Ten Things August Taught Us About The Jets

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Opening night is less than two weeks away for the Jets, who only have to get “The Backup Bowl” out of the way this Thursday against the Eagles before preparation begins for the Baltimore Ravens. Here is ten things the month of August has taught us about the 2010 New York Jets:

1. Darrelle Revis Is A Stubborn SOB – When Revis said he wanted to be the highest paid cornerback in the NFL, he wasn’t playing. With his uncle in his ear, Revis hasn’t budged and appears ready to sit out the entire 2010 season unless the Jets cave in. At this point, even if Revis returns he can’t be expected to play at his 2009 level and has a high chance of getting hurt. I am sorry but getting trained by some random ex high school player in the Pittsburgh area isn’t proper preparation to face Anquan Boldin, Randy Moss, and Brandon Marshall. Revis has successfully turned public Jets opinion nearly 100 percent against him but for some reason I think we’d still see plenty of #24 jerseys week one, if he signs within the next few days.

2. Two For Four – Even though it is too early to place judgements, it appears the Jets went 2/4 in their 2010 draft picks…at least for this season. Kyle Wilson is likely going to be the week one starter at corner and has looked excellent throughout training camp and pre-season. The coaching staff has raved about his work ethic and knowledge of the defense. Fifth round pick John Conner has quickly developed into one of Rex Ryan’s favorite players because he is an absolute battering ram as a lead blocker. He should have a role on the Jets offense this year before taking over as the full time fullback next season. Second round pick Vlad Ducasse was overwhelmed in training camp and likely will spend the entire year on the inactive list unless Matt Slauson can’t handle the job at left guard. Fourth round pick Joe McKnight has looked good on punt returns but beyond that runs timid at running back and can’t hold on to the football. Come back, Leon Washington.

3. Still YoungMark Sanchez improved by leaps and bounds in the playoffs last season, yet judging by the pre-season there are still going to be inconsistencies from him in 2010. I am still confident Sanchez’s stat line will be substantially improved from 2009 but there are still going to be some moments from #6 that make you wince.

Photobucket4. Ground And PoundThe Jets were the league’s number one ranked rushing attack in 2009 and there is a good chance they will repeat in the number one spot in 2010. LaDainian Tomlinson looks motivated to prove he isn’t washed up and has shown a degree explosiveness this August that has surprised everybody. Shonn Greene looks like he is ready to pick up where he left off in the playoffs last season. The Jets may not have the same amount of rushing attempts as they did in 2009 but that doesn’t mean they still won’t be a run heavy offense.

5. Cookie Monster – I don’t know what was in those cookies Kris Jenkins ate all off-season to lose weight but the big fella looks like he is poised to be even more dominant than in 2008. Jenkins is all the way back from his off-season surgery and is moving around better than I have ever seen since he joined the Jets.

6. There May Be Hope Yet For Vernon Gholston – I don’t want to be get excited about anything related to Gholston at this point but the guy put together an impressive August. At the very least, it looks like he will be a quality backup defensive lineman. Hopefully, he can take advantage of the Calvin Pace injury and become a consistent contributor to the Jets pass rush. I am not sure how much time he will see at outside linebacker for the first four weeks or if he should even see any, considering how poorly he played there and how much better he has looked at defensive end.

7. Breakout Year I have consistently said it will be Jerricho Cotchery who will lead the Jets in receptions in 2010. Yet, the amount of times Mark Sanchez has been going to Dustin Keller this August has me contemplating changing my mind. It is feeling like Keller could be on the verge of a 65 reception season, with 6 or 7 touchdowns.

8. What The Folk?The Jets kicking situation might turn out to be okay after all. Nick Folk put together a good training camp and a better pre-season. Hopefully, Mike Westhoff has helped Folk find his 2007 All-Pro form again. While on the topic of kicking, punter Steve Weatherford has been solid all August also.

9. Danny Woodhead Won’t Go Away – It looks like the perpetual long shot will stick on the 53 man roster for the second straight year. Woodhead is versatile enough to play running back and receiver and has the skill set to be a competent special teams player.

10. We Have An Entertaining Team:

Jets vs. Redskins: What We Need To See

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First a few updates:

1. There is a ton of buzz about the Jets depth chart, which was displayed on Hard Knocks last night. What we saw is still subject to change, especially after the upcoming two pre-season games. However, a few comments :

  • It is a joke if Kellen Clemens gets cut to keep Kevin O’Connell on the roster. It is bad enough that Mark Brunell is being handed the backup job, when he doesn’t deserve it over Clemens but to keep O’Connell on the roster over Clemens is insane. O’Connell has been awful this pre-season, while Clemens has been the Jets best second quarterback.
  • It is a wise decision by the Jets to keep Tony Richardson on the roster. He is a valuable veteran to have in the offensive huddle, especially with Thomas Jones and Alan Faneca no longer around.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets changed their mind about keeping four tight ends. It makes more sense to put a guy like Jeff Cumberland on the practice squad and keep a Danny Woodhead, Chauncey Washington, David Clowney, or Lance Laury on the active roster.
  • The Jets may have to look at roster cuts from another team to fill that sixth defensive lineman spot.

Jets vs. Redskins: What We Need To See

The third pre-season game provides the most extended look at a team’s starters, while the fourth pre-season game is for sorting out the final roster spots. Unfortunately, the Jets defense won’t really be tested tomorrow considering Donovan McNabb won’t be playing, and the geriatric collection of running backs and receivers the Redskins have. However, Washington usually runs out a solid defense, which will provide a good test for a Jets offense that needs a bounce-back performance after an ugly showing in Carolina.

PhotobucketMark Sanchez needs to demonstrate the accuracy he displayed against the Giants in the pre-season opener, while continuing to spread the ball around. It appears that Brad Smith is going to primarily be the number three receiver until Santonio Holmes returns from suspension, unless Laveranues Coles can have a head turning performance tomorrow night. Sanchez and Dustin Keller have displayed good chemistry all summer and he looks in sync with Jerricho Cotchery, like he was last season. However, Sanchez hasn’t connected with Santonio Holmes yet in a pre-seaosn game. I want to see them connect a few times in August, considering they won’t be playing together again until October 11th. Finally, the Jets haven’t hit on a deep ball. How about a downfield completion to Braylon Edwards from Sanchez, and a bomb from Mark Brunell to David Clowney?

Speaking of Brunell and Clowney, they are two players who need a strong performance tomorrow night. Clowney is on the verge of being cut and of course losing his “Mr. August” title. Brunell has done nothing to inspire confidence as being the number two quarterback. Hopefully he can actually string together a few completions and move the Jets offense a little bit.

I am interested to see the division of reps between Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson. Greene has been solid this August, but I’d like to see him get 9 – 11 carries and get rolling a little bit. LT will be looking to continue to build on a strong August. Danny Woodhead and Chauncey Washington will be battling for a roster spot in the fourth quarter, while Joe McKnight continues his quest to stop every Jets fan from disliking him and wanting Leon Washington back.

I don’t buy the left guard competition anymore. Let’s just see Matt Slauson go three quarters without a holding penalty or allowing a snack.

On defense, I would like to see Kyle Wilson be tested a little bit. Yet, I don’t think Rex Grossman and Joey Galloway are up to the challenge. We can only hope that Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman build on what they did last week and aren’t beat like a drum by the Redskins reserves. Also, how about a Jason Taylor sighting? I am not sure I have heard a single word about our former enemy this August making any kind of impact on defense. Yes, Taylor is a veteran and pacing himself but at least a quarterback pressure would be nice.

Beyond that, Vernon Gholston needs to keep up his surprisingly high level of play. Kris Jenkins needs to stay healthy and I’d like to see Brodney Pool flash a little more out there.

Nick Folk…just keep pretending it is 2007.

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TV Critic: Hard Knocks Episode #1

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A short and sweet review of episode 1 of Hard Knocks –

1. Overall, I was a little disappointed. Rex Ryan’s speech in the beginning had me ready to jump out of my seat and start fighting all the Giants fans around me (good thing I didn’t, or I wouldn’t be typing this right now). However, after that we spent a little too much time with Kevin Basped, Aaron Kia, Brashton Satele, and Jason Davis. I would’ve liked to see a little more Nick Mangold, Braylon Edwards, and Shonn Greene among others.

2. Kris Jenkins and Bart Scott didn’t disappoint. You have to love Jenkins passion on the field. He was going crazy during that goal-line drill. Scott was entertaining, as expected. I’m glad we got to hear his ribbing of Mark Brunell.

3. It sounds like the groundwork is being laid for John Conner to take Tony Richardson’s job. I would urge the Jets coaching staff to use extreme caution in this “battle.” It would be incredibly foolish to cut Tony Richardson, who is the strongest veteran presence in the huddle, especially with Thomas Jones and Alan Faneca now gone. It is one thing to gradually assimilate Conner into the offense but Richardson still has value on this team and should remain the de facto staring fullback, even if Conner eventually ends up taking more reps.

4. Broadway Joe…always fun to watch, although you certainly got the vibe everybody in the quarterback meeting room was humoring him and yessing him to death on his suggestions.

5. We didn’t see anything in this episode to make you think the Revis negotiations are ending anytime soon.

6. Nice catch Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and even you Mark Sanchez but work on those botched snaps.

7. Cafe Ryan? You knew the big guy would be sneaking pretzels and MMs, but at least he has a sense of humor about it.

8. Where were you? Kyle Wilson, Joe McKnight, Jerricho Cotchery, Jim Leonhard, David Harris and  D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

Next Week – A big helping of Mike Westhoff and Mark Brunell on Old Timer’s Day at Hard Knocks.

Jets Fans: Stop The Pity Party

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Do you remember December 30th 2007? I do. I was sitting in the pouring rain watching the 3-12 New York Jets play the 4-11 Kansas City Chiefs. The Jets won the game 13-10. I left the stadium frustrated because we hurt our draft position, ultimately falling to number six where the team would select Vernon Gholston. Our quarterback of the future, Kellen Clemens, had just played one of his better games of the 2007 season: 13/25, 115 yards, TD. Our newly signed starting running back, Thomas Jones, scored his second touchdown of the season. The offensive line was in shambles. The defense prominently featured players like Dewayne Robertson, Victor Hobson, David Barrett, and Erik Coleman.

Fast forward to January 20th, 2008. The New York Giants upset the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, sending the Jets in-stadium rivals to face their division rivals, the New England Patriots (coming off a perfect regular season) in the Super Bowl. The Giants and Patriots went on to play one of the most memorable championship games in league history, while the Jets wallowed in complete and utter irrelevancy.

Do you remember those days? They weren’t too long ago. Do you remember gearing up for a broken down Chad Pennington/Kellen Clemens quarterback battle? What about the few months of the Kellen Clemens/Brett Ratliff/Erik Ainge battle? How about heading into training camp with Brad Smith/David Clowney/Chansi Stuckey fighting it out for a starting receiver spot? At cornerback, do you recall players like Hank Poteat, Drew Coleman, and Barrett rotating in a starting spot? The Jets offensive line used to feature players like Anthony Clement and Adrien Clarke.

Yes, the Darrelle Revis holdout sucks. There really isn’t a better way to put it. Revis was a player our organization was savvy enough to trade up to select, who developed in front of our eyes into the league’s best cornerback and arguably best defensive player. The entire league took notice. We got to see one of our players featured in Nike commercials and constantly be talked about on the NFL Network and ESPN. Everybody was looking forward to his encore performance to an epic 2009 season. Bring on Brandon Marshall. Bring on Randy Moss. Bring on Chad Ochocinco Johnson. Bring on Andre Johnson. Send every diva, big-name receiver at our defense and watch him disappear.

PhotobucketIt now looks like that may not happen. Before you bury the Jets organization, before you bury Woody Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum, and Rex Ryan, remember this: Tannenbaum brought this team back to relevancy with the resources provided to him by Johnson. He got us Mark Sanchez so we didn’t have to watch Kellen Clemens or Brett Ratliff one-hop curl routes. He beefed up the defense by trading for Kris Jenkins and Antonio Cromartie, hitting on David Harris in the second round, and signing Calvin Pace, Bart Scott, and Jim Leonhard. On offense, he collected an impressive arsenal of weapons for his franchise quarterback.

Rex Ryan may have hurt the Jets bargaining position by showing too much love for his player to the media. However, that is Ryan’s personality. Don’t talk about loving all the swagger and confidence he brought to the organization and then get mad when he gives due praise to a player. I will take the negative impact on negotiations Rex Ryan brings, in exchange for all the positives he has brought the Jets, which shouldn’t have to be listed.

Don’t talk yourself into hating Revis either. The Jets organization approached him about re-negotiating his contract and after hearing everything they said about him, he expects to be compensated at a substantially higher level in 2010 (currently scheduled to be the eight highest paid defensive back on the Jets). Yes, he should understand that Al Davis is clinically insane and gave Nnamdi Asomugha an aberration of a contract and yes he has three years left on his deal but this is a business. The Jets botched the Leon Washington situation to an extent, which has burned a scary image into the heads of current players. Who wants to shipped off to the rain in Seattle to play for Pete Carroll without a new contract?

There is plenty of blame to go around. The Jets organization gets a little. Darrelle Revis gets a little. Al Davis can have a little. Leon Washington’s injury is a factor. Yet, there is no reason to spend all pre-season pouting and looking for somebody to blame.

PhotobucketGuess what? Even without Darrelle Revis, the Jets are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. They are still the favorite in the AFC East. They are being featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks. They have knocked the Giants and yes even the Yankees off the back page. We aren’t playing in Giants Stadium anymore. The Jets are playing in primetime in weeks 1, 3, and 5 to start off the season, along with Thanksgiving night and a December Monday night showdown in New England. Beyond that, there is still a relatively good chance Revis will join the team at some point before the regular season starts, despite all of Woody Johnson’s posturing today.

So relax Jets fans, life is good, enjoy the ride in 2010. We are the team everybody loves to hate and really what is better than that in sports?

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Jets Thursday Training Camp Round-Up

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Some assorted thoughts on Jets training camp as we head towards the weekend –

First off, a friendly reminder to follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

The Jets early practice was cut short by rain this morning and they only had a special teams session in the afternoon. Hence, the normal avalanche of information about specific plays in practice wasn’t released today, however here is a run down of the biggest headlines:

  • Joe Namath graced the organization with his presence today and was quick to pronounce his belief the Jets were poised to win the Super Bowl. For some reason this was reported as a major story. I am not sure it is so shocking that a Jets legend who is involved in working with the organization is going to say he is confident the Jets will be really good in 2010. It is about as surprising as Rex Ryan saying he thinks the Jets will have the best defense in the NFL, which he says about 11 times a day.
  • Kris Jenkins had a scare today when he took a shot to his leg and admitted he had a similar feeling to when he tore his ligaments last year. However, everything held together and he said surviving that shot has boosted his confidence about the strength of his leg heading into this season. I would still expect Jenkins to have very limited reps in the pre-season. It will also be interesting to see the amount of playing time Jenkins gets in the beginning of the regular season as the Jets attempt to keep him fresh for the stretch run. Sione Pouha is a more than capable back-up, who can provide a high amount of quality reps off the bench.
  • Linebacker Brashton Satele’s injury isn’t that serious and he should be back at practice within in the next few days.
  • Steve Weatherford was rested for this afternoon’s special teams practice. Apparently punter TJ Conley has improved substantially from last season but it sounds like Weatherford still has a very strong hold on the job.
  • Mike Westhoff announced today that Kyle Wilson will be the Jets primary punt returner and Brad Smith will be the primary kick returner heading into the pre-season. I would still expect to see some Jim Leonhard on punt return for certain situations, along with Antonio Cromartie getting a few reps occasionally at both punt returner and kick returner. Aundrae Allison or Joe McKnight should also get some reps in the pre-season to be given a chance to make an impression.
  • Rex Ryan signed the Jets logo on Adam Schefter’s ESPN training camp tour bus “Soon To Be Champs.”…you have to love the big guy.

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  • From listening to every single interview on WFAN and ESPN Radio today at Jets camp (I was stuck working construction)…it sounds like there has been no tangible progress on the Revis deal and we should all be settling in for a long wait. In the meantime, Revis has been pairing up with old his buddy Chad Ochocino Johnson to work on the OCNN Network. All of his teammates said all the right things about supporting his decision and believing the team could be fine without him, while he sorts out his contract situation. Overall, I would say Rex Ryan has absolutely made his imprint across this roster. The confidence across the board from all the players is extremely encouraging.
  • It continues to sound like Matt Slauson has a very good shot of beating out rookie Vladimir Ducasse for the starting left guard position.

The Jets have a practice at 8:20 and 4:20 tomorrow and then have their annual Green and White scrimmage on Saturday at 6 PM.

A Few Shovel Fulls of TOJ TV

Jets Practice #4 Recap & Thoughts On Offensive Depth Chart

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Practice #4 Recap

The Good – LaDainian Tomlinson beating David Harris on a slant route and taking it all the way to the end-zone. Mark Sanchez drawing Kris Jenkins off-sides. Joe McKnight holding his own against Bart Scott in pass protection drills. John Conner getting another big hit in, this time on Calvin Pace. Braylon Edwards beating Dwight Lowery for a 20 yard touchdown in 7 on 7 drills. Sanchez squeezing one down the seam to Jerricho Cotchery for a touchdown. Kyle Wilson getting his first interception of camp, when he picked off a Mark Brunell pass headed towards David Clowney. Aundrae Allison catching a long touchdown from Kevin O’Connell. Antonio Cromartie pulling in two more interceptions from Sanchez.

The Bad – Dwight Lowery getting beat for a touchdown, where is our Island? Joe McKnight had yet another drop today. Mark Sanchez was picked off  twice by Antonio Cromartie in 11 on 11s. Kellen Clemens was picked off by Drew Coleman. Mark Brunell was picked off by Kyle Wilson. Sanchez botched a pitch to LaDainian Tomlinson. Nick Folk missing a 35 yard and 40 yard field goal.

Play of the Day – Braylon Edwards out jumped Antonio Cromartie for a one-handed reception that set up the game winning field goal in the two minute drill.

PhotobucketPlayer Who Helped Himself – John Conner is catching everybody’s attention at least once every practice. He might end up with a bigger role on the offense than Joe McKnight and his pan hands.  Antonio Cromartie has interceptions two consecutive days and from all accounts has put together a very good few days to start camp.

Player Who Hurt Himself – Mark Sanchez hasn’t gotten off to the best start this summer. His completion numbers have been a little disappointing and he has thrown a few interceptions over the past couple of practices.

Sanchez Stats – 8/17, 2 INTs in 11 on 11s (both INTs by Cromartie)…thanks to Manish Mehta for the numbers.

Folk Stats – 6/8 (1 miss from 35 yards and 1 miss from 40 yards)

Roster Moves – Kris Jenkins was taken off the Active/PUP list and was back to practice. Don’t expect to see Erik Ainge anytime soon, since it was reported that he has been checked into a drug treatment/rehab facility. Ainge was suspended four games in 2008 for substance abuse. Kellen Clemens is back to practicing 100 percent. Santonio Holmes has to pass his conditioning test this morning and then is expected on the field this afternoon.

Injury – Shaun Ellis sat out of practice today because the coaches advised him to take a day off.

Depth Chart – John Conner saw some reps with the first team offense at fullback. Matt Slauson was back to working as the starting left guard. Ropati Pitoitua and Vernon Gholston both received first team reps at defensive end, as did Jason Taylor.

Rex Ryan Press Conference Highlights –

  • Called today the “Cromartie and Braylon Edwards” show.
  • Santonio Holmes will have to pass his conditioning test after his suspension and will be a full go in this afternoon’s practice.
  • Praised punter Steve Weatherford’s work this off-season, including his holding.
  • Said he hasn’t noticed the Hard Knocks cameras in meetings and that they have been discreet.
  • He praised Antonio Cromartie’s desire to learn how to do things “the Jets way.”
  • Jim Leonhard is the top “hands” option as a punt returner, meaning if there is any poor weather conditions he would be placed back there. However, he said the coaching staff wants Kyle Wilson to win the full time job.

Revis Update – In an interview yesterday, Peter King of SI said he believed Revis had more leverage than the Jets and that a deal wouldn’t be finalized until around Labor Day.

Thoughts On Offensive Depth Chart

It sounds like Matt Slauson has a much better chance at winning the starting left guard job  than most people (including myself) originally gave him. He has been rotating every practice with Vladimir Ducasse and got the nod in the Jets first practice. Rich Cimini of ESPN New York gave him a slight edge when asked about the battle. If Slauson does happen to win the job, it will be interesting to see if the Jets spend the season grooming Ducasse to replace Damien Woody at right tackle in 2011. Ducasse could also be given a role in some of the Jets short yardage packages, similar to Robert Turner and Wayne Hunter.

Photobucket Tomlinson is off to a strong start in camp and has been receiving a good amount of reps with the first team offense. I still don’t buy him competing with Shonn Greene for the starting job but he will get plenty of work in the pre-season to show the Jets he still has the necessary burst. Tomlinson is probably looking at 9-13 touches a game until Joe McKnight gets his act together and can become a bigger part of the offense. Also in the backfield, it sounds like John Conner is having one of the most impressive overall camps so far. He may actually carve out a little role for himself in the offense this year in certain situations or if he keeps playing so well, is it possible the Jets could release Tony Richardson at some point this summer? Going back to McKnight, if he keeps struggling it only increases the chances of Danny Woodhead sticking on the roster.

Santonio Holmes returns to the practice field this afternoon. I am anxious to hear about where Brian Schottenheimer is lining him up and if the Jets are trotting out any four and five receiver sets. There hasn’t been much talk about the Jets using their “Tiger” formation yet, however they could just be waiting until the more basic offensive installation is done.

Jets are back on the practice field at 4:20.

New York Jets Training Camp Preview: Major Storylines

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First a few updates:

1. Sorry for the lack of a morning article, but fortunately all the Terrell Owens nonsense has already came and passed. It would have made absolutely zero sense for the Jets to sign him. Anybody think the Jets just put their “interest” out there to drum up media attention before training camp starts? Anyway, I am glad the Owens circus will be joining the Chad Ochocinco Johnson circus in Cincinnati. The Jets were equipped to handle the Bengals offense in 2009 and that is still the case, even after the Owens signing.

2. Jason La Confora is reporting the Jets are working out quarterback Mark Brunell tomorrow along with a few other veterans.

3. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

4. A reminder there will be a 12 minute preview of Hard Knocks on HBO tomorrow night at 11 PM.

5. Justin Tuck told the New York Post the Jets talk too much. I think Justin Tuck should spend more time worrying about improving his defense to being anywhere near as good as the Jets, instead of getting jealous of their press clippings.

New York Jets Training Camp Preview: Major Storylines

In the second part of our training camp preview, we look at the major storylines that will be or should be covered from Cortland, New York.

Brad Smith is Versatile – The beat writers love putting together massive amounts of articles about how versatile Brad Smith is every summer. The worse was in 2007 when Transformers came out in the theaters and there may have been 900 articles comparing Smith to the movie because of all the positions he can play. We have all seen Brad Smith play receiver, running back, quarterback, cover kicks, and return kicks. There is a general understanding of his versatility. Rex Ryan will provide no help in avoiding this story either because every time he mentions Smith, he cites his rushing and passing statistics in college.

Danny Woodhead Is Small – Another beat writer favorite, that HBO is a lock to eat up in Hard Knocks. “Danny Woodhead may be small in size and have played at a small college but nobody would ever say his heart or toughness is small.” He is an easy guy to pull for because of his long shot odds and he does help himself by playing two positions, running back and receiver. However, in the end there will be too much ink and time dedicated to a player who isn’t going to make an impact on the Jets season. Considering his nondescript special teams performance in 2009, I wouldn’t be shocked if he was cut before the end of camp.

Nick Folk – This is a story that will rightfully be scrutinized by everybody. Folk’s daily statistics are going to be closely watched by everybody who is properly concerned about the Jets kicking situation. He may be back to back bad days away from being cut. Hopefully, he can build on the momentum he had at the end of mini-camp, when he had a few very good practices. Beat writers…get those Folk stats going.

An Unlikely Marriage – The somewhat awkward ongoing interaction between Jason Taylor and Jets fans should be something frequently focused on by the beat writers, HBO, and the national media. At this point I think it is clear that Jets fans have embraced him in hopes that he brings 1o – 12 sacks to the team.

PhotobucketChemistry! Chemistry! Chemistry! – The most overblown issue about the Jets this season. Here is my response (http://turnonthejets.com/2010/04/29/death-of-the-jets-chemistry-discussion/).

LaDainian Tomlinson’s Attitude – It will be interesting to see how Tomlinson handles being the Jets backup running back. Will he demonstrate any frustration with Shonn Greene receiving more touches or if Joe McKnight comes in to spell him for a certain situation? This is going to be the first pre-season Tomlinson has played extended reps in for a long time. He needs to prove to the Jets and the rest of the NFL, he can still be a productive player.

Vladimir Ducasse – You can bet any offsides penalty or allowed sack by Vladimir Duccasse will be covered like a natural disaster. I am already waiting for the first wave of “how much will the Jets pay for releasing Alan Faneca” stories.

Contracts – The biggest story heading into training camp is the contract situation of Darrelle Revis. Everybody will be waiting on pins and needles to see if he shows up and if he does show up, how he carries himself. Will he ignore the media or will he just ignore their questions about his contract? Will he address the situation openly? Nick Mangold has already ended the circus around himself by claiming he will show up. Darrelle Revis has decided to keep us waiting.

Eyes On The Waist – Whenever you have a public weight loss contest, you are calling attention to your figure. Let’s see how Rex Ryan, Damien Woody, and Kris Jenkins look in August and who the ultimate winner of their contest will be. Jenkins has been on an all cookie diet and on Twitter Damien Woody is promising a huge surprise about the contest.

PhotobucketThe Sanchize – Of course we will get the daily round up of Sanchez’s statistics, along with the feature stories about whether he “gets it” yet or if he can avoid holding the Jets back. I can’t even imagine how many minutes HBO is going to spend with cameras jammed in his face. Unfortunately, we can’t even vicariously enjoy his bachelor lifestyle because he has settled down with Meadow Soprano. Then again, I doubt the nightlife in Cortland is anything to get excited about.

Share The Love – One of the things I am most fascinated to see is how the passes are being divided up between Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Santonio Holmes, and Dustin Keller. Beyond that, how much of the Tiger formation will we see? Can David Clowney still make an impact with so many players in front of him? What about lesser name players like Britt Davis and Aundrae Allison? There will be plenty of receivers looking for receptions this August and it will be entertaining to see how Mark Sanchez, whomever the backup ends up being, and Brian Schottenheimer attempt to keep everybody happy.

Injury Watch – Kris Jenkins coming back from his ACL surgery. Jason Taylor has been dealing with shoulder issues. If Shonn Greene gets banged up at all this training camp, it is going to raise millions of valid questions about his durability. Sanchez is also coming back from off-season surgery, so his mobility will be something to keep an eye on.

Your Daily Stand Up Routine – You have to look forward to Rex Ryan’s press conferences and any face time he gets on Hard Knocks. He is bound to give bulletin board material to New England and Miami, along with claim every single person in the Jets organization is the best in the NFL at what they do.

TOJ TV

Why The Jets Are The Real Deal

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As the NFL season inevitably inches closer, more and more skepticism about the chances of the Jets having a successful season are becoming present. Fans of the team are reverting back to their usual pessimism. NFL analysts are nitpicking reasons to avoid picking the Jets as a serious contender. Giants fans can’t understand why nobody is talking about their team, leading to them arguing the Jets will be a let-down, have a tough schedule, can’t win with Sanchez, can’t overcome losing Faneca and Jones and on and on. Patriots and Dolphins fans feel the same way. Everybody in New England thinks the world is sleeping on Brady and Belichick, as if that was possible. All the fans in Miami are convinced Chad Henne is the next Dan Marino after the epic run he took the team on last season. I guess it was an impressive 7-9 season.

Anyway, you may hate the confidence the Jets carry themselves with. You might be tired of hearing Rex Ryan talk or seeing Darrelle Revis in those Nike commercials. Unfortunately for you though, the Jets have the talent to back up their words and outside of the team with Peyton Manning under center, they are the favorites to win the AFC. Here is why the Jets are the real deal:

PhotobucketLet’s start with the easiest part, the Jets have the best defense in NFL. They had the best defense in 2009 and substantially improved it over the off-season. You can start in the secondary where the two weak links of the league’s number one ranked passing defense (by 30 yards I might add), were replaced. Antonio Cromartie will take over for Lito Sheppard opposite Darrelle Revis, giving the Jets arguably the best pair of starting corners in the NFL. Kerry Rhodes is now gone and Brodney Pool will take his place. Anytime you can replace a matador with somebody who can tackle, it helps the situation. Dwight Lowery has been moved into the number four cornerback spot, with rookie first round pick Kyle Wilson now becoming the nickel back.

Outside of the improvements in the secondary, Jason Taylor was signed from Miami to enhance the Jets pass rush. The Jets did occasionally struggle against the run in 2009. However the return of All-Pro nose tackle Kris Jenkins should provide help, along with having the previously mentioned Rhodes now doing photo shoots and missing tackles in Arizona. Beyond that, the Jets will now be in the second year of Rex Ryan’s system. Calvin Pace, David Harris, Bryan Thomas, Darrelle Revis, Eric Smith, Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha, Shaun Ellis, and anybody else who played a substantial role in their first year of Ryan’s defense in 2009 will be that much more comfortable this season.

When you look at the additions and subtractions made to the Jets defensive depth chart and their familiarity with the system in year two, it is hard to argue the unit won’t be better in 2010. This should be a scary thought for the rest of the NFL, considering how good they were in 2009.

On offense, you could question Mark Sanchez all you want. His regular season statistics justify thequestioning. However, don’t ignore that he won two road playoffs games in his rookie year and played a terrific game on the road in the AFC Championship Game. Also, consider if the Jets could manage an AFC Championship Game trip with him throwing 20 interceptions to 12 touchdowns, what they could do if he makes the likely year two improvements.

PhotobucketThe Jets have questions at running back. Shonn Greene has to prove he is a lead back but he certainly looked the part down the stretch in the regular season and in the playoffs. At worst LaDainian Tomlinson can catch the ball out of the backfield and be a quality goal-line back. Outside of that, the Jets offense is stacked. Even without Alan Faneca, who was awful in pass protection last year by the way, they still have a top five offensive line in the NFL. At receiver, they have three guys capable of being a number one. They have an athletic tight end, who can stretch the field and is a mismatch against most defenses.

What about the competition in the AFC East? What did New England do to make sure they aren’t run off the field by teams like Baltimore again in 2010? Who is their lead running back? Is there defense any good? Who is filling for Wes Welker until he comes back? Will Welker get back to 100 percent this season?

Is Brandon Marshall enough to improve Miami from a 7-9 team that was two Ted Ginn Jr led victories against the Jets away from being 5-11? Can Ronnie Brown ever play a full season? Can Chad Henne win a late season game? Who is going to catch passes for the Dolphins when Marshall is safely locked away on Revis Island?

Yes, I think the Jets talent backs up their words. They do have the best corner and center in the NFL, along with one of the best tackles (D’Brickashaw Ferguson), guards (Brandon Moore), defensive tackles (Kris Jenkins), and linebackers (David Harris). It is always a good sign when people like Calvin Pace, Bart Scott, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller, and Antonio Cromartie are in your second tier of talented players. It is also positive when you can sign players like Jason Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson be backups.

You can make excuses about why the Jets won’t be good in 2010 or you can just accept that they are going to be one of the best teams in the NFL and right in the mix for a Super Bowl. It would probably be better to make up your mind now instead of changing your story mid-season.

“DARRELLE REVIS!”

Five Questions About The Jets Defense

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First a few updates:

1. Rich Cimini is reporting the Jets will sign quarterback Mark Brunell as early as this Thursday and there still remains a good chance defensive end Marques Douglas will be brought back before training camp. I am all for bringing Douglas back, who quietly had a very good 2009 season. As for Brunell, I would rather see him as the team’s #3 quarterback instead of their #2 but it seems like the Jets are ready to part ways with Kellen Clemens and let Brunell be Mark Sanchez’s primary backup.

2. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets)…good links today about Rex Ryan convincing Kris Jenkins not to retire, Woody Johnson’s opinions of the Jets contract problems, and a few season preview videos and articles.

Five Questions About The Jets Defense

As training camp rapidly approaches, here are five questions about the Jets defense that still need to be sorted out –

1. How large of an upgrade will Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson be over Lito Sheppard and Dwight Lowery at the cornerback position?

– I don’t think there is any question that Cromartie and Wilson will be an improvement over what the Jets had opposite Darrelle Revis at corner in 2009. Yet, Cromartie is coming off two relatively sub par seasons after a monster 2007 campaign. He was banged up those seasons and the Jets system should play better to his strengths, which should lead to improvements in 2010. However, it remains to be seen how close Cromartie can come to being the playmaker and shut down corner he was in 2007. The Jets are going to give him every chance to succeed with their style of play on defense and it sounds like he will get some reps at both kick and punt returner. If Cromartie can play to his potential, the Jets will have the best pair of starting corners in the NFL by a good margin. Kyle Wilson was considered by some to be the best corner in the 2010 draft and is an aggressive, physical player who will be asked to take over the nickel spot on the Jets defense. He is a rookie so there will be some bumps along the way but the upgrade of his physical talent over Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman last year should provide a huge boost to the Jets defense. This question really comes down to, exactly how dominant is the Jets pass defense going to be?

2. Will Kris Jenkins regain his 2008 form?

Photobucket– To be a little more accurate, will Kris Jenkins regain his form from the first 11 games of the 2008 season when he was the most dominant player on the Jets roster? He is coming off ACL surgery and is going to be 31 years old this season. The Jets need to do a better job of monitoring Jenkins reps this season to enhance his productivity when he is on the field and make sure he still has gas left in the tank when December rolls around. Fortunately, the Jets have a more than capable backup to Jenkins in Sione Pouha, who had a very good season last year after Jenkins went down with his injury. If the Jets can get the Jenkins from the first 11 games in 2008 this season, their defense is going to be that much better than it already is.

3. How much will Jason Taylor improve the Jets pass rush?

The Jets didn’t have overly impressive sack totals in 2009 and they signed long time rival Jason Taylor to help change that. He had seven sacks for the Dolphins last season but Rex Ryan is confident with the Jets scheme, he can get Taylor back to double digit sack totals. Bryan Thomas is going to remain the starter at outside linebacker but Taylor will be used on third downs and in pass rushing situations. Ryan will also likely move him all over the formation to attack the quarterback. Don’t be shocked to see Taylor with his hand in the dirt on some plays or blitzing from an inside linebacker spot, to keep teams off guard. I still think Calvin Pace may end up leading the Jets in sacks but if Taylor can give them 8 – 11 himself, than signing him was the right decision.

4. How much of an improvement will Brodney Pool be over Kerry Rhodes at safety?

Kerry Rhodes failed to live up to expectations in 2009. He had a tough time adjusting to no longer being a leader on the defense and was a little too concerned with his off the field lifestyle. Brodney Pool has spent his career on bad football teams and should be chomping at the bit to get his chance starting at safety for this Jets defense. The coaching staff has raved about Pool’s work this off-season and considering the type of season he has having before his injury in 2009, he could be in store for a big year. It won’t take much from Pool to be an improvement from Rhodes last year but hopefully he can bring some of the playmaking ability expected from the safeties in Rex Ryan’s system.

5. Will Vernon Gholston give the Jets anything this year?

Outside of Sione Pouha, the rotation spots on the Jets defensive line off the bench are up for grabs. It would be nice if Vernon Gholston can turn into a competent backup defensive end, who can occasionally provide some type of pass rush. It is shame that is what we have to hope for now from the #6 pick in the draft but at this point it would be better than nothing. If players like Ropati Pitoitua and Matt Kroul are getting more reps than Gholston by the time 2010 comes to an end, that will be the end of Gholston’s career in green and white.

TOJ TV

New York Jets Defense – Three Layers Of Excellence

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The New York Jets had the NFL’s number one ranked defense last season and there is plenty of reasons to believe they will improve in 2010. Whether it is the increased familiarity the returning players have with Rex Ryan’s system or the influx of talent through trades, free agency, and the NFL draft; the Jets are position to improve their defensive weaknesses from 2009 and become an even more dominant unit.

PhotobucketThe Jets had the number one ranked total defense thanks to their number one ranked passing defense, which blew away the rest of the NFL by allowing 153.7 yards per game. The second place team was over 30 yards behind. There is no reason to think the Jets pass coverage should suffer in 2010, considering they upgraded their second, third and fourth cornerback and replaced the underachieving Kerry Rhodes with Brodney Pool.

Despite having such an exceptional pass defense, the Jets didn’t rack up impressive sack totals in 2009. They finished tied for 18th in the league with 32.0 sacks. This number should improve in 2010 because of the addition of Jason Taylor, who Rex Ryan will use as a pass rush specialist. The return of a healthy Kris Jenkins will also help push the pocket on the quarterback. Finally, the Jets will have their returning sack leader, Calvin Pace, for 16 games instead of the 12 they had him for in 2009.

The Jets had the 8th ranked rushing defense in the NFL in 2010, nothing to be ashamed of but also nowhere near the level of their pass defense. Again the return of Jenkins at nose tackle should lead to improvement and having Pool at safety instead Rhodes, who struggled in run support and tackling in general last season, will help.

PhotobucketThe return of Kris Jenkins at nose tackle gives the Jets a legitimate All-Pro caliber player at all three levels of their defense. Jenkins on the defensive line, David Harris at linebacker, and Darrelle Revis in the secondary. This is a luxury few teams in the NFL currently have and means you need to have exceptional talent on the offensive line, running back, and receiver position to handle all three of these players.

Jenkins is flanked by a collection of blue-collar players who fit well into Ryan’s system. Shaun Ellis is the most well-know of the rest of the bunch and is one of the better 3-4 defensive ends in the league. He has the ability to stop the run and provide a solid pass rush. Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito aren’t household names but they did more than an adequate job when Jenkins went down last season and are good run stopping defensive lineman.

PhotobucketHarris is surrounded by two borderline pro-bowl caliber players in Bart Scott and Calvin Pace at linebacker, along with Taylor who is a former All-Pro that should benefit from only having to focus on rushing the passer and from Ryan’s aggressive scheme overall. Bryan Thomas is the lowest profile player in the linebacker group but remains a competent starter who does many of the little things for this defense that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

Revis is now paired with Antonio Cromartie at cornerback, who could have made the claim to being the best corner in the NFL after the 2007 season. I don’t know if Cromartie will ever play at that level again but he will certainly have opportunity to flourish in New York because of how his skill set matches up to the Jets defensive system and because of how many balls will be thrown his way. Rookie first round pick Kyle Wilson will be asked to step into the nickel role, which speaks to the talent in front of him. Former starter/nickel back Dwight Lowery can now slide into the #4 corner/extra safety in certain packages role, which best suits him. The Jets don’t have big names at safety in Jim Leonhard and Brondey Pool, but Leonhard is consistent and won’t give up the big play and Pool will have the chance to shine the way Rhodes was supposed to in 2009. Reserve safeties Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo are also key contributing members to this unit off the bench.

There are questions about the Jets heading into the 2010 season but it is hard to see their defense not being an elite unit in the NFL again. Considering what they did last year and their influx of talent, it would be a legitimate disappointment if they didn’t have the NFL’s number one ranked unit.

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