New York Jets Fact or False: Week 13 Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly Fact or False, previewing Jets vs. Cardinals

My, what a wild year it has been in Jets land (what else is new?). After a strong showing at opening day at MetLife Stadium back in September, when the Jets romped the Bills 48-28 to begin the 2012 season (Yes, that game actually occurred in the same season as this), the New York Jets have progressively fallen far from grace. In week 2 the Jets went into Pittsburgh without their All-World defensive back, Darrelle Revis, and despite coming out strong on the opening drive, ultimately fell to the Steelers at Heinz Field 27-10. Since then, New York hasn’t mustered up one convincing win, while being blown out 3 times at home. Although the Jets have had to deal with injuries to two essential players (Revis and Wide Receiver Santonio Holmes), this team’s total lack of depth and talent has put their fans in an uproar, and rightfully so. Sure, the Jets held their own against two of the AFC’s top teams when they hosted the Houston Texans in week 5 and when they took the Patriots to overtime in Foxboro in week 7.

However, the games the Jets have been able to win this season have been against far inferior opponents. Buffalo, Miami, and St. Louis have a combined recored of 13-19-1. Indianapolis came to New York with their rookie quarterback Andrew Luck having to face a Rex Ryan defense for the first time in his career. Luck will be great, but it is a daunting task for a rookie to solve the puzzle that is Ryan’s defensive scheme on the road. To put it into perspective, the 2012 Jets, although not horrendous, are simply a poor football team.

This column has been dedicated to making a handful of predictions based on past games, tendencies, and matchups for each week – predictions that have often failed to come to fruition. Last week, we observed what the Jets needed to do against the Patriots on Thanksgiving in order for them to upset their longtime foe. Looking back, they really failed to do any of these things.

Since it has become nearly impossible to predict what this team will do in terms of game plan (see Tebow, Tim; week 12…actually all season), execution, and outcome, this column will now focus on key points, all of which the Jets must achieve to have any chance of reigning victorious again this year.

This week’s New York Jets Fact or False will focus primarily on how the Jets need to attack their upcoming opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, what matchups will be crucial, and who needs to come to play, in order for New York to put patch one of the holes of the sinking ship that is their 2012 season. This team is all but guaranteed to not reach the playoffs this season, but the Jets can certainly do their best to salvage what is left of this mess and head into 2013 on the right foot. Whether or not they can do that, however, will depend on how they perform from top to bottom in these remaining five weeks. Let’s take a look at Arizona.

The Jets’ active rookie wide receivers need to step up big this week. Fact. As depleted as this team’s receiving corps has been all season, think about this for a second: Clyde Gates has been ruled out for Sunday’s contest, creating a serious issue at wide receiver. Wow. After week 1, would you have ever thought that this is what we’d be analyzing heading into week 13? Unfortunately for New York, however, that is exactly where the Jets stand. Aside from Gates, Chaz Schilens is questionable with concussion symptoms, and Jeremy Kerley (the only receiver who has been somewhat productive this season) is still hampering a leg injury.

While it is a scary thought that the Jets could potentially be starting a receiving corps led by Kerley and rookies Stephen Hill and Jordan White, this could be a blessing in disguise. While no one should expect this group to be world beaters, it is essential to see if Sanchez can develop some chemistry with his young passing options. Stephen Hill started 2012 with a bang, hauling in 5 balls for 89 yards and 2 touchdowns in the season opener against Buffalo. Since then, however, Hill has hit the growing pains that we all expected him to heading into this season. All is certainly not lost for the promising rookie with tremendous upside out of Georgia Tech, so getting him touches the rest of the way this year will be crucial to his development.

Jordan White is a player who has been on the radar here at Turn On The Jets since New York selected him with their final pick in this year’s draft. A highly productive college player, White stood out in our post draft evaluation due to his high football IQ, strong route running, and ability to catch balls in traffic. It was expected that he may take a bit to come around, but on a team in need of hope in week 13, White could start his campaign to give some promise to this team’s depleted group of skill players.

Now, it would be foolish to think that White is going to come out in his first game and light up Arizona, prompting a surplus of waiver wire claims from fantasy football league owner’s heading into their respective playoffs. However, White is fully capable of catching anywhere from 2-5 passes this week, while beginning to gain some momentum in an attempt to be a long term asset to this roster.

Regardless, the Jets need these two to not play like wide-eyed rookies this week, but instead play with a certain level of confidence and reliability, so they can provide some security to Mark Sanchez, who desperately needs it. If Kerley and Schilens are a go, they will likely start, but do not be surprised to see Sanchez target the youngsters to gauge where they are at as he tries to find some continuity in these final 5 weeks. If this offense looks to have momentum heading into next season, it starts with these young players at receiver stepping up and asserting some kind of presence this Sunday.

The Jets need to get Mark Sanchez airing it out on Sunday. False. While the Jets do need to see some signs of life from Sanchez, following one of his most horrific performances,in terms of ball security, last week, the key to being successful on offense remains the same as it has been since Sanchez arrived in New York – a strong running effort, with a limited amount of drop backs. Look at the Jets two most convincing victories this season, against Indianapolis and at St. Louis. Sanchez was 11 for 18 for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns and 15 for 20 for 178 yards and 1 touchdown, respectively. What do you notice about those numbers? That’s correct, no turnovers.

The Jets ground attack during those two games, however, was on point. Although the total rushing yardage against St. Louis was not eye opening – 124 total yards – the Jets stuck to a successful formula of a running back by committee approach. Bilal Powell was able to record his first two career touchdowns in that contest, primarily because Tony Sparano took some risks in obvious passing situations in the red zone by giving Powell the carries, and it paid dividends.

The bottom line is, the more Sanchez is asked to throw, the more likely it is for him to commit a mistake and turn the ball over. New York needs to give him a strong running effort once again, while allowing him to make some high percentage throws on slants, play action passes, and designed roll outs. If the Jets can limit him anywhere between 20-25 attempts, while running the ball 35-45 times, not only will they be helping Sanchez regain some much needed confidence, but they will also be putting themselves in the best position to win. Is it ideal to have to game plan like this with a fourth year quarterback? Of course not, but at this point the reality is that Sanchez has performed poorly, and has a depleted group of receivers to throw to. If the Jets can stay grounded this week, they will control the clock and field position, while keeping their defense off of the field.

The Jets defense needs to come up with a surplus of quarterback sacks and hits. Fact. New York’s pass rush has been absolutely horrendous over the past five seasons, mostly because they have done a poor job of outside and self scouting at vital pass rushing positions during that time. However, Arizona ranks dead last in sacks allowed throughout the entire league this season, and they will be starting a rookie quarterback on Sunday. Remember what we said about that Andrew Luck guy? Ryan Lindley isn’t anywhere near the type of player that Luck is, but he does have a solid group of wide receivers to throw to against a very shaky Jets secondary. If he is given ample time to throw the ball, he will make plays.

Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples will be licking their chops when they line up against this poor offensive line on Sunday. However, they will need support from the linebacking corps in order to establish a strong pass rush. All season long, these two have been hampered as a result of facing a vast amount of double teams, due to the complete lack of a pass rush from the outside and inside linebackers. Whether it is the dinosaurs that are Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas, Garret McIntyre, or DeMario Davis, the Jets need to find a way to get Arizona’s attention off of Wilkerson and Coples, so they can be put in man blocking situations. If New York can rattle the cage of Lindley early, and throughout the course of the game, this offense should not be able to move the ball. If they let him sit in the pocket and gain comfort, however, it will likely be another week of excuses, pouting, outrage, and turmoil heading into week 14.

The Jets need to focus primarily on Larry Fitzgerald to shut down Arizona’s passing attack. False. Aside from getting to the quarterback, the Jets need a strong game plan against the Cardinals’ number 2 and 3 receivers. Andre Roberts has been very productive for a team with the poorest quarterback situation in the league this season, accounting for 50 receptions, a team high 639 yards, and another team high 5 touchdowns. Michael Floyd and Early Doucet are two players who haven’t had the productivity of Roberts this year, but are highly skilled. Each of these receivers have the ability to exploit the embattled Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster. Aside from getting to the quarterback, New York needs to figure a way to neutralize these two, primarily from scheme. If the Jets expect to put Wilson and Lankster in man coverage on Sunday, without generating a pass rush, they will not win this game., plain and simple.

Dustin Keller needs to establish a veteran presence and allow Sanchez to lean on him. Fact. Lost in the disaster that has become the 2012 Jets is the player that Mark Sanchez became comfortable looking toward in previous times of struggle. Although Keller is second on the team in receptions, that number is a mere 26. 26 catches from a player who was thought to be Sanchez’s go to guy. While he has been hampered by injury for the majority of the season, Sanchez is usually the most efficient when Keller gets going. Look at the first matchup against New England. Many will refuse to admit this, but Sanchez played one of the best games of his career, prior to overtime, that week. A lot of that success has to do with Keller’s strong day of catching all 7 passes thrown his way for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Now, it is unfair to blame this lack of production on Keller. The lack of receiving threats on this team makes him an easy focus of opposing defenses. However, he needs to find a way to get open and give Sanchez that much needed security. If Keller can get going with some early catches to move the chains, Sanchez’s confidence will only grow as the game progresses. As of right now, aside from the run game, Keller is the straw that stirs the drink on this team’s offense. If he can get some early receptions, Arizona will be forced to shift their coverage toward him, allowing ample opportunity for those young receivers to get open and make plays. Sanchez, in the meantime, will only be able to grow on all accounts because of this. Yes, he should be limited to no more than 25 passing attempts, but each of those 25 will be critical. The Jets’ quarterback has no margin for error anymore. Most people are ready to write him off as the New York’s signal caller. Whether or not this is just, it is the harsh reality of the NFL and particularly of professional sports in New York. Dustin Keller can help Sanchez slowly climb out of the abyss with a strong performance this week.

The Jets cannot afford any more Special Teams blunders. Fact. There is no need to explain this one. The Jets’ Special Teams has been horrendous for the majority of the season. With a struggling offense and a defense that has had its troubles getting off the field on third downs, special teams mishaps are a recipe for the perfect disaster. This needs to be turned around immediately. Period.

 

New York Jets – Look Towards Future At Wide Receiver

The New York Jets can’t make a knee jerk reaction at wide receiver

There are unconfirmed reports that New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes is out for the season with a foot injury. Even if the news proves to be untrue, it is unrealistic to expect Holmes back before December considering how long his medical results are taking to be announced. This news has led many Jets fans to throw out names in desperation knee jerk reactions –

Plaxico Burress? It isn’t happening. Burress was a disaster scene in the Jets locker room last season. The team not bringing him back goes beyond being concerned about Mark Sanchez’s feelings as some have suggested. Burress was problematic for the whole offense. There is a reason he hasn’t been signed by anybody yet and has literally worked out for one team since the season ended. Outside of the off the field issues, he can’t get separation anymore. His skill set is not worth the headache. People go crazy about his 8 touchdowns last year. I have news for you 3 came in one game against San Diego, two came in garbage time, one against Oakland and one against Philadelphia. You take away the Chargers game, he had 3 meaningful touchdowns in 15 games.

Chad Ochocinco? Terrell Owens? Neither player is worth the side show. There is no reason for a long paragraph since neither is capable of being a productive NFL receiver at this point of their career.

It is time to face the reality that the New York Jets roster needs to be completely rebuilt. Why not start now? If you acquire a wide receiver, go trade for a young receiver with long term upside. A type of player like James Jones, who the Jets should have traded for this off-season but now might not be able to be had because of how productive he has been and because of Greg Jennings injury problems.

The other option is to let the young players play. You drafted Stephen Hill in the 2nd round. No, he isn’t ready to be a full time NFL receiver yet but you might as well give him those reps now and let him work through the mistakes. He needs to be your opening day starter in 2013 or you wasted another 2nd round pick, just like you did with Vladimir Ducasse and Kellen Clemens. Jeremy Kerley is a very talented slot receiver, figure out the best way to use him and make sure he is ready to fulfill his potential next season in the slot and as a rushing option.

Chaz Schilens has looked good in limited duty through four games. Play him and maybe he gives you a productive season. Now you have another option heading into next year, now you are building depth on your roster. Bring 7th round pick Jordan White back and let him play 20 plays a game, maybe he develops…maybe he doesn’t but at least you are giving reps to one of your rookie draft picks and not a 37 year old veteran with no future.

Don’t dump money away. You have needs all over the field to fill next off-season. Let your draft picks play and hope they fulfill their potential.

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch: Pre-Season Opener Edition

Mike Donnelly’s stock watch is buying and selling for the New York Jets pre-season opener this Friday

Mike Donnelly is back with his weekly Stock Watch. If you missed it earlier today, check out his piece on fantasy football. Chris Gross also had a great read on Aaron Maybin and yours truly looked at the Jets lack of depth on offense. Yes, we are getting after it here…and yes you should be celebrating the return of Jets football in 3 days by rocking this new shirt –  

With the Jets first preseason game a mere three days away, fans everywhere have been stricken with a major case of Jets-fever. No matter where you look, whether its the TV, Twitter, Jets forums, the radio, this website, or wherever else, people want to discuss all of the ins and outs of the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets. This week’s Stock Watch is going to focus on the players and storylines that I’m looking forward to in these preseason games.

BUY: Bilal Powell – The second-year RB was written off by virtually everyone heading into the season, but has by all accounts shown some great ability during training camp. Despite being held down on the ground in last week’s green and white scrimmage (3 offensive linemen were out and he was facing arguably the league’s top D), he did still manage to score a touchdown on a short pass from Mark Sanchez. I’m looking forward to seeing how he handles reps with the first team against some live competition.

SELL: The WR Situation – This has been discussed a ton lately, including on this very site, but it bears watching. The wide receiver situation right now is downright abysmal. With 3 projected top receivers Santonio Holmes, Chaz Schilens, Jeremy Kerley all suffering from injuries we are looking at Stephen Hill and Patrick Turner as the #1 and #2 receivers heading into these pre-season games. Look for a veteran to be brought in after the first wave of cuts around the league, but for now, this position is not looking too strong to say the least.

BUY: Jordan White – All that being said about the WR position being so weak is definitely true, but if there’s a silver lining it is that young players such as 7th round pick Jordan White will get a chance to shine. Our very own Chris Gross was extremely high on this prospect and we’re going to see just how right (or horribly, horribly wrong) he was in projecting White’s talents.

SELL: Austin Howard – With Wayne Hunter banged up, you have to figure Austin Howard is going to get extended looks with the first team unit. Mike Tannenbaum has been talking Howard up for months now, but at this point it’s hard to take him seriously when it comes to these bottom of the roster players. I just don’t think Austin Howard is that good, and I don’t want to see him in there blocking for The Sanchize.

BUY: Quinton Coples – Coples has apparently come alive in a big way the past few days, first with a solid performance in the Green & White Scrimmage, and then again the day of the Brawl to End All Brawls, as he managed to sack quarterback Tim Tebow twice. I am very excited to see our first round pick in some live action.

BUY: Kenrick Ellis – Ellis is definitely going to get extended playing time throughout the preseason and I’m very excited to see how the massive nose tackle has developed heading into year 2. He has the natural ability to be a major contributor on the defensive line, and a strong preseason could really springboard him into more playing time once the games count for real.

BUY: Ricky Sapp – We’ve been talking him up here for months, and doubled down on buying his stock recently, and I for one am very excited about seeing him in action. I think he is going to really play well against the second and third stringers that he will be up against this week and earn himself some more reps with the big boys in coming weeks. He has a lot of potential and could end up playing a key role for the defense before too long.

BUY: The Safeties (Except Eric Smith, obviously) – I’m sure I’m not the only one excited to see our new safety corps in action, particularly LaRon Landry. I know after watching Jets safeties last year, it seems as though ANYBODY would be an upgrade, but this new duo of Landry and Yeremiah Bell could actually be considered very good if they stay healthy and play up to their potential. I’m also very excited to see impressive rookie Antonio Allen in action. We have potentially gone from zero good safeties to 3 or 4. That is very encouraging.

SELL: Injuries – Let’s all just keep our fingers crossed that the Jets don’t suffer any more injuries this preseason. We’ve been fortunate enough to not witness anything too serious yet, and let’s hope it stays that way.

New York Jets: WR Depth A Serious Concern

Chris Gross takes a closer look at the New York Jets depth issues at wide receiver

Among the positives that came out of yesterday’s Green and White scrimmage for the New York Jets, eyes were opened to a serious concern when starting Wide Receiver Santonio Holmes was sidelined with what was originally thought to be a fractured rib. X-rays have reportedly come back negative on Holmes, who is listed as day to day, however, with Mark Sanchez’s primary target down, it became truly evident how thin the Jets are at the Wide Receiver position.

Other than Holmes and Tight End Dustin Keller, there is an alarming lack of experience on the roster. Hopes are high for rookie Stephen Hill, but coming from a triple option offense at Georgia Tech, combined with the fact that he has never taken a single NFL snap, it is far too early to depend on him to carry the workload in the receiving corps. Jeremy Kerley had a very promising rookie campaign last season, but he’s been put in Rex Ryan’s dog house in the early days of training camp for what seems to be a conditioning issue. Regardless, Kerley is much more of a slot type receiver, who may not be very serviceable if plugged into the first or second spot on the depth chart.

Among the other receivers on the roster, newcomer Chaz Schilens has the most experience with four NFL seasons under his belt, however, his career has been plagued by injuries, having played a full 16 games in only his rookie season. Patrick Turner showed some positive signs at the end of last year, hauling in a touchdown in the season finale in Miami, but like many of his colleagues, he too has very little NFL experience, with just 20 games under his belt. Rookie Jordan White had an astounding college career at Western Michigan, but he has been hampered by a lingering foot injury during the first week of camp, so his potential level of production is still extremely hard to gauge.

To put it nicely, if Holmes were to miss significant time, New York would be more dependent on Sanchez and the run game than they have ever been. With this reality looming over the team, there is a good chance General Manager Mike Tannenbaum will look to bolster his group of receivers in some way, shape, or form. Certainly, trades are always a possibility with Tannenbaum, as he didn’t get the nickname “Trader Mike” because it has a nice ring to it. However with very few, if any, realistic trade scenarios out there, the most logical step would be to look at who remains in Free Agency. While there is certainly no abundance of talent left on the open market, New York could use, at the least, a veteran presence in its receiving corps. Here are some names to keep in mind in the coming weeks:

Greg Camarillo – 2011 Team: Minnesota Vikings, Stats: 13 GP, 9 receptions, 121 yards, 0 Touchdowns. 

Camarillo is coming off of his worst statistical season as a pro last year with the Vikings. However, the Quarterback situation in Minnesota was comparable to that of the Jacksonville Jaguars, simply atrocious. Donovan McNabb was released by December, and rookie Christian Ponder struggled greatly at times. However, Camarillo has a great sense of familiarity with new Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano’s system. The sixth year veteran out of Stanford played for Sparano during his first two seasons at the Miami Dolphins’ Head Coach, and accumulated the two most productive seasons in his career. In the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Camarillo played in a combined 27 games, while catching 105 balls for 1,165 yards and 2 touchdowns. Although these numbers aren’t jumping off of the stat sheets, this level of production looks impressive when compared to what is behind Holmes, if Camarillo can return to that under Sparano. The reliable target (0 drops in 2009) would likely come at a very cheap price as well. Tannenbaum may be picking up the phone to get him in for a workout at some point in the near future.

Mike Sims-Walker – 2011 Team: St. Louis Rams/Jacksonville Jaguars, Stats: 6 GP, 12 receptions, 150 yards, 0 Touchdowns (Season ending knee injury).

Sims-Walker faced a bit of a rough patch in his career last season, having played in just 6 games. However, before being hit by the injury bug, he was quite productive in 2009 and 2010 for Jacksonville, having played in 29 games while catching 106 passes for 1,431 yards and 14 touchdowns. Sims-Walker worked out for the Houston Texans in June, and reportedly looked healthy and impressive according to Head Coach Gary Kubiak. Concerns over his knee are likely why Sims-Walker remains a free agent, but he could be worth a glance.

Roy E. Williams – 2011 Team: Chicago Bears, Stats: 15 GP, 37 receptions, 507 yards, 2 Touchdowns.

Of the remaining free agents, Williams has probably been the most productive over the course of his career (393 receptions, 5,715 yards, 44 touchdowns), however he has been bounced around between Detroit, Dallas, and most recently, Chicago since becoming the 7th overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft. At 6’3” 215 lbs, Williams has the physical ability to contribute as a solid run blocker, something that is crucial in this offense, but he must be willing to do so. At 30 years old, he likely has some decent football left in him, and the Jets could certainly look his way as well.

Bernard Berrian – 2011 Team: Minnesota Vikings, Stats: 5 GP, 7 receptions, 91 yards, 0 Touchdowns.

Berrian hasn’t played a full 16 game season since 2009, which was also the last time he caught a touchdown. After signing a $42 million dollar contract with Minnesota in 2008, Berrian was productive early for the Vikings (103 receptions, 1,582 yards, 11 touchdowns over 2008-2009 seasons combined). Unfortunately, like many of the others, he has been nagged by injuries lately, making him simply irrelevant. New York would be much better suited looking to one of the previous three, before kicking the tires on Berrian.

Anthony Gonzalez – 2011 Team: Indianapolis Colts, Stats: 8 GP, 0 receptions, 0 yards, 0 Touchdowns.

While the Quarterback situation in Indianapolis last year was well below par, Gonzalez has played in just 11 games over the past 3 seasons. He was signed by New England earlier this offseason, but was released prior to training camp due to lingering injuries. His career is seemingly over.

Terrell Owens – 2011 Team: Allen Wranglers (Indoor Football League), Stats: 8 GP, 35 receptions, 420 yards, 10 Touchdowns.

This is simply not going to happen. New York is trying to repair their public image and what many consider a fractured locker room, not further tarnish it.

Plaxico Burress – 2011 Team: New York Jets, Stats: 16 GP, 45 receptions, 612 yards, 8 Touchdowns.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently had a sit down with Burress, whom he reported to be in tremendous shape. While he was very productive in the red zone for the Jets last season, New York has simply moved on. Burress was publicly critical of Mark Sanchez and the organization after the conclusion of last season, yet still remains without a job. A reunion can be ruled out by nearly 100 percent.

It will be very interesting to see how this situation plays out in New York. The Jets have to be aware of the lack of experience on the depth chart behind Holmes and will likely look at some of the names mentioned above. While nothing is imminent, Mike Tannenbaum could be picking up the phone in a couple of weeks, particularly if the receiving corps does not impress in the early preseason games.

GET YOUR TOJ SHIRT NOW

New York Jets: Wide Receiver Remains Unclear

Do the New York Jets have enough at wide receiver this season?

Earlier today New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie commented he could be the second best wide receiver on the team’s roster. While there is nothing wrong with Cromartie having confidence and yes he probably could be a pretty damn good receiver if he committed to it, it was an unnecessary public remark. It comes across as disrespectful towards Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens and the other receivers on the roster.

However, Cromartie is on to an issue at the wide receiver position for the New York Jets. Outside of Santonio Holmes, this unit is lacking in experience and is full of very valid question marks. The next four receivers on the depth chart have a combined 111 receptions for their entire careers.

Rookie Stephen Hill is the presumed number two wideout and starting “X” receiver. Hill has looked impressive in camp so far but is still coming out of a triple option offense in college. His size and speed are impossible to ignore but the Jets could get themselves into trouble by throwing too much at him early in the season.

Second year receiver Jeremy Kerley seemed to be a lock for the slot receiver/number three position on the depth chart but a hamstring injury and a spot in Rex Ryan’s doghouse has put that into question. You never want to hear a coach publicly getting on a player for a poor off-season. If Kerley doesn’t get healthy and improve his play, the Jets could slide Holmes into the slot in three wide formations and let Chaz Schilens play on the outside.

Unfortunately for that plan, Schilens has been struggling with drops in camp and is now nursing a minor groin injury. Behind him on the depth chart is Patrick Turner who hasn’t made any noticeable impressions so far in camp or in any of the previous OTAs.

The inconsistencies at the top of the depth chart could lead to opportunities for players like Dexter Jackson and seventh round pick Jordan White. In particular, White who we are very high on has the ideal skill set to slide into the slot receiver role if Kerley struggles. You don’t catch 140 passes in a single season by accident, which is exactly what White did at Western Michigan last year.

The Jets could still add a veteran but unless a serious injury occurs that remains unlikely. It would be hard for a player off the scrap heap to pick up the offense on such short notice and the list of options out there isn’t very impressive with Braylon Edwards now in Seattle. They will also be relying on Dustin Keller as a primary pass catching option, although when they split him out they still lack a viable blocking tight end to keep in for protection (remember Wayne Hunter is still the right tackle).

Ultimately it will likely be up to Hill to grow up fast, Holmes to play like a true number one receiver and one other receiver to assert themselves as a consistent playmaker. It will be interesting to see who that player is in the coming weeks.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Offseason Review Edition

Chris Gross Fact or False reviews off-season predictions for the New York Jets and sees what was right heading into training camp

Staff Writer Chris Gross looks back at the previous few months of Fact or False to see how the off-season developed for the New York Jets and what predictions were on point or completely off-base. Make sure to follow Chris on Twitter – 

With the 2012 NFL Offseason finally in the books, it is only fitting that we take a look back at our first 10 editions of New York Jets Fact Or False and review which predictions went wrong, as well as which ones seem to have held up thus far. Certainly, few, if any, of these predictions will not be resolved until the conclusion of the season, but for now, let’s use the beginning of training camp as a check point to see how we are doing. For this week’s edition, we look at the 6 most prevalent issues that we predicted, and explain why or how they look to be on point, or completely lost.

TOJ SHIRTS AVAILABLE NOW – TURN THE SWAG ON FOR TRAINING CAMP

From May 17th, 2012 –

What we said then:

1.) Darrelle Revis will hold out again. False. Outcome: Correct. 

Why we were right: The heart of my argument against a Revis holdout was that, as a team leader, Revis would not be selfish enough to abandon his team when it needed him the most. The importance of Revis’s presence in Cortland goes far beyond his play. He is the most accomplished New York Jet, and arguably the most idolized on the team. For him to be vacant during training camp, the most important time for the development of team chemistry, would not only be detrimental to the team, it would paint a very negative light of number 24, particularly after how last season ended.

While this likely weighed on Revis’s decision to ultimately not hold out and report to camp on time, the most probable reason for Revis showing up is a clause in his contract. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that the clause in the extension Revis signed two seasons ago would extend the remaining two seasons left on Revis’s deal to a total of five more years had he held out. Therefore, if Revis missed one day of camp, he would not be a free agent for another five seasons, thus killing any chance of a huge extension for the All-Pro Cornerback in the near future. So, while it is nice to think that Revis is reporting to camp because he is an excellent teammate and leader, it is more likely that he realized showing up will ultimately benefit him financially. Either way, Revis Island is in Cortland this season.

2.) The New York Jets will add a Right Tackle in Free Agency. False. Outcome: Incorrect*

The asterisk is for the technicality that, based on the exact wording, we were actually correct. The Jets did not bring in a Right Tackle via Free Agency to compete with Wayne Hunter for the starting job. However, they did add a Right Tackle via trade earlier this week when Mike Tannenbaum swung a deal with Carolina for former first round pick Jeff Otah. However, the point of this argument was that the Jets were content heading into the season with Hunter and Vlad Ducasse battling it out for the starting RT job, therefore, other than the technicality, our main point was incorrect.

Why we were wrong:

Simple. The Jets, regardless of how many times they argued it, do not feel comfortable with Hunter and Ducasse as their primary options at Right Tackle, and rightfully so. Hunter had an atrocious year last season, and was a primary reason for most of the struggles of Mark Sanchez and the offense. Ducasse, on the other hand, will now likely get the majority of his reps at guard, which will seemingly be his last stop before the bus comes to take him to the land of the Vernon Gholston’s.

Tannenbaum realized he needed to, at the least, get legitimate competition for Hunter. If Otah is healthy, he will certainly provide that competition, and will likely win the battle, based on talent alone. However, that is a huge “if,” so Jets fans should not be excited about Otah until he proves to be durable, something he has failed to do thus far in his young career.

From May 31st, 2012-

What we said then:

3.) Jordan White will make an impact as a rookie. Fact. Outcome: Seemingly Incorrect.

Why we were wrong: This is another one that will still not be settled until the season officially kicks off. However, with his recent foot injury causing him to miss mini-camps and OTAs, White is very far behind the 8-ball heading into training camp. Chaz Schillens reportedly stood out during mini-camp, which does not bode well for White. While I do think he will still make the active roster at some point during the year, based on how far behind he will begin the season, a significant impact does not seem as likely as it once did following the NFL Draft. However, crazier things have happened, and with White’s work ethic, I still wouldn’t bet against him.

From June 14th, 2012-

What we said then:

Tim Tebow will be playing just about everything other than “traditional” Quarterback this seasonFact. Outcome: Correct. 

Why we were right: Again, this could be one that changes by midseason, but for now it looks like we were dead on with this proclamation. Other than the fact that Tebow has taken practice reps at personal protector on the punt team, as well as reps at Running Back, reports are now coming out that he may be used on both Kickoff and Kickoff Return teams. Our argument here, as it has always been, is that a player who is expected to see significant time as a “traditional” Quarterback does not see a down of Special Teams play, especially on such high impact teams like Kickoff and Kickoff Return. Until we see Tebow under center in an every down role, our position here remains firm: Mark Sanchez is the Quarterback of the New York Jets, while Tim Tebow is an effective role player.

5.) Santonio Holmes is still the team villain. Fact. Outcome: Correct.

Why we were right: Santonio Holmes is still public enemy number 1, the guy everyone loves to hate. Is this really a surprise to anyone? Holmes has tried his best to keep himself out of a negative light in the eyes of the public this offseason, yet has still failed to do so. Stemming from his notorious back page on the New York Daily News early this offseason, to his most recent comments regarding the New York media, Holmes cannot stop being the bad guy. Regardless of what he says or does, Tone will be painted in a negative light this year, until he proves to have repaired his relationship with Sanchez, and returns to his 2010 form, something we fully expect him to do here at Turn On The Jets. If Holmes can do this, while helping the Jets win games, then all of the negativity will likely be forgotten. Remember, winning cures all ailments. However, that is certainly in the distant future. For now, Holmes has to do his best to just remain quiet, otherwise he will likely find himself subject to headlines like this:

From June 28th, 2012-

What we said then:

Yeremiah Bell will provide more bang for the Jets buck than LaRon Landry. Fact. Outcome: Correct.

Why we were right: Simply, due to our reasoning. Again, this another one that is TBD, yet the argument we used here seems very on point for the start of training camp.

“This could easily turn if Landry stays healthy for the entire year, as New York obtained the Pro Bowl caliber player on a rather cheap one-year contract, however, like Schilens, Landry comes with serious durability concerns. When healthy, Landry has been extremely productive, but over the past two seasons, the former first round selection out of LSU has played in just 17 total games. Bell, on the other hand, has not missed a game in the past four seasons and has accumulated over 100 tackles in each. While the ex-Miami Dolphin was certainly a bit more of an under-the-radar signing than Landry, his impact will likely be much greater with the Jets defense this season due to his durability and production.” 

With Landry beginning camp on the active PUP list, along with being absent for mini-camp and OTA’s, one has to believe that Bell is going to be far ahead of him when he does finally suit up. While Landry could certainly be a fast learner, and should still contribute decently, it will likely be Bell that is noticed for having the superior season. Still, only time will tell.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Passing Game Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False looks at the New York Jets passing game

The New York Jets passing offense of 2012 will likely be one of the hottest topics in the NFL this season. Countless story lines centered around the heavily criticized Mark Sanchez, the polarizing Tim Tebow, and new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano are sure to have every major media outlet placing New York’s passing attack under the microscope. For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, lets examine what we should and should not expect from Sanchez, Tebow, and the rest of the bunch this season.

1.) Chaz Schilens will play a significant role this season. False. The Jets signed Schilens to a 1-year, $765,000 contract this off-season. Prior to the start of free agency, the only other receiver with significant playing time that would have been capable of starting opposite Santonio Holmes was Jeremy Kerley. While Kerley is certainly a very promising young talent, he is best suited as a number 3, slot type receiver, rather than a number 2. As a result, the Jets grabbed Schilens as a cheap, low risk option to add depth to their receiving corps. However, with the addition of second round pick Stephen Hill in this year’s draft, Schilens may struggle to find a spot on the roster.

Schilens and Hill are both similar in size, both around 6’4” in the 215-225 lb range. However, Hill has much more upside than Schilens due to his youth, big play ability, and willingness to block. This is not to say that Schilens will not display such attributes, however with his history, it is highly unlikely. Since entering the NFL in 2008, Schilens has had an injury-plagued career and has played in only 44 out of a possible 64 total NFL games. His production has been very sub par, as he has recorded just 72 catches for 902 yards over his brief four-year career in Oakland. Of course, a fresh start in New York could replenish Schilens, but don’t count on it.

Schilens was seemingly brought in for his size and speed, however with the addition of Hill, the Jets got a much better, younger player to add that dimension to their offense. Schilens will likely remain on the roster because he is such a cheap option, but if rookie Jordan White emerges during training camp, as I fully expect him to do, Schilens could find himself battling it out with Patrick Turner, Scotty McKnight, and a few others for the fifth receiver spot on the roster. Regardless of whether he makes it or not, I wouldn’t expect Schilens to contribute in a significant manner for the Jets this season.

2.) Rookie Stephen Hill will open up the passing offense early and often. Fact. While we all know Hill is certainly a raw product, having come from the triple option offense at Georgia Tech, the threat of his size and speed alone will add a new dimension to the passing game this season. While Hill should certainly develop into a more polished receiver as his career progresses, his fantastic size and speed (4.30 40 yard dash) will make him an immediate deep threat. Defenses will have no choice but to account for him, whether it be through double teams, or sliding their coverage toward him when he is on the field. This should, realistically, open up a great amount of underneath and sideline work for Holmes, Kerley, and Tight End Dustin Keller, which is where they have thrived in the past. Hill’s big play ability will be a plus for the Jets this season, not only in making those plays, but for what his presence alone will bring.

3.) Santonio Holmes will make the Pro Bowl this season. False. While it is highly likely that Holmes will improve drastically from last season, I wouldn’t bank on him making a Pro Bowl, at least for this year. Holmes has never been voted to the Hawaiian exhibition, and while there is certainly a first for everything, especially for a talent like #10, who many forget achieved a career high in touchdown receptions last season (8), the Jets will be going back to their ground and pound approach under Tony Sparano this year. Unfortunately, this is not exactly the philosophy that will statistically get a wide receiver a Pro Bowl nod.

However, elite talent knows no boundaries. Brandon Marshall made two Pro Bowls playing in this system in Miami, so if Holmes can re-establish himself to the level that earned him a Super Bowl MVP trophy in 2009, a Pro Bowl is certainly not out of the question in the future. For this year though, it could be tough for him to accumulate numbers worthy of the honor in the inaugural season of a new offensive system. Still, expect to see Holmes return to his 2010 form.

4.) Jordan White will make an impact as a rookie. Fact. Anyone who has read my rookie analysis series knows what I think of Jordan White. White is an extremely tough, hard working, determined player who put up a career of immense production at Western Michigan (306 receptions, 4,190 yards, 32 touchdowns). His route running ability and knowledge of the game is NFL ready, which will give him an immediate advantage heading into training camp. White will undoubtedly prove his worth on special teams, and not only do I expect him to make the active roster, but I would be shocked if he did not contribute to the offense at some point during the season. White is a player whose intelligence, work ethic, and reliability, could make him a perfect fit with Quarterback Mark Sanchez.

5.) Tim Tebow will become the starting quarterback at some point this season. False. Most people seem to be afraid to touch this issue because, like ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, they believe the fix is in for Tebow to dethrone Sanchez as the Jets starting quarterback. However, let’s all take a deep breath and think about this situation. People can say that the Jets brought in Tebow for the publicity factor that he would bring with him. While this could be the case, that does not mean they brought him in to be the starting quarterback. Regardless of what everyone thinks, Tebow will be a role player this year. Teams do not place players whom they feel are going to be their starting quarterback on special teams. In today’s NFL, that will simply never happen. There is far too much of a liability factor involved to be risking the health of your offensive general as a personal protector on the punt team. If the Jets seriously thought Tebow was going to beat out Sanchez, they would not even consider placing him anywhere other than an offensive formation.

The Jets have been criticized for bringing in Tebow, as many see this move as the team ultimately setting up Sanchez to fail. Yet, remember how New York was bashed after the Drew Stanton signing? Most observers felt this was yet another incompetent quarterback who would not realistically challenge Sanchez. The same people who stressed the importance to bring in competition to push Sanchez, highly due to the publicized notion that the organization babied their young quarterback, are now the ones who are criticizing the Tebow move. The Jets traded for arguably the hardest working, most encouraging player in all of professional football, who will undoubtedly push Mark Sanchez to get the most out of himself this season, not by breathing down his neck, but by providing stability behind him, while contributing as a significant role player, whether it be in the wildcat, as a running back, or as an H-back.

Like any backup quarterback, Tebow will be ready if Sanchez fails to get New York to where they need to be. However, that will not happen this season, nor is it why Tebow was brought to New York. He was brought here because he is a terrific overall football player, and an even better teammate, something greatly needed in a locker room that is currently being rebuilt. Tebow will certainly get his plays this year, but barring an injury, don’t expect to see #6 on the sidelines watching him run the every down offense.

6.) Mark Sanchez will silence all of his critics. Fact. Every hater of Sanchez and the Jets are on the edge of their seat waiting to see, not if, but when he will finally succumb to all the pressure and negativity, and pack it in, paving the way for Tim Tebow to enter and install the heroics he displayed in Denver last year. I apologize in advance to these people because this is simply not going to happen.

Despite Sanchez putting up a career high in touchdowns last season (32 overall), many still insist that the young quarterback regressed in his third year as a pro. Unfortunately, those who believe this are completely ignorant to an abundance of facts. First of all, Sanchez was under the tutelage of arguably the least competent Offensive Coordinator in the league last season. Brian Schottenheimer saw Sanchez’s strengths in his first two years, yet seemingly wanted to become some type of mastermind, genius coordinator, and force his quarterback into game plans he clearly was not comfortable in (see 12/24/11). The Jets offensive line was also the worst it has been since Sanchez arrived in 2009, yet the kid showed his tenacity and competitiveness by hanging in there game in and game out, taking repeated beatings, while never breathing a word of negativity about the lack of blocking he was getting, despite the unwarranted claims that he is mentally weak.

The Jets replaced a Sanchez favorite in Braylon Edwards with the prehistoric Plaxico Burress, who could not get separation between the twenties if his life depended on it. The struggles of the offensive line also hurt the Jets once elite running attack, which in turn, all but eliminated the play action pass, something Sanchez is highly successful at.

However, this season, Sparano brings in a new offensive regime. The Jets have seemingly addressed what issues caused the struggles for Sanchez last season. They have hired a coordinator who vows to return to the philosophy that gave the Jets so much success in 2009 and 2010. They drafted youth and speed at vital positions of the offense, and they have added a new dynamic to that offense with Tebow. New York will be tougher, faster, and flat out better, in every area that the offense struggled in last season, and I firmly believe that the new coaching staff will reveal an improved Wayne Hunter for 2012. Sparano has already stressed the need to create “chunk” plays offensively, many of which are likely to come via play action pass, especially in this run heavy offense. Expect to not only see Sanchez make strides under Sparano, but to lead New York back to the playoffs, while establishing himself as the unquestioned leader of the Jets and silencing all of his critics along the way.

New York Jets Rookie Camp – The Path To Playing Time

How can the 2012 New York Jets draft picks find themselves playing time this season?

The New York Jets eight draft picks and a large collection of undrafted free agents and tryout players will gather for a mini-camp this weekend. Focusing down on the eight draft picks, what will it take for each of them to receive playing time this season? Who will be their primary competition? Let’s take a closer look –

Quinton Coples – Regardless of whether Coples starts at defensive end or not, he is going to see substantial reps on the defensive line rotation particularly on third downs. In a way Marcus Dixon, Kenrick Ellis and Mike DeVito are competing for playing time with him but in reality Coples has a much different skill set than all three and will likely be used in many unique ways by Rex Ryan. Ideally, at a minimum Coples is a pass rushing specialist this year and then sees the rest of his game develop in the coming years.

Stephen Hill – Unless he bombs out in the pre-season, Hill will be the opening day starter at split end. He has too much speed and size to keep on the bench. Chaz Schilens and Patrick Turner will be competing to be his backup but shouldn’t see anywhere near the amount of playing time Hill does this season.

DeMario Davis – Outside of Aaron Maybin, Davis will be the fastest of the Jets linebackers. While I do not think we will see him in a starting role this season unless there is an injury, he should fill in for Bart Scott at inside linebacker in certain packages and could also line up at outside linebacker for Bryan Thomas to utilize his ability to cover the tight end. He will be competing with players like Josh Mauga, Nick Bellore and Garret McIntyre but considering his skill set and where the Jets drafted him, I’d look for Davis to both make the roster and be a regular contributor on defense.

Josh Bush – Bush’s skill set make him the most natural free safety on the Jets roster. Unless he is beat out by Tracy Wilson or DeAngelo Smith, he should immediately contribute in a handful of defensive packages and be the top backup to Eric Smith who is technically the team’s free safety even though he is miscast in that role.

Terrance Ganaway – He will be competing with Bilal Powell to be active on a weekly basis and then competing with Joe McKnight and Shonn Greene for playing time. His comfort of playing in an option offense makes him an immediate candidate to be a factor on offense when Tim Tebow is under center. Don’t be surprised if Ganaway ends up contributing a few hundred yards of offense this season.

Robert T. Griffin – As our breakdown later in the day will show, Griffin has a long, long way to go before becoming a contributor on a NFL team. This season he will compete with Caleb Schlauderaff and Austin Howard for a spot on the active roster. However, it is much more likely he will end up on the practice squad.

Antonio AllenMake sure you click the link to read Chris Gross’ full breakdown of Allen, who should end up being LaRon Landry’s backup this season, a contributor as a blitzer and play special teams. I’d be surprised to see a journeyman like Tracy Wilson or DeAngelo Smith beat him out.

Jordan WhiteMake sure you click the link to read Chris Gross’ full breakdown of White. He will compete with Patrick Turner and Eron Riley for a roster spot and projects to backing up Jeremy Kerley in the slot if he can make the roster.

New York Jets Draft Pick Analysis: Wide Receiver Jordan White

Chris Gross breaks down New York Jets 7th round pick, wide receiver Jordan White.

Chris Gross will be in the film room for Turn On The Jets breaking down all eight of the New York Jets draft selections. Today we look at 7th round pick, wide receiver Jordan White. (At the bottom of the article, I offer a brief commentary on White from the film I have watched). – JC

With the 244th overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Wide Receiver Jordan White out of Western Michigan. In a move that first seemed to be New York looking to add some wide receiver depth to increase the competition heading into camp, this selection has the potential to be much more significant to the Jets. When putting in the game film of Western Michigan from last season, there are several things about Jordan White that jump off the screen right away. He is very confident, extremely tough, and runs some of the best routes you will see from any wide receiver in the draft this year.

Before becoming the Jets’ version of Mr. Irrelevant, White was posting Biletnikoff worthy numbers at Western Michigan. Last season, he caught an astonishing 140 balls for 1,911 yards and 17 touchdowns. Remember, Biletnikoff Trophy winner Justin Blackmon had 121 receptions for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns. Not to compare the two, but White’s production as a Bronco should certainly be noted. In 2011, White also had 8 games with over 10 receptions, including a season high 16 against Toledo, a game in which he racked up 238 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also had 7 multi touchdown games last year, and had at least one catch of 20 yards or more in every contest, including his season long 61 yarder against Ball State.

Prior to 2011, White also had 94 receptions for 1,378 yards and 10 touchdowns as a Junior. At Western Michigan, he was undoubtedly the workhorse of an offense that averaged over 35 points per game in 2011, while establishing himself as Quarterback Alex Carder’s unquestioned favorite target.

White’s immense production at Western Michigan can be linked to countless aspects of his game. His ability to find holes in coverages and create separation for himself is equivalent to, if not better than, some polished NFL veterans. He has excellent awareness, strong hands, and his route running has the capability of translating to the NFL immediately. He uses double moves effectively, and is very intelligent, constantly knowing when to cut routes short, or extend them.

One of the most important factors that hurt White’s draft stock was his limited sample of play against elite competition. Having played in the MAC West, White was hampered by the notion that he was excelling at a lower level, and could not have that same type of success in the NFL. However, in White’s small amount of play against more respected football programs, he rose to the calling in a big way. In 2011, three of his most productive games came against Big Ten opponents. In the season opener against Michigan, White had 12 catches for 119 yards. Against Illinois, who was ranked in the AP top 25 at the time, he tallied 14 receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown. And in White’s last game as a Bronco, the 2011 Little Caesars Bowl against Purdue, he reeled in 13 balls for 265 yards and 1 touchdown. Although the experience may not be great, he has certainly shown that he can succeed against higher-level defenses when asked to.

Along with the notion of not having faced enough elite competition, White’s physical traits were most likely the reasons for his draft slide. He does not possess the elite size, standing just under 6’0” 208 lbs, nor does he have the speed (4.69 40) to make him a number one receiver in the NFL. Many times in the draft, production like White’s takes a backseat to potential, especially in the later rounds.

Although White does have several positive aspects to his game, there are certainly some holes as well. He does not have great elusiveness, but makes up for it with his willingness to fight for extra yards. He is not going to make many people miss after the catch, but he will plug straight ahead and use his drive and strength to get the most out of every play. White also has much better speed coming out of his breaks than his 40 time would suggest, however it is unclear on how much that will assist his game at the next level.

While White does have good hands, and will make some spectacular catches at times, his range is very limited by his size and speed. Often times on deep routes, if the ball was slightly out of his reach, White would have difficulty transitioning to make the play. However, it is highly unlikely that he will be asked to run deep routes in the NFL, so this should not affect his play too significantly. He also needs to work on selling his routes on run plays to the opposite side of the field.

So how can White fit with the Jets? Of the games I watched on him last year, I could not help but compare his play to that of Jerricho Cotchery’s. White will never be a true number one receiver in this league, but has the potential to be a vital piece of any passing game. He was most productive last season between the 20’s, with 116 of his 140 catches coming in that area. This could make him a very valuable weapon to keep the chains moving throughout drives. Although most of his catches in 2011 came on first down with 63, he was also very effective on third downs, averaging 12.6 YPC. He could develop into a very nice third down safety net for Mark Sanchez. He is strong, smart, and most importantly, consistent. Sanchez would love to have someone he can consistently rely on, other than Dustin Keller.

For White, his place with the Jets will ultimately come down to a few key things: how well he picks up the offense, how he takes advantage of what limited reps he will get in practice, and the type of relationship he develops with Sanchez. While I do not think that any of these things will be a problem for White, especially with how reliable he became to Carder at Western Michigan, coupled with his displayed intelligence and high work ethic, he is going to have to prove why he was so productive in college, and may only have a small window of opportunity to do so. White can also show his worth by contributing on Special Teams, something that I would fully expect him to be able to do.

Although there are certainly no guarantees in this league, especially for late round draft picks, I would not be surprised at all if White ended up beating out Patrick Turner, Scotty McKnight, Logan Payne, and Eron Riley for a roster spot. His production in college combined with his obvious work ethic shown on film actually makes it likely that White will end up having some type of role with the 2012 Jets. Although his impact this year may not be significant, Jordan White could develop into a very solid NFL player at some point down the road.

Editor’s Notes – I really like the comparison Chris made to Jerricho Cotchery because that is who I was consistently reminded of when watching film on White. It is impossible to ignore the astronomical numbers he put up, regardless of the level of competition. White has a natural ability to find the soft spot in a defense and has reliable hands, particularly in traffic. The main question for him is, can he consistently get separation from NFL caliber cornerbacks? The Jets could offset some of these issues by working White out of the slot, where I expect him to spend most of his time.

In the immediate future, White projects as a logical backup to Jeremy Kerley in the slot receiver role. He will need to beat Patrick Turner and Eron Riley for a roster spot this season and to do that he must make an impact on special teams.