New York Jets Should Increase Jeff Cumberland’s Role

After an impressive 6 reception, 77 yard performance against the Houston Texans. It is time for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to find a way to involve tight end Jeff Cumberland in some packages with the first unit. The Jets kept him on the roster all of last season as an inactive player, obviously believing he had a high amount of potential and he displayed it last night.

Cumberland is 6 foot 4, 260 pounds and had experience at both tight end and wide receiver in college at Illinois. He has terrific hands and looked good running in the open field last night. I would imagine he still has to improve on his blocking to become a more full time player, yet he could contribute as a pass catching weapon immediately.

If Plaxico Burress is missing time with an injury, Cumberland could provide some of the height the Jets are missing. Even with Burress in the line-up, he is another weapon to use in the red-zone and on passing downs. Dustin Keller is enough of a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses, never mind worrying about how to defend Cumberland if the Jets show a two tight end set.

Matthew Mulligan is basically like another tackle playing tight end. There is a danger in showing too much of a tendency by using Mulligan as the second tight end on running downs and Cumberland as the second tight end on only passing downs. Yet, if Cumberland can block somewhat adequately, the Jets should be able to incorporate him on offense. If he continues to grow and develop, he could become an excellent number two option at tight end behind Dustin Keller.

New York Jets Recent Cuts Open Up New Opportunities

There have been varying emotions on the New York Jets recent round of cuts. A mix of joy and disgust as the Vernon Gholston disaster finally came to an end, sadness at seeing respected veterans like Kris Jenkins and Damien Woody go, amusement at Jason Taylor now only wanting to continue his career with the Jets, a team he once despised as much as we despised him, and indifference over Ben Hartsock (sorry #84). Regardless, all of these moves are going to open up new opportunities for other players on the roster and will affect strategy in April’s draft.

Woody – The Jets are expected to have veteran Wayne Hunter and second year lineman Vladimir Ducasse battle for his old spot. For Ducasse, this a make or break battle. The Jets are going to have to admit they may have missed in last year’s second round if Ducasse begins his NFL career by losing consecutive battles to Matt Slauson and Hunter. Towards the end of last season, Hunter showed he could be adequate as a starter but  I am sure the coaching staff is hopeful Ducasse will seize the position and be the long term answer at right tackle.

Jenkins – There is still a good chance Jenkins will come back at a reduced price. Regardless, this just means embracing Sione Pouha as the quality starter he has shown himself to be. It also means the Jets will have to look defensive line early in the draft, as we expected them to anyway.

Gholston – He didn’t play enough to shake up anything on the roster. The coaching staff does seem high on Marcus Dixon at defensive end and Ropati Pitoitua is returning from injury. Expect both players to get a shot at becoming large parts of the defensive line rotation in 2011.

Taylor – He has expressed an interest in returning to the Jets at a reduced price. I have a hard time seeing that happening as the Jets will likely look to get younger at linebacker and defensive end (where Taylor frequently lined up) in the draft. Jamaal Westerman might be a guy who gets more of a shot now that Taylor is gone. Westerman showed some potential in 2009 but wasn’t given much of a chance last season…until he roughed the punter against Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game.

Hartsock – The Jets decided to keep Jeff Cumberland on the roster all of the last season, despite only making him active once in week 17. He showed potential as a pass catcher in the pre-season and clearly the Jets think he can become a bigger part of the offense, which he may need to if Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith don’t return. In terms of blocking, Matthew Mulligan should be able to step into that role as he received occasional reps in run heavy sets last season.

Check Out Hartsock’s Lone Touchdown as a New York Jet at 1:05…and his incredibly lame celebration

Ten Monday Thoughts On The Jets Offense

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First a few updates:

1. A reminder to check out Turn On The Jets, new site (http://web.me.com/turnonthejets/Site/Podcast/Podcast.html), where you could find our Podcast and eventually a few other things. It is in the early stages of construction but episode 1 of The Podcast is up and running so give it a listen.

2. Congratulations to Chris Embree and Shawn Perincheril for winning the TOJ DVD Contest, both will be receiving free copies of “New York Jets Best Games of 2009” from Warner Home Video.

3. The final week of LOST is under way and the real question is now what show should I start watching when it is over. I think my plan is to watch “The Wire” from start to finish, followed by the “The West Wing” but I am open to suggestions on shows currently on TV.

4. I have read some bad Power Rankings in my day…but Peter King putting the Dolphins at #6 in his power poll and the Carolina Panthers at #8 has to be up there among the worst.

Photobucket5. Let me just throw in some quick commentary on the Jets PSL/Parking Lot situation – It was bad enough when Deadspin released this story about how the Jets hosted their draft party (http://deadspin.com/5533012/tell-me-how-my-class-tastes-scenes-from-the-worst-nfl-draft-party-ever) but now the reports about the Jets dividing up parking lots based on whether you own a PSL or not have taken the organization’s arrogance to a new level. We knew PSLs were coming for the Jets and they managed to keep out of the upper levels (where my family has their season tickets) but telling people they can’t park near the stadium because they sit in the upper level is a joke. They are breaking up groups of people who have been tailgating together for years and diminishing the game day experience for fans who look forward to hanging out with their friends in the parking lot before and after games. I don’t mind the long walk to the stadium from the parking lot but plenty of older fans and people with younger children certainly will. The Jets have a predominantly working class fanbase and the team has done a spectacular job of alienating them as much as possible with their decisions on the new stadium. The fact that the team is nowhere near selling all the PSLs after one of the best season’s in franchise history, one of the best off-seasons in franchise history, and the rise of the team to one of the biggest stories in the NFL, speaks to that point.

Ten Monday Thoughts On The Jets Offense

1. You have to wonder how many reps Erik Ainge and Kevin O’Connell will get during OTAs with the first team offense. Mark Sanchez won’t be participating until mid-June and even though Kellen Clemens is still technically number two on the depth chart, there is a good chance he won’t be with the team when week 1 comes around. Obviously, the Jets think O’Connell has potential since they carried four quarterbacks last season and Ainge had a very good pre-season in 2009. If either of these guys can play well during OTAs, it could expedite the process of getting rid of Clemens. The Jets will also likely sign Mark Brunell after July 22nd to be the backup for this season but in the long term, Ainge and O’Connell are battling to be Sanchez’s backup. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get an extended look with the starters while Sanchez continues to rehab.

2. The Jets may be better off if Matt Slauson can beat out Vladimir Ducasse in training camp for the starting left guard position. If this happens, Ducasse can spend time learning behind Damien Woody to take over at right tackle, when Woody is no longer with the team which is coming sooner rather than later. If Slauson has a good camp and pre-season, wins the job and can hold his own in 2010, the Jets will be heading into 2011 with a young group on the offensive line, and will have effectively replaced Alan Faneca and Damien Woody which has been a concern since they both were brought in before 2008. Ducasse might also benefit from having a season coming off the bench and slowly working into the Jets offense in short yardage packages, considering he is raw coming out of a I-AA school and won’t have to deal with the pressure in his rookie year of filling Alan Faneca’s shoes. Slauson has a year of learning in the Jets system already and gained valuable experience playing behind Faneca and Brandon Moore in his rookie season.

Photobucket3. It will be very interesting to see how the Jets integrate Santonio Holmes into their offense starting in week five. Unless somebody is really struggling or gets hurt, the Jets aren’t going to pull Jerricho Cotchery or Braylon Edwards from the starting line-up but obviously as the weeks pass with Holmes in the lineup he is gradually going to build up more reps. Cotchery is a team player and won’t have a negative public reaction to losing reps but will Braylon be able to keep his mouth shut if his playing time starts to decrease substantially in his contract year? His best remedy to the problem is to simply catch the football when it is thrown to him.

4. The decision to trade Leon Washington is going to increase LaDainian Tomlinson’s reps on the Jets offense, especially if Joe McKnight can’t get his feet under him in the early part of the season. The Jets can’t trust McKnight in the third down role right out of the gate, so Tomlinson will have to take the bulk of those reps, along with spelling Shonn Greene, and being the Jets likely short-yardage and goal-line back. If Tomlinson is as washed up as he looked towards the end of last season, the Jets could have serious problems with their Ground and Pound approach. Maybe, rookie fullback John Conner will take some short yardage carries to lighten the load on Tomlinson. I am not writing off McKnight in his rookie year but remember it took Shonn Greene awhile to get involved in the Jets offense last year.

5. Speaking of Greene, what are fair expecations for him this season? Honestly, I just want to see him stay healthy for 16 games, protect the football, and make some strides as a pass catcher. If he can do those three things, nobody is going to miss Thomas Jones. I also don’t doubt if he can do those three things, he won’t duplicate the number of yards Jones had rushing in 2009, although I doubt he comes near the 14 touchdowns because Tomlinson will be taking away goal-line carries.

6. If Mark Sanchez makes the expected strides in his second year, how much of the Jets “Tiger” formation will we see? The Jets won’t be helping their offense if Sanchez is in rhythm with Braylon, Cotchery, and Santonio by pulling him out and sticking Brad Smith in to run the option. That being said, Smith is still a valuable big-play weapon so it benefits to find a way to involve him in the game plan in some way on a weekly basis…it is just a matter of having the proper timing and using the proper plays.

Photobucket7. It is easy to lose him in the shuffle when talking about all the Jets wide receivers and running backs but Dustin Keller remains a potential x-factor on the Jets offense. He should be a primary target whenever the Jets get near the end-zone because of his ability to create mismatches. Keller is also benefited by Mark Sanchez’s ability to throw on the run because the Jets love calling the play action bootleg for him, in which Keller is normally the number one option. I don’t know if Keller will have the stats to be a pro-bowl tight end but he should be able to provide the Jets with a big play or two each week.

8. The Jets are going to throw the football more this season than they did last year but will they have a smooth transition into a more balanced offense? We all know Rex Ryan loves to run the football and allow his defense to win games but what happens if the Jets throw the ball 30 times in one week and that leads to a couple of Sanchez interceptions. Will the color code system go back into effect, with the Jets throwing the ball 14 times a game? How much rope will Brian Schottenheimer have with the offense in 2010?

9. Names to remember…Chauncey Washington, if one of the Jets running backs gets hurt he could get called up to the active roster and see some substantial playing time. Britt Davis, had a strong training camp last year and could push for a roster spot at receiver. Matthew Mulligan, the Jets number three tight end who is battling for long snapper job with Tanner Purdum. Aundrae Allison, maybe the Jets fastest player who could push for a roster spot at receiver and kick returner.

10. If you assumed the Jets had 60 plays in a game, how would you ideally divide up the touches as of right now? (assuming it is week 5 and Holmes is back)…here is my crack at it:

  • Sanchez – 24 pass attempts, hopefully 16-18 completions. Let’s say 17 for the sake of this.
  • Greene – 21 carries.
  • Tomlinson – 9 carries.
  • McKnight – 4 carries.
  • Smith – 2 carries
  • Cotchery – 4 catches
  • Holmes – 4 catches
  • Keller – 3 catches
  • Edwards – 3 catches
  • Tomlinson – 2 catches
  • McKnight – 1 catch

Let Us Tailgate In Peace

Analyzing The Jets Offensive Depth Chart

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First a few updates:

1. The Jets have signed tryout linebackers Cory Reamer from Alabama and Brashton Satele from Hawaii and released linebacker Broderick Stewart. Ryan was raving about Reamer throughout the Jets rookie minicamp and it will be interesting to see if he has a real chance to stick on the active roster. The depth chart has been updated accordingly and I also finally got rid of that Kerry Rhodes picture in the 2009 stats section.

2. It is being reported Leon Washington will have to play with a rod in his leg this season and there is still a chance he could start the year on the PUP list. Hopefully Leon can get himself back to 100 percent but you have to wonder if these injury concerns played a major part in the Jets decision to trade him and draft Joe “Get The Guy Some Rolaids” McKnight.

3. Anybody else enjoying the Red Sox being well on their way to a 75 win season? Also, you have to feel bad for Mets fans…I mean they get themselves in position for a big early season series against the Phillies, they are in great position to steal 2 out of 3 but then their ace walks a 47 year old pitcher with the bases loaded en route to being completely shelled.

Digging A Little Deeper Into The Jets Roster

By this point we have a general idea of who the starters for the Jets will be on both sides of the ball and who many of the key reserves coming off the bench will be. However, there are still some spots that remain up for grabs on the Jets final 53 man roster. Let’s take a look through at current situation on the Jets depth chart heading into May’s full squad OTAs, starting today with the offense:

Quarterback

  1. Mark Sanchez – Locked in as the #1 quarterback, likely won’t participate in all of the Jets OTAs as he recovers from off-season surgery.
  2. Kellen Clemens – Has a very, very tenuous hold on the #2 job. I wouldn’t bet on him being a Jet when the season starts.
  3. Erik Ainge – He will be given every opportunity to make a run at the #2 job.
  4. Kevin O’Connell – The Jets must think he has potential to compete for the backup job since they held on to him all last season as their #4 quarterback.

Potential Additions – Mark Brunell – If one of the other Jets UFAs signs somewhere, Brunell will likely be quickly added or they could wait until July 22nd to sign him after the Final Eight rules stop restricting them.

Analysis – I wouldn’t expect the Jets to carry four quarterbacks for the second year in a row. It is a waste of a roster spot. It is hard to determine right now what the Jets depth chart will look like behind Sanchez on opening day. If I had to guess today, Brunell will be brought in as the #2 quarterback while Ainge and O’Connell battle for the #3 spot and long term backup position. Kellen Clemens will either be traded to a team who suffers an injury at quarterback in camp or be released.

Running Back

  1. Shonn Greene – Locked in as the starting running back.
  2. LaDainian Tomlinson – Locked in as the number two back.
  3. Joe McKnight – Considering the Jets spent a fourth round pick on him and traded up to get him…locked in as the #3/third-down back.
  4. Chauncey Washington – Unless there is an injury, he won’t be on the 53 man roster.

Fullback

  1. Tony Richardson – He will start out the year as the team’s #1 fullback and mentor to 5th round pick John Connor.
  2. John Connor – He will be on the 53 man roster to learn from Richardson and be groomed as the full time fullback.
  3. Jason Davis – Unless there is an injury, he won’t be on the 53 man roster.

AnalysisI would expect the Jets to carry Greene, Tomlinson, McKnight, Richardson, and Connor on their 53 man roster. McKnight or Connor will be battling to be active each week, depending on the game-plan, their progress, and how much they are contributing on special teams.

Tight End

  1. Dustin Keller – Locked in as the team’s starting tight end.
  2. Ben Hartsock – The Jets #2/blocking tight end.
  3. Matthew Mulligan – Battling Tanner Purdum for the long snapper job.
  4. Tanner Purdum – Not technically a tight end but battling for the long snapping job with Mulligan.

Analysis – The Jets will carry Keller, Hartsock, and whoever ends up being their long snapper.

Wide Receiver

  1. Jerricho Cotchery – I still consider him the Jets #1 receiver until Braylon is more consistent and Santonio returns from suspension.
  2. Braylon Edwards – Playing for a long term contract.
  3. Santonio Holmes – Man, we have a hell of trio at receiver.
  4. Brad Smith – He will be on the roster because of his versatility, big play ability and special teams skills.
  5. David Clowney – He will have a tough time making the roster because of his lack of contributions on special teams.
  6. Danny Woodhead – He is versatile but needs to show more on specials to stick.
  7. Aundrae Allison – Has incredible speed and potential as a kick returner, which makes him intriguing.
  8. Britt Davis – Made an impression last season in training camp but needs to show something on special teams.

Potential Additions – Laveranues Coles – Apparently the Jets have recently been in contact with Coles and his agent, but I doubt anything happens. He would have to accept being a number 4 receiver after Holmes returns from suspension.

PhotobucketAnalysisOne of the more interesting position battles on the team will take place for the #5 receiver spot. I doubt Coles joins the Jets, which means Clowney, Allison, Woodhead, and Davis will fight it out. Since Holmes will be suspended for the first four games, two of them will likely make the opening day roster with one of them being cut or moved to the practice squad after he returns from suspension. Clowney has the advantage of gaining starting experience last year. I don’t think Woodhead can stick as a full time receiver and he didn’t do much on specials last year. Davis has good size and could be a good project player to hold on to. If Allison can win the kick return job, than he will obvious stick as the #5.

Offensive Line

  • LT – D’Brickashaw Ferguson – Bookend tackle.
  • LG – Vladimir Ducasse – He will be one of the most watched players in training camp as he battles to replace Alan Faneca.
  • C – Nick Mangold – The best in the business.
  • RG – Brandon Moore – Rock solid and underrated.
  • RT – Damien Woody – Solid veteran.
  • G – Matt Slauson – He will battle for the starting left guard spot with Ducasse…has an uphill battle considering where Ducasse was drafted.
  • C – Robert Turner – Mike Tannenbaum said after the draft Turner would backup Mangold and he also contributes as an extra tight end in short yardage packages.
  • T – Wayne Hunter – Backup tackle who also plays in short yardage packages.

Potential Additions – Veteran Left Guard – If Ducasse and Slauson struggle in camp, don’t be shocked if the Jets look to add a veteran guard.

Analysis – I would anticipate the Jets carrying their five starters with Slauson/Ducasse, Turner, and Hunter as their backups.

Overall Analysis – If you figure the Jets carry three quarterbacks, five running backs, six receivers (until Holmes comes back), three tight ends, and eight offensive lineman, that totals 25 players, which gives Rex 26 defensive players to keep (with the kicker and punter rounding out the roster). He could also add another defensive player to the 53 man roster after week 4 when Holmes comes back and the Jets likely demote one of their receivers to practice squad or release them.

Don’t Sleep On J-Co

Crazy Sunday For Jets: Updated Look At 53 Man Roster & Cuts

No time for non-football updates, on what has been a suprisingly active Sunday for the Jets:

1. The Jets have acquired former New England backup quarterback Kevin O’Connell from the Detroit Lions for an undisclosed draft pick (likely a conditional 6th or 7throunder). Regardless, both Dave Hutchinson and Rich Ciminihave confirmed that Kellen Clemens isn’t going anywhere and will remain the #2 quarterback for now. Why did the Jets make this move? Apparently the front office has always been high on O’Connell and wanted to jump at the chance to get him on the roster. Kellen Clemens is going to be gone after this season and they want somebody to battle it out with Erik Ainge for the #2 spot behind Mark Sanchez in 2010. In terms of this season, the Jets won’t carry four quarterbacks on their active roster, as Hutchinson smartly points out expect either Ainge or O’Connell to pick up a phantom injury and end up on injured reserve for 2009.

2. The Jets have also been working the waiver wire, today they acquired punter AJ Trapasso from the Tennessee Titans. Bye, Bye Reggie Hodges. Trapasso executed a fake punt for touchdown in the Hall of Fame Game this season and also boomed one off the Cowboys new scoreboard. They also picked up tight end Matthew Mulligan from the Titans, who is regarded primarily as a blocking tight end. He is a second year player from Maine, who is 6’5 270 pounds. In the pre-season he recorded 3 catches for 40 yards and a touchdown. Finally, they picked up fullback Jason Davis, who is a fourth year player that has primarily been with the Chicago Bears. Last year in Chicago, he started three games, had a rushing attempt and a reception for 12 yards.

3. Since the Jets have now added four players (O’Connell, Trapasso, Mulligan, Davis) they released running back Danny Woodhead, tackle Michael Kracalik, punter Reggie Hodges, and linebacker Brandon Renkart.

Quarterbacks:

  1. Mark Sanchez – Let’s translate strong pre-season into strong regular season.
  2. Kellen Clemens – Some concerns about an injured elbow, but remains backup for now. Gone in 2010.
  3. Erik Ainge – Great pre-season, could be eventual #2.
  4. Kevin O’Connell – There are some rumors the Jets may trade him to Denver now, but if he stays put expect him or Ainge to end up on the IR and then both compete in 2010 for the #2 spot.

Running Backs:

  1. Thomas Jones – Could be last year in Green and White.
  2. Leon Washington – Hope a new contract gets done soon.
  3. Shonn Grenne – Don’t know if he can contribute early because of injury plagued pre-season.

Fullbacks:

  1. Tony Richardson – Solid veteran.
  2. Jason Davis – Starting experience. I guess the Jets weren’t sold on Jehuu Caulcrick.

Receivers:

  1. Jerricho Cotchery – First year as an unquestioned #1 receiver.
  2. Chansi Stuckey – Top of the committee approach to the #2 spot.
  3. David Clowney – Another monster pre-season.
  4. Brad Smith – Quiet pre-season.
  5. Wallace Wright – Special teams ace.

Tight Ends:

  1. Dustin Keller – Potential for a monster season.
  2. Ben Hartsock – Doesn’t know the offense but is the #2.
  3. Matthew Mulligan – Doesn’t know the offense but is the #3.
  4. James Dearth – Long Snapper.

Tackles

  1. D’Brickashaw Ferguson – Hopefully can take game to next level in ’09.
  2. Damien Woody – Seems fully recovered from pre-season concussion.
  3. Wayne Hunter – Also has value as backup tight end.

Guard

  1. Alan Faneca – Stay healthy.
  2. Brandon Moore – Got a well deserved new contract, hopefully he maintains level of play.
  3. Robert Turner – Also the backup center.
  4. Matt Slauson – Draft pick, means he gets more time to develop,

Center

  1. Nick Mangold – One of the best in the business.

Defensive Ends

  1. Shaun Ellis – Will be back in week 2.
  2. Marques Douglas – Should be good replacement for Kenyon Coleman.
  3. Mike DeVito – Should start week one for Ellis.
  4. Ropati Pitoitua – Strong pre-season earned him roster spot.

Defensive Tackle

  1. Kris Jenkins – Straight beast when healthy.
  2. Howard Green- Great pre-season.
  3. Sione Pouha- Might not play much but provides decent depth.

Linebackers

  1. Bart Scott – Still love watching him rip that ball out of Brandon Jacobs hands.
  2. David Harris – Two words in this defense: Pro Bowl.
  3. Calvin Pace – Back in week four.
  4. Bryan Thomas – Had a quiet but strong pre-season.
  5. Vernon Gholston – Showed a pulse the past couple of pre-season games.
  6. Marques Murrell- Good special teams/depth player. Could see some defensive action in weeks 1-4.
  7. Jamaal Westerman – I think he probably hopped Murrell on the depth chart. Could be Jets top backup in weeks 1-4 at linebacker.
  8. Jason Trunsik – Quiet pre-season. Might be released when Pace or Ellis returns.
  9. Larry Izzo- Earned spot on reputation. Could still be cut when Pace/Ellis return.

Cornerbacks

  1. Darrelle Revis – Lock Down
  2. Lito Sheppard – Real worried about him.
  3. Dwight Lowery – Finished pre-season strong.
  4. Donald Strickland – Quietly will be a good addition for the Jets on defense.
  5. Ahmad Carroll – Special teams ace.
  6. Drew Coleman – Could be gone soon.
  7. Marquis Cole – Either him or Coleman could be gone in week 2 or 5. Seven corners is a bit excessive.

Safeties

  1. Kerry Rhodes – Should have a big year.
  2. Jim Leonhard – First time beginning season as a starter.
  3. Eric Smith – Good depth/special teams player.
  4. James Ihedigbo- Good depth/special teams player.

Specials

  1. Jay Feely – Quality kicker.
  2. AJ Trapasso – Bye Reggie Hodges.

To recap, strong candidates to be cut after the return of Ellis and Pace are: Larry Izzo, Drew Coleman, Marquis Cole, Jason Trusnik.

Our New Punter Scores a Touchdown