New York Jets – Joe McKnight: A New Niche In A New Offense

Connor Rogers on Joe McKnight potentially finding a new niche in the New York Jets new offense

When the Jets selected Joe McKnight out of USC in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft, I applauded the pick. A player formerly regarded as “the next Reggie Bush” when he arrived at USC, McKnight brought explosive play making ability whenever he stepped on the field. After early struggles and a few typical USC recruiting controversies, McKnight entered the draft foregoing his senior season. Although he had only one real productive college season at halfback, Joe’s speed and raw talent made him a lock to be drafted.

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New York Jets – Tannenbaum Draft Picks Who Could Miss Final 53

A handful of Mike Tannenbaum draft picks could be in danger of not making the New York Jets final 53 man roster

New York Jets GM John Idzik hasn’t hesitated to put his imprint on the team. Part of that process will continue this summer when recent personnel decisions have the potential to knock a few of Mike Tannenbaum’s recent draft picks off the final 53 man roster. Who should be concerned?

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The Truth About Mark Sanchez and The New York Jets

Chris Gross looks at why it is a good thing Mark Sanchez will remain the Jets quarterback for the next couple of years

Mark Sanchez has become arguably the most highly criticized quarterback in the National Football League. Over the course of his career, Sanchez has become well known for his maddening inconsistency, something that has put him in the doghouse with the New York Jets fan base time and time again. However, following this week’s overtime loss to division rival New England, Sanchez unjustly received a heavy amount of blame for the loss from the fans and media, seemingly out of habit. Yes, Sanchez threw a poor interception. All quarterbacks do, it is part of the game. Sanchez also fumbled in overtime, a play that ended the game and crowned the Patriots victorious. However, what many are failing to realize is that, if not for Sanchez, the Jets likely would not have even been in position to fumble it away in overtime.

The debate will continue about this game until the Jets kickoff against Miami this Sunday at home. However, the bottom line pertaining to the New England game is that Mark Sanchez was the least of the Jets problems this past Sunday. The defense proved a notion we all knew: there is no closer on this group that can strike fear into an opposing quarterback on a final drive. The coaching became wildly conservative down the stretch, both offensively and defensively. Whatever the case may be for the loss in New England, Sunday’s game was much more about the growth of Mark Sanchez, rather than the two poor plays he may have made throughout the game.

Sunday witnessed Sanchez, a quarterback who has been left for dead by many over the past few weeks, go into a hostile environment and statistically outperform Tom Brady in his own house. Yes, Sanchez’s 28 completions on 41 attempts gave him a season high 68.3 completion percentage, nearly 7% higher than Brady’s 61.9%. Additionally, Sanchez’s 328 yards were greater than Brady’s 259. Outside of the poor interception, there is no statistical argument for which quarterback played the better game.

Statistics aside, this game saw a growth of Sanchez that we have not seen since the quarterback arrived in New York. When have we seen Sanchez take his team 92 yards down the field in the 4th quarter, on the road, on 9/10 passing and a touchdown to set his team up with a chance to take the lead? In his 4th season, people will not want to hear it, but the USC product is still growing, and Sunday proved just how much room he still has to achieve that growth.

Now, as far as Sanchez’s future with the team is concerned, we can sit here and discuss how the QB has been given an unfair slate to work with including a budget wide receiver corps and the acquisition of Tim Tebow, but we have repeatedly beat that drum, and quite frankly, the theme is played out and irrelevant at this point. The bottom line is, Sanchez is playing with the receivers, backs, and offensive line that he has been given, and he is beginning to play well. Good quarterbacks elevate the play of those around them, and that is exactly what we are starting to see Sanchez do. The Jets have adamantly defended Sanchez as the franchise quarterback, a notion many believed to be false after the team traded for Tim Tebow, however, Sunday proved it to be nothing but the truth. Mark Sanchez is the quarterback of the New York Jets for now, and for the future, and there are several reasons to examine as to why this is the case.

In his first two seasons with the Jets, Sanchez was merely a game manager for a team built primarily on defense and a high-powered rushing offense. Both the defense and offensive line ranked among the top of the league, and the basic belief was that Sanchez would serve as the game manager to complement these groups, until his development matured to the point where he could take this team over. What the Jets failed to realize in Sanchez’s third year, is that he was not yet mature enough to take on that role. In 2011, New York put their faith in Sanchez by cutting costs on the offensive line and receiving corps (with the exception of Santonio Holmes), believing that it was the year their quarterback could elevate the play of the average players that were put around him. Unfortunately, Sanchez was not ready, and following two consecutive AFC Championship game appearances, high expectations were not met. Sanchez, of course, was the fall guy. Whether it was just or unjust, New York is the ultimate “What have you done for me lately?” market, so naturally the majority of the blame was put on Sanchez. An attitude began to develop amongst this fan base that, perhaps, he was not the quarterback of the future.

However, Sunday proved that notion to be completely wrong. Is Sanchez maddeningly inconsistent? Yes, no one is debating that here. However, Sanchez’s inconsistencies are becoming much less frequent, they are just magnified to the highest degree. Early in Sanchez’s career, his inconsistencies were tolerated because the supporting cast around him usually picked them up. Now, Sanchez’s supporting cast is not nearly as strong, so the burden is on him to carry this team, a role that he is slowly easing into.

Sanchez’s inconsistencies are also much more discussed because of the market he plays in. This is New York, where excellence is demanded. This fan base has zero patience, and if the first guy in line isn’t getting it done, there is an immediate call for the next guy. But is Sanchez the only inconsistent quarterback in the NFL? Absolutely not. Could you imagine if quarterbacks like Jay Cutler, Michael Vick, or Cam Newton were on this team? They would be massacred just as bad, if not worse, than Sanchez.

When it comes to the Jets, the truth is, that Mark Sanchez is, by far, the best option at quarterback for now and for the future. Look at the alternatives. Are you going to hand the offense over to Tim Tebow and become truly one-dimensional? The Jets would be foolish to do so. Tebow could not complete Sanchez’s touchdown pass to Dustin Keller from this past Sunday once out of one hundred attempts. Whether he is a competitor or not, Tebow is not nearly the NFL quarterback that Sanchez is, and the coaching staff knows this. Why do you think Tebow gets only a handful of plays each week?

The second option to possibly replacing Sanchez is to draft another quarterback. This would set the Jets back a minimum of five more years. This team needs pass rush help in the worst way possible, and using a first round selection on a quarterback, just 4 years after trading up to acquire Sanchez with the fifth overall pick would be downright foolish. Talk about a market that has very little patience, and you want to replace Sanchez, a player on the cusp of taking the next step, with a guy who you’d essentially be starting completely over with? Not going to happen, Jets fans.

New York’s fan base should not be discouraged by this, but should rather be excited about Sanchez as their quarterback. Yes, he has the flaws listed above, but he is also beginning to develop a moxie that we haven’t seen from him. When watching the Jets, we are beginning to see glimpses of Sanchez displaying the attitude that this is his team. The comparisons to Eli Manning’s early career are frequent, yet completely warranted. You can’t help but think about how Tiki Barber came out and knocked Manning after his third year in the league, following the running back’s retirement, eerily similar to how LaDanian Tomlinson came out and claimed that the organization babied Sanchez, and questioned whether or not he could ever truly develop into a great player.

Manning also took a giant step forward when the Giants lost Jeremy Shockey, a diva tight end who demanded the ball, during their first Super Bowl run, eventually trading the fan favorite away the following offseason. Could that be what we are seeing take place with the recent loss of Santonio Holmes? Maybe, maybe not, but the bottom line is that Sanchez is finally beginning to develop some cohesion with his offensive teammates. The chemistry being built with guys like Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill is extremely encouraging and obvious. Since the loss of Holmes, Kerley has established himself as the Jets top receiving option, hauling in 15 passes for 238 yards in the past 3 games. Hill, on the other hand, is beginning to develop a feel for his new quarterback, as displayed by the adjustment he made on the route on his touchdown reception against the Colts a couple of weeks ago. Dustin Keller proved to be a deadly option for Mark Sanchez in his first game back, something many expected him to do. The running game is suddenly rejuvenated and we are seeing formerly questioned guys like Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight now being praised for playing through injuries and displaying an extreme sense of dedication and tenacity.

The skinny on Sanchez and this team is simple. The core of this offense is in place with an abundance of young players that are developing more and more each week. Sanchez will prove to be the glue that holds it all together, for a group that has an extremely promising future. This offense could potentially develop into one of the most cohesive and talented units in the league in the years to come. Abandoning that now by getting rid of Sanchez would simply be foolish, and would likely go down as yet another move that would haunt this franchise for years to come.

New York Jets Problems – The Running Game

A closer look at the New York Jets problems running the football

The New York Jets spent the entire off-season talking about their running game in prideful, reverential terms. Yet never made the effort to improve it. They didn’t pursue a blue-chip running back. They didn’t add a run blocking tight end. They didn’t upgrade at the fullback position. Basically, they stubbornly stuck to their average starting running back, a below average fullback, a collection of unproven backups, and a group of wide receivers playing tight end. Are we surprised they have struggled to run the football through three games?

Despite many people’s insistence at holding on to hope for Shonn Greene, the problems with the running game start with him. The film breakdown from the first two weeks (and the third week) show him consistently leaving yards on the field. The numbers support this as well. Greene has 57 carries for 157 yards, which comes out to an embarrassingly low 2.8 yards per carry. With 22 carries, backup Bilal Powell has averaged 4.0 yards per carry. The contrast was most clearly shown last week when Greene could only rack up 40 yards on 19 carries (2.1 YPC) and Powell was able to accumulate 45 yards on only 10 carries (4.5 YPC).

If Powell would have had Greene’s 19 carries, he projects to finish with a solid 85 yards on the ground. The excuse that the offensive line isn’t creating holes is simply incorrect. Are they a dominant unit? No. However, they are opening lanes on a regular enough basis for a competent NFL running back to average 4 yards per carry.

Greene is a plodding back who seems to have lost a step from last season, a harsh reality that could have him out of the league within a few years. He cannot get the edge on outside runs. He cannot make anybody miss when he gets to the second level on inside runs. He stumbles frequently when receiving handoffs and isn’t running anybody over because he can’t generate enough momentum. When you get 27 carries in a NFL game and can’t crack 100 yards as Greene couldn’t in week one, you aren’t good enough to be a starter.

We constantly hear how Greene is a slow starter in both seasons and games. Why do the Jets need to wait until week 7 for Greene to get going? How about he comes into the season down 15 pounds and looking to gain a step, instead of starting even slower than he has the previous two years? Are the Jets expected to wait until Greene’s 15th carry in every game for him to have a single run over 3 yards? I don’t think it is insane to have higher expectations of a starting running back than that. This is his contract year and he has 57 carries for 157 yards…57 carries for 157 yards!

So what is the solution? The Jets would be wise to add an option from outside the organization, whether it is Ryan Grant via free agency or Chris Ivory via trade. However, Mike Tannebaum has shown no inclination to improve the running back position so why would he start now? If the Jets are staying in house, the answer is simple – make Bilal Powell the starter, make Joe McKnight the third down back, considering he is arguably the fastest player on the offense and can catch an out route out of the backfield better than Tim Tebow could. Speaking of Tebow, make him the short yardage back from the quarterback position. In case you haven’t noticed, Greene is poor in short yardage situations as well and that is something Tebow traditionally excels at.

Outside of running back, Konrad Reuland should play above Jeff Cumberland as the backup tight end when Dustin Keller returns. He should also see more action at fullback, since anything that keeps John Conner off the field is a positive. The Jets should also incorporate Jeremy Kerley into the running game. Kerley is averaging a monstrous 23 yards per catch and has shown the ability to make things happen as a returner and runner (on reverses and out of the Wildcat last year). Have you seen how Green Bay uses Randall Cobb? That is how the Jets should use Kerley in their running game.

The New York Jets running problems will only be solved if they turn away from the ignorant 20 carries per game for Shonn Greene. It is time for a committee approach that is more creative and gives Mark Sanchez the hope of having a balanced offense.

New York Jets Offense – How To Use Their Weapons

Joe Caporoso and TJ Rosenthal on how the New York Jets can get the most out of Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Joe McKnight

Yesterday TJ Rosenthal wrote an article here looking at how the New York Jets can utilize the speed in their offense, namely Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Joe McKnight. Today TJ and myself take a closer look at what each player brings to the table –

Santonio Holmes

Joe Caporoso – Holmes is an elite route runner and is explosive after the catch. He works best in the intermediate passing game, where he can catch the ball with a little space to improvise after catching the ball. Can we see this guy run another route besides a slant?

TJ Rosenthal – Get Tone the ball. Let 10 set the tempo in the passing game. In fact, the Jets should be including Holmes in the discussion as far as what he feels can work given the QB he has and the protection issues that have taken place. He doesn’t need a “C” on his chest to feel as though he is being asked to provide leadership. Make him part of the process of devising ways to get him the ball. This will also put the onus on him to make sure he is calling for plays that are possible at this given time. We already know how clutch he can be already.

Stephen Hill

Joe Caporoso – Hill has elite top end speed and size at the wide receiver position. He is built to run deep posts and go routes, just like he did his entire career at Georgia Tech. With his frame he should also be effective on slant routes. A nice part of Hill’s game is a willingness to block down the field, which could help spring big plays in both the run game and short passing game. He is going to have occasional mental lapses as a rookie receiver and has struggled with drops in August. Look for Hill to fluctuate between big plays and errors all season. 

TJ Rosenthal – We heard so much about Stephen Hill’s blocking prowess yet all we’ve seen so far have been half hearted attempts to get his feet wet as a pass catcher. Let a guy play to his strengths, and feel good about himself. This will help relax him. In a four wide speed package, Hill can be a deep down the sideline guy but use him more so, as  the one who can crack OLB’s as Joe McKnight and Jeremy Kerley come across with the catch. Allow Hill to gain confidence as a deadly blocker who springs the little guys down the sidelines. Let him use his height and speed yet think less with some go routes in this formation as well. Hill can also be the short slant guy the way Braylon Edwards, and his 6’4 frame was in 2010.

Jeremy Kerley

Joe Caporoso – Kerley is more quick than fast and is built like a prototypical slot receiver. He is going to run a ton of option routes and quick outs, making him a primary target on most 3rd and short situations. However, if he can get matched up on a linebacker or safety, he should be able to get down the seam and make plays.

TJ Rosenthal – He needs to be an underneath route guy who can make big plays with his feet in space. He’s not a household name yet, but a few short receptions that turn into 25 yard gains will help the offense create a threat that can open up room for guys like Dustin Keller. Like McKnight, Kerley can be a slot screen option. Especially on the side of Hill should he line up that way.

Joe McKnight

Joe Caporoso – McKnight is a running back who can run routes and catch the football like a receiver. He also has durability issues and is prone to mental mistakes. The Jets can get the most out of him by working him on screen passes and then lining him up in the slot and hoping to get him matched up on linebackers. Tony Sparano needs to find a way to get him the ball in space consistently

TJ Rosenthal – Part of the reason in making 25 a slot guy is his inability to pass protect. A problem that has given Bilal Powell time on third down. This is a bigger problem for the Jets offense. One that needs explosive laymakers on the field as often as possible. Stop thinking about McKnight as solely a RB and use him on flares, screens and short underneath routes. Having him out there even as a decoy can serve the same purpose of opening up room for Keller as any success by Kerley would provide. Lining up Keller and McKnight to one side could create favorable one on one’s near the line of scrimmage.

New York Jets Offense – Offset Pressure With Speed

TJ Rosenthal on the need for the Jets offense to offset the pass rush they are facing with their speed

We all know that necessity is the mother of invention. That said, all that the Jets had hoped to achieve through the air in 2012 has to be under review in the coaches offices out in Florham Park these days. Better invent something fast. Well, one adjustment to complimenting a run first attack could be force feeding a “four wide” speed package. With on emphasis on short receptions and yards after the catch. Stretching the field will of course open up any run game but sacks, as we’ve seen since early 2011 on into this summer, will devastate it.  Maybe an empty backfield speed formation, sprinkled in with occasional shots “up top” can help.

In Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, and Joe McKnight, the Jets have four pieces on offense whose forty yard dash times can impress. Why not line them all up at once? With Kerley and McKnight in the slots?

Given the Jets struggles to protect the QB so far this summer, it might be a wise idea for OC Tony Sparano, in the search for an air approach that can ease the heat off of the QB. If three of the four make like Wes Welker, and work near the line of scrimmage while one goes deep, there will be home run hitters spread across and down the field.

Hill in particular, is known for his blocking, and could be a big help should Kerley or McKnight head his way with the rock after hauling in a catch made  after a safe three step drop by Mark Sanchez, a QB who could seriously benefit from positive plays that don’t entail running for his life prior to making them.

Unlike Hill, lining up McKnight up as a WR eliminates the need to use him as a blocker. A place where he has had troubles, but allows him to still make plays. Like the ones he made in open space on special teams last year.

Due to the early August injuries to Holmes and Kerley, the Jets offense has been unable to settle in at all on the outside, let alone feature any idea of four fleet footed players together all at once. With Kerley back now at a reported 90 percent, and Holmes close to a return as well, perhaps the time is near for to get a clearer sense of what they have.

In the meantime, if Sparano hasn’t already, he might want to get out a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, and begin to draw up a few “four wide” designs with this crew. Plays whose end goal would be to find that one on one mismatch. Given the pass protection issues that threaten the notion of too many downfield attempts this season, it may be time to give the four wideout speed package serious consideration. Use the weapons you have at your disposal,

Right?

Short, quick, high percentage throws that land in the hands of threats who can eat up the turf. That’s a weapon. No, we don’t mean roll out tosses to guys like John Connor folks. Please Sanchise. Enough with the fullback. Utilize speed instead. Gang Green has it in four guys who can catch passes, and must to overload defenses with the fear of it. It may be one of the few defenses against pressure the Jets have left.

New York Jets Offense: Where Will The Improvement Come From?

Where will the improvement on the New York Jets offense come from?

The New York Jets have hit rock bottom as an offensive unit. They can’t possibly play worse than they did against the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants. Their home pre-season game against Carolina needs to begin a road to improvement. Carolina has an average defense at best, so it will be good opportunity to build a little confidence and momentum heading into the regular season. The question is where will the improvement on this unit come from?

Trade Market – You never know what Mike Tannenbaum could come up with or what teams will be looking to move pieces as training camp comes to a close. From all indications the Jets aren’t in the market for a skill position addition but have to at least be exploring right tackle options. Teams around the league aren’t stupid. They know how desperate the Jets are for help at right tackle, so the question becomes is Mike Tannenbaum willing to overpay in compensation? From the way Hunter looked against the Giants, he has to be.

Free Agent Scrap Heap – Mike Tannenbaum has said the Jets will have “mini-draft” right around Labor Day after the last wave of roster cuts. That is all well and good but there is a reason teams cut players. The Jets will have to focus on teams with excessive depth in certain areas and hope to find something valuable. This is not where you want to be finding a starter for your offensive unit. However, there is no reason the Jets can’t find a competent blocking tight end prior to week one.

Getting Healthy – The biggest impact here will come at the wide receiver position. Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley will make a difference when they return and the Jets passing game production will improve. The Jets desperately need both players to be healthy and productive throughout the entire season. Holmes is the unit’s top playmaker and Kerley showed a high amount of potential in the slot in 2011.

Making Internal Decisions – If the Jets aren’t going to add another right tackle from outside the team, it is time to hand the job over to Austin Howard. He is probably only capable of starting on one team in the NFL but unfortunately that team is the Jets. Simply put, he cannot be worse than Wayne Hunter. At running back, the Jets need to decide if Joe McKnight or Bilal Powell will be the third down back and commit to it. McKnight’s upside is substantially higher and the Jets need speed desperately, so he is the logical choice.

Tebow Factor – One player who can make the Jets running game dynamic is Tim Tebow, particularly lined up at quarterback in certain situations. We still have no idea exactly how he will be deployed in the Jets offense but even if he can pick up 45-55 yards a game, it will make a huge difference in an offense desperate for yards.

Force The Issue – Tony Sparano needs to get the ball in his playmakers hands in the right situation. Get Santonio Holmes in space where he can run after the catch. Throw deep post and go routes to Stephen Hill. Send Dustin Keller down the seam and if they are taking it away, line him up at receiver and throw him a screen to keep him involved. Make McKnight the third down back and thrown him a few screens.

Sanchez – Protect the football and take more shots down the field. Sometimes you need to throw the deep ball just to throw it. Stephen Hill is 1 on 1 but covered well? Throw it anyway. He is 6 foot 4 for a reason. Santonio Holmes is 1 on 1 but covered well? Give him a chance to make a play, he was a Super Bowl MVP for a reason. Throw an interception on a 50 yard bomb on 3rd and 10, instead of on a 2 yard crossing pattern on 3rd and 10.

New York Jets: Offense Remains Work In Progress

The New York Jets still have a long way to go on the offensive side of the football

There is no need for overreactions to week 1 of the NFL pre-season. There is no also no need to stick your head in the sand and act like the New York Jets offense doesn’t have a hell of a long way to go. When you review the depth chart, when you see them consistently handled in practice by the defense (yes, a very good defense) and then look completely listless in their pre-season opener, it is a valid cause for concern.

There is talent on the offensive side of the football for the Jets. There is hope in a new offensive coordinator whose vision is better aligned with the team’s talent and Rex Ryan’s philosophy but we need to start seeing some kind of production.

Tony Sparano’s comment about the Jets “pushing around” the Bengals was glorified coach-speak. The Jets didn’t push anybody around Friday night. Shonn “the bell-cow” Greene had 11 yards on 5 carries. Mark Sanchez was sacked twice in eight dropbacks and the longest plays of the nights came from a checkdown to Joe McKnight and a scramble by Tim Tebow. It was ugly, little league caliber football.

Yes, the game plan was vanilla but so is everybody’s in the pre-season so let’s stop with the excuses. This unit just isn’t very good right now and has a little less than a month to get their act together.

Where will it come from? The hopes for help at the wide receiver or running back position from outside the team are lowering with each passing day. Improvement will have to come from within.

When it comes to the passing game, the receiver situation is only going to get better. Stephen Hill will improve with the monster share of reps he is receiving in practice and throughout pre-season. He did have a drop on Friday but also pulled in two other nice catches in traffic. In the next couple of weeks Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley will return to the line-up. Holmes is the team’s top playmaker and somebody who can take a 5 yard slant route 50 yards for a touchdown. Kerley, despite a disappointing off-season showed immense potential in the slot last season and will be a third down weapon.

Improved play at wide receiver will help Mark Sanchez get rid of the ball quicker because his receivers will actually be able to get separation. The Jets protection remains shaky at best. They seriously need to consider adding a true blocking tight end because Jeff Cumberland looked comically bad trying to block on Friday. You can’t support inconsistent play at right tackle if you don’t have a blocking tight end to help out.

Tony Sparano will have to get creative to buy Sanchez time in many situations, whether that is rolling him out, increasing his number of 3-step drops and bringing in an extra tackle to play blocking tight end.

In the running game, Tim Tebow is a unique and dynamic weapon to have at their disposal. The “Wildcat” or whatever you want to call it will hopefully provide a needed X-Factor to an offense lacking overall proven big play capability. If Tebow can give the Jets 35-50 yards rushing on a weekly basis it will be a needed supplement to Shonn Greene.

Joe McKnight had an impressive showing Friday night but neither him or Bilal Powell are anywhere near proven. Hopefully one of them can become a factor on outside runs and as a receiver out of the backfield. The Jets desperately need a back who can break a big run because for Greene a big run is 7 yards.

If you are anticipating a high amount games in the 20s and 30s this year you will be sorely disappointed. This Jets offense is not going to light up the scoreboard. With their defense, they may not need to on many weeks but they still need to find ways to produce big plays and touchdowns. Will it be Tebow and McKnight rejuvenating the running game? Will it be Hill and a healthy Santonio Holmes producing more than it expected? Hopefully, it will be some combination of both.

Initial Reaction – New York Jets Inconsistent Against Bengals

The New York Jets had an inconsistent performance, at best, in their pre-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals

A handful of thoughts from the New York Jets pre-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, a 17-6 loss that was far from the prettiest football game you will ever see –

1. Mark Sanchez didn’t receive much help in the way of protection or his receivers getting separation. However, he protected the football, scrambled for a first down on a 3rd down and hooked up with Patrick Turner 3 times. Overall, the first offense was rather disappointing, particularly Shonn Greene who finished up with 11 yards on 5 carries. Tony Sparano’s new offense remains a work in progress but remember how vanilla they were tonight.

2. Tim Tebow was Tim Tebow. He had three very impressive scrambles and finished as the team’s leading rusher with 34 yards on 4 carries. Yet, he struggled to throw the football only finishing 4/8 for 27 yards with an ugly interception. I remain confident in my belief that Tebow will be the team’s second leading rusher and is more of their number two running back than their number two quarterback.

3. Quinton Coples was the star of the night. Few people were more critical of his selection than yours truly but the rookie impressed tonight with 4 tackles, a tackle for a loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass defensed. Yes, many of his big plays came against the Bengals second unit but Coples looked athletic and like he could be a factor against both the run and pass.

4. Bilal Powell played over Joe McKnight as both the third down back and number two running back but it was McKnight who stole the show at running back. Powell finished with 16 yards on 5 carries and 1 reception for 4 yards, along with a missed block that led to a sack. McKnight showed some good giddy-up with 32 yards on 7 carries and 3 receptions for 34 yards.

5. Overall the defense was very good against the run, surrendering only 2.8 yards per carry. Kenrick Ellis filled in admirably for Sione Pouha and David Harris racked up 4 tackles in limited action.

6. Defensive end Jay Richardson had a head turning performance with 4 tackles and a sack. Garret McIntyre also had a sack and was active. Rookie linebacker Demario Davis had 4 tackles and a tackle for a loss.

7. Aaron Maybin struggled against the run and wasn’t effective getting to the passer despite extended reps. Isahiah Trufant and Julian Posey were beat like a drum all night long at corner. Josh Bush also doesn’t look quite ready for any kind of first team reps yet.

8. The Jets backup offensive lineman were downright awful, nearly getting Greg McElroy killed in the 3rd and 4th quarter. Depth is a major concern with this unit.

9. Can we keep Bart Scott out of coverage? When you can’t keep up with BenJarvus Green-Ellis over the middle, you have a problem. Demario Davis needs to be in on passing downs.

10. Rookie Stephen Hill had an ugly drop on a 3rd down. However he did haul in two high Tebow passes. It would have been nice to see him stretch the field but I’m sure that will come in time.

11. I would hate to be in the special teams meetings tomorrow…

New York Jets: Offensive Depth Still Area Of Concern

The New York Jets still have depth issues on the offensive side of the football

There is a fine line between having confidence in your young players and being ignorant about the depth on your roster. The New York Jets are walking that line right now. A suggestion for the addition of a veteran running back or wide receiver isn’t a questioning of the future potential of the youth at those positions but a call for needed insurance, in case of injury or a lack of productivity.

Let’s start at running back. Shonn Greene has stayed healthy throughout camp so far. He will likely receive minimal work throughout the pre-season and has proven to be fairly durable over the past two years. However, as we have mentioned before a rolled ankle or separated shoulder leaves the Jets perilously thin at running back for an offense built to be run heavy…very run heavy.

Yes, Bilal Powell has had a strong camp. He is likely the team’s best combo back because of a skill set has features traits needed for both a “A” and “B” back in their system. Powell has shown he can pass protect, catch the football well out of the backfield and mix up running inside and outside. That being said, he still hasn’t proven it in a NFL game and he is really ready to handle 20 carries in a game if Greene misses a few weeks?

Terrance Ganaway was back on the practice field today but has been banged up all throughout camp. He is a rookie 6th round pick. Joe McKnight did look good early in camp but seems to be losing ground to Powell as the team’s primary third down back. Beyond that, McKnight was very fragile with limited touches last year and is already nursing a shoulder injury this camp.

The question remains, why keep such an unproven (Powell, Ganaway) and injury prone (McKnight) group behind Greene with no support? Signing a player like Cedric Benson or Ryan Grant or swinging a trade for a player who is tumbling down the depth charts elsewhere like Knowshon Moreno is low risk, high reward move. Benson or Grant would come on a veteran minimum deal. Moreno wouldn’t cost more than a 6th round pick and has first round talent. You bring them into the rotation and if an injury occurs or  a 1B back never steps up on the Jets roster, you have insurance.

We have seen Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant and Knowshon Moreno run for a 100 yards in a NFL game. Insurance never hurts. New England is loaded at tight end because their offense is built around them. New Orleans and Green Bay is loaded at wide receiver because their offense is built around them. The Jets offense is built around their running game, why not work to be loaded at running back?

The presence of a veteran doesn’t mean you can’t give a player like Powell his touches. It just means that if he gets hurt or doesn’t perform in a game, you have another option.

At wide receiver, it is the walking wounded for the Jets. Santonio Holmes has sore ribs and he will miss the first pre-season game. Fine, he is a proven veteran and will be ready to go for the regular season. Stephen Hill has managed to stay healthy but remains a rookie. Patrick Turner has quietly put together a strong camp and does have a few NFL receptions under his belt. After that…everybody is hurt. Jeremy Kerley is out for another 1-2 weeks with a hamstring injury. Chaz Schilens has been banged up all throughout camp and has never been healthy in his NFL career. Jordan White is just returning from an injury and is a rookie. Dexter Jackson has flashed at times but is completely unproven.

Yesterday the Jets cut bottom of the roster dwellers Scotty “Can I have your girlfriend’s number?” McKnight and DaMarcus “why does this Jets Tweeter love me so much” Ganaway. The logical assumption would be that Mike Tannenbaum is getting ready to add somebody at the position. This makes sense because the Jets will be running out a 3 wide of Hill (0 NFL receptions), Turner (8 NFL receptions) and White/Jackson (0 NFL receptions) with Mark Sanchez this Friday if Holmes and Schilens don’t play.

Tannenbaum isn’t going to go big here. So get Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe out of your head (sorry fake Adam Schefter account from last night). If they look to the trade market, James Jones of Green Bay makes sense because of the surplus the Packers have at the position and because Randall Cobb has all but taken his job. Jones won’t be too pricey and is a proven big play receiver who can stretch a defense.

If they look to the free agent market, Greg Camarillo makes the most sense. He knows Sparano’s offense, is a reliable route runner and has very good hands. The hope is that Jordan White can seize the slot receiver role is Jeremy Kerley doesn’t get his act together but it never hurts to have insurance for a rookie 7th round pick. Again, Camarillo will cost you the veteran’s minimum. Low risk for a proven veteran if the injuries remain an issue.

It always better safe than sorry. Didn’t we learn that at the center position last season?

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