The Importance Of Bringing Shaun Ellis Back

Despite the New York Jets selecting defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round of the NFL Draft and then adding defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis in the third round, it still remains important to bring veteran Shaun Ellis back for the defensive line rotation.

Despite never being a truly great player, Ellis has been a consistently very good defensive end, against both the run and pass for his entire 12 year career with the Jets. We know he still has gas in the tank after the way he dominated the New England Patriots offensive line in the Jets divisional round win last year.

With the NFL having a shortened off-season (and maybe a shortened regular season for that matter), you can’t expect Wilkerson to be ready to step into a starting role from day one. Players like Ropati Pitoitua and Marcus Dixon also haven’t shown enough yet to be considered strong candidates for a starting defensive end spot. It would be beneficial for Wilkerson’s development to spend a year learning from Ellis and coming off the bench before taking over for him full time.

Ellis has spent his entire career with the Jets and is a leader in the locker room. However, that isn’t the primary reason to work something out with him. Ellis is still a productive player at a position the Jets need help at.

You can’t assume a rookie or a player coming off an Achilles injury can start on one of the league’s best defenses, especially after this off-season. Hopefully, Mike Tannenbaum can work out a short term deal with Ellis to ease Wilkerson’s transition to the NFL and give the Jets better depth on their defensive line.

Jets West vs. Camp Eli: How Much Do Off-Season Workouts Matter?

Steve Politi had a funny comparison between Jets West and Camp Eli in today’s Star Ledger. Basically, while the Jets were enjoying the California sun in a highly organized camp, complete with film sessions, guest accommodations, sponsorships, team contests and field trips…the Giants were slumming around Hoboken high school like a touch football team getting ready for an adult league. (Hey, don’t knock those, I play in one. Go Spirits!)

Just about every team around the league is taking part in some organized workout to stay in shape during the lockout. However, how much of a difference will the quality of the off-season workouts make on the 2011 season? The answer is probably not all that much. Even the best run sessions are still lacking enough attendance to adequately replace OTAs…Basically, you won’t be saying the Jets beat the Giants on December 24th because of Jets West.

Yet, that doesn’t mean Mark Sanchez doesn’t deserve credit for putting the camp together. He is a young quarterback cementing his leadership role on his team. Good for him for taking such good care of his teammates. There is no reason to take anything at all away from the Jets camp because it received so much media attention…like most things the Jets do, it deserved it.

Eli Manning isn’t going to lose any of his teammates respect for the lack of effort he put into “Camp Eli,” which was basically walking down the street from his apartment and saying “hey, come meet me here if you can, bring your own water and orange slices.” It is funny to see the differences between the two camps but getting too deep into their impact is only a result of lockout boredom.

New England Patriots: Talking About Not Talking

I noticed just a hint of hypocrisy today when reading an article on both Pro Football Talk and ESPN about how quiet New England is keeping their off-season workouts. Yes, New England tight end Rob Gronkowski bragged to the country’s largest sports media outlet about how the Patriots are “on the down-low” and not seeking the press like “other teams” cough cough, Jets West anybody?

Can we stop with the act that New England never runs their mouth? Let’s not pretend Tom Brady never gestures at opponent’s sidelines or Deion Branch doesn’t cry a river of tears complaining about the Jets celebrating on their field. You can’t brag to the media about not bragging there Gronk.

A Few Comments On Rex Ryan’s New Book

I will have a full review of Rex Ryan’s new book, “Play Like You Mean It” published at Gunaxin in the coming days, yet here are a few quick thoughts and some of my favorite quotes —

– If you are a Jets fan (which I am assuming you are since you are here), you will absolutely enjoy this book. It provides interesting insights into the team over the past two seasons and will make you feel like the Jets may never lose a game again.

– You aren’t going to find a bigger fan of Rex than myself, but this book has  its share of flaws. It jumps around and can be repetitive at times (we get it, you respect Bill Belichick but you didn’t come hear to kiss his rings). Rex’s excessive bravado will make you roll your eyes occasionally, even as a Jets fan or somebody who admires his personality.

– Rex’s love for the game of football and attitude about life really shines through. Say what you want about him but he is a determined, motivated individual who has an ability to inspire people. You will want to work harder at whatever it is you are doing with your life after reading this book.

– The chapter about “Sharing the Big Apple” is going to be printed, copied and hung all over New York City and North Jersey in the weeks leading up to December 24th.

– Rex’s sense of humor about his weight makes the “Let’s Go Have a Snack” chapter one of the book’s best.

– Similar to what I said before, you won’t want another coach leading the Jets in your lifetime after reading this book.

Rex on Jets/Giants

It seems clear that right now we are the better team and we are going to remain the better team for the next 10 years. Whether you like it or not, those are the facts, and that’s what is going to happen…We are going to take over the town whether the Giants like it nor not, so those fans on the fence that like both teams are going to be Jets fans in the end. The truth is, if I am going to watch one game, I am going to see the Jets, without a doubt. We are better.

Rex on food

“I’m huge. I love to eat…I just love tacos. Then there’s pizza and lasagna. Yeah, just pour on the carbs…You start and all of a sudden you forget how much you have pounded down because you’re having such a good time…It’s like at Thanksgiving-I love all that food. You get turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, the cranberry sauce, the corn, then pecan, pumpkin piece, apple pie. Yeah, just line up the pies and keep them coming.”

Rex on Rex

Let me tell you something: Just because I’m a fat guy doesn’t mean you’re going to outwork me. That crap about being lazy? I’ll take on anyone. Don’t worry, I’ll be there to put you to bed every night when you  need to get tucked in.”

The Occasional Idiocy Of New York Sports Journalism

For the most part I enjoy the work of the New York Jets beat writers. In particular, I think both Manish Mehta of The Daily News and Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger work hard to consistently produce unique content. However, I was disappointed to see the back cover on the early edition of the New York Post feature an “exclusive” story on Jets seventh round pick, Scotty McKnight written by long time beat writer Mark Cannizzaro.

Cannizzaro “got” McKnight by obtaining information about when as a 17 year old, McKnight was suspended from school for writing a inappropriate story for his creative writing class. As a bet with a friend, they attempted to come up with the most shocking “Quentin Taratino” like stories. Unfortunately, the teacher perceived these as direct threats to her, even though McKnight has no history of violence and has never been in any type of legal trouble in his life.

This is really headline, front-page news in the New York sports world? If Cannizzaro was interested in tearing down NFL draft picks just days into his career, he could have started with Kenrick Ellis or Bilal Powell who actually have a history of real problems, especially Ellis who is pending trial on an assault charge. Yet, he got his information, probably from a bitter old classmate of McKnight, who openly discussed the incident with the Jets before being drafted, and looked to tear down the kid just days into his NFL career.

New York…where a 17 year old kid writing an inappropriate story five years ago is headline news. Hide your pens and paper tri-state area, Scotty McKnight could be moving to a neighborhood near you. Give me a break. Do your job and go get some inside information on the Jets free agency plans instead of muckraking the past of their players.

New York Jets: Who Is On Thin Ice After Draft?

After seeing how the Jets spent their six draft picks over the weekend, which players from the 2010 team could be on thin ice heading into this upcoming year?

  • Shaun Ellis – Personally, I think it is still a smart move to bring Ellis back as a mentor for Muhammad Wilkerson and because the guy should finish his career where he started it. He is the longest tenured Jet and a respected leader on the team. However, the Jets aren’t going to overpay for him now after spending their first round pick on a defensive end. They could also bring Trevor Pryce back as a cheaper mentoring alternative for Wilkerson.
  • Kris Jenkins – Not that he was likely to be back anyway, but the Kenrick Ellis selection seals his fate.
  • Kellen Clemens – Good as gone.
  • Kevin O’Connell – Will probably be given a chance to compete in training camp with Greg McElroy but unless he blows him away (not likely considering his past few summers) he will join Clemens.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson – Everything we have heard since the draft indicates that he will still be back and it would be the smart move to have him return. The Jets need his leadership, receiving ability, and pass protection. Yet, you have to wonder if Bilal Powell looks good in the pre-season, if the Jets would consider letting him go.
  • Joe McKnight – If he replicates his 2010 summer and Powell is productive, the Jets could part ways with their 4th round draft from last year to make room for their 4th round pick this year.
  • Brad Smith – If Smith is commanding too much money, the Jets have drafted a player with a skill set to be his replacement in Jeremy Kerley. Even if Smith’s contract demands aren’t outrageous, they will have a tough time bringing him back with Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards both looking for new deals.
  • Patrick Turner – Will Sanchez’s old buddy from USC get bumped from the roster by his new buddy on the team, Scotty McKnight?

All About Greg McElroy

A closer look at the Jets seventh round pick, Greg McElroy 

Background– McElroy played his high school football in Texas, where he won a 5A championship as a senior. He actually didn’t start his sophomore or junior year, as he sat behind Chase Daniel. In his one year as a starter, he threw 56 touchdowns to 9 interceptions.

College– McElroy started as a junior at Alabama and helped lead his team to a BCS National Championship, throwing for 2,508 yards and 17 touchdowns, along with a 60.6 completion percentage. In his senior year, he improved to 19 touchdowns and upped his completion percentage to 70.6 percent.

Vitals – 6’2, 222 pounds, scored a 43 out of 50 on the Wonderlic Test.

Position – Most likely he will be the Jets number three quarterback in 2011 and projects as their long term backup for Mark Sanchez.

NFL Comparison – How about a poor man’s Chad Pennington, considering his intelligence and intangibles but lack of ideal physical skills?

Quotable

“I can’t think of a better place to go.  It’s an incredible opportunity to learn from one of the greatest young quarterbacks in the game right now and to also play for one of the greatest coaching staffs.  It’s an incredible tradition and legacy.  I’m proud to be able to continue it and try my best to make the Jets a better organization.

Where He Fits – McElroy will compete with Kevin O’Connell, Drew Willy, and maybe Erik Ainge for the Jets number three quarterback job behind Mark Sanchez and Mark Brunell. I am assuming Kellen Clemens won’t return next year.

Best Case Scenario– He shows promise in the pre-season and easily wins the number three job. McElroy gives the coaching staff enough confidence to make him the number two quarterback heading into 2012.

Worst Case Scenario– McElroy struggles in training camp and is relegated to the practice squad during his rookie year, with O’Connell or somebody else ending up as the number three quarterback.

All About Jeremy Kerley

A closer look at the Jets fifth round pick, Jeremy Kerley

Background – Kerley was a four sport athlete in high school in Hutto, Texas. As a junior, he led his football team to the state championship game as a quarterback. He was recruited to play both baseball and football in college but ultimately decided to stick with football at TCU.

College – Kerley began making his primary impact as a return man during his sophomore year. During his junior and senior year, he became a bigger part of the offense while remaining the team’s primary punt returner. Last season, he finished with 56 receptions for 575 yards, with 10 receiving touchdowns. He also added 97 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, a touchdown pass and 388 punt return yards.

Vitals – 5’10, 189 pounds, ran a 4.56 40 yard dash at the combine.

Position – He will work as a slot receiver in the Jets offense and immediately compete for the primary punt return job, which is wide open this year. The Jets will also likely experiment with him in the Wildcat formation, especially if Brad Smith doesn’t return.

NFL Comparison – Everybody is penciling him in as Brad Smith’s replacement already, although they are very different body types and Smith was a quarterback in college. Kerley should be able to be a more fluid receiver than Smith.

Quotable

“I had a great workout for the Jets when they came down and worked me out,” he said. “Ever since then I’ve thought in the back of my mind, ‘Maybe, somewhere down that line, it could be.’ I’m just glad it was today.”

Where He Fits – Kerley should compete for reps as the Jets number three receiver, especially if either Braylon Edwards or  Santonio Holmes don’t come back, along with Brad Smith likely leaving in free agency. He should also get a shot to be their punt returner and maybe get a few looks on kick return, beyond contributing on the coverage units for Mike Westhoff.

Best Case Scenario – Kerley finds a way to fill the role left by Brad Smith if he isn’t back next year. He becomes a versatile weapon on offense, contributing both as a receiver and a runner. Kerley also works into the rotation of punt returners.

Worst Case Scenario – He struggles to adjust into becoming a slot receiver in the Jets offense and doesn’t get meaningful reps on offense this season. Kerley also loses out on the punt return job.