Blogger vs. Blogger: Running Backs, Hard Knocks, Mark Sanchez, & More

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First a few updates:

1. If you haven’t seen it yet, the press conference announcing the Jets being on Hard Knocks is up on www.newyorkjets.com and is pretty entertaining stuff. Plenty of zingers from Rex Ryan and Steve Sabol and definitely worth the twenty minutes to watch.

2. A few key quotes from Ryan on Leon Washington from today’s press conference pulled off the Jets official web site:

“We have the No. 1 facilities in the country, we have a great medical staff, a great medical team and we have the best strength coach in the country. Leon knows this and that’s what’s disappointing,” said Ryan when writers huddled around the head coach. “Wherever he’s at might be good, but it’s not the best. I want what’s best for him and the New York Jets and this is a time there’s team building. This guy is a great young man — I love Leon — but it’s still disappointing he’s not here.”

PhotobucketDo we expect him to come back from the surgery? Yeah. And you’re going to put him in there instead of Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson? Maybe you would, but I’m not comfortable with that,” he said. “Let’s see where he’s at. I’m not just going to give him the ball 20 times a game coming off of that. He has to be ready to take that kind of role. If he’s ready to take an expanded role, then obviously we can see that. Third down is the most important down you have on offense and that would be an ideal situation for him. We have three great backs.”

I do believe that Leon will be on the Jets next year. There isn’t a team in the NFL who is giving up a second round pick for a guy coming off that type of leg injury. It is going to take him some time to adjust this year. He isn’t going to come flying out of the gates in week one as the Leon of 2006-2008, but hopefully by the middle of the season he can start approaching the role he had before he was hurt in 2009. It could be a stretch to hope for that but I am sure Washington is motivated to prove to the coaching staff he is more than a third down back and returner.

3. Speaking of third down running backs/kick returners…keep an eye out for Conte Cuttino out of Stony Brook to be added by the Jets after the draft as a UDFA.

4. Bart Scott expressed some skepticism about the Jets being featured on Hard Knocks in this article (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/sports/football/25jets.html?ref=sports)…he makes some fair points, but it is up to him and the other leaders in the locker room to make sure the team isn’t distracted.

Blogger vs. Blogger: Running Backs, Hard Knocks, Mark Sanchez, & More

Welcome to our first installment of the new TOJ series, Blogger vs. Blogger, where myself and a fellow Jets blogger will share opinions on four current issues surrounding the team. Today our featured blogger is Jeff Capellini who runs The Green Lantern over at (http://wcbstv.com/capellini) and is also a senior producer for WCBSTV.com…Jeff had no shortage of opinions, some of which I agreed with and some of which I had differing viewpoint on.

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Question #1 – Rex Ryan recently made headlines by saying LaDainain Tomlinson would receive 15 carries a game and Leon Washington would be relegated to a third down role, do you buy into what Ryan was saying or was he just pandering to the recently signed LT? Also, if you were Brian Schottenheimer how would you divide up the carries among Shonn Greene, LaDainain Tomlinson, and Leon Washington?

Jeff Capellini – I was a big fan of the decision to sign LaDainain Tomlinson. Thomas Jones struggled down the stretch last year as displayed by the rapid decline in his yards per carry. I think most in the organization were alarmed by how quickly his play went downhill and I think Kansas City is going to find out the same thing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jamaal Charles end up being the lead back for the Chiefs. I don’t think Tomlinson is done. Yes, he has lost a step but he can still be a productive back who can handle 15-20 carries a game. San Diego was so focused on the passing game last year that they did a poor job of using both Tomlinson and Darren Sproles. They had the league’s 31st ranked rushing attack and Tomlinson has become the scapegoat for that, not the way the Chargers offense was ran or their offensive line who was built for pass protection.

Tomlinson can be more than a change of pace back for the Jets. He is capable of taking over for multiple series at a time. Leon should be a third down back until he can prove he is fully  healthy. He should be used in passing situations and for screen passes primarily, although Brian Schottenheimer can’t be predictable and have him just do that or be the only back who is catching passes.

I think the Jets will play the hot hand but in most weeks Greene will get slightly more carries than Tomlinson. Yet, when the Jets are inside the 5 yard line, it will be LT getting carries. I don’t think Ryan was lying and that Tomlinson will be around 15 carries each game. The Jets need Leon to step up as their primary kick and punt returner because he is better suited for that role than Brad Smith, Jerricho Cotchery, or Jim Leonhard.

PhotobucketJoe Caporoso I have to say I disagree with most of your thinking on this issue Jeff. While I do believe Tomlinson will be an improved player behind the Jets offensive line and still has something left to give, I would have rather kept Thomas Jones for another year. He was a leader in the locker room and I think a large part of his late season decline was a knee injury that was worse than the team let on. I think he could have gave the Jets at least one more productive season splitting carries with Shonn Greene.

I have always been a huge Leon Washington fan and spent the entire off-season last year writing articles imploring the team to give him the ball more, which they did up until his injury. I understand the reasoning of easing him back into the lineup and do think he will begin as primarily a third down back but I am hoping he can return to a 8-10 carry a game guy by the end of the year.

When the Jets signed him, I never pictured Tomlinson as a 15 carry a game guy or somebody who could ever get more carries than Shonn Greene. I was thinking Tomlinson could be a guy who takes a series or two per half, gets short yardage and goal-line carries, and is involved in the screen game. If I was Schottenheimer, I’d start out giving Greene 20-22 carries a game, Tomlinson 10-12, and Leon 4-6 and then gradually move Tomlinson and Washington’s carries closer together as the season goes on.

Question #2 -What do you think of the Jets taking part in Hard Knocks?

Jeff Capellini – (Note Jeff wrote a great article on this topic at The Green Lantern, which is worth checking out at the link at the top of this article)…I am normally not a proponent of any type of chaos around the team, which usually turns into a negative. However, I think the Jets have a strong enough locker room to overcome any distractions from the show. The Jets have been a second class citizen in this market for so long that they deserve the attention they have earned by putting together a quality team that should be good for the next few years. They are a compelling team and HBO knows it.

Joe Caporoso – It is hard not to be extremely excited as a Jets fan about our team being featured on this show. Hard Knocks is a terrific show that any true football fan should love and now with the Jets featured on it, I am that much more excited about it. I do agree that the Jets have a strong enough locker room to overcome any distractions and don’t see the extra attention at training camp having any negative impact on their on-field production. There are so many compelling story lines around this team that I think all NFL fans will truly enjoy watching the Jets.

Question #3 – How much progress do you think Mark Sanchez will make in year two?

Jeff Capellini – I like what I am hearing about Sanchez spending 8 hours a day at the complex. He is the type of guy who is completely dedicated to his job and hasn’t got too caught up in the New York scene. I think you will see a smarter Mark Sanchez in 2010 who does a much better overall job of protecting the football. Late in the season last year he did a better job of throwing the football away and I think that will carry over. Next year, I could see him being a 3000 yard guy with more touchdowns than interceptions, and hopefully a QB rating somewhere near 90. Sanchez has all the physical tools to be a very good quarterback in this league.

Joe Caporoso – I agree that one of the most encouraging things you hear about Sanchez is how dedicated he is to improving. He isn’t Matt Leinart, this is a guy who is a gym-rat and spends his days in Brian Schottenheimer’s office breaking down film. I think you will see a substantial improvement over the 20 INTs to 12 TDs and 53.3 completion percentage he had last year. Nobody is saying he is going to be a pro-bowl quarterback but I could see him with 17 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and 57-59 completion percentage.

Question #4 – If you were Mike Tannenbaum would you pursue a trade for Brandon Marshall?

Jeff Capellini – Marshall is obviously a game changing player. I know he has off the field problems but as we saw from Braylon Edwards just because a guy has problems in one city, doesn’t mean they can’t become a good soldier in another city. I do believe the Jets need another receiver but I don’t want to see them part ways with a first round draft pick for Marshall or even Braylon, who I think is developing good chemistry with Sanchez. If the Jets could find someway to acquire Marshall without giving up Braylon or their 1st round pick then I would be for it, but beyond that I wouldn’t make the deal. The Jets have holes to fill at pass rusher and in the secondary so they can’t be parting with a first round pick.

Joe CaporosoPhotobucketI have to admit it would be hard to pass on Marshall’s talent if the Jets could get him for something besides their first round pick or Braylon Edwards but I doubt that is possible. Overall, I think it is best for the Jets to stay away from Marshall, whose off the field problems go deeper than most people. Yes, Braylon might have punched LeBron’s small friend or Antonio Cromartie never learned about contraceptives but Marshall is a guy who has been the target of a gang hit, beat his girlfriend, and has had some other very serious issues. I like our top three receiving targets right now. People underestimate Jerricho Cotchery and I think Dustin Keller has the potential to be a pro-bowl tight end.

I Know That Was A Lot Of Reading So Here Is Some Comedy To Reward You At The End

Three Ways For The Jets To Live Up To The Hype

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First a few updates:

1. The big news of the day is that the Jets will be featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer, an official announcement is expected from the team tomorrow. I am glad to know HBO was persuaded by my article last week on why the Jets had to be on this show. Yet even taking away all my natural Jets bias, they are a great selection. Everybody who I have talked to today, including plenty of Giants fans agree the Jets will provide an entertaining show. Rex Ryan is well on his way to winning an Emmy and having his own spin-off.

2. The NFL announced the full draft order for each round today and the Jets have six total picks but you knew that already from checking the 2010 Draft section of the site, right?

3. Apparently Denver is having so much trouble moving Brandon Marshall, the price is beginning to come down. I am not on board with bringing Marshall in unless Denver is willing to accept Vernon Gholston for him straight up.

Photobucket 4. Thoughts On Lost Season 6, Episode 9 “Ab Aeterno” – Now there is some high quality LOST. I won’t go crazy like some fans and rank it up there with the season 3 finale or “The Constant” but last night was a terrific hour of television. We have  been waiting three years for Richard Alpert’s story and the writers didn’t disappoint. I am big fan of both the actor who plays Jacob and the actor who plays the Man In Black, who was pretty awesome in his original form in this episode. The explanation of the island as a “cork” which contains evil aka the Man In Black needs to be fleshed out a little more for me. Yet, it is pretty clear this season is setting up for Jacob’s side to stop MIB from getting off the island at all costs because it sounds like it will basically be the end of the world if he does. I still am waiting to see how the flash sideways are going to play into everything. It looks like next week we are getting a Jin/Sun episode, hopefully it will be good considering Sun has been reduced to repeating “where is my husband” on a loop the past season and a half.

Three Ways For The Jets To Live Up To The Hype

Hosting a week one Monday Night game…hosting a Thanksgiving night game…being featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks, the Jets have come a long way from a dull, lifeless 4-12 team in 2007. The expectations are high in 2010. Rex Ryan wants it that way and is going to keep the back pages of the New York newspapers filled with quotes. Never in my life have I seen the Jets receive so much national media attention and such a larger share of the New York media attention than the Giants. There is no denying the Jets are the #1 football story in New York, but will they be the number show in New York as Ryan promised?

Here are three ways the Jets can live up to the hype in 2010:

Photobucket 1. Remember What Got You Here – I am talking about the ground and pound. It may be tempting to air it out with a young, improving Mark Sanchez behind center throwing to a talented group of receivers in Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller, and a likely high draft pick but the Jets have to stick to their identity and formula that brought them success last year. The  offense should be run through Shonn Greene and the league’s best offensive line, with support from LaDainain Tomlinson and Leon Washington. Sanchez is a very good play action quarterback, who will benefit from having a strong rushing attack. Yes, there will be times the Jets need Sanchez to air it out a little bit but overall this should remain a decidedly run first offense.

2. Buy Into The System – The Jets defense must continue to grow and improve in year two of Rex Ryan’s system. Antonio Cromartie needs to reach his potential and take advantage of the chance to play a significant amount more of man coverage. Brodney Pool, Eric Smith, or James Ihedigbo needs to do what Kerry Rhodes never did, believe in the coaching staff and play physical. Dwight Lowery needs to rebound from a brutal AFC Championship Game to be a quality third corner and backup. Kris Jenkins needs to show he still has something in the tank and Sione Pouha must handle being moved back into a rotational role off the bench. Mike Tannenbaum needs to bring Marques Douglas back because he is a valuable part of the Jets front seven and add a guy through the draft to learn behind Douglas and Shaun Ellis.

3. Take Care Of the Division – The Jets were a brutal 2-4 in the division last year. They split with a crappy Buffalo team and were inexplicably swept by a Dolphins team that they were better than. The Jets have to take care of business in their division this year and focus on taking home the AFC East crown so they don’t have to go on the road three straight weeks. Buffalo is a mess right now. The Jets need to sweep them and find a way to get three out of four from the Patriots and Dolphins. You know every person in the organization wants a shot at Miami in week one on Monday Night at home to get some revenge for those two losses last year.

The story lines around this team are undeniably compelling: an entertaining, outspoken, confident head coach, a young potential franchise quarterback on the rise, an aging hall of fame running back looking to prove he still has something left in the tank, the best cornerback in football, a cornerback who was considered by some to be the NFL’s best in 2007 but now has to re-establish himself, a running back coming off  a gruesome knee injury, a loud mouth middle linebacker, one of the league’s top defensive lineman returning from injury, a third year player looking to prove he isn’t one of the biggest busts of all time (he is), and the best offensive line in football looking to build on last year’s success, yet nobody cares about interesting stories if you can’t find a way to win games.

Get Hyped For The Jets In 2010

Was Signing Tomlinson The Right Move? & Coin Flip Madness

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First a few updates:

1. I have to recommend everybody finds a way to get down to Austin, Texas at some point in their life. The place is completely out of control. I thought I would have a more laid back spring break after going to Cancun the previous two years but I was absolutely, 100 percent wrong. Good times. Anyway, I have been a little late writing this article about the Jets officially signing LaDainian Tomlinson and Coin-Flip Gate but I have a valid excuse. Here has been my last few days:

  • Saturday Night – Out on 6th street, go to bed at 8 AM.
  • Sunday Morning – Up at 9 AM.
  • Go to airport in Austin…find out I lost my credit card.
  • During flight, guy next to me throws up in a bag three times.
  • Fly to airport in Minnesota…find out flight is delayed 3 hours.
  • Look around for Tomlinson Vikings jersey…don’t see any.
  • Land in Newark at 9 PM, received 10 texts about Tomlinson signing being official.
  • Arrive back in Ringwood at 10:30 PM
  • Write 8 page paper on the European Union, finish at 8 AM
  • Drive back to Pennsylvania
  • Go to class from 11-12:30
  • Sleep from 1 PM until 9 PM.

So there you go. Anyway, despite currently running on nothing but coffee I have get my opinions out there, before going to bed for another 12 hours.

2. There are still some rumors swirling around about the Jets being interested in Brandon Marshall. I don’t see it happening but honestly you never know with Mike Tannenbaum. At this point, I like the way the Jets offense is constructed and would rather not deal with the sideshow Marshall would bring to town. I don’t care how talented he is. He was the target of a gang hit, hit his girlfriend, and made a huge scene in Denver last year.

3. I am glad to hear Rex Ryan is doing well after his surgery and that his first question after waking up was “Did we sign LT yet?” How can you not love this guy as your football coach?

Was Signing Tomlinson The Right Move? & Coin Flip Madness

Ironically enough, I spent a good amount of article space before and after the Jets/Chargers divisional round playoff game ripping not just Antonio Cromartie but also LaDainain Tomlinson. Sure enough, both players are now members of the Jets. I have already said my piece on Cromartie’s arrival over the past couple of weeks but now what about Tomlinson? First off, I would have still rather have Thomas Jones for next season. There is a bunch of different information being thrown around about the contracts of Tomlinson and Jones but it appears that Tomlinson’s is overall worth more money but Jones will be making more this upcoming season, and the Jets will be able to cut ties with Tomlinson with minimal cap damage after this year if he flames out. Regardless, I still would have rather paid TJ more money next season. He was substantially more productive last year. He was a veteran leader in the locker room and clearly everybody around the organization thought highly of him, as shown by this ad taken out in a Kansas City paper by the team:

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However, when it became apparent that Jones wasn’t coming back next year, the Jets were faced with a hole in their backfield. Chauncey Washington couldn’t be counted on to take consistent carries. The free agent market was extremely thin and the Jets didn’t want to be forced to spend another mid-round pick on a running back, after doing so last year and in 2006. I would have never thought they would look towards Tomlinson but when you consider a few things, it begins to make more sense.

First off, he is familiar with the Jets offense and is comfortable with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Second, he provides a veteran presence at a position that desperately needs it. Third, he is a great receiving running back and is steady in pass protection. Shonn Greene sure as hell can run but he has worse hands than Troy Williamson. Obviously, Leon Washington can catch but he is coming off major surgery so it remains to be seen how effective he will be next year. Fourth, Tomlinson is still a very good short yardage back. Washington isn’t built for that type of role and Greene was never used in short yardage or goal-line situations last year. Finally, we all know Woody Johnson and Mike Tannenbaum like to make a splash with big names.

PhotobucketTomlinson is done as a feature back in my mind. Yes, I think he would be more productive in that role with the Jets than he was with San Diego because of the Jets dominant offensive line but he won’t be asked to be option 1A. What do the Jets need from him next year? I would think Shonn Greene will be looking at 17-21 carries a game. Leon will get his touches on third downs, gimmick plays, and as a pass catching target. Tomlinson needs to be an effective short yardage and goal-line back, be able to spell Shonn Greene for a series or two per half, and be a pass catching threat out of the backfield on screens and other short routes. You have to admit, it will be tough to defend the Jets screen game when they line up both Washington and Tomlinson in the backfield.

Tomlinson is in the green and white now so I am trying to look at the positives. I couldn’t stand him watching from the side-lines in playoff games in previous years with his jacket on and I thoroughly enjoyed watching him be made to look like an old lady last year by the Jets defense. Yet, with the help of the best offensive line in football, Shonn Greene, and Leon Washington maybe Tomlinson can carve himself a nice role on the Jets offense. At worst, he provides depth and veteran leadership. At best, he will pile up short-yardage touchdowns and become a game-changer as a change of pace back/receiver out of the backfield. The most likely scenario is that he ends up somewhere in the middle of those two. I will be happy if he can give us 7-9 carries a game, a few receptions, and a high success rate on short-yardage downs. Welcome to New York, LaDainain…I am sure you won’t have trouble getting #21 from Dwight Lowery.

Coin Flip – On to this whole coin-flip issue, which has now been settled by the NFL with a secret flip that resulted in a Giants victory (shocking). The news is that the Giants will open the stadium on Sunday afternoon of week 1 and then the following day, the Jets will host the Monday Night Football opener. Honestly, that is fine with me. Jets owner Woody Johnson is furious because there was no transparency in the coin toss (representatives of neither team were invited) and it is probably likely Roger Goodell just picked the Giants, because despite being 50/50 partners on the new stadium, there is still a view among some people that this new building will also be Giants Stadium. I could see Jets fans getting real worked up about this but in the end it isn’t a big deal. All I know is I am pumped that the Jets are hosting the week 1 Monday Night game. My early predicted opponent? I will either say Minnesota, New England, or Miami. Let the Giants play on Sunday, they probably can’t wait the extra day to start the season considering they lost their final two games by a combined score of 85-16. I can wait until Monday Night with the rest of the nation to watch the league’s #1 defense, #1 offensive line, most entertaining coach, up and coming franchise quarterback and running back, LaDainain Tomlinson, the return of Leon Washington, Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller, and the rest of the #1 show in town next season.

Welcome to New York

They Could Have Settled The Home Opener, With A Bat Fight