New York Jets Roster Still Needs Work

The Jets are putting the finishing touches on the final 53 man roster today and if everything shakes out as expected, they are still going to have work to do.

You can’t go into the regular season with your backup offensive lineman being Vladimir Ducasse, Matt Kroul, Robby Felix and an injured Robert Turner not coming back until mid-season. It is time to sign a veteran.

You also have to weigh the value of holding 3 roster spots for Turner, Logan Payne and Greg McElroy when all are injured. McElroy is the backup of the future so he isn’t going anywhere and if Turner could really make it back by October then it is worth keeping him off IR. Yet, I can’t see the sense in holding that space for Logan Payne on a 8 week injury, when his roster spot can be given to somebody else.

The Jets may also look to make a move in their secondary, where there is chatter that Brodney Pool is on the trading block. Finally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets took a long look at the list of punters available and considered moving on one of them to replace TJ Conley.

Thoughts On Jets vs. Texans: Depth Concerns Remain

A look back at the Jets opening pre-season game, a 20-16 loss to the Houston Texans —

Mark Sanchez was an efficient 6/7 for 43 yards. His only incompletion was on a drop from Matthew Mulligan (teaching Sanchez a valuable lesson, to avoid throwing to a backup blocking tight end). The Jets didn’t take many risks with him, which was probably a smart thing since their offensive line was getting beat like a drum, including Sanchez being sacked twice before he even had a chance to finish his drop. Sanchez got both Santonio Holmes and Derrick Mason involved with a few catches each, although he didn’t target Dustin Keller at all.

Shonn Greene looked very good, and crisp with 5 caries for 32 yards despite the “starting” offensive line struggling in pass protection. The main story coming out of this game on the offensive side of the football will be the concern about depth on the line. Rob Turner left with what appeared to be a relatively serious ankle injury and Vladimir Ducasse was beat twice for sacks, including one that resulted in a fumble and one that resulted in an injury (Turner). Those are the Jets top two backups and they currently have nothing but practice squad fodder behind them.

On defense, the starting unit held Houston to only 24 yards. Bart Scott left after the first play with a rolled ankle but appeared to be fine. Josh Mauga filled in admirably with a tackle for a loss and then a sack the following play. He also had an interception later in the game, taking a major step to solidify himself as a top backup linebacker on the roster. Kyle Wilson had a nice play on a third down to force Houston off the field but beyond that it was just another efficient night in the office for the Jets defense. Eric Smith did get beat by Owen Daniels in what could have been a big play if Matt Schaub was more accurate, which was somewhat concerning. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing more and more Brodney Pool on passing downs.

The second unit had their struggles initially, going against Matt Leinart of all people. They were continually fooled on the play-action bootleg and didn’t generate much pressure. I would have liked to see more out of Jamaal Westerman and some of the other reserve outside linebackers. Later in the game, Kenrick Ellis was very active and batted a pass up in the air which was intercepted. Marcus Dixon and Ropati Pitoitua also got a good push up front throughout the night, showing that the Jets defensive line depth could be better than expected. The backup corners and safeties were inconsistent and didn’t make as many plays on the ball as you’d like to see.

Similarly on offense, the backups started slowly but picked it up as the game went on. Greg McElroy showed a lot tonight by bouncing back from an ugly first few first series to put together an impressive overall night (22/39, 186 yards, 1 TD) even though he couldn’t finish the final drive to give the Jets a win. He stood in the pocket all night and was beat up behind a makeshift offensive line but kept putting the ball up down the field, even though his arm strength isn’t the greatest he could develop into this team’s long term backup.

Jeff Cumberland had a terrific night with 6 receptions for 77 yards. He is a big target, with soft hands and very good speed for a tight end. Brian Schottenheimer needs to find a way to involve him in some packages with the first unit. Patrick Turner used his size to catch a touchdown in the red-zone and provides potential Plaxico insurance. Jeremy Kerley didn’t have the monster night everyone expected but was still good after the catch and on returns.

Both Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell were productive. Powell was particularly impressive on a 19 yard reception out of the backfield. He showed good burst and a natural ability to run north and south.

Overall, it was about what you would expect out of a first pre-season game. The Jets have their home opener this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

One Week In: Random Thoughts On Jets Offense

We are about in week into the Jets having somewhat normal practices, so here is a collection of thoughts on their offense heading into their first pre-season game which is less than a week away.

Wildcat – Rex Ryan has commented the Wildcat will remain a part of the Jets offense even without Brad Smith, mentioning LaDainian Tomlinson, Joe McKnight, and Jeremy Kerely as potential replacements. Brian Schottenheimer also seems high on the potential of McKnight replacing Smith. I don’t see the Wildcat remaining a big part of what the Jets do on offense. First off, I think as Mark Sanchez continues to develop they will want to pull him off the field less. Second, I could see Tomlinson being used for a few gimmick plays where he could throw the ball but not consistently taking shotgun snaps from the center. Kerley has some experience from college but is also just a rookie and McKnight isn’t a threat to throw the football. The Jets shouldn’t force the Wildcat outside of a handful of plays and should instead focus on getting their regular offense in rhythm.

#5 Spot – An interesting battle is breaking out between Patrick Turner, Scotty McKnight, and Logan Payne for the number five receiver spot. Turner has the size to fill in for Plaxico Burress if he misses time with an injury and actually caught a few passes in the offense last year. Payne spent time with the team last year and has the greatest special teams potential, which goes a long way for a number five receiver. McKnight has shown flashes at camp of being a capable slot receiver and obviously has good chemistry with Mark Sanchez but needs to show he can be a solid special teams contributor to have a shot.

So Then Run – The Jets wide receiver position still has a few question marks around it, as Plaxico Burress is yet to take a meaningful rep in practice and we still need to see how Derrick Mason works with Mark Sanchez in a game. Yet, keep in mind at an absolute minimum the Jet still have Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller to keep defenses honest and from stacking the box. They still have a one of the league’s best offensive lines and like many people out there, I think if Shonn Greene is given the appropriate amount of carries, he can be a legitimate number one back. LaDainian Tomlinson is still capable of being a good third down back and hopefully Joe McKnight can bring something this year.

Don’t Put Him In Canton Yet – I love hearing all the excitement about rookie wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, but let’s see him in a real game first. Remember how great Kyle Wilson looked in camp last year? It is good the Jets brought in Derrick Mason, so there won’t be too many expectations heaped on Kerely as he is bumped to a number four wide-out. Hopefully, he can provide a valuable weapon in the slot in certain packages and bring occasional big plays.