No Huddle – Austin Howard and New York Jets Injury Woes

TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle to break down what we saw from the New York Jets in their 3rd pre-season game

Better. Yes, things were better last night. Nobody wearing Green and White Tebowed in the end zone but the Jets looked more like an NFL team last night. A team that could grow into something with more work and some additional pieces collected along the way.

1 -Way To Go Austin Howard

The best thing to come out of Sunday night was the play of Austin Howard. The new Jets right tackle should have silenced fears about a leaky offensive line thanks to his consistent play throughout. It was so nice to see Mark Sanchez sit comfortably with time in the pocket to throw. The results were clear as completions were made, and chains moved for the first time all summer.

2 – August Injuries Are Never A Good Topic

Now the worst thing to come out of the game. The injuries. First Dustin Keller went down in what we initially joked was an injury that came from being shocked that a ball was thrown to him. Then it was David Harris and finally Josh Baker, who sustained what appeared to be the worst of all the car crashes.

The Jets can ill afford to lose anyone for any amount of time right now. With Keller and Baker banged up, the Jets will have to go to the free agent market and pick up a tight end. Hayden Smith is just not ready for the role and Jeff Cumberland? We can’t figure that guy out. We hope the answer is yes to the FA market notion, and that Tim Tebow WON’T be given a job he’s never had with two weeks until week one.

Jeremy Shockey anyone?

3 – Still No Touchdowns Yet

The Jets STILL haven’t scored  TD in 2012. Maybe the Wildcat and Tebow might have helped last night but we will focus here on the passing game near the goal line for now.

Sanchez was solid Sunday night. In fact, thanks to his protection holding up, we were all able to finally assess the WR corps. The answer? There is not enough there right now in our estimation. Especially as the Jets move towards the doorstep of paydirt. We recognize that Santonio Holmes may have had a TD had he held on to a seam pass but hey, that’s what happens when you miss time due to injury. The timing is off.

Stephen Hill caught some balls but seems confused as to what to do after the catch. More telling, Hill  reacted to late to a high end zone throw that Plaxico Burress would’ve grabbed easily.

So why not bring back the red zone killer?

This reliance on Hill to lock down WR2 may bite the Jets in the first half of the season. Instead, the Jets ought to sign Plax so they can SURVIVE the first half, as Hill grows into whatever he will grow into this year.

Security. Insurance. Quality play inside the 20. Do it. If not Burress, then at least someone else please.

4 – De-Fense!

The Jets defense did what it will have to do through October. It took it to the other team’s offense. Cam Newton was poised to get rolling but didn’t. Kenrick Ellis, Quinton Coples. In fact the entire defensive line helped make sure that Newton would be pressured and that the Panther run game couldn’t get into gear.

The score was 10-9 Carolina at halftime and that’s what games will have to look like, in order for the Jets to be in position to win them until the offense can show more. Great job by a unit that looked like a real top 5 unit and reminded us of the early Rex Ryan defenses in 2009.

5 – What’s the Prognosis Doctor?

Well, the play of the defense last night now makes us feel better about September. The play of the offense gave us a glimmer of hope that by October, they won’t need to be carried every Sunday. Mark Sanchez showed us that he can make throws given the time. The lack of touchdowns though means that the Jets are still short on playmakers who must be found elsewhere or be made to step up from within. Can Greene Holmes and Keller drive the unit downfield? It’s up to them. They are the big three as of now.

As for special teams and unique players, Tim Tebow is still an unknown as far as what he will bring to the table and that’s not a bad thing. The kicking game appears solid and so does the return game with Joe McKnight. In sum, the Carolina game provided enough to have us now move back off from the ledge. To feel as though this is a playoff bound team however, we need to see more.

Right now the Jets are an AFC bubble team, but the potential is there in many areas for that to change for the better.

New York Jets Bench Wayne Hunter

The New York Jets have benched right tackle Wayne Hunter

In a move that was long overdue…as in it should have done after the first play of the 2011 regular season, New York Jets right tackle Wayne Hunter has been benched. His replacement for the time being will be Austin Howard, who started the Jets first pre-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Howard was an undrafted free agent in 2010 who has spent time on the Eagles and Ravens practice squad. The best thing to say about Howard is that he cannot be worse than Wayne Hunter, it is physically impossible.

ESPN’s Rich CImini is reporting that the Jets remain in the trade market for a starting right tackle despite Howard’s promotion. The team will likely evaluate how he performs against Carolina on Sunday with the starters before deciding to pull the trigger on any move. At this point, it will not be easy to acquire a capable starting lineman.

Ultimately guaranteeing Hunter’s contract this off-season will go down as one of the worst moves in Mike Tannenbaum’s career as the Jets GM. It was indefensible considering his play last season and the plethora of options on the free agent market at right tackle this off-season. The Jets cannot cut Hunter at this point without taking a substantial hit to their cap and are desperately still looking for a starter with the season only a couple of weeks away.

You hate to have this type of instability on the offensive side of the football so close to the season.

I hope offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo is avoiding his office in the coming days…

New York Jets Defense Must Start Season On Fire

The New York Jets defense needs to take advantage of their early season opponents

The New York Jets are going to struggle offensively this season. Even if they aren’t as bad as many project them to be after a pathetic start to the pre-season, this offense isn’t built to consistently score over 20 over points even with improved play. Beyond that, they probably won’t hit their “stride” (whatever that will be this year) until the middle of the season, after all the injured receivers get in sync with Mark Sanchez, everybody becomes more comfortable with Tony Sparano’s system and the proper use of Tim Tebow is figured out.

Unfortunately the Jets schedule opens up with their most difficult five game stretch of the season, where they will face three playoff teams from last year and two divisional opponents. If they want to avoid digging themselves into a substantial early season hole, it will be up to the defense to flat out put the team on their back and win a few early season games. A closer look at the schedule, reveals that if this defense is as good as hyped they should start out very strongly.

In week one they face the Buffalo Bulls led by a mediocre quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick at home. Over the past two years, Chan Gailey’s offense is averaging 14 points per game on Rex Ryan’s defense. Buffalo made no major additions to their offense this season, while the Jets added a new pair of starting safeties and a first round defensive lineman. 14 points could very well be all the Jets can afford to give up at the rate their new offense is developing.

At first glance, week two in Pittsburgh appears to be a nightmare early season match-up. However, the Jets defense should actually match-up favorably with their offense. Pittsburgh has questions all over the offensive line, so you would think Ryan and Mike Pettine’s complicated scheme would cause some problems. Pittsburgh’s strength is going vertical with their wide receivers but the Jets are built to cover Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. In their two meetings in 2010, both in Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger’s offense scored 17 points both times (remember one touchdown in the AFC Championship Game was on a fumble return by Pittsburgh’s defense).

The only way Pittsburgh actually hurt the Jets defense that year was with Rashard Mendenhall who had 220 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns over the course of both games. Mendenhall won’t be on the field in week 2 this year as he recovers from an leg injury.

In week three, the Jets face a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehil and a Miami offense that is the only one in the NFL with less depth at wide receiver than their own. In week four they play San Francisco at home. The thought of their defense coming after Mark Sanchez with Wayne Hunter blocking is a nightmare but offensively Alex Smith is Alex Smith and there is no reason to think he will duplicate his consistency from last year. San Francisco improved at receiver this off-season but the Jets are still more than equipped to cover Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham with their trio of cornerbacks.

Finally in week five the Jets face the Houston Texans at home. The Texans are built the way the Jets want to be. They can run the football. They can play defense and they have a vertical passing game. There is every indication that the Jets run defense will be very good this year and it better be on point in week five or Arian Foster and Ben Tate will shred them. Andre Johnson will be checked by Darrelle Revis, like he always is.

Rex Ryan believes the Jets have a top five defense in the NFL. They must be, particularly for the Jets in this early season stretch of games or the start to the season could be very ugly.

Turn On The Jets Beat Writer Rankings 8/8 – NFL Edition

Turn On The Jets beat writer rankings discuss the best and worst NFL writers heading into the 2012 season

This week’s edition of the Turn On The Jets beat writer rankings is going to take a break from our New York counterparts. Today we are going to discuss our favorite and least favorite NFL writers heading into the 2012 season. Enjoy and feel free to add your comments here or on our Facebook Page –

Joe Caporoso

Favorite – Greg Cosell/Mike Mayock/Trent Dilfer – I couldn’t settle on one individual. However, what these three have in common is their dedication to breaking down film and providing fascinating, in-depth Xs and Os analysis. Even in the case of Cosell, whose opinion I frequently disagree with, I respect the way he formulates his arguments and can understand why he has his perspective.

Worst – Mike Lupica – Legitimately can’t stomach even getting through a paragraph of one of his articles at this point. He writes about the Jets as an individual who only receives his information on the team via one of Sal Pal’s updates on ESPN or a Skip Bayless rant on First Take. Lazy garbage. Honorable mention goes to the newest scribe at Pro Football Talk Darin Gantt, who seems as if he was hired specifically to post two articles a day that end with a sentence about what wild soap opera circus the Jets are.

Mike Donnelly

FavoriteBucky Brooks – Going outside the box here perhaps a little with this pick, but Bucky Brooks does a great job and really takes the time to research and understand what he’s writing about before he puts it out there. I was put on to Brooks when he put out an excellent breakdown of the Jets new 46 Defense a few weeks ago, and I’ve been a fan ever sense, and also enjoyed his take on the Jets QB situation through a series of tweets. Unlike most in the national media he didn’t just rehash the same old nonsense and write “Sanchez stinks! Tebow is a winner! Last place!”, and I appreciated the time he clearly put into understanding things before throwing it out there and seeing if it stuck. I’d recommend him on Twitter, and be sure to check out his work.

Worst – (Tie) Evan Silva and Mike Florio – This makes sense considering Silva used to work with Florio on ProFootballTalk.com and they have continued to share the same brain ever since. Florio clearly uses loaded headlines and antagonistic comments to lure in readers, so there’s at least a method to his madness I suppose. That doesn’t excuse the fact he’s basically just a West Virginia lawyer who has a limited understanding of football, but still.

Silva is a homer Patriots fan who hates all things New York, he fancies himself an “expert” and talks about scouting and reviewing film, yet never provides anything worth a damn. He has the Jets ranked as the 27th best team in the NFL (I can’t wait to call him out on that one), and tore apart Shonn Greene’s “game tape” during games where Colin Baxter was the starting Center and the offense couldn’t function. Fair and balanced all the way! And that doesn’t even begin to get into his fantasy football content. I’d rather throw darts at a board than take his advice on which players to start. More on this in the coming weeks, I promise…

Chris Gross

Favorite Adam Schefter – Schefter, to me, is the cream of the crop when it comes to, not only NFL journalists, but to sports journalists in general. He certainly has some great colleagues at ESPN like Chris Mortenson and John Clayton, however, Schefter continuously separates himself from the pack with unbelievable insight. Whether it be analysis or breaking headline stories, there is not a writer in the country that gets after it harder than Schefter. I mean seriously, have you seen ESPN during the NFL Free Agency and Draft periods? I don’t think the man sleeps. Schefter is beyond dedicated to what he does, and you can just feel his passion through his work. He never writes with any bias whatsoever, something so many journalists struggle to do these days. Schefter simply gives honest, coherent, and accurate analysis day in and day out. If you had to compare NFL writers to NFL players, Schefter would be in that elite group similar to Tom Brady, Drew Brees, the Mannings, and Aaron Rodgers. Nobody does it better.

Worst James Walker – This should come as no surprise to anyone who is a regular follower of Turn On The Jets. While I can certainly respect the position Walker is currently in, as I am sure he gives valiant effort to his work, the man simply struggles to publish anything worth reading. From his AFC East Quarterback “ranking” system last year, in which he gave no explanation to how he was really ranking them, to his endless posts preaching the obvious (his most recent about New England RB Stevan Ridley and how he must restrain from fumbling this season to earn playing time), Walker truly struggles to write anything noteworthy. He constantly retweets himself on twitter, something many are still trying to figure out the exact reasoning for, and apparently doesn’t like criticism, as he blocked my twitter account after our initial Beat Writer Power Rankings, where I deemed him “the bottom of the barrel” of NFL journalists. Nothing personal, but JW is easily my least favorite NFL writer.

New York Jets Headline Watch – Santonio Holmes And Two Quarterbacks

A closer look at what Santonio Holmes actually said during his interview on NFL Network last night

Shockingly enough the New York media and the mainstream media will occasionally twist headlines to generate some type of controversy. We will use this series of columns to review what was actually said and whether there is any reason to be up in arms about it. Today’s topic is Santonio Holmes interview on the NFL Network last night –

Here are the headlines that have been generated from that video clip –

This is what Holmes had to say about two quarterback systems in the NFL

No. I don’t think so because you have to allow one quarterback to get into the rhythm of the game. It starts from the preparation in practice, knowing the first couple of plays that he’s going to take these reps. It’s getting a feel for coming onto the field with the crowd awaiting you. It’s the making the mistakes early in the game, to finishing the games at the end. You don’t just change a guy out just because he has a few mistakes early in a game. So I think coming into this season that we have a lot to expect from Sanchez.”

This is what he had to say about Mark Sanchez –

“Sanchez has done everything that he can do to keep his starting spot, and I’m thinking that he’s going to be our guy this season. I’m not saying that with any bit of less confidence than the way I feel about him coming into the season. He’s going to be our guy that we depended on for the past couple of years, and he’s going to get the job done this year.”

So where are the headlines about Santonio Holmes supporting his starting quarterback Mark Sanchez? There shouldn’t be a headline about Holmes making a common sense statement about two quarterback systems not working…they don’t work, they never have worked and they never will work. Holmes is absolutely right in that the Jets shouldn’t pull Sanchez if he has a few early mistakes in the game and gave a strong endorsement of him, which is exactly what you want to hear from your top receiver.

This was a positive interview but positive doesn’t fit the narrative the media has created for Holmes so it is spun into a negative. It is spun into a negative so Tweets like this can be fired out –

Make sure you give my lovely vocal chords a listen as I talked everything Jets last night with All Purpose Roto

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack: What About The Damn Offense?

Friday’s Turn On The Jets 12 pack focuses on the New York Jets offense, how can they improve in 2012?

We have spent a big chunk of the week here focusing on the New York Jets defense, and why not?  They have the potential to be one of the league’s best units. However, it is the other side of the football that needs to see a dramatic improvement from last season. Today’s 12 pack is going to take a closer look at multiple aspects of the Jets offense in 2012. 

Make sure you are following myself, and staff writers Chris Gross and Mike Donnelly on Twitter. Give us a follow on Facebook and check out the new Jets merchandise available from our partners at Gameday Goods. Remember if you type in “TurnOnTheJets” when you check out, you’ll receive a 10% discount. 

I can also now confirm that we have finalized a purchase with Bark Tees New York to bring you an original Jets TOJ t-shirt that we will have for sale on the site in 2 weeks. They did a great job for us…the shirt has boundless amounts of swag and will be a must wear for you this summer. The best part is that I’m overloaded with other Jets merchandise to hand out for free on select days with a purchase of a t-shirt. Signed hats, DVDs, books, pictures and plenty more. So basically I’m going to be hooking you up all summer cause I love every last reader of this site. 

And finally we are going to be welcoming back our good friend from The Jet Report TJ Rosenthal for a weekly article every Monday. So next week, when we publish TJ’s column on Monday, Mike’s Stock Watch on Tuesday, Beat Writer Rankings on Wednesday, Chris’ Fact or False on Thursday and the 12 pack on Friday, who will be rolling with 4 better Jets writers anywhere?

Nobody.

On to the 12 pack…

1. Wayne’s World – The Jets don’t need Wayne Hunter to be an All-Pro. They need him to be competent. They need him to resemble the Wayne Hunter from the end of the 2010 season. If Tony Sparano is smart, he will avoid leaving Hunter on an island in obvious passing situations and roll Sanchez to his left the majority of the time. If Hunter is given the necessary help and this offensive system suits him better, he is salvageable as a starter. He needs to be because Vladimir Ducasse has spent the entire off-season working at left guard and Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis can’t be relied on.

2. Speaking Of Guard – As Mike Donnelly pointed out last week, why is Vlad Ducasse still working as the starting left guard when Matt Slauson claims to be 100 percent healthy? Personally, I think the Jets just wanted to get Vlad as much work as possible and felt no need to rush Slauson back into his old spot. If Brandon Moore ever gets hurt, it isn’t the worst thing in the world to have Slauson get experience at right guard while Ducasse would move left guard. I don’t think Slauson is any danger of losing his position and I don’t think Ducasse has any real chance of starting this season. The Jets are going to look to him as a swing backup off the bench at guard/tackle and an extra tight end for big packages. At this point, if Ducasse can handle that role I’d be satisfied, which is a damn shame for a 2nd round pick.

3. A Signing On The Way – The Jets need Ben Hartsock or a player who resembles him. They missed him badly last season when they made a mistake letting him walk and handing the backup tight end position over to Matthew Mulligan. It is unusual that a team who is going to be so run heavy still lacks a blocking tight end. Jeff Cumberland is a nice receiving option, particularly in the red-zone but he is a basically a taller/slower Dustin Keller. Hayden Smith isn’t going to be ready this season. Do not be surprised to see the Jets consider a player like Daniel Graham who could give them 12-15 plays a game of solid blocking.

4. War Machine – There seems to be a genuine split amongst Jets fans on whether or not Shonn Greene can handle being the “Bell-Cow” back Rex Ryan talks him up as. Greene’s ceiling feels like 275 carries, 1100 yards and 7 touchdowns with a few receptions thrown in. That is okay if the Jets get needed support from Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell, Terrance Ganaway and Tim Tebow. If McKnight is used the proper way and can stay healthy, he has the skill set to be a very good third down back. Tebow will be a major factor in short yardage and near the goal-line, which doesn’t leave much work for Powell (who I could see being cut) or Ganaway. Most disagree but I say protect yourself by signing Cedric Benson or Ryan Grant. If Greene goes down for 4 weeks, do you trust a McKnight/Powell/Ganaway platoon to carry the “Ground and Pound” load?

5. Wide Receiver Rotation – It will be interesting to see how reps and targets shake out. Early reports indicate that Dustin Keller is going to be the featured player in the passing game, maybe even more so than Santonio Holmes. Regardless, I think Holmes will be good for a solid bounce-back season. He won’t put up Pro-Bowl numbers in this offense but the key is making big plays, particularly after the catch and remaining clutch as usual. Opposite him, Stephen Hill will be the de facto starter but if he struggles to stay healthy in camp don’t be surprised to see Chaz Schilens getting a good chunk of reps on the outside. There is no shame in bringing Hill along slowly if Schilens is productive. Both players have the size and speed to stretch the defense and take attention away from Holmes. In the slot, Jeremy Kerley should perform the Davone Bess role from Sparano’s days in Miami and be a major factor on third downs.

6. Really? – Ron Jaworski made a fairly on-point analysis of Mark Sanchez when going through his QB rankings but putting him 23rd in the league? How could you watch film of Sanchez, Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel last year and put Sanchez behind the three of them? Sanchez fits somewhere in the 16-20 range right now. Who would I rate ahead of him right now? Brady. Brees. P. Manning. E. Manning. Rodgers. Big Ben. Rivers. Romo. Vick. Stafford. Newton. Hasselbeck. Schaub. Ryan. Cutler are my top 15 (in no particular order). After that you are looking at a next group of Dalton, Palmer, Flacco, Sanchez and Alex Smith in some type of order. Don’t put Freeman in front of him. Don’t put Bradford in front of him. No Kevin Kolb. No rookies who haven’t played yet. No Jake Locker. No Cassel. Nobody on Jacksonville. Nobody on Seattle. Certainly no Ryan Fitzpatrick or anybody or Miami.

7. Really, Really? – Tim Tebow made the NFL’s Top 100 list and Nick Mangold didn’t? Mangold is the best center in the NFL and probably one of the 30 best players in the league. Tebow? Probably the 30th best quarterback in the league.

8. An Early Shot – After a whole summer of talk about the running game. Can’t you see the Jets going play action, deep post to Holmes on the first play from scrimmage this season against Buffalo?

9. Big Plays – Where will they come from this season? Holmes makes big plays after the catch, so he needs the ball in space. Stephen Hill should be targeted on a couple of “go” routes per game. Joe McKnight is dangerous in the screen game and maybe Jeremy Kerley can rip off a big play on a reverse or on a quick screen. Obviously, Tebow is a factor here if he can break the pocket or springs a quarterback draw.

10. Roster Prediction For Offensive Players – Sanchez. Tebow. McElroy. Greene. Conner. McKnight. Ganaway. Powell. Keller. Cumberland. Unsigned blocking tight end. Holmes. Hill. Kerley. Schilens. Turner. Mangold. Moore. Slauson. Hunter. Ferguson. Ducasse. Schlauderaff. Hoyer. (24 total)

11. 5 Game Exaggeration – The chatter about Sanchez struggling out of the gate because of the Jets schedule, leading to Tebow replacing him are over exaggerated. In week 1, the Jets play Buffalo who Sanchez is 5-1 against in his career. Last year in their two meeting his quarterback rating was 92.9 and 90.2, respectively. In week 2, they travel to Pittsburgh where Sanchez played two very good games in 2010, including one in the AFC Championship Game. Week 3 they are at Miami, who Sanchez has played well against in 4 of his 6 career games against them, including 3 games with a QB Rating over 95. Week 4 is against San Francisco which will be a challenge but at least the Jets are home and week 5 is against Houston at home. Sanchez is 2-0 against the Texans.

12. Won’t Be Elite, Don’t Need To Be – The Jets offense won’t be elite this year. Yet, with the defense they should have. If they can protect the football, run the ball consistently and hit the big play on a weekly basis, it will be good enough for the Jets to be a playoff caliber team.

Still thirsty after the 12 pack? Gameday Goods 10% off, just type in “TurnOnTheJets” as your promo code –

New York Jets Fact Or False: Defensive Line Edition

This week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False. Chris Gross on what to expect from a revamped Defensive Line this season.

The New York Jets defensive line is poised to have a completely new look this season. With a new coach in Karl Dunbar, the addition of first round pick Quinton Coples, and New York’s intention to use more 4 man fronts this season, here’s a look at what we should and should not expect from the Jets’ D-Line this year in this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.

1.) Quinton Coples will be Vernon Gholston 2.0. False. The comparisons that have been drawn between Coples and former Jets’ first round bust Vernon Gholston are completely unwarranted. Work ethic, passion, talent, size, speed, and all intangibles could be taken into account to realize that Coples is the superior player, however the key factor that will keep Coples from turning into Big Vern is that he is being brought to New York to play in his natural position as a defensive lineman.

When the Jets drafted Gholston, he was expected to make the conversion from defensive end to outside linebacker in the Jets 3-4 scheme. This transition proves to be extremely difficult for players year in and year out. Many of them fail to successfully make that transition simply because, as a linebacker, the cerebral reaction time can only be attained by few. For defensive lineman, reaction time and play is based primarily on physicality. Defensive linemen rely on their technique and instinct more so than their ability to read opposing offenses and make decisions on the fly. Of course, there is still a cerebral part of the game for defensive lineman in terms of reading the stances of the opposing offensive lineman, their splits, alignment, and where on the field the tight ends and backs are, but it is nowhere near as complicated and dense as it is for a linebacker.

While Rex Ryan has acknowledged the fact that Coples is athletic enough to play that outside linebacker position, he made it clear he is coming to New York to play with his hand on the ground. This is one of the smartest statements Rex has made since becoming the head coach of the Jets. Coples is a natural talent for the position, and has the size (6’6” 280 lbs) to be extremely versatile along the Jets several defensive fronts this season. There is no need to fix what isn’t broken. Coples will prove to be light years ahead of where Vernon Gholston ever was, starting in week one (Remember, all it will take is a single sack).

2.) Outside of Tony Sparano, the addition of Karl Dunbar will prove to be the most significant of the offseason. Fact. Many people forget that for the past two seasons, the Jets have had a secondary coach coaching the defensive line. While Mark Carrier certainly had a solid work ethic, and likely brought everything he had to his job every day, like a player playing out of position, it is extremely difficult for a coach to adapt to an area outside his realm of expertise, particularly in the NFL. Prior to coming to the Jets, Carrier played in the NFL as a Safety from 1990-2000 for Chicago, Detroit, and Washington, respectively. As a coach, Carrier served as the defensive backs coach at Arizona State for two seasons before joining the Baltimore Ravens as the team’s secondary coach from 2006-2009, just prior to joining the Jets, where he was seemingly given an opening on the staff as the Defensive Line Coach, a position in which he had no previous experience. This is a huge reason for New York’s pass rushing woes over the past two years.

Enter Karl Dunbar. As a player, Dunbar was a second-team All-SEC defensive tackle during his career at LSU, before bouncing around the NFL and other various professional football leagues during the early 90s. Following his playing career, Dunbar came onto the coaching scene in 1998 and, besides two seasons as the strength and conditioning coach at LSU, has coached only Defensive Line throughout his entire career.

Dunbar joins the Jets after six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. During his time in Minnesota, Dunbar orchestrated one of the best d-lines in all of football. Last season, Minnesota led the NFL with 50 total sacks, including a Vikings single season record 22 out of NFC Defensive Player of the year Jared Allen. In fact, since coming under the tutelage of Dunbar, Allen hasn’t had a season with fewer than double-digit sacks, while leading the NFL in the category twice (2007, 2011).

In Dunbar’s six seasons in Minnesota, the Vikings ranked in the top 10 in sacks four different times. In three of those seasons, Minnesota ranked in the top four in the category, two of which led the league. Conversely, Minnesota ranked first in rush defense during Dunbar’s first three seasons, second in his fourth, and in the top eleven during in his final two.

The acquisition of Dunbar is going to pay dividends for the Jets early and often. In Minnesota, Dunbar produced 3 Pro-Bowlers, including Allen, the three time All-Pro Defensive End. Considering he worked with only 4 starters, 75% of his starting line earned trips to the Pro Bowl. Dunbar will undoubtedly be able to maximize the talents of players like Coples, Mohammed Wilkerson, Aaron Maybin, and Sione Pouha. Expect the Jets defensive line to have a completely different look under Dunbar this season.

3.) Quinton Coples will be used solely as a Defensive End. False. Don’t be confused by this. Coples will be used primarily as, but not limited to, a Defensive End, and will see time elsewhere. The common assumption would be to think outside linebacker, however, as previously stated, Coples is coming to New York to play with his hand on the ground. Expect to see several formations that slide Coples to the inside in a defensive tackle role, especially during passing situations.

As a junior at North Carolina, Coples was forced to play defensive tackle for the majority of the season due to the immense amount of players the program lost due to suspension. During his time there, Coples recorded 10 sacks, an astonishing number for an interior defensive lineman. He certainly has the size to compete on the inside, and his speed will give him a superior advantage against guards and centers.

Coples has the potential to turn into what Justin Tuck was early in his career for the Giants, seamlessly switching from the outside and inside on the defensive line, while being able to defend the run and rush the passer from either position. On passing downs, the Jets will likely replicate what so many teams around the league are doing these days by placing their best pass rushers in the game, regardless of their roster position. Don’t be surprised to see Coples and Pouha line up on the interior with Wilkerson and Maybin lining up at end in a variety of passing situations this year.

4.) The Jets will be in a four man front for the majority of their defensive snaps in 2012. Fact. This could very well be 51% to 49%, but don’t be surprised if it is even greater. The Jets know the strength of their team lies in the secondary and in their defensive line depth. While the line backing corps is promising, outside of David Harris there are still some question marks. Bart Scott has reportedly dropped weight and looks rejuvenated in comparison to his play last season. DeMario Davis is turning heads at OTAs, and should eventually prove to be an excellent piece of this defense, but the Jets are wise enough not to depend on the rookie out of Arkansas State too much in his first year. Maybin should have a very promising season, but like Davis, needs to show consistency before the team can lean on him as a pillar of the defense. Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace are nearing the back end of their careers, and each need to have bounce back years after a disappointing 2011.

In order for the Jets to be successful on defense this season, they need to have their best 11 players on the field for the majority of plays. This includes their defensive line, and their secondary. Although the safety position was a bit of a hole last year, the Jets have certainly addressed the need this off-season by adding LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell in free agency, while drafting the young and talented duo of Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. New York also has arguably the best cornerback trio in all of football in Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and the up and coming Kyle WIlson.

WIth the addition of Quinton Coples via the draft, the Jets now have one of the most youthful, talented defensive lines in the league. The key for their success will be how they mold together. Mohammed Wilkerson is poised for a breakout season after a very impressive rookie campaign. Then, of course, there is Mike DeVito and Sione Pouha who are the heart and soul of this unit. You won’t see too many flashy numbers from either of these two, but their presence alone, presumably both at defensive tackle in a four man front, will not only help with the development of the young guys, but will command respect from opposing offensive lines across the league. Marcus Dixon and Kenrick Ellis should be able to provide some quality depth as well. This could be a very dangerous group as they develop together throughout training camp and into the season.

5.) Mike DeVito will be far less significant this season than he has been in the past. False. The notion that DeVito is slowly going to ride off into the sunset due to the addition of Coples may hold some truth down the road. However, for this season, that assumption could not be farther from the truth. We already know the Jets’ plan to use more four-man fronts this year, and a big part of that is because of DeVito. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and Rex Ryan realize what DeVito brings as a competitor, player, and leader, and have openly acknowledge the importance of getting him on the field.

Outside of his play, DeVito will play a key role in rebuilding the Jets fractured locker room. While this is certainly already in progress, as displayed by the new attitude we have seen from the team thus far, DeVito is at the point in his career in New York where he is respected as an unquestioned leader of this team. DeVito is one of the hardest working, most blue collared players on the entire roster. His influence over the young guys, particularly on the defensive line, will go miles in terms of their development. Coples, Wilkerson, and Ellis are fortunate to be in an environment with a player like DeVito.

6.) At least one player on the Jets defensive line will get double digit sacks this season. Fact. This is an extremely bold prediction considering the fact that the Jets have not had a single player record double digit sacks since John Abraham notched 10.5 in 2005, a six-year drought. However, the Jets have some serious under the radar talent when it comes to pass rushers. Aaron Maybin, who will likely fluctuate between linebacker and defensive end this year, led the Jets with six sacks last season after missing the first four games. With a full season ahead of him, combined with a complete off-season with the team, and the fact that he has added over 10 lbs since the end of last year, Maybin could turn into a significant force in the Jets pass rush.

Aside from Maybin, Muhammed Wilkerson is due for a big year after his impressive rookie campaign in which he started from day one and recorded 3 sacks. Quinton Coples’ talent level alone will give him the potential to achieve this accomplishment in each year of his career, however he will be asked to live up to that potential and rise to the occasion very early for Gang Green. How he handles this will ultimately be the key to his success, and should determine his degree of achievement.

Each of these young men should benefit greatly from the new scheme, as well as the addition of Dunbar. There is far too much talent and potential on this unit for someone to not reach the double-digit mark in sacks. Adding the expert that is Dunbar will surely maximize that potential, and ultimately allow a player to reach this feat.

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.

Why Do You Hate The Jets? AFC South Edition

In our latest edition of Why Do You Hate The Jets? we examine the AFC South to see who, if anyone, has the unconditional right to look down upon the Jets. Spoiler Alert: not one team in this division holds such an honor. Here’s why:

Just Shut Up

Jacksonville Jaguars – Other than the fact that Jacksonville has been 20-28 over the past three seasons, the Jets absolutely dominated them in every facet of their week 2 match up last season. They have a notable lack of talent across the roster, specifically on the offensive side of the ball with the exceptions of Maurice Jones-Drew and Mercedes Lewis. They’ve brought in Mike Mularkey as their new head coach, who has only two seasons of experience at the position, both of which were with the Buffalo Bills, where he compiled a 14-18 overall record. Although Mularkey is certainly a good offensive mind, and helped tremendously in the development of Matt Ryan in Atlanta over the past four seasons, he will surely have his work cut out for him as he attempts to rebuild this team, which has fallen far from grace recently.

New owner Shahid Khan could very much be a breath of fresh air for the franchise and the city, however, like so many new owners, he seems enthralled by the spotlight. Following the start of free agency this year, the Jags signed former Miami Quarterback Chad Henne to back up and possibly compete with the young Blaine Gabbert, who many have unfairly deemed a bust already. Just weeks after the signing, Khan was outbid by the Jets to acquire Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos. Surely, from a business standpoint, this was a smart move for Khan, as Tebow, a Jacksonville native, would helped ticket sales tremendously, but talk about a swing and a miss. Now the Jaguars are stuck with Gabbert, who not only has to deal with the constant criticism, but also has to live with the idea that his team was willing to give up on him after only one season, where he had virtually no supporting cast to work with. The Jets are often criticized for how they have dealt with the development and psyche of Mark Sanchez, but is this act by Jacksonville really any better?

Jacksonville’s need to blackout home games in order to increase ticket sales, or the constant rumors of relocation could surely be mentioned here as well, but there’s no need to take unnecessary shots below the belt.

Tennessee Titans – Where to begin with Tennessee? This is the same team that spent the third overall selection on Quarterback Vince Young in 2006, only to release him after 5 seasons with the club. Although Young looked somewhat promising early in his career, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2006, despite throwing only 12 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, he had a memorable meltdown during his third season, in which he was replaced by the then 35 year-old Kerry Collins. That same season, the Brett Favre led Jets went into Tennessee and handed the 10-0 Titans a 34-13 beating.

When the Young era ended heading into 2011, the Titans made a trade with Seattle for veteran Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to lead the helm and help develop first round pick Jake Locker. Although Hasselbeck fared decently last season (3,571 yards, 18 touchdowns), the Titans struggled all year largely due to the inconsistency of running back Chris Johnson and missed the playoffs after a 9-7 finish.

Speaking of Chris Johnson, Tennessee waited so long to pay the NFL’s leading rusher since 2008, that he entered training camp late, causing his production to drop drastically. After the Titans finally caved and gave the three time Pro Bowler a four year $53.5 million contract extension, Johnson compiled only four 100+ yard games last season. In fact, he did not even reach 65 yards on the ground in any other contest, and went five games without reaching 25 yards. Although you certainly have to question the player for this immense drop in production after receiving his massive payday, something must be said about the Titans management skills in dealing with this situation.

As for their young quarterback, Locker showed great promise in the 5 games he appeared in last season, throwing for 542 yards, and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions, while attaining a 51.5 percent completion percentage. So, how did Tennessee owner Bud Adams express his excitement and confidence in Locker? During the frenzy over Peyton Manning, following the future Hall Of Famer’s release from Indianapolis, Adams publicly declared his desire to land Manning. Even after he chose the Broncos over Tennessee, Adams publicly acknowledged his disappointment.

“I want to thank the whole organization for their efforts in trying to sign Peyton and also to Peyton for the time he put into the process. Peyton called me this morning to inform me of his decision and obviously I am disappointed, because I thought we would be a perfect fit.” –Adams on Manning choosing Denver over Tennessee.

Stay Classy Bud

The naysayers will certainly criticize the Jets for giving Mark Sanchez his contract extension after realizing they were not in the running for Peyton Manning. However, the Jets were smart enough to nip that situation in the bud before having it escalate to where Sanchez was poorly affected by it. Yes, they still brought in Tim Tebow, but Manning would have all but ended Sanchez’s run in New York. With Tebow, Sanchez is rightfully still the starter, until he proves otherwise.

Tennessee has been a bit better than Jacksonville over the past three seasons with a 23-25 overall record during that time, however they have not won a post-season game since 2003. The Jets, who have won 4 since 2009, all of which were on the road, have been 28-20 under Rex Ryan during the past three seasons.

Houston Texans – Although the Texans are certainly a franchise on the rise, they have never beaten the Jets since entering the league in 2001. They are very young and talented, and took a huge step in the right direction last season, by winning the AFC South for the first time in franchise history, as well as securing their very first post-season victory by way of a 31-10 rout over Cincinnati in Reliant Stadium. While I absolutely believe they will be a force, not only in the AFC South, but in the NFL for years to come, they still have not even sniffed the recent success of the Jets, and until they snag a W from Gang Green, they have no basis to look down upon them.

Some Room To Talk

Indianapolis Colts – If I were writing this piece three years ago, the Colts would be placed in the Unconditional Bragging Rights category. However, since Ryan has come to New York, Indianapolis really hasn’t been much better than the Jets. Over the past three seasons Indy has compiled a very mediocre 26-22 overall record. Now, obviously this number is a bit misleading due to the fact that arguably the greatest quarterback in league history missed all of last season, leading to a 2-14 record, but the bottom line is that he is just one player. Outside of Manning, if the Colts were truly that much better than the Jets, they would have been able to muster up more than 2 victories in 2011. Last season displayed how poorly the team was actually built, and because of it, both Polians lost their jobs in the Colts’ front office. For as much criticism as the Jets take with Sanchez, it is never argued that if he were to miss playing time, the Jets would be much worse. This is a result of two things. Yes, Manning is that important to a team, and is certainly superior to Sanchez, but also, the Jets have been built better from top to bottom, rather than the top heavy team that Indianapolis was exposed as last season.

One of the biggest knocks on the Jets is that they love being in the spotlight. Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, and Owner Woody Johnson have been deemed as attention hogs, who are willing to do anything to gain the back page headline in New York. While this notion is certainly exaggerated, if it were in fact the case, the Colts still would have no ground to criticize them for it. Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay is one of six NFL owners on twitter, but is by far the most active user of his account. Since the saga with Peyton Manning began prior to the start of last season, Irsay has done enough to make himself the center of attention in Indianapolis. He glorifies not only his team, but himself as well, through the media, and especially through social media. Seriously, go look at the guy’s Twitter timeline and tell me he isn’t all about stealing the spotlight. Irsay is far more vain than Woody Johnson and Co. have ever been.

Beyond that, we all know who eliminated the Colts the last time they were in the post season. In the 2011 playoffs, the Jets marched into Indianapolis and avenged their 2010 AFC Championship Game loss by knocking out the Manning led Colts on their home turf on a last second field goal by Nick Folk. Manning’s reaction to Caldwell’s incompetence will forever be remembered as the legendary quarterback’s last moments in a Colts uniform.

Happy Memorial Day From Turn On The Jets

As you all enjoy the end of your Memorial Day Weekend, we at Turn On The Jets would not only like to wish everyone well on this holiday, but more importantly would like to thank all the devoted men and women who have served, and are currently serving our great nation over seas. On days of reflection like Memorial Day, we realize how lucky we are to be able to enjoy the luxuries of sports, entertainment, and all other everyday freedoms we too often take for granted. Never forget, the United States of America is the land of the free, because of the brave. So, to all the proud veterans out there, Thank You for everything you have given us in order to enjoy all that we have.

As the long weekend finally winds down, I have just a few quick New York Jets thoughts to share before another full week of content at TOJ.

1.) On Karlos Dansby expecting the Dolphins to win the AFC East. I actually have absolutely no issue with Dansby’s comments. As a competitor and a professional football player, he should always expect his team to succeed and win, otherwise what would be the point of playing the game? Rex Ryan has not been shy about what he expects from the Jets, so Dansby’s attitude should be viewed no differently. There is a certain degree of respect you must have for someone to show that much confidence, not only in themselves, but in the men they compete alongside.

The issue I do have, though, is the Dolphins faithful that have been emerging arguing that they would rather have their 53 than the Jets’. Again, I respect the confidence, but as a fan, you need to be realistic. Other than OLB and Offensive Tackle, every position on Miami’s roster is inferior to New York’s. Miami fans should be excited about the idea of a new coaching regime and quarterback, but there comes a point when you must look in the mirror and realize you are still very far away from being a competitive team in this league.

2.) On the Jets stealing the headlines once again. Many believe that the Jets acquired Tim Tebow strictly for the publicity factor he would bring to the team. While I strongly disagree with this notion, if this was, in fact, their motivation for bringing in Tebow, it certainly worked. As pointed out by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, SI‘s Peter King reported that 77 percent of the coverage in the five New York newspapers last Friday focused on Tebow, while only 23 percent focused on the foot injury of the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks.

The injury to the reigning Super Bowl MVP’s top target is certainly more significant than Tebow throwing two interceptions in a May session of 7 on 7, but the Tebow headline sells more. So, if Woody Johnson and Mike Tannenbuam’s sole motivation to bring in Tebow was to steal the headlines from the defending Super Bowl Champs, kudos to them.

3.) On Wayne Hunter declaring that Jets fans will see “a new Right Tackle” this season. One thing anyone can tell from listening to Wayne Hunter talk is that he is brutally honest. Hunter does not hide the fact that he was the weak link to an offensive line that struggled horribly at times last season. While he acknowledges the fact that he owes a lot to Brian Schottenheimer and Bill Callahan for the opportunity, he also makes it clear that new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and staff are certainly a breath of fresh air. Hunter points out that, in order to succeed, he needs to get out of the “reserve” mentality and be consistent on every single play. Why he is just coming to this revelation now is beyond me, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

4.) On Rex Ryan not ruling out a possible Jim Leonhard return. We will look at this possible scenario deeper during the week, but at the right cost, this would be a good thing for the Jets. Although New York suddenly has an abundance of Safeties, other than rookie Josh Bush, there is not a true cover safety in the bunch. No one knows the defense better than Leonhard, and he is the perfect personality to mentor the young talent on the roster. Of course, his health and cost will be the biggest issues for a possible reunion. If he can be had at a discount, it may be worth bringing him back.