New York Jets Fact Or False: Preseason Week 3 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the Jets third pre-season game against the Carolina Panthers

For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we examine the most pressing issues facing Gang Green heading into their third preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.

Austin Howard will prove he is the answer at Right Tackle. False. While many people are getting caught up in today’s news that Austin Howard has replaced Wayne Hunter as the Jets starting RT, there is still no reason to believe that Howard is the savior. Will he play better than Hunter? Probably. But unfortunately for Wayne, the Jets could have likely put Tony Sparano himself in there, and he wouldn’t have looked much worse than Hunter did last week. Hunter’s contract should have never been guaranteed after his abysmal 2011 and now Mike Tannenbaum is in one of the worst positions he has ever been in as the Jets GM. Howard will get the start tomorrow by default, but the Jets will likely remain active in their hunt to bring in a tackle from the outside. Don’t expect Howard to be the long term solution here.

The Offense will score a touchdown. Fact. I mean, they have to…right? The Jets offense remains without a touchdown over two preseason games thus far. Although the game plans have been very vanilla as they are implementing a new system, it is now time to spice things up. The basics of this new offensive scheme should be more than engraved into every offensive players head at this point in the preseason, so it is time for Sparano to mix it up a bit. It is extremely difficult to take shots down the field when there is virtually no time to properly execute a 5 or 7 step drop, however, look for the Jets to take advantage of a very average defense. With the likely return of Jeremy Kerley this weekend, Sanchez gets back with a familiar target that he can rely on to help move the chains. Regardless of how poor they have looked, there is simply too much talent on this offense to go another game without crossing the goal line.

We will finally see some of the wildcat. False. For everyone waiting to see the marvelous Wildcat formation, it looks as if you will have to wait until, at the earliest, September 9th in the season opener against Buffalo. At Rex Ryan’s press conference today, the fourth year head coach stated that he did not expect to see any Wildcat during this preseason. Of course, this could be Rex throwing a smokescreen at fellow defensive mind Ron Rivera, however, Ryan is likely being honest here. There is no reason to unveil this formation and give the Bills a series of plays to watch on film and prepare for. Tebow enthusiasts, keep on waiting.

The Jets starting defense will have its best test against the run. Fact. While Cincinnati and the Giants certainly have established running offenses, neither of them quite compare to the four headed monster of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Cam Newton, and Mike Tolbert. This will be a great test for the Jets as they will face a very unique combination of size, speed, agility, and athleticism, that they have yet to see this preseason. If they can hold the Panthers to less than 100 combined rushing yards through the first 2-3 quarters, it will be a very good sign of things to come for the defense this season.

The Jets will have ease running the football. False. This is certainly not to say that the Jets will not run the ball effectively in this game, because they very well just may. However, Carolina has a daunting young pair of linebackers in two time All-Pro Jon Beason, who returns after missing last season with a tear in his Achilles tendon, as well as rookie Luke Kuechly, the 9th overall selection in this year’s draft out of Boston College. This will be yet another great test for Greene, Tebow, and the rest of the running attack to get themselves on track and finally show some of that ground and pound that has been preached so frequently since the hiring of Sparano.

This is the best opportunity for Quinton Coples to prove his worth thus far. Fact. Coples faced an excellent offensive line last week against the Giants, but this week he has the opportunity to play against All-Pro Jordan Gross, along with Matt Kalil, and Bruce Campbell. With these three, Carolina has one of the most respected offensive lines in the league. If Coples can duplicate what he has been doing through the first two games against this unit, it will be an excellent sign of progress. A sack, a QB knockdown, or a tackle for loss will all be indications of further improvement and more good things to come.

New York Jets: A Letter To Mike Tannenbaum

Mike Donnelly with an open letter to Mike Tannenbaum after watching the New York Jets gets get thrashed by the New York Giants

After an appropriate amount of time to decompress after last night’s horror show, TOJ is ready to break down the Jets second pre-season game against the Giants. We start with an open letter to Mike Tannenbaum from Mike Donnelly

Dear Mike Tannenbaum,

Hey Mike, I just wanted to send you this letter because I have some real concerns about the job you’ve done lately with my beloved New York Jets, and your secretary keeps saying you’re unavailable when I call with my list of ideas (seriously, you can’t ALWAYS be out to lunch, can you?). I understand being the General Manager of a sports team is a really tough job and there will be some fans who always hate you no matter what happens, but I’ve always been a staunch supporter of yours. I just want you to know that, before you keep reading.

You see, I was a big fan of the whole “Trader Mike”, never say never, aggressive persona you established for yourself. Bold trades for players such as Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Antonio Cromartie were all completely justified in my opinion, no matter what the cost ended up being. You brought real star power to the team and built a talented roster to compete with the Patriots. Your initial draft in 2006 was a goldmine as you brought in several players who were the foundation for the team. You followed that up with bold trade-ups in 2007 for players such as Darrelle Revis and David Harris, which I loved at the time and you were 100% right in doing so. Sure, the 2008 draft was a complete and total disaster, but every team strikes out from time to time. And even though the Gholston pick was more like you removing your pants, taking a dump on home plate and punching out the umpire while giving the crowd the finger than “striking out”, I still gave you a pass because I just blamed Mangini. I mean, screw that guy, right?

During the 2009 draft though, the bold Mr. T made his illustrious return and pulled off a blockbuster trade up for Mark Sanchez in the first round (a heist at the time), and then for Shonn Greene in the third round. We only ended up with 3 picks that year, but I didn’t care — we had our franchise QB and potential star RB. I still believe in both of them a great deal. The problem was, since that pick of Mark Sanchez you seem to have done everything wrong. You failed to give him the proper tools to develop properly, which should have been numbers 1, 2 and 3 on the agenda every day. Hell, I even wrote an entire column about those failures. I suggest you read it. The 2010 draft is when I started to really have my doubts, though. I didn’t mind the Kyle Wilson pick, even though I thought the pass rush should have been addressed.

When he looked terrible and had his butt firmly planted on the bench his entire rookie season, I still defended your choice. But if anything ever showed my true allegiance to you, it was my continued defense of drafting Vladimir Ducasse, despite literally ALL OF THE EVIDENCE pointing the other way. A Division 1-AA project offensive linemen from UMass with the  ootball IQ of a tree stump should not be a second round pick, especially if he’s bad at football. You’ve since given him ample opportunity to prove himself and earn playing time and he’s failed miserably at every turn. The guy sucks. But even after all that, I still defended you adamantly. Until now, anyway. Allow me to run down the reasons why that’s the case, Mike:

Wayne Hunter – After the 2010 season, you practically pushed Damien Woody out the door, despite his wanting to play one more season. Why would you do that? Because in your mind Wayne Hunter played four good games down the stretch in 2010 and that meant he was ready to be “the man” at right tackle (plus we had VLAD in reserve. Clearly we were set with that combo!) You rewarded those four games with a rich contract, despite all of the evidence during Hunter’s career pointing to him being a bad player. Not many guys suddenly become good at the age of 30, and Hunter is no different. He was, is, and will forever be a steaming pile of crap as an offensive lineman.

And despite him turning in the single worst season I’ve ever seen from an offensive lineman in 2011, you decided to guarantee his $2.5 million salary for 2012 and not send his uncoordinated, immobile ass packing. This is when you lost me. Despite having some salary cap room to burn and all of our draft picks for a change, you brought in zero offensive tackles to take Wayne Hunter’s job (And don’t even get me started about the moron you hired to coach the offensive linemen. You know, the one who said Hunter is the best RT out there and someone would have to shoot him to bench Wayne). There can only be two explanations for your refusal to dump the human turnstile that is Wayne Hunter: 1- Mark Sanchez did something to you personally and this was your plan to get revenge, by having defensive ends blow past Hunter and get Sanchez killed right there on the field; or 2- you’ve become incompetent. While option 1 is certainly possible, I’m leaning towards option #2. Why? Because…

No Blocking Tight Ends – Despite having the worst offensive tackle in the history of organized football and trying to get back to being a “ground and pound” running offense, you decided we didn’t need any tight ends who could actually block. We’ve known Dustin Keller can’t block for years now, but you can get away with that as long as you have a #2 TE who can manage to not whiff on pass rushers or get knocked onto his ass while attempting to push a pile. We saw that when Ben Hartstock was on the team. You’d think that since you came up in this league under Bill Parcells and saw the team lead the league in rushing in 2009, you’d understand the importance of being able to dominate in the trenches.

Instead, your ideas for who to pair with Keller at the tight end position this year were: Jeff Cumberland (a tall, skinny college wide receiver who CAN NOT block), Josh Baker (an H-back who can’t block OR catch), and Hayden Smith (an Australian rugby player). If you combine all 4 of those players, they equal about 92% of ONE competent NFL blocker. When you factor in that they play next to Wayne Hunter it drops to about 85%. That is UNACCEPTABLE. This was probably the most inexcusable oversight you’ve had. There is no reason you couldn’t bring in a blocking tight end to this roster for a very cheap price. Hell, give Anthony Becht a call, it’s not like he’s busy or anything.

NO DEPTH – Last year when Nick Mangold got injured, we had to watch Colin Baxter comically get knocked over play after play and then look like he was going to cry on the sidelines. Thanks for that. When Wayne Hunter was getting thrown around like a child, we had nobody to replace him with. When Bryan Thomas got hurt, we had the immortal Garrett McIntyre backing him up. Basically, the bottom of the roster is a wasteland. After last season you spoke about how the Jets might have “the next Victor Cruz” on the roster, meaning a guy to come out of nowhere and contribute. The problem with that is that Victor Cruz has talent; Caleb Schlauderaff does not.

The Packers, who are a very well-run organization, thought so little of Caleb that they traded him to you four months after they drafted him. Yet you routinely speak of him like he’s the second coming of Steve Hutchinson. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say he sucks. On your never-ending quest to find the new Victor Cruz, you also talk up other bums such as Baker, Cumberland, and of course Austin Howard, who can’t seem to beat out even Wayne Hunter for a job. So please, spare me the talk about how Ellis Lankster or Josh Mauga are going to really break out this year. Don’t tell me about all the touchdowns Dexter Jackson will catch from Matt Simms. The team has no depth, and it’s extremely obvious. At least you got rid of Mark Brunell this year, though. I’ll give you that one.

Pass Rush – It’s been four years since the aforementioned Gholston disaster, and in that time, other than Aaron Maybin last year (which was complete luck that he fell into your lap) do you know how many Outside Linebackers you’ve added to this roster? ZERO! Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace are solid players on the outside, especially against the run, but since you traded John Abraham in 2006 we haven’t had one single top-notch pass rusher. At some point in the last four years, don’t you think some youth and speed should have been added on the outside? Obviously you don’t agree, since you didn’t do it. Did you get scared off by the Gholston era or something? Get over it, shit happens. Pace and Thomas are now on their last legs, and there is no depth behind them. That’s going to end up being a serious problem. We saw that last year after BT went down and the run defense went into the crapper. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Victor Cruz of linebackers is on this roster!

So in conclusion, Mike, I just wanted to say that I’m not mad at you, I’m just hurt. The Mike Tannenbaum Era started off so great and I really believed in you. In fact, despite everything I just wrote, I still want to believe in you. I want to turn on the TV tomorrow and see you pulled off a trade for a legitimate starting Right Tackle (not one with chronically injured knees like Jeff Otah, though). I want to see that Wayne Hunter has been traded to the Siberian Football League or something. I want to see a tight end added to the roster that would be able to at least block me. There is talent on this team that you built and I’ve supported you through thick and thin, but as they say, a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. With moves like Hunter, Cumberland, and Vlad lately, I’m starting to think that maybe that the weak link… is you.

Sincerely,

Mike Donnelly, Frustrated Jets Fan

New York Jets – Is Mike Tannenbaum Asleep At The Wheel?

Is New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum’s inactivity this August acceptable?

It has become a weekly topic here at Turn On The Jets to question the New York Jets depth on the offensive side of the football.  In general, Mike Tannenbaum has done more good than bad since becoming the team’s general manager. The extent he is criticized by outlets like Pro Football Talk and Mike Lombardi on NFL.com is overdone and out of touch with reality. Regardless, facing arguably the most important season of his career, he has been surprisingly (and somewhat disturbingly) inactive in addressing his team’s issues.

Let’s start with something as simple as acquiring a blocking tight end before getting into the tired running back/wide receiver debate. The New York Jets want to be physical on offense. The New York Jets want to run the football. The New York Jets have pass protection issues at right tackle. The New York Jets don’t have a single blocking tight end on their roster. This makes no sense. You can’t bring in Jeff Cumberland to help block if he can’t even get a hand on the immortal (sense my sarcasm?) Manny Lawson before he steamrolls Mark Sanchez.

There was no logical reason for the Jets not to bring a player like Justin Peelle, Daniel Graham or another blocking tight end before training camp. Pittsburgh just signed Peelle to improve their depth at tight end and fullback because of an injury they sustained because smart teams who are perpetually in the playoffs and Super Bowls make sure they have depth.

If Jeff Cumberland keeps getting beat like a drum, perhaps Tannenbaum will sign a player a week or so before the season starts. That player will then have limited time to master the offense and pick up chemistry with the offensive line, likely leading to an early season slew of penalties and miscommunication…aka Matthew Mulligan 2.0. Why wait?

At wide receiver, Stephen Hill hurt his finger today in practice. Let’s say the Jets play it safe and keep him out this week against the Giants. Mark Sanchez will be throwing to a top three of Patrick Turner, Jordan White, and Royce Pollard. Not exactly the best way to break in a new offense for the Jets starting quarterback, right? Throughout the year if Hill gets hurt because he is a rookie and isn’t used to the rigors of a NFL season or Santonio Holmes re-injures his ribs or Jeremy Kerley’s balky hamstring acts up, where is the depth?

The Green Bay Packers just signed Cedric Benson. They did this because smart teams who are perpetually in the playoffs and Super Bowls make sure they have depth. Green Bay might run the ball 25% less than the Jets do this year but now have better depth than them at running back. Is Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets front office that much smarter than Green Bay that they couldn’t take on Benson for a veteran’s minimum deal?

All it takes is a rolled Shonn Greene ankle for the Jets to have the worst depth chart of running backs in the NFL…I repeat all it takes is a rolled Shonn Greene ankle for the Jets to have the worst depth chart of running backs in the NFL. The mighty Ground and Pound who is going to run it more than any team in the NFL will not have a single back on the roster who has eclipsed 150 yards in a season.

Smart teams who are perpetually in the playoffs and Super Bowls make sure they have depth. Wake up Mike.

New York Jets Trade For Tackle Jeff Otah

The New York Jets have traded an undisclosed draft pick for Carolina Panthers tackle Jeff Otah

The New York Jets have traded an undisclosed draft pick to the Carolina Panthers for tackle Jeff Otah, a former first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. He has started 29 games for the Panthers but has been very banged up the past two seasons, with knee and back injuries. Otah has only played in 4 games over the past two seasons but is a “dominant run blocking right tackle” when health.

There have been questions about his conditioning and toughness in the past. However, if he can stay on the field, Otah would be a substantial upgrade over Wayne Hunter. At a minimum, this is the competition that the Jets needed to bring in for Hunter who didn’t deserve to have the job handed to him. The Jets aren’t going to cut Hunter because of the money they owe him but now have a viable threat to his position on the roster. There had been some chatter about potentially adding Vernon Carey but Otah has a much greater upside.

This will likely be an open competition from day one in camp and further proves the Jets have zero faith in players like Vlad Ducasse or Austin Howard to be major contributors.

Otah is 6’6, 330 pounds and attended the University of Pittsburgh.

It is a fair assumption that the compensation will be determined by Otah hitting a certain snap count, look for the pick to slide anywhere from a 4th to 7th rounder. It is a small risk for a player with as much upside as Otah, particularly at a positon of need for the Jets whose depth is looking much better now at tackle, as they also have another former starter Stephon Heyer on the roster.

Do not be surprised if the Jets make another move or two in the coming days. They still need a blocking tight end and depth at running back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Jets: Tannenbaum Might Still Have Faith In Ducasse

New TOJ writer Chris Gross explores if Mike Tannenabum is being stubborn at right tackle because of faith in Vladimir Ducasse

EDITOR’s NOTE: TOJ would like to welcome aboard our newest writer, Chris Gross. You can follow Chris on Twitter (@CGross97). He is a recent graduate of Union College and continues our trend of hiring former D-3 athletes who attended schools that lost to my alma mater Muhlenberg in football, when I attended there. Happy to have you on board Chris! – JC

Throughout his run as the New York Jets’ General Manager, Mike Tannenbaum has become widely known as one of the most active GMs in the NFL. So with a glaring need at right tackle, Jet fans everywhere are wondering one thing: What is taking him so long to fill the huge hole occupied by Wayne Hunter last season? Not only have the Jets not signed someone to fill this void, they seemingly haven’t even reached out to any of the big name free agent tackles on the market. It is easy to assume the Jets will be going budget on the offensive side of the ball to spend big on one of the remaining safeties left on the market, presumably Reggie Nelson or LaRon Landry. While that may be the case, there may be another reason for Mike T’s madness (or lack thereof).

With a new offensive line coach and offensive coordinator in place, Tannenbaum and the Jets coaching staff may have more confidence in the tackles currently on their roster then some believe, namely Vladimir Ducasse. While Mike T has previously stated that he fully expects Wayne Hunter to be the starter at RT next year, there are questions regarding the sincerity of that comment with reports that Hunter was shopped before the start of free agency. Remember, this is the same man who publicly stated that he expected Brian Schottenheimer to be the Jets’ offensive coordinator next season.

So, enter Ducasse, the Jets 2010 2nd Round Draft Pick. While Ducasse has done little during his short tenure as a New York Jet to illustrate to the fan base that he is worthy of ever setting foot on the field, much less be a starter, all hope may not be lost for him in the eyes of the Jets front office. Based on the remainder of the Jets starting offensive line, it is safe to say that the Jets feel confident in their ability to develop players up front. Ferguson, Mangold, and Slauson were all drafted by the organization, while Brandon Moore signed as an undrafted free agent in 2002. Although Ducasse has seen very limited game time in his two years with the Jets, it is possible that the organization still believes he can be a significant piece in rebuilding the right side of the offensive line.

Although this theory may seem crazy to some, there are certain things to remember about the Jets and Big Vlad. First, he came from Division 1 FCS University of Massachusetts. Although the NFL has seen countless players succeed from lower level schools, there are very few who had an impact with their respective teams early in their careers. The perfect example of this is Victor Cruz. Unless you are a Giants or Jets fan, odds are you had no idea who Victor Cruz was up until week 3 of this past season. Until his breakout game against the Eagles, even fans of both New York teams only remembered Cruz for his 2010 preseason performance in which he torched the Jets for three touchdowns. Cruz had the early hardships that most young players coming out of small schools face. In 2010, he appeared in only three games, and was virtually irrelevant to the NFL before his breakout 2011 campaign. There is no question that players drafted from smaller schools have a more difficult time transitioning to the NFL than those who come out of larger schools.

Second, the Jets may feel that Ducasse could benefit greatly with new voices in his ear. Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano made his mark in the NFL as an offensive line guru, and along with newly hired offensive line coach Dave Deguglielmo, the organization could be developing the idea that these men can mold Ducasse into the player they envisioned when they took him with the 61st overall pick in 2010. After all, Vlad fits the psychical mold of an NFL tackle at 6’5” 325 pounds. The Jets may feel that Sparano and co. will now be able to help him fit the mental mold as well.

Finally, Tannenbaum and the Jets do not like to give up on players that were selected with early round draft picks. In 2008, the Jets selected Vernon Gholston with the 6th overall pick in the NFL draft. Although he did not record a sack during his entire NFL career, the Jets held onto Gholston for three years hoping he would eventually develop into the pass rusher they thought they were getting. Certainly there was much more of a financial commitment to Gholston then there is with Ducasse, but the point is that Mike T likes to give his guys time to develop.

Although the Jets lack of activity along the offensive front is frustrating, they could simply be putting a lot of faith in Ducasse. And while it does not seem smart for the organization to put confidence in such an unproven player, especially considering they just gave their franchise quarterback a multi-year extension, it might just be their train of thought. If they do in fact feel this way, expect a continued lack of interest toward free agent offensive lineman by the Jets in the coming weeks.

New York Jets: What Moves Are On The Horizon?

After two days of free agency, TOJ looks at what the New York Jets likely have up their sleeve

It continues to be a quiet start for the New York Jets in free agency and with the action surrounding them, a few things have become clear. Overall, this is going to be a more restrained approach than in recent years but that doesn’t mean a big splash won’t be on the way in the coming month.

At wide receiver, it is clear the Jets never had any interest in spending big time money opposite Santonio Holmes. It makes sense when you look at the coordinator they hired and how much guaranteed money they are giving Holmes this year and next year. We suspected this would be case as the Jets are now bargain hunting to fill out their wide receiver depth chart. I anticipate them signing Chaz Schilens. He is comfortable with Sanjay Lal as his receiver coach and the Jets will give him a legitimate chance to start. Personally, I don’t think this is enough support at wide receiver for Mark Sanchez and the team should still consider checking out Braylon Edwards in May to make sure his knee is healthy. Jerricho Cotchery won’t come here unless the team is going to give him a legitimate chance to be the starter, which I’m not sure they will.

If the Jets are going to spend big money in free agency, it will be at the safety position. Look for them to make a strong push to get either Reggie Nelson or LaRon Landry in the coming few days. After hopefully signing one of them, I would expect them to bring back Jim Leonhard on a veteran’s minimum within a few months and then still add a safety in one of the early rounds of the draft.

We haven’t heard of the Jets looking to spend anywhere else in free agency outside of backup quarterback, where they will probably sign Drew Stanton. A move that will rightfully be questioned by many. David Garrard or Josh Johnson would provide a more legitimate threat to Sanchez in the number two spot than Stanton.

So what about tackle, linebacker, and running back? For whatever reason the Jets appear to be passing on many of the quality free agent right tackles. I don’t know if that is because they have a gentleman’s agreement with Vernon Carey to join the team in a few weeks or because they are really hard headed enough to think Wayne Hunter or Vladimir Ducasse could start next year. At linebacker, unless they make a push toward Jameel McClain, they appear to be standing pat and we haven’t heard anything about a Ronnie Brown signing being imminent yet at running back.

What you do need to remember is that the draft is a little over a month away and the Jets are going to have 10-12 picks. Don’t be surprised to see a very active few days from Mike Tannenbaum in terms of sliding up and down the board, along with looking to fill holes by trading picks for veteran players. This could very well be a situation where fans are in an uproar until draft weekend comes, and then it becomes much clearer what the Jets were looking to do this off-season. They have enough picks and assets to patch up linebacker, tackle, and running back in that weekend.

Don’t forget Mike Tannenbaum’s history when it comes to trades.

History Teaches The Lesson: What The Jets Will Do This Off-Season

If history is any indication, this is the approach the New York Jets will take this off-season…

When attempting to understand what the New York Jets could do in the off-season, the best approach is to study the history of Mike Tannenbaum’s career as the team’s General Manager. We broke down that history in a two part series right here:

Part 1, The Mangini Years

Part 2, The Ryan Years

After review, here are a few things to expect –

Trades – Mike Tannenbaum has traded for a starter in every single off-season he has been the General Manager, except for last year. In total he has acquired eight starters via trade: Kevan Barlow, Thomas Jones, Brett Favre, Kris Jenkins, Lito Sheppard, Braylon Edwards, Antonio Cromartie, and Santonio Holmes. He also hasn’t hesitated to trade away big name veterans on his team, most notably dealing John Abraham, Pete Kendall, Jonathan Vilma, Dewayne Robertson, Kerry Rhodes, Leon Washington and Dwight Lowery.

It would be reasonable to expect the Jets to address one of the needs they can’t fill via free agency or the draft through a trade or two. Neither safety or tackle has an impressive list of available free agents, so look for Tannenbaum to target teams with a surplus at the position in the coming months. We also know the Jets window for making a big trade extends all the way into the regular season, as we saw with Braylon Edwards. As for players on their own team who could be on the market, we already know Bart Scott is and it wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world to see Dustin Keller traded.

Familiar Names – Tannenbaum won’t hesitate to pursue players that his coaching staff has worked with in the past. For Eric Mangini, be brought in Matt Chatham, Ty Law, Tim Dwight, and Hank Poteat about eight thousand times. For Rex Ryan, he signed Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Marques Douglas, Trevor Pryce, Derrick Mason, and Howard Green. Many are speculating the Jets will add multiple ex-Dolphins this off-season to help retool the offense, notably Chad Henne, Vernon Carey, Anthony Fasano, and Ronnie Brown because of their familiarity with new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. Even though he isn’t a head coach, it is a safe bet to expect to see at least a couple of former Dolphins added to the Jets roster this year. Beyond that, don’t be surprised to see Tannenbaum sign Jarret Johnson or Jameel McClain who both played for Rex Ryan in Baltimore.

Big Names – The reason there is validity to Peyton Manning to the New York Jets is because Mike Tannenbaum found a way to get Brett Favre to come here, after the Jets just went through a 4-12 season. He can recruit the big name, which is why it would be foolish to think the Jets have no shot at Manning.

Making Space Where There Is None – It seems that nearly every year the Jets are portrayed as having no cap space, yet then Mike Tannenbaum restructures a few deals, swings a few trades and the Jets end up having an active off-season. I am not saying they are going to pull in a handful of marquee names in the coming weeks but the Jets will be active and aggressive in attempting to fill their holes.

Mike Tannenbaum’s Career As New York Jets GM: Part 2, The Ryan Years

An evaluation of Mike Tannenbaum’s career as the New York Jets GM, focusing on 2009-2011

New York Jets General Manger Mike Tannenbaum deserves a large share of the credit for the New York Jets being a playoff team in 2006, 2009 and 2010. He also deserves a large share of the credit for the Jets missing the playoffs in 2007, 2008, and 2011. Since taking over as GM, the Jets have been a .500 or better team in 5 of 6 seasons but have only made the playoffs half of the time. Basically, you are getting a 8-8 to 10-6 team who could sneak into the playoffs depending on how strong the rest of the conference is. Mike Tannenbaum is going to field a competitive team but he hasn’t shown the ability to put together a roster good enough to be one of the NFL’s elite.

Zero division titles. Zero 12 win seasons yet three playoff berths and four playoff wins. Tannenbaum’s resume is an inconsistent one, as a closer look at this history reveals, a history that should provide some insight into what the Jets will do in the coming months:

READ PART 1: THE MANGINI YEARS

2009

Primary Additions

Draft Class – Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene, Matt Slauson

Free Agency Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Marques Douglas, Donald Strickland, Ben Hartsock, Howard Green

Trade Lito Sheppard, Braylon Edwards

Primary Subtractions

Released Laveranues Coles, Mike Nugent, Chris Baker, Bubba Franks, CJ Mosley, Eric Barton, David Bowens, David Barrett, Hank Poteat, Ty Law

Traded Chansi Stuckey, Jason Trusnik, Kenyon Coleman, Brett Ratliff, Abram Elam

Mike Tannenbaum hired a new coach in Rex Ryan and spent the entire off-season rebuilding the roster to fit his new coach’s identity. He succeeded in giving him the necessary pieces to help create the league’s top defense in 2009 but made his biggest splash in the draft by trading up for quarterback Mark Sanchez and then supplementing it by trading up for Shonn Greene. If you look at the list of players the Jets parted ways with this off-season, it is encouraging especially when you consider how many of the players brought in contributed to two teams that made the AFC Championship Game. Ultimately this off-season really can’t be judged until we see what happens with Sanchez and to a much lesser extent, Greene in the coming years.

2010

Primary Additions

Draft Class – Kyle Wilson, Vladimir Ducasse, Joe McKnight, John Conner

Free Agency Nick Folk, Brodney Pool, LaDainian Tomlinson, Lance Laury, Jason Taylor, Mark Brunell, Trevor Pryce

Trade Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes

Primary Subtractions

Released Donald Strickland, Howard Green, Thomas Jones, Alan Faneca, Jay Feely, Lito Sheppard

Traded Kerry Rhodes, Leon Washington

There were plenty of controversial moves this off-season, notably releasing Thomas Jones and Alan Faneca, along with trading Leon Washington. Fortunately for Tannenbaum, the team improved from 9-7 to 11-5 and returned to the AFC Championship Game for the second straight year. However, he did continue a damaging trend of walking away from the draft with four or less players. He also selected his second major bust by taking Vladimir Ducasse in the second round. Kyle Wilson has been average for a first round pick as well. If Santonio Holmes doesn’t get his head on straight, this off-season is going to look very ugly a few years from now.

2011

Primary Additions

Draft Class – Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, Bilal Powell, Jeremy Kerley, Greg McElroy, Scotty McKnight

Free Agency Donald Strickland, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason, Aaron Maybin

Trade Caleb Schlauderaff

Primary Subtractions

Released Damien Woody, Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Taylor, Kris Jenkins, Shaun Ellis, Tony Richardson, Trevor Pryce, Brad Smith, Drew Coleman

Traded Dwight Lowery, Derrick Mason

One of the Tannenbaum’s worst off-seasons, if not his worst. He went for names over needs by focusing the team’s effort on chasing Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency and came up empty. He then replaced Braylon Edwards, the only player Mark Sanchez ever had deep ball chemistry with, by signing Plaxico Burress. The Jets badly missed Cotchery and Ellis in the locker room and the depth Lowery provided at safety. The Mason signing was a disaster and he was traded in the middle of the season. The best move ended up being finding Aaron Maybin on the scrap heap and then giving him a second chance after initially cutting him. It is too soon to clearly evaluate the draft but Wilkerson looks like he will be a solid starter and Kerley has very good potential. I believe the Powell selection will turn out to be a major head scratcher.

Mike Tannenbaum’s Career As New York Jets GM: Part 1, The Mangini Years

An evaluation of Mike Tannenbaum’s career as the New York Jets GM, focusing on 2006-2008

New York Jets General Manger Mike Tannenbaum deserves a large share of the credit for the New York Jets being a playoff team in 2006, 2009 and 2010. He also deserves a large share of the credit for the Jets missing the playoffs in 2007, 2008, and 2011. Since taking over as GM, the Jets have been a .500 or better team in 5 of 6 seasons but have only made the playoffs half of the time. Basically, you are getting a 8-8 to 10-6 team who could sneak into the playoffs depending on how strong the rest of the conference is. Mike Tannenbaum is going to field a competitive team but he hasn’t shown the ability to put together a roster good enough to be one of the NFL’s elite.

Zero division titles. Zero 12 win seasons yet three playoff berths and four playoff wins. Tannenbaum’s resume is an inconsistent one, as a closer look at this history reveals, a history that should provide some insight into what the Jets will do in the coming months:

2006

Primary Additions

Draft Class – D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Eric Smith, Kellen Clemens, Anthony Schlegel, Brad Smith, Leon Washington, Drew Coleman, Titus Adams, Jason Pociask

Free Agency Andre Dyson, Matt Chatham, Brad Kassell, Kimo Von Oelhoffen, Tim Dwight, Anthony Clement, Trey Teague, Monsanto Pope, Wade Smith

Trade C.J. Mosley, Kevan Barlow, Sean Ryan, Patrick Ramsey,

Primary Subtractions

Released Kevin Mawae, Jason Fabini, Jay Fielder, Barry Gardner, Lance LeGree, Jerald Sowell, Harry Williams, Ty Law, Mark Brown,

Traded John Abraham, Brooks Bollinger

An active off-season in which Tannenbaum succeeded in digging the Jets out of salary cap hell (they were 25 million over the cap when he was promoted to GM) and retooling them by signing and trading for a large crop of mid to lower level free agents and putting together a productive draft. The John Abraham trade did net the Jets All-Pro center Nick Mangold, which makes it hard to argue with even though the Jets have never properly replaced Abraham as a pass rusher. Outside of Mangold, Tannenbaum had a good draft by pairing him with Ferguson and finding late round contributors in Brad Smith, Leon Washington, Drew Coleman, and Eric Smith. Most of the acquisitions contributed in some way, either as a starter or a key reserve to a 10-6 playoff team.

The negatives were missing on Kellen Clemens and Anthony Schlegel in round 2 and round 3, respectively. Teague never played but was a smart insurance signing because Mangold was an unproven rookie. Tim Dwight couldn’t stay healthy but was productive when on the field. Overall, I would say this was a very good off-season for Tannenbaum mostly because of how he salvaged their cap situation and put together enough role players to field a playoff caliber team. Also at the time the hiring of Eric Mangini looked like an incredibly savvy move.

2007

Primary Additions

Draft ClassDarrelle Revis, David Harris, Chansi Stuckey, Jacob Bender

Free AgencyMichael Haynes, Marques Tuiasosopo, Andre Wadsworth, Wade Smith

Trade Thomas Jones

Primary Subtractions

Released – BJ Askew, Dave Ball, Rashad Washington

Traded – Pete Kendall

There was much less volume this year as Tannenbaum constantly preached keeping as much continuity from the previous year’s playoff team as possible. The draft emphasized quality over quantity and the trade ups for Darrelle Revis and David Harris remain arguably the two best moves Tannenbaum has made since taking over as GM. Despite a disappointing 2007 season, the Thomas Jones trade turned out to be a major success.

Unfortunately, Tannenbaum began a disturbing trend of mistreating veterans and overestimating his talent on the offensive line by refusing to bump Pete Kendall’s contract up and then eventually trading him. The trade sunk the Jets season, as replacement Adrien Clarke was awful. Tannenbaum compounded the mistake by keeping Anthony Clement for another year as the starting right tackle. Clement was adequate when supported by a strong guard like Kendall in 2006 but flamed out in year two with Clarke on the line with him. The weakness of Clarke and Clement led to Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens getting beat up all season en route to a 4-12 year.

Without the Kendall trade, acquiring Revis, Harris, and Jones would have made for a great off-season but the trade knocks it down substantially.

2008

Primary Additions

Draft ClassVernon Gholston, Dustin Keller, Dwight Lowery, Erik Ainge, Marcus Henry, Nate Garner

Free AgencyAlan Faneca, Calvin Pace, Damien Woody, Tony Richardson, Andre Woolfolk, Ty Law, Bubba Franks, Jesse Chatman

TradeBrett Favre, Kris Jenkins

Primary Subtractions

Released Erik Coleman, Anthony Clement, Andre Dyson, Justin McCariens, Chad Pennington

Traded Jonathan Vilma, Dewayne Robertson

Credit Tannenbaum for taking advantage of the cap space he cleared in 2006 to do everything in his power to improve on the previous year’s 4-12 team. In retrospect, Faneca and Woody stabilized the line in the upcoming years despite only playing 2 and 3 years with the team, respectively. Pace was overpaid but has been a good starter since joining the team. Jenkins was a beast for one year but couldn’t stay healthy after that. Favre…well we know the story there. Trading Vilma hasn’t looked like the smartest thing in the world and the draft was probably Tannenbaum’s worst.

It is difficult to evaluate this off-season. Tannenbaum did improve the team in the short term but at the same time didn’t build for the future by sinking so much money into veterans and having a weak draft. This extremely active off-season didn’t equal a playoff spot in 2008 but Woody, Faneca, Pace, Keller, and Richardson were big parts of a team that reached the AFC Championship game in 2009 and 2010 (with the exception of Faneca).

After this season, Eric Mangini was fired and replaced with Rex Ryan. Tannenbaum’s first attempt at hiring a coach found a guy who had a winning season two out of three years, made the playoffs once but never won a playoff game and only had a 23-25 career regular season record.

Coming tomorrow: Part 2, The Rex Ryan Years