TOJ Roundtable: This Year’s Breakout Player?

TOJ Roundtable: where a collection of our writers offer a quick opinion on a pressing Jets question of the day.

Who will be this year’s breakout player on the New York Jets?

Joe Caporoso: I have faith in Rex Ryan finding ways to get after the quarterback so when he names a player his “Designated Pass Rusher” as he did yesterday with Jamaal Westerman, I tend think we could see a major leap in production from him this year. The Jets need Westerman to fill Jason Taylor’s role from last year and hopefully at least give them 5-7 sacks and create a few big plays. I think he steps up and becomes a valuable part of their defense after being a special teams player the past two seasons.

Rob Celletti: I don’t want to jinx him, but I’m going to go ahead and say Muhammad Wilkerson.  After the abject failure that was Vernon Gholston, I think the Jets would be very, very careful about speaking too highly of rookie front-7 players.  Considering the heaps of praise from Rex Ryan as well as the New York media in the first few days of camp, early returns on Wilkerson seem to be very good.  The Jets need to find ways other than all-out blitzes to generate a pass rush, so maybe Wilkerson will be the guy to help them achieve that.

TJ Rosenthal: Joe McKnight. We see him as the a Jamaal Charles type. If a game presents itself where there is ground to gain outside, he may break out and become a serious part of the rotation. Another breakout player, Calvin Pace, It’s time. The Jets have waited since he arrived to take over as a pass rushing threat. Now more than ever, the Jets could use one as the defense inches closer towards completion. Pace CAN have that breakout year, provided that he finally can stay healthy over a full season.

Chris Celletti: Is it possible to be one of the highest paid players in the league at your position and be eligible as a breakout player? Well, for Calvin Pace, it is now or never. He’s never had double digits in sacks in his career, and the only area the Jets are really lacking is consistently pressuring the quarterback. Pace needs to be the one doing so and I think (and hope) he will this year. I think in 2011 he finally reaches the double-digit sack plateau.

Miami Dolphins Heading In Wrong Direction, Makes Us Smile

The AFC East will likely end up being a two team race this season between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. For the past couple of seasons the Miami Dolphins have hung around but ultimately flamed out late in the season to finish at 7-9. It would seem this upcoming year they are closer to competing with the Buffalo Bills to stay out of last place than they are at coming near the Patriots or Jets.

Am I aware that the Dolphins have beat the Jets, three out of their last four meetings? Yes, it is one of the ugliest stats of the Rex Ryan era but hey in 2009 Ted Ginn Jr was solely responsible for both Miami wins and the Jets improved to a split last year with him gone. With the direction the Dolphins are moving and the direction the Jets are moving, I am calling for the sweep this year.

What direction is it that Miami is moving in? They flirted with hiring Jim Harbaugh long enough to be their head coach that made it clear they didn’t really want Tony Sparano back, but were then forced to bring him back. They then went on to make the same mistake with the quarterback position by flirting with Kyle Orton long enough to make it clear they weren’t confident in Chad Henne being their quarterback, and now they are stuck with him, as Dolphins fans chant “We Want Orton” everyday at training camp. I suppose they could always turn to Matt Moore, one of the few worse quarterbacking options in the league than Henne.

I can’t say I don’t think Reggie Bush could be a valuable player for them but it sounds like are expecting an awful lot out of a specialty back coming off an injury. They can talk up rookie Daniel Thomas all they want but the bottom line is that he is a rookie who had no work with any of the coaches all off-season up until now.

In the end, this is a positive trend for the Jets to have Miami move closer to being a 5-11 Buffalo type team instead of a team who hovers around .500, especially if the Jets can help our collective sanity by stopping the losses to an inferior Miami team.

They are a team stuck in limbo with a coach they don’t really want or a quarterback they don’t really want, which isn’t how competitive teams are built.

Should Injuries Caused By Lockout Alter Jets Summer Plans?

With the Jets opening camp this week, the question we raise today is should potential injuries due to the lack of organized workouts be enough of a concern that Rex Ryan and company alter the pace of their workout load?

Young players trying to making the team, veterans who are fighting to secure positions, and newcomers trying to impress will have a natural tendency to fire out of the gates in order to make an impression. By easing into contact and pulling everything back just a few notches, maybe the Jets can improve their chances that their star filled team remains healthy heading towards September 11th, when the opener at home against the Cowboys will take place.

We’ve all heard about Mark Sanchez’s “Jets West,” a players only, training session organized by the Jets QB, that sought to keep players accountable and the camaraderie consistent. However, just like nothing beats the experience of games, no unofficial practice will replace the pressure filled ones in training camp. Where watchful eyes grade players on their habits, performance, and demeanor. 

A slow starting gate will occur for clubs who have to fight off the Summer injury bug. One that this season more than ever, may cause a high number of early strains if practice tempos are not adjusted to accomodate the incredible amount of time missed during the offseason by all players in their own practice facilities.

Here’s hoping that the concept of letting players acclimate a bit, before running them out to fight for jobs and positions at full speed, has already been incorporated into the August workout plans of the New York Jets.

NFL Free Agency 2011: New York Jets Moving Forward

Post Nnamdi thoughts —

1. Cornerback – The Jets are pushing hard to get Antonio Cromartie back and it won’t easy as at least three other teams are in the bidding for him. They may be forced to overpay for him, as they are now scrambling to fill the spot opposite Darrelle Revis. They did sign Donald Strickland, who if healthy, can be a good nickel corner. The team has also brought back Eric Smith to compete with Dwight Lowery to start at safety opposite Jim Leonhard. Brodney Pool is a goner from everything we have heard. A backup plan for Cromartie at corner, could be trading for Asante Samuel but he isn’t a great fit for the Jets scheme. Chris Carr could be a cheaper alternative.

2. Wide Receiver – The Jets are apparently in pursuit of Plaxico Burress, who will decide between them and the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are also considering James Jones, with the interest apparently waning in Randy Moss. Personally, I might like the Jones option the best as he offers the most upside and could be a long term answer opposite Santonio Holmes.

3. The Rest – You would think the Jets will have enough cap space to get Shaun Ellis back now. I would also like to see them resign James Ihedigbo.

NFL Free Agency 2011: New York Jets Day Three Primer

And the madness continues…

– The most encouraging thing to start your day: How about this Tweet from Adam Schefter:

Jets are more than $10 million UNDER salary cap, according to two NFL capologists. Might make the Jets the favorite to land Nnamdi Asomugha.”

Mike Tannenbaum how do you do it? If the Jets don’t land Asomugha, you would think they still have a good shot to bring back Antonio Cromartie or at least another veteran to compete with Kyle Wilson like Chris Carr. It seems to sound like Asomugha will reach a decision in the next day or two between the Jets, 49ers, and Texans and after him the rest of the cornerback dominoes will fall.

– The Denver Broncos are reportedly interested in Eric Smith but the Jets are going to make a strong effort to retain him. Drew Coleman is also continuing to receive interest from a handful of other teams. I am surprised we haven’t heard more about Brodney Pool yet.

– Considering Sidney Rice has signed with Seattle and Steve Breaston signed with Kansas City, you have to think a move for Braylon Edwards is coming soon for some team. I wouldn’t completely write the Jets off because if they can’t secure Asomugha, maybe they will look back towards Edwards but it does seem highly unlikely at this point that he will be back.

NFL Free Agency 2011: Departure Of Brad Smith Seems Inevitable

The loss of Brad Smith may be impossible to stop. His mid major level market value, combined with the signing of Santonio Holmes and the chasing down of Nnamdi Asomugha, aside from looking to fill the second WR position, may make the bid to keep Smith a helpless one. This harsh reality will be tough to stomach when simply kickstarting an engine that hasn’t clicked on some Sunday afternoon, becomes the difference between winning and losing. 

The Patriots, Dolphins, Bears and Giants have all been named as teams who have interest Smith. He brings so many intangibles to the table. Teams will pay for that versatility, perhaps with the mindset of expanding Smith’s role on their club. A chameleon type presence that includes big kickoff returns, long clutch runs from the line of scrimmage out of the Wildcat, the ability to line up at QB, and a penchant for late game changing plays.

There were the big runs against the Bengals to insure a playoff spot on the final night of Giants Stadium. The kickoff return for TD a week prior in Indianapolis that left the Colts and the benched Peyton Manning on the way to a controversial first loss. The opening kickoff return in Pittsburgh in 2010, off of the heels of an embarrassing thrashing in New England and a putrid loss at home to Miami during the stretch run. As well as countless other plays that would breathe life into a lifeless offense, often times while keeping the chains moving.

It would be interesting to hear how other teams who are currently in the market for Smith, envision his role. By making Smith a solid piece, not one that simply enters the fray when push comes to shove, part of the element of surprise and change of pace that Smith brought when he entered situations could disappear. An increase in touches however, could create an increase in the amount of big plays Smith could provide.

Those who shrug off Smith’s imminent exit are only making themselves feel better when they say that Smith’s departure will be “no big loss.” It will be a tremendous loss. Smith changes momentum, makes enormous game changing and even season changing playsHis one of a kind skill set is not replaceable though one player.

His abilities are not the type that can be judged solely off one game either. Only by watching Smith every week, can one begin to understand this player’s impeccable sense of timing, and clutch production for his team.

Smith’s contributions during his time in New York have been remarkable for a player who has yet to own a solidified position on offense or special teams. His departure, especially after crunching the numbers however, seems sadly inevitable.

Follow TJ’s work on Tumblr and Twitter

New York Jets Sign Santonio Holmes To Five Year Deal

The flight boys are still in the building.

The New York Jets have resigned wide receiver Santonio Holmes to a five year deal. According to Adam Schein, Holmes took less money to stay in New York because “he loves the Jets and Mark Sanchez.” It is being reported the contract is 24 million dollars guaranteed. The total value of the contract hasn’t been released yet but it is expected to be around 50 million dollars.

This move is incredibly important to the continued growth of the New York Jets offense. Holmes is a gamebreaker who insures that defenses can’t continually stack the box to stop the Jets running game. He is the type of weapon that can bail Mark Sanchez out of a tough spot and turn a five yard slant route into a 65 yard touchdown.  

We have heard Holmes was the Jets number one priority in free agency and they proved it by signing him so quickly. According to various sources, the Jets will now shift their focus to the cornerback position, which will start with assessing whether they could afford Nnamdi Asomugha. After settling corner either with Asomugha, Antonio Cromartie, or a cheaper veteran option, they will see if they can work something out with Braylon Edwards if he is still available. However, considering how much they just invested in Holmes, it now seems very unlikely that Edwards will be back.

Stay tuned…

Back To Football: Upcoming Week’s Timeline

Here is what to look for…

Today – Free agency list will be distributed and the league will announce that teams can have 90 man rosters for training camp.

Tomorrow – Trades and free agency begin, including team’s having the ability to sign undrafted free agents, their draft picks, their own free agents, and other team’s free agents. Players can enter team facilities.

Wednesday – Some teams begin reporting to training camp.

Thursday – Players can be cut starting at 4 PM.

Friday – Transactions can be filed to the league office and become official starting at 6 PM.

Sunday – Jets expected to report to training camp in Florham Park, New Jersey.

August 15th – Jets open pre-season in Houston on Monday Night Football.

A few other nuggets from around the web

TOJ at Gunaxin with a quick look at what to remember about all 32 teams

Rex Ryan welcomes fans back to football with a short video

Apparently, Rex dropped a gem of a speech to team employees today, where he said “the Giants talk about the past, but the Jets talk about what we’re going to do in the future.”

ESPN Chicago is reporting the Bears are interested in Brad Smith

Let the bidding war for Santonio Holmes begin

Calm Before The Storm: Final Thoughts On Jets Free Agency

I won’t publish a “NFL is Back” post until it becomes official (probably around noon today) with a finalized timeline for the rest of the week. Yet, from everything we are hearing, things are about to start getting nuts…maybe even today. 

A few final thoughts –

1. Wide Receiver – Santonio Holmes remains the Jets top priority but if the Washington Redskins drive the price up to a ridiculous number, Mike Tannenbaum shouldn’t hesitate to move his focus to bringing back Braylon Edwards. The Jets have too many other areas to address to waste resources and time in a bidding war with Daniel Snyder’s endless pockets. If the Jets are going to sign a free agent, I think it ends up being Randy Moss.

2. Secondary – It is worth taking a run at Nnamdi Asomugha, even if it remains a long shot. Antonio Cromartie returning is also starting to seem like a long shot, which means the Jets could have to focus on getting Brodney Pool and Drew Coleman back, along with finding a veteran free agent corner.

3. Offensive Tackle – It sounds like they plan to work something out with Damien Woody but if not Wayne Hunter remains a viable fallback option. The key is making sure at least one of the two is brought back. It would be insane to just hand the job to Vladimir Ducasse without having a veteran to compete with him.

4. Defensive End – Unfortunately, I could see Shaun Ellis being too pricey considering the Jets other concerns. However, Trevor Pryce is a good fallback plan.

5. Other Considerations – Even though I would like to see them add another linebacker, we haven’t heard anything tangible about the Jets having interest in picking up a Matt Roth, Manny Lawson, or Antwan Barnes. Hopefully, they can find some support for the position, especially if Bryan Thomas is forced to be a cap casualty.

A Midsummer Guess At The New York Jets Depth Chart

Over at ESPN, Rich Cimini posted the New York Jets current depth chart, which we will be updating throughout free agency here at TOJ. However, it also inspired me to take a midsummer guess at what the final 53 for the Jets will be, even before free agency opens and training camp begins. Crazy, right? Well, we are in the last days of the lockout so might as well get these predictions out there now. Talk it up on the Twitter, Facebook, and yes even the Google+ page —

OFFENSE

  • QB – Mark Sanchez, Mark Brunell, Greg McElroy
  • RB – Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell
  • FB – John Conner
  • WR – Santonio Holmes, Randy Moss, Jerricho Cotchery, Jeremy Kerley, Scotty McKnight
  • TE – Dustin Keller, Matthew Mulligan, Jeff Cumberland
  • LT – D’Brickashaw Ferguson
  • LG – Matt Slauson
  • C – Nick Mangold, Robert Turner
  • RG – Brandon Moore, Marlon Davis
  • RT – Damien Woody, Vladimir Ducasse

DEFENSE

  • DE – Mike DeVito, Trevor Pryce, Muhammad Wilkerson, Ropati Pitoitua, Matt Kroul
  • DT – Sione Pouha, Marcus Dixon, Kenrick Ellis, Martin Tevaseu
  • OLB – Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, Jason Taylor, Jamaal Westerman
  • ILB – David Harris, Bart Scott, Josh Mauga, Brashton Satele
  • CB – Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, Marquice Cole
  • S – Jim Leonhard, Brodney Pool, Dwight Lowery, James Ihedigbo, Emmanuel Cook

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K – Nick Folk
  • P – Steve Weatherford
  • LS – Tanner Purdum

Of course there could and likely will be some UDFAs or low budget free agent signings replacing bottom of the roster players, along with a few other spots being taken up by players we don’t even know are on the Jets radar yet. However, I do think the Jets primary focus will be maintaining their own players instead of shopping in free agency or looking for the trades. I am probably being a touch on the optimistic side by thinking Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, and Brodney Pool will all be back but why not have faith in Mike Tannenabum at this point?