New York Jets Fact Or False: Preseason Review Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False reviews the New York Jets pre-season and makes a few predictions

For our final Preseason edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we take a look back at the play of Gang Green throughout the summer, as well as making some predictions for the final 53 man roster and the regular season. There certainly is much to be discussed after a four game span that’s only offensive touchdown was led by third string quarterback Greg McElroy. Let’s jump right into it.

Mark Sanchez has taken major strides this preseason. Fact. Mark Sanchez has gone through arguably the most difficult offseason ever faced by an NFL starting quarterback. Since the meltdown in Miami last season, Sanchez has had to face rumors of dissension, trade, along with heavy criticism about his future, and the media circus that has ensued since the acquisition of Tim Tebow. Many players would have succumbed to the pressure and gone in the tank by now, however, Sanchez has seemingly done the complete opposite.

In his fourth preseason, Sanchez had to deal with a severe injury plague to his wide receiver corps, an issue that gave him virtually no real time with Jets’ veterans Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley, a disastrous situation at Right Tackle, and a mediocre, at best, running game. Despite all of this, however, Sanchez posted a completion percentage of 68.6.

Numbers aside, the fourth year pro out of Southern California has shown the moxie that Jets fans have been waiting for since his rookie year. He’s looked more poised than he ever has, proved willing to look downfield (particularly against Carolina), his footwork and pocket awareness seem to be at an all time high, and most importantly he has displayed an excellent command of the offense. He did make one bad decision–the interception returned for a touchdown against the Giants–but other than that Sanchez has put any type of quarterback controversy to bed for now. If the offensive line and running game can get it together, this will likely be the most efficient season of Sanchez’s career.

Austin Howard will start the entire season at Right Tackle. False. While Howard certainly played well in his first start against Carolina this preseason, he showed some signs of struggle against Philadelphia last night. Although he is seemingly an upgrade over Wayne Hunter, the Jets gave the newly acquired Jason Smith extended reps in last night’s action, and the former 2nd overall pick looked quite impressive. The entire line was playing against the Eagles’ second and third string, but Smith’s play was encouraging, and undoubtedly noticed by the Jets offensive staff. A new environment and good combination of veterans may be just what Smith needs to prove why he was so highly sought after coming out of Baylor in 2009. Howard will begin the season as the starter, but he will be under the microscope, and the slightest slip up could cost him his job.

Quinton Coples is going to be an impact player this season. Fact. It is certainly far too early to deem Coples the next Jason Pierre-Paul or Justin Tuck, however the 16th overall selection has shown tremendous promise this preseason, leading the Jets with 4.5 sacks. Coples has also proved to be very tough against the run, while remaining extremely versatile, having seen reps at both end and tackle along the defensive front. His footwork and hand speed are beyond what you’d expect to see out of any average rookie, and his motor, something that was brought into question when he was drafted, does not seem to be an issue at all. He has shown hustle down the field, despite earning a personal foul for a late hit last night, and he chased down the immortal Cam Newton from behind last week, forcing a fumble, which was recovered by the Jets. Coples also seems to be playing with an attitude, and a bit of a chip on his shoulder, which should help keep him hungry and motivated throughout the season. A double digit sack season is not out of the question for the rookie out of North Carolina.

John Conner will make the 53 man roster. False. This is a bold prediction considering Conner was supposedly drafted as Rex Ryan’s personal choice two seasons ago. However, other than earning himself a catchy nickname on HBO’s Hard Knocks, as well as delivering a few quality Special Teams hits, what has Conner really done for this team? The running game has certainly not been the same since the departure of Tony Richardson, and although that can also be due to struggles on the offensive line during that time period, Conner has shown very little, if any, ability to be an effective lead blocker in this league.

More importantly, though, is Conner’s lack of versatility. Apparently he is not the bruiser that the Jets thought they were getting, as shown by his single carry of 0 yards last night against the Eagles. Conversely, he is virtually non existent in the passing game. As noted by a former NFL executive, the Jets became extremely predictable last season anytime Conner checked into the game, as the opposing defense knew of the fullback’s struggles in the passing game.

Extended reps for rookie Terrance Ganaway at fullback last night could be an indication that the Jets are leaning toward the 6th round pick out of Baylor to be the primary guy for the position this season. In one game he has already shown more versatility than Conner, catching 4 passes for 18 yards and a touchdown. He certainly has the size to be a starting fullback in this league at about 6’0″ 240 lbs, so it will be very interesting to see how this plays out. If the Jets are convinced that he can be a better blocker than Conner, his versatility makes him far more valuable to the 53 man roster.

The Jets will have a top five defense this season. Fact. Although the offense has had its struggles this preseason, the defense has played lights out. Sure, there are some coverage issues to be figured out, primarily the struggles of Bart Scott and Calvin Pace to cover underneath routes, but Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine should get very creative, personnel wise, with their third down sub packages to keep these issues in check. The defensive line has looked elite all preseason, with vast improvements from Kenrick Ellis assisting to a shutdown run defense. The new safety tandem of LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell looks like it can be extremely potent if both players can stay healthy. With the way the two of them have played together thus far, combined with the stellar cornerback play of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, the Jets could very well have the best secondary in all of football. It seems as though this defense has the perfect combination of veterans and young players to be a wise and knowledgeable, yet explosive unit. Expectations are high for New York’s “D” this year.

New York Jets: 10 Up, 10 Down

Ten New York Jets trending up, and ten New York Jets trending down

Up – Wayne Hunter

After an ugly start that had most of us clamoring for Damien Woody, Hunter has settled down and put together back to back solid performances, including a terrific one on Monday Night against Cameron Wake. Nobody ever expected Hunter to be a Pro-Bowl caliber player but if he can find some consistency and be an average starter, the Jets will at least have a year or two to find a long term replacement.

Down – Shonn Greene

I have always believed that if given the opportunity Shonn Greene could be a quality feature back. Through six games, Greene is making me reconsider that thought process. He needs to start breaking a few big runs, so his 21 carries for 71 yards could start looking like 21 carries for 115 yards. If he continues to be this sluggish, look for more carries for LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight down the stretch and then look for Mike Tannenbaum to make a strong play for Matt Forte or Maurice Jones-Drew this off-season.

Up – Joe McKnight

The new Brad Smith, who finds a way to make a few big plays each week either on offense or special teams. He should receive a bigger role as both a running back and receiver moving forward. When is the last time you heard anyone mention Leon Washington or Danny Woodhead by the way?

Down – Plaxico Burress

By everybody’s admission, he isn’t on the same page as Mark Sanchez yet which is somewhat understandable. However, the sulking on the field isn’t helping anyone. The question of if Burress is going to become a consistent weapon down the stretch, will go a long way to determining how serious of a playoff contender the Jets are.

Up – Aaron Maybin

His skill set is very raw, as basically all he could is speed rush. However, he is always going 100 miles per hour and has a natural ability to create turnovers as he seems to force a fumble every time he makes a tackle. He is a good project to continue developing in this defense and should create more plays as the season progresses.

Down – Matthew Mulligan/Patrick Turner

A symbol of Brian Schottenheimer’s problems as  aplay caller, as they are dead give aways to the Jets running the football. The problem is that neither seem to provide much of a threat as a pass catcher and the only impact plays I can remember from them is dropped passes by both them and the occasional holding call on Mulligan.

Up – Jamaal Westerman

He has finally broke through with 2.5 sacks in the past 2 games, providing the pass rush the coaching staff expected this off-season. However, Westerman still must become a complete player and set the edge better in the running game, as do all the Jets linebackers and ends.

Down – Mark Sanchez

Sanchez hasn’t been quite as bad as some will lead you to believe. Yet, his continued struggles with accuracy and slow starts remains frustrating to watch. The good news is that he has avoided turnovers the past two weeks but this offense needs more from him, especially in this critical upcoming three game stretch of games.

Up – Kenrick Ellis

The rookie third round pick was finally active last week and made a noticeable impact along the defensive line. Considering the Jets struggles stopping the run, expect to see much more Ellis moving forward. There is no questioning his talent but can he continue to improve in Rex Ryan’s system?

Down – Antonio Cromartie

He has been way, way too inconsistent this season. Cromartie should be as charged up as possible (no pun intended) for this Sunday, so hopefully he can begin to display some type of steadiness in the number two corner spot.

Up – Kyle Wilson

Wilson has quietly put together a much improved second year, highlighted by the job he did against Davone Bess in the slot last week. His role on the defense should only continue to grow and you feel like it is only a matter of time until he starts turning in some interceptions and sacks.

Down – Eric Smith

I am still not convinced he is anywhere near capable of being a full time starter at safety. His shortcomings in coverage are too much to overcome, particularly next to Jim Leonhard who already struggles in coverage.

Up – Nick Folk/TJ Conley

Nick Folk hasn’t missed a kick yet this year. Conley has been steady, which is saying something for the Jets punter position in previous years.

Down – Donald Strickland

It has been frustrating to see him injured again and not make much an impact when given the reps early in the year. With Wilson continuing to improve, I don’t see him having much of a role down the stretch.

Up – LaDainian Tomlinson

You have to expect a big game from Tomlinson this week against San Diego, right? LT has continued to be more productive with the football in his hands than any other running back on the team. If Greene continues to struggle, look for the Jets to lean more on Tomlinson down the stretch.

Down – Brodney Pool

I thought he could provide some support in pass coverage considering the shortcomings of Smith and Leonhard at the position. However, he hasn’t been much better and also been missing tackles all over the field in the running game.

Up – David Harris

So far Harris has been more active around the football than he was in 2010. Through six games, he has 33 tackles, an interception, 3 passes defensed, and 2 sacks.

Down – The Trips Wide Formation

There always seems to be a point in each game, where the Jets bunch three of receivers and split them out exceptionally wide. They proceed to always run the football out of the formation and opposing defenses know it. Once…I have seen the Jets run a bubble screen out of this for a 1 yard gain. It is time to can it.

Up – John Conner

The Terminator had been fairly quiet this year but has seen his usage increase in recent weeks. He had a crushing block on kick return to start the game last week and looked more efficient in the running game. Now, if he could only catch…

Down – The General Consensus On This Team

I think the win over Miami and the way it occurred may have put even more people down on this team than their three losses. They are now underdogs in their own building. Will it provide motivation?

Terminator’s Key Role In The Black Hole

Editor’s Note – Check out our new Video page for NFL highlights and picks courtesy of Burst Media

Middle LB Rolando McClain was flying around the field for the Silver and Black in Buffalo last Sunday. Oakland’s interior duo of Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelley have three sacks combined already after two games. With three time all Pro C Nick Mangold likely out when the Jets travel out West for Sunday’s matchup with old AFL rivals the Raiders, backup C Colin Baxter will need help in keeping things status quo. That help must be provided in part by second year FB John Conner.

Conner has to do a solid job of picking up blitzes and cleaning up any mistakes the inexperienced Baxter may make in trying to assess stunts and other balls of confusion that the Raiders will undoubtedly throw his way. The Jets passing game will most likely be altered anyway, to include more quick releases in order to keep Mark Sanchez safe. In addition to Mangold’s probable absence, RT Wayne Hunter has struggled so far in 2011. Nonetheless, Conner has to be a brick wall when Sanchez drops back to throw. Especially if the amount of downfield attempts are decidedly lessened because of the major changes up front.

Conner might have an even greater positive effect for the Jets offense if he can begin to plow open some holes for the disappointing RB Shonn Greene (2.9 yards per carry). A return to a solid effective run game would do wonders in alleviating the stress caused by the high ankle sprain Mangold suffered last week at home against the Jags.

The shoes Connor has had to fill have been big ones. Former Jets FB, the longtime veteran Tony Richardson, was as dependable as they come. T-Rich is gone however. Therefore the unheralded and often thankless job of will now fall squarely on the shoulders of Connor. A player who the Jets must now lean on more heavily, if they hope to escape this tough three game road stretch with their AFC East title hopes still intact.

TOJ Roundtable Week 3: Jets/Raiders Key Match-Up

What is the most crucial match-up in the Jets/Raiders game?

Joe Caporoso: I will go with the Jets defensive front seven versus Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. If the Jets can slow down Oakland’s running game, Jason Campbell doesn’t have the ability to beat them through the air, especially with their blitz in his face. Bart Scott is off to a terrific start and Muhammad Wilkerson had a big game last week, let’s hope them and the rest of the front seven can bring it again on Sunday.

Rob Celletti: Originally, I was going to say that the Jets’ offensive line versus the Raiders defensive line was the key matchup, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is Mark Sanchez versus Oakland’s secondary.  Of course, Sanchez’s success will be predicated on good pass protection, but this is a game where the Jets should be able to make a lot of things happen through the air.  It was interesting to watch Sanchez on Sunday; a lot of people are focusing on the interceptions, but he also completed 17 of 24 passes.  After harping on the guy’s completion percentage all off-season, it seems as though the third-year quarterback has begun to make some strides in terms of his accuracy and decision-making, interceptions notwithstanding.  What you’d like to see more of in this game is the pass offense picking up big chunks of yardage with completions down the field to wide receivers.  It is on Sanchez to make that happen against a suspect Oakland secondary.

TJ Rosenthal: The Jets C Colin Baxter, FB John Conner vs Raiders DT’s Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelley and MLB Rolando McClain:

Provided that Nick Mangold is out, backup center Colin Baxter will have his hands full with a sixty minute task ahead of him. Add to it, the pressure of having to keep the status quo for the injured three time All Pro center in Nick Mangold. A player who has raised the bar sky high for Jets linemen. FB John Conner will have to provide consistent protection in the passing game and start to finally plow holes for the struggling Shonn Greene in order to ease the heat off of Baxter, QB Mark Sanchez, and the entire passing game. Raiders MLB Rolando McLain was all over the field last week against Buffalo. He will often match up against emerging TE Dustin Keller on pass routes. A one on one battle that the Jets must win a few times downfield on Sunday. Seymour and Kelley have already combined for three sacks on the year. The duo could feast on any confusion Baxter and Connor undergo regarding assignments.

Chris Celletti: The most crucial matchup will be the Jets patchwork offensive line against the defensive front of the Raiders, especially in the running game. The Jets have yet to run the ball effectively, and the Raiders did not do a good job defensively against the Buffalo Bills last week. The Jets need to start getting some consistency out of their running game to open things up in the passing game and keep some sort of offensive rhythm. If the Jets can break off some big runs and have a high yards-per-carry, it will go a long way towards them going to 3-0.

Justin Fritze: There are a few things to watch for in the wasteland that is Oakland. The first being Denarius Moore, although I have a strong belief that both Cromartie and Revis will be switching up between him and the guy with three names. McFadden had fun running on the Bills, as did the jets with their 3rd string running back last year. If the Raiders think they are going to get into a ground war, this will get lopsided like it did last time. I think the raiders will get into play action, a few deep shots over the middle and ultimately dink and dunk their way to 17. Jets win by 4. And the Bills beat the Patriots by a field goal as riots begin in the Great North country.

The Final Days Of Pre-Season

We are less than two weeks away from Jets vs. Cowboys: week one, Sunday night football. Ryan vs. Ryan. The Jets blitz vs. Tony Romo. Miles Austin/Dez Bryant vs. Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie. D’Brickashaw Ferguson vs. DeMarcus Ware….the list goes on.

Yet, we need to finish up the pre-season first, namely the Jets last game at home against the Philadelphia Eagles this Thursday. The final roster cuts still need to be made and I wouldn’t expect too many shockers. They have already decided their kicking options by keeping Nick Folk and TJ Conley over Nick Novak and Chris Bryan. Both battles were close throughout the pre-season, so why not go with the more experienced kicker in your building and a punter who has now spent three training camps with you?

The Jets also have to be concerned about starting fullback John Conner who is in walking boot now with a sprained ankle. He is expected to be start in week one but if he has any setbacks, the team is going to have to dust off Tony Richardson from retirement, which certainly isn’t a bad fallback option.

Around the rest of the roster, I would expect Patrick Turner to end up as the number five receiver now that Logan Payne has a dislocated wrist. Scotty McKnight belongs on the practice squad…if that. Payne probably would have claimed the number five spot but his injury will likely either put him on the IR or the practice squad for the time being.

Undrafted rookie linebackers Nick Bellore and Garret McIntyre both have a great shot of making the final 53 and could bump recently signed Aaron Maybin off the roster. Maybin would need a monster performance against Philadelphia on Thursday to give the coaching staff second thoughts.

Journeyman offensive lineman Robby Felix and Dennis Landolt will also likely make the final 53, as the Jets will risk it with questionable depth on that unit. It is sounding like Rob Turner will be kept on the roster in hopes that he is healthy by the end of October. On the other side of the ball, Ryan will probably keep 7 or 8 defensive lineman in a group that looks to have solid depth thanks to strong pre-seasons from Ropati Pitoitua, Martin Tevaseau, and Marcus Dixon.

At this point, it is hard to not just root for Thursday to be over with so the final roster can be locked in and the preparation/preview for Dallas can start.

Reviewing Mike Tannenbaum’s Draft Picks

Most New York Jets fans are appropriately big supporters of General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, his aggressive nature has kept off-seasons entertaining and helped shape the Jets into one of the league’s best teams. With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, let’s take a look at every selection Tannenbaum has made since taking over as GM in 2006 —

2006

  • Round 1, Pick 4 – D’Brickashaw Ferguson
  • Round 1, Pick 29 – Nick Mangold
  • Round 2, Pick 49 – Kellen Clemens
  • Round 3, Pick 76 – Anthony Schlegel
  • Round 3, Pick 97 – Eric Smith
  • Round 4, Pick 103 – Brad Smith
  • Round 4, Pick 117 – Leon Washington
  • Round 5, Pick 150 – Jason Pociask
  • Round 6, Pick 189 – Drew Coleman
  • Round 7, Pick 220 – Titus Adams

This was one hell of a draft for Tannenbaum to start his career with. It was a bold move to take two offensive lineman in the first round for a first-time GM, especially deciding to pass on quarterback Matt Leinart, who would have been an extremely popular (but in hindsight an extremely stupid) selection. Ferguson and Mangold have developed into the foundation of the Jets offensive line and are both Pro-Bowl caliber players.

Yes, Kellen Clemens never panned out and the highlight of Anthony Schlegel’s career was muffing an onside kick, but he compensated for it by getting Eric Smith, Brad Smith, Leon Washington, and Drew Coleman in later rounds, who all turned into major contributors on playoff teams.

2007

  • Round 1, Pick 14 – Darrelle Revis
  • Round 2, Pick 47 – David Harris
  • Round 6, Pick 177 – Jacob Bender
  • Round 7, Pick 235 – Chansi Stuckey

Another terrific draft for Tannenbaum who traded up to get Darrelle Revis, who is now the consensus best corner in football and David Harris who is a Pro-Bowl caliber inside linebacker. Bender never amounted to anything but Stuckey turned into a quality player who was an important part of the Braylon Edwards trade.

2008

  • Round 1, Pick 6 – Vernon Gholston
  • Round 1, Pick 30 – Dustin Keller
  • Round 4, Pick 113 – Dwight Lowery
  • Round 5, Pick 162 – Erik Ainge
  • Round 6, Pick 171 – Marcus Henry
  • Round 7, Pick 211 – Nate Garner

Without question Tannenbaum’s worst draft and probably worst overall few days as the Jets GM. Gholston was a complete bust, Ainge had serious drug problems and was suspended multiple times, Henry and Garner never played a regular season snap for the team. Dustin Keller has obviously been an important part of the offense and Lowery has been a serviceable role player but the Gholston pick hurts.

2009

  • Round 1, Pick 5 – Mark Sanchez
  • Round 3, Pick 65 – Shonn Greene
  • Round 6, Pick 193 – Matt Slauson

Two more trade ups that have paid early dividends for the Jets. Say what you want about Mark Sanchez, he certainly has looked the part of the franchise quarterback the Jets drafted him to be by winning four road playoff games in his first two years. Greene was a disappointment in year two but his terrific playoff stretch in his rookie year helped carry the Jets to the AFC Championship Game. Matt Slauson is now the starting left guard and was steady in that role last year.

2010

  • Round 1, Pick 29 – Kyle Wilson
  • Round 2, Pick 61 – Vladimir Ducasse
  • Round 4, Pick 112 – Joe McKnight
  • Round 5, Pick 139 – John Conner

The jury is still very much out on this draft class but the early returns weren’t very good. Wilson struggled heavily his rookie year and barely contributed. Ducasse was beat out by Matt Slauson for the left guard spot and will now compete to be the starting right tackle. McKnight showed up to camp out of shape and didn’t give any meaningful reps all season. Conner showed potential and will be the starting fullback this season.

New York Jets 2011 Backfield Taking Shape

Tuesday was a day filled with news on the New York Jets running back position. From the various beat reports surrounding the team, we learned three things —

  1. LaDainian Tomlinson will be back in 2011 to finish out his contract.
  2. Despite returning, Tomlinson will be used in more of a complimentary role, with Shonn Greene becoming the feature back and Joe McKnight receiving more work on offense.
  3. John Conner will be the starting fullback in 2011.

None of these items of news are surprising and are logical decisions considering the age of everybody involved and how last season finished.

It is smart to bring Tomlinson back to maintain depth in the backfield. He is a valuable leader on the offense and is an excellent security blanket for Mark Sanchez. However, he shouldn’t be receiving anywhere near the number of carries he did last year as he faded pretty strongly down the stretch and is only getting older. Tomlinson can be a very valuable weapon in a complimentary role but it is Shonn Greene’s turn to really get a shot at being the feature back.

Considering Greene’s rushing style, he needs to be given 15-20 carries on a weekly basis to be the most effective. He never received that chance in 2010. Let’s see him get around 20 carries on a weekly basis so we can find out if he is our feature back of the future.

Joe McKnight was a major disappointment in his first year but the Jets held on to him because he was a fourth round pick. He gave the team some hope with his performance in week 17 but it is time to see what he can bring to this offense. Hopefully he is going to be the Jets long term third down/change of pace back and now he will gradually have the role handed to him from Tomlinson.

At fullback, the writing was on the wall for John Conner to take over for Tony Richardson when the season ended. Conner got a full year learning behind one of the best in the business at his position and should be ready to start now. Richardson, a class act and true professional, will likely now retire after a long, successful NFL career.

Give us something next year, McKnight

New York Jets 2010 Draft Class Needs To Grow Up

This past season wasn’t a productive one for the Jets rookies. Mike Tannenbaum has hit on his share of picks since becoming the Jets GM but the early returns on the 2010 draft class weren’t very promising. Let’s take a look back at what they did but more importantly what they are going to need to do in 2011 for the Jets to remain a top team in the AFC —

Kyle Wilson – 21 tackles, 5 passes defenses, 7.4 yards per punt return, 300 pass interference penalties

Before the season started, Rex Ryan declared Kyle Wilson his starting nickel and top punt returner. In the summer, he said the Jets could survive without Darelle Revis because Wilson had shown so much promise…um, not exactly. Wilson struggled heavily in coverage and was eventually passed on the depth chart by Drew Coleman and he also never looked comfortable on punt returns. It is too early to call Wilson a bust but he clearly needs to re-adjust his game to the NFL level and learn how to play the football in the air.

I wouldn’t be shocked if Drew Coleman wasn’t back in 2011 and there is also a chance Antonio Cromartie might not return. Either way, the coaching staff is going to give Wilson another shot to at least be the full time nickel corner. The Jets need him to develop so slot receivers can stop slicing them apart in the middle of the field. Wilson also needs to pick it up as a punt returner so the Jets don’t have to risk Jerricho Cotchery (who could be a starter again if Braylon Edwards leaves) or Santonio Holmes back there.

Vladimir Ducasse – 1 King Ugly Runner-Up Award

Winning the King Ugly Runner-Up Award in training camp was about the most memorable moment of the season for Vladimir Ducasse. He clearly wasn’t ready to compete for the starting guard job in August and Matt Slauson held the position down well all year. There is a good chance Ducasse will have a chance to compete with Wayne Hunter for the starting right tackle spot this year, if the Jets decide to let Damien Woody walk. If Ducasse can’t win that job, you would hope he shows enough progress to at least contribute in their big packages and provide decent depth.

Joe McKnight – 39 carries, 189 yards, 3 receptions, 20 yards, plenty of vomit

Joe McKnight didn’t show up to rookie minicamp ready to play and it was really all down hill from there. He couldn’t protect the ball in the pre-season and was buried on the inactive list for most the year. McKnight did show some promise on special teams toward the end of the season and played well in the Jets regular season finale against Buffalo.

There is a good chance that Brad Smith won’t be back and also a small chance LaDainian Tomlinson won’t return in 2011. Either way, the Jets will need McKnight to take a bigger role on the offense and special teams. Tomlinson can’t handle as many touches on offense and McKnight needs to show his ability to be a dual threat as a runner/receiver the Jets drafted him for.

John Conner – 8 carries, 44 yards, 1 touchdown, 1,000,000 compliments from Rex Ryan

For a player who did so little this year, Conner gets a ton of hype. However, to be fair Tony Richardson put together another solid year at the fullback position and it is a good thing that Conner had a full season to be mentored by him. He did show a ton of potential in the pre-season and should be the Jets fullback for a long, long time or for at least as long as Rex Ryan is around. I am anxious to see him be a starter and hope he learned plenty from Richardson.

TOJ's Initial Thoughts On Jets 2011 Offensive Depth Chart

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Just throwing it out there at the earliest possible point in the off-season on what I think the New York Jets line-up could look like on both sides of the ball in 2011, I will update this a few times before free agency starts (if it starts), for today here is the offense…

Offense

Quarterback – Mark Sanchez, Kellen Clemens, Veteran Free Agent – It is good to have a franchise quarterback in place and not be like the Dolphins and have to draft one in the second round every two years and then watch him play so poorly, you are talking yourself into Tyler Thigpen being a viable option. The Jets do need to address the backup situation, unless they suddenly found confidence in Kellen Clemens.

Running Backs – Shonn Greene, LaDainain Tomlinson, Joe McKnight – In the end, I think Tomlinson will be back for year two of his contract but he needs a reduced role in the offense. Did you see how Shonn Greene ran against Pittsburgh? He needs the chance to get 17-20 carries each week, every week from week one on. Joe McKnight also needs a bigger role in the offense, as long as he doesn’t spend his off-season eating McDonalds and playing NCAA on Playstation. Tomlinson has value as a pass catcher out of the backfield and getting 8-10 carries a game next year.

Fullback – John Conner – He had a full year to learn behind one of the best in the business in Tony Richardson…now it is his time to take over.

Wide Receiver – Santonio Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith, Patrick Turner – I hope I’m wrong but in the end I don’t think the Jets will be able to bring back both Holmes and Braylon Edwards. However, I do think they can get Holmes and Smith back. Patrick Turner has some size and potential and could be a steady contributor next year. Cotchery is more than capable of handling the number two spot.

Tight Ends – Dustin Keller, Ben Hartsock, Jeff Cumberland – The Jets kept Cumberland on the 53 man roster all of this year without making active once (excluding the Buffalo game), so you have to figure he will get a chance to factor in the passing game this year. As a matter of fact, I can already hear Mike Tannenbaum justifying let Braylon Edwards walk by saying they expect big things from Turner and Cumberland.

Offensive Line – D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Brandon Moore, Nick Mangold, Matt Slauson, Wayne Hunter/Vladimir Ducasse, Rob Turner – I am calling it right now that the Jets will re-sign Wayne Hunter and have him compete with Vladimir Ducasse for the starting right tackle spot, after making the tough decision to let Damien Woody walk. Matt Slauson will remain the starter at guard and Rob Turner will be the top backup at guard and center.

Overall – The Jets focus on the off-season will be on the other side of the football. They will attempt to save money on offense by letting Edwards and Woody walk and hoping that Turner and Cumberland can pick up the production at receiver/tight end and that Hunter or Ducasse can take over at right tackle full time.

Jets vs. Pats: Scary Thoughts On Patriots Tight Ends & 2010 Draft Class

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The biggest concern for the Jets this Monday night is slowing down New England’s two rookie tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. I say this because of how awful the Jets have been at defending the tight end throughout the year and how productive the two players have been, including a 100 yard performance from Hernandez in week two against the Jets.

Wes Welker is obviously dangerous in the slot, but the Jets can move Darrelle Revis over to him in key third downs or even have him track Welker for the bulk of the game. Deion Branch has been very good since coming over from Seattle but is nothing Antonio Cromartie can’t handle. It is Gronkowski and Hernandez who really have the potential to keep the New England offense on the field, chewing up yards and racking up points.

The two tight ends are part of an impressive rookie class the Patriots have assembled, which is even more disconcerting considering how the Jets 2010 draft class is looking so far.

Look at the comparison –

New England

  • Corner – Devin McCourty – 61 tackles, 5 INTs, 12 PDs
  • Tight End – Rob Gronkowski – 25 receptions, 310 yards, 6 TDs
  • Tight End – Aaron Hernandez – 36 receptions, 462 yards, 3 TDs
  • Linebacker – Brandon Spikes – 54 tackles
  • Punter – Zoltan Mesko – 43.7 yards net average
  • Linebacker – Jermaine Cunningham – 26 tackles, 1 sack

Jets

  • Corner – Kyle Wilson – 20 tackles, 4 PDs
  • Guard – Vladimir Ducasse – Inactive every week but one
  • Running Back – Joe McKnight – Normally inactive, 4 carries, 12 yards
  • Fullback – John Conner – 2 receptions, 9 yards

Let’s be honest, to this point Wilson, Ducasse, and McKnight have all been major disappointments. Drew Coleman has outplayed Wilson all season, who has struggled both at corner and punt returner. Ducasse was easily beaten out by Matt Slauson in training camp for the starting guard job and is the team’s 3rd backup OL behind Wayne Hunter and Robert Turner. McKnight…well, what can you even say about him? At least we have The Terminator leading the way for years to come at fullback.

You have to give the Patriots credit for putting together a strong group of selections in 2009. The last time I checked they have about 49 picks in the first 3 rounds next year, so we can only hope they will go back to drafting the Chad Jacksons and Laurence Maroneys of the world.

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