New York Jets: How Good Could This Defense Be?

How good could the New York Jets defense be in 2012?

The buzz around the New York Jets defense heading into this season is that the potential is there to return to an elite unit in the NFL. In 2009, the Jets were 1st in total defense. In 2010, the Jets were 3rd in total defense. Last season they were down to 5th in total defense. It isn’t exactly like they were awful but much of the luster was gone, particularly when Tim Tebow drove down the field on them for a game winning touchdown, New England shredded them in their own building and Philadelphia embarrassed them late in the season.

Simply put the Jets defense lost their swag, aptly demonstrated by the loudest mouth on the team, Bart Scott struggling through a subpar year. This was a unit that was too slow, didn’t make enough big plays and didn’t put fear into opposing offenses the way it did for stretches of the 2009 and 2010 season. They became predictable and stopped attacking.

Why is there such a high amount of chatter about improvement this season?

Coaching – Rex Ryan will be taking a much more hands on role with the defensive playcalling this season after giving many of the duties over to Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine last year. This isn’t a knock on Pettine but it will be good to have Rex more involved in the day to day planning of the defense. In 2009, Ryan taught his system with great success and the Jets are now “going back to square one” with their installation which will help with fundamentals and preventing the amount of mental mistakes that occurred last year.

Beyond that, the Jets wisely hired Karl Dunbar away from the Minnesota Vikings to be their defensive line coach. We have sung Dunbar’s praises at length here at TOJ and for good reason. The Jets had a defensive back coaching their defensive line last season in Mark Carrier, they now have a well-respected line coach who coached one of the league’s best defensive lines over the past few years. More importantly, Dunbar has the knowledge to help the transition to using more 4-3 looks.

Versatility – The Jets aren’t going to be as locked into the 3-4 as they were in the past. With the strength of this year’s defense (outside of cornerback) being the defensive line, they will be using more 4-3 and 46 alignments. This is a wise move and credit the coaching staff for not trying to fit square pegs into round holes (something Eric Mangini loved to do). The Jets have better depth and talent on their defensive line than at linebacker, so why not make more of an effort to get those players on the field?

Personnel Additions – There weren’t a ton of these but they notably they improved the safety position by adding Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry and added needed speed in the front seven by drafting Quinton Coples and Demario Davis. Bell, Landry and Coples all project as opening day starters and Davis should see action on passing downs. They also drafted Josh Bush in the sixth round, who will see action at free safety.

Internal Improvement – Bart Scott has dropped weight and by all indications looks poised to be more of the player he was in 2009 and 2010 than he was in 2011. Aaron Maybin has now had a full off-season to work with the coaching staff and improve his craft in Rex Ryan’s system. Muhammad Wilkerson had a terrific off-season and looks ready to build on a quietly strong rookie year. Bryan Thomas is returning from missing most of last season with injury.

Still Elite – Darrelle Revis and David Harris. The best corner in football and one of the top five inside linebackers in football still suit up in Green and White.

What you should have is a unit that is deeper at linebacker, defensive line and safety than it was last season. It should also be a unit better equipped to bounce between a 3-4, 4-3 and 46.

Is there still question marks? Yes. The Jets still lack a proven coverage safety. They would be wise to add another corner for depth purposes (Drew Coleman anyone?) and Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas, and Calvin Pace have plenty to prove at linebacker. However, from top to bottom the Jets are equipped to have the best defense in their division and one of the best in the NFL.

Can Rex Ryan’s Defense Rise Up?

Can Rex Ryan get the most out of a mostly average defensive unit for the rest of the season?

Despite the reputation of the New York Jets, when you look at the current roster it is pretty clear that there is more talent on the offensive side of the football than the defensive side. The success of the Jets defense in recent years has been a testament to Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine.

Right now this unit, has a good, deep defensive line rotation. One great linebacker, surrounded by a generally mediocre group around him. One great corner, surrounded by below average safeties and a wildly inconsistent starter opposite him. It is the recipe for a pretty average defense. Unfortunately, the Jets need this defense to be well above average to compensate for an inconsistent offense that doesn’t regularly play to their talent level.

For that to happen it is on Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine to get creative with their game plans. Those game plans need to be complimented by Darrelle Revis and David Harris playing to their elite level, which they have all year with the exception of Revis last week. The pass rush is going to have to keep coming from Aaron Maybin, who needs an enlarged role and from the blitzing. Unlike previous years, Jets defensive backs haven’t been racking up sacks…that needs to change down the stretch. Drew Coleman, Dwight Lowery, and James Ihedigbo combined for 9 sacks in 2010. All three are gone now and the Jets haven’t replaced that production.

The defensive line may have to pick up the slack of the linebackers. Hopefully the coaching staff will consider more 4-3 looks to take advantage of their depth up front. Bart Scott and Garrett McIntyre aren’t going to get any faster overnight but should be more effective with less reps and being reduced to situational players.

Rex loves to talk about his defense and having the reputation of being a great defensive mind in the NFL…with the sputtering Redskins, Chiefs, and Eagles coming up on the schedule, it is time to show he can get the most out of a mostly average group.

Ranking The Jets Defensive Starters

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First a few updates:

1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

2. I was surprised how many people on Facebook and Twitter responded to the TOJ Question of the Day “Who do you think will lead the team in receptions this season” with Santonio Holmes. The guy is only playing in 12 games, I doubt he can catch Cotchery or Edwards after their four game head start. I agree Holmes is probably the best overall receiver of the three but in this offense, this season…I will stay with Cotchery having the most receptions.

Ranking The Jets Defensive Starters

Since I ranked the Jets offensive starters on Friday, I had to finish the job by heading over to the other side of the ball.

1. Darrelle Revis – The best corner in football and the number one headline going into training camp because of his contract dispute.

2. David Harris – A top five inside linebacker in the NFL, who deserves a new contract and will hopefully get it soon for staying quiet about an extension similar to D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

3. Kris Jenkins – When Jenkins is healthy, he has the ability to take over football games and be a premier defensive lineman in the NFL. In 2010, he will be benefited from having Sione Pouha able to spell him and keep him fresh the entire season.

4. Antonio Cromartie – On pure talent and potential, I am placing him above Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, who are coming off better seasons. Cromartie has shown the ability to be a top flight corner in the NFL. Hopefully the move to New York will rejuvenate his career.

5. Calvin Pace – There were plenty of questions about the Jets giving Pace a monster contract two years ago but he has given them two very productive seasons. I expect him to have over 10 sacks this season.

6. Bart Scott – The loudest player on the field and an emotional leader on the team. Scott had a very good first season in New York and will look to build on it in 2010.

7. Shaun Ellis – The longest tenured Jet, remains one of the better all-around 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL.

8. Jim Leonhard – Consistent player who knows the ins and outs of Rex Ryan’s defense.

9. Bryan Thomas – His numbers from last year won’t blow anybody away but Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine swear by his value to the defensive unit as an all-around solid player who does all the little things well.

10. Brodney Pool – I am excited to see what this guy can do in Ryan’s defense. Kerry who?

11. Mike DeVito – The UDFA from the University of Maine has come a long way. The Jets like his ability to stop the run.

TOJ TV

Antonio Cromartie: Boom Or Bust

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First a few updates:

1. I’d like to make it clear to everybody again that we are having a WordPress issue, which is leaving every comment left on the site in pending and thus not on the site. The comments haven’t been lost or deleted. I literally post every single thing somebody takes the time to leave, regardless of what they say. Please keep the comments on articles coming, because this problem should be resolved soon. For now, I will be personally copying and pasting the most intriguing comments from the last week under my name and then responding to them (as you can now see in the recent comments section on the right side of the site). I am sorry about this problem but our Network has recently moved our server to a different locaction, which has led to some technical problems.

2. I think the Bulls, Cavs, and Knicks all have an equal chance of landing LeBron tomorrow. It is amazing h0w one person could take the Knicks from the number five team in the New York sports market, to arguably the number one.

Photobucket3. Today was actually a big day of Jets news and of all things…it was good contract news. The Jets locked in left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson to a monster extension, adding 6 years and 60 million dollars to his original deal and giving him 34.8 million guaranteed dollars, which is a record for an offensive lineman. The Jets also locked down 2nd round pick, guard Vladimir Ducasse to a four year deal for 3.25 million dollars. In a matter of hours, the Jets solidified the left side of their offensive line for the foreseeable future. We can only hope the Ferguson deal will help get the ball rolling on new contracts for the rest of the Jets core four, Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, and David Harris. Why do I have feeling Harris will be taken care of next? The Jets could be rewarding the players who kept the quietest about their contract negotiations first.

4. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets)…if you do, I will convince LeBron to join the Knicks.

Antonio Cromartie: Boom Or Bust

Considering I just wrote an article today about how strong the Jets secondary is heading into the 2010 season, I thought a closer look at the biggest question mark in that position group was in order.

PhotobucketI was as skeptical as anybody about the Jets decision to trade for Antonio Cromartie this off-season but I have gradually began to talk myself into the move, especially hearing about the work he has done this off-season and watching him at mini-camp practice. However, you can’t get past how much of a wild-card he is heading into this year. The guy didn’t play good football the past two years with the San Diego Chargers, period. Even if he was hampered by a hip injury, there was still questions about his lack effort. Every Jets fan saw Cromartie’s aversion to tackling in the playoffs last year and his immaturity when he threw a late elbow into Shonn Greene’s back.

You can’t ignore the red flags of only 5 interceptions the past two years and 19 passes defensed, when he had 10 interceptions in 18 passes defensed in 2007.  You can’t ignore his old organization questioning his effort on the field. You can’t ignore that he only had 33 tackles in 16 games last season.

PhotobucketHowever, you also can’t ignore the type of season Cromartie had in 2007 or the freak athleticism he has displayed on certain plays during his NFL career. There is a valid argument about Cromartie being a better man to man corner than a zone corner and the Jets system of defense playing to his strengths. He is going to see a ton of balls coming his way this season because of Revis Island being located on the other side of the field, meaning he will have plenty of chances to get his hands on the football and make big plays. Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine raved about the Cromartie acquisition this off-season to Manish Mehta of the Daily News

“I think he’s an upgrade over Lito – a clear upgrade over Lito. He fits our style of football. When you have your wide receiver line up outside the numbers, we’re going to eliminate him. That’s the one thing this kid can do…They played him off a lot (in San Diego), That’s a style thing.  They’re more of a zone team. A lot of times, they roll their corners up and get them involved in run support. We don’t do that nearly as much. For what we do schematically – we play so much man coverage or zone coverages that turn into man down the field as anyone – (Cromartie) fits.”

All I know is that if Cromartie gets back to playing anywhere near his 2007 level, it is going to be nearly impossible to throw the football on the Jets. He is going to rack up a bunch of interceptions and probably a touchdown or two. On the other hand, if he can’t stay healthy or plays like he did the pat two years, Kyle Wilson is going to get thrown into the fire right away and we are going to see way more Dwight Lowery than any of us can stomach.

Cromartie…Wow

New TOJ TV

The New Jets Acquisition Who Will Make The Biggest Impact Is…Brodney Pool?

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First a few updates:

1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

2. Great game last night…How is it possible that Ray Allen can go from his game two performance to 0/13 in game three? This has been a bit of a weird series, especially considering it was Derek Fisher who took over in the fourth quarter for the win last night. You have to give the Lakers credit for silencing that raucous crowd early and still finding a way to win despite not playing their best game. The Celtics wasted a vintage KG performance last night, which they likely won’t receive again this series. As of today, I like Lakers to win this in 6 games.

3. Much more information to come on this over the weekend and early next weekend, but if you plan on going to the Jets open practice at the new stadium this Wednesday stay posted for details on how to get yourself in the new episode of TOJ TV because yes me and Corbett will be there promoting the hell out of the site, interviewing fans, and maybe hopping on to the field to grab some player interviews.

4. I wonder why our buddy Armando Salguero hasn’t been critical of the Dolphins ownership proclaiming them a Super Bowl contender and talking about Chad Henne like he is going to be the next Dan Marino, when he hasn’t accomplished anything yet in his NFL career?

The New Jets Acquisition Who Will Make The Biggest Impact Is…Brodney Pool?

I was asked to answer the following question about the Jets for an upcoming Fanball Magazine:

Which free agent/trade acquisition will make the biggest impact in the Big Apple this season?

Perhaps to many people’s surprise, my answer wasn’t Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonoio Cromartie or Santonio Holmes it was…Brodney Pool. The short version of my answer for the magazine was this:

“This answer may be a surprising one but the new acquisition that will make the biggest impact on the Jets this season is safety Brodney Pool. Kerry Rhodes failed to be the playmaker at the safety position in Rex Ryan’s defense that everyone expected him to be in 2009, but look for Pool to fill that void this year. In only 11 games last season for Cleveland, Pool recorded 55 tackles, 4 interceptions, and a sack. He has impressed coaches this off-season with his work both in the classroom and on the field. Pool has the athleticism and physicality to make a high amount of impact plays in for the defense. Also keep in mind, bigger name acquisitions like Jason Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson will be coming off the bench, and Santonio Holmes won’t be active until week 5.”

But, let’s expand on that little…

PhotobucketEverybody was quick to assume Kerry Rhodes would turn into the New York version of Ed Reed last season, an assumption that was unfair to Reed, Rhodes, and Rex Ryan. Ed Reed is a Hall of Fame player, who would be a jaw-dropping playmaker in any defense but who especially flourished in Ryan’s attacking scheme. Rhodes was a player who put together two very good, pro-bowl caliber seasons in 2006 and 2007 but then saw his production drop off in 2008. It is clear now that Rhodes never embraced the transition to the Rex Ryan era because of petulant concerns about Jim Leonhard taking the lead on calling out plays for the secondary and a general feeling that he wasn’t looked at as a leader of the defense anymore. Instead of working to earn that spot back, he sulked his way to a sub par season, which culminated with him being benched after a week 11 loss to New England. Rhodes was athletic but wasn’t physical enough to be a safety in Ryan’s defense. He was talented but his big personality didn’t mesh well with the locker room last year.

Fortunately, the early indications are that the Jets may have found somebody with Rhodes athleticism, who lacks his personality issues and aversion to contact. Sandwiched in-between the Antonio Cromartie trade and the LaDainian Tomlinson signing, the Jets signed free agent safety Brodney Pool from the Cleveland Browns. When discussing the transition from Rhodes to Pool, here is what Mike Pettine and Rex Ryan have had to say:

Mike Pettine “Brodney will play the run better [than Rhodes]. I think he’s a better tackler. They’re both rangy guys, good athletes. I think he’ll stick his face in there more than Kerry.” Some of the issues with Kerry were off-the-field stuff. Buying in, I think he struggled with that, some of the comments he made after he left were kind of indicative of how he felt, that we brought guys up from Baltimore and we leaned too heavily on them. Of course we were going to lean on guys who know the system. That’s the whole point for bringing them in. There were some struggles there that we won’t have with Brodney.”

Rex Ryan “Brodney’s a young man with similar talents as Kerry (Rhodes).  I was a big fan of Kerry’s athleticism.  (Brodney is) an athlete.  He’s got length.  He’s got speed.  He’s got ball skills.  I think that’s going to be good.”

You get the impression the Jets may have found a player with the positive aspects of Rhodes play, without the negatives on and off the field. Don’t forget Pool was a second round draft pick for a reason back in 2005. For all the talk about his injury history, he played in 16 games in 2006 and 2007, along with 15 in 2008. It is now being reported he has only suffered one concussion in his career, with his head injury last year being a migraine that was misdiagnosed. Pool was having a career season in Ryan’s brother’s system in 2009, with 55 tackles, 4 INTs, a sack, and 5 passes defensed before missing the last 5 games of the season with the migraines. Pool had more impressive numbers in 11 games than Kerry Rhodes did in 16 regular season games in 2009.

So, keep an eye out for Pool to provide the playmaking ability you envisioned out of the safety position. The guy isn’t going to be Ed Reed but he won’t be Kerry Rhodes from 2009 either. What about the other big name acquistions? You could make a strong argument for Antonio Cromartie cause similar to Pool, he will be a starter for 16 games but Cromartie has to show he will be the player he was in 2007, not the player he was in 2008 or 2009.  Jason Taylor will be coming off the bench. LaDainian Tomlinson will be coming off the bench. Santonio Holmes won’t start playing until week 5 and will then have to work his way into the offense. If Pool can play in all 16 games this season and pick up where he left off before his injury in 2009, he could be looking at 80-85 tackles, 2-4 sacks, 5-7 INTs, especially when you consider all the talent around him and that Rex Ryan is now calling the plays. I don’t know if any of the other Jets new acquisitions will put up a stat line that impressive, unless Holmes goes wild in 12 games, which is unlikely considering all the people he is splitting catches with and how often the Jets run the ball. Cromartie has the potential but he has got worse the past two years, while Pool has improved every year heading into 2010.

Man, Kyle Boller Is Bad

Jets OTA Thoughts: Safety, Rookies, Rex, Receivers

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First a few updates:

1. Nothing would make me happier than to watch the Bruins and Celtics both choke away 3-0 leads within weeks of each other…that would have to be a sign of bad things to come for the Patriots this NFL season, right?

2. I know you are wondering when TOJ: The Podcast is coming back with episode 2, well we are recording it tomorrow and hopefully it will be posted by Sunday night.

3. I want everybody to Facebook message “James Corbett” and bother him to make some free time to record a new episode of TOJ TV.

4. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

Jets OTA Thoughts: Safety, Rookies, Rex, Receivers

Yes, I wasn’t at OTAs today but that doesn’t mean I didn’t read every single word written by every single person who was there today, which I will use as writing prompts:

PhotobucketRex RyanI tell you I can never get tired of listening to Rex Ryan’s press conferences. Since LOST is off the air, it is basically my new favorite TV show. I love Rex’s optimism and the confidence he has with the organization but it is hysterical to listen him discuss any coach or player on the team. According to him everybody is the best in the NFL at what they do. Bill Callahan is the best offensive assistant in the league. Brian Schottenheimer is the best young offensive mind in the league. Mike Westhoff is the best special teams coach in the league. Mike Pettine is the best young defensive mind in the league. Dennis Thurman is the best secondary coach to ever step on a field. Kris Jenkins? Nick Mangold? Darrelle Revis? Best players at their respective positions. The best part about this is that Rex isn’t too far off when discussing most of these guys.

He is already talking about LaDainian Tomlinson like he is Chris Johnson in OTAs and Jason Taylor like he is Mario Williams. I give him a few months before he says Kyle Wilson is one of the best corners in the league, Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards are battling for the title of the NFL’s best receiver, and Mark Sanchez is the AFC’s best quarterback.

Braylon – It was very encouraging to hear Rex Ryan cite Braylon Edwards as the most impressive offensive player for the Jets in OTAs. Edwards has been expanding his knowledge of the playbook and doing some work at the Z receiver (flanker), which is different from where he usually plays (X aka split end aka where I was a first down converting beast for Muhlenberg). The more versatile he is in their offense, the more it will help him get open. Edwards has the talent to be a legit number one receiver and is the most physically gifted offensive player on the team. If he has his head on straight and has the proper work ethic, watch out because he is capable of putting up some scary numbers.

Eric Smith – Reiterating what he said in his video conference with fans on Wednesday, Rex Ryan said the goal is for Brodney Pool to be the opening day starter, while Eric Smith keeps his role coming off the bench and playing in a variety of defensive packages. Smith is a versatile player who is a core special teams guy, so Ryan does have a good point. Pool is athletically more gifted than Smith and will hopefully be able to make the plays Kerry Rhodes didn’t last season.

Rookies – Kyle Wilson apparently had a welcome to the NFL rookie type of day by receiving an education from Jerricho Cotchery in the slot. Wilson will eventually come around but the thing to be excited about is how good of a slot receiver Cotchery is going to be for this team. He is going to kill teams on third downs this season. Vladimir Ducasse continued to run with the first team and it basically sounds like unless he forgets how to walk, he will end up the opening day starter at guard. I am happy to hear that Joe McKnight didn’t vomit today. This is a step in the right direction.

Angry Rex

Ten Monday Thoughts On The Jets Defense

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First a few updates:

1. Mark Sanchez threw some passes during the Jets OTA practice today, which is obviously good news. The entire roster participated outside of Kris Jenkins and Jason Taylor. Jenkins was continuing to rehab his injury on the sideline and Taylor was finishing up charity work in Miami. There is a ton of pictures of today’s action on www.newyorkjets.com, including shots of Santonio and LaDainian in the green and white.

2. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

Ten Monday Thoughts On The Jets Defense

1. It will be very interesting to see how the reps are divided up in the Jets defensive backfield this season. Rex Ryan loves using packages that are overloaded with DBs but beyond Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, and Jim Leonhard, who else will be prominently featured in the Jets various sub, nickel, and dime packages? Brodney Pool, Eric Smith, Dwight Lowery, James Ihedigbo, and to a lesser extent Drew Coleman, Marquice Cole, and Donovan Warren will all be competing for a bigger role on the defense.

2. Most people are targeting Jason Taylor as the guy on the Jets who could come up with double digit sacks. Yet keep in mind, Calvin Pace had 8 sacks in only 12 games last season. How about the Jets get two guys in the double digit sack range?

3. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has been talking about second year player Matt Kroul as a key piece of the Jets defensive line rotation this season. Players like Kroul and Ropait Pitoitua need to step up to give the Jets the necessary depth on the line and take pressure off Kris Jenkins up front, who will also have his reps limited by the presence of Sione Pouha.

Photobucket4. I know we are all excited about Kyle Wilson’s coverage skills but don’t sleep on his value as a blitzer in Rex Ryan’s defense. He loves sending defensive backs off the edge and Wilson is athletic and physical enough to get 3 or 4 sacks this season to complement his coverage skills.

5. Nobody is a bigger fan of Darrelle Revis than Turn On The Jets but 20 million dollars a year? The guy is the best corner in football but he wants to be the highest paid player in the league, which is hard to swing if you aren’t a quarterback. These negotiations aren’t going to be pretty.

6. What is the reason we can’t resign Marques Douglas? We can’t give him a one year deal to boost the depth on the defensive line? Maybe I am underestimating Mike DeVito, who for some reason is my cousin’s favorite player on the defense.

7. What are the odds that Vernon Gholston is even active for more than half of the Jets games in 2010? I just can’t see him making a successful transition to defensive end, especially in the 3-4. He isn’t going to play special teams over Lance Laury or Jamaal Westerman.

8. Unlike last year when the Jets defense dominated the offense throughout training camp, it should be a little more even this season. How about watching Revis, Cromartie, and Wilson battle against Edwards, Cotchery, and Holmes on a daily basis? That kind of competition is going to make everybody better…and yes, Dwight Lowery and David Clowney could make each other better also.

9. I want some more defensive touchdowns this season…I am looking at you Antonio Cromartie…and Revis, you really can’t get any better than you were last season but if you want 20 million dollars, let’s take a couple back to the house this year.

10. What defensive player jersey are you looking to buy this season? I got Revis but beyond that I am swamped with offensive jerseys…Harris? Wilson? Leonhard? Drew Coleman?

What Should The Jets Do With Kerry Rhodes?

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First a few updates:

1. According to www.mlive.comthe Detroit Lions will either play the New England Patriots or our New York Jets on Thanksgiving. Obviously, the NFL has to choose the Jets because they are much more entertaining, Rex Ryan needs to be involved in a holiday associated with mass consumption of food, and because the Jets need a chance to make up for the 34-3 beat-down they took from Dallas on Thanksgiving in 2007.

2. NEW SECTION ALERT – I’ve added a 2010 Draft Section, as you can imagine there is all the information you need on the upcoming NFL Draft for the Jets, and of course it will updated accordingly as April 22nd gets closer.

3. Follow Turn On The Jets on facebook, because we are only 5 fans away from 200 and you want to be the person who ends up being the 200th fan.

4. Leon Washington sustained a compound fracture in his fibula last year, so it was stupid for me to say yesterday that he is coming off major knee surgery, because he isn’t, he is coming off major fibula surgery…you can’t generalize in the lower half of the body, that was the Eric Mangini in me coming out.

5. I am feeling a strong bounce-back episode for LOST tonight.

What Should The Jets Do With Kerry Rhodes?

I get the impression from most of the Jets beat writers that they believe Kerry Rhodes won’t be back in 2010, and I also get the impression that most fans would like to see Rhodes somewhere else next season. It isn’t hard to blame them. Rhodes was a major disappointment for the bulk of the past year. He was average at best through the first 10 games of the regular season, was rightfully benched, played better over the final 6 games, although he was still inconsistent at times and then came through witha few huge plays in the Jets Divisional Round win over the Chargers. At the end of the year, Rex Ryan didn’t give a glowing endorsement about him coming back. Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine had some issues with him throughout the season. There are some reports, mostly from Rich Cimini of the Daily News, that Rhodes isn’t very popular in the locker room and people are tired of his “Hollywood” persona.

PhotobucketRegardless, in his end of the year press conference Mike Tannenbaummade it sound like Rhodes would be back next season. He said there isn’t a contract issue with him but instead an issue with making sure he is wholly invested in the off-season program. Yet knowing Tannenbaum’s history, I am sure he will be exploring trade options for Rhodes considering it doesn’t appear that he is a Rex Ryan type of player and because let’s face it…Tannenbaum just loves making trades. He can’t go through a whole off-season without one.

Personally, I think the Jets should bring Rhodes back next season. I don’t think they are going to get great value for him on the trade market. They aren’t going to get better by receiving a 5th or 6th round pick for him. I don’t want to see Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo platooning at safety next to Jim Leonhard because the Jets traded Rhodes for a late draft pick and weren’t able to sign another safety because of their free agency limitations. If Tannenbaum can get creative and somehow find a way to get a guy like Roman Harper, Antoine Bethea, or O.J. Atogwe than yes part with Rhodes because you have a way to replace him. If we are just talking about getting a draft pick for him, it better be at least a 3rd rounder so the Jets will have some flexibility to maybe move up and replace him through the draft but even at a 3rd rounder I wouldn’t be crazy about the move. Unfortunately, Eric Mangini isn’t making personnel decisions anymore in Cleveland because I’m sure he would have gave the Jets a 2nd round pick for him, and probably would have thrown in Josh Cribbs for good measure.

In the end, I think Rhodes will be back and it won’t be the worst thing in the world. You can’t argue with his talent level but it becomes a matter of him reaching it on a consistent level. He played a great all-around game in a huge spot against the Chargers last year, showed his pass coverage ability against Tony Gonzalez in the Atlanta game (I still don’t know why Rex Ryan moved to zone on the last play), and made some big plays in the Carolina game. He may never be the big play, pro-bowl caliber player he was in 2006 and 2007 but he could still be a solid contributor on this defense playing alongside Jim Leonhard.

Kerry Rhodes Complains About His Madden Ratings

2009 Evaluations: The Coaching Staff

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First a few updates:

1. A little background on the network wide mock draft we are about to kick off:

An introduction message from Bryan Douglass, Managing Editor of the Fanball Sports Network:
 

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The 2009 season is in the books and the football universe has turned their eyes towards tomorrow. The Fanball Sports Network has put their first NFL season in the books as well and, like the faithful fans they support, our correspondents emerge with a desire to keep that momentum moving forward.
 
With that in mind and with the 2010 NFL Scouting Combinelurking in the distance, we have brought the group together for the launch of our talent evaluation season marked by the first annual Fanball Sports Network NFL Mock Draft.
 
Each of the team correspondents from our NFL family will take the reins of their particular franchises as we construct our own version of the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft… and for those of you in Chicago and Charlotte, while the fates have pushed you out of that moment of glory this season, we will not let you go without. ALL of our correspondents will be taking part as those teams relinquishing first-round selections will offer thoughts on what their teams may have done.
 
To enhance the experience we’ve opened multiple avenues for you to follow our progress.
 
Each selection will be announced and our progress will be updated throughout on a unique thread at RotoJunkie.com, the preeminent sports community on the net and the home of Fanball’s message-board mavens, and we would like to invite each and every one of you to comment, question, debate, and lobby for your NFL hopefuls right there in the thread with us. We’ve asked all of our correspondents to track that thread and if you have questions or thoughts to share, we’ll make sure the boys are there to answer.
 
That’s not all… during the draft our correspondents will be offering brief commentary following their selections at RotoJunkie.com. However, you will also find an adjoining link attached to those selections on the thread. Those links will steer you back to our blogs where you will find extended commentary and analysis on those selections. Our correspondents have worked hard to give you thoughtful insights from the local scene throughout the season and we’re looking to step up our game for our first-ever NFL mock draft. You’ll find that extra effort on each of our blogs following each selection, and you’ll have quick and convenient access to those offerings through our draft thread at RotoJunkie.com. We want to thank you for your support over this, our first year on the sports blog scene, and we keep that appreciation going by inviting you to enjoy this mock draft with us. Come check out the discussion at RotoJunkie, hit up the blogs to read what your team’s correspondent is thinking, and let us know what you think.
 
Enough is enough… let’s get to it. Will Horton from RamsHerd.com will kick us off shortly with the first pick on behalf of the St. Louis Rams. Follow us on RotoJunkie HERE and make sure you hit up the links for extended analysis on each pick.
 
Thanks for tuning in, and enjoy.
 
(And here is a link for that “HERE” to the RotoJunkie thread…
 
So there you go..
2. How awful was the dunk contest last night? LeBron better step up and take part next season or they might as well shut the thing down.
3. The Jets signed nine players to future/reserve contracts: FS Brannon Condren, WR Britt Davis, FB Jason Davis, T Dan Gay, WR Marcus Henry, DT Matt Kroul, C Michael Parenton, LS Tanner Purdum, and DT Tyler Steinkuhler. Britt Davis flashed a little during training camp last year and could be a guy to keep an eye on at receiver. Jason Davis could be a factor if  Tony Richardson decides to retire.
4. Follow Turn On The Jets on facebook.
 
2009 Evaluations: The Coaching Staff
 
Over the course of the next few weeks, Turn On The Jets will be going through the roster evaluating how each position performed this past season, starting today with the coaching staff:
 
Head Coach, Rex Ryan
 

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The Good: Ryan provided a much needed change of scenery and attitude from the previous three years of Eric Mangini. His confidence and swagger trickled down to the team, excited the fan base, and created a buzz around the Jets that normally doesn’t exist. The defense finished the season ranked as the league’s #1 overall unit and Ryan’s “ground and pound” coaching strategy gave the Jets a definite identity. His presence helped recruit Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, and Marques Douglas to the roster, all of whom turned into valuable contributors. The players genuinely seem to love playing for him.
 
The Bad: Ryan’s emotional personality led to a few embarrassing moments, including him proclaiming the Jets out of the playoffs before they really were and him giving the middle-finger to a group of Miami fans who were harassing him (although it is hard to blame him, since they spit on him). In the first two-thirds of the season, he focused too much on the defense and acted more like a coordinator than a head coach by giving too much autonomy to Brian Schottenheimer and Mike Westhoff. His confidence in his defense, led to some poor time management decisions, most notably at the end of the Miami Monday night game.
 
Best Decisions: Taking a more hands approach with the offense after the Jets fell to 4-6, from that point on the Jets went 7-2…Deciding to bench Kerry Rhodes, which sent a message to the team and led to better play from him down the stretch…Naming Mark Sanchez the starter…Making Sanchez sit out against the Bucs, to avoid further injury and make sure he could play down the stretch.
 
Overall Grade: (A-) The bottom line is that Ryan, a rookie head coach, took a team with a rookie quarterback to the AFC Championship Game. He also mastered the New York media and was able to change his coaching style mid-season (by getting more involved with the offense). It was a great start for Ryan.
 
Brian Schottenheimer, Offensive Coordinator
 

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The Good: He helped get Mark Sanchez off to a good start and after his rocky patch in the middle of the season, scaled back to the offense to help get his confidence back before slightly expanding the offense again during the playoff run. Schottenheimer is one of the more creative offensive minds in the league and does a good job of mixing personnel groups and formations. He stepped up during the playoffs, especially with a brilliantly called game against the Bengals which included some well-timed play action passes. Sanchez appears to be very comfortable working with him and Schotty also did a good job distributing carries throughout the season between Thomas Jones, Leon Washington (when healthy), and Shonn Greene.
 
The Bad: Scottenheimer tends to out-think himself sometimes with poorly timed reverses or shots down the field. He also sometimes got too conservative at the wrong moments, although some of that could be attributed to pressure from Rex Ryan. For some reason, he loves running toss even though the Jets never get a good gain out of it. When Sanchez began struggling, Schotty did a poor job of controlling him before Ryan stepped in after week 11. He did a poor job of using Dustin Keller and completely shut down the Jets screen game after Leon Washington was hurt.
 
Best Decisions: The entire game-plan wild-card weekend…the first half of the AFC Championship Game, with well-timed shots to Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery (via Brad Smith out of the Tiger Formation)…Passing the torch to Shonn Greene during the playoff run…
 
Overall Grade: (B/B-) Alot of fans have major problems with Schottenheimer but I think on the whole he had a pretty good year, especially considering he had a rookie quarterback, a number #1 receiver acquired mid-season, and a rookie running back getting major carries down the stretch.
 
Mike Pettine, Defensive Coordinator
 
The Good: It is hard to know exactly what Pettine was responsible for this season, considering Ryan calls the plays on defense and leads the way in coming up with the game-plans. However according to Ryan, Pettine is an integral part of the process. He also received credit for coming up with the way to handle the loss of Kris Jenkins. I also liked how Pettine wasn’t shy about the Kerry Rhodes benching and basically said he needed to work harder in the off-season and commit more to the system.
 
The Bad: Again, it is hard to say what he specifically would deserve blame for. Yet, he obviously was part of the problem of the Jets not having a “Plan B” against the Colts in the AFC Championship Game, some of the communication/substitution problems they had mid-season, and their late game struggles throughout the season.
 
Best Decisions: Getting behind the Kerry Rhodes benching…Getting the most possible out of Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito, and Marques Douglas…Helped recruit Jim Leonhard to the team.
 
Overall Grade: (B+) Ryan trusts the guy and it is hard to say he didn’t do a very good job this year considering the Jets production on defense.
 
Mike Westhoff, Special Teams Coordinator
 
The Good: Orchestrated some well-timed fake punts this season. The Jets were 4/4 on fakes this year, which is a pretty impressive stat. The kick return unit improved as the season went on, despite the loss of Leon Washington. Steve Weatherford had a decent year for a journeyman punter and Jay Feely played at a borderline pro-bowl level. The punt rush team blocked one against New England that led to a touchdown.
 
The Bad: Ted Ginn Jr…enough said. The three botched field goals against the Falcons were absolute killers. He was likely part of the decision to let Jay Feely try a 50 yard field goal when the Jets should have punted against the Colts in the AFC Championship Game.
 
Overall Grade: (C) Westhoff is a legend but this was far from the Jets best special teams season.

Grading Out The Jets/Raiders Game

First a few updates:

1. As expected, Leon Washington was placed on the IR today. It will be interesting to see who the Jets add to their roster to fill that spot. I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved Danny Woodhead back to running back and then added another defensive lineman to the roster.

2. Another thing to keep an eye on is who will return kickoffs now for the Jets, some names to look out for will be Dwight Lowery, Danny Woodhead, Wallace Wright, or David Clowney.

3. The Game Highlights, Stats, and Depth Chart pages have been updated.

Grading Out The Jets/Raiders Game

Quarterbacks: (B) Mark Sanchez wasn’t asked to do much but he did a good job with what was handed to him. You could see him making a conscious effort to protect the football by throwing passes away and checking down. He also did a better job of avoiding sacks. On third down he was 5-8 for 65 yards, re-establishing his early season ability to come up with key first down conversions. Sanchez also executed a beautiful play fake and dropped in a nice pass to David Clowney for a 35 yard touchdown. There were still some missed throws and for some reason he can’t get on the same page with Dustin Keller but yesterday was a step in the right direction.

Running Backs: (A+) Shonn Greene and Thomas Jones completely wore down the Raiders defense. There wasn’t anything flashy or fancy about the Jets running game yesterday, they went right up the gut with Jones and Greene who combined for 265 yards. Jones certainly doesn’t look like a 30 year old running back and Greene has an unbelievable burst through the hole. We are all going to miss Leon Washington, but Jones and Greene will be a handful for defenses the rest of the season.

Wide Receivers (B) They weren’t given a ton of opportunities but did a good job when their numbers were called. David Clowney stepped up in particular with 4 catches for 79 yards, including a 35 yard touchdown. He showed an ability to be more than a deep threat by breaking some tackles and catching a tough pass over the middle. Wallace Wright recorded his first two catches of the season and Braylon Edwards had a drop but also pulled in a tough catch over the middle. I would expect Jerricho Cotchery to be back in action next week, which will be a big boost.

Tight Ends: (C) Good job blocking by Dustin Keller and Ben Hartsock. Keller also did a great job selling the play fake on his 26 yard reception. He was open a couple of other times but Sanchez missed him. One of these weeks it is going to click for Keller and Sanchez, who started off the year strong but have struggled to connect recently.

Offensive Line: (A+) Awesome job by the Jets front five, there really isn’t much to say except that Nick Mangold, Alan Faneca, Brandon Moore, Damien Woody, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and Robert Turner dominated and embarrassed Oakland’s front seven. I bet Richard Seymour is regretting saying the Raiders are going to be a playoff team…unless he meant a high school playoff team.

Defensive Line: (B) The committee approach to replace Kris Jenkins got off to a decent start. Yes, the Jets gave up a little more rushing yards than you’d like to see but overall their defensive line was active, especially Mike DeVito and Howard Green. They have a hell of a challenge coming up this week against Miami.

Linebackers: (A) Quiet games for Bart Scott and David Harris but the grade is picked up by a terrific day from Calvin Pace, who racked up 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. The Jets are going to need that type of effort from him the rest of the season because Pace is unquestionably their top pass rusher. Vernon Gholston has been demoted behind Jamaal Westerman in pass rushing situations.

Secondary: (A) Darrelle Revis is something else…that interception was ridiculous. Do you think he is fired up for this week after getting burned by Ted Ginn Jr (aka Panhands) on national television? Jim Leonhard made his first interception of the season and Dwight Lowery continues to put together a strong season in replacement of Lito Sheppard. Donald Strickland was back and always seems to be around the ball.

Special Teams: (B) Steve Weatherford might run for 100 yards this season. It is not a good sign that Jay Feely has missed two short kicks in consecutive weeks.

Coaching: (A) Mike Pettine made a nice adjustment on defense, allowing Calvin Pace more pass rushing opportunities. Brian Schottenheimer did a great job sticking with the run and Rex Ryan clearly had the troops motivated. Let’s see how they handle Miami this week.

Jets/Raiders Highlights