Grading Out the Jets/Ravens Game

First a few updates:

1. John Clayton speculated it would take a 1st and 4th round pick for the Jets or any other team for that matter to acquire Brandon Marshall from the Broncos…that is a steep price for the Jets, who only drafted three players last year and still badly need to add depth/talent to the WR, TE, and OL/DL. However, how much better would Mark Sanchez be with a guy like Marshall to throw to? It is an interesting debate, as of now I still wouldn’t expect anything to happen.

2. The Rex Sox just acquired Billy Wagner…did somebody say desperate? Also, it is really historically unbelievable how bad the Mets season has gone, in terms of injuries and everything else that has happened around the team.

3. I just found out you can download something called “NFL Replay” which allows you to watch any NFL game on your computer within 24 hours of it ending. Thank god…I was contemplating not going to Italy with my family because I would miss the Jets/Colts week 16 game.

4. My fantasy football league is holding our live draft this Saturday…and I am stuck the #5 pick. Suggestions are still welcome.

Grading Out the Jets/Ravens Game

Quarterbacks: D+ – Yeeesh. Let’s be honest here, outside of one play it was an ugly, ugly night for Mark Sanchez. The rookie threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown (a ridiculously athletic play by Haloti Ngata), threw another ball right into the arms of Ray Lewis, fumbled an exchange, had two delay of game penalties, and a miscommunication with Jerricho Cotchery. Yes, he did make an athletic play and a great throw on a 19 yard touchdown pass to Leon Washington on a third down, which shows some character and a short memory, both necessary for a successful quarterback but outside of that play, he was simply bad. Hopefully, this night be will remembered as an important part of his development and learning curve as a NFL QB. The Ravens in their building are as good as it gets in the NFL…Sanchez will learn from last night and be better prepared the next time around.

Kellen Clemens had a real shot to make the quarterback battle alot more interesting last night but didn’t respond to the challenge. He threw a horrible interception at the end of the first half, which was returned for a touchdown and only completed 50 percent of his passes. He did drop in a nice 28 yard touchdown to David Clowney (who else?) and threw a beautiful long ball to Brad Smith that was dropped (shocking…I know).

The Jets are built to play defense and run the ball. They need a quarterback who can protect the football and not give points to the opposing team. If you take away the 2 INT’s for touchdowns last night, the Jets win that game handily. They can’t have turnovers from the quarterback position, period.

By the way, Erik Ainge looked pretty good last night and is probably on his way to being the #2 quarterback next year when Clemens isn’t resigned.

Running Backs: A – Pay Leon Washington. Pay Leon Washington. Pay Leon Washington. Pay Leon Washington. #29 is the engine the keeps the Jets offense running. He put on a display last night that clearly showed his value to the Jets. 48 rushing yards on a 6.0 yards per carry (just like last season…give him more touches), 2 receptions for 35 yards including a 19 yard touchdown, and a 52 yard kickoff return. Pay Leon Washington. Thomas Jones also looked like he was in 2008 form with 32 yards on 8 carries. Shonn Greene had a nice 15 yard catch but took a rib shot that limited his action. I am still not that impressed with Danny Woodhead, who isn’t going to make the roster. Brock Christopher looked pretty good filling in for Jehuu Caulcrick. Good to see Tony Richardson back out there.

Wide Receivers: D – Nothing from Jerricho Cotchery or Chansi Stuckey, who combined for 1 catch for 7 yards. Brad Smith dropped a touchdown and had an offensive pass interference penalty. Britt Davis dropped a long touchdown. Marcus Henry couldn’t get open on the 2 point conversion that could have won the game. Wallace Wright was quiet. On the positive side, David Clowney just keeps making plays as he caught another touchdown pass, using his speed to blow by Frank Walker. How can Clowney not be the Jets #2 receiver right now? Everybody talks about how much they love Stuckey in the slot, so put Clowney and Cotchery on the outside and have Stuckey work the slot.

Tight Ends: C – Quiet night from Dustin Keller. Jack Simmons had a drop and Kareem Brown didn’t have a catch, although they all deserve some credit for strong blocking in the running game.

Offensive Line: B+ – It says alot about Nick Mangold and Alan Faneca that they strapped it up last night…that is exactly what you want to see from your veterans, that they are excited about the team/season and are raring to get back out there. The offensive line did a great job opening up holes in the running game and did decent in pass protection, considering the amount of blitzes the Ravens threw at them. Wayne Hunter played much better filling in for Damien Woody than he did last week.

Defensive LIne: B+ – Very strong games from both Howard Green and Ropati Pitoitua, who both recorded a sack and are showing that the Jets have pretty good depth along their defensive line. The run defense was great and the entire line got a solid push all night. It will be a huge boost to get Kris Jenkins back in the next couple of days.

Linebackers: B – David Harris is going to record alot of sacks in Rex Ryan’s defense. He continued his terrific pre-season with 5 tackles and a sack. Bart Scott missed a tackle in the backfield on third down that would have ended a drive. Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace both had productive games, including another sack from Pace who the Jets are going to miss badly for the first four games this year. Kenwin Cummings and Marques Murrell were both active. Vernon Gholston did nothing except get out-run by Joe Flacco.

Secondary: C – They badly miss Darrelle Revis. Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman were picked on all night. Coleman had a nice pass deflection but was toasted deep by Derrick Mason. Lito Sheppard was beat a couple of times. Kerry Rhodes was pretty active and had a nice pass deflection, to break up a screen play. Marquice Cole had a nice interception but was beat deep later in the game. James Ihedigbo had an interception called back on a penalty.

Special Teams: C – Average punting, decent kicking, a big kick return by Leon Washington, a nice job on punt returns by Jim Leonhard and a near turnover by Aundrae Allison.

Highlights From the Game Last Night:

Grading Out the Jets First Pre-Season Game

Grading Out the Jets First Pre-Season Game

Quarterbacks: B+ – Mark Sanchez stole the headlines in this game, with his 3/4, 88 yards performance. He only played one series but led the Jets on a 95 yard touchdown drive and on his first play from scrimmage threw a beautiful 48 yard pass down the sideline that hit David Clowney in stride. He also converted a key third down when he hit Dustin Keller for a 26 yard gain. He sure the looked the part of a starting quarterback last night, even though it was only one drive. Kellen Clemens was OK. He threw the ball well (4/4 24 yards) and did a nice job avoiding one sack, but still had a fumble. I am sorry but it is time to face the reality that unless Sanchez bombs out the next 2 weeks, this competition is over. Erik Ainge played well in an extended duty, including a 50 yard touchdown strike to a wide open David Clowney.

Running Backs: B – The most exciting play of the night was a 34 yard rumble by rookie Shonn Greene. Thomas Jones was quiet but did punch the ball in the endzone when the Jets needed him to. Leon Washington showed his usual burst on a 8 yard run but beyond that he was also quiet. For all the talk about Danny Woodhead, he looked pretty ordinary last night.

Wide Receiver: A – A really encouraging night from the wide receivers. Cotchery and Stuckey didn’t play much, but the all the guys behind them contributed something positive. David Clowney obviously had a monster night with a 3 catch, 103 yard, 1 TD performance. You can’t teach speed and if he can stay healthy, Clowney should be a valuable weapon on the Jets offense this season. Brad Smith had a great 10 yard grab in traffic to convert a third down and a nice 28 yard run on a reverse. Wallace Wright got a little banged up but returned and had a nice 23 yard catch and finished with 3 catches. Britt Davis looked good when the ball was thrown in his direction (2 catches, 33 yards, 1 third down conversion). At this point, I’d be surprised if the Jets didn’t keep 6 receivers and they weren’t Cotchery, Stuckey, Clowney, Wright, Smith, and Davis.

Tight End: A – Dustin Keller looked like the beast the Jets are going to need him to be this season. It is hard to imagine Keller not being the Jets #2 WR, despite being listed as a tight end and having 70-80 catches this season. The guy is a match-up nightmare for defenses. Kareem Brown had 2 catches and Jack Simmons held his own with the first offense. We didn’t get to see Wayne Hunter at tight end since he had to play tackle with the starters.

Offensive Line: C – The backups did OK…Wayne Hunter was beat for a strip sack by Leonard Little. The first unit didn’t open up too many holes for the running backs but did a good job of pass protection on Sanchez’s drive. You would really like to see the full starting line up together next Monday night against the Ravens.

Defensive Line: C – A quiet night from this unit, although they weren’t as stout against the run as you’d like to see, obviously the absence of Kris Jenkins didn’t help.

Linebackers: B+ – Really impressive nights from Calvin Pace and David Harris who were all over the field. The Jets are going to miss Pace in a big way the first four weeks. Kenwin Cummings had a nice sack and Brandon Renkart was active. Another quiet night from Vernon Gholston (2 tackles), although he did have one pressure. Marques Murrell and Jamaal Westerman also didn’t flash as much as expected.

Seconadry: C – Dwight Lowery had a rough night, muffing a punt and getting beat deep on a 50 yard completion. Donald Strickland had a sack and an overall solid night in coverage. Kerry Rhodes and Jim Leonhard didn’t record any sacks but both did a good job pressuring the quarterback when they blitzed. Lito Sheppard looked good. It will be nice to have Darrelle Revis back next week.

Special Teams: D – Three muffed punts is no good. Jay Feely did his job, hitting both of his field goals. Reggie Hodges looked a little better than TJ Conely at punter.

Highlights from Last Night:

Pre-Season Week One: Jets vs. Rams Preview

First a few updates:

1. Vick to the Eagles? Wow, I didn’t see that one coming. What an interesting move, that could be discussed for hours upon hours. I don’t know what type of shape Vick is in right now, but I would imagine by the time he is reinstated (probably somewhere between week 4-6), he will at least be the running threat he always was. Defensive coordinators will now have to prepare for a wildcat type formation or a package of plays that features Vick’s unique skill set. You can say what you want about Vick as a person but the guy is one hell of a football player, and I am sure Andy Reid’s staff will find a way to get the most out of him on the field.

2. Tom Brady returned tonight and of course threw two touchdowns to….Chris Baker. Yes, that Chris Baker who the Jets wouldn’t resign and are now stuck with Wayne Hunter and Jack Simmons battling it out for the #2 tight end job. I can already see Baker having 9 catches for 139 yards with 2 TD’s week two at the Meadowlands.

3. Did anybody see those “The Lighter Side of Training Camp” commericials featuring Thomas Jones, Nick Mangold, Leon Washington, Dustin Keller, and Jerricho Cotchery? The one with Mangold trying to sell TJ’s car is hysterical. If you havent’ seen them, I suggest going over to www.thejetsblog.com and checking them out.

Pre-Season Week One: Jets vs. Rams Preview

The Headline: The Jets are a little banged up on both sides of the ball, but especially on offense along their prized line. Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, and Damien Woody will all sit out with injuries, thrusting Wayne Hunter, Rob Turner, and Stanley Daniels into the starting lineup. This will be a good chance for the Jets backups to gain some extra work and experience, and attempt to calm the organization’s concern about their offensive line depth. Unfortunately, because of the injuries both Kellen Clemens and Mark Sanchez will play less to decrease the risk of injury. I’d expect 2-3 series from both of them before it becomes the Erik AInge show.

You Have to Be Excited to See: Mark Sanchez…obviously. The rookie should get some work with the first team offense and if he can move the ball effectively, will go a long way towards locking down the starting quarterback position. Shonn Greene…the third round pick should receive the bulk of the carries on the night and will be looking to prove the Jets have a three-headed monster at running back. Vernon Gholston…he has been playing better in practice, but how nice would it be to see the guy finally get a sack? Isn’t that what we drafted him for?

Position Battles: David Clowney vs. Brad Smith vs. Wallace Wright vs. Britt Davis for reps behind Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey. Let’s see if Clowney can match last season’s monster pre-season and if the undrafted rookie Davis can bounce back from a rough outing at the Green and White Scrimmage. Jack Simmons vs. Kareem Brown for the #2 tight end spot. Simmons has been active in camp but needs to be more consistent catching the football. Sione Pouha vs. Howard Green for reps behind Kris Jenkins at defensive tackle. Jenkins isn’t playing and Pouha will start but Green has had a strong camp and received plenty of praise from Rex Ryan.

What You Have to Hope For: No injuries. 7-9, 78 yards and a TD for Mark Sanchez. A sack and a forced fumble by Vernon Gholston. A highlight reel 70 yard touchdown run by Leon Washington that finally pushes Tannebaum over the edge to give him a new contract. A big day from the one the Jets receivers not named Cotchery or Stuckey.

Talking to the Opponent: Will Horton from http://Ramsherd.com and I exchanged e-mails about tomorrow’s game, here is a transcript of our conversation –

Will: This will be the first time that Marc Bulger plays without the red jersey, and will be free to take hits. How well does the new offensive line protect him, and how confident will he be in his throws? He’s looked good in practice, but he’s also been untouched. From the Jets’ perspective, who’s bringing the pass rush? 
 
Joe: The Jets top two sack guys from last season were Shaun Ellis and Calvin Pace. Unfortunately, both are facing early season suspensions, with Pace missing 4 games and Ellis missing 1. Vernon Gholston will be stepping in for Pace and should see a ton of action against the Rams to get him ready for the first 4 weeks of the regular season. Also, keep an eye on under the radar linebackers, Marques Murrell and Jamaal Westerman who both have had very strong training camps.

Will: Will Spagnuolo be able to remake this Rams defensive front into a Giants-style penetrating attack? We got pushed sideways and backwards all last season, perhaps no game more so than against the Jets. (That video you posted is nightmarish for us!) With Mangold, Faneca and Woody out, are the Jets’ backups stout enough to hold the fort?

Joe:It is hard to evaluate their top backups because none of them have had extensive playing time. Regardless, Robert Turner and Wayne Hunter did contribute last season as extra tight ends in short yardage situations and are veterans of the Jets offense. Stanley Daniels, who will start for Alan Faneca is probably the biggest question mark of the three. Rex Ryan has already went on record stating he believes Wayne Hunter is a starting caliber tackle and Rob Turner is a versatile player with good size.

Will: If the Rams get to the red zone, can we score? How was the Jets’ red zone defense last season? How does it project this season?   
 
Joe:
The Jets red zone defense was pretty good last season and should project to be even better this year because of the depth they added at all three levels. Darrelle Revis and Lito Sheppard can man up on receivers and let the Jets stack the box. Kris Jenkins leads the charge on the D-Line and frees up space for the Jets exceptional pair of inside linebackers, Bart Scott and David Harris.

Eight Observations on Jets Training Camp

First a few updates:

1. Some schedule news – The Jets open their pre-season schedule this Friday at home against the St. Louis Rams. On Thursday, their practice will be closed to the media. Wednesday is family night at 6 PM out at Hofstra, throwing a bone out to the Jets Long Island fans. Tomorrow they have one full practice in the morning and an afternoon special teams session.

2. The Jets released their first official depth chart today, I will update it accordingly on the site which can be accessed on the top of the home page.

Ten Monday Observations on Jets Training Camp

– I know it is only one game and I know that it was somewhat expected but don’t underestimate the blow of not having Shaun Ellis for week one against the Texans. The Jets will now have their top two sack leaders from last season suspended for week one against a Houston offense that loves to spread it out and throw the football. They will be also now be giving two players their first ever NFL start, likely Mike DeVito at defensive end and Vernon Gholston at outside linebacker. If you want to look at the silver lining, DeVito and Gholston will gain some valuable playing time which will improve the Jets overall depth. However, in reality the Jets will be hurting without Pace and Ellis.

– Speaking of hurting, the list of minor Jets injuries is starting to concern me. It is almost comical how Rex Ryan brushes off every single injury as not significant and it’s not that I don’t believe him, it is just that a high number of key guys are nursing injuries. Nick Mangold’s knee is bothering him, Kris Jenkins is still out with a sore calf, Darrelle Revis isn’t taking part in team drills because of a tight hamstring, Tony Richardson is out with a hip pointer, Shaun Ellis sat out today with a tight back, and Donald Strickland is still out with a knee bruise…how can that not bother you a little bit? Richardson and Jenkins won’t play on Friday, which will give a big opportunity to Sione Pouha and Jehuu Caulcrick.

– Mark Sanchez has taken a few baby steps back since his big time performance with the starters on Saturday. He has struggled the last couple of practices with his accuracy, missing a few open targets while Kellen Clemens has been decent although he threw another interception today, giving him 11 throughout camp compared to Sanchez’s 3. Ryan is giving Clemens the start at home against the Rams because he will logically alternate and given Sanchez the 2nd start in the pre-season. Why would Ryan want Sanchez starting week 2? He wants to throw his highly touted rookie right into the fire on national television against his former team, the Baltimore Ravens on the road. You want to see what Sanchez has before the regular season…in Baltimore, against their starters for a full quarter on ESPN is a great test.

– So it looks like Wayne Hunter is really going to be the Jets #2 tight end. Apparently the big fella caught a 20 yard out route in front of Bart Scott the other day….impressive. Here is a fun fact about Wayne Hunter, the guy had an overall 100 morale rating in Madden 2008. Why is he so happy? I don’t know, but keep your spirits up Wayne and keep catching those passes.

– Rex Ryan raved about Vernon Gholston today like he was Bruce Smith because he has recorded a couple of sacks in the Jets last few practices. Yes, we are all happy to see Gholston finally making some plays in practice but keep in perspective that he has been outplayed all camp by Marques Murrell and Jamaal Westerman. I think we all would be encouraged by a sack this Friday night.

– I am disappointed by the quiet training camps from Brad Smith and David Clowney, especially Clowney. However, I am intrigued to watch Britt Davis and Wallace Wright this Friday and see if they can make a move up the depth chart.

– You have to love Leon Washington for putting together such a strong camp despite the Jets playing hard-ball with him on his contract negotiations…just pay the man his money, Mike Tannenbaum.

– A few observations on the Jets depth chart – Surprised to see Kareem Brown in front of Jack Simmons at tight end, Jamaal Westerman has already hopped Larry Izzo and Kenwin Cummings at inside linebacker, good to see Matt Slauson behind Alan Faneca at LG.

Green and White Scrimmage Recap

Green and White Scrimmage Recap

The Jets defense is way ahead of their offense, but hey…we knew that already. The Jets ‘Green and White’ scrimmage didn’t do anything to change that notion. Neither the first or second offense was able to manage any points (keep in mind, a couple of fourth down conversions were attempted and failed in field goal territory), the lone touchdown of the day came from the third offense, when backup receiver Paul Raymond scored on a 15 yard reverse. Let’s go over what we saw from each position….

Quarterback – Kellen Clemens didn’t turn the ball over, which was a positive. However, he didn’t do anything to separate himself from Mark Sanchez. He mostly threw short, safe passes and finished roughly 5-7 for 26 yards. His best throw was probably a 11 yard completion in the seam to Dustin Keller on a third down. His worst throw was on a 3rd and 20, when Chansi Stuckey got behind Drew Coleman and Clemens under threw him, leading to a jump ball that was nearly intercepted.

Mark Sanchez played very well and drew a high amount of praise from Rex Ryan. The rookie was victimized by four dropped passes, including two from Britt Davis (who received some press earlier in the day as the “mystery” receiver the Jets organization was excited about, maybe they jinxed him…) and one by Jack Simmons, who also didn’t help himself with an offsides penalty. Unofficially, Sanchez was 9-15 for 70 yards. He showed his chemistry with Wallace Wright, hitting him 3 times for 23 yards including a nice throw on a deep comeback route for about 15 yards. He didn’t have any turnovers but did take a sack, when he failed to notice a backside corner blitz. Sanchez made the quarterback battle even tighter with his performance today, I’d say right now it is an even 50-50, after it being slightly tilted in Clemens favor most of the week.

Erik Ainge actually played half way decent, hitting Marcus Henry for a 38 yard gain, which was the day’s biggest offensive play. He led the offense on their only scoring drive of the day.

Running Back – Thomas Jones was relatively quiet, except for a monster blitz pick-up. Leon Washington had 3 catches for 12 yards. Shonn Greene was the best news of the day on offense. The rookie third-round pick had 25 yards on 6 carries, including a 12 yard run when he broke to the outside. He also had a 33 yard reception on a screen pass. You have to get excited when thinking about the Jets potential three-headed monster at running back.

Receiver – Britt Davis received the hype today and struggled to validate the coaching staff’s excitement with two key drops. David Clowney had a quiet day with 1 catch for 7 yards. Brad Smith didn’t do anything of note. Chansi Stuckey and Jerricho Cotchery had 2 catches a piece. Marcus Henry had the play of the day with a 38 yard reception over Drew Coleman. Wallace Wright had a strong outing and is pretty much locked into a roster spot. The only way Davis or Henry make the roster at this point is if the Jets decide to keep 6 receivers.

Tight End – Jack Simmons had a drop and a penalty. Kareem Brown had a 8 yard catch. Dustin Keller had one catch for 11 yards…the Jets still need help at this position.

Offensive Line – Three plays were called as “sacks,” although two came from members of the secondary which could fall on the running backs and their blitz pick-up. The best news? No injuries.

Defensive Line – Mike DeVito left with an injury but according to Rex Ryan it isn’t that serious. The Jets showed some unique looks on the defensive line, with Shaun Ellis sliding over to nose tackle and Sione Pouha dropping to MLB (no, that wasn’t a error).

Linebacker – Vernon Gholston had an active today, which is a step in the right direction for him. He was around the ball alot and made a handful of tackles. Marques Murrell had a tackle for a loss, Kenwin Cummings had a tackle for a loss, Jamaal Westerman had a sack, Brandon Renkart had a quarterback pressure. Ryan singled out Cummings and David Harris as having particularly strong days.

Secondary – The secondary continued their excellent training camp. Darrelle Revis was lockdown as usual, Lito Sheppard played well and did good in run support. Dwight Lowery had a sack, Drew Coleman had a couple of passes defensed. James Ihedigbo had a sack, Kerry Rhodes had a tackle for a loss. The Jets secondary is going to be very good this season, especially if second-tier players like Ihedigbo, Coleman, and Eric Smith keep playing well.

Tomorrow – The Jets have off and are taking a trip out to the pro football Hall of Fame…however, I won’t take off and will write an article about what we have learned through the first week of Jets training camp.

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 5th

First a few updates:

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

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

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

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 5th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Guys to Watch For in Tomorrow’s Scrimmage:

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

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

3. Vernon Gholston – See above.

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

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

Jets Training Camp: Five Position Battles

First a few updates:

1. RIP to former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who was one of the brightest minds in the NFL.

2. Brett Favre has decided to stay retired…boohoo.

Jets Training Camp: Five Position Battles

1. Starting Quarterback: Mark Sanchez vs. Kellen Clemens vs. Erik Ainge (Just Kidding)

Why Sanchez Will Win: The Jets didn’t trade up to draft Sanchez and pay him 60 million dollars to have him sit on the bench. Rex Ryan watched Joe Flacco lead the Ravens to the AFC Championship game last year and will believe Sanchez can do the same. The rookie from USC only has to keep it close with Kellen Clemens this summer and the job will be his.

Why Clemens Will Win: He is more experienced in the offense and the Jets are built to win now. Sanchez only had 16 starts at USC and simply won’t be ready to lead a NFL offense by September. Similar to how Chad Pennington was out playing him last summer, Clemens will use his knowledge of Brian Schottenheimer’s offense to handily outplay the overwhelmed rookie this summer.

Prediction: The two quarterbacks will play relatively even this summer, which means Mark Sanchez will win the job.

2. Starting Wide Receiver: Chansi Stuckey vs. Brad Smith vs. David Clowney

Why Stuckey Will Win: He performed the best in mini-camp and OTA’s and is coming off the best season in 2008. He had more catches than Smith and Clowney combined last year, and is by far the most polished of the group at the position.

Why Clowney Will Win: Speed kills and the Jets desperately need it on offense. Clowney will get over his drops in the spring and be a big play machine all summer.

Why Smith Will Win: He has the best combination of size and speed and is the best overall athlete. He will finally put it all together this summer as a wide receiver.

Prediction: Stuckey will receive most of the reps as the #2, followed by Clowney, and then Smith.

3. Outside Linebacker (Week 1-4): Vernon Gholston vs. Marques Murrell

Why Gholston Will Win: The guy was the number 6 overall pick in the draft for a reason. Rex Ryan will push Gholston towards becoming the elite pass rusher the Jets drafted him to be.

Why Murrell Will Win: He is hungrier than Gholston and plays with more passion for the game. Gholston was simply a workout wonder and won’t be able to translate his talent to the NFL level.

Prediction: Gholston will start, but Murrell will still receive 25-30% of the reps.

4. Nickel-Back: Donald Strickland vs. Dwight Lowery

Why Strickland Will Win: The veteran has been a pretty good nickel back the previous few seasons and Ryan will feel comfortable with him in the game in key 3rd down situations.

Why Lowery Will Win: He showed plenty of talent in his rookie season and was a quality starter for the first few weeks of the year. Lowery will learn from his rookie mistakes and develop into a quality nickel-back.

Prediction: Even though most people expect Strickland to win the job, I like what I saw from Lowery last season and think he will be guy.

5. #2 Tight End: Kareem Brown vs. Richard Owens vs. Jack Simmons

Why Brown Will Win: After being moved from defensive end, Brown had a productive spring and impressed the coaching staff with the potential he has displayed. Somehow, he has the most experience in this offense despite only being on it since the 2008 season ended.

Why Owens Will Win: He is the only player among these three with NFL experience at tight end.

Why Simmons Will Win: The UDFA had a strong showing in the spring and will build on that in the summer. He was a productive player last season in college and is the only player of the three who played tight end at any level of football last year (Owens was out of the league and Brown was a DE).

Prediction: I think Brown and Simmons end up splitting the reps as the #2 tight end.

Jets Highlight of the Article: Who can forget this 2007 match-up between the Jets and Rex Ryan’s (as a D coordinator) Baltimore Ravens. Look at my boy Cotchery tearing it up, but more importantly look at $#%$% Justin McCariens dropping passes. I will never forget shattering a remote control on this day because of #81.

New York Jets Training Camp Preview 2009

First a few updates:

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

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

New York Jets Training Camp Preview 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. The stories about how versatile Brad Smith is.

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

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

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

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

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

8. The stories about how fast David Clowney is.

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

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

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

Jets Positional Analysis: Tight Ends

First a few updates:

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

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

Jets Positional Analysis: Tight Ends

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

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

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

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chance of Making Roster: 75%

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

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

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

The Other Guys:

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

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

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

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

Three Moves the Jets Need to Make & A Rant on Mike Freeman

First a quick rebuttal to Mike Freeman of CBS Sports:

Mike Freeman of CBS Sports wrote an article (http://www.cbssports.com/columns/story/11849129) the other day where he pours it on Rex Ryan and the Jets organization as a whole. While I can understand a little bit of where he is coming from, he goes way overboard and makes a few questionable statements.

Yes, I understand Rex Ryan is a rookie head coach and may be doing a little too much talking for his own good. Yet, he didn’t say anything that outlandish or out of line. He is an accomplished defensive coordinator in this league and there is no reason he can’t have confidence in his group of guys or not stand in awe of New England’s past success. The guy never guaranteed anything or disrespected any of the Jets opponents.

Here are a few of Freeman’s excerpts, with my responses:

“Typical Jets: patting themselves on the back even before the season begins. The New York Jets — kings of June wind sprints.”  — Typical? When is the last time the Jets have patted themselves on the back before the season begins? I don’t remember many Junes where the Jets have been made any kind of bold proclamations about the upcoming season.

“Not certain about the rest of you, but I would love to see an organization with the sort of losing and embarrassing history of the Jets, oh, you know, win before the head coach starts beating his chest and running his mouth like he’s Big Pussy from The Sopranos.”  — Yes, the Jets don’t have one of the most illustrious histories in sports. However, the past decade they have been one of the better franchises in the NFL, with playoff appearances in 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2006 along with a .500 or better record in 1999, 2000, and 2008. Big Pussy from the Sopranos? Oh yes, clever reference since the Jets play in New Jersey but why Big Pussy, why not Paulie or Tony?

“Remember these are the Jets. It was this team that made one of the worst acquisitions in recent history with Brett “The Vikings love me/they love me not” Favre.” — Of course it is easy to say acquiring Brett Favre was stupid now, but at the time the Jets were universally praised for acquiring a hall of famer to fill the one glaring hole on their roster. Nobody was thought it was a bad acquisition when the Jets were 8-3 and had just blown out the undefeated Titans in their building. Yes, Favre and the Jets melted down the stretch but if it is another team that Freeman doesn’t hate, that’s on Favre not the organization for taking a chance by bringing him in.

“Ocho Rexo sounds just as silly as pops. He’s the guy with a larynx larger than his biceps who has had a few too many beers taking on the biggest, meanest guy in the bar. Challenging New England the way he has without a win under his belt puts Ocho Rexo in the same category as Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. Rex has failed to also show the current division champions, the Miami Dolphins, a modicum of respect”— Did he challenge New England or did he just say he wasn’t going to “kiss their rings?” Should he kiss Bellicheck’s rings? Should the Jets play scared of New England because they won a few Super Bowls a few years ago? The Giants weren’t scared of the undefeated Patriots and they beat them up. Ryan also never disrespected the Dolphins (unless you consider his what his defense did to the wildcat last year as disrespect) he only talked trash to one of their average players, who came at him first.

“This season, after the Jets win five games and Mark Sanchez is a bloodied mess, Ryan’s faux bravado and words will haunt him.”— So now because Ryan is a confident guy the Jets are going to be a 5 win team? It sounds like some wishful thinking by Freeman, but why would a team that won 9 games last year and added Bart Scott, Lito Sheppard, Jim Leonhard, Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene, Donald Strickland, and Marques Douglas become 4 games worse? Also, why will Mark Sanchez be a bloodied mess, because he is playing behind one of the top five offensive lines in the league? An offensive line that is returning all 5 starters and their top two backups, all of whom played together in every single game last year. An offensive line that has pro-bowlers Alan Faneca and Nick Mangold on it…yea, I think Sanchez will make it through the year in one piece.

Three Moves the Jets Need to Make

1. Don’t Trade Thomas Jones –  This is more in the “non-move” category but the Jets need to find a way to make Jones happy for this upcoming season. It would be foolish to trade away a workhorse pro-bowl running back when you are going to start an inexperienced quarterback. I know they like Shonn Greene but give the rookie a year to develop behind Jones and Leon Washington before you start giving 15-20 carries a game. I am not saying the Jets have to give him a long term contract, but they could advance him his signing bonus from next year or reach some kind of compromise.

2. Keep Monitoring the Plaxico Burress Situation – If Burress is going to be able to play football this season, the Jets should take a chance and sign him, even if they only get him for 12 games. Burress is a legit number one receiver who would provide a huge security blanket to either Mark Sanchez or Kellen Clemens. He would also allow Jerricho Cotchery to go back into his more natural #2 role. The Jets offense would be pretty difficult to stop with Burress and Cotchery split out, Keller at tight end and Jones and Leon Washington in the backfield.

3. Sign Another Veteran Tight End – I am still not comfortable with an aged and banged up Bubba Franks or a converted defensive lineman, Kareem Brown as the #2 tight end. The Jets are in major trouble if Dustin Keller gets hurt. There are still veterans on the market who could provide 20 snaps a game as a blocker.