Jets vs. Texans: Key Match-Ups

First a few updates:

1. The Jets first injury report today had Mike DeVito listed as limited, although he is still expected to play. There are some rumblings that Sione Pouha will start at defensive end and that DeVito will rotate in off the bench but that remains to be seen. Kellen Clemens, Bryan Thomas, Wallace Wright, and Shonn Grenne were also listed on the injury report but all participated in the full practice today.

2. The Sporting News came up with a list of the top 100 players in the NFL: three Jets made it on the list, with Alan Faneca coming in at #34, Kris Jenkins #69, and Darrelle Revis at #98. No, Nick Mangold? I was a little surprised by that.

3. Brett Favre said some garbage today about being hurt towards the end of last season and a belief that he probably should have sat because his arm hurt so much. Yea, I’m sure Favre was just begging to be taken out when the Jets were 8-4 or 8-5. I really hope Cleveland and Minnesota end up in a 0-0 tie this weekend, with Favre throwing 4 INT’s, I’m not really interested in seeing him or Mangini win.

4. A little heads up that I will be making an appearance on The Fantasy Buffet at www.fanball.com at 11:15 AM on Friday to preview the Jets/Texans game.

Jets vs. Texans: Key-Match Ups

Tomorrow check back for an excessively comprehensive breakdown of the Jets/Texans game and then again on Friday for my prediction, today I am going to focus on the key individual match-ups for this Sunday’s game.

Darrelle Revis vs. Andre Johnson: Everybody knows Andre Johnson is one of the three best receivers in the NFL, if not arguably the best overall one. Few people respect Darrelle Revis as one the league’s top 3-5 cornerbacks, but make no mistake, he is. Johnson is the type of player who can change a game on any given play, having the ability to score from any place on the field which only increases the pressure on Revis. With Rex Ryan’s aggressive style, I don’t know how much help Revis will have over the top. As long as he can keep Johnson in front of him and prevent him from killing the Jets with the big play, he will have done his job.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson/Damien Woody vs. Mario Williams – Ferguson and Williams is a battle of former top 5 picks in the 2006 draft, so it will grab more headlines but I am worried about Woody struggling with a speed rusher like Williams. Despite having a solid season in 2008, Woody is still a former interior lineman who sometimes struggles against the pass rush. I think Ferguson has the feet to handle Williams and will be able to protect Sanchez adequately. Don’t be surprised to see the Jets chip Williams occasionally with a back or tight end. The last thing they need is Sanchez getting pounded into the turf or running for his life all day on Sunday.

Leon Washington vs. DeMeco Ryans – Ryans is a lethal combination of speed and talent at the middle linebacker position, while Leon Washington is one of the hardest people to tackle in the NFL in the open field. When the Jets drop off a screen to Washington or send him on a wheel route out of the backfield, it will be up to Ryans to prevent him from creating a big play.

Lito Sheppard vs. Kevin Walter – The Texans aren’t going to stop throwing to Andre Johnson because Darrelle Revis is on him but they will certainly be throwing a ton of balls to Walter, an 8 touchdown 900 yard receiver, against Sheppard who struggled all pre-season. Lito is in desperate need of a strong performance to calm everybody’s nerves about him opposite Revis. Walter has good size and is frequently targeted around the red-zone, Sheppard has good hands and can make big plays but also has been a penalty machine this pre-season and been beat often.

We Never Get Enough Leon Washington here at TurnOnTheJets.com

Jets vs. Texans: First Look

First a few updates:

1. Well you don’t have to worry about the Jets being jinxed by pre-season expectations. They were the consensus pick to finish in last place by all of ESPN’s “experts” and are also currently ranked #23 in their NFL Power Rankings, behind the Seahawks, 49ers, Bills, Redskins, and Texans. But, hey that’s why they play the game right?

2. The Jets added Danny Woodhead to their practice squad today and released Jehuu Caulcrick off it.

3. On the active roster, the Jets signed linebacker Ryan Fowler who played for the Titans the past few seasons, including starting 16 games for them 2 years ago and released fullback Jason Davis.

4. Mike DeVito didn’t practice today but is still expected to go on Sunday, as well is Shonn Greene who is recovering from a variety of injuries. Sione Pouha ran with the first team in practice today, with Kris Jenkins sliding out to defensive end for some looks when paired with Pouha.

Jets vs. Texans: First Look

The Opponent: The Houston Texans have been 8-8 the past two seasons, and are a trendy pick to take the step to the next level in 2009 and become a legitimate playoff contender. Their offense is expected to be one of the NFL’s best but they have a ton of question marks on defense, making them the complete opposite of the Jets who have the reverse problem. Over the past two seasons, the Texans are 12-4 at home and have generally been difficult to beat in their building since coming into the league. The latest lines I saw have them as 4-5 point favorites over the Jets. Regardless, the Jets must get this game. They don’t want to be heading home to play the Pats and Titans, teams with a combined record of 24-6 last year, as a 0-1 team.

Houston Texans Starters/Key Reserves

OFFENSE

  • Quarterback: Matt Schaub – 3,043 passing yards, 15 TD’s, 10 INT’s, 92.7 QB Rating
  • Running Back: Steve Slaton – 1,282 rushing yards, 9 TD’s, 377 receiving yards, 1 TD
  • #2 Running Back – Chris Brown – DNP
  • Fullback: Vonta Leach – 12 receptions, 103 yards
  • Wide Receiver: Andre Johnson – 115 receptions, 1575 yards, 8 TD’s
  • Wide Receiver: Kevin Walter – 60 receptions, 899 yards, 8 TD’s
  • Wide Receiver: David Anderson – 19 receptions, 241 yards, 2 TD’s
  • Wide Receiver: Andre Davis – 13 receptions, 213 yards
  • Tight End: Owen Daniels – 70 receptions, 862 yards, 2 TD’s
  • #2 Tight End: Joel Dressen – 11 receptions, 77 yards, 1 TD
  • Left Tackle: Duane Brown
  • Left Guard: Chester Pitts
  • Center: Chris Meyers
  • Right Guard: Mike Brisel
  • Right Tackle: Eric Winston

DEFENSE

  • Defensive End: Antonio Smith
  • Defensive Tackle: DelJuan Robinson – 28 tackles, 6 TFL’s
  • Defensive Tackle: Amobi Okoye – 24 tackles, 1 sack
  • Defensive End: Mario Williams – 53 tackles, 12 Sacks
  • Middle Linebacker: DeMeco Ryans – 112 tackles, 4 TFL’s, 1 sack
  • Outside Linebacker: Xavier Adibi – 35 tackles
  • Outside Linebacker: Brian Cushing – 1st round draft pick
  • Corner: Jacques Reeves – 52 tackles, 4 INT’s
  • Corner: Fred Bennett – 43 tackles, 2 INT’s
  • Safety: Dominique Barber – 15 tackles
  • Safety: Eugene Wilson – 63 tackles, 2 INT’s

SPECIALS

  • Kicker: Kris Brown
  • Punter: Matt Turk
  • Kick Return: Jacoby Jones
  • Punt Return: Andre Davis

Key Players: Matt Schaub is a dangerous quarterback when he is healthy. He has a strong arm and can get the ball down the field. Andre Johnson is arguably the best receiver in football. Kevin Walter is an underrated player and a very good number two option, who caught more touchdowns than anyone on the Jets last year. Owen Daniels is a pro-bowl tight end. Steve Slaton is an explosive player, who averaged almost 5 yards per carry last season, although he did lose 3 fumbles. DeMeco Ryans is one of the best linebackers in football. Mario Williams is a top flight pass rusher. Houston coaches have been raving about rookie Brian Cushing at outside linebacker.

Jets Injury Concerns: Mike DeVito is a little banged up but expected to start for Shaun Ellis (suspension) and rotate defensive line reps with Sione Pouha, Marques Douglas, and Kris Jenkins. Shonn Greene is nursing sore ribs and a sore hamstring but should be active as the #3 RB. Backup quarterback Kellen Clemens has a sore elbow, but will be the #2 QB on Sunday.

Early Story Lines: Rex Ryan’s first game as a Head Coach…rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez’s first start…Darrelle Revis vs Andre Johnson…Texans look to justify pre-season expectations…expected great defense (Jets) vs expected great offense (Texans).

I’m glad we got Darrelle Revis

40 Predictions For 2009 New York Jets Season

First a few updates:

1. The Jets waived punter AJ Trapasso after picking him up yesterday and signed former Jaguars punter Steve Weatherford. It is now becoming a daily part of my day to read about the Jets changing punters: get up, eat breakfast, go to class, read about the Jets new punter, and so on…

2. I think the Yankees might win the AL East by 12-15 games this season.

3. The rumors continue to swirl about the Jets adding a receiver, thanks mostly to a twitter by Kerry Rhodes about some type of big announcement coming for the Jets. Most people are reporting that Brandon Marshall is out of the question at this point but the Jets are continuing look at other team’s rosters. I am not sure who they can add right now besides Marshall, that would be such a huge upgrade over Chansi Stuckey or David Clowney.

4. So my old piece of crap I-Pod broke a few weeks ago, leaving me i-pod less. But how about this? My girlfriend and I were taking a cab back to Grand Central Station on Friday and what do I find in the cab? A brand new I-Pod, one that holds 5000 songs compared to my old one which only held 1000 songs. Even better, it is a nice shade of Jets green…now if that isn’t a good omen for this season than I don’t know what is. It is also helped me feel better about spending 11 dollars per drink in NYC, when I currently have no source of income. In about 3 weeks, I will be eating all my meals off the Taco Bell dollar menu.

5. The Jets named their Danny Woodhead-less practice squad today. The fan favorite running back probably got picked up on waivers by another team. Here is the PS: Jehuu Caulcrick, Keith Fitzhugh, Emmanuel Cook, Jack Simmons, Marcus Henry, Kenwin Cummings, Matt Kroul, Ryan McKee

40 Predictions For 2009 New York Jets Season

Tomorrow, I will start coverage of the Jets week one match-up against the Houston Texans but today is the perfect day to make my 2009 NFL Predictions, starting with 40 (I don’t know, the number just came to me) about our New York Jets.

1. David Harris will lead the Jets in sacks this season with 9. Calvin Pace will come in second despite missing the first four games, finishing with 7.5.

2. Vernon Gholston will be somewhere between slightly below average and okay during the first four games. He will begin to play better as a situational player when the season progresses, finishing with 5.5 sacks.

3. Lito Sheppard will give up alot of plays but also make alot of plays, because of all the balls that will be thrown his way. He will start 16 games and lead the team in interceptions.

4. Darrelle Revis will be returning Hawaii. He will prove to be a top 3 CB in the NFL this season.

5. Howard Green will be an extremely valuable player off the bench on the Jets defensive line, providing a quality backup to Kris Jenkins.

6. Kerry Rhodes will have a much better year than he did last season but still won’t produce at his 2006 statistical level and won’t be a pro-bowler.

7. Jim Leonhard will be a steady, consistent player on the Jets defense but his most important contributions will be as a punt returner.

8. The Jets will sweep the Miami Dolphins this season.

9. Thomas Jones won’t match last year’s gaudy numbers but will still finish with a solid 1175 yards and 8 rushing touchdowns.

10. Leon Washington will have at least 50 more carries this season than he did in 2008, along with 10 more catches.

11. Leon Washington will have 1100 combined rushing/receiving yards. He had 800 last year.

12. Leon Washington will have 2 kick return touchdowns this season. Jim Leonhard will take one punt back.

13. Leon Washington will have a better season than Reggie Bush (sorry, Dan).

14. Shonn Greene will start out the season slow but become an important part of the offense in the second half of the season.

15. Bryan Thomas will very quietly have his best season since 2006, finishing with 67 tackles and 6.5 sacks.

16. Shaun Ellis, Marques Douglas, Mike DeVito, and Ropati Pitoitua will be a surprisingly solid defensive end rotation.

17. The Jets will split with New England for the third time in four years.

18. Somebody on the offensive line will miss a few starts this season, exposing the Jets lack of depth at the position.

19. Tony Richardson, the ageless wonder…will start another 16 games.

20. Jerricho Cotchery will just barely get 1000 yards receiving and finish with 5 touchdowns.

21. Brad Smith will have less than 10 catches this season.

22. Dustin Keller will be joining Darrelle Revis in Hawaii, finishing with 67 catches, 850 yards, and 7 touchdowns.

23. Mark Sanchez’s stats will look very similar to Joe Flacco’s last season. The Jets high paid rookie will finish with 15 TD’s, 11 INT’s, 2980 yards passing, and a 62.0 completion percentage.

24. David Clowney will catch at least 2 touchdowns of 40 yards or more.

25. Chansi Stuckey won’t have stats that will impress anybody because of his low yards per catch average, but will be a valuable 3rd down weapon for the Jets.

26. The Jets defense will give up more big plays than expected but will have more sacks, interceptions, and defensive touchdowns than in 2008.

27. Despite having a better backup than he did last year, Kris Jenkins will start out slow because of missing most of the pre-season and will start 14 games this year, not the full 16.

28. Brian Schottenheimer will be extremely conservative the first 5-6 games of this season, frustrating fans. However, as Sanchez gets more comfortable the Jets offense will begin to resemble its 2006 form.

29. Steve Weatherford won’t finish the season as the Jets punter….will he even finish this article as the Jets punter?

30. The Jets will split with the Buffalo Bills this season.

31. Bart Scott will be a quality player and bring a nasty attitude to the Jets defense but he will be outplayed by David Harris at inside linebacker.

32. Thomas Jones will catch another 30 passes this season.

33. Mark Sanchez’s inexperience will cost the Jets a couple of winnable games in the first half of the season. His talent level and growing comfort in the offense, will steal them a late season game they shouldn’t win.

34. The Jets will enter their week 9 bye as a 4-4 team and not be considered a serious playoff contender.

35. Similar to the 2006 team, they will rally to a 6-2 finish and end up as a 10-6 wild card team.

36. They will either upset the Colts or Pats on the road in the second half of the season, not both. Their other second half loss will be at home to Atlanta…so yes, I am saying they win in Buffalo (aka Toronto), Tampa, and take care of the Panthers at home in the second half of the season.

37. Most Improved Player Offense – Dustin Keller.

38. Most Improved Player Defense – Bryan Thomas, David Harris

39.  Pro-Bowlers – Darrelle Revis, Dustin Keller, David Harris, Leon Washington (kick returner), Nick Mangold

40.  The Jets won’t add another veteran receiver this season, but it will be top priority in next year’s off-season.

The Jets Clinching a Playoff Spot in Their Last Home Game in 2006, I am expecting a similar situation when they beat the Bengals in week 17 this year to clinch a playoff spot:

Eight Observations on Jets Training Camp

First a few updates:

1. Some schedule news – The Jets open their pre-season schedule this Friday at home against the St. Louis Rams. On Thursday, their practice will be closed to the media. Wednesday is family night at 6 PM out at Hofstra, throwing a bone out to the Jets Long Island fans. Tomorrow they have one full practice in the morning and an afternoon special teams session.

2. The Jets released their first official depth chart today, I will update it accordingly on the site which can be accessed on the top of the home page.

Ten Monday Observations on Jets Training Camp

– I know it is only one game and I know that it was somewhat expected but don’t underestimate the blow of not having Shaun Ellis for week one against the Texans. The Jets will now have their top two sack leaders from last season suspended for week one against a Houston offense that loves to spread it out and throw the football. They will be also now be giving two players their first ever NFL start, likely Mike DeVito at defensive end and Vernon Gholston at outside linebacker. If you want to look at the silver lining, DeVito and Gholston will gain some valuable playing time which will improve the Jets overall depth. However, in reality the Jets will be hurting without Pace and Ellis.

– Speaking of hurting, the list of minor Jets injuries is starting to concern me. It is almost comical how Rex Ryan brushes off every single injury as not significant and it’s not that I don’t believe him, it is just that a high number of key guys are nursing injuries. Nick Mangold’s knee is bothering him, Kris Jenkins is still out with a sore calf, Darrelle Revis isn’t taking part in team drills because of a tight hamstring, Tony Richardson is out with a hip pointer, Shaun Ellis sat out today with a tight back, and Donald Strickland is still out with a knee bruise…how can that not bother you a little bit? Richardson and Jenkins won’t play on Friday, which will give a big opportunity to Sione Pouha and Jehuu Caulcrick.

– Mark Sanchez has taken a few baby steps back since his big time performance with the starters on Saturday. He has struggled the last couple of practices with his accuracy, missing a few open targets while Kellen Clemens has been decent although he threw another interception today, giving him 11 throughout camp compared to Sanchez’s 3. Ryan is giving Clemens the start at home against the Rams because he will logically alternate and given Sanchez the 2nd start in the pre-season. Why would Ryan want Sanchez starting week 2? He wants to throw his highly touted rookie right into the fire on national television against his former team, the Baltimore Ravens on the road. You want to see what Sanchez has before the regular season…in Baltimore, against their starters for a full quarter on ESPN is a great test.

– So it looks like Wayne Hunter is really going to be the Jets #2 tight end. Apparently the big fella caught a 20 yard out route in front of Bart Scott the other day….impressive. Here is a fun fact about Wayne Hunter, the guy had an overall 100 morale rating in Madden 2008. Why is he so happy? I don’t know, but keep your spirits up Wayne and keep catching those passes.

– Rex Ryan raved about Vernon Gholston today like he was Bruce Smith because he has recorded a couple of sacks in the Jets last few practices. Yes, we are all happy to see Gholston finally making some plays in practice but keep in perspective that he has been outplayed all camp by Marques Murrell and Jamaal Westerman. I think we all would be encouraged by a sack this Friday night.

– I am disappointed by the quiet training camps from Brad Smith and David Clowney, especially Clowney. However, I am intrigued to watch Britt Davis and Wallace Wright this Friday and see if they can make a move up the depth chart.

– You have to love Leon Washington for putting together such a strong camp despite the Jets playing hard-ball with him on his contract negotiations…just pay the man his money, Mike Tannenbaum.

– A few observations on the Jets depth chart – Surprised to see Kareem Brown in front of Jack Simmons at tight end, Jamaal Westerman has already hopped Larry Izzo and Kenwin Cummings at inside linebacker, good to see Matt Slauson behind Alan Faneca at LG.

Green and White Scrimmage Recap

Green and White Scrimmage Recap

The Jets defense is way ahead of their offense, but hey…we knew that already. The Jets ‘Green and White’ scrimmage didn’t do anything to change that notion. Neither the first or second offense was able to manage any points (keep in mind, a couple of fourth down conversions were attempted and failed in field goal territory), the lone touchdown of the day came from the third offense, when backup receiver Paul Raymond scored on a 15 yard reverse. Let’s go over what we saw from each position….

Quarterback – Kellen Clemens didn’t turn the ball over, which was a positive. However, he didn’t do anything to separate himself from Mark Sanchez. He mostly threw short, safe passes and finished roughly 5-7 for 26 yards. His best throw was probably a 11 yard completion in the seam to Dustin Keller on a third down. His worst throw was on a 3rd and 20, when Chansi Stuckey got behind Drew Coleman and Clemens under threw him, leading to a jump ball that was nearly intercepted.

Mark Sanchez played very well and drew a high amount of praise from Rex Ryan. The rookie was victimized by four dropped passes, including two from Britt Davis (who received some press earlier in the day as the “mystery” receiver the Jets organization was excited about, maybe they jinxed him…) and one by Jack Simmons, who also didn’t help himself with an offsides penalty. Unofficially, Sanchez was 9-15 for 70 yards. He showed his chemistry with Wallace Wright, hitting him 3 times for 23 yards including a nice throw on a deep comeback route for about 15 yards. He didn’t have any turnovers but did take a sack, when he failed to notice a backside corner blitz. Sanchez made the quarterback battle even tighter with his performance today, I’d say right now it is an even 50-50, after it being slightly tilted in Clemens favor most of the week.

Erik Ainge actually played half way decent, hitting Marcus Henry for a 38 yard gain, which was the day’s biggest offensive play. He led the offense on their only scoring drive of the day.

Running Back – Thomas Jones was relatively quiet, except for a monster blitz pick-up. Leon Washington had 3 catches for 12 yards. Shonn Greene was the best news of the day on offense. The rookie third-round pick had 25 yards on 6 carries, including a 12 yard run when he broke to the outside. He also had a 33 yard reception on a screen pass. You have to get excited when thinking about the Jets potential three-headed monster at running back.

Receiver – Britt Davis received the hype today and struggled to validate the coaching staff’s excitement with two key drops. David Clowney had a quiet day with 1 catch for 7 yards. Brad Smith didn’t do anything of note. Chansi Stuckey and Jerricho Cotchery had 2 catches a piece. Marcus Henry had the play of the day with a 38 yard reception over Drew Coleman. Wallace Wright had a strong outing and is pretty much locked into a roster spot. The only way Davis or Henry make the roster at this point is if the Jets decide to keep 6 receivers.

Tight End – Jack Simmons had a drop and a penalty. Kareem Brown had a 8 yard catch. Dustin Keller had one catch for 11 yards…the Jets still need help at this position.

Offensive Line – Three plays were called as “sacks,” although two came from members of the secondary which could fall on the running backs and their blitz pick-up. The best news? No injuries.

Defensive Line – Mike DeVito left with an injury but according to Rex Ryan it isn’t that serious. The Jets showed some unique looks on the defensive line, with Shaun Ellis sliding over to nose tackle and Sione Pouha dropping to MLB (no, that wasn’t a error).

Linebacker – Vernon Gholston had an active today, which is a step in the right direction for him. He was around the ball alot and made a handful of tackles. Marques Murrell had a tackle for a loss, Kenwin Cummings had a tackle for a loss, Jamaal Westerman had a sack, Brandon Renkart had a quarterback pressure. Ryan singled out Cummings and David Harris as having particularly strong days.

Secondary – The secondary continued their excellent training camp. Darrelle Revis was lockdown as usual, Lito Sheppard played well and did good in run support. Dwight Lowery had a sack, Drew Coleman had a couple of passes defensed. James Ihedigbo had a sack, Kerry Rhodes had a tackle for a loss. The Jets secondary is going to be very good this season, especially if second-tier players like Ihedigbo, Coleman, and Eric Smith keep playing well.

Tomorrow – The Jets have off and are taking a trip out to the pro football Hall of Fame…however, I won’t take off and will write an article about what we have learned through the first week of Jets training camp.

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 5th

First a few updates:

1. Big weekend coming up, starting tomorrow night with the Jets Green and White Scrimmage and of course, the beginning of a huge 4 game series between the Yankees and Red Sox. As of right now, it looks like the Yanks will head into the series with a 2.5 game lead in the standings, which means this series really gives them a chance to put some distance between them and Boston over the weekend.

2. A complaint from a frustrated New York sports talk radio listener – Due to my long commute to Newark everyday, I spend alot of time listening to both 660 and 1050 AM and I can’t tell you freakin’ tired I am of hearing about the Mets. The Yankees are in first place in the best division in baseball, the Jets and Giants are both in training camp, and yet all I hear is discussion about the Mets, a fourth place team who is 5 games under .500, enough, nobody cares, their season is over. We all understand how awful they are and how many injuries they have, now spend some more time talking about my Yankees and Jets. (Sorry for another Mets bashing paragraph, Mandy, but I can’t help myself).

3. A quick comment on the New York Football Giants – Congrats to Eli for signing his fat new contract. The guy won a Super Bowl, he earned it. The G-Men are arguably the best team in the NFC this year despite their pedestrian receiving core that is counting on the likes of Domenick Hixon, Mario Manningham, and Sinorce Moss to handle major reps. The only thing that bothers me about the Giants is how much they talk about being disrespected and flying under the radar, it isn’t two seasons ago guys, everybody respects you and realizes you are a good team.

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 5th

Story of the Day: Good day for the rookie…Mark Sanchez slightly outperformed Kellen Clemens today and did a good job with his extended reps with the first team. This battle is basically even right now, with a maybe a slight tilt towards Clemens. However, Kellen struggled today, taking too many sacks and throwing another interception into the hands of Kerry Rhodes. Sanchez showed good pocket presence in practice and had a better two minute drill than Clemens, who went three and out. Tomorrow is a big day for Sanchez who will get to go head to head versus Clemens in the Green and White Scrimmage. If he wants more reps with the first team, tomorrow is the day to make a statement.

More Quarterback Daily News: Rex Ryan said he wants to name a starter before the Jets third pre-season game against the Giants. You would have to think he will let Clemens and Sanchez start a game a piece before then and hope one of them seizes the job. The third pre-season game is when the starters see extended work, meaning whomever gets the nod in that game will be in good shape to start the regular season against Houston.

Secondary Love: Ryan talked at length today about how good he believes the Jets secondary is. Dwight Lowery continued his strong camp by knocking down three passes in practice today and Drew Coleman also flashed a few times, with an interception and a pass defensed, drawing praise from Ryan who thinks his skill set fits well with the Jets new scheme on defense. Ryan’s also complimented Donald Strickland’s versatility to play corner, nickle, and safety. James Ihedigbo looks like he will have a bigger role on the defense this season and could be active in nickle and dime packages. Darrelle Revis? He is the best corner in football according to Ryan and you won’t get much of an argument from me, although Asomugha on Oakland is probably still #1.

Tight End Issues: First off, condolences to Kareem Brown who lost a close friend in a car accident, which is why he missed the first few Jets practices. Many of the beat writers dedicated articles in today’s paper to the Jets lack of depth at tight end. Unless Jack Simmons, Brown, or the newly signed Kevin Brock really picks things up in the next week or two, the Jets are going to have bring in a veteran. Right now, reserve tackle Wayne Hunter is working as the primary backup. Hopefully, somebody will make a few plays tomorrow in the scrimmage and then in the first pre-season game to distinguish themselves.

Injury News: Shaun Ellis, Kris Jenkins, Shonn Greene, Tony Richardson and Donald Strickland are all nursing minor injuries and should be back soon. I don’t know if any of them will play tomorrow, but it would be nice to see Greene out there since he is a rookie. There is no need to rush veterans like Ellis, Richardson or Jenkins back.

Receiver Transaction: The Jets released Mario Urrutia (what kind of person would pick this guy to make the 53 man roster and think he was an under the radar guy to watch in camp…ooops) and got Aundrae Allison off waivers from the Vikings. Allison is a speedy guy, who has experience as a kick returner. He also has 18 career catches for 231 yards, which is nothing to scoff at when guys like David Clowney (1 career catch) and Wallace Wright (6 career receptions) are competing for major playing time.

Good Camp/Bad Camp: Good Camp – Wallace Wright, Chansi Stuckey, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Bart Scott, Dwight Lowery, Howard Green, Jim Leonhard….Bad Camp (Or Quiet Camp) – David Clowney, J’Nathan Bullock, Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha, Jason Trusnik, Huey Whittaker, Marcus Henry

Tomorrow: Morning Session closed to the media and Green and White Scrimmage at 6 PM (Live play by play audio on www.newyorkjets.com, I know I’ll be listening).

5 Guys to Watch For in Tomorrow’s Scrimmage:

1. Mark Sanchez – Duh, big chance for the rookie to make some plays and a make a move in the QB battle.

2. David Clowney – He has been quiet all camp, can he make a few big plays?

3. Vernon Gholston – See above.

4. Jehuu Caulcrick/Shonn Greene – Who? Caulcrick will be the starting fullback with T-Rich out with injury. If Greene plays, he should be in line for some short yardage carries.

5. Kareem Brown/Jack Simmons/J’Nathan Bullock – Somebody could get a leg up in battle for the #2 TE spot.

Jets Positional Analysis: Defensive Line

First a few updates:

1. Sean Payton filled in for Peter King in his Monday Morning Quarterback article and predicted the Jets would be a playoff team this season and also spoke highly of Mark Sanchez. Big news? Not really, but it is nice to hear a respected quarterback coach in the NFL have a favorable view of Sanchez.

2. No news on the Thomas Jones/Leon Washington front and enough of this nonsense about Danny Woodhead and Shonn Greene being able to step in for them this year…get your two pro-bowl running backs into camp on time, you have a rookie quarterback who you just invested 60 million dollars in…help the guy out.

3. I recently found out where my season tickets in the new stadium were located…10 rows higher than my previous ones and in the endzone instead of the 30 yard line…thank you New York Jets.

4. Just watched Hideki Matsui hit a walk off home run, and I am now hoping Texas can hold on against Boston to put my Yanks in first place by the time I wake up tomorrow.

Jets Positional Analysis: Defensive Line

Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to go through all of the Jets positions and assess each player, continuing today with the defensive line:

1. Kris Jenkins #77, Starting Defensive Tackle, Last Season: 50 Tackles, 3.5 Sacks, 4 Tackles For Loss, 1 Forced Fumble, Selected to Pro-Bowl

History: The Jets acquired the big fella in a trade before last season and he responded positively to a new environment. Jenkins was a dominant player on the Jets defense during the first 11 games last year before injuries slowed him down. Rex Ryan must find a way to properly rest him throughout the season so he can be 100 percent during the stretch run in December.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Jenkins plays at the level he did during the first 11 games last year for an entire season and returns to the pro-bowl.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Injuries take a toll on him and he misses extended time, severely hurting the Jets run defense.

Prediction: I think after watching tape from last season, Rex Ryan will find a way to maximize the big fella’s extraordinary talent on the Jets defense by moving him around the defensive line and properly resting him. Jenkins will have a slightly better season than he did in 2008, and return to the pro-bowl.

2. Shaun Ellis #92, Starting Defensive End, Last Season: 60 Tackles, 8 Sacks, 1 Tackle For Loss, 2 Forced Fumbles, 1 Large Snowball Tossed

History: Ellis is the longest tenured Jets player, spending all of his 10 seasons in green and white. Very quietly, he had a very good season in 2008. 8 sacks for a 3-4 defensive end is extremely impressive. Ellis remains a solid two way end and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down with age.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He duplicates his performance from last season, except he isn’t arrested for marijuana and doesn’t throw a huge snowball in the stands after the Jets lose a game.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Ellis begins to break down with age, leaving the Jets ridiculously thin at defensive end.

Prediction: I think Ellis will be a good player in Rex Ryan’s system. I don’t expect him to match the 8 sacks from last season but I think 5-6 is a reasonable number.

3. Marques Douglas #93, Starting Defensive End, Last Season: 36 Tackles, 5 Tackles For Loss

History: The Jets signed Douglas as a depth player who was familiar with Rex Ryan’s system. However, after they traded Kenyon Coleman in the Mark Sanchez deal, Douglas became the presumed starter. He has been a backup mostly throughout his career but now will have an expanded amount of reps.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He keeps his tackles for loss numbers high and holds his own as a starter. There is no drop off from Kenyon Coleman to Douglas and he helps teach the D-Line Ryan’s scheme.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He can’t handle being a full time player and the Jets struggle on the defensive line all season because of it.

Prediction: Douglas won’t be a downgrade from Kenyon Coleman but won’t be a noticeable upgrade either. The Jets need to address defensive end next season with Ellis aging and Douglas better suited to be a role player than a starter.

4. Mike DeVito #70, Backup Defensive End, Last Season: 24 Tackles, 0.5 Sacks, 2 Tackles For Loss

History: A UDFA who has stuck on the Jets roster the past three years and should see a major bump in playing time this season as the primary backup defensive end to both Ellis and Douglas. He has a good motor and the defensive coaching staff is high on his potential.

Chance of Making Roster: 95%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: DeVito blossoms in Ryan’s system and becomes a capable NFL starter at defensive end.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He bombs out in camp and can’t stay on the active roster.

Prediction: I think DeVito will prove to be a solid player off the bench and may show enough to become an eventual starter.

5. Sione Pouha #91, Backup Defensive Tackle, Last Season: 23 Tackles, 0.5 Sacks, 1 Tackle For Loss

History: The Jets drafted him in 2005 but he has struggled with injuries and been nothing but an average backup. He had a pretty good year in 2007 but seemed to regress last season.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He plays the way he did during 2007 and is part of a group that does a good job spelling Kris Jenkins.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles in camp and during the season, forcing Jenkins to play more reps than he should, leading to declining production from him as the season goes on.

Prediction: Pouha wasn’t very good last year so it is hard to predict a solid season for him in 2009 but hopefully he can be a decent role player.

6. Howard Green #95, Backup Defensive Tackle, Last Season: 21 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Tackle For Loss, 1 Forced Fumble

History: The Jets signed him this off-season to improve the depth behind Kris Jenkins and push Sione Pouha for reps. Green had a decent season in Seattle last year and before that played in New Orleans.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Green develops into a very good backup for Kris Jenkins.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Green proves to be nothing more than a journeyman and is cut.

Prediction: I think Pouha and him will split reps behind Jenkins and be adequate.

The Rest of the Guys:

7. Ropati Pitoitua #79, Defensive End – Huge player (6’8, 310) who was on the practice squad last season, could battle for a backup defensive end spot.

8. Zach Potter #98, Defensive End – A UDFA from Nebraska.

9. Matt Kroul #63, Defensive Tackle/End – A UDFA from Iowa.

10. Ty Steinkuhler #61, Defensive End/Tackle – Another UDFA from Nebraska.

Overall Position Analysis: Jenkins is a dominant force in the middle, Ellis is a quality NFL starter, but Douglas/DeVito have to step up at the other DE spot this year. There is also pressure on Pouha and Green to give Jenkins a rest and provide good reps off the bench.

Jets Highlight of the Day: In honor of the defensive line, here is Shaun Ellis having a snowball fight with the Seattle fans last season.

Why the Jets Defense Is Legit

First a few updates:

1. The Jets claimed wide receiver Mario Urrutia ,off waivers from the Bengals. He was a 7th round pick last year and spent the season on the practice squad. He has a great size at 6’6, 232 lbs and was a legit deep threat during his time at Louisville. The more competition at the receiver position, the better.

2. I am glad the Yankees are getting to beat up on New York’s AA team to get back on a roll. I know they are dealing with a ton of injuries but the Mets offense is a joke right now.

Why the Jets Defense Is Legit

One of the interesting things I have been hearing debate about is the Jets defense heading into this season. Jets fans are confident that the unit is going to be one of the league’s best, while other people are more skeptical and believe they are being overrated. Many people scoff at the assertion that Rex Ryan will have the same success he dad last year as a defensive coach, because the Jets have nowhere near the amount of the talent the Ravens did last season. I am not saying they will be as good as Baltimore was in 2008, because yes the Ravens do have more talent, but not that much more talent. ESPN recently rated the Jets as the fourth overall team defense in the league, behind the Steelers, Ravens, and Vikings and I think it is a fair rating, here is why:

The Jets already had a very good defense last season, with a below average coordinator in Bob Sutton. As a team, they were excellent against the run, created turnovers (14 INTs, 29 FF), got to the quarterback (41.0 sacks) and scored points (4 defensive touchdowns) despite struggling in pass coverage. As a reference to other great defense in 2008, the Jets had 7 more sacks than the Ravens and forced 16 more fumbles. They also had 2 more INTs than Minnesota and 7 more forced fumbles.

This off-season they improved their linebackercore by upgrading from Eric Barton to Bart Scott. They will also have a healthy David Harris, who was banged up most of last season. Vernon Gholston can’t be any worse than he was last year and I think it is reasonable to have faith in Rex Ryan to get something out of him in 2009.

In the secondary, they added Lito Sheppard, Jim Leonhard, and Donald Strickland. Dwight Lowery also now has the experience of being a starter last year under his belt. On the defensive line they did lose Kenyon Coleman and his .5 sacks but replaced him with Marques Douglas and Howard Green.

When discussing the Jets defense, I think they have 4 pro-bowl caliber players, 3 very good players, 2 solid starters, and 2 question marks.

You can’t argue against the talent of Kris Jenkins and Darrelle Revis. Both are coming off pro-bowl seasons and they are both top five players in the league at their respective positions. Bart Scott is a pro-bowl caliber linebacker who knows Rex Ryan’s system and no longer has to play in the shadow of Ray Lewis. I am also putting Kerry Rhodes at the pro-bowl caliber level, which is debatable since he has never been selected to one and he hasn’t been an all-pro selection like Jenkins and Scott. However, Rhodes has been held back by the Jets system the past few years and from not having a steady starter opposite him. He also should have been an all-pro player in 2006, but was robbed because he didn’t have a big name at the time.

The next tier of Jets defensive players is Calvin Pace, Shaun Ellis, and David Harris. Most people sleep on Ellis but he is coming off a very good year, which saw him record 60 tackles, 8 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. 8 sacks is nothing to look down at for a 3-4 defensive end. Pace is another guy most people ignore when analyzing the Jets defense. Despite being forced to play in coverage more than he should have been in 2008, Pace still had 80 tackles, 7 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles. Rex Ryan will have Pace attacking more in 2009, which plays to his strengths. David Harris had a monster rookie season in 2007 with 127 tackles and 5 sacks. He was slowed by injures in 2008 but is back at full strength and will benefit from having Scott next to him.

Bryan Thomas isn’t a great player by any stretch of the imagination but is still a consistent starter (57 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 3 FF in 2008) and he should be platooning with Vernon Gholston in 2009. Jim Leonhard is going to be a full time starter for the first this year but thrived in the playoffs last season. He will also be a major upgrade in coverage over Abram Elam.

The Jets two biggest question marks are at defensive end and corner opposite Darrelle Revis. Marques Douglas and Mike DeVito will be splitting time at d-end opposite Shaun Ellis, and yes it is fair to say that is a weak spot. Douglas does know Ryan’s system well however and it shouldn’t be that hard to replace Kenyon Coleman statistically (50 tackles, .5 sacks, 0 FF). Lito Sheppard has struggled the past two years in Philadelphia but has been a pro-bowl player in the past. It remains to be seen if he can return to his 2004 and 2006 form. However, the Jets have very good depth behind him with Donald Strickland and Dwight Lowery. Strickland is a solid veteran who could handle increased reps if necessary and Lowery was a solid starter opposite Revis last year as a fourth round rookie until he hit the wall late in the season.

The talent is there for the Jets in 2009 and they have one of the brightest defensive minds in the game to lead them. They are capable of winning games 17-14 and 16-10, which should be music to Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens’ ears.

What are Reasonable Expectations for the Jets?

First a few updates:

1. The TOJ Hall of Fame and TOJ Hall of Shame are now fully up and running. Take the time to check out the pages, which are linked across the top of the web-site.

2. For some reason, NFL Films is running a replay of the Jets/Bills regular season game in Buffalo from this past season. A few observations after re-watching the game today: Drew Coleman is awful, Kris Jenkins is unstoppable when he is at his best, Brian Schottenheimer is way too conservative, Calvin Pace doesn’t get enough for credit for how good he is, Jerricho Cotchery has great hands but has a tough time getting separation, Dustin Keller needs to increase his football IQ, and Thomas Jones is quicker than he gets credit for.

3. Pacman Jones to the Jets? I don’t buy this rumor for a second. The Jets have no need for him, as they have good depth at corner and obviously don’t need a guy like that in the locker room.

What are Reasonable Expectations for the Jets?

The Jets were a 9 win team last season who just missed making the playoffs. After this off-season, I believe it is fair to expect them to be a 10+ win team and strongly contend not just for a playoff spot but also for a deep run into January. It may sound like a bold statement, but let me argue why that isn’t necessarily the case.

I look at their defense and see a unit that was very good last season. They have improved at inside linebacker by upgrading from Eric Barton to Bart Scott. Vernon Gholston has nowhere to go but up from last year, and if Rex Ryan can get anything out of him this year, the Jets will be upgraded at outside linebacker also. The Jets other returning outside linebackers, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas are both former 4-3 defensive ends, which means they have strong pass rushing skills. Rex Ryan’s new defensive scheme is more conducive to their talents, than Eric Mangini’s defense which often asked them to drop into pass coverage. 

In the secondary, the Jets have upgraded at both cornerback and safety. Lito Sheppard is a better starter than Dwight Lowery, and Donald Strickland will provide a veteran nickel-back who will also push Lowery to become better. Basically, last year’s #2 corner (Lowery) is now bumped down to being their #4 corner. Abram Elam wasn’t an awful starter at safety last year but Jim Leonhard’s skill set is a better fit for the defense, and he provides better pass coverage skills along with a similar presence inside the box against the run. 

They are thinner on the defensive line this season. However, Kris Jenkins has recently went on record to say that Rex Ryan’s defense won’t be as physically demanding on his body. If Jenkins can remain fully healthy all season, the Jets will be getting a major improvement at defensive tackle over the last 5 games of the regular season compared to 2008. There is pressure on Marques Douglas and Mike DeVito to match Kenyon Coleman’s production on defense, although the only production he really had was against the run. He only managed 0.5 sacks last year, so it shouldn’t be hard for the two of them to match his pass rushing skills. 

On offense, the Jets improved their depth at running back and added another short yardage/goal-line threat by drafting Shonn Greene. They are returning their entire starting offensive line, and added more depth by drafting Matt Slauson in the 6th round. Their top two backups from last year (Robert Turner and Wayne Hunter) are also returning with more experience under their belt. At quarterback, Mark Sanchez/Kellen Clemens can’t play any worse than Brett Favre did in the last 5 games of the regular season last year. When the Jets were winning last season, Favre was managing the game in a similar way that the Jets quarterback will be asked to this year. Look at Favre’s numbers in the Jets key wins last year:

Week 1 vs Miami: 15/22, 194 yards, 2 TD’s.

Week 6 vs. Cincinnati: 25/33, 189 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT’s

Week 8 vs. Kansas City: 28/40, 290 yards, 2 TD’s, 3 INT’s

Week 9 vs. Buffalo: 19/28, 201 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Week 10 vs. St. Louis: 14/19, 167 yards, 1 TD

Week 12 vs. Tennessee: 25/32, 224 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT

Week 15 vs. Buffalo: 17/30, 207 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT’s

The point is outside of two Jets wins (Arizona and New England) Favre never really put up great numbers when the Jets won games. I think Mark Sanchez or Kellen Clemens can handle going 15/21 for 190 yards and that they are going to throw less interceptions. If whomever the Jets quarterback is next year can throw 12 INT’s instead of 22, it is going to make a big difference in a positive way for the team. 

The Jets are weaker at tight end and wide receiver than they were in 2008. They haven’t replaced Chris Baker (a strong blocker and 21 catches) or Laveranues Coles (70 catches, 850 yards, 7 TD’s). However, at tight end Dustin Keller should be improved in his second year and at wide receiver, a guy like David Clowney (pictured to the left) could turn into a big time playmaker now that he is being given an opportunity. Regardless, the Jets still need to add depth at both positions. 

 

The 2009 schedule isn’t a friendly one but it certainly is manageable. Outside of their division, 6 of their 10 games are against teams who didn’t make the playoffs last year. Within the division, New England is always tough, the Bills added TO but beyond that had a weak overall off-season and have major questions at the offensive line and running back. The Dolphins are going to struggle this year. They were the 2006 Jets last year, and are going to be the 2007 Jets this year. I love Chad Pennington but teams are going to be all over their gimmick based offense and their lack of talent on that side of the ball will hurt them this year. 

Right now I’d say the Jets are a 10 win team and if they add another tight end and receiver, they could be a 11-12 win team. Right out of the gate we will find out where they stand since in their first 6 games they play all three divisional opponents and 2 other quality teams (Tennessee and New Orleans).

The Best of the Jets

I’m going to take a break from the more analytical stuff today and commemorate today’s article as a celebration of the beginning of the “Turn on the Jets Hall of Fame” and “Turn on the Jets Hall of Shame.” You can find these two pages across the top of the web site. The Hall of Fame idea was blatantly stolen from The Jets blog (www.thejetsblog.com), and is reserved for the best of the best, in the mind of this site. The Hall of Shame is reserved for the worst kind of people, as you’ll see.

Anyway, on to today’s article which examines the current roster and determines the following:

The Best of the Jets

Most Valuable Offensive Player – Leon Washington – This is a tough call but the Jets have a limited number of playmakers on offense and Leon Washington is a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses. Their offense would instantly lose what little big play threat it had, if Washington was gone. He has the ability to score on any given play and the ability to line up all over the formation. Thomas Jones and Nick Mangold were also given consideration.

Best Offensive Player – Nick Mangold – This is different from the Most Valuable Player, because Washington’s value to the Jets is more than Mangold’s to them but as an overall football player, I am giving the nod to Mangold over Washington, Thomas Jones, Alan Faneca and others. Mangold is arguably the best center in the NFL and leads the Jets offensive line, which is probably their strongest overall unit.

Worst Offensive Starter – David Clowney/Brad Smith/Chansi Stuckey – This was a relatively easy call, whomever ends up winning the Jets #2 receiver position has the most to prove on this unit. Chansi Stuckey has been the most productive of this group but only has 32 career catches. All three of these guys are probably better fits as #3 or #4 receivers, than as a full time starter.

Offensive Player who Most Needs to Step Up – Mark Sanchez/Kellen Clemens – It will probably be Sanchez under center when the season starts, but whomever the Jets quarterback ends up being will be facing a ton of pressure to protect the football and lead a passing game to support the Jets already solid running game and defense. Sanchez will face pressure as a first round draft pick and the future franchise quarterback and if Clemens is under center, he will be facing pressure to keep Sanchez off the field.

Offensive Player in Need of Bounce Back Season – Jerricho Cotchery – Cotchery was pretty good last year as the Jets number two receiver, but they need him to meet and exceed his 2007 production (1,130 yards) this year. He is their unquestioned number one wide-out, which means 800 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns isn’t going to cut it.

Most Valuable Defensive Player – Kris Jenkins – The most important thing for any defense to do is stop the run. When Jenkins is healthy he is a force up the middle, which makes it extremely difficult for opposing teams to move the ball on the ground against the Jets. Anybody who doubts his value, only needs to look back to last year and see how much the defense’s production dropped after injuries began to take a toll on Jenkins (starting in the Denver game). The Jets need the big guy healthy for all 16 games if they want to be an elite defense in the NFL this season.

Best Defensive Player – Darrelle Revis – In only two seasons Revis has shown himself to be a legit lock-down cornerback, which is a hard thing to find in the NFL. He is one of the best business right now and I wouldn’t trade him for any corner in the league except for maybe Nnamdi Asomugha.

Worst Defensive Starter – Marques Douglas/Mike DeVito – Neither player has ever shown the ability to be a full time player, but one of the two will be asked to step in for Kenyon Coleman to start at defensive end. Douglas is stout against run but doesn’t present much of a threat rushing the passer, and DeVito only has 0.5 career sacks.

Defensive Player Who Most Needs to Step Up – Bart Scott – The Jets paid Scott a ton of money to come in and lead their defense. He is an experienced pro-bowler in Rex Ryan’s system, and the Jets are expecting him to maintain the level of play he had in Baltimore and help his fellow linebackers adjust to a new scheme. He will also be looked at as the vocal leader of the defensive unit. He isn’t in the shadow of Ray Lewis anymore, Scott needs to be the Jets version of Lewis.

Defensive Player in Need of Bounce Back Season – Kerry Rhodes – Rhodes developed the reputation of a playmaker in 2006 and 2007, but was very quiet last season often overshadowed by his fellow safety, Abram Elam. Rex Ryan has stated his desire to turn Rhodes into his New York version of Ed Reed, and I don’t doubt Rhodes talent to play that role in the Jets defense. He needs to get back to sacking the quarterback, intercepting passes, and forcing fumbles which he made a frequent habit of both in 2006 and 2007.