New York Jets: We Talking About Practice?

2 weeks worth of thoughts on the New York Jets after leaving the country

A huge thanks to Chris Gross for running Turn On The Jets, while I spent a couple of weeks aboard in Ireland, Netherlands, and Germany. It is good to be back and getting after it here at TOJ, stay posted throughout the week as myself, Chris, and the rest of our writing staff will be bringing you the high quality content you have come to expect.

1. How could you not laugh at the reaction to Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow’s performance in a 7 on 7 OTA practice? Get used to the meticulous tracking of every throw and movement they make at each practice and the unavoidable overreaction to it. Personally, I think without question Sanchez is the superior quarterback, should start and shouldn’t necessarily have a quick hook. However, I can admit it is crazy to get down on Tebow because he threw a pair of interceptions in his first practice in a new offense. Practice is important but nobody remembers your completion percentage in practices when the bullets start flying in a game. Sanchez is going to start the season under center and the media/certain fans will be screaming for him to be pulled after one bad game, regardless of how much he outperforms Tebow this summer.

2. I am very happy with the decision to sign Yeremiah Bell over Jim Leonhard, which is exactly what it was regardless of what Rex Ryan says. Bell has more size and athleticism than Leonhard and has simply been a more productive player over the past few years. Yes, the Jets are going to have coverage issues with Bell and LaRon Landry starting, along with Eric Smith coming off the bench but Bell provides both needed insurance to Landry at strong safety and more athleticism than Smith would at free safety. His signing hurts the chances of rookie Antonio Allen seeing much playing time this year. On the other hand, rookie Josh Bush should remain a factor in a centerfield type role in certain three safety looks.

3. It is a shame to hear about Kenrick Ellis, as his jail sentence will obviously slow his development. Hopefully, he can get it split so he doesn’t miss any training camp. Regardless, with a crowded depth chart at defensive line, his chances of becoming a major factor this year have only got slimmer.

4. Today, the Jets signed veteran tackles Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis. Both are journeyman but between them have 61 NFL starts. Considering the depth on the offensive line right now, don’t be surprised to see one or maybe both stick on the roster. These signings don’t bode well for Austin Howard.

5. I have no problem with Wayne Hunter and new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo talking tough about the upcoming season. I would hope they would project confidence in Hunter’s ability to handle a starting position. It is more than reasonable to be skeptical about Hunter but it certainly sounds like he will have every chance to prove his critics wrong.

6. Interesting but not surprising to hear Visanthe Shiancoe linked to the Jets in free agent rumors. They still badly need a number two tight end and Shiancoe is a proven veteran, who will give them a ton of versatility in their two tight end sets.

New York Jets: Safety Needs Multiple Player Solution

The New York Jets current depth chart at safety needs more than one player added to it

The New York Jets current depth chart at safety is almost as scary as their depth chart at right tackle. Right now their starters would be LaRon Landry who hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2008 and Eric Smith, who in comparison to Landry would be relied upon to be the primary coverage safety. The top two backups? Tracy Wilson who has never played a snap in the NFL and the recently signed DeAngelo Smith who didn’t play in the NFL last season.

The problems with this depth chart can’t be solved with one draft pick, especially if that pick comes in the second or third round. Unless the Jets draft Mark Barron in the first round, you can’t bank on your draft pick to walk in, immediately take over the starting role and keep it for the entire 16 games.

In a perfect world, Landry will play the full season at strong safety, your draft pick will learn the defense quickly and be a capable starter at free safety as a rookie and Eric Smith will provide the needed depth at both spots, performing in the situational role he has always thrived in. Yet, this isn’t a perfect world which is why the Jets are paying Landry on a week to week basis and went hard after Reggie Nelson to pair with him but unfortunately came up short.

As it stands now and on the assumption the Jets add a draft pick at safety, it is more than likely Landry will miss a few games leading to Smith being overextended as a starter again and a rookie, especially if it is a 2nd or 3rd rounder, being overextended as well.

The Jets are going to need more than one addition at the safety position. Jim Leonhard is a logical addition if his rehab continues to go well. If Barron is taken in the first round, he is starting from day one and Leonhard is a clear cut backup which is where he should start the season off. If the Jets end up with somebody like Harrison Smith, George Iloka, or Markelle Martin. They may need to add a better option than Leonhard, whether that is Yeremiah Bell or a player acquired via trade.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets looked to boost their depth by spending one of their 6th or 7th round picks on a safety. They are thin enough right now where you can justify taking two safeties in one draft.

Check out TOJ’s selection for the Jets in the Zone Blitz Mock Draft

New York Jets: Safety Remains Major Concern

The New York Jets enter the off-season with major issues at the safety position

The New York Jets have had inconsistent play at the safety position since Rex Ryan took over as head coach. The problem is magnified because they play in the same division as the New England Patriots, who have the best tight end in the league, Rob Gronkowski, and another top ten tight end in the league in Aaron Hernandez. It isn’t just New England who attacks the middle of the field on the Jets, any team with an athletic tight end smartly stays away from the outside of the field, where the Jets have Darrelle Revis, Antontio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson and instead attacks their safeties.

Currently the Jets have Eric Smith under contract and nobody else. (Sorry Tracy Wilson and Gerald Alexander, until you play a down for the team, I can’t count you). The free agent market is thin, as it is currently headlined by LaRon Landry, Dwight Lowery, and Reggie Nelson. Jim Leonhard and Brodney Pool were with the team last year but both are free agents now as well.

In the draft, Mark Barron is considered the top safety by a good margin. His recent double sports hernia has prevented him from working out thus far, keeping his positioning on most draft boards in somewhat of a flux. He will be available at #16 but might slide far enough where the Jets could consider trading up their second round pick to snag him in the back end of the first round, or just trading back in the first round to take him. Harrison Smith, Markelle Martin, Antonio Allen, and Brandon Taylor could all be 2nd or 3rd round options for the Jets at safety if they don’t end up with Barron.

So, how will the Jets proceed? Brodney Pool most likely isn’t coming back. He can’t stay healthy and hasn’t distinguished himself in the past two years with his play. It would likely be wise to bring Leonhard back on the veteran’s minimum, considering how well he knows the defense. Eric Smith is coming back and if used in the proper role, can be an effective player. Don’t forget how well Smith was playing in 2009 when he was used as a situational player and on special teams. He simply lacks the skill set to be a full time starter.

What that equates to, is that you need two more safeties in a bad way. Smith should be the #3 safety, used in certain packages and as an emergency starter. Leonhard should be the place holder for the rookie the Jets add in one of the first rounds of the draft, helping ease his transition and gradually sliding into a part time/depth player only role. A free agent needs to be brought in who can start immediately or the Jets need to swing a trade for one.

LaRon Landry is a big name that will get people excited. The problem is that he will command a big price tag that comes with durability concerns and questionable coverage skills. In reality, Lowery could be the best option out there. He spent last off-season preparing to be a full time safety and then the Jets traded him to Jacksonville where he took advantage of that off-season by putting together his best year in the NFL. Mike Tannenbaum would have to swallow his pride but bringing Lowery back makes plenty of sense.

New York Jets: How To Move Forward Without Jim Leonhard

How will the New York Jets handle moving forward without Jim Leonhard on defense and special teams?

For the second year in a row, the New York Jets have lost starting safety and punt returner Jim Leonhard for the last stretch of the season. They managed to overcome his injury in 2010 and still make a run to the AFC Championship Game but replacing Leonhard will be a more difficult task this time around.

Last year, the Jets had Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and Dwight Lowery all rolling through as Leonhard’s replacements on defense. Lowery was traded to Jacksonville before this season started, leaving the Jets with just Smith, who has been below average all year and Pool, who has been hurt most of the season. Their number three safety is currently Tracy Wilson who was just signed to the active roster two weeks ago, after the team surprisingly released Emmanuel Cook who had been with the team since last season. Basically, they have absolutely no depth behind Smith and Pool, who are question marks themselves.

The Jets will have to bring in another body, but the options are slim at this point of the year. It will be on Smith and Pool to elevate their play and stay healthy. Rex Ryan will also have to get creative and may need to move somebody like Marquice Cole over to safety in certain packages.

On special teams, the Jets have been a nightmare returning punts all season when Leonhard hasn’t been back there. Jeremy Kerley, Antonio Cromartie, and Joe McKnight have all muffed kicks. Kerley will be the primary option to replace Leonhard now and looked good yesterday, but can he be trusted in the swirling winds of Philadelphia and MetLife Stadium the next two weeks? The Jets no longer have Jerricho Cotchery to drop deep as a reliable option when a team is trying to pin them deep, so it will be on Kerley, a rookie, to assume the full responsibility of replacing Leonahrd on special teams.

Injuries are never an excuse. Every team is dealing with them at this point of the season. Now it is going to be about Pool playing to his potential in Rex Ryan’s defense as the free safety and Eric Smith handling the strong safety roll full time, without giving up too many back breaking plays. Kerley has a chance to be a great punt returner, we have seen flashes of that this season but he needs to remember that nothing exceeds the importance of avoiding turnovers.

TOJ Week 1 Roundtable: Jets/Cowboys Key Match-Up

Joe Caporoso: I am going with Jason Witten versus the Jets safeties. The Jets were awful at defending the tight end last year and Witten has the ability to consistently hurt them if he is left in single coverage with the substantially smaller/inconsistent in pass coverage Jim Leonhard or Eric Smith. I wouldn’t be shocked if Darrelle Revis saw a few reps on Witten and the Jets also threw plenty of double teams at him.

Justin Fritze: Dez Bryant against Antonio Cromartie. This is the sort of battle of egos you pay big money to see. Cromartie has a lot to prove against the second year “star” 1st round draft choice. If Bryant takes it to the house against Cromartie, the third option of Kyle Wilson makes me shudder. Cromartie needs to do his best Revis impersonation and bump and run Bryant until the Jets can get a few sacks, at which point it will be check down time for Romo, seeing as how he wants to stay upright for longer than one week. I think Cromartie will keep him out of the end zone, but a few big plays could spell trouble for the island cornerback theory of Rex Ryan.

TJ Rosenthal: Terence Newman according to Rotoworld has been ruled out. The Cowboys secondary has struggled with him this preseason. The Jets new wide receiving corps has not yet gotten into gear either. Holmes however, is Mark Sanchez’s favorite target. What a great way it could be for the Jets to begin to open up the air attack by picking on backup Orlando Scandrick and a banged up starting CB in Mike Jenkins, and whoever else tries to help out Rob Ryan’s unit.

Rob Celletti: The Cowboys’ secondary looks ripe for the picking, but that depends on one thing: keeping Mark Sanchez’s jersey clean.  That’s why Sunday’s key matchup has to be D’Brickashaw Ferguson and the rest of the Jets’ line vs. DeMarcus Ware.  Not that it needs further explanation, but Ware is an elite pass-rusher, and if he’s allowed to get in Sanchez’s face consistently, it could be a long day for the offense.

Chris Celletti: I’m really interested to see Antonio Cromartie against Dez Bryant/Miles Austin. Whoever the Jets put Darelle Revis on will be taken out of the game, andd expect Tony Romo to look at Cromartie’s side of the field. Bryant and Austin are both explosive playmakers, and it will be imperative that Cromartie does a good job on whoever he is matched up against to keep the Cowboys’ offense at bay.

Initial Reaction: Jets Put Together Encouraging Performance

The New York Jets were far from perfect in their 27-7 victory over the porous Cincinnati Bengals. Yet, there was a collection of very encouraging signs from both the offense and the defense.

Plaxio Burress was the main story of the night, pulling in 3 receptions for 66 yards including a beautiful over the shoulder 26 yard touchdown. Burress didn’t look anywhere near as rusty as many anticipated he would be. Prior to his touchdown, Mark Sanchez connected with Burress on a back shoulder fade down sideline, which was exciting to see because you can’t stop that route if it is thrown properly to a 6’5 receiver. A big chunk of the Jets third down and red-zone problems will go away if Sanchez and Burress are connecting like they were tonight.

Sanchez put together another good performance, going 12/20 for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns. He did an excellent job spreading the ball around to his top targets, as Santonio Holmes caught a 16 yard touchdown and Dustin Keller led the way with 73 receiving yards, including a 43 yarder off a nice play action fake. The sky is the limit for this passing offense once Burress, Holmes, Keller, and Derrick Mason are on the field together.

The starting defense dominated outside of one drive, where they broke down on a screen pass to Brian Leonard which went for a huge gain that eventually led to a touchdown.Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton struggled and threw two bad interceptions, one picked off by Eric Smith and one by Jim Leonhard. The backups on defense keep Cincinnati off the board. Brashton Satele intercepted a pass and fell a couple yards short of a touchdown. Recently signed linebacker Aaron Maybin also came up with a strip sack, in a play that isn’t going to make Bills fans happy.

Joe McKnight deserves credit for putting together a strong performance and taking a big step towards locking down the #3 running back spot. He scored his first NFL touchdown on a 3 yard reception from Greg McElroy and also had 36 yards on 7 carries.Bilal Powell was quiet with 22 yards on 9 carries. Fifth string running back Chris Jennings actually had the run of the night, breaking off a 69 yarder late in the fourth quarter.

The negatives? The Jets were still inconsistent at finishing drives and struggled on third downs. They stalled at the 26 yard line on the first drive of the game, followed by Nick Folk missing a 43 yard field goal, also they later had to settle for a field goal when they had the ball in the red-zone. The first unit didn’t run the ball particularly well as LaDainian Tomlinson only had 21 yards on 9 carries. On defense, the screen wasn’t defended well and it was disappointing to see them allow a touchdown drive to such a weak offense.

Overall, it was still a step in the right direction and you have to be encouraged with where the Jets currently are at in the pre-season.

TOJ Interview: Emanuel Cook

New York Jets safety Emmanuel Cook took the time to talk with TOJ about his off-season, his hopes for the coming year, and his charity work…

TOJ: How are you working to stay in shape during the lockout? Have you worked with any other current or former teammates?

EC: I work out daily. I’m in the gym a lot. I also have a special trainer I work with. I do field drills, beach workouts, swimming, lots of running and weights. Kenrick Ellis and I went to college together and we’re both from West Palm Beach, so we work out together quite a bit. I’m feeling good about the shape I’m in. Whenever we get back to work I’m ready to go.

TOJ: Can you discuss being moved to the active roster for the stretch run and the playoffs last year? Did you expect it and what was the experience like once were you out on the field?

EC: I’ve been with the Jets on and off for the past two years. That’s my team. That’s where I feel at home. When I got the call I was excited and ready to go. Since getting signed as a UDFA in 09′, I’ve been working really hard for that chance and the only thing on my mind was stepping up to do whatever the team needed me to do. It was a great experience and I’m grateful for it and ready to show the team and the fans more of what I can do this season.

TOJ: Do you think you have ability to become a core special teams player for Mike Westhoff? What type of skills can you bring to those units?

EC: I know I can. I believe some of the plays I had last season gave a glimpse of what I can do.  I play with a lot of heart.  I spent the past two pre-seasons working with Coach Westhoff and he is the best in the game. I’ve learned a lot from him and I respect him a lot. I believe my special teams abilities helped me get the spot on the Roster this year.

TOJ: Are you confident about your ability to work yourself into a bigger role on the defense this year, especially considering Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and James Ihedigbo are all free agents?

EC: I definitely want to have a bigger role in the defense.  I’ve spent this off-season preparing for it.  Physically I have the abilities and as far as mental preparation, I study my plays and I’ve spent the 09′ and 10′ training camps/pre-seasons with the team, so I’m very comfortable with the defense we run.  Whatever job I’m asked to do, I’m going to do it and give it my all. 

TOJ: What player on the Jets roster did you learn the most from this past season?
 
EC: That’s a tough question because of the talent we have, but I’d have to say Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith.  Both of those guys do a great job.  I’ve learned a lot from them skill wise as well as how to play smarter when I’m out there.

Here is information from Emanuel himself on the charity work he is currently doing…

I lost a best friend and high school football teammate, DeAndre Butler, to Leukemia in December of 2008. I’vemade it my mission to use whatever visibility I have to help in the fight against blood cancers in his memory. July 1-2 in West Palm Beach I am having a Celebrity Charity Weekend. We’ll have a meet and greet at Duffy’s Sports Bar on July 1st from 5-7pm as well as a Bowl-a-thon at Verdes Lanes on July 2nd from 3-6pm. It will be hosted by myself and I’ve got a handful of other NFL players coming to support, including Kenrick Ellis.

I’ve also created red silicone bracelets imprinted with “Remember DeAndre Butler” that I’m selling for $5 with all proceeds going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, their New York City Chapter recently asked me to run for their “Man of the Year” in 2012 and I accepted, so I’m looking forward to that campaign as well.

Anybody who is interested in coming to the charity weekend or wants a bracelet can email RememberDeAndreButler@gmail.com or checkout www.facebook.com/rememberdeandrebutler. They can also always email me at emanuelcookfans@gmail.com. I read every message that comes in.

Follow Emanuel on Twitter and Facebook

New York Jets Defense: Getting Their Quarterback Back

An encouraging tweet was sent out today by New York Jets safety Jim Leonhard, “Great 1st workout today. 2 miles, 13:30 min, 5% Incline. Guess who’s getting healthy.”

We have heard all off-season that Leonhard is ahead of the process in rehab from his season ending injury of a broken tibia and it continues to sound like he will be 100 percent when the 2011 season starts (whenever that will be). Despite not putting up big stats, Leonhard is an integral part of the Jets defense who serves as the quarterback for their secondary. To this day, Rex Ryan still blames a big chunk of the Jets 45-3 loss to the New England Patriots this past year on Leonhard getting hurt the Friday before in practice.

His knowledge of the defense and ability to shift calls, along with move around the formation is a key part of how the Jets defense attacks. It will provide a major lift to their secondary when he returns this season, regardless who is starting opposite him.

Despite his reliability, Rex Ryan has made the right decision by saying he will keep Leonhard off punt returns this year. He is too valuable to the defense to risk getting hurt on a return and beyond that the Jets have plenty of other options, including Jerricho Cotchery, Kyle Wilson, and Jeremy Kerley to put deep.

Starting Safety: Eric Smith or Brodney Pool?

One of the bigger questions on the Jets defense that will be answered in free agency, is who will start at safety opposite Jim Leonhard? It doesn’t seem likely that the team will bring back both free agents Eric Smith and Brodney Pool. Who would you prefer to see opposite Jim Leonhard next year?

Eric Smith

  • 28 years old, 6’1, 207 pounds
  • 2010 stats – 54 tackles, 1 sack, 1 blocked kick, 2 passes defensed, 3 games missed cause of injury

Smith is better in run support and is a more valuable special teams player. He has two years experience in Rex Ryan’s defense and the versatility to move around to different positions in different packages. He struggles in pass coverage and gets called for too many penalties.

Brodney Pool

  • 26 years old, 6’2, 214 pounds
  • 2010 stats – 53 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception, 11 passes defensed, 1 game missed cause of injury

Pool has more upside and is better in coverage. He came on strong in the second half of last season after a slow start. Even though he only missed one game last year, he has a history of concussion problems.

What’s it going to be? Personally, I’d like to see Pool as the full time starter for another year. I think he can develop in this system into a very good safety, if he can stay healthy.

12 Pack Of Jets Off-Season Thoughts – Edition #11

As reliable as Chad Henne throwing an interception in a big game, the 12 pack is back with another edition. A friendly reminder to follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter. For today’s 12 pack we are going to count down the 10 most important players to the Jets getting over the hump and making it to the Super Bowl in 2011, along posting some links and our usual weekend video clips —

Ten Most Important Jets In 2011 –

10. Santonio Holmes – Everything we have heard this off-season indicates that he will be back with the team and that he is now their top priority after taking care of David Harris. Holmes needs to be the number one receiver the Jets are going to sign him to be on a consistent basis.

9. Jim  Leonhard – The Jets defense needs a healthy Leonhard quarterbacking the secondary, especially with the spot opposite him a major question mark with Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and James Ihedigbo all free agents.

8. Calvin Pace – Regardless of who the Jets draft this year, Pace will be their top pass rusher entering the season. The Jets need a full 16 game season out of him, where he finally reaches double digit in sacks, which he should be more than capable of in this system with his skill set.

7. Dustin Keller – Based on the assumption that Braylon Edwards won’t be back, Keller will need to take on a bigger role in the offense and become the team’s primary red-zone threat because of his size. Even if Edwards returns, Keller needs to keep growing and become a reliable outlet for Mark Sanchez.

6. Kyle Wilson – Based on the assumption that Antonio Cromartie won’t return despite TOJ writing 1200 articles this off-season begging for the Jets to re-sign him. Wilson needs to be able to handle the daunting task of being the corner opposite Revis Island, along with stepping up in the return game on both punts and kicks. Even if Cromartie returns, Wilson needs to improve as a nickel back and be better on returns.

5. Vladimir Ducasse/Wayne Hunter – One of the two of them needs to step into the right tackle spot to fill in for the recently released Damien Woody. The Jets offensive line has been a major strength the past few years and they can’t afford a major drop off because of one player being released. The coaching staff will obviously be pulling for Ducasse, last year’s second round pick, to seize the job. However, if he isn’t up to the task, Hunter must be more consistent than he was last season when he stepped in for an injured Woody.

4. Nick Mangold/D’Brickashaw Ferguson/Brandon Moore – Don’t ever forget how much of the Jets success the past couple of years is from having such a solid, consistent center, tackle, guard combination.

3. Shonn Greene – The Jets need a lead back who can carry the load on a weekly basis and this is Greene’s year to show he is that guy. 2010 was a disappointing season for the second year back, who got off to a slow start and never became the workhorse he showed he had the potential to be during the 2009 playoff run. Greene has the physical ability to be a 1200-1400 yard back, but can he stay healthy and consistent enough to achieve those numbers?

2. Darrelle Revis – The Jets aggressive defense is predicated on their corners being able to shut down receivers in single coverage. Darrelle Revis needs to stay healthy and play at the level he did in 2009 and the second half of 2010, especially with the uncertainty at the spot opposite him.

1. Mark Sanchez – Was there any question? It always starts and ends with the quarterback. Similar to how Sanchez took a step forward in 2010, the Jets need him to do the same thing this year. He will given more responsibility on offense and likely be asked to throw more than he has in previous years. Sanchez needs to get his completion percentage closer to 60 and should able to get near 4,000 yards passing next season, while keeping his interception total in the 10-13 range.

Weekend Links

– Keep up with your Gunaxin reading with a suggestion of things certain NFL players should be doing during the lockout and the John Madden Scale of Rating Women. 

– Good read on lockout frustration.

– Joe Namath coming to HBO.

Weekend Video Clips – Rex Sox are 0-6, so laugh at Boston edition