heading into the season.

Antonio Cromartie is unfairly criticized based on performance. Fact. While Cromartie’s tackling has certainly never been the strength of his game, his coverage numbers have been very good for a number 2 corner. Cromartie is typically criticized for poor play, however in his two seasons with the Jets, he has 7 interceptions with 29 passes defended. While he certainly gives up his share of catches, and misses more tackles than anyone would enjoy seeing, Cromartie has arguably the toughest job in football: playing opposite Darrelle Revis. It is nearly impossible for anyone who is targeted as much as Cromartie, due to the presence of his counterpart, to maintain a perfect resume. Therefore it should not come as a surprise to anyone to see him give up a few catches. Yes, the best ones prove to consistently shut down anyone that lines up against them, but how many corners are there like that in the league? About one, and he plays in the same secondary as Cromartie.

The Jets collectively have the biggest group of meat heads at the Safety position in the NFL. Fact. Although their coverage skills are going to be tested to their greatest extent this season, is there truly a bigger group of meat heads at this position than LaRon Landry (6’0″ 220 lbs), Yeremiah Bell (6’0″ 205 lbs), and Eric Smith (6’1″ 207 lbs)? While their play on the field is critical to the success of the Jets defense this year, there is no debating the fact that these guys get after it in the weight room. Besides the countless bone crunching hits we’ve seen from them in the past, this picture should put any argument on this issue to rest.

Bonus – Having no captains will hurt the Jets this season. False. The no captains policy that took effect at the conclusion of last season following the Miami meltdown has been blown out of proportion ever since Rex Ryan uttered those words at his year end press conference. Guard Matt Slauson summed it up perfectly when he said that not naming captains has forced players to step into leadership roles. Leadership ability is something that players either have or don’t have, it is not a quality that can be attained or taught. Appointing captains can sometimes hurt a team because it could place the wrong people in leadership roles that they are unfit for, while excluding players who are natural leaders from such a position (Brandon Moore anyone?). While captains have been important to sports, the title does not automatically make a player a leader. The focus on this issue is certainly being sensationalized. Regardless of whether or not players have the “C” on their jerseys, those who are leaders are going to lead, it is encrypted in their DNA. Expect to see players like Moore, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, Mark Sanchez, and David Harris step into those leadership roles this season, on and off the field, without being officially declared as captains.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Mini-Camp Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly New York Jets Fact or False, looking at New York Jets mini-camp issues

The 2012 New York Jets have countless story lines and question marks surrounding them heading into this pivotal year for both Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez. Following the conclusion of today’s third, and final, mini-camp practice, the Jets will not be together in their entirety until the beginning of training camp at the end of July. A lot can be taken from the OTA’s and mini-camp period of the off-season, however, it is important to remember that the regular season is still months from kickoff and absolutely nothing is set in stone yet. For this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False, we’ll examine six of the most prevalent headlines as we begin the early transition from the offseason into the preseason.

1.) Santonio Holmes is still the team villain. Fact. While Santonio Holmes has gone through great efforts to stay out of the spotlight all offseason, while seemingly working to repair his fractured relationship with Mark Sanchez, as well as saving some time to visit with injured U.S. Military Troops in Germany, it took number 10 only one day of practice to grab the headlines in a negative way. After struggling to fulfill his desired number of reps during the first day of mini-camp, Holmes reportedly threw his helmet as he came off of the field, while expressing his disapproval for the workload he was expected to achieve in his first day back with the team.

While this was likely just a simple act of frustration from the ultra-competitive Holmes, Tone has to realize that everything he does will be under heavy scrutiny this season, particularly acting out like this in a practice session open to the media. It is certainly understandable that highly spirited athletes are often emotional, however Holmes is in a unique situation. The majority of media outlets are seemingly waiting for him to implode, so he needs to be smart about repairing his image, if he truly intends to do so. Until then, Holmes will remain portrayed as the villain of the Jets, and the majority of the moves he makes will be painted in a negative light, until he changes the perception of himself in the media.

2.) The more rigorous strength and conditioning program is the reason for the early hamstring plague. False. Among others, Holmes and rookie WR Stephen Hill each missed practice time this week due to tweaked hamstrings. Yesterday, ESPN’s Rich Cimini hinted at the idea that the cause for the ongoing hamstring issues in mini-camp were related to the more intense weight room regiment. While an increase in strenuous muscle activity could contribute to some types of injury if not conditioned well enough, this is the NFL. The players and coaches are professionals, and experts in their respective trades. An NFL level strength and conditioning coach is certainly capable of implementing stretching and flexibility techniques to decrease the risk of muscle related injuries.

While it is easy to assume that an increase in weight room intensity is an underlying cause for the recent run of hamstring issues, it is more likely a case getting back into playing shape. The most durable NFL players usually have the most strenuous offseason programs. During his time with the New York Giants, Tiki Barber was known for having one of the most intense weight room regiments out of any player in the league, and as a result, missed only six total games throughout the span of his ten year career, four of which came during his rookie season. Strength training does not increase the risk of injury, but more commonly reduces it.

3) Tim Tebow will be playing just about everything other than “traditional” Quarterback this season. Fact. While Tebow is the backup quarterback, he was not brought to New York for that reason. Conversely, he was not brought here to be the starter either. The Jets traded for Tebow to be the excellent football player they know he is. He has reported to mini-camp at a career high 249 lbs, and reports indicate that the Jets would still like him to add weight. By traditional standards, there aren’t any 250 lb athletes with the overall football skills of Tebow serving as pocket passers. The added weight will allow Tebow to serve more effectively as an all around football player, particularly in an H-Back, Running Back type role. Over his two seasons in the NFL, Tebow has rushed for 887 yards and 12 touchdowns, with a very impressive 5.4 yards per carry.

There will surely be a good amount of Wild Cat QB thrown in for Tebow as well, especially with the newly hired Tony Sparano’s knowledge of the system, coupled with Rex Ryan’s infatuation with it. In fact, since Ryan has come to New York, the Jets have the highest total yards per play out of the Wildcat in the entire NFL during that time frame, at 6.1 YPP. Expect Tebow to serve as a jack-of-all-trades for Gang Green this season, while seeing very little, if any, time as the regular quarterback.

4.) David Harris will finally get his much deserved recognition this season. False. Is there a more underrated defensive player in the NFL than David Harris? Since being drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Harris is averaging 102.8 tackles, 3.9 sacks, and 1 interception per season over his first five years in the league, while never being selected to a single Pro Bowl. Yes, he was a second team All-Pro in 2009, but has been snubbed by for the Pro Bowl in each year of his impressive NFL Career. In 2007, Harris’s rookie campaign, he tallied 127 tackles, including 90 solo, 5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. His AFC counterpart DeMeco Ryans was elected as the starter to the Pro Bowl that same season, although he registered only one more tackle than Harris, with three fewer sacks. Similarly, Ray Lewis was elected as the reserve at middle linebacker that same season despite notching seven fewer tackles and three fewer sacks than Harris. Sure, Ryans had collected over 150 tackles in the season prior, and Ray Lewis is, well, Ray Lewis, but this tells you all you need to know about how far under the radar Harris has flown since entering the league.

Although Harris has been the most consistent player on the team not named Darrelle Revis over the past few seasons, he still receives very little, if any, recognition. Although the Jets linebacker corps is one of the biggest question marks of the defense as we head into July, they have still received a fair amount of publicity during mini-camp. However, the spotlight has once again left the Hitman in the dark as the focus has been primarily on the revival of Bart Scott and the possible emergence of rookie DeMario Davis. Harris is a staple, not only of the defense, but also of the entire team, yet he often goes without mention when it comes discussing the vital keys to New York’s successes. Harris will likely rank in the top 2 in tackles among defensive players this season, yet few words will likely be printed about the 5 year veteran out of Michigan.

5.) The Jets have their defensive core of the next generation in Quinton Coples, DeMario Davis, and Josh Bush. Fact. The three of these rookies have all been heavily involved in mini-camp practices. Coples will be starting from day one, as expected, and according to reports out of practice, it is with good reason. Coples has been very impressive during his first early practices as a Jet, and the new scheme will surely maximize his skill set. The Jets were criticized for passing on Melvin Ingram, but now with their intentions to use more 46 and 4-3 looks this season, the move to select Coples is beginning to become more praised each day. The 16th overall selection out of North Carolina is out to prove the Jets organization right, and all of his many doubters wrong. Expect nothing less from Coples this season and beyond.

As for Davis and Bush, there was a good chance they would be playing a significant role this year due to the lack of depth at their respective positions. Bush is the only true free safety on the roster that is capable of playing the center field role in the secondary, and Davis is brings some much needed speed to the linebacker corps. Each of these players have been running with certain first team sub packages, and expect them each to play a heavier role as the season progresses, while serving on special teams.

The three of these young players certainly have the potential to fill as the core of the defense down the road. By the time they are entering the primes of their careers, Muhammed Wilkerson will be right there with them, while Darrelle Revis will likely still be the best corner in football and David Harris will be young enough to remain as a very important piece of the defense. If each of them can fulfill their potential, the defense will have the potential to be ranked among the best in the league for years to come.

6.) Chad Ochocinco will get off of Revis Island in 2012. False. To quote Ochocinco himself, “Child Please.” In his 6 career games against Darrelle Revis, Ochocinco has compiled only 16 catches for 289 yards, with no touchdowns. Those numbers average out to about 2.67 receptions for 48.17 yards per contest. With the artist formerly known as Chad Johnson entering the twilight of his career, coupled with the nightmare that is the Dophins’ quarterback situation, Ocho would be wise to set up his beach chair and lather up with sunscreen because Revis Island will be his residency for two of the sixteen weeks this season.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Passing Game Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False looks at the New York Jets passing game

The New York Jets passing offense of 2012 will likely be one of the hottest topics in the NFL this season. Countless story lines centered around the heavily criticized Mark Sanchez, the polarizing Tim Tebow, and new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano are sure to have every major media outlet placing New York’s passing attack under the microscope. For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, lets examine what we should and should not expect from Sanchez, Tebow, and the rest of the bunch this season.

1.) Chaz Schilens will play a significant role this season. False. The Jets signed Schilens to a 1-year, $765,000 contract this off-season. Prior to the start of free agency, the only other receiver with significant playing time that would have been capable of starting opposite Santonio Holmes was Jeremy Kerley. While Kerley is certainly a very promising young talent, he is best suited as a number 3, slot type receiver, rather than a number 2. As a result, the Jets grabbed Schilens as a cheap, low risk option to add depth to their receiving corps. However, with the addition of second round pick Stephen Hill in this year’s draft, Schilens may struggle to find a spot on the roster.

Schilens and Hill are both similar in size, both around 6’4” in the 215-225 lb range. However, Hill has much more upside than Schilens due to his youth, big play ability, and willingness to block. This is not to say that Schilens will not display such attributes, however with his history, it is highly unlikely. Since entering the NFL in 2008, Schilens has had an injury-plagued career and has played in only 44 out of a possible 64 total NFL games. His production has been very sub par, as he has recorded just 72 catches for 902 yards over his brief four-year career in Oakland. Of course, a fresh start in New York could replenish Schilens, but don’t count on it.

Schilens was seemingly brought in for his size and speed, however with the addition of Hill, the Jets got a much better, younger player to add that dimension to their offense. Schilens will likely remain on the roster because he is such a cheap option, but if rookie Jordan White emerges during training camp, as I fully expect him to do, Schilens could find himself battling it out with Patrick Turner, Scotty McKnight, and a few others for the fifth receiver spot on the roster. Regardless of whether he makes it or not, I wouldn’t expect Schilens to contribute in a significant manner for the Jets this season.

2.) Rookie Stephen Hill will open up the passing offense early and often. Fact. While we all know Hill is certainly a raw product, having come from the triple option offense at Georgia Tech, the threat of his size and speed alone will add a new dimension to the passing game this season. While Hill should certainly develop into a more polished receiver as his career progresses, his fantastic size and speed (4.30 40 yard dash) will make him an immediate deep threat. Defenses will have no choice but to account for him, whether it be through double teams, or sliding their coverage toward him when he is on the field. This should, realistically, open up a great amount of underneath and sideline work for Holmes, Kerley, and Tight End Dustin Keller, which is where they have thrived in the past. Hill’s big play ability will be a plus for the Jets this season, not only in making those plays, but for what his presence alone will bring.

3.) Santonio Holmes will make the Pro Bowl this season. False. While it is highly likely that Holmes will improve drastically from last season, I wouldn’t bank on him making a Pro Bowl, at least for this year. Holmes has never been voted to the Hawaiian exhibition, and while there is certainly a first for everything, especially for a talent like #10, who many forget achieved a career high in touchdown receptions last season (8), the Jets will be going back to their ground and pound approach under Tony Sparano this year. Unfortunately, this is not exactly the philosophy that will statistically get a wide receiver a Pro Bowl nod.

However, elite talent knows no boundaries. Brandon Marshall made two Pro Bowls playing in this system in Miami, so if Holmes can re-establish himself to the level that earned him a Super Bowl MVP trophy in 2009, a Pro Bowl is certainly not out of the question in the future. For this year though, it could be tough for him to accumulate numbers worthy of the honor in the inaugural season of a new offensive system. Still, expect to see Holmes return to his 2010 form.

4.) Jordan White will make an impact as a rookie. Fact. Anyone who has read my rookie analysis series knows what I think of Jordan White. White is an extremely tough, hard working, determined player who put up a career of immense production at Western Michigan (306 receptions, 4,190 yards, 32 touchdowns). His route running ability and knowledge of the game is NFL ready, which will give him an immediate advantage heading into training camp. White will undoubtedly prove his worth on special teams, and not only do I expect him to make the active roster, but I would be shocked if he did not contribute to the offense at some point during the season. White is a player whose intelligence, work ethic, and reliability, could make him a perfect fit with Quarterback Mark Sanchez.

5.) Tim Tebow will become the starting quarterback at some point this season. False. Most people seem to be afraid to touch this issue because, like ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, they believe the fix is in for Tebow to dethrone Sanchez as the Jets starting quarterback. However, let’s all take a deep breath and think about this situation. People can say that the Jets brought in Tebow for the publicity factor that he would bring with him. While this could be the case, that does not mean they brought him in to be the starting quarterback. Regardless of what everyone thinks, Tebow will be a role player this year. Teams do not place players whom they feel are going to be their starting quarterback on special teams. In today’s NFL, that will simply never happen. There is far too much of a liability factor involved to be risking the health of your offensive general as a personal protector on the punt team. If the Jets seriously thought Tebow was going to beat out Sanchez, they would not even consider placing him anywhere other than an offensive formation.

The Jets have been criticized for bringing in Tebow, as many see this move as the team ultimately setting up Sanchez to fail. Yet, remember how New York was bashed after the Drew Stanton signing? Most observers felt this was yet another incompetent quarterback who would not realistically challenge Sanchez. The same people who stressed the importance to bring in competition to push Sanchez, highly due to the publicized notion that the organization babied their young quarterback, are now the ones who are criticizing the Tebow move. The Jets traded for arguably the hardest working, most encouraging player in all of professional football, who will undoubtedly push Mark Sanchez to get the most out of himself this season, not by breathing down his neck, but by providing stability behind him, while contributing as a significant role player, whether it be in the wildcat, as a running back, or as an H-back.

Like any backup quarterback, Tebow will be ready if Sanchez fails to get New York to where they need to be. However, that will not happen this season, nor is it why Tebow was brought to New York. He was brought here because he is a terrific overall football player, and an even better teammate, something greatly needed in a locker room that is currently being rebuilt. Tebow will certainly get his plays this year, but barring an injury, don’t expect to see #6 on the sidelines watching him run the every down offense.

6.) Mark Sanchez will silence all of his critics. Fact. Every hater of Sanchez and the Jets are on the edge of their seat waiting to see, not if, but when he will finally succumb to all the pressure and negativity, and pack it in, paving the way for Tim Tebow to enter and install the heroics he displayed in Denver last year. I apologize in advance to these people because this is simply not going to happen.

Despite Sanchez putting up a career high in touchdowns last season (32 overall), many still insist that the young quarterback regressed in his third year as a pro. Unfortunately, those who believe this are completely ignorant to an abundance of facts. First of all, Sanchez was under the tutelage of arguably the least competent Offensive Coordinator in the league last season. Brian Schottenheimer saw Sanchez’s strengths in his first two years, yet seemingly wanted to become some type of mastermind, genius coordinator, and force his quarterback into game plans he clearly was not comfortable in (see 12/24/11). The Jets offensive line was also the worst it has been since Sanchez arrived in 2009, yet the kid showed his tenacity and competitiveness by hanging in there game in and game out, taking repeated beatings, while never breathing a word of negativity about the lack of blocking he was getting, despite the unwarranted claims that he is mentally weak.

The Jets replaced a Sanchez favorite in Braylon Edwards with the prehistoric Plaxico Burress, who could not get separation between the twenties if his life depended on it. The struggles of the offensive line also hurt the Jets once elite running attack, which in turn, all but eliminated the play action pass, something Sanchez is highly successful at.

However, this season, Sparano brings in a new offensive regime. The Jets have seemingly addressed what issues caused the struggles for Sanchez last season. They have hired a coordinator who vows to return to the philosophy that gave the Jets so much success in 2009 and 2010. They drafted youth and speed at vital positions of the offense, and they have added a new dynamic to that offense with Tebow. New York will be tougher, faster, and flat out better, in every area that the offense struggled in last season, and I firmly believe that the new coaching staff will reveal an improved Wayne Hunter for 2012. Sparano has already stressed the need to create “chunk” plays offensively, many of which are likely to come via play action pass, especially in this run heavy offense. Expect to not only see Sanchez make strides under Sparano, but to lead New York back to the playoffs, while establishing himself as the unquestioned leader of the Jets and silencing all of his critics along the way.

Why Do You Hate The Jets? AFC South Edition

In our latest edition of Why Do You Hate The Jets? we examine the AFC South to see who, if anyone, has the unconditional right to look down upon the Jets. Spoiler Alert: not one team in this division holds such an honor. Here’s why:

Just Shut Up

Jacksonville Jaguars – Other than the fact that Jacksonville has been 20-28 over the past three seasons, the Jets absolutely dominated them in every facet of their week 2 match up last season. They have a notable lack of talent across the roster, specifically on the offensive side of the ball with the exceptions of Maurice Jones-Drew and Mercedes Lewis. They’ve brought in Mike Mularkey as their new head coach, who has only two seasons of experience at the position, both of which were with the Buffalo Bills, where he compiled a 14-18 overall record. Although Mularkey is certainly a good offensive mind, and helped tremendously in the development of Matt Ryan in Atlanta over the past four seasons, he will surely have his work cut out for him as he attempts to rebuild this team, which has fallen far from grace recently.

New owner Shahid Khan could very much be a breath of fresh air for the franchise and the city, however, like so many new owners, he seems enthralled by the spotlight. Following the start of free agency this year, the Jags signed former Miami Quarterback Chad Henne to back up and possibly compete with the young Blaine Gabbert, who many have unfairly deemed a bust already. Just weeks after the signing, Khan was outbid by the Jets to acquire Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos. Surely, from a business standpoint, this was a smart move for Khan, as Tebow, a Jacksonville native, would helped ticket sales tremendously, but talk about a swing and a miss. Now the Jaguars are stuck with Gabbert, who not only has to deal with the constant criticism, but also has to live with the idea that his team was willing to give up on him after only one season, where he had virtually no supporting cast to work with. The Jets are often criticized for how they have dealt with the development and psyche of Mark Sanchez, but is this act by Jacksonville really any better?

Jacksonville’s need to blackout home games in order to increase ticket sales, or the constant rumors of relocation could surely be mentioned here as well, but there’s no need to take unnecessary shots below the belt.

Tennessee Titans – Where to begin with Tennessee? This is the same team that spent the third overall selection on Quarterback Vince Young in 2006, only to release him after 5 seasons with the club. Although Young looked somewhat promising early in his career, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2006, despite throwing only 12 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, he had a memorable meltdown during his third season, in which he was replaced by the then 35 year-old Kerry Collins. That same season, the Brett Favre led Jets went into Tennessee and handed the 10-0 Titans a 34-13 beating.

When the Young era ended heading into 2011, the Titans made a trade with Seattle for veteran Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to lead the helm and help develop first round pick Jake Locker. Although Hasselbeck fared decently last season (3,571 yards, 18 touchdowns), the Titans struggled all year largely due to the inconsistency of running back Chris Johnson and missed the playoffs after a 9-7 finish.

Speaking of Chris Johnson, Tennessee waited so long to pay the NFL’s leading rusher since 2008, that he entered training camp late, causing his production to drop drastically. After the Titans finally caved and gave the three time Pro Bowler a four year $53.5 million contract extension, Johnson compiled only four 100+ yard games last season. In fact, he did not even reach 65 yards on the ground in any other contest, and went five games without reaching 25 yards. Although you certainly have to question the player for this immense drop in production after receiving his massive payday, something must be said about the Titans management skills in dealing with this situation.

As for their young quarterback, Locker showed great promise in the 5 games he appeared in last season, throwing for 542 yards, and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions, while attaining a 51.5 percent completion percentage. So, how did Tennessee owner Bud Adams express his excitement and confidence in Locker? During the frenzy over Peyton Manning, following the future Hall Of Famer’s release from Indianapolis, Adams publicly declared his desire to land Manning. Even after he chose the Broncos over Tennessee, Adams publicly acknowledged his disappointment.

“I want to thank the whole organization for their efforts in trying to sign Peyton and also to Peyton for the time he put into the process. Peyton called me this morning to inform me of his decision and obviously I am disappointed, because I thought we would be a perfect fit.” –Adams on Manning choosing Denver over Tennessee.

Stay Classy Bud

The naysayers will certainly criticize the Jets for giving Mark Sanchez his contract extension after realizing they were not in the running for Peyton Manning. However, the Jets were smart enough to nip that situation in the bud before having it escalate to where Sanchez was poorly affected by it. Yes, they still brought in Tim Tebow, but Manning would have all but ended Sanchez’s run in New York. With Tebow, Sanchez is rightfully still the starter, until he proves otherwise.

Tennessee has been a bit better than Jacksonville over the past three seasons with a 23-25 overall record during that time, however they have not won a post-season game since 2003. The Jets, who have won 4 since 2009, all of which were on the road, have been 28-20 under Rex Ryan during the past three seasons.

Houston Texans – Although the Texans are certainly a franchise on the rise, they have never beaten the Jets since entering the league in 2001. They are very young and talented, and took a huge step in the right direction last season, by winning the AFC South for the first time in franchise history, as well as securing their very first post-season victory by way of a 31-10 rout over Cincinnati in Reliant Stadium. While I absolutely believe they will be a force, not only in the AFC South, but in the NFL for years to come, they still have not even sniffed the recent success of the Jets, and until they snag a W from Gang Green, they have no basis to look down upon them.

Some Room To Talk

Indianapolis Colts – If I were writing this piece three years ago, the Colts would be placed in the Unconditional Bragging Rights category. However, since Ryan has come to New York, Indianapolis really hasn’t been much better than the Jets. Over the past three seasons Indy has compiled a very mediocre 26-22 overall record. Now, obviously this number is a bit misleading due to the fact that arguably the greatest quarterback in league history missed all of last season, leading to a 2-14 record, but the bottom line is that he is just one player. Outside of Manning, if the Colts were truly that much better than the Jets, they would have been able to muster up more than 2 victories in 2011. Last season displayed how poorly the team was actually built, and because of it, both Polians lost their jobs in the Colts’ front office. For as much criticism as the Jets take with Sanchez, it is never argued that if he were to miss playing time, the Jets would be much worse. This is a result of two things. Yes, Manning is that important to a team, and is certainly superior to Sanchez, but also, the Jets have been built better from top to bottom, rather than the top heavy team that Indianapolis was exposed as last season.

One of the biggest knocks on the Jets is that they love being in the spotlight. Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, and Owner Woody Johnson have been deemed as attention hogs, who are willing to do anything to gain the back page headline in New York. While this notion is certainly exaggerated, if it were in fact the case, the Colts still would have no ground to criticize them for it. Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay is one of six NFL owners on twitter, but is by far the most active user of his account. Since the saga with Peyton Manning began prior to the start of last season, Irsay has done enough to make himself the center of attention in Indianapolis. He glorifies not only his team, but himself as well, through the media, and especially through social media. Seriously, go look at the guy’s Twitter timeline and tell me he isn’t all about stealing the spotlight. Irsay is far more vain than Woody Johnson and Co. have ever been.

Beyond that, we all know who eliminated the Colts the last time they were in the post season. In the 2011 playoffs, the Jets marched into Indianapolis and avenged their 2010 AFC Championship Game loss by knocking out the Manning led Colts on their home turf on a last second field goal by Nick Folk. Manning’s reaction to Caldwell’s incompetence will forever be remembered as the legendary quarterback’s last moments in a Colts uniform.

Happy Memorial Day From Turn On The Jets

As you all enjoy the end of your Memorial Day Weekend, we at Turn On The Jets would not only like to wish everyone well on this holiday, but more importantly would like to thank all the devoted men and women who have served, and are currently serving our great nation over seas. On days of reflection like Memorial Day, we realize how lucky we are to be able to enjoy the luxuries of sports, entertainment, and all other everyday freedoms we too often take for granted. Never forget, the United States of America is the land of the free, because of the brave. So, to all the proud veterans out there, Thank You for everything you have given us in order to enjoy all that we have.

As the long weekend finally winds down, I have just a few quick New York Jets thoughts to share before another full week of content at TOJ.

1.) On Karlos Dansby expecting the Dolphins to win the AFC East. I actually have absolutely no issue with Dansby’s comments. As a competitor and a professional football player, he should always expect his team to succeed and win, otherwise what would be the point of playing the game? Rex Ryan has not been shy about what he expects from the Jets, so Dansby’s attitude should be viewed no differently. There is a certain degree of respect you must have for someone to show that much confidence, not only in themselves, but in the men they compete alongside.

The issue I do have, though, is the Dolphins faithful that have been emerging arguing that they would rather have their 53 than the Jets’. Again, I respect the confidence, but as a fan, you need to be realistic. Other than OLB and Offensive Tackle, every position on Miami’s roster is inferior to New York’s. Miami fans should be excited about the idea of a new coaching regime and quarterback, but there comes a point when you must look in the mirror and realize you are still very far away from being a competitive team in this league.

2.) On the Jets stealing the headlines once again. Many believe that the Jets acquired Tim Tebow strictly for the publicity factor he would bring to the team. While I strongly disagree with this notion, if this was, in fact, their motivation for bringing in Tebow, it certainly worked. As pointed out by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, SI‘s Peter King reported that 77 percent of the coverage in the five New York newspapers last Friday focused on Tebow, while only 23 percent focused on the foot injury of the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks.

The injury to the reigning Super Bowl MVP’s top target is certainly more significant than Tebow throwing two interceptions in a May session of 7 on 7, but the Tebow headline sells more. So, if Woody Johnson and Mike Tannenbuam’s sole motivation to bring in Tebow was to steal the headlines from the defending Super Bowl Champs, kudos to them.

3.) On Wayne Hunter declaring that Jets fans will see “a new Right Tackle” this season. One thing anyone can tell from listening to Wayne Hunter talk is that he is brutally honest. Hunter does not hide the fact that he was the weak link to an offensive line that struggled horribly at times last season. While he acknowledges the fact that he owes a lot to Brian Schottenheimer and Bill Callahan for the opportunity, he also makes it clear that new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and staff are certainly a breath of fresh air. Hunter points out that, in order to succeed, he needs to get out of the “reserve” mentality and be consistent on every single play. Why he is just coming to this revelation now is beyond me, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

4.) On Rex Ryan not ruling out a possible Jim Leonhard return. We will look at this possible scenario deeper during the week, but at the right cost, this would be a good thing for the Jets. Although New York suddenly has an abundance of Safeties, other than rookie Josh Bush, there is not a true cover safety in the bunch. No one knows the defense better than Leonhard, and he is the perfect personality to mentor the young talent on the roster. Of course, his health and cost will be the biggest issues for a possible reunion. If he can be had at a discount, it may be worth bringing him back.

The Five Greatest Jets Of The 2000s

 

In light of TOJ Editor-In-Chief Joe Caporoso’s absence, the weekly 12 pack will be put on hold until next Friday. For today, we have a special request from TOJ Twitter frequenter Tommy Lessman to breakdown the five greatest New York Jets from the year 2000 on.

Honorable Mention

Vinny Testaverde – Although Testaverde is certainly a fan favorite of New York Jets fans, primarily for his vast bravado, along with taking the Jets to a game within the Super Bowl in 1998, Vinny’s best years with Gang Green came prior to the new millennium.

Mo Lewis – Lewis was All-Pro in 2000, but like Testaverdere, his best years as a Jet came during the 90s. Lewis is also responsible for propelling the New England Dynasty by famously knocking out Drew Bledsoe in week 2 of the 2001 season, paving the way for Tom Brady and three Super Bowls.  

Chad Pennington – I always say that if injuries didn’t hamper his career, Pennington would have been an outstanding quarterback for the Jets. He led New York to two playoff victories in two separate seasons, including a 41-0 rout of Peyton Manning and the Colts in the 2002 playoffs. Pennington also holds the highest completion percentage in league history (with a minimum of 1,000 attempts), having completed 66.0 percent of his passes over his 11 year career. Unfortunately, countless rotator cuff injuries did hamper his career, and by the time he left New York in 2008 upon the arrival of Brett Favre, Pennington’s throwing shoulder was seemingly hanging on by a paper clip. Still, we love you Chad.

Wayne Cherbet – Cherbet is the ultimate underdog. Undrafted out of Hofstra in 1995, he churned out a very solid 11 year career with the Jets, and remains 2nd in franchise history in receptions with 580, while he is 5th in yards from scrimmage with 7,365. Cherbet compiled 41 touchdowns over his 11 seasons, and was awarded the Jets Alumni Association’s “Jets Player of the Year” Award in 2001, while also receiving the Ed Block Courage Award in 2005. Unfortunately, like Pennington, Cherbet’s career was hampered by injuries, and he was forced into retirement in 2005 after a long history of concussions.

Top 5

T-5.) Nick Mangold – Upon being drafted by the Jets in 2006, Mangold had the immense responsibility of stepping in for New York legend Kevin Mawae at the Center position. The first round pick out of Ohio State did not disappoint one bit. Starting all 16 games as a rookie, Mangold allowed only 0.5 sacks, while committing just 3 penalties throughout the entire season. He is a 4 time consecutive Pro Bowler from 2008-2011, as well as a 3 time consecutive All Pro from 2009-2011. He was the anchor for the league’s top rushing offense in 2009, and the fourth best rushing offense in 2010. In 2010, the Jets rightfully made Mangold the highest paid Center in the history of the NFL. His value was even more exposed last season, as displayed by the Jets’ horrific offensive struggles during his absence due to injury.

T-5.) Shaun Ellis – Over his 11 seasons as a Jet, Ellis compiled 559 tackles, 72.5 sacks, 13 forced fumbles and an interception. Prior to departing via free agency to rival New England last season, Ellis was the longest tenured New York Jet. He was a 2 time Pro Bowl selection in 2003 and 2009, and was the recipient of the 2010 Ed Block Courage Award. He always handled his business with class, and was the foundation of the Jets defensive line for over a decade. Ellis will always be remembered in the history of Gang Green, and could eventually find himself a spot in the Jets Ring of Honor.

4.) John Abraham – In his 6 seasons with the Jets from 2000-2005, Abraham compiled an astonishing 275 tackles, 53.5 sacks, 19 forced fumbles, and 5 fumble recoveries. He was a 3 time Pro Bowl selection as a Jet in 2001, 2002, and 2004, and is a member of the New York Jets All-Time Four Decade Team. Abraham is also the last Jets player to record double digit sacks in a single season. Oh, what New York would surely give to have a healthy John Abraham in his prime with Rex Ryan at the helm.

3.) Darrelle Revis – Revis came on the scene after the Jets traded up in the 2007 NFL Draft to obtain him with the 14th overall pick. At the young age of 26 years old, Revis already holds the franchise record for most career passes defended with 95, along with holding the record for the longest interception returned for a touchdown (100 yards vs. Miami on 10/17/2011) in franchise history. Other than the two records the young CB already holds, he has compiled 283 tackles, 18 interceptions, 3 touchdowns, and 1 sack during his 5 seasons as a Jet. Revis is a 4 time consecutive Pro Bowler from 2008-2011, as well as a 3 time consecutive All Pro from 2009-2011, was the AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, and is widely regarded as the best defensive back in all of football. By the time it is all said and done, we may not be deeming Revis the greatest Jet of the 2000s, but rather of all time.

2.) Kevin Mawae – Mawae was the Jets ultimate Iron Man, having started 177 games from 1994-2005. In 2000, he anchored the Jets offensive line that ranked 1st in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed with only 20 throughout the entire season. He was a 6 time consecutive Pro Bowl invitee with the Jets, including five in the 2000s from 2000-2004. Mawae was also a 6 time All Pro with Gang Green, 4 of which came in the 2000s from 2000-2004. He was voted to the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team, while maintaining a spot on the Jets All-Time Four Decade Team. A torn left triceps in 2005 not only ended his consecutive starts streak, but his career as a Jet as well. Mawae was a vital part of Curtis Martin’s immense success as a Jet, and is one of the greatest contributors to the star Running Back’s Hall of Fame career.

1.) Curtis Martin – No one can argue that the first ballot Hall of Famer has been the greatest Jet to date since the year 2000. Martin was a 5 time Pro Bowler, including 3 with the Jets, 2 of which came in the 2000s. He was also a 5 time All Pro, and was the oldest player to ever win the NFL Rushing Championship at age 31 in 2004, when he compiled a total of 1,697 yards on the ground. Martin was the NFL Alumni Running Back of the year in that same year, along with the FedEx Ground Player of the Year. The following season, he was awarded the Bart Starr Man of the Year Award.

Martin is the New York Jets All-Time leading rusher with 10,302 rushing yards as a Jet, and his total career rushing yards of 14,101 rank 4th all time among the NFL’s all time leading rushers, behind only Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, and Emmitt Smith. He ranks 7th All-Time in yards from scrimmage with 17,430 yards. Martin is a member of the New York Jets Ring of Honor, while holding franchise records not only in rushing yards, but touchdowns as well (58). He ran for over a thousand yards in each of his first 10 seasons, including 7 of his 8 years with the Jets, 5 of which came in the 2000s. While Darrelle Revis certainly has the potential to eventually dethrone him, Curtis Martin is undoubtedly the greatest Jet since the turn of the century.

Feeling the Tremors of the NFL Offseason – Part 2

Turn On The Jets Assistant Staff Writer Mike Donnelly breaks it down with Part 2 of his NFL Offseason Review, as graded by the Richter Scale. In case you missed Part 1, be sure to check it out Here, for a full explanation of each category. Also, make sure you are following Mike on twitter: @TheMikeDonnelly, along with the rest of the TOJ Staff. – CG

Magnitude: 6 – 6.9 – “Strong” (Can be destructive)

6.0 – Salary Cap Violations against Redskins and Cowboys– This was a pretty important story that kind of got swept under the rug, but these two teams were hit hard for supposedly cheating the system during the uncapped season. The Redskins were docked a whopping $36 million in cap space (spread over two seasons), while the Cowboys were docked $10 million. For two teams that play in the same division as Super Bowl champion New York Giants, that’s a major disadvantage. At least last time Mike Shanahan cheated the salary cap, he got two rings out of it. This time? Not so lucky.

6.6 – Calvin Johnson signs 7 year / $132 million extension with $60m guaranteed– Megatron wasn’t a free agent who could have left Detroit or anything, but any time a player shatters the previous record for highest contract ever, it certainly can cause damage around the league. Not only will Calvin be playing to prove he’s worthy of it and continue to dominate defenses on the field, but now off the field every player is going to try to surpass this deal when their time comes. Could be big trouble.

6.7 – Mario Williams signs with the Bills– The only reason Mario’s 6 year / $100 million contract with $50m guaranteed is rated slightly higher than Calvin’s is because Mario was actually a free agent, welcome to sign with any team he chose. And for some reason, he chose to live in Buffalo for the next 6 years.

On the field, this gives them a potentially dynamic defense with Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Nick Barnett, and rookie Stephon Gilmore. Oh, and yes, the Jets are planning on blocking him with Wayne Hunter or Vlad Ducasse. Should be fine.

Magnitude: 7 – 7.9 – “Major” (Can cause serious damage)

7.0 – NFL suspends 4 Saints players for roles in “Bountygate” – (To be clear, this is JUST the impact of the player suspensions, not the bounty scandal as a whole). Jonathan Vilma (1 year), Anthony Hargrove (8 games), Will Smith (4 games), and Scott Fujita (3 games) all had the hammer dropped on them by Commissioner Roger Goodell for their role in the bounty scandal, where they intentionally tried to injure opposing offensive players. Vilma got the harshest penalty, because he was found to be the one offering up cash rewards for injury inducing hits. Such harsh punishments show that Goodell means business and there is now a precedent set for future infractions. This is a big deal. In terms of this season’s impact on the field, it’s pretty big, but not Vince Wilfork big. Vilma is a shell of the player he used to be, Hargrove is now a backup for Green Bay, and Fujita was never that great to begin with. Smith’s absence will hurt the Saints, but they’ll get by.

7.2 – Tim Tebow traded to the Jets – While I was publicly against this trade, it is undeniable how big of an impact this move will have. Had this been graded strictly on his play on the field, it would be in the 5.0 range (or a -1.5 if based only on his passing), but there is so much more when it comes to Tim Tebow. The media attention, the scrutiny, his impact in the locker room and on Mark Sanchez, the off the field nonsense, and the fact that the possible Messiah will now be in the world’s greatest city is all enough to push this into the 7’s. If he runs in more than a few touchdowns and helps the Jets win a lot of games, this can easily register an even greater impact.

7.3 – Terrell Suggs tears Achilles tendon – Yikes. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year and unquestionably the most important player on the league’s most imposing defense tears his Achilles in May, likely knocking him out for the season. That’s a pretty major deal. Suggs claims he’ll be back in October, but logic seems to dictate otherwise. If Suggs is out for the season, or even severely limited upon his return, a Super Bowl contender takes a major step back. Unless of course Joe Flacco actually plays like the league’s best quarterback, which he hilariously claimed to be this offseason. (You read that right. He really said that.)

Magnitude: 8 – 9.9 – “Great” (Can be devastating) 

8.0 – Redskins trade three 1st-Round picks, one 2nd round pick for Robert Griffin III – If you’re saying that’s an awful lot to trade, give yourself a prize, because you are correct. The Redskins have been desperate for a franchise quarterback for a very long time now, and after the Shanahans (Mike and Kyle) hilariously thought they could make chicken soup out of chicken sh– err, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck, they needed to make a splash and get one of the best QB prospects to come out in years. Redskins fans finally have some hope as the RG3 era begins. Rarely do you see a player carry the entire weight of a franchise on his shoulders, but that’s what RG3 is doing here. Tough situation to be in.

8.5 – NFL Suspends Saints Coaches and Executives for roles in “Bountygate” – (As with the players section, this is strictly about the impact of the suspensions on the coaches and executives) A case could be made that no coach in the NFL has more of an impact on his team than Sean Payton does with the Saints. It’s as if he and Drew Brees share a brain out there. If Brees is the driver of the luxury automobile that is the Saints offense, then Payton is the engineer who specifically tailored every nook and cranny to fit Brees and the rest of the personnel to a T. Well, none of that will be happening in 2012, as Payton was given a full year suspension and is forbidden from contact with the team. Yikes.

Joining him on the couch this year is the new (and now former) St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was allegedly the mastermind of the whole bounty program. Williams was given an indefinite suspension and may never be allowed to return to the league. Good riddance. Interim Head Coach Joe Vitt was unable to escape punishment either, and was given a 6 game ban. General Manager Mickey Loomis was given 8 games. So if you’re scoring at home, the Saints decision maker (Loomis) is gone half the season, the Head Coach (Payton) is out for the entire season, and the guy replacing him (Vitt) is also missing 6 games. Yeah, this is going to have a pretty big impact on the Saints and the league in general.

9.0 – Junior Seau’s Suicide – In a truly sad story, legendary linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide on May 2nd. The motives are still currently unknown, but it very likely was the final call for help from the former player. This tale is sadly becoming all too prevalent amongst former players, and his death is hopefully going to be the wakeup call the league and players everywhere need. The sad truth is, many of these men are unprepared for life after football both physically and mentally. Things in the NFL are going to change in a big way going forward, and that’s why this gets such a high score.

Magnitude: 10+  “Massive” (Never recorded, widespread devastation)

10.0 – Colts cut Peyton Manning, draft Andrew Luck #1 overall – Never before has a team had a “once in a generation” player run their team for 14 years, then cut that player and be in a position to get the next “once in a generation player” that very same year. Think about this: Peyton Manning led this Colts team to the playoffs 9 consecutive seasons before he was knocked out of the entire 2011 season due to injury. In that time, he won a Super Bowl, played in another, won a whopping four MVP awards, and won at least 10 games in 11 of his 13 seasons as the starter. Not only that, but without him in 2011 the team, with largely the same players, went from 10 wins in 2010 and a division title to 2 wins and the #1 overall draft pick. Wow. You can see why many consider him to be the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill, but if anybody can do it, it’s probably Andrew Luck. The Stanford product is considered to be the best quarterback prospect to enter the league since–you guessed it– Peyton Manning. Over the last 30 years only Manning, Troy Aikman, and John Elway were considered such sure-things. That’s some pretty excellent company for young Mr. Luck. He’ll take his lumps early in his career on this poor team, but before long he will make Colts fans realize they made the right decision by cutting the legend for the young buck. There’s a very good chance you’ll never see a scenario like this unfold again.

10.0 – Broncos sign legendary QB Peyton Manning, trade possible Messiah– I could have lumped this one in with the last one, but it deserves its own section. How many times are you going to see a sure-fire Hall of Fame quarterback, perhaps the best of all time, who likely still has a few seasons left, come available in free agency? The answer is never. But that’s exactly what we saw happen this year, and the Broncos were the lucky winners of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. That alone makes this worthy of a 10, but when you add the Tim Tebow factor, it really goes off the charts. When have we ever seen a player (who may or may not have magical powers) become so simultaneously beloved, hated, respected, worshipped, and criticized, lead a team to a playoff win, become a local hero, then get dumped by that team after his second year in the league because a legend like Peyton freakin’ Manning was signed to take his place? I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. This Peyton Manning thing has had major implications for three NFL teams: the Colts, Broncos, and Jets. It’s rare you see such a wild chain of events, but we did. And that’s why this gets a 10.

10.0 – Dolphins sign Jamaal Westerman – Just kidding.

10.0 – BountyGate – We’ve already covered the coaches and players getting suspended, but the “BountyGate” scandal is far bigger than any individual players or coaches. We are talking about one of the biggest scandals in NFL history, where players and coaches were rewarded with money bonuses for purposely injuring opposing players. That is reprehensible, and something we have never seen before (and hopefully never see again). This is the kind of thing that causes major changes in the league, and Roger Goodell has shown he isn’t taking this stuff lightly any longer. This was a major story, not just for the Saints, but for the NFL as a whole, and that’s why this gets a 10 spot.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Run Game Edition

One of the most intriguing New York Jets story lines heading into the summer is whether or not the Jets will be able to, once again, establish themselves as an elite rushing offense. During Rex Ryan’s first two seasons as Head Coach of the Jets, they were ranked 1st and 4th in rushing offense, respectively. Last season, they dipped to the 22nd best rushing team in the NFL. This, of course, was largely due to the fact that former Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer seemingly forgot his bread and butter, and what his offense was built on.

During Ryan’s first two seasons with the Jets, there was no mistake that New York was a ground and pound, in your face, physical, run first, run second offense. Last year, though, they were extremely confused as to what their identity was. In an attempt to re-obtain that identity, the Jets replaced Schottenheimer with former Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano this offseason. Sparano has made it clear since he came to New York, that the Jets will, once again, be a run first offense, while stating the necessity of returning to the ground and pound style of play. We’ve already seen that Mark Sanchez is at his best when he has a solid running game to work with, as he greatly excels in the play action pass, so getting back to the top tier of rushing teams in the NFL is vital to the success of this offense.

For this edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we examine what to, and what not to, expect from the newly run Tony Sparano offense this upcoming season.

1.) Shonn Greene will finally have a breakout season and prove to be the Jets’ Bell Cow. Fact. As much as everyone likes to assert the opinion that Shonn Greene is not the guy to carry the running load for the Jets, it is often forgotten that he compiled 1,054 yards last season under the philosophically challenged Brian Schottenheimer. Although he only ran for 6 touchdowns, he had an average of 4.2 yards per carry. Even more impressive is his career average of 4.3 yards per carry.

Greene has all the tools to be an excellent every down back in this league. At 5’11” 226 lbs, he is certainly big enough to withstand the physical toll that an NFL season can take on a running back, and contrary to popular belief, he has a great ability to explode into the second level. Although he isn’t the greatest receiving threat out of the backfield, he still obtained 30 catches for 211 yards last season. Of course, this is likely a direct result of Sanchez’s numerous amount of check downs, but for the Jets, Greene’s ability to catch out of the backfield should have nothing to do with his status as the bell cow running back.

Greene needs to be the guy to wear down defenses with his big, physical style of running, while opening up the big plays for Joe McKnight and the receiving corps. Last year, Greene played in an offense that was utterly confused with what their identity was and still churned out over 1,000 yards. This season, there is no mistake the Jets are a run first, run second team, and Tony Sparano’s presence will establish Greene as “the guy” when it comes to running the football for the Jets. It should not be a shock to anyone to see Greene compile over 1,500 yards with double digit touchdowns this season. Sparano made a 1,000 yard rusher out of Reggie Bush who, prior to joining Miami last offseason, had a career high of 581 rushing yards, coming in his second NFL season. The season before signing with Miami, Bush ran for a pitiful 150 yards over only 8 games. If Sparano can get that type of production out of Bush, he can certainly propel Greene to finally become the guy everyone has expected him to be since being drafted by the Jets three years ago.

2.) Joe McKnight will obtain 1,000 yards from scrimmage. Fact. Although Joe McKnight has struggled to find his niche in the offense during his first two seasons, this could be the year that the former USC Trojan finally bursts onto the scene for Gang Green. With LaDanian Tomlinson now out of the picture, McKnight will immedeately step into the number two role behind Greene, and due to his fantastic athleticism and speed, could prove to be a very vital piece to the Jets offense this year. He showed his big play ability and explosiveness on special teams last season, a year in which he improved tremendously from his rookie campaign. Expect McKnight to take yet another step to improve his game and contributions to the team.

McKnight has reportedly come into OTAs at about 16 pounds heavier than his normal playing weight, with an eye on taking more of an involvement in the offensive game plan. He certainly has the tools to strike the big play, whether it be as a runner or a receiving threat out of the backfield. McKnight certainly seems poised for a breakout season, and 1,000 total yards from scrimmage should be fairly attainable for the third year pro.

3.) The WildCat will not be used frequently. False. This story line isn’t going anywhere Jets fans. Tony Sparano is one of the founding fathers of the wildcat offense, and Tim Tebow is the perfect wildcat quarterback. Rex Ryan has already proclaimed that Tebow will likely see up to 20 snaps per game, and based on how he has thrown the ball throughout his young career in a traditional quarterback role, the majority of those 20 plays are going to come out of this formation.

The Jets are no stranger to the wildcat, which was formerly run by Brad Smith, who played quarterback in college at the University of Missouri. However, Tebow is much more athletic, and contrary to popular belief, is a better passer than Smith. Everyone saw how much Rex gloated about the wildcat being used after the Redskins game last season, so expect to see a great amount of this, particularly in short yardage, and goal line situations. If Sparano can stay creative enough with this scheme to keep opposing defenses guessing, combining his intuition with Tebow’s athletic ability could make this a very potent offensive threat.

4.) Wayne Hunter will improve from his poor 2011 performance. Fact. There is certainly a great lack of faith in Hunter among Jets Nation, and for valid reason. Hunter, to put it nicely, was god awful last season. After allowing 11 sacks, along with 32 QB pressures, he certainly has a long way to go before winning over any fans of the green and white. However, with such a horrible performance last season, an improvement is seemingly inevitably. Is it humanly possible that Hunter could play worse than he did last season? I don’t think so.

Hunter will be coming out with a serious chip on his shoulder. Many of his detractors have considered him the worst lineman in the National Football League. However, we must not forget, that before stepping into a full time starting role, Hunter was exceptional as a reserve player. Filling in for Damien Woody in late 2010, Hunter earned himself his current contract with Gang Green, due to the high level of potential he displayed. Hunter is a physical freak, and certainly has a mean streak, as displayed by his on the field altercation with Santonio Holmes last season. Couple these facts with Sparano’s more physical style blocking approach,and Hunter could shock the world in 2012.

It is important to remember that in 2010, the Jets were a physical, smash mouth team. Last season, they seemingly got away from that style of play, focusing on more of a finesse type of offensive blocking scheme. This year, Sparano will bring the Jets offensive line back to where they thrived the most with a tough, man on blocking approach. Hunter will undoubtedly improve from 2011, and could actually surprise many by having an average to decent season as the Jets’ starting Right Tackle.

5.) Dustin Keller will prove to be a solid blocking Tight End under Tony Sparano. False. Keller has succeeded up until this point in his career for his athleticism and receiving skills. In fact, he was drafted so high because of these same attributes, after an impressive career at Purdue, followed by a lights out combine heading into the 2008 NFL Draft. Blocking has never been a strong point in his game, and New York shouldn’t expect that to start anytime soon.

This is not to say Keller will not be a valuable piece in Sparano’s system. In fact, Keller should realistically thrive as a receiving threat under Sparano. Miami Tight End Anthony Fasano had just one career touchdown before falling under the tutelage of his former head coach. Since then, Fasano has reeled in 18 touchdowns. If Sparano can get this type of production out of a one time anemic player at the position, imagine what he can do with an athlete like Keller.

As for the blocking aspect of the tight end position in this system, expect the Jets to closely monitor the development of Hayden Smith. At 6’6″ nearly 260 lbs, Smith certainly has the physical tools to be a great blocker, and his experience as a former rugby player prove that he has the tenacity needed to get in the trenches with some of the toughest defensive lineman in the NFL. What will matter most for Smith is how fast he can pick up this game and prove his worth to the coaching staff before the final roster adjustments need to be made. If he cannot convince them he will be a worthy piece of this offense, expect the Jets to look into free agency for a blocking Tight End, perhaps free agent Visanthe Shiancoe, who at 31 years old, certainly has some good years left in him.

6.) Terrance Ganaway will beat out Bilal Powell as the third RB. Fact. Although Powell may not have gotten the fairest chance to prove himself as a rookie last season (13 car, 21 yards, and a fumble), he does not seem to quite fit in with the direction the Jets are heading offensively. At 5’10” 204 lbs, Powell is a smaller back, who is certainly in no position to beat out Joe McKnight as the home run threat to the rushing attack this season.

Ganaway, on the other hand, fits the bill of the Jets new offensive identity to a T. He is very big at about 6’0″ 240 lbs, and has displayed excellent agility and elusiveness during his time as a Baylor Bear. Coming from Baylor, he has a high level of experience playing in an option type offense, and was seemingly drafted to play a similar role in New York’s wildcat package with Tim Tebow. The Jets certainly seem to have a plan in place for Ganaway, and barring something unforeseen, expect Powell to be on the outside looking in after training camp.

Why Do You Hate The Jets? NFC East Edition, Part II

Previously at Turn On The Jets, we reviewed which teams in the AFC East had the right to speak out against the Jets, who had some room to run their mouths, and who should just shut up. As part of our Why Do You Hate The Jets? series, we looked at the first part of the NFC East last week, focusing on why the Washington Redskins should keep quiet when it comes to Gang Green. In the second part of our NFC East review, we examine yet another team who should Just Shut Up, in the Dallas Cowboys, while also looking at why the Philadelphia Eagles have much in common with the Jets, and finally, why the Giants of New York have unconditional bragging rights, at least for the next four seasons, or until the Jets win a Super Bowl, whichever comes first.

Just Shut Up

Dallas Cowboys – While America’s team has been all over the headlines since the emergence of Tony Romo, they’ve seemingly gained popularity through all aspects of football other than winning. They have a glamor quarterback in Romo, a diva of an owner in Jerry Jones, and have experienced a coaching carousel that has seen five different head coaches since 1998. Sound familiar?

However, unlike the Jets, Dallas has won just a single playoff game in the past 15 seasons, despite entering several years as the preseason favorites. While the verdict is certainly still out on Jason Garrett as a head coach, the Cowboys have displayed no recent amount of stability, while maintaining themselves as one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams year in and year out. Tony Romo has been praised as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, having earned three trips to the pro bowl during his young career, however he is just 1-3 in playoff games. Mark Sanchez is one of the most, if not the most, heavily criticized quarterbacks in all of football, but is 4-2 in the post season. Regular season statistics are great, but an inability to win games when they matter the most can, and should, tarnish the status of any quarterback.

Similar to the Jets, the Cowboys have also done their fair share of signing high profile players with character concerns throughout the years. However, unlike the Jets signees, the troubled stars that Dallas has signed have rarely worked out.

In 2008, the Cowboys traded for troubled Tennessee Cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones. Jones had been fresh off of several arrests as a Titan, most notably the infamous “making it rain” incident in which an alleged member of his entourage reportedly fired repeated gunshots into a crowd, following an altercation at a Las Vegas strip club. Believing they could assist in developing the young corner’s character, Dallas took a serious gamble on Jones. During his first season in Big D, Jones was involved in yet another incident in a Dallas hotel, and eventually checked himself into an alcohol rehab center following a mid season suspension.

Jones would return to play for Dallas in 2008, however he suffered a neck injury against Pittsburgh, leading to his eventual release in February of 2009, following just one season as a Cowboy. The Jets have been criticized for bringing in a cornerback of their own with supposed character issues, in Antonio Cromartie, yet Cro has not been involved in any serious off the field issues, while maintaining a solid level of play opposite the best defensive back in all of football.

Along with Jones, the Cowboys also signed Tank Johnson following his release from the Chicago Bears after repeated off the field incidents, including possession of illegal fire arms. Also a very talented player, Johnson could quite never get it right in Dallas, playing in just 24 games while recording 33 tackles and 3 sacks.

Arguably the most famous free agent signing by the Cowboys in the Tony Romo era is Terrell Owens. Although no one can deny Owens’ tremendous talent, there is also no denying the immense amount of headaches he has caused teammates, coaches, and front office personnel over the course of his career. Owens was up and down during his time in Dallas, but could never quite establish the dominance needed to propel Tony Romo into becoming a truly elite quarterback in the NFL. Owens was released by Dallas in 2009, followed by brief one year stints in Buffalo and Cincinnati, respectively. Owens now obtains work from the Indoor Football League’s Allen Wranglers. As for his time in Big D, Owens will undoubtedly be remembered for this famous press conference.

Some Room To Talk

Philadelphia Eagles – Although Philadelphia absolutely dominated the Jets in every aspect of their 45-19 blowout over Gang Green last season, they are strikingly similar to the Jets as an organization. Despite having great stability at the head coaching position since the arrival of Andy Reid in 1999, the organization has similarly struggled in championship games. Between 2001-2004, the Eagles made four consecutive NFC Championship games, losing all but one. Although the argument can be made that, unlike the Jets, they were able to get over the hump and actually make a Super Bowl, they were defeated by New York’s rival New England Patriots 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX.

More recently, though, the Eagles have prioritized themselves in signing high profile free agents. Just a season ago, the Eagles made the big free agent splash by signing CB Nnamdi Asomugha, DT Cullen Jenkins, WR Steve Smith, and QB Vince Young, who famously deemed Philly the “Dream Team,” prior to finishing an ultra disappointing 8-8, coincidentally the same record as the 2011 Jets.

Like the Jets, the Eagles certainly have a vast amount of character issues throughout their roster. Many people remember Santonio Holmes as the Wide Receiver to have a public meltdown during a game last season, however that same group of people should not forget the antics of Philadelphia WR DeSean Jackson, who, after a disagreement with Vince Young, was seen blatantly ignoring his quarterback on the sidelines, while he seemingly attempted to make peace with the star wideout.

Jackson has had questions about his character throughout his entire playing career, but like Santonio Holmes, was rewarded with a 5 year, $51 million contract this past offseason. Unlike the Holmes deal, Jackson got a new contract after his meltdown, rather than before it, as was the case with Holmes. Instead of questioning the move to pay a player with such character issues, Philadelphia has been lauded for taking care of their own. The Jets, on the other hand, have been heavily criticized for giving Holmes a similar deal more than a year ago, due to his public meltdown in Miami last season, and constant portrayal as the Jets’ villain throughout this entire offseason. However, since becoming a Jet, Holmes has certainly been no greater of a headache than Jackson, and has caught four more touchdowns, despite playing one less game during that time frame. To the critic, the Jets paying Holmes was a poor decision, while the Eagles paying Jackson is a classy organizational move to reward its own players, a double standard to say the least.

Unconditional Bragging Rights

New York Giants – The Giants have done everything the right way in establishing themselves as one of the NFL’s elite teams year in and year out since the arrival of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. They’ve built champisionship caliber teams through the draft, rather than over paying for high profile free agents, even if it has meant allowing some of their fan favorites to leave along the way. The Giants have groomed Eli Manning from the young, raw, question mark he once was, to a polished, elite NFL Quarterback with two Super Bowl MVPs.

Besides the fact that they have won four championships since the Jets won their single Super Bowl in 1969, the Giants have flat out dominated the Jets in terms of play. They all but ended the Jets’ season last year, after a horrible showing by Gang Green in the 29-14 Christmas Eve embarrassment. The G-Men have won two Super Bowls in the past four seasons, while the Jets have merely made it to two AFC Championship games. Giant fans, brag all you want. Until the Jets can prove to dethrone them, Big Blue remains King in New York. For now, Jets Nation can cling to this.