Assessing Jets Needs Heading Into Draft

A quick run down as we are now less than a month away —

1. Defensive Line – If the season started today, the Jets would be starting Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha, and Marcus Dixon up front with Ropati Pitoitua and Matt Kroul as the top backups…enough said. They need another player or two here and will likely spend their first round pick on the defensive line unless an outside linebacker jumps off the board. The Jets should also work to bring back Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce to improve their depth and to mentor the rookies brought in.

2. Outside Linebacker – The Jets need to improve their pass rush and in the 3-4 that means having outside linebackers who can get after the quarterback. Bryan Thomas is a solid, consistent all-around player but the Jets need more speed and athleticism off the edge to compliment Calvin Pace.

3. Secondary – The Jets could still use a play-making safety to pair with Jim Leonhard. Kerry Rhodes was a bust in Rex Ryan’s first year and the Eric Smith/Brodney Pool platoon from last year could stand to be improved. If Antonio Cromartie leaves via free agency, the Jets may also need to look at the corner position due to Kyle Wilson’s struggles last year.

4. Wide Receiver – This is under the assumption that either Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes isn’t on the team next year. The offense could use a player with some upside to develop behind Jerricho Cotchery.

5. Backup quarterback – They need a long term answer to the question of who will be Mark Sanchez’s backup, especially since he has had more than one injury issue in his brief NFL career.

6. Offensive Line Depth – With either Wayne Hunter or Vladimir Ducasse moving into the starting line-up to replace Damien Woody and Robert Turner’s status uncertain for next year, the Jets could use another lineman who is versatile between the tackle and guard spots to provide depth.

Quick Thoughts On Bob Sanders and Jets Safety Position

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leonhard with his lone interception last year

Turn On The Jets 2010/2011 Report Cards – Brodney Pool

Today we continue our series of evaluating how each player on the Jets performed this past season, along with looking forward to what their role on the team will be next year…up today, safety Brodney Pool –

Stat Line – 53 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumbled, 1 interception, 11 passes defended

Playoff Stat Line – 20 tackles, 1 interception, 1 pass defended

Best Moment – It is hard to argue with his second half interception of Ben Roethlisberger in the AFC Championship Game, which helped the Jets nearly pull off their comeback. Pool also had two big stop on third and short early in the Wild-Card game against the Colts.

Best Game – Pool had a monster game in week 14 against the Miami Dolphins, finishing with 4 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.

Overall Evaluation – Pool is another player who it is hard not to be somewhat disappointed with on the Jets defense. Personally, I thought he was flying under the radar in the off-season and would turn into one of their biggest acquisitions, if not their biggest. Unfortunately, Rex Ryan still must continue to search for his playmaking safety. Pool played better as the season went on but his body of work on the whole was a let-down. He simply didn’t make enough impact plays and was inconsistent in both pass coverage and run defense. (C)

Future: Pool is a free agent and there is a very real chance he won’t come back in 2011. The Jets will basically have to decide between him and Eric Smith for who will start at safety opposite Jim Leonhard. Ultimately, a long term replacement is needed for either Pool or Smith, unless one of them picks it up in a big way next year.

New York Jets: Can Somebody Cover The Damn Tight End?

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A big reason the Jets pass defense has struggled so much this season (they are currently ranked 20thin the NFL) has been their inability to stop opposing team’s tight ends. The overwhelming bulk of this blame falls on safeties Jim Leonhard, Eric Smith, and Brodney Pool, who are all having disappointing seasons on the defensive side of the football.

First off, here is a quick run through of what opposing team’s tight ends have done to the Jets this year –

  • Week 1 – Todd Heap – 6 receptions, 72 yards
  • Week 2 – Aaron Hernandez – 6 receptions, 101 yards
  • Week 3– Anthony Fasano – 2 receptions, 14 yards, 1 TD
  • Week 4 – David Nelson – 4 receptions, 75 yards/David Martin – 1 reception, 4 yards, 1 TD
  • Week 9– Brandon Pettigrew – 3 receptions, 18 yards, 1 TD/Tony Scheffler – 2 receptions, 22 yards
  • Week 10 – Benjamin Watson – 5 receptions, 74 yards

So while it appeared the Jets had solved this problem with a three game streak of shutting down the tight end against Minnesota, Denver, and Green Bay, the problem has now reappeared. Teams aren’t hesitating to throw on the Jets safeties and with good reason.

Jim Leonhard has been scrappy as usual and good in run support. Yet he only has 2 passes defensed and 0 interceptions. It is difficult for him to match-up on most tight ends because of his height. Eric Smith has 1 pass defensed and 0 interceptions. Both have been called on numerous pass interference and illegal contact penalties this season. Brodney Pool does have 5 passes defensed and an interception (back in week 2) but doesn’t seem to be around the football enough, with only 22 tackles.

One the pieces that is still missing in Rex Ryan’s defense is a big time, playmaking safety.

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TOJ Mid-Season Awards

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Here we are half way through the 2010 regular season already. The Jets sit at 6-2 and are on pace for the 12-4 record that many predicted for them. It hasn’t always been pretty but overall it is hard to complain at this point. Out of the final 8 games, only 3 are against teams who are currently under .500, so the Jets still have plenty of work to do. However, here is what our awards are looking like heading into week 10 –

Offense

MVP – Mark Sanchez – Yes, you can make a strong case for LaDainian Tomlinson but I am going with our quarterback who has taken major strides in the right direction so far in year two. At this time last year, the Jets were 4-4 and Sanchez had 8 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, currently the Jets are 6-2 and he has 10 touchdowns to 5 interceptions. Beyond that, he has led the team to two late comeback victories, something he never did in 2009.

Make TOJ Look Like An Idiot – LaDainian Tomlinson – I predicted before the season that Tomlinson would only have 900-1,000 yards of total offense for the Jets and be a clear cut #2 to Shonn Greene…whoops. Tomlinson already has 790 yards of total offense, 5 touchdowns, and is clearly the Jets #1 back. However, he has slowed the previous few weeks and I still believe Greene needs a bigger role in the offense.

C’mon Man – Shonn Greene, Jerricho Cotchery, Brian Schottenheimer – Shonn Greene got off to a slow start but has looked better as of late. Yet, he still isn’t being given enough touches by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer who has been inconsistent at best with his playcalling this year and downright infuriating at worst. Jerricho Cotchery leads the team in drops and really who could have saw that coming. He is also only averaging 10.5 yards per catch, en route to a weak 272 receiving yards.

Make TOJ Look Smart – Braylon Edwards- I did predict Braylon Edwards would lead the team in receiving yards and put together a better than expected year and so far he is making me look good with a team leading 453 yards, along with 5 touchdowns.

Pleasant Surprise – Matt Slauson – Slauson has been very good so far at left guard and made sure none of us miss Alan Faneca all that much.

Pro-Bowl CaliberBrandon Moore, Dustin Keller (447 yards, 5 TD’s), D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and Nick Mangold are all putting together excellent years so far.

Getting The Job Done – Ben Hartsock and Tony Richardson aren’t pro-bowl caliber but they are getting the job done also at their respective positions. Brad Smith remains a valuable, versatile weapon for the Jets.

Defense

PhotobucketMVP – David Harris – Most people have been saying Antonio Cromartie, but I am going with the Jets middle linebacker who never gets any respect. Harris has been rock solid in the middle and is a huge part of why the Jets are 4th in rushing yards allowed. He leads the team in tackles and is tied for the lead in tackles for a loss, along with recording a sack and having 2 passes defensed.

Make TOJ Look Like An Idiot – Brodney Pool – I spent plenty of time in the off-season hyping up Pool as quietly being the Jets best addition this off-season…um, what? After missing week one, Pool has been average at best for the Jets alongside Jim Leonhard at safety. So far through 8 games he has recorded 19 tackles, 0 sacks, 5 passes defensed, and 1 INT.

C’mon Man – Jim Leonhard, Jason Taylor, Darrelle Revis, Kyle Wilson – I know the Island is back now but you can’t let him off the hook for contributing nothing the first 6 weeks of the season. Jim Leonhard has been a liability in pass coverage and hasn’t made any impact plays yet. Jason Taylor had a pretty good start but has been invisible the past few weeks. Kyle Wilson apparently doesn’t know how to find the football in the air or when to turn around, which isn’t good for a first round draft pick. He doesn’t even play on defense anymore, as the immortal Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery jumped him on the depth chart.

Make TOJ Look Smart – Sione Pouha – I have always loved the big fella and he is putting together a great all-around season. He is 4th on the team with 32 tackles, recorded a sack, and somehow has 3 passes defensed.

Pleasant Surprise – Mike DeVito – DeVito has shown that without question he is capable of being a full time starting defensive end. He has also racked up 32 tackles, along with 3 tackles for a loss and is a huge reason the Jets are 4th in rushing yards allowed.

Pro-Bowl Caliber – David Harris and Antonio Cromartie have both played at a Pro-Bowl level to this point of the season, although Cromartie’s lack of big plays could keep him from getting the national respect.

Getting The Job Done – I don’t know if he will ever be a pro-bowler but Pouha has been terrific this year. Shaun Ellis, Bart Scott and Bryan Thomas have been steady as usual. Dwight Lowery has been good in his role so far in 2010.

Special Teams

Just a paragraph to offer high praise to this entire unit. Nick Folk has been unbelievably consistent this year, especially considering how he played in 2009. Steve Weatheford, fake punt aside, has been booming the football and great at pinning teams inside their 20. Brad Smith has developed into a quality kick returner. Eric Smith, Lance Laury, and Marquice Cole have led the way on the coverage units.

First Half Highlights

Grading Out Jets/Broncos

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Quarterback (C) – Mark Sanchez finally gave in and threw a pair of interceptions. His performance was ugly at times but most importantly he got it together and played well in the second half, leading his team to a comeback victory. He made the right decision by putting the ball up Santonio Holmes 1 on 1 on the decisive 4th and 6 and it obviously worked out. This offense has tons of potential that it still hasn’t reach yet, hopefully they will come rolling out of the bye week.

Running Back (B) – LaDainian Tomlinson brought it in the second half when it mattered the most. Shonn Greene was running hard and I would have liked to see him get more than 9 carries. Tony Richardson and John Conner are both playing very good football right now.

Wide Receivers (A) – I continue to be impressed with the season Braylon Edwards is putting together. He looks like the 1,000 yard borderline pro-bowl player the Jets were hoping when they dealt for him. As of now, he is on pace for a very strong, statistical season and he isn’t dropping passes. Santonio Holmes took another step towards getting into the rhythm of the offense, but needs to learn to tuck the ball away. Jerricho Cotchery may finish the season averaging the least yards per catch in NFL history, but he is still reliable. Brad Smith was effective with the ball in his hands, as usual.

Tight Ends (A) – Good day at the office for Keller and more solid blocking from Ben Hartsock, who is quietly a big part of the Jets offense.

Offensive Line (A) – There has really been no drop off from last season, which is a credit to the entire unit and especially Matt Slauson.

Defensive Line (B-) – The run defense was a let down and so was the pass rush. However, Sione Pouha had a nice sack and Trevor Pryce had a tackle for a loss. Big Mike DeVito almost pulled in an interception on a zone blitz.

Linebackers (C+) – David Harris was all over the field and Bart Scott was also active. A very quiet game from Bryan Thomas, Calvin Pace, and Jason Taylor. You’d like to see more pressure on the quarterback from these guys.

Secondary (B) – Antonio Cromartie played another terrific game. Darrelle Revis simply wasn’t himself out there. Drew Coleman had a few nice plays, including a forced fumble and a third down pass breakup. However, he was picked on most of the day. The helmet to helmet call on Jim Leonhard was bogus.

Special Teams (A) – Nick Folk is a monster. Steve Weatherford isn’t too bad either.

Coaching (B) – I wasn’t crazy about the playcalling from Brian Schottenheimer, who never seemed to get in a rhythm. The Jets were caught napping on an onsides kick.

Highlights From The Game

Jets vs. Vikings: Game Breakdown

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First a few updates:

1. Calvin Pace practiced full today and should be back in the starting line-up Monday night. Darrelle Revis was limited and his status remains somewhat in the air. The Jets should also be getting backup tackle Wayne Hunter back from a shin injury.

2. Brett Favre is taking his talents to South Beach all over Deadspin today…proceed with caution.

Jets vs. Vikings: Game Breakdown

Offense: Is do what you been doing the past three games too easy? Seriously, the Jets seem to have found a nice balance between their rushing and passing attack, along with a good division of touches between their various playmakers. Minnesota is a tough defense to run the ball on but that doesn’t mean they should shy away from having LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene combine for 35-40 touches. The Jets offense is most effective when the running game gets going, opening up the play action attack for Mark Sanchez.

The big news on this side of the ball is obviously that Santonio Holmes is returning to the line-up. It will be very interesting to see how many snaps he plays and his integration into the offense. I would imagine the smoke screens and quick receiver screens the Jets usually like throwing to Jerricho Cotchery, will now be going to Holmes. Yet, the Jets don’t want to just use Holmes run after the catch ability. He is the most complete receiver on the roster and I expect Brian Schottenheimer to be excited about his new toy, and hence take an early shot down the field to him.

I would say Minnesota will likely focus their coverage on Dustin Keller, but really how could they? If they want to consistently leave Braylon Edwards and Holmes in single coverage with their corners, then good luck. Don’t forget Lito Sheppard plays major reps for them at corner and even if he gets matched up with Jerricho Cotchery in the slot, the Jets could do some damage.

Beyond that, there is also that Brad Smith guy running around on reverses, options, and quarterback draws.

Defense: The Jets need to put this game in Brett Favre’s hands. Adrian Peterson has been a monster this season (as usual) and even though the run defense has been stout so far, he has the ability to change that quickly. Worry about stopping AP first and then let the old gunslinger (aka dongslinger as Jason Whitlock is now calling him on Twitter) take his shots on our secondary.

If Darrelle Revis does play, he shouldn’t be tracking Randy Moss all over the field. Antonio Cromartie already showed he can shut him down. Let Revis get a few shots at him to keep him off balance but for the most part let Cromartie man him up. Revis can work on Percy Harvin, while Kyle Wilson will probably primarily be matched up on Vishante Shiancoe, which he better have safety help on. Shiancoe has been banged up though and could be less than 100 percent.

Favre can take his chances on our secondary and I wouldn’t be shocked if he hit one big play to Moss. As we saw in week two, the Jets can survive one big play by Mr. Play When He Wants To. I’d be shocked if Favre didn’t throw at least one interception into the hands of Cromartie this Monday and maybe a few more to our other DBs to boot.

Special Teams: Be wary of Harvin on returns and keep Jim Leonhard going on the punt returns, he looks much better than Kyle Wilson. Nick Folk, forget that 30 yard miss from last week.

Grading Out Jets/Bills Round 1

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1. The Jets resigned defensive lineman Howard Green today, along with releasing wide receivers David Clowney and Patrick Turner to make room for Santonio Holmes on the active roster. Welcome back, #10. Good luck to Clowney moving forward.

2. It sounds like Darrelle Revis and Calvin Pace are on track to come back for this Monday’s game. Obviously, their progress throughout the week will be closely monitored, but I’d be shocked not to see Pace out there and Revis out there, even if it is with limited reps.

3. A reminder to recruit 5 new Facebook fans for Turn On The Jets and e-mail me their names at JCaporoso@fanball.com to become eligible to win a OCNN shirt, a Jets hat, or a Joe Namath Book/DVD.

4. The “Stats” section has been updated, and we will have an article coming later tonight with some overall observations on the first quarter of the season, along with statistical projections.

5. Who is rooting for a scoreless tie tonight?

Grading Out Jets/Bills Round 1

Quarterback (A) – An efficient performance from Mark Sanchez, who took what the defense gave him, threw the ball well off of play action and hit the big play when it was available. Considering the way Sanchez played at times last year, it is pretty amazing that he has zero turnovers through four games. The bottom line is that he has been one of the most improved players in the NFL through the first quarter of the season.

Running Backs (A+) – LaDainian Tomlinsonwas the best player on the field yesterday. He looked fast and displayed his trademark shiftiness that is going to make him a first ballot hall of famer. Tomlinson averaged 7 yards a carry en route to 133 yards, also adding 3 receptions for 22 yards. Shonn Greene had his first big game of 2010, with 117 yards on 22 carries. If the Jets can get this type of 1-2 punch going consistently, they are going to be one hell of a tough team to beat.

Wide Receivers (A) – Braylon Edwards put together a very good game, with 86 yards and a touchdown. He has been the big play threat the Jets needed during the Santonio Holmes suspension. Jerricho Cotchery has been quiet all season, yet I wonder if a full time move into the slot with Santonio Holmes back will bump up his production. Brad Smith is just a terrific all-around football player.

Tight Ends (A) – Dustin Keller is playing better than any tight end in the NFL right now, not named Antonio Gates. Ben Hartsock and Matt Mulligan continue to be reliable blockers.

Offensive Line (A+) – They physically dominated the Bills all game long, running the ball down their throat and keeping Mark Sanchez on his feet. Also, they finally avoided the killer penalties that had plagued them the first 3 weeks.

Defensive Line (A) – Shaun Ellis sprained his knee but there is a chance he could be back for this Monday night. Let’s hope, the Jets are already thin enough on the defensive line. Trevor Pryce was quiet in his debut.

Linebackers (A) – David Harris led the way with 6 tackles and a nice shot on Ryan Fitzpatrick that nearly forced a fumble. Bryan Thomas had a forced fumble, recovered by Jason Taylor. This unit should receive a big boost from the return of Calvin Pace this week.

Secondary (A) – Antonio Cromartie completely took Lee Evans out of the game. Drew Coleman held his own at the other starting spot. Dwight Lowery and James Ihedigbo both had sacks. Kyle Wilson? He still doesn’t understand the concept of turning around when the ball is in the air.

Special Teams (B) – Nick Folk finally missed an easy one…let’s hope he got it out of his system. Steve Weatherford continues to play well. Jim Leonhard looks much better than Wilson on punt returns.

Coaching (A) – Great job by Rex Ryan having his team ready to go and avoid the trap game. Brian Schottenheimer’s game-plan was solid and kept the Bills off balance.

Jets/Bills Highlights

Jets Fans: Take A Deep Breath

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A short and friendly reminder to Jets fans who are quickly losing confidence in their team as a Super Bowl contender:

The games in August don’t count. This is the pre-season. There is no need to even recollect the countless examples of teams having strong pre-seasons and then being terrible or the reverse. Obviously, it would be nice to see Mark Sanchez play a little more consistent and the passing game connect on a few more big plays. Of course, Antonio Cromartie isn’t as good as Darrelle Revis. Yes, it is a big blow that Calvin Pace will miss the first four games.

Yet, I remember Sanchez playing god-awful in a pre-season game against the Baltimore Ravens last year before coming out of the gate on fire, en route to a 3-0 start for the Jets. After that, he started to struggle and then finished the year playing better. The thing about Sanchez is that he is a young quarterback who is going to be inconsistent at times. Hopefully, he will be less inconsistent in 2009 than he was in 2010. Don’t forget the Jets went to the AFC Championship Game with him throwing 12 touchdowns to 20 interceptions, while completing a little over 50 percent of his passes. He won’t be anywhere near that bad this season. The guy clearly has talent but you have to expect some inconsistencies to linger in his second year.

The Jets played four games without Calvin Pace last season and went 3-1. They are now better equipped to deal with his absence because of the Jason Taylor signing and because Vernon Gholston appears to be improved from last year.

Simply put, not having Darrelle Revis sucks. The Jets secondary is going to suffer without him but that doesn’t mean they are going to look like the Giants last year defending the pass, and be allowing 40 points a game. At this point, even if Revis returns he won’t be playing at his 2009 level until the middle of the season, if he doesn’t get hurt before. Revis Island is gone. Don’t expect to see that kind of play until late October, if he actually decides he can stomach playing football for 120 million dollars.

The Jets defense is still going to be very, very good this year. They can still run the football as well as any team in the league. These two things mean the Jets are going to be competitive every week and win more times than they lose, because they still have superior talent to just about all the teams they will face, even without Revis. It is a well-coached, highly motivated team that has quality veteran leadership (Richardson, Cotchery, Leonhard, Scott, Woody, Jenkins,) and plenty of skill spread across the roster.

Take a deep breath Jets fans, August is over and we survived with only key injury and the guy will be back for week 5. September is here and we are still a Super Bowl contender.

Mark Sanchez Will Be Fine

TOJ TV…Of Course

TV Critic: Hard Knocks Episode #3

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Thoughts on episode #3

1. I could watch Mike Westhoff coach all day. It sure looks like David Clowney is far from a lock to make the roster. I understand the guy’s frustration about not being part of the offense but he has to find a niche on special teams to stick around. Westhoff was pretty hard on Brashton Satele but coaches have no tolerance for injured players. Poor TJ Conley by the way.

2. Good to see Matt Slauson and Matt Kroul go at it with each other…a couple of hungry players who are anxious to prove themselves. Kroul is going to become a bigger part of the Jets defensive line rotation with the season ending injury to Ropati Pitoitua, which was a real shame because you got the impression he was ready to become a consistent contributor to the Jets defense.

3. “Boy, don’t get indifferent with me” — Welcome to the NFL rookie, Brian Jackson (King Ugly). You hsve to appreciate the rookie hazing when it is due. You know you aren’t getting away when Kris Jenkins has you in the bear hug.

4. If you could give some of Danny Woodhead and Larry Taylor’s attitude to Joe McKnight…the Jets would be on to something with their fourth round pick. It is hard not to root for guys like Woodhead and Taylor.

5. Rookie night? Fond memories…I had to sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in front of the whole team my freshman year of college.

6. Where was the Jets version of “The Decision” with Darrelle Revis? I am still confident #24 will sign a new contract by the end of the week. Perhaps if I say it enough times, it will come true.

7. Good to see Schotty get going a little bit, as he should have after that ugly performance by the Jets offense. I love the passion Rex Ryan has on the sideline, especially his reaction after the hit by Chauncey Washington, who Ryan seems to be taking a liking to. The guy runs hard and all of a sudden could have a chance to sneak on the roster. Beyond that, I love how competitive he is by keeping the number twos in to make sure the Jets still won a pre-season game.

8. I was loving that ending montage with the Jets coming back to Florham Park.

Your Hard Knocks Parody