Five Questions About The Jets Special Teams

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First a few updates:

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

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

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

Five Questions About The Jets Special Teams

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

1. What The Folk?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Jets Defense – Three Layers Of Excellence

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Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets) and subscribe to the YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/turn0nthejets)

The New York Jets had the NFL’s number one ranked defense last season and there is plenty of reasons to believe they will improve in 2010. Whether it is the increased familiarity the returning players have with Rex Ryan’s system or the influx of talent through trades, free agency, and the NFL draft; the Jets are position to improve their defensive weaknesses from 2009 and become an even more dominant unit.

PhotobucketThe Jets had the number one ranked total defense thanks to their number one ranked passing defense, which blew away the rest of the NFL by allowing 153.7 yards per game. The second place team was over 30 yards behind. There is no reason to think the Jets pass coverage should suffer in 2010, considering they upgraded their second, third and fourth cornerback and replaced the underachieving Kerry Rhodes with Brodney Pool.

Despite having such an exceptional pass defense, the Jets didn’t rack up impressive sack totals in 2009. They finished tied for 18th in the league with 32.0 sacks. This number should improve in 2010 because of the addition of Jason Taylor, who Rex Ryan will use as a pass rush specialist. The return of a healthy Kris Jenkins will also help push the pocket on the quarterback. Finally, the Jets will have their returning sack leader, Calvin Pace, for 16 games instead of the 12 they had him for in 2009.

The Jets had the 8th ranked rushing defense in the NFL in 2010, nothing to be ashamed of but also nowhere near the level of their pass defense. Again the return of Jenkins at nose tackle should lead to improvement and having Pool at safety instead Rhodes, who struggled in run support and tackling in general last season, will help.

PhotobucketThe return of Kris Jenkins at nose tackle gives the Jets a legitimate All-Pro caliber player at all three levels of their defense. Jenkins on the defensive line, David Harris at linebacker, and Darrelle Revis in the secondary. This is a luxury few teams in the NFL currently have and means you need to have exceptional talent on the offensive line, running back, and receiver position to handle all three of these players.

Jenkins is flanked by a collection of blue-collar players who fit well into Ryan’s system. Shaun Ellis is the most well-know of the rest of the bunch and is one of the better 3-4 defensive ends in the league. He has the ability to stop the run and provide a solid pass rush. Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito aren’t household names but they did more than an adequate job when Jenkins went down last season and are good run stopping defensive lineman.

PhotobucketHarris is surrounded by two borderline pro-bowl caliber players in Bart Scott and Calvin Pace at linebacker, along with Taylor who is a former All-Pro that should benefit from only having to focus on rushing the passer and from Ryan’s aggressive scheme overall. Bryan Thomas is the lowest profile player in the linebacker group but remains a competent starter who does many of the little things for this defense that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

Revis is now paired with Antonio Cromartie at cornerback, who could have made the claim to being the best corner in the NFL after the 2007 season. I don’t know if Cromartie will ever play at that level again but he will certainly have opportunity to flourish in New York because of how his skill set matches up to the Jets defensive system and because of how many balls will be thrown his way. Rookie first round pick Kyle Wilson will be asked to step into the nickel role, which speaks to the talent in front of him. Former starter/nickel back Dwight Lowery can now slide into the #4 corner/extra safety in certain packages role, which best suits him. The Jets don’t have big names at safety in Jim Leonhard and Brondey Pool, but Leonhard is consistent and won’t give up the big play and Pool will have the chance to shine the way Rhodes was supposed to in 2009. Reserve safeties Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo are also key contributing members to this unit off the bench.

There are questions about the Jets heading into the 2010 season but it is hard to see their defense not being an elite unit in the NFL again. Considering what they did last year and their influx of talent, it would be a legitimate disappointment if they didn’t have the NFL’s number one ranked unit.

What To Watch

Ranking The Jets Defensive Starters

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First a few updates:

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

2. I was surprised how many people on Facebook and Twitter responded to the TOJ Question of the Day “Who do you think will lead the team in receptions this season” with Santonio Holmes. The guy is only playing in 12 games, I doubt he can catch Cotchery or Edwards after their four game head start. I agree Holmes is probably the best overall receiver of the three but in this offense, this season…I will stay with Cotchery having the most receptions.

Ranking The Jets Defensive Starters

Since I ranked the Jets offensive starters on Friday, I had to finish the job by heading over to the other side of the ball.

1. Darrelle Revis – The best corner in football and the number one headline going into training camp because of his contract dispute.

2. David Harris – A top five inside linebacker in the NFL, who deserves a new contract and will hopefully get it soon for staying quiet about an extension similar to D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

3. Kris Jenkins – When Jenkins is healthy, he has the ability to take over football games and be a premier defensive lineman in the NFL. In 2010, he will be benefited from having Sione Pouha able to spell him and keep him fresh the entire season.

4. Antonio Cromartie – On pure talent and potential, I am placing him above Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, who are coming off better seasons. Cromartie has shown the ability to be a top flight corner in the NFL. Hopefully the move to New York will rejuvenate his career.

5. Calvin Pace – There were plenty of questions about the Jets giving Pace a monster contract two years ago but he has given them two very productive seasons. I expect him to have over 10 sacks this season.

6. Bart Scott – The loudest player on the field and an emotional leader on the team. Scott had a very good first season in New York and will look to build on it in 2010.

7. Shaun Ellis – The longest tenured Jet, remains one of the better all-around 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL.

8. Jim Leonhard – Consistent player who knows the ins and outs of Rex Ryan’s defense.

9. Bryan Thomas – His numbers from last year won’t blow anybody away but Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine swear by his value to the defensive unit as an all-around solid player who does all the little things well.

10. Brodney Pool – I am excited to see what this guy can do in Ryan’s defense. Kerry who?

11. Mike DeVito – The UDFA from the University of Maine has come a long way. The Jets like his ability to stop the run.

TOJ TV

Jets Area Of Strength – Secondary

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First a few updates:

1. It is more than a little ridiculous that a player who has never won a ring is announcing his free agency decision during a 1 hour primetime special. Yet, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t be watching it tomorrow night. I think it is down to the Bulls, Cavs, and the Knicks at this point for LeBron’s destination. For a guy who is so obsessed with his legacy, he wouldn’t be doing it much service by playing second fiddle in Miami to Dwayne Wade. The Bulls give him the best shot to challenge for a title immediately. The Knicks can now offer Amare Stoudermaire to run with him and the potential of acquiring another major free agent next year.

2. I am interested to see how Miami fills out their roster around Wade and Chris Bosh. Right now, they literally have two other players under contract along with their draft picks.

3. It has been very quiet on the contract negotiations front, especially considering how slow NFL news is right now. The pressure has to pick up on the Jets in the next week or two as training camp begins to creep closer and the question of how Darrelle Revis and Nick Mangold will handle their contract situation grows bigger. It wouldn’t be quality premium cable to start Hard Knocks without the Jets best offensive and defensive player.

4. I am still holding out hope that the Jets will sign Marques Douglas to a minimum deal at some point this summer to boost their depth on the defensive line and that they decide to pass on Mark Brunell unless he is coming in as their number three quarterback.

5. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets) and check out the new episode of Turn On The Jets TV, where we run through some of the top highlights from last season as we look forward to why the Jets have the potential to be so good in 2010.

Jets Area Of Strength – Secondary

Today we cover another area of strength for the Jets headed into the 2010 season, joining the linebackers and receivers, the Jets secondary should be one of their deepest, most talented position groups this year.

PhotobucketAny talk about the Jets secondary starts with cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is coming off one of the best individual defensive seasons in recent NFL history. There isn’t a better cover guy in the league, period. Revis has the rare ability to completely take a team’s top receiving top target out of the game, while still creating turnovers. The Jets defensive scheme dares teams to take a shot at Revis and when they did in 2009, they failed an overwhelming majority of the time. In the end, the Jets will find a way to appease his contract demands. Mike Tannenbaum can be stubborn in his contract negotiations but he isn’t stupid. Revis has the ability to become one of the greatest players in the organization’s history.

In 2009, the weakest spot of the Jets defense was the corner position opposite Revis. Veteran Lito Sheppard struggled to stay healthy and productive, when he actually was on the field. Dwight Lowery was doing an adequate job filling in Sheppard for a little while, but ultimately lacked the physical skills to match up with starting receivers on a consistent basis. The Jets didn’t hesitate this off-season to fix this weakness.

Former All-Pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie was acquired in a trade from the San Diego Chargers. Cromartie is one of the most physically gifted players in the NFL and had a 10 interception season in 2007, along with creating a reputation for racking up highlight reel plays. He has struggled the past few years. However, the Jets are banking on their aggressive man to man scheme bringing the best out of Cromartie, along with him recovering from a hip injury that nagged him last year. Cromartie is a huge boom or bust player heading into 2010. Hopefully, he won’t replicate the bust performance offered by Lito Sheppard last season.

The Jets added further support to the corner position by drafting Kyle Wilson out of Boise State in the first round of the NFL Draft. Wilson was a player who shot up most draft boards after a strong performance during Senior Week. He was rumored to potentially be a top 15 selection. Fortunately for the Jets, he managed to slip all the way to number 29 for them to snatch up. Rex Ryan instantly handed Wilson the starting nickel job, where he could face some early struggles adjusting to playing in the slot. However, his physical skills are far superior to Dwight Lowery and as the season progresses, Wilson should develop into a integral part of the Jets defense. Ryan will utilize his athleticism as both a cover guy and a blitzer off the edge.

PhotobucketWith the acquisitions of Cromartie and Wilson, Dwight Lowery bumps down to the team’s number four corner. In terms of the fourth guy, Lowery has tons of experience and should be used in a selective way as both a corner and safety in certain packages that allow him to take advantage of his ball hawking skills. Marquice Cole and Drew Coleman round out of the cornerback position, as primarily special team players.

At safety, the Jets traded away Kerry Rhodes who has already ticked off his new teammates in Arizona with his desire to vacation over working out in the off-season. Brodney Pool was signed from Cleveland to replace Rhodes. Despite having his season cut short by a head injury in 2009, Pool had a much better statistical season than Rhodes in only 11 games. The coaching staff has been raving about his work ethic this off-season, and that work ethic combined with his athleticism gives Pool the potential to have a big season in the Jets defense.

Jim Leonhard returns as the other starting safety. Most people look over Leonhard when discussing the Jets defense, but he was one of the most consistent players on the team last year and has a complete mastery of the Rex Ryan’s system. He won’t rack up a ton of big plays but he will always be in the right place at the right time and won’t give up big plays either.

The Jets have excellent depth behind Pool and Leonhard. Eric Smith is a versatile player, who has extended starting experience. He will see plenty of action in the multiple packages the Jets use on defense. James Ihedigbo came on towards the end of last year as a quality reserve off the bench and somebody who was effective as a blitzer off the edge. The Jets also added UDFA Donovan Warren from Michigan this off-season, who was talked about as a second round pick before a poor combine showing.

Revis

Cromartie

New TOJ TV

Turn On The Jets Exclusive Interview: Donovan Warren

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Turn On The Jets Exclusive Interview: Donovan Warren

One of the first moves by the Jets after the draft was pouncing on undrafted free agent Donovan Warren from Michigan. Originally projected to be a mid round pick by draft pundits, Warren fell down draft boards when an ankle injury led to a slow 40 time at the NFL Combine. However, Warren was one of the top cornerbacks in the Big Ten last season and has a very good chance to stick on the Jets roster as a safety, where he has been working since joining the team.  His godfather, Mark Carrier is an assistant on the Jets coaching staff, helping his transition to the NFL.

TOJ: How much personal motivation do you have to prove all the teams who passed on you in the NFL Draft wrong?

Warren: It is a lot of motivation to just go out everyday and work hard. It will motivate me to keep working hard and get the opportunity to show that I am something special.

TOJ: Do you think there is too much of an emphasis on combine workouts, instead of focusing on a player’s production on the field?

Warren: Yea, I feel as if there is a lot of emphasis on workouts but it is just part of the business. It is what it is. When the pads get on and your on the field it is football. Football is football and not everyone has the chance to play at this high of a level.

TOJ: Even though you were a UDFA, you appear to have come into a very good situation. Your godfather is an assistant coach with the team, your physical style of play fits well with Rex Ryan’s scheme, and it has been well documented that Ryan loves his defensive backs and loves to carry as many as possible on the roster. How excited are you to be part of this defense and what can you bring to it?

Warren: Yea I feel as though the coaches and players on the team have the right mindset, just going on chipping away day by day. I am blessed to be in this position and I am taking advantage daily.

TOJ: After spending the overwhelming majority of your time in college at corner, you have primarily been working at safety since joining the team, what is your comfort level at this position?

Warren: Yea, it is very different. I am just learning the daily nuisances of the position and trying to soak in as much as possible from my teammates and coaches around me.

TOJ: Can you talk about how big of a help Jim Leonhard has been in your transition to the NFL and if he is inspirational considering he was a UDFA and now is a starter and one of the leaders of the NFL’s best defense?

Warren: As for Jim Leonhard, he is an inspiration coming up as an undrafted free agent and just someone who I can relate to on the same team.

TOJ: What can you bring to the Jets on special teams?

Warren: On special teams, I am willing to do whatever it is to help this team get to the Superbowl and make history.

Pro Draft Party Warren Draft Tape

Post-Game Interview

Tuesday Minicamp Review: Defense Still Ahead of Offense

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First a few updates:

1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets). Also if you make it out to practice tomorrow keep an eye out for TOJ TV, we will be interviewing fans and getting footage of practice. What Jets fan doesn’t want to make a guest appearance on TOJ TV?

Photobucket2. A quick comment on Darrelle Revis since I caught some flak for being critical of him yesterday…I have always been in favor of paying Revis (look no further than an article I wrote last week called “Pay The Man” with a huge picture of Revis on top). However, I didn’t like the mini protest by walking off the practice field. If you are going to show up to practice, you go 100 percent. I also didn’t like the feed my family comments for obvious reasons. I just think the more Revis has talked the worse he has come off, especially while the Jets are making him the number one priority in negotiations with fellow All-Pro players Nick Mangold and David Harris having one year left on their deal.

Tuesday Minicamp Review: Defense Still Ahead of Offense

The impression you got from reading the notes on today’s practice was that there were ton of defensive players making big plays. Yes, Santonio Holmes made a ridiculous touchdown catch down the sideline to end a two minute drill and LaDainian Tomlinson also had a nice sideline grab (you can see the footage from practice on the TOJ Facebook Page). However, Mark Sanchez didn’t have a good overall day. His final stats in the morning practice were 7/17 with a TD and INT. There is no need to panic since it is June, Sanchez is still young, and he is going against the best defense in the NFL…

Speaking of that defense, they were all over the place today. Kyle Wilson pulled in his first interception in team drills. Turn On The Jets favorite for best new addition to the team, Brodney Pool, recorded two interceptions and had a bunch of passes defensed. Dwight Lowery had a pick six. Darrelle Revis broke up a deep ball for Braylon Edwards and later had a pick six. Marquice Cole had an interception. Kris Jenkins and Bart Scott were yapping with excessive amounts of trash talk, even for them.

PhotobucketI know everybody is excited about the Jets offense with the addition of Holmes and Tomlinson, along with Sanchez being a year older but let’s not forget about how good the Jets defense could be this year. They were already number one in the NFL last year and it was the first year in Rex Ryan’s system. Now, the overwhelming majority of starters and key reserves are experienced in his defense. Beyond that, Antonio Cromartie is going to be an upgrade over Lito Sheppard at the #2 corner. Kyle Wilson is going to be an upgrade over Dwight Lowery as the #3 corner. Dwight Lowery is going to be an upgrade over Drew Coleman as the #4 corner. Brodney Pool is going to be an upgrade over Kerry Rhodes. Jason Taylor is going to upgrade the depth at linebacker, along with the continued improvements of players like Kenwin Cummings and Jamaal Westerman.

Oh and Kris Jenkins is also coming back to the defensive line…The pieces are in place for them to have an historically great defense. I don’t say that lightly either. There is a legit All-Pro caliber player at all three levels (Jenkins, Harris, Revis). A player two seasons removed from being an All-Pro (Cromartie). A player three seasons removed from being Defensive Player of the Year (Taylor). Two linebackers with borderline pro-bowl talent (Scott and Pace). A group of quality veterans who are consistent (Leonhard, Ellis, B. Thomas). Finally, they have a first round talent at corner. starting out as their nickel back.

Rex Ryan must be salivating at the thought of the schemes he can come up with for these guys. Hopefully, he is only salivating at that or he won’t be winning that weight loss contest.

Jets Defensive Highlights From Last Year

The New Jets Acquisition Who Will Make The Biggest Impact Is…Brodney Pool?

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First a few updates:

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

2. Great game last night…How is it possible that Ray Allen can go from his game two performance to 0/13 in game three? This has been a bit of a weird series, especially considering it was Derek Fisher who took over in the fourth quarter for the win last night. You have to give the Lakers credit for silencing that raucous crowd early and still finding a way to win despite not playing their best game. The Celtics wasted a vintage KG performance last night, which they likely won’t receive again this series. As of today, I like Lakers to win this in 6 games.

3. Much more information to come on this over the weekend and early next weekend, but if you plan on going to the Jets open practice at the new stadium this Wednesday stay posted for details on how to get yourself in the new episode of TOJ TV because yes me and Corbett will be there promoting the hell out of the site, interviewing fans, and maybe hopping on to the field to grab some player interviews.

4. I wonder why our buddy Armando Salguero hasn’t been critical of the Dolphins ownership proclaiming them a Super Bowl contender and talking about Chad Henne like he is going to be the next Dan Marino, when he hasn’t accomplished anything yet in his NFL career?

The New Jets Acquisition Who Will Make The Biggest Impact Is…Brodney Pool?

I was asked to answer the following question about the Jets for an upcoming Fanball Magazine:

Which free agent/trade acquisition will make the biggest impact in the Big Apple this season?

Perhaps to many people’s surprise, my answer wasn’t Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonoio Cromartie or Santonio Holmes it was…Brodney Pool. The short version of my answer for the magazine was this:

“This answer may be a surprising one but the new acquisition that will make the biggest impact on the Jets this season is safety Brodney Pool. Kerry Rhodes failed to be the playmaker at the safety position in Rex Ryan’s defense that everyone expected him to be in 2009, but look for Pool to fill that void this year. In only 11 games last season for Cleveland, Pool recorded 55 tackles, 4 interceptions, and a sack. He has impressed coaches this off-season with his work both in the classroom and on the field. Pool has the athleticism and physicality to make a high amount of impact plays in for the defense. Also keep in mind, bigger name acquisitions like Jason Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson will be coming off the bench, and Santonio Holmes won’t be active until week 5.”

But, let’s expand on that little…

PhotobucketEverybody was quick to assume Kerry Rhodes would turn into the New York version of Ed Reed last season, an assumption that was unfair to Reed, Rhodes, and Rex Ryan. Ed Reed is a Hall of Fame player, who would be a jaw-dropping playmaker in any defense but who especially flourished in Ryan’s attacking scheme. Rhodes was a player who put together two very good, pro-bowl caliber seasons in 2006 and 2007 but then saw his production drop off in 2008. It is clear now that Rhodes never embraced the transition to the Rex Ryan era because of petulant concerns about Jim Leonhard taking the lead on calling out plays for the secondary and a general feeling that he wasn’t looked at as a leader of the defense anymore. Instead of working to earn that spot back, he sulked his way to a sub par season, which culminated with him being benched after a week 11 loss to New England. Rhodes was athletic but wasn’t physical enough to be a safety in Ryan’s defense. He was talented but his big personality didn’t mesh well with the locker room last year.

Fortunately, the early indications are that the Jets may have found somebody with Rhodes athleticism, who lacks his personality issues and aversion to contact. Sandwiched in-between the Antonio Cromartie trade and the LaDainian Tomlinson signing, the Jets signed free agent safety Brodney Pool from the Cleveland Browns. When discussing the transition from Rhodes to Pool, here is what Mike Pettine and Rex Ryan have had to say:

Mike Pettine “Brodney will play the run better [than Rhodes]. I think he’s a better tackler. They’re both rangy guys, good athletes. I think he’ll stick his face in there more than Kerry.” Some of the issues with Kerry were off-the-field stuff. Buying in, I think he struggled with that, some of the comments he made after he left were kind of indicative of how he felt, that we brought guys up from Baltimore and we leaned too heavily on them. Of course we were going to lean on guys who know the system. That’s the whole point for bringing them in. There were some struggles there that we won’t have with Brodney.”

Rex Ryan “Brodney’s a young man with similar talents as Kerry (Rhodes).  I was a big fan of Kerry’s athleticism.  (Brodney is) an athlete.  He’s got length.  He’s got speed.  He’s got ball skills.  I think that’s going to be good.”

You get the impression the Jets may have found a player with the positive aspects of Rhodes play, without the negatives on and off the field. Don’t forget Pool was a second round draft pick for a reason back in 2005. For all the talk about his injury history, he played in 16 games in 2006 and 2007, along with 15 in 2008. It is now being reported he has only suffered one concussion in his career, with his head injury last year being a migraine that was misdiagnosed. Pool was having a career season in Ryan’s brother’s system in 2009, with 55 tackles, 4 INTs, a sack, and 5 passes defensed before missing the last 5 games of the season with the migraines. Pool had more impressive numbers in 11 games than Kerry Rhodes did in 16 regular season games in 2009.

So, keep an eye out for Pool to provide the playmaking ability you envisioned out of the safety position. The guy isn’t going to be Ed Reed but he won’t be Kerry Rhodes from 2009 either. What about the other big name acquistions? You could make a strong argument for Antonio Cromartie cause similar to Pool, he will be a starter for 16 games but Cromartie has to show he will be the player he was in 2007, not the player he was in 2008 or 2009.  Jason Taylor will be coming off the bench. LaDainian Tomlinson will be coming off the bench. Santonio Holmes won’t start playing until week 5 and will then have to work his way into the offense. If Pool can play in all 16 games this season and pick up where he left off before his injury in 2009, he could be looking at 80-85 tackles, 2-4 sacks, 5-7 INTs, especially when you consider all the talent around him and that Rex Ryan is now calling the plays. I don’t know if any of the other Jets new acquisitions will put up a stat line that impressive, unless Holmes goes wild in 12 games, which is unlikely considering all the people he is splitting catches with and how often the Jets run the ball. Cromartie has the potential but he has got worse the past two years, while Pool has improved every year heading into 2010.

Man, Kyle Boller Is Bad

New York Jets Special Teams Questions

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First a few updates:

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

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

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

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

New York Jets Special Teams Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe the play that saved the Jets season in 2009

The Jets Journey To Relevancy

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The Jets Journey To Relevancy

Today I was talking to a friend from Philadelphia about how big of a following the Flyers have in the city with their recent Cinderella run in the playoffs. He assured me the Flyers were a big deal within the city and had a rabid following that didn’t trail the Eagles or Phillies by as much as you’d expect. I thought about the New York sports market, where the Rangers, Devils, and Islanders are irrelevant topics on the back pages of newspapers, sports talk radio, and mainstream websites. The only buzz around the Knicks and Nets is associated with the prayer’s chance of recruiting LeBron James. Football and baseball dominate the town. The Yankees are the number one story and you would normally put the Giants and Mets right behind them with the Jets a distant fourth.

PhotobucketI remember December 30th, 2007 sitting in the pouring rain at a half empty stadium watching the 3-12 Jets play the 4-11 Chiefs. It was an ugly and depressing game as I watched Kellen Clemens struggle through a 13/25, 115 yard performance. The Giants were headed to the playoffs. The Patriots had just completed an undefeated regular season. Little did I know that both were headed for an epic Super Bowl, which had one of the best fourth quarters and plays in league history. There you had it, the team the Jets shared the city with and their biggest rival battling on the world’s biggest stage while the Jets couldn’t be any more irrelevant. It was just another low point in the difficult life of being a New York Jets fan.

Yet today, when I was talking with my friend I had to put the Jets as the number two story in the New York sports market behind the defending champion Yankees. The Mets are slowly fading into their usual oblivion and somehow the Jets have become a better, more entertaining team and a bigger story than the New York Giants, a team who won arguably the greatest Super Bowl game ever played a little over 2 years ago.

How did this happen?

It started with an uncharacteristically aggressive off-season headed into the 2008 regular season. General Manager Mike Tannenbaum learned from his mistake heading into the 2007 season, when he incorrectly believed his 10-6 team was only a few minor tweaks away from being a Super Bowl contender. The Jets were a fun story in 2006 but they caught the league off-guard with a wild-card appearance thanks to a soft schedule, a surprisingly productive season from Chad Pennington, and career years from journeyman players like Victor Hobson, Cedric Houston, Anthony Clement, Chris Baker, Bryan Thomas, Hank Poteat, Erik Coleman, Justin Miller, and Andre Dyson.

The Jets did add Thomas Jones but thought they could get by another year with Clement on the line and Adrien Clarke stepping in for Pete Kendall at guard and made no major free agent additions to their defense. However, Tannenbaum did strike gold in the draft by trading up for future All-Pro defenders Darrelle Revis and David Harris. Regardless, Pennington succumbed to another injury and Kellen Clemens struggled heavily behind a terrible offensive line and the Jets disappointed with a 4-12 season.

With owner Woody Johnson’s blessing the Jets began a trend of recruiting and landing big time free agents. They broke the bank for perennial pro-bowler Alan Faneca and brought in veteran Damien Woody to complement him at tackle. They outbid Miami for Calvin Pace and swung a trade for Kris Jenkins. They also solidified their running game by adding fullback Tony Richardson and blocking tight end Bubba Franks. Despite Eric Mangini’s stringent ways and the organization operating under the New England state of mind, they were still able to recruit big name players to rebuild the roster.

PhotobucketTannenbaum didn’t finish his off-season until he shocked the football world by swinging a trade for Brett Favre. I know in the end, the Favre experiment didn’t work out considering the Jets failed to make the playoffs and his struggles down the stretch. However, the fact that Favre joined the Jets demonstrated to the rest of the league that the team was moving in the right direction. The pieces were being put into place to build a contender on both sides of the ball and they had a GM and owner who would aggressively pursue putting together a winner regardless of the cost.

The Jets could have faded back into irrelevancy into 2009 when they decided to cut ties with Favre and head coach Eric Mangini. Breaking with his personal characteristics and the Bill Parcells mindset he was groomed with, Mike Tannenbaum went for the boisterous, confident Rex Ryan. Mangini was a good football mind but had suffocated the life out of the organization. Ryan provided the shot of energy necessary to overcome the hangover from the disastrous end to the 2009 season and Favre’s departure. The bold moves from the previous off-season carried over into the months heading into 2009, starting with Ryan and his recruitment of former Baltimore Ravens, Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, and Marques Douglas.

Yet, the most important decision came during the 2009 NFL Draft. The Jets weren’t making the playoffs with Kellen Clemens or Brett Ratliff at quarterback and everybody knew it. They needed a franchise quarterback to wash the bad taste out of everybody’s mouth that Favre had left. Working with their former head coach Mangini, they moved up to acquire USC’s Mark Sanchez.

The team had successfully moved out of the Mangini/Favre era with an exciting new head coach and quarterback. However, they retained the quality players acquired during Mangini’s two winning seasons in three years. The pieces were in place for a team with cautiously high expectations heading into the 2009 season.

In a rare occurrence, the football gods smiled on the ugly stepchild of New York City. A 7-7 team that appeared to be out of the playoffs was handed the backups of the best team in the league and took advantage. The victory positioned them to close out the stadium they had embarrassingly been tenants in, with a playoff berth in front of the whole country on Sunday Night Football. The Big Brother New York Giants had packed up their bags a few weeks too early and left with an ugly loss to the Carolina Panthers, leaving the Jets to fill the void as the team the New York sports market could get behind. Regardless of who the Bengals played or didn’t play, the Jets thrived for their fans and the city with a 37-0 victory.

PhotobucketAny questions about the Jets validity as a playoff team were answered with subsequent road victories over the Bengals and heavily favored San Diego Chargers. The momentum carried right into the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game, when the Jets were up 17-6. Unfortunately, an immortal quarterback rose to the top of his game and ended their run.

Despite the loss, the Jets had arrived. Their head coach whose ability to entertain and grab headlines was matched by his ability to design an elite defense and motivate his players, had claimed the Jets would be the number one show in town when the new Meadowlands began hosting NFL games and it was hard not to believe him. Tannenbaum didn’t back off. He must have remembered the off-season heading into 2007 again because he added Antonio Cromartie, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, and Santonio Holmes to a team that was 28 minutes away from a Super Bowl.

Here we are today, with HBO knocking down the Jets door to feature them on Hard Knocks. Relevancy doesn’t equal success but any Jets fan will tell you it is refreshing to be the most hyped up team in the area. Giants fans will say they enjoy flying under the radar and I don’t blame them. They shouldn’t concern themselves with the attention being paid to a team who hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1969, when they have won 3 since then. However, the Jets don’t have to ignore the spotlight being shined on them. Yes, they bring the attention to themselves with the boasting of their head coach, big name acquisitions, and posturing of their owner but there is substance behind the hype around the team.

There is a system of playing defense and running the football, which is a familiar formula for playoff teams. The Jets have the ability to run the ball because they have assembled one of the best offensive lines in football and found a running back by trading up to get a guy that inexplicably slipped through the cracks to the third round. They have the ability to play defense because they drafted the best corner in the NFL, an All-Pro inside linebacker, and surrounded them with quality free agent additions. Yet, if you follow the NFL these days you know it takes more than running the ball and defense to win a championship, which is why the Jets have surrounded their franchise quarterback with one of the best three wide sets in the NFL, a pass-catching tight end, and one of better receiving running backs in NFL history.

Somehow, someway the Jets have navigated themselves into relevancy. The owner, GM, coach, and roster is finally in place to turn that relevancy into success. By success, I mean the one thing that could actually put the Jets on the same level of the Giants as a NFL organization and make sure the new stadium doesn’t turn into “Giants Stadium Part 2,” and that is win a Super Bowl.

Now Some Other Updates:

1. We have been locked at 315 fans on Facebook for 2 days now and that is getting me a little anxious. I need as many fans as possible to throw at the Jets media relations guy when I working on getting a press pass…so follow it on Facebook, tell you friends to follow it on Facebook and do the same for the Twitter account (TurnOnTheJets).

2. Remember we have other tabs on this site beyond the home page…we also have just added a tab for the Podcast, which links you to the site with the TOJ Podcasts.

3. (http://www.youhaveiwant.com/home.html) – Worth checking out, especially if you are looking to get your hands on New York area sports tickets.

4. Jets minor roster moves…they added offensive tackle Aaron Kia and released receiver S.J. Green and offensive tackle Matt Stommes. The depth chart has been updated accordingly.

5. Tough break for the New Jersey Nets last night. I can’t say that I wasn’t happy since I am a Knicks fan first and a Wizards fan second…yes I have a second favorite basketall team. How can I justify that? First off, the Knicks have been god awful the past decade, second I lived in DC for 6 months, attended some games at the Phone Booth when the Wizards were pretty good and became a big Agent Zero fan…before he decided to start bringing guns into the locker room. So, yea I broke out the John Wall dance in my Arenas shirt last night after they got the number one pick.

6. Thoughts On Lost Final Season, Episode 16 “What They Died For” –We ended our one episode break in 23 A.D. with glowing caves and terrible kid actors by getting back to our main characters with a very, very good episode. Everybody kind of saw it coming with Jack replacing Jacob, but it almost seemed like it happened too easy. I have a feeling when it is all said and done, Jack won’t be taking the job as island protector. I liked the sideways action…Desmond is well on his way to putting together the greatest reunion concert ever. Instead of breaking down all the details of last night’s episode, here are my predictions for the finale and you can trust I have avoided all spoilers this season:

  • Richard and Lapidus aren’t dead yet.
  • Sawyer will die on the island.
  • Juliet is Jack’s ex-wife in the sideways timeline.
  • Jack will cure Locke in the sideways but find a way to kill him on the island.
  • Ben is pulling a long con on Locke and will end up being a good guy at the end…and the new island protector.
  • Desmond is going into the yellow cave…and I don’t know what happens from there.
  • I still have no idea how they merge both timelines.
  • Rose and Bernard helped Desmond out of the well.
  • Final scene? It was all the dog’s dream.

Ten Monday Thoughts On The Jets Defense

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First a few updates:

1. Mark Sanchez threw some passes during the Jets OTA practice today, which is obviously good news. The entire roster participated outside of Kris Jenkins and Jason Taylor. Jenkins was continuing to rehab his injury on the sideline and Taylor was finishing up charity work in Miami. There is a ton of pictures of today’s action on www.newyorkjets.com, including shots of Santonio and LaDainian in the green and white.

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

Ten Monday Thoughts On The Jets Defense

1. It will be very interesting to see how the reps are divided up in the Jets defensive backfield this season. Rex Ryan loves using packages that are overloaded with DBs but beyond Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, and Jim Leonhard, who else will be prominently featured in the Jets various sub, nickel, and dime packages? Brodney Pool, Eric Smith, Dwight Lowery, James Ihedigbo, and to a lesser extent Drew Coleman, Marquice Cole, and Donovan Warren will all be competing for a bigger role on the defense.

2. Most people are targeting Jason Taylor as the guy on the Jets who could come up with double digit sacks. Yet keep in mind, Calvin Pace had 8 sacks in only 12 games last season. How about the Jets get two guys in the double digit sack range?

3. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has been talking about second year player Matt Kroul as a key piece of the Jets defensive line rotation this season. Players like Kroul and Ropait Pitoitua need to step up to give the Jets the necessary depth on the line and take pressure off Kris Jenkins up front, who will also have his reps limited by the presence of Sione Pouha.

Photobucket4. I know we are all excited about Kyle Wilson’s coverage skills but don’t sleep on his value as a blitzer in Rex Ryan’s defense. He loves sending defensive backs off the edge and Wilson is athletic and physical enough to get 3 or 4 sacks this season to complement his coverage skills.

5. Nobody is a bigger fan of Darrelle Revis than Turn On The Jets but 20 million dollars a year? The guy is the best corner in football but he wants to be the highest paid player in the league, which is hard to swing if you aren’t a quarterback. These negotiations aren’t going to be pretty.

6. What is the reason we can’t resign Marques Douglas? We can’t give him a one year deal to boost the depth on the defensive line? Maybe I am underestimating Mike DeVito, who for some reason is my cousin’s favorite player on the defense.

7. What are the odds that Vernon Gholston is even active for more than half of the Jets games in 2010? I just can’t see him making a successful transition to defensive end, especially in the 3-4. He isn’t going to play special teams over Lance Laury or Jamaal Westerman.

8. Unlike last year when the Jets defense dominated the offense throughout training camp, it should be a little more even this season. How about watching Revis, Cromartie, and Wilson battle against Edwards, Cotchery, and Holmes on a daily basis? That kind of competition is going to make everybody better…and yes, Dwight Lowery and David Clowney could make each other better also.

9. I want some more defensive touchdowns this season…I am looking at you Antonio Cromartie…and Revis, you really can’t get any better than you were last season but if you want 20 million dollars, let’s take a couple back to the house this year.

10. What defensive player jersey are you looking to buy this season? I got Revis but beyond that I am swamped with offensive jerseys…Harris? Wilson? Leonhard? Drew Coleman?