New York Jets Fact Or False: Offseason Review Edition

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

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

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

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From May 17th, 2012 –

What we said then:

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

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

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

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

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

Why we were wrong:

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

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

From May 31st, 2012-

What we said then:

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

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

From June 14th, 2012-

What we said then:

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

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

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

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

From June 28th, 2012-

What we said then:

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

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

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

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

New York Jets: Five Training Camp Questions

Five questions for the New York Jets heading into training camp

The New York Jets first full training camp practice will take place this Saturday at 8 AM in Cortland, New York. Check back throughout the rest of week for Turn On The Jets preview by myself, Chris Gross and Mike Donnelly. Today we look at five questions facing the team that still need to be sorted out in the coming weeks –

1. How Annoying Will The Tim Tebow Coverage Be? – My guess is somewhere between very, very annoying and painstakingly annoying. It has already started today with “Jets thinking about using Tebow on kickoffs story” and we know every step he takes will be tracked in excruciating detail. There is a ton of hype about all the different uses for Tebow but ultimately look for him to be a backup quarterback with a package of plays in the Wildcat. In a perfect world, Tebow will be a needed weapon in the running game, particularly in short yardage situations. Will there be times he is used as a punt protector or field goal holder? Probably, but don’t expect it to be a regular thing. Will the Jets run a trick play here or there with him? Sure, but it isn’t going to be every week.

2. The Battle For Right Tackle – The trade for Jeff Otah yesterday threw the right tackle position into a wide open competition. Otah is physically superior to incumbent Wayne Hunter across the board but has had issues with his health and motivation. If Otah can stay on the field and is in the right mindset he should run away with the job and relegate Hunter to the role he is best suited for, a backup swing tackle. It will be interesting to see how the reps are divided up in the beginning of camp and then headed into the pre-season.

3. Tweaking The Roster – Most people disagree with the notion that the Jets need another running back. Isn’t it foolish to head into camp with no backs besides Shonn Greene on the roster who have ran for more than 150 yards in a season? If he misses a few weeks, who is going to handle the bulk of the carries? Cedric Benson is there for the veteran’s minimum. Go get him. Beyond that, the Jets still need to add a blocking tight end and will likely do so sooner rather than later.

4. LaRon Landry’s Health – Landry is starting off camp on the Active PUP list. How many practices will he miss this August and at what point does he miss enough time not to be the week one starter? The Jets will be much better served with Landry starting at strong safety and Eric Smith coming off the bench as a role player. Yet, if Landry can’t get on the field, Smith will once again be forced into the starting role.

5. Wide Receiver Reps – All eyes will be on Stephen Hill at the wide receiver position. It won’t be easy for him to walk in and perform like a starter from day one and he will have Chaz Schilens pushing him. If Schilens performs well early in camp and Hill struggles to pick up the offense, how much playing time will he earn for himself? Would the Jets actually make Schilens the starter or keep Hill the starter in name and have Schilens take a big chunk of his reps?

Later Today – New York Jets Stock Watch

Tomorrow – 53 Man Roster Prediction

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New York Jets: Pass Coverage Still A Concern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Jets Fact Or False: Secondary Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly Fact or False, this week focusing on the New York Jets secondary

Chris Gross is back with his weekly Fact or False, this week focusing on the New York Jets secondary. Make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter

The New York Jets have one of the most intriguing defensive secondaries in the NFL. While they have, arguably, the greatest trio of cornerbacks in the league in (All-World) Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson, they have not been very strong at the safety position as of late. However, the Jets addressed this issue the best way they possibly could this offseason, by adding 4 newcomers. The two free agents, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, along with the two rookies, Josh Bush and Antonio Allen, have the chance to revitalize this position for New York, and officially give the Jets the best secondary in the league. Will these additions, along with the players already on the roster, combine to make such a secondary? Find out all you need to know in this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.

Kyle Wilson will emerge as a starter this season. False. Although I fully expect Wilson to improve greatly this season, as we witnessed a fairly decent leap in play from his rookie to sophomore season, he is still not ready to take over as a full time starter. Last season, Wilson ranked 59th among active cornerbacks in the NFL in completion percentage when targeted, as opposing quarterbacks completed 66.7% of their passes when throwing at the former first round pick out of Boise State. While this number is certainly a bit inflated due to the fact that Wilson is picked on as the nickel corner in the same secondary as Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, this number will need to decrease if Wilson is going to become a starter on this defense. Players are not selected in the first round to serve as situational/back up players, so look for the Jets to attempt to increase Wilson’s role in the defense, but only if he proves capable.

There is not one Wide Receiver in the AFC East that will escape Revis Island this season. Fact. We’ve previously gone over why Chad Ochocinco is no threat to Revis, but the obvious argument here is Buffalo Wide Receiver Stevie Johnson. Many feel that Johnson “owns” Revis due to the fact that over two games last season, Johnson caught 11 balls for 159 yards and a touchdown. While these numbers certainly are not Revis-like, let’s not put Johnson in that life boat just yet. Although he did beat Revis on a 52 yard catch down the sideline during their week 9 match up in Buffalo, the sole touchdown that Johnson has on Revis in his career was a clear case of miscommunication within the defense.

Prior to the 5 yard touchdown Johnson snagged off of a slant route, Revis was lined up in what appeared to be man coverage, as displayed by the rather tight alignment to the line of scrimmage. Just before the snap, though, an obvious check in the coverage was made as Revis bailed out just as the play began. Johnson hit the slant, which should have been covered by Calvin Pace, who was running around like a chicken with his head cut off, as he clearly missed the check. So, while Johnson did have his 5 seconds of fame against Revis, he by no means “beat” the All-Pro corner. This is not to say that Johnson is incapable of such a feat, but let’s see him gain some consistency against 24 before declaring him the victor in any such matchup.

The Jets will add another Cornerback before the season. Fact. While the Jets have arguably the greatest trio of corners in the NFL in Revis, Cromartie, and Wilson, there is not too much experience on the depth chart behind them. The five other cornerbacks currently on the Jets roster have played in a combined 31 NFL games. While Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant have contributed on Special Teams in the past, it would not be wise for the Jets to enter the season with this amount of inexperience at the position, particularly if none of them stand out in training camp. One name that has been discussed greatly among Jets Nation is former Jet Drew Coleman. A free agent, Coleman is coming off of a career year in Jacksonville last season with 46 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 9 passes defended. Coleman is also familiar with Rex Ryan’s scheme having played in it in 2009 and 2010. This would be a great fit for both sides if the Jets decide to add depth heading into the season.

Antonio Cromartie is unfairly criticized based on performance. Fact. While Cromartie’s tackling has certainly never been the strength of his game, his coverage numbers have been very good for a number 2 corner. Cromartie is typically criticized for poor play, however in his two seasons with the Jets, he has 7 interceptions with 29 passes defended. While he certainly gives up his share of catches, and misses more tackles than anyone would enjoy seeing, Cromartie has arguably the toughest job in football: playing opposite Darrelle Revis. It is nearly impossible for anyone who is targeted as much as Cromartie, due to the presence of his counterpart, to maintain a perfect resume. Therefore it should not come as a surprise to anyone to see him give up a few catches. Yes, the best ones prove to consistently shut down anyone that lines up against them, but how many corners are there like that in the league? About one, and he plays in the same secondary as Cromartie.

The Jets collectively have the biggest group of meat heads at the Safety position in the NFL. Fact. Although their coverage skills are going to be tested to their greatest extent this season, is there truly a bigger group of meat heads at this position than LaRon Landry (6’0″ 220 lbs), Yeremiah Bell (6’0″ 205 lbs), and Eric Smith (6’1″ 207 lbs)? While their play on the field is critical to the success of the Jets defense this year, there is no debating the fact that these guys get after it in the weight room. Besides the countless bone crunching hits we’ve seen from them in the past, this picture should put any argument on this issue to rest.

Bonus – Having no captains will hurt the Jets this season. False. The no captains policy that took effect at the conclusion of last season following the Miami meltdown has been blown out of proportion ever since Rex Ryan uttered those words at his year end press conference. Guard Matt Slauson summed it up perfectly when he said that not naming captains has forced players to step into leadership roles. Leadership ability is something that players either have or don’t have, it is not a quality that can be attained or taught. Appointing captains can sometimes hurt a team because it could place the wrong people in leadership roles that they are unfit for, while excluding players who are natural leaders from such a position (Brandon Moore anyone?). While captains have been important to sports, the title does not automatically make a player a leader. The focus on this issue is certainly being sensationalized. Regardless of whether or not players have the “C” on their jerseys, those who are leaders are going to lead, it is encrypted in their DNA. Expect to see players like Moore, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, Mark Sanchez, and David Harris step into those leadership roles this season, on and off the field, without being officially declared as captains.

New York Jets Fact Or False: New Jets Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feeling the Tremors of the NFL Offseason – Part 1

In a two part column, Assistant Staff Writer Mike Donnelly rates the NFL Offseason using a Richter Scale system. Be sure to check back Friday for Part II. – CG

While lying in bed and flipping through the channels the other night, I came across a Discovery Channel show about earthquakes (not the wrestler, unfortunately) and put the remote down. I was fascinated not so much by the earthquakes themselves, but by the tool they use to measure them: The Richter Scale. I think it’s great how they can measure any earthquake anywhere at any time and determine which ones were bigger than the others and give a definitive answer based on a 1-10 scale. Then a thought hit me: Wouldn’t it be great if we could measure everything in life and have an accurate ruling? And more importantly, how can I relate this to football? I’ve been meaning to put together an offseason review, so let’s go ahead and combine the two. I present the 2012 NFL Offseason Review, as graded by the Richter Scale.

(Please note I’ll be giving you the breakdowns of the real Richter Scale descriptions and the magnitude–or score–of each offseason move in it’s respective category)

Magnitude: -2.0 – 0 – “Laughable” (Yeah, I made this one up, but it’s surely worth mentioning)

-2.0 – Rams Hire Brian Schottenheimer as Offensive Coordinator –   I can’t wait to watch Sam Bradford work with former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer this year and keep tabs on all the “Is Sam Bradford a bust?” stories that will inevitably be coming out. Just wait, Rams fans, just you wait. And fantasy football players out there, stay clear of this train wreck. You’ll thank me later. Now let’s move on.

Magnitude: 0 – 1.9 – “Micro” (Not felt) 

0.1 – Lee Evans signs with the Jaguars – There are a ton of free agent signings you can put in this “micro” category, but this is my favorite one. Not because it’s a good signing or anything (it’s not), but how is Lee Evans still getting work? For years people said “If Lee Evans just had a good QB throwing to him..” Well, it turns out, Lee Evans just isn’t that good, and his final year in the league will be spent having Blaine Gabbert skip passes to him. At least the lasting memory of him won’t be that of dropping a touchdown in the final seconds of a playoff game that could have sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl or anything. Oh wait, yes it will.

Magnitude: 2 – 3.9 – “Minor” (Barely felt, causes no damage)

2.2 – Brandon Jacobs signs with the 49ers – At this point Jacobs is more known for what he does off the field with his big mouth and delusions of being a professional racecar driver than for what he does on the field. I guess that makes sense, since what he does on the field these days is, well, nothing.

3.5 – Hines Ward and Matt Light retire – I bunched these two together because their situations are so similar: Once-great players who spent their entire careers winning with one franchise, whose play slipped dramatically seemingly overnight. Hines Ward became an afterthought in the Steelers offense last year, and Light was on the verge of being replaced by 2011 rookie Nate Solder anyway. Enjoy retirement, fellas.

Magnitude: 4 – 4.9 – “Light” (Noticeable, but no significant damage)

4.0 – Aaron Ross signs with Jaguars for $15 million – And that’s over three years! For Aaron Ross to deserve $15 million, the contract should span about 30 years, give or take a few. This doesn’t register a 4.0 because of Ross’s play on the field (that would be in the 1.5 range), but rather because of the impact it will have around the league. If Ross is worth $5 million a year, what is someone like Darrelle Revis worth? On a side note, New York fans everywhere are laughing at the Jaguars for signing Drew Coleman and Aaron Ross in back-to-back offseasons. Do some of these teams not have scouts?

4.1 – Ryan Tannehill and Joe Philbin are the new faces of the Dolphins – And you wonder why Dolphins fans stage rallies and protests outside the stadium to get GM Jeff Ireland fired? Tannehill went #8 overall! Really?! He’s likely to become the 73rd (or maybe it just seems that high?) quarterback to come in and fail since Dan Marino’s retirement. At least this is a better option than David Garrard, right Dolphins fans? Right? Ok, maybe not..

4.2 – Giants get Keith Rivers for a 5th round pick – A total win-win move for the Giants here. If Rivers stays healthy–which is a big if–they get a guy who was a top-10 pick just four years ago and has played well in his limited action between injuries. If he gets hurt again, it was still a worthwhile gamble for a team that is very thin at linebacker and they only lose a 5th rounder. Moves like this are why Jerry Reese is considered one of the best GM’s in the NFL.

4.4 – Falcons get Asante Samuel for a 7th round pick – Samuel is a limited cornerback, but he’s very good at what he does, which is cover people on the outside. The Falcons clearly need some help in the back end of their defense, and a 7th round pick is practically nothing to give up. Unfortunately for Atlanta, they have far bigger problems to deal with than their #2 cornerback situation–like figuring out why their quarterback hyperventilates and wets himself in the playoffs, for example.

4.5 – Alex Smith gets upset with 49ers, signs 3-year contract anyway – The 49ers were clearly not too concerned with Alex Smith getting any big offers elsewhere. They sniffed around Peyton Manning, evaluated all their options, then figured they’d bring Smith back short-term and just look to replace him again next year. After watching his comical performance down the stretch against the Giants in the NFC Championship last year, I can see why they weren’t so eager to bring him back right away. I mean you could actually see the fear on his face as he fired passes directly into the turf 4 yards ahead of him. But still, a Super Bowl favorite signing their starting QB is going to cause some ripples, any way you slice it.

4.6 – Laron Landry signs with the Jets – (And to a lesser extent Yeremiah Bell, plus the drafting of Josh Bush and Antonio Allen to overhaul the position) An argument can be made that this should register lower, but the homer in me says otherwise. If you’ve watched the Jets safeties play the last two seasons, you’d understand why this is such a big move. Landry has good size, great speed, can jam tight ends, and actually make tackles. It will be nice to see a Jets safety out there that doesn’t require a sun dial to time his 40 yard dash. If –and this is another big if — Landry can stay healthy, he can take the Jets defense from being “very good” back to being “dominant”.

4.8 – Randy Moss un-retires, signs with 49ers – I love that this happened. Randy Moss is one of the most dominant receivers of all time, and he will likely be playing with a major chip on his shoulder this year. That being said, he’s sulked and slouched his way through games and entire seasons when he wasn’t the focal point of the offense and catching highlight reel touchdowns. Now he’s on the run-first, run-second 49ers. Should be interesting. I’m prepared for anything.

Magnitude: 5 – 5.9 – “Moderate” (Can cause slight to major damage)

5.0 – Bucs spend big for Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, Eric Wright – Another example of teams perhaps over-spending on free agents, but all three of these guys can help Tampa win. They likely won’t compete for the division title this year, but the signings of Jackson and Nicks will go a long way towards helping quarterback Josh Freeman progress into the franchise signal-caller they hope he can be. Plus, Tampa now has to be considered a potential target for big-time free agents. Hey, Greg Schiano always was a pretty good recruiter.

5.1 – Matt Flynn signs with Seahawks – I don’t necessarily think Flynn is going to turn into a star or anything, but how he plays these next few years will have a lot of impact on how much money future backups-hoping-to-be-staters can get in coming years, which is a pretty major thought. The last two high profile quarterbacks in that category, Matt Cassell and Kevin Kolb, have largely flopped, so let’s see if Flynn can buck the trend. Oh, and his performance will likely be the determining factor in whether or not Pete Carroll gets fired. No pressure. On the bright side, it sure beats having Charlie Whitehurst and Tavaris Jackson run the show.

5.3 – Patriots sign non-washed up veteran (Brandon Lloyd) and trade UP in draft– Whoa, talk about bucking some trends. The Patriots, for the first time in many years, sign a veteran player who is actually kind of in the prime of his career and can help Tom Brady on the field (Sorry, Ochocinco). Not only that, after years of trading down in the draft for future picks and taking project players, they shocked everyone and surprisingly took two defensive players with high ceilings that can come in and help their porous defense from day 1. Times, they are a-changin’! (Well, not changing that much. The Patriots are still going to be awesome. Also, Belichick couldn’t help himself and signed Joseph Addai. The washed up veteran signing streak lives.)

5.4 – Cowboys and Eagles bolster their defenses– I lumped these two together as well, because their moves are so similar. Both these NFC East contenders knew they had to do something about their defenses to compete against one another and the Giants this year, so they did. The Cowboys last year appeared to be running a charity on the field for opposing quarterbacks with their terrible secondary. To amend that problem, they signed CB Brandon Carr for big money and traded up in the draft for Morris Claiborne. On the flip side, the Eagles had no problems defending the pass, but their defensive front allowed holes big enough for trucks to drive though. So Andy Reid wised up and traded for run-stuffing Middle Linebacker DeMeco Ryans, and traded up for DT Fletcher Cox. Mission accomplished. The NFC East is going to be tough this year.

5.9 – Bears acquire Brandon Marshall and Michael Bush– After years and years of failing to provide Jay Cutler a solid NFL-calibre WR to work with, the Bears mercifully went out and got Cutler’s favorite receiver to play with, Brandon Marshall, for just two 3rd-round draft picks. How did they get an elite talent for so little? Well, other than Jeff Ireland being an idiot, it’s probably because Marshall allegedly assaulted yet another woman–this time in a bar–and might spend some time in prison. Should he avoid the slammer, Marshall gives them a legitimate receiving threat, while Bush will provide an excellent inside runner to pair with Matt Forte, who is coming off knee surgery.

 

New York Jets Off-Season: Getting Inside Mike Tannenbaum’s Head

Just what exactly has New York Jets GM Mike Tannenabum been thinking this off-season?

At this point in the New York Jets off-season, it is easy to be a little confused, angry and disappointed. Here is a review of what they have done so far –

  • Signed a highly injury prone strong safety, LaRon Landry
  • Signed a highly injury prone wide receiver, Chaz Schilens
  • Traded for a backup quarterback/wildcat option, Tim Tebow
  • Re-signed Sione Pouha and Bryan Thomas
  • Guaranteed Wayne Hunter’s salary next year
  • Held on to Santonio Holmes by guaranteeing his salary the next two years
  • Signed Drew Stanton…then traded Drew Stanton after trading for Tebow
  • Gave Mark Sanchez an overhyped extension that basically didn’t change much to his original contract but brought a wave of publicity with it

So, what the hell is Mike Tannenbaum thinking? Let’s try to figure it out –

Starting on offense, we told you throughout February the Jets would not be spending big money at the wide receiver position opposite of Santonio Holmes. The hiring of Tony Sparano confirmed a commitment to a run heavy offense and with so much already invested in Holmes, it doesn’t make philosophical sense to splurge financially for another receiver. Their approach is taking a low cost risk on a player like Schilens and then seeing how the draft shakes out before exploring the option of bringing Braylon Edwards back.

Do not look for the Jets to take a receiver early in the draft, unless somebody they fall in love with drops into their lap in round 2 or 3. I would expect them to take a receiver with one of their late round picks and then check out Edwards knee in May. If he passes the team’s physical, he can be brought back on a low cost deal and likely provide all the production they’d need from the number two receiver spot, with Schilens providing insurance.

The Tebow trade was clearly not something in the original off-season plans as demonstrated by the Stanton signing. There was speculation about the Jets signing or trading for another running back to compliment Shonn Greene but bringing in Tebow is going to prevent that from happening. He will be a weapon in the running game more than anything and outside of potentially a mid or late round pick, look for the Jets running back depth chart to stay the same.

Tebow’s trade was fueled by Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano’s desire to run and protect the football coupled with the business aspects of it endorsed by Woody Johnson. Tannenbaum saw Tebow become available, had his head coach, offensive coordinator and owner express interest and made it happen. Mark Sanchez was a peripheral thought in all of this, as I do think the organization still believes he could be the franchise quarterback but saw the Wildcat dimension/business aspects of Tebow too valuable to pass it up. Only time will tell, if it was worth it.

At tackle, Tannenbaum probably looked at Hunter’s contract and figured at a minimum he was a good depth player, which he is and something that the Jets badly lacked last year. The hope in the organization is that with a full off-season to learn the position, Vladimir Ducasse will be a viable option at right tackle. Teams don’t like giving up on second round picks after two years, regardless of how awful they looked throughout those two years. At this point, I fully expect the Jets to open camp with Hunter and Ducasse competing for the job, with Austin Howard maybe grabbing a few reps.

If they struggle, the Jets could hope that Vernon Carey is still on the market. He is a veteran who knows Sparano’s system that could immediately hop in or Tannenbaum could swing a trade in August to supplement the position. It is a risky strategy and not one I agree with, but it appears to be the planned approach at the moment.

Defensively, the Jets wanted to pair LaRon Landry and Reggie Nelson as their shiny, new safety duo. Unfortunately, they struck out with Nelson leaving a gaping hole at free safety. The Jets protected themselves from Landry’s injury with how the contract is structured but the defense will suffer if he misses extended periods of time in 2012. I would expect the Jets to seriously consider finding a way to add a free safety in one of the early rounds of the draft and then bring back Jim Leonhard in May or June as veteran insurance. Missing out on Nelson hurt and the Jets are now going to need to rely on a healthy Landry and likely a draft pick to improve the position’s play.

The team hasn’t been shy about their desire to improve the pass rush. It would be an upset at this point if they don’t find away to take a outside linebacker in the first round. The question is only how aggressive will they pursue one? Would they trade up for Melvin Ingram or Quinton Couples? Could they trade back for Andre Branch? Is Courtney Upshaw on the board for them at number 16? The Jets want a young pass rusher to take Bryan Thomas off the field on passing downs and eventually off the field all together. They likely envision a third down defense that prominently features this first round pick opposite of Aaron Maybin, who should only get better in Rex’s system in year two.

One other thing that should be noted, the locker room chaos last year clearly made a huge impression on the Jets front office. Re-signing Sione Pouha was a smart football move but became such a major priority because he was a respected captain last year. The quick re-signing of Bryan Thomas, a longtime good guy veteran of the organization was also a larger priority than it would have in years past. Bringing back Hunter, who despite his on field struggles, is a respected player in the locker room who stood up to Santonio Holmes slacking last year supports the notion of emphasizing the importance of improving the locker room. Finally, while the Tebow trade was primarily motivated by the Wildcat and business, it would be foolish to think his personality didn’t play a factor in it as well.

So what else should you expect the rest of the way from the Jets? I would look for an outside linebacker and safety early in the draft, along with an eventual signing of Braylon Edwards and Jim Leonhard. If the Jets make an addition at right tackle, it probably won’t happen until training camp. It isn’t the flashiest off-season but the Jets are clearly banking on Tony Sparano improving Mark Sanchez’s play and Tim Tebow adding an element to the Jets offense that will make it harder to defend. Rex Ryan is always going to be confident in his defense and I am sure he thinks with a new pass rusher, Landry, and a free safety the group will take major strides from last year.

Finally, what about that extra money the Jets still have? Remember they are going to have to pay Darrelle Revis next off-season to avoid another holdout, along with Dustin Keller and Shonn Greene’s contracts both being up. Those considerations have to be a factor in the Jets spending right now.

Doesn’t cheer you up? Well maybe this will…feels like a hundred years ago, right?

New York Jets Sign Safety LaRon Landry

The New York Jets have signed safety LaRon Landry

The New York Jets have signed safety LaRon Landry to a 1 year, 4 million dollar contract. Landry was the 6th overall pick of the Washington Redskins in 2007, where he has spent his entire career up until now. In that time he has 383 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles.

At 6 feet, 225 pounds Landry is a physical player who is a “in the box” safety. He will replace Eric Smith in that role in Rex Ryan’s defense. Despite playing at a Pro Bowl level at times throughout his career, Landry has had major durability issues which has led him to miss 15 games over the past two seasons after only missing 1 over his first three years. He has had issues with left Achilles tendon and groin. In the past two years, he has avoided getting injury and instead received plasma and stem cell treatment.

Considering the duration of the contract, this was a needed risk by the Jets to improve their safety situation as their free agent options were dwindling and they needed two players at the position. If healthy, Landry will be an upgrade over Eric Smith and should help in run support. However, the Jets still must add a free safety with coverage ability, whether that is OJ Atogwe or an early round draft pick. Smith now has the ability to be the role player and special teams ace he was in 2009, a role that he thrived in for most of the season.

Landry was playing the best football of his career in 2010 prior to the Achilles injury, prompting Head Coach Mike Shanahan to make a Rex Ryan like statement that he would have been the Defensive Player of the Year if he hadn’t got hurt. The Jets will now have four first round draft picks in their secondary, with Landry joining Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson.

New York Jets Moving To Next Tier Of Free Agents

After losing out on Reggie Nelson, the New York Jets have shifted their focus to a new crop of players

It is fair to be disappointed about Reggie Nelson clearly using the New York Jets to jack up the price on the Cincinnati Bengals, who he chose to re-sign with. Nelson is a rangy, athletic player who would have been an immediate upgrade at free safety. However, Nelson is a good…not great player and thus not worth despairing over for too long. It is certainly too early to feel like the Miami Dolphins, who couldn’t recruit a player they wanted if they offered him a share of ownership and named the stadium after him.

The Jets continue to have a viable chance at LaRon Landry, who visited the team’s facility over the weekend. Landry has the potential to be a quality strong safety who spends most of time inside the box. It is important that the Jets don’t overpay for him however, as he has major durability concerns. Landry is cut in a similar mode to Eric Smith but is more physically talented and would allow Smith to move back to the situational player role he thrived in.

The team is also expressing interest in OJ Atogwe, who has the ability to fill the hole at free safety. Atogwe is coming off a disappointing season in Washington, but who doesn’t have disappointing seasons in Washington? He was a very productive player in St. Louis from 2006-2010 and would be a nice upgrade for the Jets over Jim Leonhard whose health status remains unclear at this point.

It is also being reported the Jets are considering former Green Bay Packers safety/corner Jarrett Bush. While he is a versatile player with some upside, it is doubtful the team views him as a full time option at safety. He would more likely be a replacement for Donald Strickland and Marquice Cole in the Jets nickel/sub packages and on special teams.

On offense, the Jets are bringing in wide receiver Donnie Avery for a visit. Avery is a burner who has had health issues (sound familiar?) similar to Chaz Schilens, Avery is a low cost/potentially high reward player.

Inside linebacker Jameel McClain remains on the market so it will be interesting to see if the Jets work on bringing him in for a visit in the coming days. We know the team is interested and he gives them the ability to cut ties with Bart Scott.

TOJ New York Jets Free Agency 12 Pack

TOJ with a 12 pack of thoughts on the New York Jets in free agency

UPDATE: The Jets have signed quarterback Drew Stanton to a one year, 1.25 million dollar deal to backup Mark Sanchez.

Kick off your St. Patrick’s Day Weekend by sitting back and enjoying a 12 pack of thoughts on the New York Jets potential moves in free agency. Then tomorrow when you are prowling the streets of New York City, look for the tall, not that athletic looking guy with the Revis Island shirt and Eric Smith signed snapback hat and buy him a real 12 pack…

1. The biggest news of the day, as far as I’m concerned is two fold, first that LaRon Landry is coming for a visit to the Jets facility but more importantly that the team believes they have a chance to sign both him and Reggie Nelson. It is financially feasible as long as the deals are structured the right way, which is Mike Tannenbaum’s speciality. I have not been high on pursuing Landry this off-season but if you can sign him on the right deal (an incentive laden one that protects you from his injuries) and you pair him with a centerfield/ballhawk type safety like Nelson it makes sense. Landy at strong safety with Nelson at free safety, along with Eric Smith back as the top reserve is a good situation. Nevermind the potential of still bringing Jim Leonhard back on a veteran’s minimum for depth purposes. How nice would it be to bring back your previous #1 and #2 safety as your new #3 and #4 safety…now that is depth.

2. If the Jets can lock down the safety position via free agency, it gives them ability to push their chips to the middle of the table to get a pass rusher in the draft. If you solve safety via free agency, go solve outside linebacker in the draft by moving up if necessary to grab Melvin Ingram or Courtney Upshaw.

3. It is also being reported today that the Jets have interest in inside linebacker Jameel McClain. This has long been a speculated move for the Jets as McClain has experience with Rex Ryan. If he does sign, you can start counting the seconds until Bart Scott is cut.

4. All of a sudden you are a seeing a blueprint for a much improved Jets defense in 2012. Keep in mind, this is if everything breaks right. But the potential is there to add two new starting safeties, an outside linebacker early in the draft and a new inside linebacker in McClain. You can then add a few depth players later in the draft and all of a sudden you have the potential for a very scary defense in 2012. Can you imagine a starting defensive backfield of Landry, Nelson, Revis and Cromartie with Wilson as the nickel back…that is five first round draft picks.

5. There are mixed reports about the Jets search for a backup quarterback. At this point, both Drew Stanton and Brady Quinn remain likely options. I would expect one to be signed in the coming days. Both have shortcomings but both are upgrades over Mark Brunell. UPDATE – Stanton was signed to 1 year deal.

6. I like what I heard from Mark Sanchez’s comments to the media yesterday, most notably that he took the time to fly down to Florida to patch things up with Santonio Holmes, calling out his anonymous critics as “gutless,” and retracting the comments he made about his new contract making him leader and saying that he needed to earn it on the field. He sounded like a confident guy ready to have an improved year…obviously we’ll see what happens on the field.

7. Jamaal Westerman signed with the Dolphins. I always felt he could have done more for the team with extended playing time but with the emergence of Aaron Maybin he became expendable.

8. This has flown under the radar but the Jets would be foolish to let Robert Turner walk. He is a versatile backup, who can play in certain big packages. I am sure Dallas will take a run at him but the Jets need to remember the importance of depth on the offensive line.

9. I think the Jets will get around to bringing Marquice Cole back. He is a quality depth player who is a key part of all their special teams units.

10. At wide receiver, I will reiterate my stance on Chaz Schilens. If you sign him on a cheap, incentive laden contract it has the potential to be a smart move. The size and speed is there but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. There is a chance he could be next year’s Laurent Robinson or miss 10 games with an injury, which is why it would be smart to pair his signing with either a mid-round draft pick, Braylon Edwards, or Jerricho Cotchery. The problem is that I doubt Cotchery or Edwards come here unless they are given a chance to start and I think the Jets are signing Schilens with the intention of him being a starter.

11. All quiet on the running back front. The Jets may be content to just add a player through the draft in the middle or late rounds and roll with what they have instead of paying Ronnie Brown any type of money.

12. It was good to see the Jets focus on taking care of their own this off-season by bringing back Sione Pouha and Bryan Thomas, respected veterans in the locker room. Those type of moves go a long to improving locker room chemistry.