A Closer Look At The New York Jets 46 Defense

A closer look at what roles individual players will play in the New York Jets 46 defense

This video on NFL.com provided an encouraging look at the New York Jets 46 defense, which has repeatedly been talked up by the coaching staff as a major part of their scheme for 2012. The decision to hire Karl Dunbar and draft Quinton Coples only reinforces that. We already discussed the 4-3 looks the Jets could use this season, so let’s take a closer look at how their personnel could be deployed in the 46:

NT – Sione Pouha is going to receive the lion share of the reps here. Ideally, Kenrick Ellis could provide quality reps off the bench this season but he is far from a proven commodity. The Jets also still have Martin Tevaseau behind Pouha, who does have some experience. Finally, Mike DeVito does have the ability to slide into this spot if there was an emergency.

DT – Surrounding Pouha up front, the Jets will likely have Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples starting out, with DeVito and Marcus Dixon rotating in off the bench. Obviously, Coples is a better option on passing downs and DeVito is a better presence against the run at this stage of their careers.

DE – Calvin Pace could see the majority of reps here because of his ability to set the edge and occasionally get after the passer. He also has a good amount of experience with his hand in the dirt. Aaron Maybin could also line up here on passing downs, where he could utilize his speed.

LB (On Line) – The LBs you see diagrammed lined up alongside the defensive line will likely be Bart Scott in the interior and Bryan Thomas on the outside as starters. Scott can utilize his run stopping ability here and Thomas has proven he can set the edge against the running game. However, Demario Davis should replace either Thomas or Scott in passing situations, where the Jets could use him to either cover the tight end or get after the quarterback. Finally, the Jets could also line up one of their many strong safeties on the edge occasionally, whether it is LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, or Eric Smith.

LB (Off Line) – Lined up alongside the strong safety, David Harris will be the primary player in this spot. He will have the ability to roam free and do what he does better than anybody on the defense, make tackles. In certain passing situations, I could see the Jets putting Yeremiah Bell or Eric Smith in this spot, alongside LaRon Landry at strong safety.

SS – LaRon Landry’s skill set fits best to this position. However, we could also see him and Bell be interchangeable in this spot, along with E. Smith occasionally seeing reps there, particularly if the Jets line up Landry up on the line in certain situations.

CB – Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie get the opportunity to take advantage of their man to man skills in this scheme. Could the Jets deploy a formation where Cromartie drops to FS and Kyle Wilson comes in at corner? I wouldn’t put it past Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine.

FS – The Jets lack a proven one on their roster. You could see Bell or E. Smith getting reps here, along with rookie Josh Bush or maybe even Cromartie as previously mentioned. Ideally, Bush picks up the defense quickly and becomes a capable centerfielder because he has the best skill set for this spot.

There is plenty of versatility with this formation. For example, the Jets could opt to take advantage of their collection of strong safeties by putting Landry on the line as the outside LB, putting Bell at the off the line LB and having E. Smith as the strong safety. Demario Davis has the speed to set the edge on either side or line up as the off the line LB in passing situations. Calvin Pace can play on either side of the formation, with his hand in the dirt or standing upright.

What is nice about the 46 and the Jets personnel is the ability to mix and match the player’s positions, which is something Rex Ryan loves to do and will keep offenses on their toes.

New York Jets: Davis and Maybin X-Factors At Linebacker

Demario Davis and Aaron Maybin have the skill set to be x-factors on the Jets defense this season

The New York Jets were slow at linebacker last season. Slow may actually be an understatement to describe Bart Scott trudging after running backs and Calvin Pace needing a sun dial to time his rush to the quarterback. Even the young players the Jets turned to when there were injuries, like Garret McIntyre and Josh Mauga were sluggish in the speed department.

Fortunately the coaching staff recognized this issue and made improving team speed a point of emphasis this off-season. Bart Scott has reportedly dropped 15 pounds and one hopes he could perform similar to how he did in 2009 and 2010, when he was a very good 2 down, run stopping linebacker.

More importantly, the Jets added linebacker Demario Davis in the third round who has impressed the coaching staff enough to already be running with the first team in sub packages. His speed at the position gives the Jets versatility they have been lacking since Rex Ryan took over. Davis has the ability to run with running backs and tight ends in pass routes, unlike any other linebacker on the team’s roster. Look for him to make an immediate impact in passing situations and to gradually take more reps away from Scott as the season progresses.

Aaron Maybin will be entering his second year with the team and with a full off-season with the coaching staff under his belt, should move towards becoming a more complete player. Last year it was all speed rushing and hustle with Maybin. While he doesn’t need to change his motor, he does need to add some inside pass rushing moves and work on tackling in space. Maybin led the team with 6 sacks last year despite not joining the team until week 4. Look for him lining up at both defensive end and outside linebacker in pass rushing situations, likely replacing Bryan Thomas most of the time.

When looking at the grotesquely overpaid Pace, who is coming off his worst season with the team, hopefully the pieces around him will make him stronger. When breaking down the Jets 46 alignment, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com points out that with Muhammad Wilkerson, Sione Pouha and Quinton Coples up front, you could see Pace spend a good chunk of time lined up at defensive end alongside them. Pace should also be improved in his traditional 3-4 outside linebacker spot as Maybin becomes more respected as a pass rusher and Coples becomes a factor up front.

Ultimately, you have a general feeling what kind of production you will get from David Harris, Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas, and Calvin Pace. However, Davis and Maybin have the opportunity to bring a unique element to the position group. Can Davis help solve the Jets problems covering the tight end and dealing with faster running backs? Can Maybin be a double digit sack guy with a full off-season to prepare in Rex Ryan’s defense? Positive answers to these questions could lead the Jets to having one of the league’s top defenses once again.

New York Jets: Unconventional Approach At Safety

The New York Jets have taken an unconventional approach to solving their issues at safety

The weakest part of the New York Jets defense in 2011 was the safety position. The bulk of reps were taken by Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, and Jim Leonhard. Smith has thrived as a role player in Rex Ryan’s defense but is overextended as a full time starter because of his limitations in coverage. Pool was never able to distinguish himself in either run support or in pass coverage, along with being prone to mental lapses. Leonhard suffered a season ending leg injury for the second year in a row and prior to that was struggling in coverage similar to Smith.

After a failed pursuit of Reggie Nelson in free agency, the Jets shifted their focus and signed LaRon Landry. If healthy, Landry is a very good in the box safety who is built more like a linebacker. Rex Ryan should make him a major factor in stopping the run game and going after the quarterback. His durability is a major, major question mark however.

In the draft, the Jets added two more safeties. In the sixth round they selected Josh Bush from Wake Forest. Bush is a hybrid corner/safety who is built to play the centerfield position on passing downs. In the seventh round they took South Carolina’s Antonio Allen who fell much further than expected. Allen’s game is very similar to Landry, in that he plays more like a linebacker than a safety and hopefully projects as a long term answer at strong safety.

Finally, the Jets signed veteran Yeremiah Bell, likely passing over bringing Leonhard back in the process. In comparison to Leonhard, the Bell signing is a good move. He is more durable, athletic, and has better size than Leonhard. Even if he is a traditional strong safety, he fills the free safety void better than Leonhard would have. Bell also provides depth behind Landry at strong safety if he misses time due to injury. Similar to Landry, Smith and Allen, Bell is an in the box safety who excels in run support but has questions in coverage.

On the whole, the Jets have collected four players with similar skill sets at different positions of their career. Bell is 34 years old but is probably the most reliable. Smith is 29 and has the most experience in the defense. Landry is 27, has the highest ceiling but the most question marks and Allen is a rookie. The only player who projects to being a true free safety is the rookie sixth round pick, Josh Bush.

The reported plan is for Landry and Bell to start together, while using Smith in the role he excelled at off the bench during the 2009 season. Bush should have every opportunity to play in nickel and dime situations in the centerfield position.

How will the Jets stop tight ends? The most logical approach remains to keep their safeties out of man to man situations. Ryan will have to get creative about bracketing them with a linebacker with speed, perhaps rookie Demario Davis or with Landry or Smith underneath. Bell will likely see more time playing over the top than he did in Miami and then Bush will also be lined up deep off the ball when he is on the field. Also don’t be surprised to see Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, or Kyle Wilson used to help slow down tight ends in certain situations. Wilson and Cromartie in particular could line up at safety in select packages.

Why Curtis Martin Was A No Brainer For The Hall Of Fame

Mike Donnelly disputes any argument that Curtis Martin didn’t deserve to be inducted into the Hall of Fame

Assistant staff writer Mike Donnelly disputes any argument that Curtis Martin didn’t deserve his induction into Canton. Let us know if you’ll be heading out to Ohio this summer for the induction ceremony – JC

While going through my daily Internet routine the other day, hitting up my favorite websites and sifting through the usual Twitter nonsense, I randomly came across a statement that made me shake my head. I let it go at first, because coming across drivel like that is rather common on Twitter, especially when it comes to Jets-related news, as we’ve seen more than enough of lately. But then I saw it again, and again. It started to pick up steam with fellow Tweeters and I could practically feel my blood pressure go up a few points. What was this statement that got me all riled up?

Curtis Martin should not be a Hall of Famer.

I know. Ridiculous, right? My first reaction was obviously to just go on an expletive-filled rant and call the offending parties idiots, but I showed some rare self-restraint. Usually, I try not to get too attached to individual players, but Curtis Martin is the exception. He’s my single favorite player of all time, and I was ready to defend his honor! Or something like that. One of the things I hate the most about sports is how eager everyone is to pick apart truly great players and careers as soon as they’re over. People feel the need to diminish past greatness while trying to praise the next wave of players; It’s bizarre. Instead of flipping out and going Bruce Banner on them though, I read through it all and decided to wait to pick apart these myths and inaccuracies about Curtis Martin. Here they are.

Myth #1: Curtis Martin was a “compiler”

This is a term that people have used when it comes to baseball players for many years. Basically, it’s meant to say that at the end of a career, a player racked up a lot of impressive looking stats over the course of a very long time, but was never amongst the elite in the league. It makes sense a lot of times in baseball. Not about Curtis Martin, though.

Hearing this phrase used to describe Curtis is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, did he compile stats over his 11 year career? Yes, of course. He compiled a lot of really great and impressive stats every year and was one of the best players at his position every single season. So in a sense, yes, he compiled stats: Hall of Fame stats. He compiled them year in and year out, and while other players faded, got injured, retired, lost effectiveness, or disappeared from the league, Curtis Martin was there churning out great seasons. Let’s look at the numbers:

  • Over the course of 11 seasons, Curtis Martin racked up 14,101 rushing yards  and 3,329 additional receiving yards. He caught 484 passes, threw 2 more (both for touchdowns), scored 100 touchdowns himself, and finished in the top 3 rushing on four occasions, while leading the league 1 time, at the age of 31, which makes him the oldest player ever to do so.
  • If you take away his injury-riddled season in 2005 that ended his career, his average season looks like this: 330 carries for 1,337 yards; 46 catches for 321 yards and 9.5 touchdowns. That’s his average, year after year, over the course of a solid decade. I don’t see how those numbers can be diminished. How many teams in the NFL would turn down 1600 total yards and 10 TD from their starting running back on average for the next 10 years? Any? Well, maybe Jeff Ireland, because he’s not smart, but thats another story.
  • Curtis had the best fumble rate of any player with 1,500 carries ever: 0.82%. By comparison, Emmitt Smith fumbled on 1.38% of his carries and Barry Sanders 1.34%. Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett fumbled on 3.07% of his carries, nearly 4 times as often as Curtis.
  • 8th most Yards from Scrimmage of all-time with 17,430.

Myth #2: Curtis Martin’s best quality was his Durability, which allowed him to compile all those stats.

False. Curtis Martin’s ability to play football was his best quality that allowed him to put up great stats. However, durability absolutely was one of his trademarks. His ability to fight through injuries and be remarkably consistent was legendary. But why do people act like this should somehow be a negative? Isn’t it a good thing to be able to play through pain and be there for your team every Sunday while still performing at a high level? Shouldn’t it be a positive that you know exactly what you’re getting from a player, especially when it’s elite production and he’ll never let you down? Shouldn’t it count for something that his teammates watched him drag his injured body onto the field for every practice and every game, never once complaining, inspiring them to play through pain as well? Let’s look at Curtis’s consistency, which some foolishly take as a negative:

  • One of just 2 players ever to start their careers with 10 straight 1,000+ yard seasons. The other? Barry Sanders, and I heard that guy was pretty good. Not bad company to be in.
  • Over those 10 seasons, he racked up between 1,416 and 1,942 yards from scrimmage every season.
  • In 2000, the Jets led the NFL in pass attempts, but Curtis still finished in the top 10 in yards from scrimmage.
  • Before the 2005 season, he missed just 4 games throughout his entire career. Was he just lucky? No, he was incredibly tough and able to play through severe injuries that would have sidelined pretty much anybody else. Check out some of these injuries he played through:

2000 – Curtis played nearly the entire season with a partially torn ligament in his knee. In addition to that, he also had a torn ligament rip his gluteus maximus muscle away from his bone. In Layman’s terms, that means his butt muscle was tearing away from his butt bone. And his job was to run, cut, and get tackled by huge men. I don’t think I’d even be able to walk to the bathroom with those injuries. Seems like that could be problematic on a football field, no? Curtis still played every game.

2002 – Curtis injured his left ankle in week 1. Six weeks later, he injured the other ankle as well, and was given a 7-10 week injury diagnosis. He played the next week, missing 0 games, because he felt new starter Chad Pennington needed him. After the season when discussing the injury, he said: “My ankles were the size of your head. It was the most pain I’ve been in. I had to dig deeper than I ever had to just to play.” No big deal.

2003 – Curtis again injured his knee, but played through the pain. After a mid-season slump when he re-tore knee cartilage, he went to the coaching staff and volunteered to sit if they thought he wasn’t giving the team the best chance to win. He still played every game and rushed for 1,308 yards, despite the pain being so severe he said it “felt like there were chards of glass in the knee”. Oh, Curtis, you little stat compiler, you!

2005 – The final blow. After injuring his knee yet again, Curtis went to Herm Edwards and said his body finally could take no more after 12 games. He described it to the media by saying if their opponent that week had given the Jets the ball at their 1 yard line and said they wouldn’t tackle Curtis, he didn’t think he’d even be able to make it the 99 yards necessary to score, let alone play against 11 defenders. And he still almost went out there.

Myth #3: Curtis Martin should be in the “Hall of Very Good”

I don’t even know what the hell this means. That he was good enough for this fake Hall, but not deserving of the real honor? Please. The Hall of Fame is for the best players of all-time; That means Curtis Martin. In addition to everything i just wrote, the man’s resume speaks for itself:

  • 1995 Rookie of the Year
  • 5 time Pro Bowler (should have been 6)
  • 3-time All-Pro (1x 1st Team, 2x 2nd Team)
  • 4th All-Time in Rushing Yards. I know I already said this, but it bears repeating. 4th all-time!
  • 8th All-Time in Yards from Scrimmage
  • Changed the entire culture of two losing franchises upon his arrival
  • Jets Team MVP award re-named in his honor

Then there’s the single most impressive stat when it comes to Curtis Martin. In a league where running backs come and go, rise quickly then fade just as fast, Curtis Martin played 168 regular season games. Here’s the breakdown of the two halves of his career:

  • First 84 games: 7,194 yards, 50 touchdowns
  • Last 84 games: 6,907 yards, 50 touchdowns

That remarkable consistency and durability, combined with his selflessness, leadership, and incredible skill on the field are the reasons why Curtis Martin deserves his spot in the 2012 Hall of Fame Class. The only crime is that it didn’t happen a year sooner. It was probably because Curtis was never a “look at me” type of player. He didn’t do any dances when he scored, or talk about himself in the media. He was never the biggest, quickest, or fastest player. He was just a great all-around player–and person–100% of the time.

His former backup, LaMont Jordan, says Curtis Martin made him the man he is and that he’d take a bullet for him. High praise. Then there’s Bill Belichick, who said that Curtis “is the most unselfish player ever”, and that he should unquestionably go down as one of the all-time greats. Bill Parcells, who was his first coach in the NFL, and likely Hall of Fame presenter, said it best when he said Curtis Martin was one of the greatest players he ever coached and his “favorite player of them all”.

Couldn’t agree more, Bill. Couldn’t agree more.

New York Jets: We Talking About Practice?

2 weeks worth of thoughts on the New York Jets after leaving the country

A huge thanks to Chris Gross for running Turn On The Jets, while I spent a couple of weeks aboard in Ireland, Netherlands, and Germany. It is good to be back and getting after it here at TOJ, stay posted throughout the week as myself, Chris, and the rest of our writing staff will be bringing you the high quality content you have come to expect.

1. How could you not laugh at the reaction to Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow’s performance in a 7 on 7 OTA practice? Get used to the meticulous tracking of every throw and movement they make at each practice and the unavoidable overreaction to it. Personally, I think without question Sanchez is the superior quarterback, should start and shouldn’t necessarily have a quick hook. However, I can admit it is crazy to get down on Tebow because he threw a pair of interceptions in his first practice in a new offense. Practice is important but nobody remembers your completion percentage in practices when the bullets start flying in a game. Sanchez is going to start the season under center and the media/certain fans will be screaming for him to be pulled after one bad game, regardless of how much he outperforms Tebow this summer.

2. I am very happy with the decision to sign Yeremiah Bell over Jim Leonhard, which is exactly what it was regardless of what Rex Ryan says. Bell has more size and athleticism than Leonhard and has simply been a more productive player over the past few years. Yes, the Jets are going to have coverage issues with Bell and LaRon Landry starting, along with Eric Smith coming off the bench but Bell provides both needed insurance to Landry at strong safety and more athleticism than Smith would at free safety. His signing hurts the chances of rookie Antonio Allen seeing much playing time this year. On the other hand, rookie Josh Bush should remain a factor in a centerfield type role in certain three safety looks.

3. It is a shame to hear about Kenrick Ellis, as his jail sentence will obviously slow his development. Hopefully, he can get it split so he doesn’t miss any training camp. Regardless, with a crowded depth chart at defensive line, his chances of becoming a major factor this year have only got slimmer.

4. Today, the Jets signed veteran tackles Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis. Both are journeyman but between them have 61 NFL starts. Considering the depth on the offensive line right now, don’t be surprised to see one or maybe both stick on the roster. These signings don’t bode well for Austin Howard.

5. I have no problem with Wayne Hunter and new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo talking tough about the upcoming season. I would hope they would project confidence in Hunter’s ability to handle a starting position. It is more than reasonable to be skeptical about Hunter but it certainly sounds like he will have every chance to prove his critics wrong.

6. Interesting but not surprising to hear Visanthe Shiancoe linked to the Jets in free agent rumors. They still badly need a number two tight end and Shiancoe is a proven veteran, who will give them a ton of versatility in their two tight end sets.

Feeling the Tremors of the NFL Offseason – Part 1

In a two part column, Assistant Staff Writer Mike Donnelly rates the NFL Offseason using a Richter Scale system. Be sure to check back Friday for Part II. – CG

While lying in bed and flipping through the channels the other night, I came across a Discovery Channel show about earthquakes (not the wrestler, unfortunately) and put the remote down. I was fascinated not so much by the earthquakes themselves, but by the tool they use to measure them: The Richter Scale. I think it’s great how they can measure any earthquake anywhere at any time and determine which ones were bigger than the others and give a definitive answer based on a 1-10 scale. Then a thought hit me: Wouldn’t it be great if we could measure everything in life and have an accurate ruling? And more importantly, how can I relate this to football? I’ve been meaning to put together an offseason review, so let’s go ahead and combine the two. I present the 2012 NFL Offseason Review, as graded by the Richter Scale.

(Please note I’ll be giving you the breakdowns of the real Richter Scale descriptions and the magnitude–or score–of each offseason move in it’s respective category)

Magnitude: -2.0 – 0 – “Laughable” (Yeah, I made this one up, but it’s surely worth mentioning)

-2.0 – Rams Hire Brian Schottenheimer as Offensive Coordinator –   I can’t wait to watch Sam Bradford work with former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer this year and keep tabs on all the “Is Sam Bradford a bust?” stories that will inevitably be coming out. Just wait, Rams fans, just you wait. And fantasy football players out there, stay clear of this train wreck. You’ll thank me later. Now let’s move on.

Magnitude: 0 – 1.9 – “Micro” (Not felt) 

0.1 – Lee Evans signs with the Jaguars – There are a ton of free agent signings you can put in this “micro” category, but this is my favorite one. Not because it’s a good signing or anything (it’s not), but how is Lee Evans still getting work? For years people said “If Lee Evans just had a good QB throwing to him..” Well, it turns out, Lee Evans just isn’t that good, and his final year in the league will be spent having Blaine Gabbert skip passes to him. At least the lasting memory of him won’t be that of dropping a touchdown in the final seconds of a playoff game that could have sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl or anything. Oh wait, yes it will.

Magnitude: 2 – 3.9 – “Minor” (Barely felt, causes no damage)

2.2 – Brandon Jacobs signs with the 49ers – At this point Jacobs is more known for what he does off the field with his big mouth and delusions of being a professional racecar driver than for what he does on the field. I guess that makes sense, since what he does on the field these days is, well, nothing.

3.5 – Hines Ward and Matt Light retire – I bunched these two together because their situations are so similar: Once-great players who spent their entire careers winning with one franchise, whose play slipped dramatically seemingly overnight. Hines Ward became an afterthought in the Steelers offense last year, and Light was on the verge of being replaced by 2011 rookie Nate Solder anyway. Enjoy retirement, fellas.

Magnitude: 4 – 4.9 – “Light” (Noticeable, but no significant damage)

4.0 – Aaron Ross signs with Jaguars for $15 million – And that’s over three years! For Aaron Ross to deserve $15 million, the contract should span about 30 years, give or take a few. This doesn’t register a 4.0 because of Ross’s play on the field (that would be in the 1.5 range), but rather because of the impact it will have around the league. If Ross is worth $5 million a year, what is someone like Darrelle Revis worth? On a side note, New York fans everywhere are laughing at the Jaguars for signing Drew Coleman and Aaron Ross in back-to-back offseasons. Do some of these teams not have scouts?

4.1 – Ryan Tannehill and Joe Philbin are the new faces of the Dolphins – And you wonder why Dolphins fans stage rallies and protests outside the stadium to get GM Jeff Ireland fired? Tannehill went #8 overall! Really?! He’s likely to become the 73rd (or maybe it just seems that high?) quarterback to come in and fail since Dan Marino’s retirement. At least this is a better option than David Garrard, right Dolphins fans? Right? Ok, maybe not..

4.2 – Giants get Keith Rivers for a 5th round pick – A total win-win move for the Giants here. If Rivers stays healthy–which is a big if–they get a guy who was a top-10 pick just four years ago and has played well in his limited action between injuries. If he gets hurt again, it was still a worthwhile gamble for a team that is very thin at linebacker and they only lose a 5th rounder. Moves like this are why Jerry Reese is considered one of the best GM’s in the NFL.

4.4 – Falcons get Asante Samuel for a 7th round pick – Samuel is a limited cornerback, but he’s very good at what he does, which is cover people on the outside. The Falcons clearly need some help in the back end of their defense, and a 7th round pick is practically nothing to give up. Unfortunately for Atlanta, they have far bigger problems to deal with than their #2 cornerback situation–like figuring out why their quarterback hyperventilates and wets himself in the playoffs, for example.

4.5 – Alex Smith gets upset with 49ers, signs 3-year contract anyway – The 49ers were clearly not too concerned with Alex Smith getting any big offers elsewhere. They sniffed around Peyton Manning, evaluated all their options, then figured they’d bring Smith back short-term and just look to replace him again next year. After watching his comical performance down the stretch against the Giants in the NFC Championship last year, I can see why they weren’t so eager to bring him back right away. I mean you could actually see the fear on his face as he fired passes directly into the turf 4 yards ahead of him. But still, a Super Bowl favorite signing their starting QB is going to cause some ripples, any way you slice it.

4.6 – Laron Landry signs with the Jets – (And to a lesser extent Yeremiah Bell, plus the drafting of Josh Bush and Antonio Allen to overhaul the position) An argument can be made that this should register lower, but the homer in me says otherwise. If you’ve watched the Jets safeties play the last two seasons, you’d understand why this is such a big move. Landry has good size, great speed, can jam tight ends, and actually make tackles. It will be nice to see a Jets safety out there that doesn’t require a sun dial to time his 40 yard dash. If –and this is another big if — Landry can stay healthy, he can take the Jets defense from being “very good” back to being “dominant”.

4.8 – Randy Moss un-retires, signs with 49ers – I love that this happened. Randy Moss is one of the most dominant receivers of all time, and he will likely be playing with a major chip on his shoulder this year. That being said, he’s sulked and slouched his way through games and entire seasons when he wasn’t the focal point of the offense and catching highlight reel touchdowns. Now he’s on the run-first, run-second 49ers. Should be interesting. I’m prepared for anything.

Magnitude: 5 – 5.9 – “Moderate” (Can cause slight to major damage)

5.0 – Bucs spend big for Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, Eric Wright – Another example of teams perhaps over-spending on free agents, but all three of these guys can help Tampa win. They likely won’t compete for the division title this year, but the signings of Jackson and Nicks will go a long way towards helping quarterback Josh Freeman progress into the franchise signal-caller they hope he can be. Plus, Tampa now has to be considered a potential target for big-time free agents. Hey, Greg Schiano always was a pretty good recruiter.

5.1 – Matt Flynn signs with Seahawks – I don’t necessarily think Flynn is going to turn into a star or anything, but how he plays these next few years will have a lot of impact on how much money future backups-hoping-to-be-staters can get in coming years, which is a pretty major thought. The last two high profile quarterbacks in that category, Matt Cassell and Kevin Kolb, have largely flopped, so let’s see if Flynn can buck the trend. Oh, and his performance will likely be the determining factor in whether or not Pete Carroll gets fired. No pressure. On the bright side, it sure beats having Charlie Whitehurst and Tavaris Jackson run the show.

5.3 – Patriots sign non-washed up veteran (Brandon Lloyd) and trade UP in draft– Whoa, talk about bucking some trends. The Patriots, for the first time in many years, sign a veteran player who is actually kind of in the prime of his career and can help Tom Brady on the field (Sorry, Ochocinco). Not only that, after years of trading down in the draft for future picks and taking project players, they shocked everyone and surprisingly took two defensive players with high ceilings that can come in and help their porous defense from day 1. Times, they are a-changin’! (Well, not changing that much. The Patriots are still going to be awesome. Also, Belichick couldn’t help himself and signed Joseph Addai. The washed up veteran signing streak lives.)

5.4 – Cowboys and Eagles bolster their defenses– I lumped these two together as well, because their moves are so similar. Both these NFC East contenders knew they had to do something about their defenses to compete against one another and the Giants this year, so they did. The Cowboys last year appeared to be running a charity on the field for opposing quarterbacks with their terrible secondary. To amend that problem, they signed CB Brandon Carr for big money and traded up in the draft for Morris Claiborne. On the flip side, the Eagles had no problems defending the pass, but their defensive front allowed holes big enough for trucks to drive though. So Andy Reid wised up and traded for run-stuffing Middle Linebacker DeMeco Ryans, and traded up for DT Fletcher Cox. Mission accomplished. The NFC East is going to be tough this year.

5.9 – Bears acquire Brandon Marshall and Michael Bush– After years and years of failing to provide Jay Cutler a solid NFL-calibre WR to work with, the Bears mercifully went out and got Cutler’s favorite receiver to play with, Brandon Marshall, for just two 3rd-round draft picks. How did they get an elite talent for so little? Well, other than Jeff Ireland being an idiot, it’s probably because Marshall allegedly assaulted yet another woman–this time in a bar–and might spend some time in prison. Should he avoid the slammer, Marshall gives them a legitimate receiving threat, while Bush will provide an excellent inside runner to pair with Matt Forte, who is coming off knee surgery.

 

The 5 Biggest Fears Of New York Jets Haters

Turmoil. Despair. Cancer. Implosive. These are just a few of the words that have been used to describe the New York Jets since the conclusion of the 2011 season. The end of the season meltdown in Miami that capped a horrible December for the Jets last year, has stuck with them throughout the entire offseason, and will likely be around until game one of next year. Most fans of the NFL who don’t cheer for the green and white have relished in this. As they see it, the big bad Jets, who have never lived up to their coach’s brash guarantees, finally got what they deserved. This attitude certainly will not be easing up anytime soon. However, there are 5 scenarios that would ultimately prove to be devastating to everyone who thrives in New York’s sufferings, and would likely rip the soul out of any negative commentary directed toward the Jets.

5.) Quinton Coples Produces Double Digit Sacks As A Rookie. Most people who love to point out any hardships faced by the Jets always seem to use their history of ineffective drafting as one of the many forms of ammunition against them. We all know the story. Ken O’Brien over Dan Marino. Kyle Brady over Warren Sapp. Vernon Gholston over…well, anyone. Jets haters are praying that the next chapter reads “Quinton Coples over Melvin Ingram.” These fans would love nothing more than to see Coples come out and be the loaf that he has unfairly been portrayed to be among draft analysts, media, and some uninformed fans. Coples certainly has the potential to be an excellent player in New York’s defense for years to come, and him fulfilling this potential would surely leave quite the sour taste in the mouths of everyone wishing negativity upon the Jets.

4.) The Jets Display Great Team Chemistry. How happy do you think fans of teams like New England, the Giants, and Buffalo were to see Santonio Holmes screaming on the field like a 4th grader in Miami last season. What surely made them even happier was Holmes’ miserable mug on the sidelines, watching as the team he “captained” saw their season slip between their fingers. To add even more to their joy was the week that ensued from the blowup on South Beach. Bart Scott was flipping off the media, Rex Ryan was crying, and anonymous sources were telling everyone how bad Sanchez was. A nightmare for anyone associated with the Jets, but a dream come true for all of Gang Green’s most passionate haters.

Speaking of nightmares, though, how terrifying of a thought is it, to everyone that hates the Jets, of the team actually unifying and displaying great team chemistry throughout the entire season? We already saw how much Giant fans quiver at this idea, as displayed by the immense amount of boos directed toward Sanchez and Holmes when they attended a recent Knicks game together.

Not only do people love the idea of the Jets failing professionally, but to see them waist deep in turmoil and drama is pure bliss. Imagine how sick it would make these fans to see the Jets come together as one, and achieve the type of unification that propelled them to back-to-back AFC title games just over a year ago.

3.) Tim Tebow Is A Vital Piece To The Jets Offense, But Not As A Quarterback. The day the Jets traded for Tim Tebow was surely the happiest day of the offseason for everyone that despises New York. Mark Sanchez has become the most heavily scrutinized quarterback in the NFL today. No player in the history of the league has had such an early amount of success overshadowed by constant questions of job security. Due to the fact that Sanchez was able to achieve so much in his first two seasons, those who hate the Jets will take every opportunity to point out even the slightest flaw in number 6’s game. This same group of people undoubtedly would like nothing more than to see Sanchez dethroned by the newly acquired Tebow. Haters of Gang Green love the fact that the Jets brought in the most popular player in the NFL to undermine Mark Sanchez, and create, as they see it, an inevitable quarterback controversy to further add to the team chemistry issues.

Most people have started predicting not if, but when, Tebow will become the full time starter in New York. Sanchez’s success, coupled with his portrayal as a “pretty boy,” has caused him to be one of the most hated players in the league. Mass amounts of people would love to see nothing more than Tebow take the reigns from Sanchez, with the Jets eventually kicking the former 5th overall selection to the curb.

However, could you imagine the pain it would cause this same sample of fans to have to watch the Jets win with both Sanchez and Tebow contributing? Picture a world where Sanchez is the unquestioned starter, and leader, of the Jets, with Tebow being a vital piece to a successful offense as a running back, h-back, wild cat quarterback, jack of all trades type player. Most people seem to forget how effective Tebow can be as a runner in this league. Group that with Tony Sparano’s run first philosophy, and this hypothetical could very well become a reality.

2.) Mark Sanchez Makes The Pro Bowl. As stated above, Sanchez is probably the most hated player on the Jets, among the many players that draw so much angst from those who look upon New York with such disapproval. Other than fans and personnel of the team, no one on the planet wants to see Sanchez succeed. To see him lead the Jets to a division title, while making his first career pro bowl, would not only kill so many punch lines for those who like to poke fun at the Jets’ misfortunes, but would put an end to any questions regarding the position heading into next offseason.

1.) The New York Jets Win The Super Bowl. This would be the ultimate defeat for anyone who has even the slightest feeling of animosity toward the Jets. To see Rex Ryan finally hoisting that Lombardi Trophy above his head in the Superdome next February would probably drive some of New York’s biggest haters into exile for at least a few weeks. The amount of ammo that Jet fans would have to fire back at everyone who has sulked in the team’s recent struggles would certainly be too much for any of them to handle. Not to mention, there would be no further questions of controversy, internal dissent, or lack of leadership, and we would likely witness a disappearing act of every anonymous source living in the Jets’ locker room. What on earth would the mainstream media write about?

 

A Turn On The Jets Eurotrip

A Turn On The Jets goodbye for the next 2 weeks

Starting tonight I will be heading over to Europe until Sunday, May 27th. In the meantime, Chris Gross will be running the site. Stay with us for new content from him, our newest writer Mike Donnelly and Justin Fritze. Make sure you are following all of them on Twitter. I will miss all of you…I won’t miss hearing about what Tim Tebow eats for lunch, what his dog is called or where he is residing in New Jersey.

For now, I will spread the good word of Turn On The Jets to Ireland, Netherlands, and Germany. Where hopefully they will be open to hearing about my confusion over the entire Jets organization verbally assaulting their starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez, while effusively praising their backup quarterback. Along with why it makes little sense to hop on the bandwagon and pick the Buffalo Bills to finish over the New York Jets, since the Jets have owned them the past 3 years and the Bills don’t have a quarterback. Anyway…

I am looking forward to coming back for a strong June and I’m officially handing it off to Chris until then, unlike the Jets backup he is more than capable of running 20 plays per game and can complete a 10 yard out route.

Why Do You Hate The Jets? AFC East Edition

Chris Gross looks at what AFC East teams have the right to run their mouths about the New York Jets

In a new column, Chris Gross will be going through the NFL by division and determining which teams and fan-bases actually have a good claim to hating the New York Jets and running their mouth on the organization and which do not, up first the AFC East –

Since Rex Ryan became Head Coach of the New York Jets, his brash personality has caused his team to become one of the most hated, if not the most hated, teams in professional football. Other than Jets fans, it seems as if everyone who has even the slightest knowledge of the NFL loves nothing more than to see Gang Green face hardships. Mark Sanchez has become the punch line of every joke related to football, as has Santonio Holmes’ personality, Antonio Cromartie’s kids, and Rex Ryan’s weight. People truly love to take shots at the Jets, and will not waste any opportunity to do so.

However, only a handful of teams actually have the right to poke fun at the Jets. Since Ryan took the helm in New York, the team has gone from a mediocre, occasional playoff team, to a serious contender each year, regardless of the abysmal 8-8 performance last season. Rex has let it be known that the Jets will be in contention every single year that he is the head coach, and he has actually lived up to those statements. Although he has yet to deliver on his Super Bowl guarantees, Ryan has put the Jets on the map, and whether or not people like to admit it, they will be in the mix in the AFC each year he remains in charge.

This simple fact surely irks anyone who is not a fan of the Jets. Although his bold predictions haven’t quite come true, the Jets have proved they will compete every year under Ryan. What other first time head coaches have combined with their rookie quarterback to win 4 road playoff games in their first two seasons together?  That’s correct, none. In fact, only a handful of teams have had more success than the Jets in the three years Ryan has been the head coach.

When it comes to hating on the Jets and making jokes about the team’s scarce struggles, there are three basic categories. There are the teams that have absolutely no right whatsoever to engage in such practice, there are teams that historically have been more of a laughing stock than the Jets have ever been, but have earned some recent bragging rights, and then there are teams that do, in fact, have the right to make all the fun of the Jets they want, until they are unseated from such a position. When looking division by division, the list of teams that has no ground to ever breathe a word of negativity about the Jets organization is much larger than the other two categories.

In the coming days, we will give a close examination of each NFL team by division, and place them into one of these three categories. For our inaugural TOJ Why Do You Hate The Jets?, let’s take a look at New York’s very own AFC East.

Just Shut Up:

This section contains the teams that have been inferior to the Jets during the past three seasons. The majority of these teams have also been dominated by New York during that time, and have historically faced much greater hardships then the Jets have had under Ryan.

Buffalo Bills – The self proclaimed “Bills Mafia” that has recently become the favorite to unseat the New England Patriots in the AFC East, while having been handed two victories against the Jets in 2012 already, should take a long hard look in the mirror. Mario Williams has been painted as the “savior” for a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1993. However, Buffalo shelled out 100 million dollars to a player whose sack production has dropped steadily in each of the past 5 seasons. In 2007, Williams tallied 14 sacks, followed by 12, 9, 8.5, and 5 in each of the following seasons, respectively.

Then, there is Stevie Johnson, the Bills supposed marquee offensive playmaker. This is the same guy who was more focused on mocking Plaxico Burress last season, than he was on catching passes. This is the same guy who blamed God for dropping an overtime touchdown pass against Pittsburgh in 2010. Say what you want about Tim Tebow praising God, but there is nothing more ridiculous and childish than a professional athlete publicly blaming his lack of ability on a higher power.

As for the AFC Title Game loss jokes, lets not forget that the Bills are the team that lost in 4 straight Super Bowls. You tell me what hurts worse.

And last, but certainly not least, the Bills have not even appeared in the post season since 1999, when they saw their season end on one of the most hilarious plays in NFL playoff history.

I could certainly go on and talk about how the Bills are 1-5 against the Rex Ryan led Jets, or how Chan Gailey has had a joke of a career as an NFL head coach (28-36 overall record), but the numbers speak for themselves.

Some Room To Talk:

These are the teams that have recently had success against the Jets, earning themselves some bragging rights. However, these teams have also been subpar in the grand scheme of the NFL during that same time period, and although have played the Jets tough, have not even sniffed their overall success.

Miami Dolphins – Much to their credit, the Dolphins took advantage of the Jets’ end of the season meltdown last year, and were able to put the fork in a team that had been done for a month leading into the game. Miami certainly has more room to talk than Buffalo, having actually won the division in 2008, even though they were bounced out of the first round in a dominating performance by the Baltimore Ravens. Miami has consistently been able to challenge the Jets, as Ryan is just 2-4 against the fish. However, the man who led those Dolphins teams to so much success against New York, is now the Jets Offensive Coordinator.

The quarterback situation in Miami is a laughable one. With the quarterback duo of Sanchez and Tebow, the Jets are an easy target for a QB joke, however when a team’s backup quarterback has the same amount of playoff wins as all of another team’s quarterbacks combined, where is the real joke? The Dolphins haven’t had a legitimate threat at quarterback since Dan Marino’s departure, minus the year that ex-Jet Chad Pennington led them to a division title.

Also, who is catching passes in Miami this year? The team traded away the only valuable offensive asset it had in Brandon Marshall this offseason, and did nothing to replace the void left in the receiving core. The Jets may not have the world’s greatest depth at wide receiver, but any of the receivers on New York’s roster would likely be a starter for Miami this season.

Unconditional Bragging Rights

These teams have every right to make any joke they please at the Jets. Other than a few bright spots, they have either repeatedly asserted their dominance over the Jets, or amongst other teams in the NFL during the three years that Ryan has been in New York.

New England Patriots – Jets fans certainly do now want to hear this, but New England has every right to make as many jokes about the Jets as they want. Other than Gang Green’s epic playoff victory in Foxboro during the 2011 playoffs, Bill Belichick has had his way with Rex’s Jets. Posting a 2-4 record against New England since Ryan’s arrival, the Jets have been outscored by the Patriots during that span by a score of 160-98. While the rivalry hasn’t been completely one sided, it has included two blowouts and a sweep last season, not to mention, the Patriots’ Super Bowl appearance last year.

New York has proved that it can challenge New England for the crown in the AFC East, however they need to do it consistently. Until that time, the Patriots, unfortunately, have unconditional bragging rights. Meanwhile, New York can hang onto this in the process of taking the reigns in the division.

Give Me A Controversy: The New York Media’s Love Affair With Tim Tebow

Prepare yourself for five months of positive press on Tim Tebow and negative press on Mark Sanchez

Yesterday the Daily News published an article using New York Jets quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh as the primary source. The article generally portrayed Mark Sanchez in a negative light. Today they also published an article using Cavanaugh as the primary source, this time portraying Tim Tebow in a positive light. Erik Manassy of Jets Twit provides a terrific breakdown of the two articles here.

First off, Cavanaugh made himself look foolish by praising Tebow’s mechanics after criticizing Sanchez’s development, considering he has overseen that very development. It doesn’t take a football savant to see how far Tebow’s mechanics still need to go, so even if Cavanaugh was truly pleased with them it was odd to pair it with the Sanchez criticism.

We already discussed Cavanaugh’s unimpressive resume today at TOJ. He maintained his job this off-season, only after the Jets struck out chasing Todd Haley and Karl Dorrell. It would make sense for him to stay out of the media and focus on developing his starting quarterback primarily, and then his Wildcat/backup.

Yet, what I really want to focus on is the beginning of a trend you will see in the coming months. Manish Mehta of the Daily News has already shown his affinity for anonymous sources ripping Mark Sanchez since the season ended and many of the other beat writers have followed a similar path. The New York media wants a quarterback controversy. It sells newspapers.

Beyond that, they will create caricatures of members of the Jets to help write stories throughout the year. Santonio Holmes, the selfish bogeyman who is the team villain. Mark Sanchez, the fading star who is mentally weak. Tim Tebow, the heroic backup who can do no wrong.

Expect a steady stream of pro-Tebow and anti-Sanchez articles in the coming months. I can promise you a Daily News article this summer quoting unnamed sources that Tebow is outperforming Sanchez in practice and will soon take over as the starter. I can promise if Sanchez has one poor game, there will be rumors from those unnamed sources claiming that Sanchez will be benched or is one bad quarter away from being benched.

Get used to it.