New York Jets: Six Pack Of Special Teams Observations

Six observations about the New York Jets special teams

The New York Jets special teams in 2011 was a roller coaster. They were either returning kicks for a touchdown or muffing punt after punt. Overall, it is fair to classify last season’s performance as disappointing considering the normal high standard of performance set by Mike Westhoff’s units. Considering his body of work, it is reasonable to expect a bounceback year from a group that has potential to be one of the league’s best.

1. Kicker vs. Kicker – The kicking battle between Josh Brown and Nick Folk should be closer than most people expect. Everybody seems ready to hand the job to Brown, which is understandable considering Folk’s inconsistencies the past two years. However, there was a reason Brown was a free agent this year. He is coming off a very average season and has been primarily kicking in a dome the past 4 years. Brown certainly has the ability to beat Folk out but don’t necessarily expect him to run away with the job.

2. Be The Best – In Westhoff’s scheme, there is no reason Joe McKnight can’t be one of the best, if not the best kick returner in the NFL. He has the needed speed and vision, demonstrated by his four returns of over 40 yards last year and his 31.6 average per kick return. McKnight now has a full year under his belt with the job and should only improve because of his experience.

3. Big Play Potential – Look for Jeremy Kerley to be the primary punt returner. If he can curtail his ball security issues, he has the big play potential the Jets have lacked in recent years at punt returner with people like Jim Leonhard and Jerricho Cotchery deep. Unfortunately, without Leonhard on the team who Rex Ryan always claimed “could catch the ball in a Hurricane,” the Jets need Kerley to also become reliable when catching punts near the end-zone and in poor weather conditions.

4. Open For Business – I wouldn’t be surprised if TJ Conley wasn’t the Jets opening day punter. Look for the Jets to bring in more competition for him throughout training camp. Conley was average at best last year. Beyond that, the Jets need a punter who can run the option with personal protector Tim Tebow, no?

5. Coverage – The Jets missed Brad Smith, Drew Coleman, and Lance Laury on their coverage units last year. This season they will need players like Ellis Lankster, Josh Mauga and rookies Demario Davis, Josh Bush, and Antonio Allen to step up.

6. Tebow’s Here – A random Tebow anecdote. When I was in college, we heard a story that whenever Tebow walked into a class at Florida, he would motion his arms into a “T” and go “Tebow’s Here!” It became an ongoing joke on our football team, long before “Tebowing” became all the rage. While TOJ is the self-proclaimed most Pro-Sanchez site on the Internet, I did take the time to drop a Tebow outside the Bruce Springsteen concert I just attended in Germany to see how many people would recognize what I was doing…not many did.

Anyway, I don’t think people should get too carried away with Tebow’s special teams involvement. Will there be a fake or two throughout the season? Yes but don’t expect the Jets to breaking out fake punts or field goals every other attempt.

TOJ New York Jets Beat Writer Power Rankings – June 6th

Turn On The Jets weekly ranking of the beat writers who cover the New York Jets

Welcome to Turn On The Jets weekly ranking of the New York Jets beat writers, which will be compiled every Wednesday by myself, Chris Gross, and Mike Donnelly. These rankings are based on our composite votes and each of us will take two different writers to explain their position. As always feel free to agree or disagree here on the site, our Facebook Page or on Twitter

1. Jenny Vrentas, The Star LedgerVrentas was the consensus number one pick for all three of us. She puts out consistently high quality content, doesn’t look to sensationalize negative stories about specific players, and digs deeper for interesting angles the other writers ignore. A perfect example was from OTAs last week, Vrentas noted that Demario Davis was working with the first team sub defense, which was a great nugget of information gleamed over by the other beat writers. Her piece featuring Dustin Keller talking about the Jets offensive identity was another interesting angle from her recent work. Vrentas is a strong writer, although we’d like to see more interaction from her on Twitter with fans. The fact that she doesn’t use Sulia is also a big plus. – Joe Caporoso

2. Rich Cimini, ESPN – Cimini generally does a very good job of covering the New York Jets, and is personally one of my favorite beat writers. He consistently keeps his coverage on point, up to date, and relevant. He usually keeps his columns creative, particularly his “Sunday Notes,” and more recently his “Take Five.” Cimini does a good job of using the resources he has at ESPN to provide quality, well-researched analysis, and typically stays engaged with his Twitter followers and readers as displayed by the replies shown on his timeline, and particularly the Jets chat that he holds on ESPNNEWYORK.com.

What keeps Cimini from the top ranking for the inaugural week is his habit of sensationalizing any negative stories revolving around the Jets. If there is a rocky situation, Rich tends to blow it even more out of proportion. For instance, he repeatedly made note of Santonio Holmes’s absence from OTAs, while seemingly poking fun at the fact that he was visiting injured US Troops in Germany via twitter.

He also loves the Tebow drama, but he cannot be faulted for this in these rankings because so does just about every other Jets beat writer. Drama is what sells, and in Cimini’s defense, he usually doesn’t let that get in the way of his analysis, with some exceptions. – Chris Gross

3. Manish Mehta, The Daily News–  Manish took over the Daily News beat from Rich Cimini a little over two years ago, and has become one of the most prolific writers on the Jets beat, as evidenced by his over 30,000 Twitter followers. When Manish took over, he was like a breath of fresh air for Jets fans, and it seemed like he really connected with his audience. He churned out great articles and feature columns like they were going out of style (Which technically they kind of were, since he works for a newspaper and all.. maybe not the best choice of words there). He quickly earned himself many fans with his excellent writing and great information, and I was one of the biggest–until about 6 months ago.

Perhaps fueled by seeing fellow AFC East beat writers like Ian Rappaport and Jeff Darlington receive “promotions” to the national scene for NFL Network, it seemed as though our boy Manish wanted in on the action and decided the easiest way to do so would be to create controversy. And so shortly after the 2011 season ended, that’s what we got: We got harsh articles on players like Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez with sensationalistic headlines. We got anonymous quotes–A LOT of anonymous quotes–that always seemed a little too perfect and wrapped his controversial stories up in nice little bows. It got to the point I jokingly started referring to him as Scott Templeton, which you Wire fans out there will know is no compliment. More recently, he was one of the main conductors of the Tebow Hype Train, and seemingly couldn’t wait to force Mark Sanchez out of town. He even resorted to charting every single pass thrown by the two at OTA’s in MAY, four full months before the season. It was a far cry from the thoughtful and well-written articles I came to love reading two years ago.

Other random critiques of Manish that we’ve heard from many anonymous sources (see, I can do it, too) are that he doesn’t interact with his Jets fans enough on Twitter, unless of course he’s sending them condescending DM’s as seen below so nobody can see how salty he’s being. (Sorry, Manish, but you don’t need Jets credentials to write about the team.) Also, it’s worth mentioning that he’s gone way overboard with this annoying Sulia stuff on Twitter, which is something that should be outlawed. It may seem like I’m being hard on Manish or that I dislike him. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I actually like him and his work very much, and if I’m hard on him, it’s because I’ve seen what he can do on the Jets beat, and I wish we saw more of that guy. Come back, Manish. We’ve missed you. Your spot at #1 can be reclaimed. – Mike Donnelly

4. Jane McManus, ESPNMcManus covers both the Jets and Giants for ESPN and has been a strong writer in the New York market since she started out in 1998. It is hard to put her higher on the list because she simply doesn’t put out the same volume of content as others ahead of her, however she has a unique, engaging writing style and is an entertaining follow on Twitter. She doesn’t use Sulia, which we love and knows how to handle an angry Bart Scott. It would be nice to see less Tebow talk from her and more content on other aspects of the team.  – Joe Caporoso

5. Brian Costello, New York Post–  Brian Coz, as he’s known on Twitter, is a guy I’ve read in the Post for a while now, but only recently started following on Twitter. I’ve always enjoyed his writing and think his columns are enjoyable and good reading for Jets fans. He doesn’t try to create controversy or sensationalize headlines to get attention. He just reports on and writes what he sees.

That being said, Costello has a tendency to be a little bit bland with his columns. He seems to write on the same topics all the other reporters do on a given day and never really goes “outside the box”. By that, I mean I never really get the feeling something is MUST-SEE, to the point I feel like I have to go and post it on a Jets message board immediately to get the reaction of fellow Jets fans. It’s more like bathroom reading that’s used to kill a few minutes–not that there’s anything wrong with that. Also, his Twitter account leaves something to be desired. There are not that many tweets, there’s not much breaking news or info, and he doesn’t interact with fans much. Again, I like Brian Costello, and I’m going to be paying closer attention in the coming weeks, hoping we can move him up this list. – Mike Donnelly

6. Kimberly Martin, NewsdayMartin has certainly shown some promise in the early stages of her career as a Jets beat writer. According to her Newsday bio, the National Association of Black Journalists named Martin the 2011 Emerging Journalist of the Year. While she certainly has credentials, and has displayed some promising work, there is not quite enough of a sample of that work to rank her ahead of the first five. As the season unfolds, though, she could easily move up the rankings.

Since we don’t have enough material from Martin to give her a fair analysis yet, this week’s honorable mention for the absolute bottom of the barrel of Jets writers goes to ESPN AFC East Blogger James Walker. Although he certainly likes to bury the Jets every chance he gets, as he displayed by ranking Matt Moore above Mark Sanchez in his AFC East QB rankings last week, Walker earns a bit of a pass here for his most recent article defending Sanchez. If not for this article, which is the first coherent, intelligent analysis I’ve truly seen him give, I would have used this as a forum to bash Walker for his repeated use of minute points and incoherent analysis.

Take his AFC East QB rankings for example. Walker defers to the “Sanchez-Fitz-Moore Watch” as the measuring system used to determine who is the number two quarterback behind Tom Brady in the division. However, when digging deeper into this, Walker’s system goes back to week one of last season when it was initially the “Sanchez-Henne-Fitz Watch.” Walker explains that the column will be a scorecard held throughout the season to determine who deserves to be recognized as the East’s second best quarterback. What credentials does he use in his evaluation you ask? To answer, we have a quote from the first ever edition of the column:

“ Each week, the AFC East blog will keep an updated scorecard on the three quarterbacks, grade each performance on a variety of factors, and determine who’s better at the end of the season.” – James Walker, AFC East Blog, 9/14/11

That’s it. No explanation of what the “variety of factors” is, just simply a “variety of factors.” This leaves his analysis far too open ended, as these factors could vary week to week based on how Walker is feeling. By not clearly stating what he is using in his evaluation process, Walker is ultimately giving himself the ability to rank the quarterbacks on his opinion, since there is no accountability without a clearly defined “variety of factors.” So, Walker claims to have put Moore ahead of Sanchez “fair and square,” but it seems as if his idea of that is based on whom he prefers. I’d love to be proved wrong on this, but unfortunately, the print doesn’t lie.

So, now you have Matt Moore ranked ahead of Mark Sanchez by Walker, who then goes on to praise Sanchez in a defense article noting his ability to play big in big spots, and his habitual winning, less than a week later. A bit contradictory if you ask me. Perhaps Walker smartened up and actually did some research on this one. For that, JW gets a slight pass, but it will be a long season, and he is sure to cause some rumblings in these rankings again.

Still, Walker is not completely off the hook just yet. As pointed out by our good friend Kristine Reese, James is the biggest proponent of retweeting himself on twitter, which would be the equivalent to him “liking” his own status on Facebook. It is simply just not in good taste. Retweeting yourself is a no-no. Get it together James. – Chris Gross

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch: Jets, NBA, Mets, and Mad Men

Mike Donnelly gives us his weekly Stock Watch. Who is he buying and selling this week?

Mike Donnelly is back with his weekly Stock Watch, which will be published every Tuesday throughout the summer. Check back in tomorrow for our first edition of Jets Beat Writers Power Rankings – JC 

Just as with the initial Jets Edition of the Stock Watch, we’re going to be buying and selling individual players, teams, coaches, ideas, and whatever else we see fit based on their future prospects. We’re going to be doing this with our fake money in our fantasy land where these things can be bought and sold, so bear with me. And as always, feel free to contact me via Twitter @TheMikeDonnelly . Now let’s do some buying and selling…

BUY

Jets West – If I had the opportunity to buy some stock in Jets West 2012, I’d load up. It got plenty of attention the past two years with Mark Sanchez bringing his teammates out west for some good old fashioned team-building without coach supervision, but this year TEBOW(!!!) is involved! And as we all know, when Tebow is involved, things get out of control pretty quickly. Look for Jets West to be featured non-stop on television and talked about endlessly on Twitter. Of course, the story SHOULD be how Mark Sanchez is the undisputed leader of the team and has the respect of his offensive teammates, but Tebow’s mere presence will not allow for that. I’m amazed that a Jets player planning to attend Jets practices could be such a big story, but evidently it is.

On the bright side, I’m starting to think that in a roundabout way all of this nonsense is going to be very beneficial for Sanchez, and he’s going to come out playing with some serious fire this season. Plus, getting new receivers Stephen Hill and Chaz Schilens out west along with slot man Jeremy Kerley, and the formerly disgruntled Schottenheimer-hater, Santonio Holmes, should allow Sanchez to get comfortable with his receiving corps. And as we all know, that was not a luxury he was afforded last year with all the comings and goings, like the foolish swapping of Edwards and Cotchery for Mason and Plaxico. Which brings me to..

Mark Sanchez – Get used to seeing him here in the Buy section. With Brian Schottenheimer’s dismissal and the addition of a true deep threat in Stephen Hill, I’m expecting big things from the Sanchize this year. Remember all those fake shares you bought after last week’s column? Let’s add a few more to it.

The Mets Pitching Staff – This is strictly limited to the Starting pitchers, because watching their bullpen makes me feel like I just saw a puppy get hit by a car, but wow, what a week for the Mets. Between Johan Santana’s no-hitter, R.A. Dickey’s shutout, and Jon Niese’s near-shutout, the Mets announced themselves as serious contenders in the NL as long as the rotation remains in tact (which all Mets fans know is nearly impossible, given their incompetent medical staff, but still..). Throw in big time prospects Zach Wheeler, Matt Harvey, and to a lesser extent Jenrry Mejia, and the Mets are shockingly putting together a potentially dominant pitching staff. Let’s add some Mets stock to our portfolio and pray Johan’s arm doesn’t fall off in the next few weeks.

Rajon Rondo – Anybody watching the NBA Playoffs knows what a joy Rondo has been to watch these past few weeks. He’s playing absolutely out of his mind, and even better, he keeps taking hilarious shots at the Miami Floppers–err, I mean the Heat–through the media. Keep up the great work, Rondo! I’m buying.

The 46 Defense – After basically being wiped out of NFL playbooks for the past two decades, Rex Ryan and the Jets are bringing back the 46 defense in a big way this year. With the additions of Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, Laron Landry, and Yeremiah Bell, Rex Ryan has added a lot of the pieces he thinks are necessary to replicate his father’s famous dominant defenses in Chicago. In addition, he brought in widely respected defensive line coach Karl Dunbar to work with Coples, Mo Wilkerson, Aaron Maybin and the rest of the defensive front on their pass rushing technique. Look for all these moves to pay major dividends this year and other teams to follow suit. After all, the NFL is a copycat league, and you can expect to hear plenty about the 46 defense going forward.

Michael Ginsberg – No, this is not a new addition to the Jets defense or something like that, but all my fellow Mad Men fans know who I mean. With Peggy off finding out if the grass truly is greener on the other side, and Don desperately looking to go after the big fish, he needs Ginsberg more than ever–and to make matters worse for Don, Ginsberg knows it, too. Mr. Draper has started to realize he’s slightly out of touch and the 60‘s are passing him by, while Ginsberg has the new “cool” ideas the company needs. I’d load up on Ginsberg stock; he’s on the fast track.

SELL

Lane Pryce – Allow me one more Mad Men thought here, and please, stop reading if you haven’t seen this week’s episode, because I’m going to spoil it for you. Seriously, you’ve been warned! Last chance. Ok.. This one is pretty obvious, but it’s pretty safe to unload all your Lane Pryce stock at this point after he totally bottomed out this week and committed suicide. We saw this one coming all season, but man, how depressing was it that poor Lane couldn’t even kill himself right? His brand new Jaguar wouldn’t start, so he had to resort to sadly hanging himself in his office, next to his New York Mets pennant. The poor guy could never quite catch a break. Ok, that’s the end of my Mad Men ranting for the week. Let’s move on..

Plaxico Burress – Oh, what’s that? Plaxico hasn’t even gotten a sniff in free agency this year? Wow, I am completely shocked that a receiver who can’t run, can’t get down the field, and can’t separate from cornerbacks hasn’t been scooped up. Plaxico hamstrung Mark Sanchez and this offense last year far more than Jets fans realized. I think it may be all over for Mr. Burress. Plaxico stock is a dud.

Justin Blackmon and Jaguars Fans (all 18 of them) – I have no sympathy for Blackmon, who is a total idiot, but I feel bad for the fans. Just when they thought they had a good receiver for the first time since Jimmy Smith, it turns out he’s a complete moron and likes driving around completely hammered at 3am. Great. He deserves to be punished for this, especially since it’s his second offense. And he will, but man oh man, that is not the way for your first round pick to start his career. I wouldn’t invest in this situation.

NBA Officials – It doesn’t get much worse than the performance the NBA Officials have put on as a whole in these playoffs. Whether it’s just awful calls or flat out rigging the games, these playoffs have been especially painful to watch. It’s gotten so bad that I have pretty much waited until a few minutes into the game to see which team the refs are favoring, then root for the underdog playing 5 against 8.

Quinton Coples Critics/Bashers – It was a popular thing to say during the draft process that Quinton Coples was a “boom or bust” player with questionable work ethic. Well I firmly believe Coples is going to make all of those people eat their words. It’s only June, but all reports out of Jets camp are that Coples is the real deal, and he’s going to be a terrific fit in this attacking style defense. He’s got all the tools, and he’s going to have some of the best defensive coaching in the NFL between Rex Ryan and assistant Karl Dunbar. All the people who bashed Coples will have changed their tune by the end of 2012.

New York Jets: The Other Off-Season Of Santonio Holmes

Regardless of the New York media’s portrayal, Santonio Holmes had an off-season to be proud of

The media that covers the New York Jets has come up with a few consistent narratives heading into the 2012 NFL season. One of them is building up Tim Tebow’s work ethic and viability as a starting quarterback while simultaneously questioning the same attributes in Mark Sanchez. Quarterback controversies sell. The potential of a Darelle Revis holdout is another one, even though the topic was initially broached by reporters not by a comment from Revis or the team. Finally, Santonio Holmes remains the aloof team villain.

Whether it is the Daily News misconstruing quotes from him or anonymous sources or Rich Cimini commenting during last week’s OTAs “Holmes still in Germany, according to team. Long trip. Maybe he’s looking for Berlin Wall.” when Holmes missed a voluntary practice to visit with American troops abroad, he remains the team’s bogeyman. It is laughable when the reporters characterize his answers to their questions as “testy.” Gee, I wonder why? Maybe he sees what is written about him and is exhausted of the constant questioning of him being the sole reason for the team’s struggles last year.

Let’s give a quick review of what we know Santonio Holmes did this off-season –

1. He worked out in Florida with his strength and conditioning coach, during a time of the year that many NFL players are taking a vacation.

2. He spent 2 weeks in Africa with the Pros for Africa organization visiting with and helping impoverished children throughout the continent.

3. He met with quarterback Mark Sanchez for a few days in Florida to smooth over any differences they had last season.

4. He visited ill and injured troops at USO locations in Germany.

5. He organized a bowling event to raise money for Sickle Cell research.

6. He is working with the F.I.N.E.S.S.E. Foundation Football Camp by sponsoring five kids to attend.

All the positive work that Holmes is doing doesn’t fit in the media’s narrative of him, so it doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. Instead he gets a headline on the Daily News saying “Give Me The Damn Ball!” when the quote was pulled from an anonymous source and not from him…then people like Manish Mehta wonder why they get “testy” answers from him in press conferences.

I am not saying Holmes hasn’t made mistakes on and off the field throughout his NFL career, but who hasn’t? I do know he is far from the villain that the media makes him out to be.

 

Jets West Camp Is About Sanchez, Not Tebow

The buzz surrounding Jets West Camp should be about Mark Sanchez’s leadership, not Tim Tebow’s attendance

For the third straight year, Mark Sanchez and his family will be hosting a collection of New York Jets offensive players for “Jets West” Camp. It has become a yearly tradition for Sanchez to gather his teammates in the weeks leading up training camp to review the offense, hold practices and spend roughly a week together. He organizes the whole thing, takes care of the scheduling and accommodations, along with extending invites to all the team’s skill position players.

Things like Jets West were part of the reason it was laughable when anonymous sources questioned Sanchez’s work ethic and leadership. Since day one of joining the team, Sanchez has reportedly been the first one in the building and the last one out. Recently, newly hired offensive coordinator noted that he has been the team’s hardest worker on offense and has mastered the offense in the classroom already.

Of course, the primary story being written about Jets West this year is that backup quarterback Tim Tebow will be in attendance. Why wouldn’t he be? Greg McElroy will be there and Tebow should be too. The narrative about Jets West Camp should be about Sanchez’s leadership, not Tebow’s attendance. Yet, in what should be an ongoing theme leading up to the regular season, Tebow is again being spotlighted over Sanchez.

This year’s camp will be a chance for Sanchez to further instruct his teammates on Sparano’s offense, which he began learning well before anybody else on the team when he went out of his way to train with Chad Pennington. Yes, the lazy Sanchez tracked Pennington down on his own and took multiple trips down to Florida to learn his new offense before OTAs began. His early knowledge will pay off in a situation like Jets West, where he could instruct his fellow skill position players and work towards developing chemistry with them.

Since the Jets season went down in flames, Sanchez has done all the right things. Hosting Jets West is just another one of them that will help pay dividends in September.

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack: Reasons For Optimism

The Turn On The Jets 12 pack looks at reasons to be optimistic for the upcoming season

Inspired by our good friend Jeff Capellini’s article this week, we have decided to go optimistic on the 12 pack this weekend. Yes, I know some of you have been frustrated by my questioning of the Tebow trade and the Coples selection, but hey I don’t hand out effervescent praise for transactions that I think deserve questioning. That being said, let’s look at 12 reasons to be optimistic for the upcoming New York Jets season

1. Sparano > Schotty – There isn’t an easier person to replace to New York Jets fans than Brian Schottenheimer, Sparano was beloved the second he came in the door simply because he wasn’t Schottenheimer. Shockingly, we are exhausted of consistent mediocrity, confused game plans and 67 ‘effin dropbacks against the Giants pass rush. Yet, let’s give Sparano more credit than just not being Schotty. He has brought a needed energy and discipline to the offense. He won’t stray from the Ground and Pound approach Rex Ryan wants in place but also won’t be shy to take his shots down the field. Expect an improved Jets offense in 2012.

2. Needed Speed – If there is one thing the Jets added through the draft, it was speed. Quinton Coples gives them a defensive lineman, who unlike every other one on the roster, can get after the quarterback. Stephen Hill gives them a wide receiver, who unlike every other one on the roster, can take the top off a defense. Demario Davis gives them a linebacker, who unlike every other one on the roster, can run with a tight end.

3. Measured Improvement – Despite lacking a proven free safety, which is an issue. The safety collection of LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Eric Smith, Josh Bush and Antonio Allen will be better than Eric Smith, Jim Leonhard, and Brodney Pool were last year.

4. He Can Do Some Things – Tim Tebow isn’t anywhere near the quarterback Mark Sanchez is but he will bring a new dimension to the Jets offense, particularly in short yardage situations. His presence will improve the Jets rushing game and add a dynamic element to their offense which it sorely lacked last year.

5. Versatile Dunbar – The New York Jets are going to be more versatile on defense this season, with a better ability to bounce between a 3-4, 4-3 and 46 and the addition of defensive line coach Karl Dunbar will only help that process. Keep an eye on Muhammad Wilkerson in year two, who is coming off a quietly strong rookie year. If Wilkerson keeps improving and Coples turns into boom instead of bust, the Jets will have a serious presence up front surrounding proven nose tackle Sione Pouha.

6. Bounce Back – Credit the coaching staff and Bart Scott for both recognizing his need to drop weight in order to remain effective on defense. Scott can’t be any worse than he was last season and should still be able to be the effective 2 down linebacker he was in 2009 and 2010. Also look for an improved year from D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who is simply too talented to have back to back down years. Finally, watch out for Santonio Holmes this year. No matter how much the New York media disparages him, the guy can play football.

7. Other Year 2 Leaps – Outside of Muhammad Wilkerson, Jeremy Kerley will be a year better and has the talent to be every bit the slot receiver Davone Bess was in Miami under Tony Sparano. I also count this year as Joe McKnight’s second season since he basically redshirted his rookie year in an out of shape daze. Hopefully Sparano uses McKnight in a similar way to how he used Reggie Bush last year.

8. Mayhem – Aaron Maybin has now had a full off-season to work with the coaching staff and master the Jets defense. He racked up 6 sacks in 13 games last season, let’s see what he can do with a full 16.

9. Great is Great – Contrary to some, I believe Darrelle Revis will be on the field week 1 against Buffalo. Revis, Nick Mangold, and David Harris are still elite football players in the prime of their career.

10. Learn From Your Mistakes – In the long run, last season could have been the best thing that happened to Rex Ryan’s coaching career. He learned valuable lessons about keeping the pulse of his team, keeping his mouth shut in certain circumstances, and becoming more hands on in certain situations.

11. Still #6 – You may not find a more Pro-Sanchez Jets site than TOJ and we remain confident that despite the mainstream media’s desire to start up a quarterback controversy and the amateur psychoanalysis that constantly goes on of Sanchez, that he will play very well this season and solidify himself as the team’s long term answer at quarterback.

12. Your Weekly TOJ Schedule – Ok, not related to the team but about the site in the coming weeks leading up to training camp, keep an eye out for

  • Tuesday – Stock Watch by Mike Donnelly
  • Wednesday – Beat Writer Power Rankings
  • Thursday – Fact or False by Chris Gross
  • Friday – 12 Pack by yours truly

Enjoy the weekend…

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.