New York Jets Fact Or False: The Tweeter’s Choice Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False on the New York Jets answers your submitted questions on the team

Throughout the season, we will periodically poll our Twitter followers for what they want to see addressed in New York Jets Fact Or False. For our inaugural edition of The Tweeter’s Choice, our readers brought the heat. Not one person disappointed with the issues they wanted to read about, which proves we have one of the most, if not the most, knowledgeable fan bases in all of football. Huge shout out to @Crazychimpan, @bleist25, @ItsOasus, @DrewFromJersey, and @Jetsforlife25 for sending in their suggestions this week. Be sure to give each of them a follow on twitter, and be sure to keep a look out all season, as we will certainly run another edition of this in the future. Thanks again, and enjoy!

8 DAYS UNTIL THE PRE-SEASON OPENER. WHERE IS YOUR NEW SHIRT?

The Jets will carry more than 5 RB/FBs going into season. (@Crazychimpman). False.

While five is a great over/under for the number of backs that will be on the active roster come opening day, don’t expect any more or any less. The three guaranteed spots will be Shonn Greene, who will presumably be the starter barring an injury, Joe McKnight, for his Special Teams value will lock him in, regardless of whether or not Bilal Powell gets the nod as the third down back, and John Connor, who established himself as the starting Fullback early in training camp as the team has already decided to waive journeyman Fui Vakapuna.

The next two spots are the intriguing ones. You’d have to think that, with all the talk about Powell, he will make it. However, Powell must truly prove that he is worthy of being a valuable option as a third down back. McKnight isn’t going anywhere, due to his worth on Special Teams, so for the team to carry two backs with strikingly similar skill sets, Powell must go above and beyond what’s asked of him.

Rookie Terrance Ganaway is also a very interesting case. Ganaway was seemingly drafted because he looks to be a perfect situational fit for this season, with the hope that he will develop into a perfect schematic fit long term. He has great experience in the option offense, running for an astounding 1547 yards and 21 touchdowns last season at Baylor, while posting a remarkable 6.2 YPC, which makes him the most logical back in any Tebow package. Ganaway also has tremendous size at about 6’0” 240 lbs, which makes him an ideal fit for the Ground and Pound that New York plans to implement under Tony Sparano. Unless Ganaway really struggles to prove he is not yet NFL ready, he should remain on the roster.

The Jets will likely remain set with these five backs. Unless Powell is written off, it looks very doubtful that New York will look to add a veteran. If Powell does not prove to be worthy of a spot by the time the season begins, the Jets still may remain content with just four backs, while relying on Tim Tebow to be a huge contributor to the run game. The only way I truly see New York adding a veteran is if Powell tails off, and Greene struggles immensely during the pre-season. Otherwise, it looks like the Jets are ready to roll into the season with what is currently on the roster.

Trader Mike will make a move for another RT before camp is over (@bleist25). Fact.

Tannenbaum took a shot swinging a deal with the Panthers for Tackle Jeff Otah, which clearly did not work out due to the former first rounder’s inability to pass a physical. With the Otah trade nullified, New York is back to square one with Wayne Hunter and Austin Howard as the two most logical choices at Right Tackle. Hunter has a serious edge over Howard, who will likely not see a significant down all season. That is a scary thought. Clearly, Mike T is aware of this, as displayed by the failed Otah trade. By now, I’m not sure anyone can argue with the notion that the Jets are not comfortable with the competition they currently have at the Right Tackle position.

The next logical step for Tannenbaum is to look to Free Agency. Many questioned why he hesitated to bring in a veteran during the offseason, but he likely wanted to see how Hunter and the other tackles looked during mini-camps and OTAs. Since Tannenbaum and the rest of the organization were clearly not satisfied, they can now look to add someone like Vernon Carey, who will come at a discount in comparison to what he may have cost them a few months ago.

“Mayhem” will play on more than just passing downs this season (ItsOasus). Fact.

Aaron “Mayhem” Maybin is already earning high praise from the media and coaching staff in the early stages of training camp. He has reportedly bulked up to 240+ pounds, which will help him greatly against the run. Calvin Pace will likely remain on one side of the field for the majority of downs, however the other side is open for competition. While most expect Bryan Thomas to retain the spot opposite Pace which he occupied prior to his season ending injury last year, there is a good chance we could see him in a limited role this season. While he has had success setting the edge on run-downs in the past, the praise Maybin has been receiving for his added size and relentless motor could propel him into an increased role to play a surplus of downs in a variety of spots on the outside. His versatility will be a huge weapon for Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine this season. Expect them to utilize that to the fullest extent.

Ricky Sapp will have more sacks than Calvin Pace this season (@DrewFromJersey). False.

Although Sapp has very exciting potential, he has still yet to record a sack at the NFL level. While he could very well break that trend this season, I wouldn’t give him an edge over the seasoned veteran that is Calvin Pace, even if he is entering the twilight of his career. Since joining the Jets, Pace has gotten to the Quarterback a total of 26 times. Sure, his sack total has decreased each year since 2009, however his experience, along with the amount of reps he will receive should make him good for at least 4 sacks, if healthy. Sapp, on the other hand, may still be able to compile 2-3, but will likely be used far less. Additionally, players with very little experience in real NFL game situations, unless tremendously talented, tend to compile more QB hurries and knockdowns, rather than actual sacks. Timing is everything on getting to the Quarterback before he gets rid of the ball, and it will likely take a full season of game experience before Sapp gets used to executing his moves just at the right time.

Early Camp Star Ellis Lankster will become a serious playmaker and collect at least 3 Interceptions as a shutdown nickel-guy this year (Jetsforlife25). False.

Lankster’s progress is extremely encouraging for New York thus far. With a serious question mark heading into training camp as to who would assume the role of the fourth cornerback, Lankster has provided a breath of fresh air for coaches and fans. However, he has played in just 17 total games over the course of his career, and has yet to register an interception. Additionally, the amount of reps he gets will likely be very limited. The Jets have a surplus of defensive backs including three excellent corners in All-World Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson, whom many believe is on his way to becoming a very good corner in this league, as well as the Safeties Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry, and Rookie Josh Bush, who is realistically the best cover Safety on the roster. For Lankster, it will all come down to scheme. His inexperience will have some, but not much, effect on his ability to become a playmaker.

However, if the Jets choose to put out more packages of Revis, Cromartie, Wilson, and two safeties, which seems like the most logical approach, other than third and long scenarios, Lankster may not get the amount of snaps necessary to truly establish himself as a serious playmaker, while compiling 3 interceptions. As well as Lankster has been playing, it is unlikely he will beat out Wilson for reps as the third CB. You’d like to think with improved Defensive Line and Safety play, New York will not see a surplus of third and long scenarios this season. However, if these positions fail to live up to their potential, then all bets are off.

Josh Baker is the 2nd best TE on the roster (DrewFromJersey). Fact.

Baker wins the spot as New York’s second best TE, somewhat by default. Jeff Cumberland has great potential, and has showed flashes of solid play in the past, but he has participated in just 4 career contests. Baker, on the other hand, saw action in 11 games last season, while hauling in 3 balls for 27 yards, including a touchdown on Christmas Eve against the Giants. Hayden Smith is very intriguing, but as a guy who has never played a down of football in his life, he certainly does not have the edge over his competition just yet. The key for whoever becomes the second Tight End this season will be their ability to block. Unfortunately for New York, not one of them has truly proved to be able to do that, so it will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

Josh Bush will struggle in a forced role as the Jets only true cover safety (Jetsforlife25). False.

The fact that Bush will be forced into a role as the only true cover safety on the roster will actually benefit him. Prior to becoming a safety at Wake Forest, Bush was a corner, and has been noted for his cover abilities throughout his career. Last season, Bush had a team best 6 interceptions earning him First-Team All ACC accolades, as well as a spot as a third teamer on the All-American squad. Bush has sub 4.5 40 speed, and under the tutelage of savvy veterans like Landry, Bell, and Revis, he should fit nicely in a center field type role for the Jets. Sure, he will have his growing pains, but Bush will ultimately succeed more often than not this season.

New York Jets: Rookie Defenders Should Make Immediate Impact

What kind of impact will the New York Jets rookie defenders make in 2012?

The New York Jets drafted four defensive players in the 2012 NFL Draft, three of them are locks to make the roster and contribute in some capacity in their rookie year. How much will the Jets be asking from their newest additions and will they be able to handle the workload? Let’s run through the four selections and discuss what reasonable expectations should be –

Strong Safety – Antonio Allen – 7th Round – Allen fell further down the draft board than most people expected. He is a natural strong safety who basically played like an extra linebacker at South Carolina. Talent-wise the Jets got great value with Allen but it will be extremely difficult for him to make any kind of impact this season on defense. LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell and Eric Smith are all similar players to Allen and ahead of him on the depth chart. Unless there is significant injuries throughout the Jets secondary, it is difficult seeing Allen being active on a weekly basis. The only way he will be, is if he proves to be a monster on special teams. It isn’t out of the question for Allen to be a practice squad player in 2012 as he projects to make a bigger impact down the road after Landry, Bell or Smith have moved on.

Free Safety – Josh Bush – 6th Round – Walked into a better situation than most 6th round picks. Bush is entering training camp as the team’s fourth safety and only true free safety likely to make the 53 man roster. If he can hold his own throughout August, he will see significant playing time particularly in the Jets sub and nickel packages. Don’t be surprised to see Bush playing a Dwight Lowery type role in Rex Ryan’s defense, bouncing between safety and corner to take advantage of his coverage skills. If Bush can’t establish himself as a competent role player with long term potential in 2012 it will be disappointing and hurt the Jets already questionable depth at safety. Bush is a likely candidate for an extensive role on special teams, particularly on coverage units.

Demario Davis – Linebacker – 3rd Round – The pre-training camp darling of the Jets draft class who has already been given comparisons to Ray Lewis (seriously, come on Rex) for his intensity and natural leadership. Davis has something the other Jets linebackers lack: speed. It is going to get him on the field immediately on passing downs and he is already running with the first unit in the sub package. Davis will also be a fixture on just about every special teams unit from day one. The question is, can Bart Scott hold him out of the starting lineup for the entire season? Make no mistake, Davis will be the opening day starter at inside linebacker in 2013 but will he crack the starting lineup in 2012?

Quinton Coples – Defensive End – 1st Round – We won’t hide from our initial criticism of the Coples selection however with the Jets apparently moving to a defensive scheme that is more 4-3 and 46 heavy it at least makes a little more sense. Beyond that, Coples put together a very strong OTAs and says everything you want to hear from a first round pick with motor questions. He is going to start from day one and is physically the most talented pass rusher the Jets have had on their roster in awhile. Alongside Muhammad Wilkerson, he has the chance to be a special player in this defense.

New York Jets: Pass Coverage Still A Concern

The New York Jets could still have major issues covering tight ends and running backs in 2012

The New York Jets defense struggled heavily when it came to covering the tight end last season. Basically, if a team had a good receiving tight end, they exploited the hell out of Rex Ryan’s defense. Jason Witten finished with 110 yards, including a 64 yarder. Fred Davis grabbed 6 passes for 99 yards. Brent Celek went off for 156 yards and a touchdown. Rob Gronkowski pulled in 113 yards and 2 touchdowns in primetime and in the Jets/Patriots other meeting, it was Aaron Hernandez who racked up 56 yards. Antonio Gates had 54 yards and a touchdown. Hell, even Ed Dickson was able to get 45 receiving yards on them.

Their coverage of running backs out of the backfield also left something to be desired. The lack of speed at linebacker position allowed the Jets to be taken advantage of on checkdowns and screen passes.

The Jets solution to the problem this off-season was to completely re-tool their safety position (signing Yeremiah Bell and Laron Landry, and drafting Josh Bush and Antonio Allen) and adding linebacker Demario Davis in the third round.

Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry will be a more athletic starting duo than Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith, with substantially more size. However, both players are strong safeties, not free safeties. It will be on Bell to spend more time at the free safety position than he is accustomed to. Landry has the ability to be a highly productive player inside the box but can he stay on the field? As defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman said, Eric Smith is good at 300 reps but not necessarily 900 reps and he might be at the number if Landry isn’t healthy.

The Jets did add two rookie safeties in the late rounds with Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. Bush will get the chance for immediate playing time because he is the only natural free safety who will make the active roster but how much can the Jets really expect from a rookie sixth round pick? Allen is built to play inside the box and for now just provides depth behind Landry and Smith.

The 2012 schedule is going to provide plenty of challenges from the tight end position, including Vernon Davis in week 4, Owen Daniels in week 5, Gronkowski/Hernandez in weeks 7 and 12 and Antonio Gates in week 15.

It is going to be on Bell to handle free safety responsibilities when they are handed to him and on Bush to grow up faster than most 6th round picks. Landry and Demario Davis should be able to help slow down the releases tight ends are getting but you don’t want them running with them past 5-7 yards. Their presence should also help contain running backs shaking loose for big gains on checkdowns or screen passes.

Kerry Rhodes certainly couldn’t tackle but the Jets haven’t found a free safety since he was traded. Bell could be a stopgap and maybe Bush is the future. If not, the Jets will once again be looking to retool a position they haven’t seemed able to get right since Rex Ryan has taken over.

TOJ’s Top 50 New York Jets Countdown: 40-50

Turn On The Jets counts down the top 50 New York Jets currently on the roster, starting with numbers 40-50

Frustrated and confused after seeing the NFL’s Top 100 player list? TOJ was as well. Due to that, we have decided to rank the current New York Jets on the roster from 50 all the way down to 1. Along the way, we will be classifying the players into the following five categories:

  • Bottom of the Roster (strictly a depth and developmental player)
  • Middle Class (Situational player, spot starter)
  • Quality Starter (Capable starting player)
  • Red Chip (Swiping this term from Michael Lombardi, an above average stater/borderline Pro-Bowler)
  • Blue Chip (Another swipe from Lombardi, an elite player at his position)

Just missed

  • Tanner Purdum – Long snapper goes 53 on a 53 man roster.
  • Nick Folk – On the thought that Josh Brown will win the kicking battle
  • Hayden Smith – Practice squad bound in TOJ’s opinion
  • Garret McIntyre – Started at times last year…won’t make team this year
  • Austin Howard – Went with Stephon Heyer over him as primary backup at tackle

BOTTOM OF THE ROSTER

50. TJ Conley, Punter – An average punter at best, who will likely be challenged at some point in training camp by a  free agent signing. He is no better than 50/50 to make the roster at this point and if he does, must be more consistent than he was in 2010.

49. Vladimir Ducasse, Guard/Tackle – Ducasse was easily beat out for the starting guard position in 2009 and when called into duty as a reserve tackle last season looked completely overwhelmed. At this point, it looks like his ceiling is a swing backup at guard and tackle…fairly disappointing for a 2nd round pick.

48. Bilal Powell, Running Back – Looked plodding and mediocre in both the pre-season and when given an opportunity in the regular season in 2010. It wouldn’t be a shock to anybody if rookie Terrance Ganaway beat him out on the depth chart this year.

47. Antonio Allen, Safety – A good value pick for the Jets in the seventh round this season. Allen will have a tough time seeing the field in 2012 with LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell and Eric Smith in front of him on the depth chart. However, he has the skill set to project to being the team’s long term strong safety.

46. Terrance Ganaway, Running Back – An intriguing sixth round pick from this year’s draft. A power runner, with experience in the option, which could get him some looks when Tim Tebow is under center. With a strong pre-season, could work himself into getting some weekly carries behind Shonn Greene.

45. Greg McElroy, Quarterback – Showed promise in the pre-season and has the intangibles to be a capable NFL backup. He looks to be a poor man’s Chad Pennington, with limited arm strength but very high intelligence and good decision making skills.

44. Josh Baker, Tight End/H-Back – Worked his way on to the field at the end of last season as a H-Back and finished with 3 receptions and a touchdown against the Giants. Baker is a natural pass catcher, who is versatile enough to line up at tight end, H-Back, and fullback. It will be interesting to see if he sticks on the roster and how Tony Sparano uses him, if he does.

43. Josh Bush, Safety – A sixth round pick who is the only natural free safety that projects to make the Jets roster. Defensive Backs coach Dennis Thurman has already pegged Bush as the team’s fourth safety, which means he should get on the field in certain packages.

42. Ellis Lankster, Corner – A special teams player last year, who now appears poised to take over the fourth cornerback role on defense. In Rex Ryan’s scheme that will get him on the field a decent amount of time. The Jets clearly have faith in him for now, as they haven’t signed free agents like Drew Coleman or Chris Johnson who could have easily filled the fourth corner role.

41. Caleb Schlauderaff, Guard – The Jets traded for him last pre-season and Mike Tannenbaum randomly loves mentioning him all the time in press conferences as a developing player. He projects to being the top backup at guard and center

40. Ricky Sapp, Linebacker/Defensive End – Added to the practice squad last season, he has impressed this off-season and could be a factor in pass rushing situations. Sapp was a fifth round pick of the Eagles in 2010.

Check back tomorrow for our Friday 12 pack and for players 30-40

New York Jets Fact Or False: New Jets Edition

TOJ’s weekly Fact or False from Chris Gross – Focusing on the newest members of the New York Jets roster

Our weekly Fact or False from Chris Gross…make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter and let him know what you think –

The New York Jets have experienced yet another exciting offseason of player acquisitions. While the early weeks of free agency had the majority of Jets Nation convinced there was a new mentality in the front office due to the lack of pursuit of the marquee free agents, General Manager Mike Tannenbaum returned to his roots as “Trader Mike” and made the splash of the offseason in trading for the most polarizing figure in the NFL, Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow. Beyond the Tebow trade, Tannenbaum and the Jets achieved, what could prove to be, their best draft in recent years. With the acquisitions of eight players in this year’s draft, there are plenty of newcomers on board with Gang Green this season, many of whom have already stood out at OTAs and Mini-Camp.

The Jets filled a great amount of needs on their roster this offseason, particularly at the safety position where they added four new players (two rookies, two veterans) to the position that was popularly considered the worst on the defense last year. New York has also gone international with the signing of Aussie Rugby Star Hayden Smith, who is vying to make the team as a Tight End, another position in need of depth on the Jets roster. It seems that Mike T and Co. have added players via every means possible this offseason – signings, trades, draft picks, international, domestic, you name it. With so many new additions to the team for the 2012 season, what can we expect from those who will wear the Green and White for the first time this year? This week’s New York Jets Fact Or False takes a look at the “New” New York Jets.

Chaz Schilens will have the greatest impact of all newcomers at the Wide Receiver position. False. While the Jets certainly have a young and promising group of speedy, athletic receivers, Schilens was signed to a one year deal after a season of just 23 receptions in 2011, prior to the Jets selections of rookies Stephen Hill and Jordan White in this year’s NFL Draft. While Schilens certainly has the physical tools (6’4” 4.3 40 yard dash) to be a dangerous weapon in New York’s receiving corps this year, durability will be the key issue, as it has been throughout his career. Schilens has already missed 20 games due to injury in his short four-year career, and has never once recorded 30 receptions in a single season.

However, Schilens showed flashes of brilliance during mini-camp after obtaining a surplus of reps due to injuries to Hill, White, and Santonio Holmes. While Schilens could certainly be a diamond in the rough for Gang Green if he can stay healthy, history does not look favorable for the four-year veteran out of San Diego State. In terms of Jets newcomers at the wide receiver position, Hill, who will likely be starting opposite Santonio Holmes come week 1, is the most likely to have the greatest impact among the new wide outs. Jordan White is certainly another name to keep an eye on if he can come back completely healthy from a foot injury that will have him sidelined until training camp.

Quinton Coples will have the largest impact of all rookies. Fact. DeMario Davis is another candidate here, however with Coples likely to crack the starting lineup right out of the gate this year, he will ultimately have more opportunity to provide a greater impact to the team this season. We’ve repeatedly gone over the physical intangibles of Coples here at Turn On The Jets, not to mention how the shift toward more four-man fronts will benefit his skill set. However, what has not been discussed to a great extent is the work ethic Coples has been displaying since joining the Jets.

Heading into the draft, Coples unfairly saw his character and work ethic come into question, although review of his college game film proves he is anything but lazy and unmotivated. So far, we have yet to hear these concerns about Coples. The first round selection out of North Carolina has displayed nothing but high character and a tremendous work ethic during OTAs and Mini-Camp practices, and has earned praise from the coaching staff and media alike. Coples has the ability to fill the void the Jets defense has been truly lacking since the days of John Abraham, a pass rusher that opposing offenses must game plan around. Rex Ryan will use his vast defensive knowledge and creativity in order to ensure Coples is in every position possible to succeed.

Hayden Smith will make the active roster. False. The idea of Hayden Smith is a very intriguing one for Gang Green. The Jets took a shot at signing the Aussie Rugby star who has never played a down of football in his entire life, but has the physical tools (6’6” 255 lbs) to be an elite tight end in this league. While Smith is highly unlikely to develop into the next Jimmy Graham or Antonio Gates, he could end up being a solid contributor down the road for the Jets. Rex Ryan has already praised his tenacity and work ethic, and for good reason. Smith seems poised to learn the game of football from both an intellectual and fundamental standpoint. However, his development will likely take more than just one offseason before he can contribute, not only on the Jets, but also at the NFL level in general. A year on the practice squad is likely the destination for Smith this year, but that may be just what he needs to build his game and become a contributor in 2013.

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

Of the two rookie safeties, Josh Bush will see the majority of the reps. Fact. This is a no brainer. Antonio Allen is absolutely a very young, promising prospect for the Jets. However, like Landry and Bell, Allen fits the mold of an in the box, strong safety type player. Conversely, Bush is the only true free safety on the Jets roster and will likely see his reps increase as the season progresses, while picking up the defense a bit more each week. Bush has been widely regarded as one of the better cover safeties in this year’s rookie class, as shown by his All-American and All-ACC honors last season at Wake Forest. While Allen could certainly be used on special teams and in some sub packages, primarily as a blitzer, Bush fills a greater need for the Jets as of right now, and will likely see the majority of the reps among the two.

Tim Tebow will cause a Quarterback controversy in New York. False. While everyone from fans and mainstream media are drooling at the prospect of seeing Tebow come in and replace Mark Sanchez, the reality of the situation is that there will be no controversy at the Quarterback position for the Jets this season. It is certainly easy to argue against this proclamation as Sanchez is coming off of his most criticized season as a pro, despite accounting for 32 total touchdowns in 2011, while the Tebow magic is still fresh in the minds of everyone who witnessed arguably the most polarizing figure in all of sports defy all the odds last season in leading Denver to a playoff victory.

While Tebow will remain the number two quarterback in the event that Sanchez gets injured, he was not brought to New York to take the job from number 6. Tebow will likely be used at quarterback in some wildcat and spread option sub packages, however he will take very little, if any, snaps at QB when the regular offense is on the field. Despite the fact that Sanchez is poised for a breakout season, Tebow’s unique skill set is too diverse to see him taking snaps under center this year. Expect to see Tebow in a variety of roles including H-Back and Running Back. New York has already begun to get him reps here, all of which will likely increase heading into the season. Remember, Sanchez AND Tebow, not Sanchez OR Tebow.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Mini-Camp Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly New York Jets Fact or False, looking at New York Jets mini-camp issues

The 2012 New York Jets have countless story lines and question marks surrounding them heading into this pivotal year for both Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez. Following the conclusion of today’s third, and final, mini-camp practice, the Jets will not be together in their entirety until the beginning of training camp at the end of July. A lot can be taken from the OTA’s and mini-camp period of the off-season, however, it is important to remember that the regular season is still months from kickoff and absolutely nothing is set in stone yet. For this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False, we’ll examine six of the most prevalent headlines as we begin the early transition from the offseason into the preseason.

1.) Santonio Holmes is still the team villain. Fact. While Santonio Holmes has gone through great efforts to stay out of the spotlight all offseason, while seemingly working to repair his fractured relationship with Mark Sanchez, as well as saving some time to visit with injured U.S. Military Troops in Germany, it took number 10 only one day of practice to grab the headlines in a negative way. After struggling to fulfill his desired number of reps during the first day of mini-camp, Holmes reportedly threw his helmet as he came off of the field, while expressing his disapproval for the workload he was expected to achieve in his first day back with the team.

While this was likely just a simple act of frustration from the ultra-competitive Holmes, Tone has to realize that everything he does will be under heavy scrutiny this season, particularly acting out like this in a practice session open to the media. It is certainly understandable that highly spirited athletes are often emotional, however Holmes is in a unique situation. The majority of media outlets are seemingly waiting for him to implode, so he needs to be smart about repairing his image, if he truly intends to do so. Until then, Holmes will remain portrayed as the villain of the Jets, and the majority of the moves he makes will be painted in a negative light, until he changes the perception of himself in the media.

2.) The more rigorous strength and conditioning program is the reason for the early hamstring plague. False. Among others, Holmes and rookie WR Stephen Hill each missed practice time this week due to tweaked hamstrings. Yesterday, ESPN’s Rich Cimini hinted at the idea that the cause for the ongoing hamstring issues in mini-camp were related to the more intense weight room regiment. While an increase in strenuous muscle activity could contribute to some types of injury if not conditioned well enough, this is the NFL. The players and coaches are professionals, and experts in their respective trades. An NFL level strength and conditioning coach is certainly capable of implementing stretching and flexibility techniques to decrease the risk of muscle related injuries.

While it is easy to assume that an increase in weight room intensity is an underlying cause for the recent run of hamstring issues, it is more likely a case getting back into playing shape. The most durable NFL players usually have the most strenuous offseason programs. During his time with the New York Giants, Tiki Barber was known for having one of the most intense weight room regiments out of any player in the league, and as a result, missed only six total games throughout the span of his ten year career, four of which came during his rookie season. Strength training does not increase the risk of injury, but more commonly reduces it.

3) Tim Tebow will be playing just about everything other than “traditional” Quarterback this season. Fact. While Tebow is the backup quarterback, he was not brought to New York for that reason. Conversely, he was not brought here to be the starter either. The Jets traded for Tebow to be the excellent football player they know he is. He has reported to mini-camp at a career high 249 lbs, and reports indicate that the Jets would still like him to add weight. By traditional standards, there aren’t any 250 lb athletes with the overall football skills of Tebow serving as pocket passers. The added weight will allow Tebow to serve more effectively as an all around football player, particularly in an H-Back, Running Back type role. Over his two seasons in the NFL, Tebow has rushed for 887 yards and 12 touchdowns, with a very impressive 5.4 yards per carry.

There will surely be a good amount of Wild Cat QB thrown in for Tebow as well, especially with the newly hired Tony Sparano’s knowledge of the system, coupled with Rex Ryan’s infatuation with it. In fact, since Ryan has come to New York, the Jets have the highest total yards per play out of the Wildcat in the entire NFL during that time frame, at 6.1 YPP. Expect Tebow to serve as a jack-of-all-trades for Gang Green this season, while seeing very little, if any, time as the regular quarterback.

4.) David Harris will finally get his much deserved recognition this season. False. Is there a more underrated defensive player in the NFL than David Harris? Since being drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Harris is averaging 102.8 tackles, 3.9 sacks, and 1 interception per season over his first five years in the league, while never being selected to a single Pro Bowl. Yes, he was a second team All-Pro in 2009, but has been snubbed by for the Pro Bowl in each year of his impressive NFL Career. In 2007, Harris’s rookie campaign, he tallied 127 tackles, including 90 solo, 5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. His AFC counterpart DeMeco Ryans was elected as the starter to the Pro Bowl that same season, although he registered only one more tackle than Harris, with three fewer sacks. Similarly, Ray Lewis was elected as the reserve at middle linebacker that same season despite notching seven fewer tackles and three fewer sacks than Harris. Sure, Ryans had collected over 150 tackles in the season prior, and Ray Lewis is, well, Ray Lewis, but this tells you all you need to know about how far under the radar Harris has flown since entering the league.

Although Harris has been the most consistent player on the team not named Darrelle Revis over the past few seasons, he still receives very little, if any, recognition. Although the Jets linebacker corps is one of the biggest question marks of the defense as we head into July, they have still received a fair amount of publicity during mini-camp. However, the spotlight has once again left the Hitman in the dark as the focus has been primarily on the revival of Bart Scott and the possible emergence of rookie DeMario Davis. Harris is a staple, not only of the defense, but also of the entire team, yet he often goes without mention when it comes discussing the vital keys to New York’s successes. Harris will likely rank in the top 2 in tackles among defensive players this season, yet few words will likely be printed about the 5 year veteran out of Michigan.

5.) The Jets have their defensive core of the next generation in Quinton Coples, DeMario Davis, and Josh Bush. Fact. The three of these rookies have all been heavily involved in mini-camp practices. Coples will be starting from day one, as expected, and according to reports out of practice, it is with good reason. Coples has been very impressive during his first early practices as a Jet, and the new scheme will surely maximize his skill set. The Jets were criticized for passing on Melvin Ingram, but now with their intentions to use more 46 and 4-3 looks this season, the move to select Coples is beginning to become more praised each day. The 16th overall selection out of North Carolina is out to prove the Jets organization right, and all of his many doubters wrong. Expect nothing less from Coples this season and beyond.

As for Davis and Bush, there was a good chance they would be playing a significant role this year due to the lack of depth at their respective positions. Bush is the only true free safety on the roster that is capable of playing the center field role in the secondary, and Davis is brings some much needed speed to the linebacker corps. Each of these players have been running with certain first team sub packages, and expect them each to play a heavier role as the season progresses, while serving on special teams.

The three of these young players certainly have the potential to fill as the core of the defense down the road. By the time they are entering the primes of their careers, Muhammed Wilkerson will be right there with them, while Darrelle Revis will likely still be the best corner in football and David Harris will be young enough to remain as a very important piece of the defense. If each of them can fulfill their potential, the defense will have the potential to be ranked among the best in the league for years to come.

6.) Chad Ochocinco will get off of Revis Island in 2012. False. To quote Ochocinco himself, “Child Please.” In his 6 career games against Darrelle Revis, Ochocinco has compiled only 16 catches for 289 yards, with no touchdowns. Those numbers average out to about 2.67 receptions for 48.17 yards per contest. With the artist formerly known as Chad Johnson entering the twilight of his career, coupled with the nightmare that is the Dophins’ quarterback situation, Ocho would be wise to set up his beach chair and lather up with sunscreen because Revis Island will be his residency for two of the sixteen weeks this season.

New York Jets: Unconventional Approach At Safety

The New York Jets have taken an unconventional approach to solving their issues at safety

The weakest part of the New York Jets defense in 2011 was the safety position. The bulk of reps were taken by Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and Jim Leonhard. Smith has thrived as a role player in Rex Ryan’s defense but is overextended as a full time starter because of his limitations in coverage. Pool was never able to distinguish himself in either run support or in pass coverage, along with being prone to mental lapses. Leonhard suffered a season ending leg injury for the second year in a row and prior to that was struggling in coverage similar to Smith.

After a failed pursuit of Reggie Nelson in free agency, the Jets shifted their focus and signed LaRon Landry. If healthy, Landry is a very good in the box safety who is built more like a linebacker. Rex Ryan should make him a major factor in stopping the run game and going after the quarterback. His durability is a major, major question mark however.

In the draft, the Jets added two more safeties. In the sixth round they selected Josh Bush from Wake Forest. Bush is a hybrid corner/safety who is built to play the centerfield position on passing downs. In the seventh round they took South Carolina’s Antonio Allen who fell much further than expected. Allen’s game is very similar to Landry, in that he plays more like a linebacker than a safety and hopefully projects as a long term answer at strong safety.

Finally, the Jets signed veteran Yeremiah Bell, likely passing over bringing Leonhard back in the process. In comparison to Leonhard, the Bell signing is a good move. He is more durable, athletic, and has better size than Leonhard. Even if he is a traditional strong safety, he fills the free safety void better than Leonhard would have. Bell also provides depth behind Landry at strong safety if he misses time due to injury. Similar to Landry, Smith and Allen, Bell is an in the box safety who excels in run support but has questions in coverage.

On the whole, the Jets have collected four players with similar skill sets at different positions of their career. Bell is 34 years old but is probably the most reliable. Smith is 29 and has the most experience in the defense. Landry is 27, has the highest ceiling but the most question marks and Allen is a rookie. The only player who projects to being a true free safety is the rookie sixth round pick, Josh Bush.

The reported plan is for Landry and Bell to start together, while using Smith in the role he excelled at off the bench during the 2009 season. Bush should have every opportunity to play in nickel and dime situations in the centerfield position.

How will the Jets stop tight ends? The most logical approach remains to keep their safeties out of man to man situations. Ryan will have to get creative about bracketing them with a linebacker with speed, perhaps rookie Demario Davis or with Landry or Smith underneath. Bell will likely see more time playing over the top than he did in Miami and then Bush will also be lined up deep off the ball when he is on the field. Also don’t be surprised to see Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, or Kyle Wilson used to help slow down tight ends in certain situations. Wilson and Cromartie in particular could line up at safety in select packages.

New York Jets Draft Pick Analysis: Safety Josh Bush

Chris Gross breaks down New York Jets safety Josh Bush, one of the team’s sixth round picks this year

With immense struggle at the Safety position last season, one of the New York Jets’ most pressing needs heading into the 2012 draft was to find players to add to the back of their defensive secondary. New York was repeatedly hurt by their safety play last year, especially after the season ending injury to Jim Leonhard. Opposing tight ends generally had field days against the Jets, most notably New England’s Rob Gronkowski. In his two games against Gang Green last season, Gronkowski caught 12 balls for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns. If New York ever wants to take the reigns from New England in the AFC East, one of the many things they will have to do is shutdown the young TE duo of Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who also had 9 catches for 97 yards in his two games against the Jets last year.

New York addressed the safety position via free agency with the addition of former first round selection LaRon Landry. However, Landry is known for his physicality and play as a Strong Safety, rather than his coverage ability. The Jets desperately needed to add a quality cover Safety, and that is exactly what they did when they selected Josh Bush with the 187th overall pick in this year’s draft. While Landry will serve an in the box type role this season, Bush has the ability to take over for Leonhard in the center field role for New York. Eric Smith will likely begin the season as the starter, but with Bush’s strong cover skills, there is certainly a chance for him to see significant time, and eventually surpass Smith by mid to late season.

The most obvious trait that stands out on Bush is his athleticism. He has very smooth hips and makes seamless transitions from his backpedal into his forward progressions. He shows fantastic ability to read routes and react to the ball. His has good closing speed which gives him great range and the ability to roam the field freely. This is crucial to the position, because it allows him have the liberty to navigate the secondary.

Bush’s run game skills are excellent as well. His pursuit angles are what a safety’s should be. He will not take poor angles to try and make a play, but instead will take the longer, safer angles, while allowing everyone in front of him to make the tackle before the ball carrier gets to his level, literally making himself the last line of defense. In terms of run defense, this is exactly what a free safety should be doing.

As a true free safety, Bush knows his assignments, and does a great job of orchestrating the defense by getting his teammates in the right spots before the snap. He can certainly make the big play, demonstrated by his 6 interceptions at Wake Forest last season, but he will not be depended on to do so, especially in New York’s star studded secondary. Instead, Bush will need to be cerebral and be able to blanket the Tight End, along with anything else over the middle, something he is no stranger to. Last season against Clemson, Bush was a problem for the Tigers’ All American Tight End, Dwayne Allen. Against Bush and the Wake Forest defense, Allen amassed only 4 catches for 48 yards.

Bush’s strong points are an excellent fit for the Jets. He is very fast, extremely quick, and similar to his rookie counterparts that we have previously reviewed, he is very tough. Bush also demonstrates a vast knowledge of the defense and his responsibilities. He knows his job and constantly executes his assignments with one hundred percent effort. Bush does not get caught up worrying about his teammates’ assignments, which shows he has great trust in those around him, something vital to the success of any defense.

While Bush certainly possesses athleticism, passion, and confidence, there are some aspects of his game that, if improved upon, will only make him a better, more complete player. His ability to shed blocks is somewhat poor, and his tackling skills, although good, are far from perfect. As a Free Safety, Bush’s play in these areas will not determine his success at the position, but improvement here will not only make him a better player, it will enhance the entire defense as well.

In evaluating film of Josh Bush, there is certainly great question as to how he flew so far under the radar in college. Despite being a third team All American, and first team All ACC selection, Bush was snubbed for the Senior Bowl and did not receive an invite to the NFL Combine. He moved from the Cornerback position to Safety for his senior season, so perhaps there were concerns about his level of experience. He also does not have elite size, but at 5’11” 203 lbs, he is certainly big enough to develop into a very productive NFL safety.

Overall, Bush surely has the ability to be an early contributor. His athleticism and coverage skills will make him a great fit for the role he will be placed in with the Jets. Combine that with the extreme lack of depth the Jets have at the Free Safety position, and he will more than likely always be a play or two away from getting on the field. Eric Smith is expected to begin the season as the starting FS, but if he begins to struggle again, expect New York to take a shot with Bush. If he can develop intellectually, he will prove to be a stronger, faster, more athletic Jim Leonhard. The key will be how well he can grasp the defense and how confident he will be in taking command.

Editor’s Notes – Bush reminds me an awful lot of Dwight Lowery. He is a hybrid safety/corner with average size and speed that has very good ball skills and instincts. When the Jets go to a three safety look, he is a logical player to drop into a centerfield type role. It wouldn’t shock me if he found his way on to the field as a starter at some point considering the Jets depth chart but ideally he will spend this season only playing in sub packages and on special teams.

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.