Life Without Mangold

How much will the Jets miss Nick Mangold if the center is truly out of action with a high ankle sprain? They’ll miss him plenty. The task of overcoming his absence is not however, insurmountable.  Shonn Greene could wake up from a sleepy September. The Jets could scale down their air attack, while leaning on their defense and special teams units. Both of whom have been quite resourceful this year. The Jets can continue their hot start minus Mangold only if they play it smart in all phases, and acknowledge which plays can’t be run when the three time Pro Bowler is not able to help spearhead them.

Provided that Mangold WILL be on the sidelines (there are differing reports as to the extent of the injury at this time) Jets and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will first have to try it on the ground. The problem with relying on that strategy is that RB Shonn Greene has averaged less than three yards a carry (26-75) so far WITH Mangold. Without the ability to find time to get the ball into their receivers hands, the focus for Oakland can center strictly around Greene. A dangerous scenario for the Jets who would then have to practically pitch a shutout in order to win.

Therefore the key may not be how Greene and the rushing attack adjust to life without number 74, but how the Jets passing game does. We suggest a higher percentage of plays out of a flex backfield attack that features more screens to trustworthy RB Ladainian Tomlinson. LT has already pitched in with clutch chain moving grabs so it only makes sense in this time of need, to go with what has been working. The quick drops and throws to the outside will not only relieve backup C Colin Baxter of the constant pressure that comes with reading stunts and withstanding bull rushes from interior defenders, it will also help tire out a Raider defense.

Baxter benefited greatly from the experience he gained at Met Life stadium Sunday. Mangold left in the first half, forcing the undrafted free agent into the fire. The rookie held his own but expectations for any first year lineman must be tempered. Especially when playing time comes as a result of having to replace a player like Mangold.

Losing their center will also mean that the Jets must scale down the amount of shots they take downfield. Baxter will have enough on his plate already and to have to add extended pass protection to his list of jobs on Sunday may be overload. Beyond that, RT Wayne Hunter has gotten off to a rough start, and it is clear that the Jets would be risking more than interceptions should they misdiagnose the effect Mangold has in keeping Sanchez safe and secure.

Rolling Sanchez out to find the emerging Dustin Keller quickly in the flat can also help alleviate the stress to what would be a revamped offensive line. 6’4 WR Plaxico Burress could provide a hand on more slant routes over the middle while perhaps being that big play target down the sidelines should one on one coverage situations (which Burress saw few of last Sunday) emerge. If so, it would behoove the Jets to force feed advantages in any of those matchups as often as possible.

The Jets can also take solace in the fact that their defense has created turnovers so far in 2011, while the special teams has made momentum changing plays two weeks in a row. Rex Ryan wanted more interceptions from his defense this year and on Sunday against the Jags he got four of them. Mike Westhoff’s unit also helped out big time in the week one 27-24 comeback win over Dallas, when a fourth quarter punt block by Joe McKnight was picked up for and run for a TD.

Another key will be playing these this next tough stretch of  road games (Oakland, Baltimore, New England) cleanly. No turnovers. No penalties. The Jets were uncharacteristically flagged too often (7-60 yds) against the Jags. That can’t happen now, given the circumstances of a team playing without it’s star center.

Regardless of whether Greene gets it going finally, the formula for navigating through this tough three game stretch with out Mangold will still remain twofold. Get the ball out fast in the passing game, while looking for big play opportunities on defense and special teams. It won’t be easy for Gang Green to keep the train rolling when the leader of the trenches is not in uniform, should that be the case for any number of games though, the Jets still DO own a roadmap to victory.

One-Third Of The Game: Jets Special Teams In 2011

I realized today that Mike Westhoff would probably curse TOJ out for the lack of time we have spent on the Jets special teams in the previous few months. Beyond that, I saw that Jets punter Steve Weatherford got an endorsement deal with 2XU compression apparel. That is right, this team’s punter even has enough swag to get an endorsement deal (could also be his career 16 yards per carry or shake weight enthusiasm from Hard Knocks). Anyway, let’s get on to that too often neglected third of the game —

Right now, both the Jets punter and kicker from last year are free agents. The Jets didn’t extend a tender to Steve Weatherford and haven’t come up with a new deal for Nick Folk either. UFL special teams MVP Nick Novak was signed this off-season, along with punter TJ Conley who has been in camp with the Jets the past two years. As of now, I’d say it is a safe bet that the Jets will find a way to bring back both Weatherford and Folk, and have them compete with Conley and Novak in the summer.

Weatherford was very good last year, especially at pinning teams inside the 20. Despite a shaky post-season, the coaching staff seems comfortable with him. In 2010, he provided stability to very unstable position the past few years for the Jets. Nick Folk was up and down throughout the season and should be given a good run by Novak in the summer.

On their coverage units, the Jets didn’t extend a tender to linebacker Lance Laury who was a core special teams player in 2010 but was a bit of a disappointment. It is likely he won’t be back, with somebody like Josh Mauga taking over the bulk of his reps. Many of the Jets other key special teams players are free agents including Brad Smith, Eric Smith, James Ihedigbo, Drew Coleman, and Robert Turner, so many of their units could have a very different look in 2011.

The kick return job should be wide open if Brad Smith doesn’t return. Joe McKnight, Kyle Wilson, Antonio Cromartie (if he his back) will get the first crack at taking over. On punt return, rookie Jeremy Kerley will probably be mixed in with Jerricho Cotchery and maybe Wilson.

Regardless of who is manning the Jets coverage and return units, they should be productive again under the guidance of Westhoff, who remains arguably the best (and most entertaining) special teams coach in the NFL.

12 Pack Of Jets Off-Season Thoughts: Edition #8

The 12 pack is back with a very special Thursday edition, for the the very special reason that I will be in New Orleans for the weekend and don’t plan on having the laptop out on Bourbon Street tomorrow afternoon. However, the site will still be updated throughout the weekend, make sure you are following the Facebook and Twitter page.

1. My thoughts on the report about Mark Sanchez leading the league in dropped interceptions this past season…Yes, we all saw defensive backs dropping balls that could have been intercepted and yes we all know Sanchez needs to improve his accuracy (his completion percentage shows that). However, it is foolish to try to argue that he didn’t take major strides forward in his second year. The bottom line is that he threw 5 more touchdowns and 7 less interceptions, won two more games, was substantially more consistent and routinely clutch in big games. I will take Sanchez and his dropped interceptions any day over Chad Henne, who threw the ball so accurately at the other team’s defensive backs that only one “dropped” one all season.

2. I have harped on this all off-season and will continue to do so until he is  in a Jets jersey for 2011. This team needs to find a way to bring Antonio Cromartie back next year. When you play the type of aggressive man to man coverage the Jets do, you need a big time corner opposite Darrelle Revis, especially when you have a weak pass rush. Nnamdi Asomugha isn’t coming here and the Jets aren’t spending a first round pick on a corner. If you think Kyle Wilson, Dwight Lowery, or Drew Coleman can handle being a full time starter in this system right now, you need a head examination.

3. You have to be encouraged by the reports of the work Vladimir Ducasse is doing this off-season. Hopefully, he will grab the starting right tackle job by the throat this summer because if he can’t beat out Wayne Hunter, his long term future with the team will start to become fairly cloudy. Let’s hope Joe McKnight follows Ducasse’s lead these next few months.

4. If I had to guess today who the Jets will end up with in April’s draft, I would go with either Baylor’s Phil Taylor or Temple’s Muhammad Wilkerson. Both defensive lineman have a good shot of being available at #30. I am also intrigued by potentially taking safety UCLA safety Rahim Moore, just because I am anxious to see Rex Ryan finally get a play-making safety here in New York.

5. “I’d rather beat the Patriots, than maybe go to heaven” — That’s why we love you Mike Westhoff.

6. Speaking of our friends up north, Randy Moss recently said he’d be interested in returning to the Patriots. Somehow, I don’t think they will be interested. Personally, if Braylon Edwards ends up leaving I wouldn’t mind if the Jets could get Moss on a cheap, one year deal to provide a vertical threat and some size at split end.

7. It is going to take more than the draft to improve the Jets defensive line depth. Let’s hope either Marcus Dixon, Ropati Pitoitua, or Matt Kroul can step up and become a quality rotation player this year, similar to how Mike DeVito did a couple of years back and eventually worked his way to being a starter.

8. Can we not forget the Jets need to address the backup quarterback position this off-season? Mark Brunell isn’t the answer and is better suited to being the #3. Clearly the coaching staff has no confidence in Kellen Clemens. It is either time to find somebody in free agency or draft a developmental backup to be a long term solution.

9. I am very anxious to see how Shonn Greene handles this season, which is really a make or break year for him as a lead back. It sounds like he will get the amount of carries necessary to show he can be a 1,200 yard type guy, let’s see if he can protect the football, stay healthy, and bring the consistency that is needed to put up those kind of numbers.

10. If you haven’t been able to tell, I am trying to be optimistic that an injunction will be ruled on April 6th and we will have football games this year.

11. As you know, we like to get off topic occasionally here — so here is wishing good luck to St. John’s in the NCAA tourney tonight and hoping the Knicks wake up sometime soon because they have looked like garbage the past week.

12. Weekend Video Clips – Assorted Highlight Tapes Edition

TV Critic: Hard Knocks Episode #3

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Thoughts on episode #3

1. I could watch Mike Westhoff coach all day. It sure looks like David Clowney is far from a lock to make the roster. I understand the guy’s frustration about not being part of the offense but he has to find a niche on special teams to stick around. Westhoff was pretty hard on Brashton Satele but coaches have no tolerance for injured players. Poor TJ Conley by the way.

2. Good to see Matt Slauson and Matt Kroul go at it with each other…a couple of hungry players who are anxious to prove themselves. Kroul is going to become a bigger part of the Jets defensive line rotation with the season ending injury to Ropati Pitoitua, which was a real shame because you got the impression he was ready to become a consistent contributor to the Jets defense.

3. “Boy, don’t get indifferent with me” — Welcome to the NFL rookie, Brian Jackson (King Ugly). You hsve to appreciate the rookie hazing when it is due. You know you aren’t getting away when Kris Jenkins has you in the bear hug.

4. If you could give some of Danny Woodhead and Larry Taylor’s attitude to Joe McKnight…the Jets would be on to something with their fourth round pick. It is hard not to root for guys like Woodhead and Taylor.

5. Rookie night? Fond memories…I had to sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in front of the whole team my freshman year of college.

6. Where was the Jets version of “The Decision” with Darrelle Revis? I am still confident #24 will sign a new contract by the end of the week. Perhaps if I say it enough times, it will come true.

7. Good to see Schotty get going a little bit, as he should have after that ugly performance by the Jets offense. I love the passion Rex Ryan has on the sideline, especially his reaction after the hit by Chauncey Washington, who Ryan seems to be taking a liking to. The guy runs hard and all of a sudden could have a chance to sneak on the roster. Beyond that, I love how competitive he is by keeping the number twos in to make sure the Jets still won a pre-season game.

8. I was loving that ending montage with the Jets coming back to Florham Park.

Your Hard Knocks Parody

TV Critic: Hard Knocks Episode #2

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A quick look at episode 2 of Hard Knocks

1. Does anybody else miss Leon Washington yet? I haven’t heard or seen one encouraging thing from Joe McKnight yet and he didn’t come off well at all in tonight’s episode. He looked like a spaced out kid, who thinks he has all the answers. Good move by Santonio Holmes trying to give him advice and running backs coach Anthony Lynn was working on him constantly, but it didn’t seem like it was getting through.

2. Sanchez, funny guy but pay attention when your quarterback coach is talking to you and stop stressing over the 59 cents extra on the Pizza Hut order, you have a 50 million dollar contract.

3. It sounds like a foregone conclusion that John Conner will be the starting fullback. I just hope the Jets aren’t stupid enough to cut Tony Richardson. There is value in keeping the veteran around and giving him a role on the offense.

4. Kris Jenkins vs. Nick Mangold – There is a battle worth watching…looks like Mangold got the best of him tonight.

5. I still don’t buy the Vernon Gholston hype. The Jets had to stage a fight for him to pick up the intensity.

6. Mark Brunell is a smart man for keeping his daughter far away from Sanchez. The veteran backup came off well in this episode as a valuable mentor for Sanchez, though.

7. Mike Westhoff is the man.

8. Where are you? – Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards, Nick Mangold, Calvin Pace, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Jim Leonhard, Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller.

9. Somehow I think there will be some people out there mocking Cromartie’s clip naming all his children.

10. I’m glad they didn’t spent any time on the Revis holdout.

11. Somebody hide the M&M’s from Rex.

12. Bart Scott…nice zinger on McKnight taking a pay cut after leaving USC.

13. Sanchez, what is with the Karate Kid look in the weight room?

14. Steve Weatherford…funny stuff with the shake weights.

Jets Friday Morning Recap & What About The Gholston Hype?

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Friday Morning Recap:

Rex Ryan’s press conference was particularly interesting this morning –

  • He backed up his bravado of signing the ESPN Training Bus “Soon To Be Champs” on the Jets logo. Ryan claimed when he looks in the crystal ball for 2010 he sees the Jets winning the Super Bowl and doesn’t believe there is any reason to hide it.
  • Rookie UDFA tight end Jeff Cumberland has a head injury and could miss the green and white scrimmage tomorrow. Linebacker Brashton Satele and guard Marion Davis are also banged up and could miss tomorrow.
  • He discussed Joe McKnight’s role on the team and commented how he must find a spot on special teams, particularly in covering kicks. The Jets had Mike Westhoff call him before they drafted him and make sure he would willing to embrace that role. When discussing him at running back, he said there is no way he is beating out Shonn Greene or LaDainian Tomlinson on the depth chart but he could still have a large role on the offense. Sticking to the running backs, he continued to lavish praise on Tomlinson and rookie fullback John Conner.
  • Mike DeVito will be the starting defensive end opposite Shaun Ellis. Those two along with Kris Jenkins and Sione Pouha will get the bulk of the defensive line rotation reps, although he is expecting Vernon Gholston and Ropati Pitoitua to contribute on a weekly basis also. When pressed about Gholston deserving a roster spot, Ryan got defensive saying he was earning it with a great opening week of camp and his various roles on special teams. One of the reporters questioned whether newcomer Rodrique Wright should get a spot over him but Ryan claimed they play different positions and that Gholston is currently the best option to back up Shaun Ellis at defensive end.
  • Currently, Kenwin Cummings is the team’s number three inside linebacker behind Bart Scott and David Harris.
  • Ryan said  Nick Folk reminded him of Matt Stover, who struggled at times early in his career but eventually settled down.
  • He was frustrated with the defense allowing a 50 yard touchdown reception by Brad Smith because he saw it as a continuation of their late game struggles in 2009.
  • Matt Slauson is leading in the battle for LG right now because he is being more physical and not as hesitant. The coaches have got on Vladimir Ducasse about worrying less on making mistakes and concentrating on finishing his blocks each play.

Practice Highlights

  • Mark Sanchez – 5/11, TD, INT (Calvin Pace on a batted ball)
  • Nick Folk – 6/6, including a 51 yarder.
  • Smith with the previously mentioned 50 yard touchdown.
  • Another sack for Vernon Gholston.
  • Fight between Jamaal Westerman and Robert Turner.
  • Laveranues Coles banged up his leg but returned later in practice.
  • David Clowney is excused from practice today for personal reasons.

What About The Gholston Hype?

PhotobucketWe hear it every single year. Vernon Gholston is finally getting it. He looks great out there. The game is slowing down for him and on and on. This training camp has been no different. Every single day we are hearing about Gholston recording another sack or flushing the quarterback out of the pocket. Rex Ryan defended his roster spot today by saying he deserves a key spot in the defensive line rotation and that he looks substantially better with his hand in the dirt instead of playing outside linebacker. Honestly, I will believe it when I see it in a game. Yes, there is a chance Gholston will be much better off at defensive end. He certainly has the physical tools to play the position and the Jets aren’t exactly asking a ton out of him in 2010. Could be develop into a quality role player? What do you think, are you falling for the hype again?

New York Jets Special Teams Questions

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First a few updates:

1. The NBA Playoffs is finally coming around a little bit. How can you not enjoy watching the Phoenix Suns play? They are like a #15 seed in the NCAA Tournament going for a upset with the amount of energy they play with. I just hope the Magic can overcome the corpse of Vince Carter dragging himself around the court to get another win tonight.

2. Some highlights from Rex Ryan’s video chat with fans today:

  • He was adamant that Nick Mangold isn’t going anywhere and that the organization will do what it takes to keep him a Jet for a long time.
  • He talked up Brandon Moore as one of the best guards in the NFL.
  • When discussing the running backs, he deflected a question about there being a battle for the starting running back job but said there would be weeks when Shonn Greene will have more carries and weeks when LaDainian Tomlinson will have more carries and that Tomlinson would also be the third-down back while Joe McKnight gets up to speed. He also raved about John Conner and discussed how he pushed for Mike Tannenbaum to draft him.
  • Ryan shot down the chemistry concerns and joked that nobody on the team but Eric Smith could pass a chemistry class.
  • He again penciled in Kyle Wilson as the starting nickel but said Dwight Lowery would still be used frequently at both corner and safety.
  • If the season started today Eric Smith would start at safety because of his knowledge of the defense but he expects Brodney Pool to be the opening day starter.
  • He talked up Brad Smith and the Jets use of the “Tiger” formation this year.
  • The player who has made the biggest improvements since he arrived is Mark Sanchez.
  • The biggest surprise and guy who has jumped out the most at OTAs has been Kenwin Cummings at inside linebacker and as of today he is the team’s #3 inside linebacker.

3. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets), I need all the ammunition I can when I talk with the Jets media relations guy in the coming weeks about getting a press pass for training camp and the pre-season games.

New York Jets Special Teams Questions

Hey, it is one-third of the game. No Jets fans can sleep on the importance of special teams after watching the negatives of Ted Ginn Jr. take two kicks back for a touchdown in a single game last season and Jay Feely miss three kicks versus Atlanta along with the positives of Brad Smith taking a kick back to the house in Indy and the Jets executing four successful fake punts in 2009. The Jets were up and down last season despite having one of the best special teams coaches in the business with Mike Westhoff and they still have plenty of questions heading into this year.

Kicker – The Jets got a problem here. Jay Feely was a reliable kicker the past two seasons and the Jets decided not to bring him back and replace him with Dallas castoff Nick Folk, who was an ugly 18/28 last season before being cut. Apparently Folk had an ugly start to his Jets career last week by missing just about every kick he took during OTAs. I know I don’t feel confident in Folk lining up for a big kick this season and if he continues to struggle this off-season look for Matt Stover to be added to the roster sooner rather than later. Stover might not have the greatest leg strength at this stage of his career but he is reliable in the 40-45 yard range and you can’t say the same for Folk right now.

Punter – Steve Weatherford managed to keep his job throughout the entire 2009 season and did an okay job. It looks like he will be the Jets guy going forward and hey the guy averaged 21 yards per carry last season. Hopefully a full off-season of working with Westhoff will improve Weatherford’s consistency in 2010.

PhotobucketKick Return – It will be very interesting to see what the Jets do here. Brad Smith did a pretty gob job in this role last season. Antonio Cromartie got some reps in OTAs and was impressive. Rookies Kyle Wilson and Joe McKnight will likely get some opportunities in training camp and the pre-season. David Clowney could get a shot. Aundrae Allison was impressive last pre-season and is probably the fastest guy on the team. Dwight Lowery took some reps last year before Smith locked the job down. If I had to guess today, Smith and McKnight will be the primary guys with Cromartie getting occasional reps. However, keep an eye on Allison during training camp as a dark horse.

Punt Return – This will be Kyle Wilson’s job to lose, although I could see Jim Leonhard or Jerricho Cotchery getting some reps in a big spot or when a team is kicking from around mid-field, when it would be better to have an experienced veteran back there.

Coverage – The Jets lost valuable special teams players like Wallace Wright, Larry Izzo, and Ryan Fowler this off-season but did sign Lance Laury who was a stand out special teams player in Seattle. They will also look to guys like Kenwin Cummings, Jamaal Westerman, and Marquice Cole to fill the void. Eric Smith, Brad Smith, and John Conner should all also be core special teams players.

Maybe the play that saved the Jets season in 2009

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.

Jets Positional Analysis: Special Teams

Jets Positional Analysis: Special Teams

Third article of the day, but hey training camp starts this week so it is time to step up. Of course since I mentioned the Yankees potentially having the best record in baseball, they are losing 6-1. Anyway, here is my next to last positional analysis (still have inside linebackers, which I will get to before Friday morning). Tomorrow I am planning to look at some under the radar players in training camp and I got a few other article ideas to get up before daily coverage of training camp starts at the end of the week.

Jay Feely #3, Kicker, Last Season: 24/28 Field Goals (2/2 50+ yards, 4/5 40-49 yards) 39/39 PAT’s

History: Political commentator, twitter enthusiast, and weight-room fanatic, Jay Feely became the Jets kicker in week 2 last season after Mike “Second Round Pick?!” Nugent was hurt. As you can tell from the numbers, he had a pretty good season which earned him a new contract with the Jets. Feely hit his two most clutch kicks last season, a game winner against the Patriots and a 50+ yarder that sent Oakland into overtime. He has decent length on kickoffs and didn’t struggle with the Meadowlands winds.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Feely has a similar season to last year and hits his clutch kicks, while Mike Nugent is booting kickoffs to the 20 yard line in the UFL.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Feely misses too many FG’s, gets cut week 3 and joins the FOX News staff.

Prediction: I don’t see any reason why Feely can’t be a productive kicker for the Jets this season.

Reggie Hodges #5, Punter, Last Season: Average Yard Per Punt 42.8 yards, 14 Punts Inside the 20, 6 Touchbacks

History: Hodges was signed to replace Ben Graham last season and did an okay job. He was cut by the Jets after the season but then re-signed a few months ago.

Chance of Making Roster: 50%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Hodges is a good punter for the Jets…what else can I say?

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He gets beat out in training camp and is cut.

Prediction: I am going with the rookie in his punting battle royale, meaning Hodges will join Nugent and Brooks Bollinger in the UFL.

T.J. Conley #9, Punter, Rookie

History: A UDFA out of Idaho, who had the highest net average of all college punters last season.

Chance of Making Roster: 50%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He wins the job and becomes a punting prodigy.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He gets cut, meaning nobody has my number on the Jets.

Prediction: Maybe it’s just because I like his number, but I am picking Conley to win this punting job…bold stuff, I know.

The Other Guys:

Long Snapper: James Dearth – One of the best in the business.

Kick Returner: Leon Washington – One of the best in the business.

Punt Returner: Jim Leonhard – Will take pressure off Washington and did a good job returning for the Ravens last season.

Overall Position Analysis: I always feel good about this group because Mike Westhoff is in charge and he is a hall of famer. Punter could obviously be a position of concern, though.

Jets Special Teams Highlight: Leon Washington is gone.