Troubling Trends at Jets Camp

First a few updates:

1. Sorry about the lack of posts since Saturday, I just moved in to my new apartment out by Lehigh and had orientation for grad school all day yesterday. I don’t know if anybody who reads this has ever been to the campus but let me tell you it was quite a workout finding my way around. Our orientation was held on top of Mt. freakin Everest, it was like being at Mile High Stadium up there, I needed oxygen.

2. Last night I just finished re-watching the last season of The Sopranos, so of course I spent the majority of my day reading theories on the final scene. I am convinced now the big guy was whacked, unfortunately.

3. I played in a touch football tournament over the weekend. My team lost in the finals but we had a great run in preparation for the spring league which we will be taking part in. I was like Keyshawn on the 1998 Jets out there but I am now paying the consequences since I have been hobbling around my apartment the past few days.

4. Brett Favre with the Vikings? A team built to play defense and run the ball, with average receivers?…good luck Minnesota.

5. I updated the Jets depth chart with the subtractions of TJ Conley, Keith Fitzhugh and J’Nathan Bullock and the addition of Ken Parrish, Joshua Magua, and Huey Whittaker.

Troubling Trends at Jets Camp

I have to say I felt really good after the Jets pre-season opener last Friday night. Mark Sanchez looked great. David Clowney looked like a viable deep threat. Shonn Greene showed some burst. The first team defense was all over the place and had a great pass rush. Regardless of the loss, there were plenty of encouraging things shown by the team. However, since the game has passed there have been some things you have to be concerned about, things that are getting me worried we could be running into a pre-season buzzsaw this Monday Night on national television against the Ravens.

1. Nagging Injuries – Alan Faneca is out for the Baltimore game and potentially the rest of the pre-season with a broken finger. Ryan wants to hold him out until week one, although Faneca has expressed interest in getting some pre-season reps. I wouldn’t mind seeing him play a series or two against the Eagles in a few weeks but over all he is a pro’s pro and should be fine for the regular season. Kris Jenkins still isn’t participating in team drills and isn’t going to play Monday. I would really like to see the big fella in there against the Ravens running game to see where the defense is truly at. Darrelle Revis might play, but he is still nursing a sore hamstring which is a nightmare for skill position players. I doubt we will see Damien Woody until the regular season because it isn’t worth risking it with a concussion. Tony Richardson is also still out with a hip pointer. On the positive side, Nick Mangold is probably going to play this Monday and is recovering well from his twisted knee.

2. What’s Up Mark? – Ever since the most heralded 3/4 90 yard performance in NFL history, Mark Sanchez has been awful in practice. His numbers the past few days have been things like 4/12 with 2 interceptions and 2/11 with three wide open receivers missed. Is he being complacent? I don’t think so. I think it is just normal rookie inconsistency. However, there is something about an inconsistent rookie on an off day starting behind an offensive line featuring Wayne Hunter and Stanley Daniels against arguably the best defense on football that is causing me to lose sleep.

3. Take it Easy, Rex – Let’s be clear I love the bravado and swagger Rex Ryan has brought to the Jets team. However, his comments about the Ravens were a little unncessary. We understand he was disappointed he didn’t get the job last year, but still talking about it now and calling it “BS” sounds a little immature. Also, criticizing the organization for giving out Michael McCary’s number to a rookie is a little over the top. Just worry about the Jets.

I don’t know maybe it is the pessimistic Jets fan inside of me but is anybody else worried about a rough showing on Monday Night Football this week? This team has had good training camp, a pretty encouraging pre-season opener and seems to have alot of confidence. I would hate to see an ugly performance against the Ravens that makes questions swirl about the quarterback battle, offensive line depth, and exactly how good the defense will be, because at this point…who the Jets have is who they are playing with in 2009.

I just can’t get enough of this commercial:

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 5th

First a few updates:

1. Big weekend coming up, starting tomorrow night with the Jets Green and White Scrimmage and of course, the beginning of a huge 4 game series between the Yankees and Red Sox. As of right now, it looks like the Yanks will head into the series with a 2.5 game lead in the standings, which means this series really gives them a chance to put some distance between them and Boston over the weekend.

2. A complaint from a frustrated New York sports talk radio listener – Due to my long commute to Newark everyday, I spend alot of time listening to both 660 and 1050 AM and I can’t tell you freakin’ tired I am of hearing about the Mets. The Yankees are in first place in the best division in baseball, the Jets and Giants are both in training camp, and yet all I hear is discussion about the Mets, a fourth place team who is 5 games under .500, enough, nobody cares, their season is over. We all understand how awful they are and how many injuries they have, now spend some more time talking about my Yankees and Jets. (Sorry for another Mets bashing paragraph, Mandy, but I can’t help myself).

3. A quick comment on the New York Football Giants – Congrats to Eli for signing his fat new contract. The guy won a Super Bowl, he earned it. The G-Men are arguably the best team in the NFC this year despite their pedestrian receiving core that is counting on the likes of Domenick Hixon, Mario Manningham, and Sinorce Moss to handle major reps. The only thing that bothers me about the Giants is how much they talk about being disrespected and flying under the radar, it isn’t two seasons ago guys, everybody respects you and realizes you are a good team.

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 5th

Story of the Day: Good day for the rookie…Mark Sanchez slightly outperformed Kellen Clemens today and did a good job with his extended reps with the first team. This battle is basically even right now, with a maybe a slight tilt towards Clemens. However, Kellen struggled today, taking too many sacks and throwing another interception into the hands of Kerry Rhodes. Sanchez showed good pocket presence in practice and had a better two minute drill than Clemens, who went three and out. Tomorrow is a big day for Sanchez who will get to go head to head versus Clemens in the Green and White Scrimmage. If he wants more reps with the first team, tomorrow is the day to make a statement.

More Quarterback Daily News: Rex Ryan said he wants to name a starter before the Jets third pre-season game against the Giants. You would have to think he will let Clemens and Sanchez start a game a piece before then and hope one of them seizes the job. The third pre-season game is when the starters see extended work, meaning whomever gets the nod in that game will be in good shape to start the regular season against Houston.

Secondary Love: Ryan talked at length today about how good he believes the Jets secondary is. Dwight Lowery continued his strong camp by knocking down three passes in practice today and Drew Coleman also flashed a few times, with an interception and a pass defensed, drawing praise from Ryan who thinks his skill set fits well with the Jets new scheme on defense. Ryan’s also complimented Donald Strickland’s versatility to play corner, nickle, and safety. James Ihedigbo looks like he will have a bigger role on the defense this season and could be active in nickle and dime packages. Darrelle Revis? He is the best corner in football according to Ryan and you won’t get much of an argument from me, although Asomugha on Oakland is probably still #1.

Tight End Issues: First off, condolences to Kareem Brown who lost a close friend in a car accident, which is why he missed the first few Jets practices. Many of the beat writers dedicated articles in today’s paper to the Jets lack of depth at tight end. Unless Jack Simmons, Brown, or the newly signed Kevin Brock really picks things up in the next week or two, the Jets are going to have bring in a veteran. Right now, reserve tackle Wayne Hunter is working as the primary backup. Hopefully, somebody will make a few plays tomorrow in the scrimmage and then in the first pre-season game to distinguish themselves.

Injury News: Shaun Ellis, Kris Jenkins, Shonn Greene, Tony Richardson and Donald Strickland are all nursing minor injuries and should be back soon. I don’t know if any of them will play tomorrow, but it would be nice to see Greene out there since he is a rookie. There is no need to rush veterans like Ellis, Richardson or Jenkins back.

Receiver Transaction: The Jets released Mario Urrutia (what kind of person would pick this guy to make the 53 man roster and think he was an under the radar guy to watch in camp…ooops) and got Aundrae Allison off waivers from the Vikings. Allison is a speedy guy, who has experience as a kick returner. He also has 18 career catches for 231 yards, which is nothing to scoff at when guys like David Clowney (1 career catch) and Wallace Wright (6 career receptions) are competing for major playing time.

Good Camp/Bad Camp: Good Camp – Wallace Wright, Chansi Stuckey, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Bart Scott, Dwight Lowery, Howard Green, Jim Leonhard….Bad Camp (Or Quiet Camp) – David Clowney, J’Nathan Bullock, Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha, Jason Trusnik, Huey Whittaker, Marcus Henry

Tomorrow: Morning Session closed to the media and Green and White Scrimmage at 6 PM (Live play by play audio on www.newyorkjets.com, I know I’ll be listening).

5 Guys to Watch For in Tomorrow’s Scrimmage:

1. Mark Sanchez – Duh, big chance for the rookie to make some plays and a make a move in the QB battle.

2. David Clowney – He has been quiet all camp, can he make a few big plays?

3. Vernon Gholston – See above.

4. Jehuu Caulcrick/Shonn Greene – Who? Caulcrick will be the starting fullback with T-Rich out with injury. If Greene plays, he should be in line for some short yardage carries.

5. Kareem Brown/Jack Simmons/J’Nathan Bullock – Somebody could get a leg up in battle for the #2 TE spot.

New York Jets Training Camp Preview 2009

First a few updates:

1. Yankees are up a healthy 2.5 games on Boston after taking 3 out 4 from the A’s, and 9 out of 10 on their home stand. Big week coming up with road trips to Tampa and Chicago though, I am saying they take 2 out 3 against the Rays to start the week off. How about those Mets, though? They won 2 out of 3 this weekend…shocking.

2. Big day tomorrow, we have our playoffs in my YMCA basketball league. The whole tournament is tomorrow, and we are entering as the #2 seed, despite our sub-par 3-3 regular season record. You heard it  here first, the green team is taking home the trophy….well we don’t have a trophy, but we are taking the title anyway.

New York Jets Training Camp Preview 2009

The Jets are heading up to Cortland, New York at the end of this week to begin their 2009 season. It will be Rex Ryan’s first camp as a head coach in the NFL and all ears will be up for the boisterous former defensive coordinator of the Ravens, while all eyes will be on prized rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. What should you look for over the next 6 weeks of non-regular season football? Here’s a guide…

– The primary storyline will be the quarterback competition between rookie Mark Sanchez and 4th year veteran Kellen Clemens. Expect daily tallies of their statistics in 7 on 7’s and team drills and a daily winner of the practice proclaimed by all the beat writers. August 14th is the date of the Jets first pre-season game, and it will be interesting to see if Mark Sanchez can unseat Kellen Clemens by that day, and if he doesn’t, if he can outplay him on that night. Clemens will take the first snap with the first offense this week, but Sanchez will be given every shot to win the job. Unless Clemens turns into Peyton Manning this summer or Sanchez turns into Brooks Bollinger, you can bet on #6 being under center for week 1.

– Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are both currently in contract disputes and it remains to be seen if they will skip training camp and accept the daily fines. Apparently, there has been minor progress in Washington’s talks but no movement on Thomas Jones. I am going to be an optimist and say that Washington shows up to camp and a deal is done within the first week. Jones will show up but won’t talk to the media. Eventually, the Jets will reach some compromise with him, as they did with Laveranues Coles and Chris Baker last year to appease Jones for this season before letting him go at the end of the year. In other running back news, keep an eye on rookie Shonn Greene and how many carries he is getting in goal-line/short yardage situations. The coaching staff loves him and believes he is the heir apparent to Jones. Danny Woodhead will make for some nice training camp stories but won’t make the roster, the fifth running back will be Jehuu Caulcrick, who has the ability to play both FB and RB and will remind Rex Ryan of Le’Ron McClain.

– Chansi Stuckey will start out as the Jets #2 receiver and probably won’t relinquish the job. David Clowney is probably the fastest guy on the team but needs to get over the case of the drops he had in the spring. Brad Smith will get everybody excited, like he does every August, but then likely settle in his #4 receiver role. Watch for Mario Urrutia and Huey Whittaker, two little known guys who have good combinations of size and speed. Urrutia is 6’6 and could provide the Jets with a much needed red-zone target.

– The battle for the Jets #2 tight end spot will be between converted defensive lineman Kareem Brown, journeyman backup Richard Owens, and two UDFA’s J’Nathan Bullock and Jack Simmons. The coaching staff must think Brown can handle the transition or else they would have signed somebody else, right? I am still skeptical but as of now, look for Brown and Simmons to rise to the top of this weak group behind Dustin Keller. Speaking of #81, it will be interesting to see all the different places Brian Schottenheimer has him lined up on in the offense.

– Watch the offensive lineman if you want, but just pray that none of the them get hurt. The coaching staff will be hoping to see 6th round draft pick Matt Slauson show long term potential and also that Robert Turner and Wayne Hunter can handle extended playing time if one of the front five go down. Expect to see Turner also used as an extra tight end in some short yardage sets.

– On defense, listen for Bart Scott’s incessant trash talking and enjoy the the thought of him and David Harris making all the tackles they want because of the protection provided by Kris Jenkins, who should have a light work load this August. Backups Sione Pouha and Howard Green need the reps. Also, watch out for Ropati Pitoitua who spent last season on the practice squad, but could be a factor on the defensive line rotation. Mike DeVito and Marques Douglas will be out to prove they can handle splitting the one starting defensive end spot this pre-season.

– Vernon Gholston will be facing tons of pressure and daily scrutiny to live up to his lofty draft status. It is on him to lead the way in filling the hole left by Calvin Pace for the first four weeks of the regular season. Marques Murrell and Jason Trunsick will also be seeing increased reps at the outside linebacker position. Another guy to watch for is UDFA Jamaal Westerman from Rutgers, who Rex Ryan has done nothing but rave about since the second he stepped on the field this past spring. Westerman was a defensive end in college but has been working at both inside and outside linebacker for the Jets.

– In the secondary, look for a more active Kerry Rhodes and and a battle for reps alongside Darrelle Revis at cornerback. Lito Sheppard should be the starter opposite him, but beyond him Dwight Lowery, Donald Strickland, Drew Coleman, and Ahmad Carroll will be battling for playing time.

– By the way, who is the Jets punter? Reggie Hodges? I hope not. Hopefully, rookie TJ Conley can seize the job.

Enjoy the practices, and let’s all look forward to:

1. The meticulously put together daily passing statistics of Mark Sanchez, with every pass dissected and analyzed.

2. The stories about how versatile Brad Smith is.

3. The stories about how Danny Woodhead is fighting against the odds, because he played Division II football and because he is really small.

4. The stories about Leon Washington getting the ball more.

5. Rex Ryan’s daily press conferences, filled with jokes, trash-talk, and amusing stories.

6. The discussion of how much more “fun” Ryan is than Eric Mangini and how he has brought a new attitude to the team.

7. The stories about Bart Scott yelling at the offense after every play.

8. The stories about how fast David Clowney is.

9. The inevitable player on offense and defense who comes out of nowhere to have a great camp, but then still gets cut after the last pre-season game.

10. The 17 articles that will be written if Vernon Gholston misses a tackle at practice.

Jets Highlight of the Day: Season highlights from 2006…the last time the Jets made the playoffs.

Jets Positional Analysis: Tight Ends

First a few updates:

1. A little double post action today, because I want to get through all the different position analysis articles. If you scroll down on the main page or click back through the archives, you can see the previous ones on the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers.

2. Jets training camp opens on July 27th for rookies and July 30thfor veterans…at least we are in the same month now. The pre-season opener is Friday, August 14th at home against the Rams.

Jets Positional Analysis: Tight Ends

Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to go through all of the Jets positions and assess each player, continuing today with the tight ends:

1. Dustin Keller #81, Last Season: 48 Receptions, 535 Yards, 3 TD’s

History: Keller was a first round pick of the Jets last year. After beginning the season quietly, Keller broke out in a 4 game stretch during the middle of the season. Against the Rams in week 10 he had 6 receptions for 107 yards and a TD, in the following three games his lines were: 8 Receptions, 87 yards, 6 receptions, 42 yards, and 7 receptions, 77 yards. He didn’t produce as much in the Jets final four games but stilled showed tremendous potential and athleticism during his rookie season. With Chris Baker now in New England, Keller will have increased reps and pressure to improve his blocking and become an every down tight end.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Keller takes his game to the next level and thrives with the increased reps and balls thrown his way because of the departure of Laveranues Coles and Chris Baker. He plays at a pro-bowl level and becomes the Jets go to guy when they throw the ball, especially in the red zone.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Keller regresses from his rookie year, doesn’t improve his blocking and struggles with drops.

Prediction: Keller is going to have a ton of balls thrown his way in 2009 and proved last year he is immensely talented. I don’t think he is ready to be a pro-bowl caliber player yet, but I do think you will see a nice jump in his numbers from last year, especially in touchdowns. Keller is going to be the Jets primary target inside the 20 yard line.

2. Bubba Franks #88, Last Season: 6 Receptions, 47 Yards, 0 TD’s

History: I am only listing him as the #2 because he is the only other Jets tight end with NFL experience at the position. Franks signed with the Jets last year and struggled with injuries, only playing in 8 games. Rex Ryan is hoping he can provide some blocking and experience to the position. He hasn’t participated in off-season activities because he is still recovering from knee surgery but he is expected to be ready for training camp.

Chance of Making Roster: 75% (Depends on Health)

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Franks stays healthy and provides the Jets with a reliable, consistent #2 tight end. He blocks well and catches the ball the few times it is thrown to him.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He can’t get healthy in time for the season and the Jets eventually just cut him.

Prediction: I am not that confident in Franks after what I saw last year and since he is currently recovering from surgery. However, I don’t think the Jets would have re-signed him if they didn’t think he would be ready for at least most of training camp. I think Franks plays this year but struggles with injuries occasionally, but when he is on the field is able to do his job adequately.

3. Kareem Brown # 84, Last Season: Played Defensive End

History: Brown has been a backup defensive end for the Jets the last couple of years. He was moved to tight end this off-season and has apparently made some decent progress after going through mini-camp and OTAs. Brown lost 30 pounds to make the transition and because of the Jets amazingly thin depth at TE, probably has a good chance to make the roster because of his versatility and ability to play special teams.

Chance of Making Roster: 75%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Brown becomes a capable #2/#3 tight end. He is able to block for the Jets in their running sets and able to handle catching a few short passes.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Brown can’t handle the transition to offense and is too light to play defense.

Prediction: I think Brown sticks on the roster as the #3 tight end because of his ability to play special teams and his athleticism/potential.

The Other Guys:

James Dearth, #85 – The Jets long snapper, hasn’t caught a pass since 2001. He will make the roster but hopefully not be forced into any offensive action.

Jack Simmons, #46 – A UDFA the Jets signed this year. He caught 34 passes for 331 yards and 2 TDs last year for Minnesota. He is 6’4, 246 lbs and apparently made a good impression on the Jets coaches during OTAs. Hey, if there is a team for a UDFA tight end to make it on, this is it.

J’Nathan Bullock, #48 – Another UDFA the Jets signed, although Bullock wasn’t a football player in college. He played basketball at Cleveland State. Bullock is 6’4, 240 lbs and showed good athleticism during OTAs.

Overall Position Analysis: The Jets are in need of a veteran in a big way. They would be crazy to go into the season with Franks and Brown as Keller’s top backups. Hopefully, Simmons or Bullock will step up in training camp and show some potential. If the Jets are looking for help, my coaches always joked about me moving from receiver to tight end because of how slow I was…and yes, I am available.