Turn On The Jets NFL Championship Sunday Best Bets

Chris Celletti with his weekly Best Bets, featuring a special guest appearance

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Every professional team I root for – the Yankees and perpetual knife-twisters the Rangers, Knicks and Jets – has a history that I can only read about. No matter how much research I do, even if I could name off the top of my head who played on the third line for the Rangers in 1974, or who led the Knicks in assists in 1983, it’s all just history – like studying the Civil War in high school. But to have lived through the entire existence of something is to truly understand it.

The only reason I’m a New York Jets fan is because of my father. My brother and I were lucky enough to have Jets season tickets in our family dating way, way back before we were born, and our father has been taking us to games for the past 20 or so years. And in my two-plus decades living and dying with the Jets, I think I’ve seen it all. But of course, it’s physically impossible for me to have seen it all, because the Jets have been in existence longer than I have. They have not, however, been in existence since before my father was born. He, and others of his generation, have indeed seen it all.

And those who haven’t missed a single beat have a different perspective than those of my generation. I remember when I was in college the day the Jets hired Rex Ryan, I received a text from my father that read, “Jets hire Rex Ryan. 8-8, 9-7, 6-10, 4-12, bye-bye”. It wasn’t that he knew all about Rex Ryan and was predicting he’d been a failure. He certainly wasn’t hoping he was right (as you’ll see below). But looking back, my father wasn’t that far off. Make no mistake – with a new GM in town any day now, if the Jets go 4-12 in 2013, Rex Ryan will be fired, and my father would have essentially called it four years earlier. He’s just seen this game before, countless times.

In a way, it’s just like raising a child – if you’ve been there every single step of the way, you just understand them better than anyone else.

Of course, one thing that has been the same since the Jets were in existence has been the media’s coverage of the city’s black sheep of football. So, I’ll step aside and give the floor to my father, Frank:

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There’s an old game being played in the media these days, but with a brand new intensity. The game is called “Turn On the Jets”. No, not turn on as in “tune in to” or “rev up”, but as in “put down” or “mock”. Who in the organization has set off this new round of put downs? None other than Rex Ryan. As someone whose first game was at the Polo Grounds in 1962 when the team was still the New York Titans, let me explain.

Back then, the NFL ruled the world. Then along came the upstart AFL and along with them a brash new quarterback named Joe Namath. What Joe and the Jets did was predict they would knock off the mighty, 24-point favored Baltimore Colts and then went out and did it! With that, they also knocked the Giants, and the NFL, off the back pages of the newspapers. How dare they! For this the organization has never been forgiven, especially by many in the New York media. You see, this was, and will always be to many, a Giants town.

Since Super Bowl III, Jets fans have seen the birth of the “Same old Jets” tag,  and the embarrassment of playing in those same Giants’ stadium for 30 years. And we have lived with a barrage of put downs in the media that intensifies or ebbs year-to-year. Right now we are in a tsunami of beat downs on the team. Why? Well you see, Rex broke the cardinal rule. He came along and dared to say positive things about the Jets. He even tried to push the Giants off the back page. Oh Rex, how dare you?

When the Jets went to two conference championship games in his first two years, nothing much could be said by the media. But now that the team is down, it’s open season. Sure, Rex has brought on some of this himself. But the intensity of the criticism is way out of line with reality. The organization has been called a “sewer”. It’s been said they can’t give away the GM job. Really? Oh and there’s the tattoo. Think of it, can you imagine anyone, anywhere in the New York media treating the Giants or Tom Coughlin that way? Be honest now.

The facts is things are not as bad as the pundits say they are. Rex can coach. There are some good young players on the roster. There are some real problems for sure, but they’re not insurmountable. But you see folks, it’s the Jets so anything goes! Roll out the put downs. Same Old Media.

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And now, onto the picks for this weekend’s Championship games:

Atlanta (+4) vs. San Francisco – As my dad would say “The WORLD has the 49ers”. Meaning, nobody is giving the Falcons any credit, and everyone seems to think this is going to be a laugher in the 49ers’ favor. I’ll take my chances with a home dog in the NFC Title game.

Ravens (+8) at Patriots – Outright, I’m picking the Patriots, but I think it will be very close, similar to last year’s game. The more important betting line is the Over/Under on snaps of this game I will watch, given that this is head-to-head with the Rangers’ home opener against the Penguins and pits two of my most despised sports franchises in the world. Let’s set it at 14.5 (hint: take the under).

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week – Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey! Rangers +105 at Bruins tomorrow night. Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey!

Press Conference Notes For The Next New York Jets GM

How the New York Jets new GM can win over the fanbase immediately in his first press conference

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The next General Manager of the New York Jets will immediately face a highly scrutinized press conference, where he will answer to a group of bitter beat writers and angry,anxious fans. In hopes of him succeeding and seeing our generally miserable fan-base have something to be happy about, I have prepared the following suggested comments for his first press conference –

(Walk out wearing a Jets polo shirt, holding a clipboard filled with player evaluation notes, with a stop-watch around your neck and a visor on. Jets fans permanently hate “accountants or bean-counters” after Mike Tannenbaum the past few years. The worst possible thing you could do is come out wearing glasses, holding a calculator and use the word “process” more than once. So make yourself look like a coach or “A REAL FOOTBALL GUY”)

“Hello. Let me begin by asking Manish Mehta, Gary Myers or anybody from The Daily News to leave the room. You are banned from the building this season. Is this fully legal? I don’t know. But you can go preoccupy yourselves with fighting back for partial credentials, then come back to watch practice from 700 yards away and have 8 minutes of locker room access per day, where you are only allowed to talk with Tanner Purdum and Hayden Smith. Thank you and good-bye.

Second, Mark Sanchez isn’t going to be on the team next year. I just watched all the game tape from last year and I’m pretty sure him and Russell Wilson don’t play the same sport. Did you see those interceptions against Arizona and the turnovers against Tennessee? LAWD! I don’t care how much money we owe him, he won’t be here. The young man had a good run on the field and off the field…Kate Upton, Eva Longoria…KNOW WHAT I MEAN? Here’s hoping that out of the New York spotlight he can find success in the NFL or just a job alongside Joey Harrington and Jesse Palmer on a college pre-game show.

Third, Tim Tebow isn’t going to be on the team next year. We don’t need the media circus and quasi-cult following for a guy who caps out at being the 25th best quarterback in the league. He can’t throw and throwing is important in today’s NFL. No Sanchez. No Tebow. We’ll find a better quarterback for this year and for the long term and he will be prohibited from talking to GQ.

Pertaining to our offense, nobody will use the term “Ground and Pound” anymore or “All Weather Offense.” There will be no more eligible tackles on 35% of our snaps. There will be no “Wildcat.” We are going to run a competent NFL offense that can complete 15-18 yard passes down the field with some type of regularity. Our running backs will also have the ability to avoid ramming their heads into defenders in the open field and will instead look to make them miss tackles.

On defense…hey Bart Scott, shut up and you are cut. Calvin Pace? Too slow. You are gone too. Bryan Thomas, thanks for everything over the years except the recent apparent assault case on your girlfriend. Guess what? You aren’t coming back. We are going to find linebackers who are fast and can rush the quarterback.

Rex is going to be the coach and that is it. He will draw up Xs and Os and motivate our team. He will also put on 120 pounds and go back to being this guy. He will have no say on personnel decisions. Did you see John Conner play football? Rex will be at Taco Bell during the draft this season and has no choice in the matter.

ESPN won’t be at training camp this year. Woody Johnson will make no public comments related to football,because he sounds like an idiot when he does…sorry Woody. Our entire PR and media department has been fired because they are awful at their jobs. Our entire gameday entertainment department has been fired because they are awful at their jobs. No more celebrity J-E-T-S chants before games. No more announcing the special teams starters. No more fireworks after field goals. More flight crew! And Fireman Ed, here is my personal invite to come back next season and I’m only offering once, put back on that Bruce Harper jersey and come on back.

Fans, we have some work to do but turnarounds happen quick in the NFL. Stay with us.

…oh and Mike Francesa, you are an asshole and nobody associated with our organization will come on WFAN until you start working with Mad Dog again or retire.

Goodnight!”

Should The New York Jets Move To A 4-3?

Should the New York Jets move to a 4-3 in 2013?

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The New York Jets defense has gradually declined the past few seasons, mostly due to a lack of speed at linebacker and an inability to consistently pressure the quarterback. Heading into 2013, the team will see three former starters at linebacker leave for cap purposes and declined play (Bryan Thomas, Calvin Pace, Bart Scott), along with both starting safeties and a key defensive lineman in Mike DeVito hit free agency. Looking at the current pieces they have and their cap space, does it make sense for the Jets to consider moving to use predominantly a 4-3 look, instead of a 3-4?

The strength of the unit is currently defensive line. Muhammad Wilkerson is coming off a terrific season and has the skill set to line up all over the formation, particularly at both a 5 and 7 technique (as our resident defensive lineman Chris Gross assured us). Quinton Coples is built to rush the edge in the 4-3 and can also slide inside to rush from defensive tackle in certain passing situations. Remember he was a double-digit sack guy at UNC in his junior year at DT. If resigned, Mike DeVito and Kenrick Ellis can play defensive tackle with Damon Harrison coming off the bench.

At linebacker, the Jets myriad of issues will be easier solved in  a4-3 than a 3-4. Considering they are stuck with David Harris and his bloated contract, he could slide over to playing weak-side backer which will help hide his speed limitations. Last year’s third round pick, Demario Davis has the speed and collegiate experience to play strong-side, which leaves the Jets to find a long term middle backer. If they stay in a 3-4, they need two outside linebackers and have very valid questions if Harris can play inside in the 3-4 competently. For depth purposes in the 4-3, Antonio Allen played the “spur” in college and can be a backup at strong-side linebacker and Garret McIntyre has shown enough to be a backup on the weak-side.

In the secondary, regardless of the system the Jets should be considering a trade of Antonio Cromartie to both free up cap space and receive draft compensation. A middle round pick and the extra available money could help fill the void in the middle at linebacker and potentially at safety since LaRon Landry will probably not sign here long term while Yeremiah Bell could return on a low-cost one year deal.

Rex Ryan is a smart enough defensive mind to handle this kind of transition. The current reality of the Jets defensive depth chart is that they are devoid of talent at linebacker, while they have strong pieces at defensive line. Why not focus the defense more around their strength, than their weaknesses?

New York Jets – Self-Scouting Will Be Critical To Future Success

The New York Jets must improve their self-scouting if they plan on improving in future years

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The New York Jets are expected to make the decision on their next GM in the next 24-48 hours, final candidates include John Idzik, Omar Kahn, Ted Sundquist and Scott Cohen. Regardless of who is hired, it is imperative the new General Manager revamp the team’s scouting department and gives a harshly, critical look to the entire roster. Terry Bradway, Cohen (if he isn’t hired) and other individuals prominently associated with building the current roster need to move on while Rex Ryan needs to be relegated to coaching, not giving input on personnel decisions.

The Jets roster is in a transitional period, to put it kindly. Their offense needs to be rebuilt nearly from scratch and their defense has to be worked around a few key, young pieces.

Offensively, your harsh reality is that the current team lacks a starting quarterback, starting running back, number one receiver, tight end, and two guards, nevermind a poor overall depth situation. Shonn Greene can’t get paid like a starting running back, which means you let him walk. Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow need to go, any way possible. If you can get Santonio Holmes off the roster now, do it because he won’t be on the team in 2014. Does it make sense to keep Dustin Keller here long term considering his limitations blocking and durability issues? Probably not, franchise him and look to move him for a draft pick. It is hard to see Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore coming back, which means you need two new starters upfront because Vladimir Ducasse isn’t a NFL caliber player.

It won’t be a one season rebuilding process on offense. It will take a couple of strong drafts and a few savvy free agency pickups and trades to build this back up. A temporary competent quarterback needs to be found (Matt Moore, Kyle Orton?) along with a long term solution, which is never an easy task. What will be critical is avoiding evaluation mistakes that lead to players like Wayne Hunter, Shonn Greene, John Conner and Stephen Hill being opening day starters in 2012.

Defensively, this team can’t realistically pay Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and LaRon Landry for the long term, not when they already have an excessively bloated contract sunk into David Harris and lack talent all over the rest of the roster. Fans won’t be happy if a guy like Landry walks or Cromartie is traded for a draft pick to free up cap space but there is logic behind hypothetical decisions like that. This team has the makings of a young, elite defensive line with Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Kenrick Ellis under contract but linebackers need to be found to compliment them.

There can be no more pushing off finding a pass rusher or hoping a scrap-heap player like Aaron Maybin can lead the way in sacks. The Jets lack of overall speed at linebacker needs to be aggressively addressed in the draft and free agency. With the pistol and spread offense increasingly taking over the NFL, the days of players like David Harris, Bart Scott, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas being starters is over. Yes, I included Harris who is coming off a putrid year and needs to dumped as soon as it becomes contractually feasible.

The team’s new GM and scouting department has to avoid pitfalls like making a plodding, two-down linebacker the highest paid player at his position in a league that is increasingly moving to spread offenses led by speedy quarterbacks. Considering the team’s current personnel and cap situation, it might be prudent to switch into predominantly a 4-3 while the roster is being remade.

Bold moves need to be made across the board and there can be no hesitancy to part with big names or big contracts in the process. The sooner this roster is torn down, the sooner it can be rebuilt.

Turn On The Jets Off-Season Roundtable – Running Back

The TOJ staff looks at how the New York Jets should handle running back this off-season

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Welcome to our off-season review of the New York Jets roster at Turn On The Jets. Each week we are going to attack a different position. We will have a roundtable discussion on it, Steve Bateman will submit a film breakdown examining it and our draft staff will look at potential prospects the Jets could add. Last week, we started at quarterback, this week we move to running back – 

How should the New York Jets handle running back this off-season?

Joe Caporoso – For a team who is supposed to pride themselves on running the football, the Jets had an incredibly weak crop of running backs in 2012. Don’t be fooled by Shonn Greene’s 1,000 yard season, he barely cracked it at 1,063 yards and it took him 276 carries to get there (aka a pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry). Beyond that, take away his outlier explosion against the Colts and in the team’s other 15 games he had 244 carries for 902 yards at only 3.6 yards per carry. Greene lacks the explosiveness to be a lead back and simply cannot create big plays when they are there to be made at the second level. He also brings nothing to the passing game. Bilal Powell is nearly an identical player, except he brings a little more shiftiness and is more capable in the passing game. He is on the roster for pennies next season, so there is no reason to give Greene a new contract.

The free agent market is generally thin at running back. The Jets won’t be spending big money on Stephen Jackson or Reggie Bush and will be wise to pass on guys like Rashard Mendenhall, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis who will be overpaid somewhere. They’d be smart to look at the third tier and look to find a bargain like Rashad Jennings or Justin Forsett, Restricted Free Agent Chris Ivory is a name we have been talking up here and the Jets should inquire on what his price-tag will end up being. Outside of that, Ben Tate could be an intriguing name to make a call about.

The draft has a good amount of mid-round talent, although all eyes will be on Eddie Lacy if he starts to drift near the Jets second round pick.

Overall, the 2013 backfield will likely be Bilal Powell, a mid-level free agent or trade acquisition and a mid-round pick, along with Joe McKnight maybe chipping in if he can show any durability. It isn’t flashy but maybe the Jets strike gold in the draft or in the free agent/trade scrap heap.

Mike Donnelly – As the Jets finish up their searches for a new General Manager and offensive coordinator, one of the first orders of business will be to take a long, hard look at the running back position and decide where to go going forward. The only player we know will be in the mix for sure next season is Bilal Powell, who showed some ability down the stretch last season and who will still be on his cheap rookie contract, which is important for a team pressed up against the salary cap. He will fit in nicely to the 1B running back role, and likely handle third downs. Joe McKnight, the kick return extraordinaire will also almost certainly be back, but after three years in the league, it’s pretty clear we shouldn’t expect too much from him as an offensive contributor, no matter who is calling the plays.

So who will be handling the bulk of the touches for the Jets in 2013? There are many ways the team can go, some more interesting than others. Let’s take a look…

The Incumbent: Shonn Greeene – Shonn rushed for 1,086 yards and 8 TD’s last year and in an ideal world would be the 1B back who comes in to punish worn down defenses later in games like he did in 2009 and 2010. Unfortunately, he is a free agent, and with a pay raise coming his way, he probably won’t be back next year. Unlike many, I like Greene, and if he were to return on a cheap contract, I wouldn’t be opposed to having him back.

Free Agents: Rashard Mendenhall, Steven Jackson, Bernard Scott, Larod Stephens-Howling – Jackson is the clear best option on the free agent market, but he is likely going to cost a pretty penny to sign, and there are indications the Rams will bring him back. He’d be an excellent fit as a running back who can handle a full work load and also provide a receiving threat out of the backfield. Mendnehall is the other “big name” here, but after an awful season in Pittsburgh coming off an injury, he’s not someone you want to rely on as a starter. The others are role players, which is not quite what we’re looking for.

Trade Candidates: Chris Ivory, Ben Tate, Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden, DeAngelo Williams – Now we’re talking. Williams will likely be cut by Carolina due to his high salary, but he’s an intriguing name to keep an eye on as a potential signing. MJD and McFadden would be hard to pry from their current teams, but with both in rebuilding mode, they hi-res-hi-res-151989382_display_imagecould be had for the right price. I just don’t think that the big name (and big salaried) RB is the way the Jet are going to go. The option that has Jets fans everywhere giddy is Chris Ivory, the restricted free agent from the Saints who has shown in limited action to be a very impressive player. He has big play capability and runs hard. The only issues with him are that he’s been banged up from time to time and he hasn’t proven he can handle a full work load. Remember, in limited action, Shonn Greene looked like a superstar too in 2009, it’s a different ballgame when you’re the starter. Even still, he’d be a great acquisition.

Draft – There are many running backs going to be available in this draft, but the one who shot to the top of many lists lately is Alabama’s Eddie Lacy. Should someone like him be available at the top of round 2, he’d be an extremely enticing option. Mike Tannenbaum seemingly drafted a running back every single year, but with him gone and no GM in place, it’s hard to tell where the RB position will be valued in the draft.

Chris Celletti – If I were running the Jets, Shonn Greene would be nowhere near Florham Park in 2013. With such a weak crop of free agent running backs this upcoming offseason, maybe there’s a chance that some desperate team looks at his back-to-back (yet thoroughly unimpressive) 1,000-yard seasons and actually overpays him slightly. Let them, Jets. Don’t be the team to overpay someone that is a known commodity to you. Greene is an okay back at best and is best suited to be a No. 2, someone to come into games late when the defense is tired,. He should not be a feature back. He is also poor in blitz pickup and gives you next to nothing out of the passing game.

If you look at the NFL these days, there are just very few running backs who are THE unquestioned guy on their team. Outside of the Top-5 or so guys in the league, teams are using runners-by-committee. The Jets need to do the same in 2013 because unless they pull a trade out of the blue, they won’t have the slam-dunk, bellcow running back that they probably want. Bilal Powell showed this year that he’s a capable No. 2/1B back, and I’d certainly have no problem with him returning in that role in 2013. With holes all over the offense, the Jets will likely look to find a bargain to share the carries with Powell.

Chris Ivory is a guy to consider; he’s three years younger than Greene and has averaged 5.1 yards-per-carry in limited duty with New Orleans in his three seasons in the league. He’d be my top choice to split carries with Powell and maybe even Joe McKnight – that’s a decent enough running corps in today’s NFL if the offensive line play is improved. If not Ivory, other names to consider are Felix Jones, Rashad Jennings, or Issac Redman as long as the price is right, of course. Also, the Jets should certainly explore taking a running back in the mid-rounds of the Draft. I’ll leave whoever the best guys are in this draft to our draft experts, but you can certainly find good enough RBs in the middle rounds.

Chris Gross –  Outside of the quarterback position, the 2012 Jets most glaring offensive hole was undoubtedly the lack of playmakers at running back. Shonn Greene was relied on to be the “bell cow” as Rex Ryan refers to what he envisions as a lead back, in a relatively deep stable. Unfortunately, New York learned the hard way that Greene is, at best, a solid 1B option at running back. Greene had his most success when he was sharing the load with the likes of Thomas Jones and LaDanian Tomlinson during the first two seasons of his career. He is a very strong downhill runner, and is at his best late in games when the defense is worn down. He does not, however, have the elusiveness, top end speed, or vision to be a primary option at running back in this league. It is because of this that Greene will likely be playing his football elsewhere next season.

As for the Jets, there are a couple directions that they could go in at the position. Bilal Powell came on relatively strong at the end of 2012, but like Greene, he is at best a 1B option in a tandem of backs. Powell is still under contract, at a much cheaper cost than Greene, so there is no reason to believe he will not return with the opportunity to compete for that 1B role. So what can the Jets do at their primary running back spot? Here’s a quick look:

Free Agency – Free Agency is a very sticky subject for the Jets right now. While reports have surfaced that this team is in “cap hell,” the reality is that when they make the expected roster cuts, they will fall to about $15 – $20 million under the 2013 salary cap. So where will that money be spent? Running back, quarterback, tight end, offensive line, outside linebacker, and safety are all positions of need for the Jets, and with a tight budget this year, they need to get the best bang for their buck to be competitive in 2013. Similar to the quarterback position, the eventual hire of a new offensive coordinator will weigh heavily on what this team decides to do in terms of personnel at the position. A few names worth noting –

Reggie Bush – 2012 stats: 227 attempts, 986 yards, 4.3 YPC, 6 TD – Bush is a very intriguing name. He certainly has the talent, and has been relatively durable enough, to be a lead back in the right scheme. His yardage and touchdown totals took a bit of a dip this season due to a change in offensive approach in Miami, but 2011 saw Bush yield his first career 1,000 yard season, clipping off a fantastic 5.0 YPC. From a football standpoint, Bush would be a quality signing for New York, if he could be had on a 3 year, low cost deal. Unfortunately, however, Bush will like be seeking a contract looking something like 4 years at $5 million per. In all likelihood, this will be out of the Jets’ price range.

Rashard Mendenhall – 2012 stats: 51 attempts, 182 yards, 3.6 YPC, 0 TD – Mendenhall has been a key part of Pittsburgh’s offense over the past few years, however injury hampered his 2012 season, resulting in his worst statistical year as apro since he was a rookie back in 2008. Mendenhall also seemed to find himself in Mike Tomlin’s dog house later in the year, asNew+York+Jets+v+Pittsburgh+Steelers+GDfPUbhkcdBl he was suspended for a game as a result of conduct detrimental to the team. It seems as though Mendenhall’s days in Pittsburgh are all but done, and he will be seeking employment elsewhere next year. Enter the Jets. The Jets are looking for a quality veteran option, with good ability, but one who will come at low cost. After his poor 2012, could Mendenhall be that guy? Perhaps he could come on a one year deal, similar to how LaRon Landry was signed last year. New York could potentially add Mendenhall on a low cost deal, particularly if teams are skeptical to give him a big contract with recent injury and character concerns. Mendenhall may take a deal like this as a chance to prove himself to be healthy, as well as a solid teammate, similar to what Landry had to do last year.

LeGarrette Blount – 2012 stats: 41 attempts, 151 yards, 3.7 YPC, 2 TD – Like Mendenhall, Blount is coming off a down year, following two seasons of surprising productivity in Tampa Bay. While Blount is a bit similar to Shonn Greene in terms of running style, he is far more elusive than Greene, and has the vision to be a decent lead back, if complemented with a speedy, 3rd down back. Blount would not be a horrible signing, if used right and surrounded with a good stable of backs, and would likely come very cheap as well. There certainly is some boom or bust here, but if Blount can stay healthy, there is no reason to believe he cannot give the Jets 1,000 yards, with a solid 4.0 YPC average or better. If the Jets decide to take this route, they almost certainly need to add an elusive, speed back in the draft.

Restricted Free Agents

Chris Ivory – 2012 stats: 40 attempts, 217 yards, 5.4 YPC, 2 TD – A restricted free agent, Ivory was buried in a very deep stable of underutilized running backs in New Orleans. The Saints were reluctant to trade him this season, despite playing him in only 6 games this year. Obviously, they think very highly of Ivory, but it will be interesting to see the type of tender New Orleans places on him. Are they willing to pay him based on the 2013 first round tender, knowing it will be unlikely for another team to offer a first round pick as compensation? Or do they place a cheaper offer on him, so in the event that he does not sign an offer sheet elsewhere, they aren’t stuck with paying a large amount to a back that is hardly used? If New Orleans places a 2nd round tender or lower on Ivory, look for the Jets to look into him. He still would come at a relatively low cost, but has the potential to be a lead back in this league, and in the right system, could be a very, very effective one.

Jonathan Dwyer – 2012 stats: 156 attempts, 623 yards, 4.0 YPC, 2 TD – Like Ivory, Dwyer entered 2012 as an under the radar player, but was highly productive in Pittsburgh last season. Question is, how much do the Steelers value him? Would they be willing to match a high qualifying offer for Dwyer? If not, what type of tender will be placed on him, particularly with WR Mike Wallace set to hit Free Agency? Dwyer, like Ivory, would be worth a 2nd or lower round draft pick, if the Steelers decide to place that type of tender on the restricted free agent. At just 23, Dwyer certainly has his best years ahead of him, and landing him as a RFA could be a quality stamp for the new General Manager to begin his reign with.

Low Cost, Small Name Options

Javon Ringer – 2012 stats: 2 attempts, 14 yards, 7.0 YPC, 0 TD – Virtually non existent in 2012, Ringer was showed some promise early in his career with Tennessee. Unfortunately for him, he was drafted in the same season that Chris Johnson truly emerged as an excellent back in the NFL and has been somewhat buried on the depth chart ever since. Can Ringer be a lead back in this league? Highly doubtful. But, he certainly has some ability, and a known work ethic that is fantastic. He would be an extremely low cost move for the Jets, one that could end up paying dividends. If Ringer is given the carries, and complemented with a good offensive line and supporting RB cast, he can be an effective player. He will not produce at the level of the players aforementioned, but he would come at about a quarter of the price.

Ronnie Brown – 2012 stats: 46 attempts, 220 yards, 4.8 YPC, 0 TD – Brown has been very quiet since leaving Miami for Philadelphia two seasons ago, but bear in mind he has played behind some very poor offensive lines (Eagles 2011, Chargers 2012). Brown will be 31 for the majority of the season next year, so age is certainly a concern, but with a 2012 4.8 YPC average, he can still be productive. Can he be the “bell cow” for this team? It is unlikely at his age. However, Brown could be a solid “stop gap” running back to add the veteran presence to a stable of running backs occupied by Powell and an early round rookie. If it plays out as such, Brown would  likely sign a one year deal and enter the season as the starter, while slowly passing the baton to the hypothetically drafted rookie. By the end of the season, the Jets could make the transition to the rookie, if he’s playing well enough, while slowly phasing out Brown, who would be allowed to walk at the end of the year. From there, New York could decide which direction to go in at the position, but would have a solid foundation in place.

Potential Trades

Antonio Cromartie for Mark Ingram and a Mid Round Draft Pick – Ingram 2012 stats: 156 attempts, 602 yards, 3.9 YPC, 5 TD – Similar to Ivory, Ingram is underutilized in a New Orleans offense that does not run the ball very often. Conversely, the Saints ranked second to last in passing defense last year. Cromartie is coming off of his best year as a Jet, and potentially as a pro, and his value will never be higher. The Jets may be reluctant to part ways with Cromartie, but considering the salary cap situation, and overall lack of offensive playmakers, moving Cromartie for a player with the potential to be a top NFL back in the coming years would make a ton of sense. Ingram has been lauded by Saints Head Coach Sean Payton in the past for being an excellent player, who he has yet to use to his full potential. At the ripe age of 23 years old, the former Heisman trophy winner and New Jersey native would be an excellent fit in New York. Would the Saints be willing to part ways to bolster their putrid secondary? If I were the General Manager of the Jets, I would certainly make a phone call.

Outside of Free Agency and potential trades, the draft will be very important for the Jets at the running back position this year. Check back on Thursday as our draft team breaks down which backs to keep an eye on heading into April.

Rob Celletti – On August 4, 2011 (TOJ link: http://turnonthejets.com/2011/08/ground-and-pound-looking-at-the-jets-running-back-situation/) I questioned the viability of Shonn Greene as a number 1 NFL running back. I liked Greene as the punishing second option, used late in games to take advantage of the opponent’s worn-down defense. But Greene is clearly not on the level of Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew or Adrian Peterson, the type of true lead back that can quite literally carry a mediocre offense into the playoffs (provided he’s supported by a good enough defense). This formula worked well for the Jets in 2009 and 2010, but once the burden truly shifted to Greene, the Jets faltered.

One thing the Jets lack everywhere throughout their offense, and particularly at running back, is dynamic, big-play ability.  The Jets had that with Leon Washington. You could argue they even had it at times with LaDainian Tomlinson. But the bottom line right now is that the Jets don’t have a player that can catch a 3 yard swing pass and turn it into a 70 yard touchdown. These types of plays are crucial in today’s NFL. Consider how much better Mark Sanchez’s numbers might look if he had a couple of guys who could catch a simple dump-off and take it to the house. Do the Jets ever score “easy” touchdowns? No. They lack home run hitters. I like what Bilal Powell brings to the table as a second option, but that doesn’t solve the problem. I think Shonn Greene either takes a a massive paycut or he walks. Joe McKnight has been underutilized, but there might be reasons for that which fans don’t know about, i.e., he hasn’t shown the ability in practice to be a contributor on offense.

New York Jets – How To Begin A Turnaround?

How can the New York Jets have a quick turnaround from their recent struggles?

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The New York Jets lack the following things: General Manager, Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks Coach and of course…a Quarterback. What they do have is a situation that is tabloid fodder for the mainstream NFL media, as constant shots are taken at how undesirable it currently is to join the organization. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems in the NFL but without question, the Jets have work to do.

It is hard not to keep referencing back to the off-season prior to the 2006 season for some type of silver lining. The parallels are there. After 2005, the Jets had no GM, were shaky at quarterback and had an undesirable salary cap situation. Rebuilding was the only option and the team was written off for another 4-12 year, with a few more likely to follow.

So how did they end up at 10-6 and in the playoffs, along with begin to lay the groundwork for a team who would be .500 or better in 5 of the next 7 seasons?

It started with a strong draft, where picks were stockpiled. The team selected ten players, including two first round picks, two third round picks, and two fourth round picks. They acquired an extra first round pick by trading away John Abraham after he was coming off a strong, double-digit sack season. They were able to acquire an extra fourth round pick when Herman Edwards left for Kansas City.

The Jets landed two future Pro-Bowlers in the first round, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. and found mid-round and late round contributors in Brad Smith, Leon Washington, Eric Smith, and Drew Coleman. It was far from a perfect draft (Kellen Clemens and Anthony Schlegel, anybody?) but it yielded both quality and quantity.

Outside of the draft, the Jets cut the fat from their roster: Jason Fabini, Barry Gardner, Jay Fielder, Lance Legree, and Jerald Sowell along with trading away Doug Jolley and Brooks Bollinger. They made the tough decision to part ways with longtime Pro-Bowl center Kevin Mawae. The players brought to the roster were low and mid-level free agents or players via trade: Matt Chatham, Kevan Barlow, Tim Dwight, Andre Dyson, Anthony Clement, Patrick Ramsey, Brad Kassell and Kim Von Oelhoffen.

From the crop of new draft picks and free agents, a sizable amount turned into immediate starters and key contributors. Of equal importance, younger players on the roster from the previous year submitted career performances, players like Jerricho Cotchery, Cedric Houston, Victor Hobson, Chris Baker and Kerry Rhodes. Most importantly, they received a stable, productive year at quarterback from Chad Pennington. All these factors meshed with what turned out to be a soft schedule equaled a 10 win season and the building blocks for a generally successful team in the succeeding years.

How can this year’s Jets emulate a similar model?

The fat should be cut from the roster when Calvin Pace, Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas, Eric Smith and Jason Smith inevitably leave town. They will also likely have to make the difficult choice to part ways with Sione Pouha, like they did with Kevin Mawae. Similar to how the Jets traded Abraham at the height of his value, they should consider doing the same thing with Antonio Cromartie, particularly if it yields a high draft pick back.

In April, the Jets should be looking to leave with 10-12 players not 4-6 like they have been in previous years. They must stockpile in the early and middle rounds, like they did in 2006. Of course, they also need to hit on these picks like they did with Mangold, Ferguson, Smith and Washington. In free agency and in the trade market, the Jets need to find low-cost contributors and stopgap starters while hoping young players like Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, Bilal Powell, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, and Kenrick Ellis flourish in bigger roles.

At quarterback, they will need somebody on the current roster or a veteran to provide competent play until a long term answer is found. It isn’t like Pennington set the world on fire in 2006 (3,352 yards, 17 TDs, 16 INTs, 64.5 completion percentage) but he allowed the Jets to be competitive on a weekly basis.

You never know how the schedule will break in the NFL but at least the Jets only host one 2012 playoff team next year (New England).

Whoever the new GM ends up being, let’s hope they find a little inspiration from the Jets past in their rebuilding process – Stockpile draft picks, don’t be shy about cleaning house on the current roster, and bargain hunt in the free agency/trade market.

Turn On The Jets Best Bets – Divisional Weekend Edition

Chris Celletti with his weekly rant and Best Bets selections for Divisional Weekend

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Let’s say you’re looking for a job as a restaurant manager, and you have offers from two different owners. Restaurant #1 has been a successful establishment in the past. It’s located in a high traffic, affluent area. The appliances were just purchased two years ago and are in perfect working order. The already-in-place staff is reliable – the waiters are friendly, the cooks are solid and not to mention, the hostess is quite gorgeous. Then there’s Restaurant #2.

Restaurant #2 is located on a meandering, desolate road. The nearest businesses are a porn shop and a gas station, both a mile away in opposite directions.  There’s a shanty house across the street that everyone is pretty sure is a meth lab. The previous manager allowed the place to become filthy; the tables and chairs all need to be replaced and the appliances were revolutionary in 1986. Additionally, the owner is insisting on keeping his best friend as the head chef. And of course, the hostess looks like Melissa McCarthy.

Anyone in their right mind would choose Restaurant #1.

Restaurant #2 is the New York Jets.

The Jets aren’t exactly the outright embarrassment that a lot of fans and media want to make them out to be. But currently, they are a bit of a mess. It isn’t any wonder that their search for a General Manager is taking them a long time, and has them exploring paths that they had no idea even existed. There are only 32 General Manager jobs in the world, but the Jets’ vacancy is probably the least desirable for a few reasons:

The owner has essentially taken the decision on coach Rex Ryan completely out of the hands of who its supposed to be in, the General Manager. By making Rex a fixture in the organization, you are shrinking your pool of realistic candidates. Additionally, you’re telling any potential candidate or anyone that you coax into an interview that the entire football decision making process isn’ t up to them – that they’re going to have an owner over their shoulder ready to jump in and make a move at any moment. This is not the way to go about business.

The team is in salary cap hell. A true rebuilding job that will take a full season or two is needed. Some general manager candidates would love this opportunity – it’s a chance to prove they can correctly gut a team and build it from the ground up. If you can prove yourself by doing this, you’ve secured yourself a job in NFL front offices for as long as you want. But the best way to do this is a complete system overhaul and that includes the entire coaching staff – yes, Head Coach too. The Jets have made up their mind on head coach already, and the financial situation is dire.

The team has no quarterback. They are not in position to draft a no-brainer franchise quarterback like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. The right executives might be able to guess correctly on a mid-round quarterback, a la Russell Wilson (the draft is a total guessing game, especially with quarterbacks) but that’s no guarantee. Either way, with Mark Sanchez and his gargantuan contract in tow, the most important position in all of professional sports is in total shambles. Ask any free agent GM – they’d give up every corner, safety, pass rusher, receiver, lineman, coach, trainer and tee kid if you give them a legitimate quarterback to start with. Having no quarterback means you’re in NFL quicksand, and the Jets are just about up to their chin at this point.

This is why the Jets are looking at people like Jim Popp and Omar Khan. Who knows (certainly not me)? Just as you can unearth a great player off of someone else’s scrap heap, the Jets might strike gold with whoever they hire as their next GM.

But as with every head coaching hire the team has made since Bill Parcells left, the best you can say is “We’ll see”. Nobody knew what Herman Edwards was going to be like as a Head Coach. Nor Eric Manigini, nor Rex Ryan or Al Groh, or Joe Walton or Walt Michaels or Pete Carroll. When somebody has never been an NFL Head Coach or an NFL General Manager, you just never know. The Jets will soon likely  hire somebody who has never been a General Manager at this level. So when you read the articles saying “The Jets Were Right in Hiring (insert name here)” or “Clueless Jets Hire (insert name here)” take it all with a grain of salt.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard “Eric Mangini is the right man for this job”, or “Rex Ryan will be the Jets’ Bill Cowher” or things to that extent. Eventually, the Jets will get it right. They’ll guess right on the Next Great Coach/GM. Maybe they’re about to do that with whomever they choose in the coming days. It just would be nice, for once, to know you’re in the hands of a winner.

And now, the picks for this weekend’s Divisional Games after going 1-3 against the spread on Wild Card Weekend:

Baltimore (+9.5) at Denver – I like the Broncos to win but this is a big spread. Eventually we’re going to have a few close playoff games, right?

Green Bay (+3) at San Francisco – The Packers are winning the Super Bowl.

Atlanta (-3) vs. Seattle – Matt Ryan is overdue to win a playoff game.

New England (-9.5) vs. Houston – We’re headed for a Manning/Brady AFC title game. The only way Jim Nantz could be any more excited is if they move the game to Augusta National and Phil Mickelson refs.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week – Do you think there’s any chance Ben Affleck wins the Golden Globe for Best Director, making up for his snub in the same Oscar category? He’s at +150

12 Pack Of New York Jets Off-Season Thoughts – 2013, Edition #2

A 12 Pack of off-season thoughts on the New York Jets – Should they just cancel the 2013 season?

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As the New York Jets continue their seemingly endless search for a General Manager, Turn On The Jets is ready to chip in 12 more off-season thoughts on the team. A few highlights from our coverage this week…

On to the thoughts…

1. The way people talk about the New York Jets current situation, you would think they should just cancel the 2013 season. Take the 16 losses. Don’t even bother suiting up. It isn’t pretty. The Jets don’t have a desirable salary cap situation and are a mess at quarterback. However, let’s take a look at recent history. After a 4-12 2005 season, the New York Jets were in salary cap hell. They had no GM. They had no coach. They were a mess at quarterback. Without dissent, they were picked as the worst team in the NFL heading into the 2006 season. What happened? They went 10-6, made the playoffs and since then had .500 or better seasons in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Things can change quickly in the NFL. All it takes is a respectable off-season, a favorable schedule and a break or two at quarterback.

2. A little more of a background on John Idzik who is emerging as a potential favorite for the Jets GM job. This would be an interesting hire. He has a diverse background and had a hand in building one of the league’s most talented rosters in Seattle. Peter King predicted Idzik would ultimately end up with the Jets job…although he also predicted they’d draft Dontari Poe. Yikes.

3. With Mike Pettine now the Defensive Coordinator in Buffalo (and things ended on a bad note with Rex Ryan in New York as Chris Gross has reported) – Look for them to take a run at a bunch of Jets who will be leaving the team this year. Let’s hope they take Eric Smith, Calvin Pace, Bart Scott and Bryan Thomas not Mike DeVito, LaRon Landry or Yeremiah Bell.

4. Congratulations Mike Westhoff, you waited not even two full weeks after you retired to relentlessly trash a team who employed you over a decade and stuck with you through your various sicknesses. What a pathetic, selfish move to launch his media career…taking a page right out of the Kris Jenkins, Ray Lucas and LaDainian Tomlinson textbook. Have fun eating out of Mike Francesa’s dog bowl this afternoon. By the way, your special teams were abysmal this year: two blocked punts, three blocked field goals, two returns allowed for touchdowns, a failed fake punt, multiple muffed returns…give me a break.

5. Curious to see how many players that played significant reps for the 2012 New York Jets will be unemployed as NFL players next year? Bart Scott. Bryan Thomas. Lex Hilliard. Clyde Gates. Jason Hill. Chaz Schilens come to mind among others.

6. There is no logical reason to give Shonn Greene a new contract this off-season. Bilal Powell is the same player but slightly more well-rounded and is on the team for much, much cheaper. The Jets are better off looking at running back in the 2nd or 3rd round, along with taking a run at Chris Ivory as a restricted free agent.

7. On the other hand, why not give Braylon Edwards a veteran minimum deal to come back? He showed he could get separation and create plays in the final three games last year. Allow him to share reps with Stephen Hill at split end, both of them will be benefited by not having to play 60+ snaps per game.

8. Keep Rob Ryan off the coaching staff. No further explanation should be needed.

9. Best guess on the Jets hiring date for their new GM? Sometime early next week. Best guess who? It comes out of the following pool of names – John Idzik, Jim Popp, Omar Kahn, Brian Gaine and Scott Cohen.

10. Norv Turner was never coming here to work with Rex Ryan so nobody should be surprised he took the job with Cleveland. Keep an eye on Hue Jackson for the open offensive coordinator spot.

11. A reminder of the New York Jets 2013 opponents outside of the division – At home –  Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Oakland. On the road – Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Carolina, Tennessee.

12. Hang in there Jets fans, just like it wasn’t as good as it seemed in 2009-2010. It isn’t as bad as it seems right now.

New York Jets GM Search Marches On

The New York Jets GM search continues to march on

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Last Saturday we published this article citing a report from our friends at The Jets Blog that the New York Jets had hired Tom Gamble to be their new General Manager. While the contract remains on the table, the deal is not completed and is appearing less and less likely to be consummated with each passing day. If the report turns out to be ultimately inaccurate, we apologize for jumping the gun…so is the life and lessons of an independent website that has freedom to publish such things.

Anyway, since then the net has been cast wide on the General Manager search with some negative, perplexing and yes a few positive trends becoming apparent. Let’s take a run through who remains an option and try to make sense of this thing –

Tom Gamble – Originally considered a top of the line candidate and the Jets top option, Gamble has completely fell off the map…not just with the Jets but with other teams around the league. There are only two other GM openings left besides the Jets, Kansas City and Cleveland, and Gamble doesn’t appear to be a serious candidate for either of those jobs. He also lost out in San Diego to Tom Telesco and never got serious consideration in Jacksonville or Carolina. We heard from Pro Football Talk that Gamble didn’t interview well with the Jets and from an independent source that Gamble has no grasp on the salary cap. Could these be true or did Gamble want no part of the Jets because of the forced marriage with Rex Ryan, and the team is now spinning to the media? Only time will tell but his ascension to a GM position could very well not happen until a future off-season.

Marc Ross – He received an interview with the Jets Monday but has since not been mentioned as a serious candidate. Carolina went with Dave Gettleman instead of Ross out of the New York Giants front office and Ross doesn’t appear to be an option in Cleveland or Kansas City. Ross has an impressive resume and would be a strong hire but it doesn’t sound like the Jets are serious about him.

Dave Caldwell – Pretty simple here – Used his second interview with the Jets to leverage more money out of Jacksonville before taking the job.

John Dorsey – Expected to head to Kansas City. We haven’t heard a peep about him and the Jets in days.

Brian Gaine –  Out of the Bill Parcells tree, Gaine had his name pushed to Rich Cimini and Jason La Canfora from day one of the off-season because he wasn’t mentioned as a candidate for any team, anywhere this year except from those two in the first week of GM interviews. After the Jets went through the top tier candidates, Gaine has headlined the second group giving credence to a rumor that Korn Ferry (the firm in charge of the search) is heavily monitoring the media reaction to candidates. Despite his roots in NY and with the organization, he has a so-so resume and has too much of a Terry Bradway/Mike Tannenbaum influence. It is important to note, he was or is not a candidate for any open GM jobs this off-season except for the Jets.

Scott Cohen – A fallback, internal candidate. This would be a tough hire to sell. There is no logic behind promoting Mike Tannenbaum’s #2. There is a reason Cohen didn’t receive any interview requests this off-season from other teams. There is a reason he didn’t jump ship for a GM job after successful 2009 and 2010 seasons for the Jets. He is a Tom Heckert/Tannenbaum discipline. Do better, Jets.

Jerry Angelo – A big name in the second tier of GM candidates. Angelo has been out of work for a year after helping build a Chicago Bears team who reached the Super Bowl. Does he still have the fire/motivation to deal with a rebuilding process in New York, nevermind the media?

Omar Kahn – From everything we are hearing and reading, he sounds like the Pittsburgh Steelers version of Mike Tannenbaum, which is fine if you remove Terry Bradway’s influence from the scouting department and remake it entirely.

Jim Popp – The most intriguing candidate in the 2nd tier of GMs the team is interviewing. Popp is an extremely successful Canadian Football League General Manager, who interviewed for the Colts GM job last off-season and the Panthers GM job this off-season, ultimately losing out to Tom Telesco. Shake your initial laughter of hiring out of the CFL, Popp is highly regarded around the league and would an interesting, outside the box hiring by the Jets. The hiring would be enhanced if brought along Marc Trestman to be the team’s offensive coordinator. Trestman is currently the coach of Montreal Alouettes but has extensive NFL experience as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Simply put, he is a quarterbacks guru and the Jets need that desperately.

Breaking Down the New York Jets Roster – Again

Mike Donnelly breaks down the entire New York Jets roster and looks at who will and won’t be back next season

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Now that Rex Ryan has been retained as Jets Head Coach and he and Woody Johnson went ahead with their press conference/public stoning by the media, the big story in JetsLand these past few days has been who the new General Manager is going to be. The bigger issue, however, is what that new GM is going to do once he takes over the office previously occupied by Mike Tannenbaum. It’s impossible to say what free agents or rookies the new guy will bring in, but we can certainly analyze the current roster and who may or may not be back in 2013.

As you may recall, I broke down the roster from 1 through 53 back in October to show how little talent the Artist Formerly Known as Tanny assembled from top to bottom. While many players have either improved or worsened their stock since then, overall the talent level is still in pretty sad shape. I present to you the Jets roster from top to bottom, with a letter grade assigned for each player, and their percentage chance of returning in 2013. As with last time, the players will also be placed into one of 6 groups, split up as follows:

  • Group 1, The Darrelle Revis Division: An excellent NFL player who would either start for every team in the league, or would have any team in the league loving to get him (example: Quinton Coples falls into this category because of his potential, recent draft position, and big upside).
  • Group 2, The Jeremy Kerley Division (formerly the Dustin Keller Division): A good NFL starter that just about any team in the NFL would like to have, or a player with a lot of value.
  • Group 3, The Mike DeVito Division: A solid NFL player that has a role in the league and can contribute to a winning team.
  • Group 4, The 2011 Calvin Pace Division: A below average NFL player that shouldn’t be starting for any team, but could contribute in the right situation — in small doses — as a role player, or on special teams
  • Group 5, The Antonio Allen Division: An unproven young NFL player that may or may not develop into something for the team down the road. Too early to pass any real judgment for the most part.
  • Group 6, The 2012 Calvin Pace Division: Useless players. As opposed to group 5, they’ve had a chance to show what they have.. and what they have sucks.

Group 1, The Darrelle Revis Division

1. Darrelle Revis, A++. Obviously Revis is still the best player on this team and one of the best players in the whole league. I expect him to get a contract extension and be here for a very long time. – 99% to return.

2. Muhammad Wilkerson, A+. Wilkerson has improved his stock a great deal since the season began. Aside from J.J. Watt, there may not be a finer 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. – 100%.

3. Nick Mangold, A+. Still an elite offensive lineman and will be for at least a few more years. – 100%.

4. Antonio Cromartie, A+. When Revis went down, Cromartie rose to the occasion and showed himself to be a top 5 corner in the NFL. There’s a small chance he could be moved his offseason to clear cap room while his value is it’s highest, but I doubt it. – 90%.

5. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, A+. Brick bounced back from an off-year in 2011 and turned in a terrific season. An excellent Left Tackle. – 100%.

6. Quinton Coples, A. Coples doesn’t get the A grade based solely on his rookie production. He gets the A for the immense potential he showed and for his ability to cause havoc up front. There’s not a team in the league that wouldn’t take him. – 100%coplessmoke

7. LaRon Landry, A-. Landry managed to stay healthy and turned in a Pro Bowl season this year. It’s just a shame the team will likely be unable to meet his salary demands and bring him back next year. – 25%.

Group 2, The Jeremy Kerley Division

8. Santonio Holmes, B+. Holmes is still a very good WR capable of being a #1 and making big plays, but his season-ending foot injury combined with his high salary drop him down a peg or two. He’s still the biggest playmaker on the Jets and one of the most talented receivers in the league. – 90%.

9. David Harris, B. There is no question that the 2012 season was not what we have come to expect from the “Hitman”. His coverage ability slipped and he too often was out of position against the run, but the lack of talent around him and injuries at defensive tackle definitely played a big role in it. I expect him to bounce back in 2013, but the contract is still a big problem for our new GM. – 99%.

10. Jeremy Kerley, B-. Kerley isn’t a superstar or anything, but he’s a very reliable slot receiver and led the team in yardage this year. He could play for just about any team in the league and produce. He is also a valuable special teamer and makes hardly any money. – 100%.

11. Brandon Moore, B-. Moore’s play has slipped the past two years a little bit, especially in the run game, but he’s still a pretty solid starting NFL guard and provides veteran leadership. He’s a free agent and getting older, though, so let’s say.. – 50%.

12. Dustin Keller, B-. I’m not the biggest Keller fan, but his lack of production this year was due mainly to several injuries and the overall ineptitude of the offense. For the right team (he’s a free agent), Keller can really thrive. – 50%.

Group 3, The Mike DeVito Divison Part I

13. Mike DeVito, B-. DeVito is the kind of guy that every team in the league would love to have. He is excellent against the run, he is willing to play any position across the line, and he will never complain. Would be a big loss if he walks as a free agent. – 50%

14. Shonn Greene, C+. When used properly, Greene can be quite effective. He’s more of a 1B back suited for 12-15 carries to come in and deliver blows to a worn down defense like he did in 2009 and 2010. He’s also a free agent and I think the Jets are going to move in another direction, but he will help someone. – 40%.

15. Sione Po’uha, C. Po’uha was excellent the previous 3 seasons, but he really took a turn for the worse in 2012 after suffering a back injury in training camp. He’s getting up there in age and will definitely be cut in the offseason as a salary dump. There’s a chance he can come back on a reduced salary though to groom Kenrick Ellis for the job. – 33%.

16. Kyle Wilson, C. Kyle Wilson is nothing special, but I must admit he did play better in the second half of the season, and he even stopped doing that ridiculous finger wag. He could start for a few teams and provides us with a solid nickel option. – 100%.

17. Yeremiah Bell, C. Bell had a very solid season for us, and provided a big upgrade over Eric Smith, Jim Leonhard, and Brodney Pool. Unfortunately that isn’t saying much at all. Would like him back next year. – 66%.

18. Stephen Hill, C. Based on his performance in 2012, he clearly would be ranked lower than a C. However, he is still an extremely young player who could improve. I’m not sure guys suddenly learn how to catch the ball in their 20’s, but let’s hope he does. And let’s also hope our new GM isn’t stupid enough to rely on such a raw prospect to be a starting WR. – 100%.

19. Austin Howard, C. He provided some very good run blocking and some not-so-good pass blocking. He improved as the season went on, and I expect him back as a decent RT option. – 100%.

20. Kenrick Ellis, C. Ellis played very well in his limited action due to a knee injury. He very well could be our starting Nose Tackle next season. – 100%.

**The Mark Sanchez Group**

21. Mark Sanchez, C. Sanchez deserves his own special group. Not because he’s special in any way or such a great player, but because nobody seems to know what the hell to do with him. I’m not saying he deserves another chance to start here, but with his contract, I think that’s the road the team is going to go down. He will compete against a low-sanchezsadcost veteran, probably win the job, and then…. well, who knows what will happen then. But with some real quarterbacks coaching from a competent coach for the first time in his career (hopefully), there’s a chance the Sanchize can get back on track. Is it likely? No, probably not. But it’s what we have to hope for, and I just hope Jets fans will at least give him a chance in 2013 should he start game 1. If he’s released or traded, don’t be surprised to see him resurrect his career on a new team where the media pressure isn’t quite as severe and he actually has some weapons around him. He still has value, it just may not be in a Jets uniform. – 70 % he’s back.

And now back to…

Group 3, The Mike DeVito Division, Part II

22. Bilal Powell, C. Powell came on pretty strong in the second half of the season after battling some injuries and showed he’s a capable #2 back. I expect his role to expand a little bit next year. – 100%

23. Braylon Edwards, C. The majority of Jets fans were thrilled to see Braylon back this year. Sure, some of that was due to the fact Tannenbaum littered our roster with horrendous receivers throughout the season, but it was also because Braylon brings a lot to the team. He is a big, tough target, he can get down the field, and he can block. He has more value to the Jets than anyone else probably, and there is really no reason he shouldn’t be brought back next season. –  51%.

24. Matt Slauson, C. Slauson is just “meh”. He’s the epitome of average. There’s a place for him in the league, but the Jets should absolutely be looking for an upgrade along the offensive line this year. It’s clear the Jets are ready to move on from him because they let VLAD DUCASSE rotate with him. That’s not something you want on your resume. – 25%.

25. Demario Davis, C. Lots of Jets fans were excited for our 3rd round linebacker, but we didn’t get to see much of him this year. With the mass exodus of linebackers expected to take place on the roster, 2013 will be his chance to show what he’s got. – 100%.

26. Joe McKnight, C. I always find myself asking to see more of Joe McKnight because he shows big-play capability. Unfortunately, he always seems to be banged up and he seems unaware that fumbling is bad. Still an elite kick returner. – 100%.

27, 28, 29. Nick Folk, Robert “Mayday” Malone, Tanner Purdum, C. Gotta lump these 3 together. Folk put together very good season, as did our punter Mayday Malone. What, am I the only one who calls him that? Whatever. And you gotta admit, Tanner Purdum can snap a football!

Group 4, the 2011 Calvin Pace Division

30. Jeff Cumberland, C-. I’ve come around a little bit on Cumberland. He’s graduated from “totally useless” to just “borderline useless”. 50%.

31. Bart Scott, C-. I’ve always been a fan of Bart, but his play has clearly slipped. He’s still very good plugging the run, but his lack of speed is a big problem. He can find a spot in this league, and don’t be shocked if he’s back on a reduced contract next year. -20%.

32. Tim Tebow, C-. TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW. – 0%.

33. Garrett McIntyre, C-. Much like Cumberland, McIntyre is a guy I’ve really come around on. He was our best OLB this year probably, and although that isn’t saying much at all, the guy does try hard and occasionally makes a play. He has a role as a backup next year. – 100%.

34. Bryan Thomas, D+. He’s old, slow, and always injured. He had a decent season, but it’s over for BT. He had a solid career, but I’ll never forgive him for not being Ed Reed, who should have been the Jets selection in 2002. – 0%

35. Aaron Berry, D+. He was seemingly injured while signing his Jets contract, but he can provide a solid option against slot receivers in 2013. – 50%.

36. Josh Mauga, D+. I think Mauga can be useful as a backup inside linebacker and on special teams. He was going to take on a larger role this year but injuries nixed that. He’ll likely be back next year. – 90%.

37. Nick Bellore, D. Very good special teamer. Every team needs a guy like this. How are we only at #37?!?! – 90%.

Group 5, The Antonio Allen Division (no letter grades for these players, they all get Incompletes)

38. Greg McElroy.  Well, I guess not every late rounder who steps in to start for his team turns into Tom Brady. Oh well, he can still be a solid backup. – 90%.

39. Antonio Allen. He started to see the field more down the stretch of the season, and with both of our starting safeties being free agents, Allen could end up with a larger role next year. – 100%.

40. Josh Bush. (See Antonio Allen). – 100%.

41. Damon Harrison. He was curiously kept on the roster all season long, so Rex must see something in him. With Po’uha possibly gone, Big Dame could have a role in 2013. – 75%.

42. Clyde Gates. Of all the players here in Group 5, Gates played the most. He clearly isn’t the most polished receiver, but he shockingly had a few good moments. With big supporter Tony Sparano getting the ax though, he may not be back in green next year. – 50%.

43. Ricky Sapp. Ricky “the Tease” Sapp. He always gets coaches and other players talking about his potential, then he never delivers on the field, whether due to injury or lack of opportunity. He’ll be in camp next year, but it remains to be seen whether or not he can make his mark. – 50%.

44. Hayden Smith. The Australian rugby star has some ability. We’ll see if he can put it together in year 2. –  75%.

45. Isaiah Trufant. Last time I said this about him: “He’s a poor man’s Ellis Lankster. And considering Lankster has a homeless man’s amount of ability, I’m not even sure what that would make Trufant.” That was a bit harsh, because when he played this year he actually showed some promise. – 75%.

46. Josh Baker. God, do you know how hard it is to write 2-3 sentences about all these guys?! I mean look at this roster… – 50%.

Group 6, the 2012 Calvin Pace Division

47. Calvin Pace, F. Pace took the torch as my most loathed Jet in 2012. The master of the “run into offensive lineman, extend arms, stand there til play ends” pass rush move will not be a Jet in 2013. He may not even be in the league. – 0%.

48. Ellis Lankster, F. Ellis Lankster stinks. – 25%.Vladimir Ducasse

49. Vlad Ducasse, F. Ducasse became the face of the Fire Tannenbaum campaign. How could this man have been a second round pick?! – 25%.

50. Eric Smith, F. I’m really hoping he is roughing punters and slowly running behind tight ends and wide receivers for the Buffalo Bills next year. – 0%.

51. Chaz Schilens, F. Mike Tannenbaum thought Schilens and Stephen Hill would make for a fine #2 WR platoon this year. In related news, Mike Tannenbaum got fired. – 0%

52. Jason Smith, F. At least he wasn’t Wayne Hunter. – 0%

53. Caleb Schlauderaff, F. Mike Tannenbaum spoke of him as a possible “next Victor Cruz”. Again, is it any wonder Mike Tannenbaum was fired? – 25%

54. Konrad Reuland, F. With all the good tight ends coming out of Stanford, we got stuck with this one? – 25%.

55. Lex Hilliard, F. The fullback who somehow was worse than John Conner. Couldn’t run block, couldn’t pass block, couldn’t catch, and couldn’t pick up short yardage. – 0%.

As you can see, the new General Manager (whoever the hell that ends up being) has a lot of work to do. There are clearly some pieces in place to lead the team, but the “middle class” of the roster needs an overhaul. To win in the NFL you need quite a few role players to chip in and help out. When a starter goes down, there needs to be a next man up to fill that role. On this roster, the next man up is too often Vlad Ducasse or Konrad Reuland, and that needs to change.