Turn On The Jets Off-Season Roundtable – Wide Receiver

The TOJ staff discusses how the New York Jets should handle wide receiver 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. So far we have covered quarterback and running back, this week we move to wide receiver – 

How should the New York Jets handle wide receiver this off-season?

Joe Caporoso – The situation for the New York Jets at wide receiver isn’t quite the mess that many of their other offensive positions currently are but plenty of questions marks still exist. Jeremy Kerley had a terrific season and was the team’s most consistent player on offense in 2012, racking up 56 receptions and 827 yards which are monster numbers considering the team’s passing game last year. We know he will be back and be a critical part of the offense, likely working primarily from the slot.

Outside of Kerley, the question marks begin. 2012 second round pick Stephen Hill will be back after an inconsistent and generally disappointing rookie campaign. He must improve his route-running and ability to catch the ball in traffic if he wants to play major reps next season at split end. The team would be wise to bring back Braylon Edwards on a veteran’s minimum deal as insurance. Edwards ran strong routes in his three games with the team last year and looked like he still had plenty to give. If Hill’s development isn’t coming along well enough, Edwards can handle major reps on the outside and excel in the three-step game, particularly on slants and in-cuts.

Santonio Holmes is coming off major foot surgery and the team’s owes him a significant amount of guaranteed money. It is not out of realm of possibility that they will cut bait or look for a trade partner. Holmes has the skill set to be productive in Mornhigweg’s scheme, if he is the focused player he was during the 2010 season. However, the Jets cannot afford the same type of lazy route running and lack of communication with the quarterback they saw from him at times in 2011 and 2012. His fate remains up in the air but if Holmes is back in 2010 form, along with Edwards returning on a cheap deal, the Jets have the potential to have a deep, talented group of receivers. A four-wide featuring Holmes, Edwards, Kerley and Hill would be difficult for any defense to deal with.

At the bottom of the depth chart, don’t look for Clyde Gates or Chaz Schilens to return. In theory, Jordan White should have a skill set that is a perfect fit for the Jets new offense so maybe he will make some noise in training camp. Don’t look for the Jets to be too active in the free agency or trade market at receiver, with other positions taking priority this off-season. If they could stockpile draft picks, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Jets add a mid-round or late-round prospect to develop down the road but it would be shocking to see them select a receiver before round four.

Chris Gross – While the New York Jets have an abundance of offensive personnel issues to address this offseason, one position that may not necessarily need a total overhaul is wide receiver. The most important issue for the Jets receiving corps is health. It is imperative that Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill return at full strength from each of their respective injuries. Holmes was lost for the season with a Lisfranc injury in week 4, while Hill suffered a less severe leg injury later in the season.

It will be interesting to see what new General Manager John Idzik decides to do at the position, considering the newly hired Marty Mornhinweg will be implementing a West Coast Offense. Holmes and the emerging Jeremy Kerley seem to fit the bill in terms of wide receivers meant for this offense, but neither are viewed as the type to stretch the field for big gains. Each of them are stronger in the short passing game, while making runs after the catch. Hill would presumably be the player relied upon as the deep threat, with his tremendous speed and size, but he certainly still has a lot of growing to do.

Braylon Edwards is another interesting case. Edwards was brought in late last season as a move of desperation for an offense that was down to starting Clyde Gates and Mardy Gilyard opposite Kerley. Idzik was part of the front office in Seattle that released Edwards last season, just prior to the Jets claiming him off of waivers. If I had to guess, I’d say Idzik does not opt to bring Edwards back. He has been part of a group that has recently parted ways with him, and Edwards does not necessarily fit the bill of an effective WR in the West Coast Offense. Edwards is more of a possession receiver, with a small amount of ability after the catch at this point in his career. If he is brought back, it will likely be on a one year, incentive based deal.

stephen-hillSo outside of Holmes, Kerley, and Hill, who will be playing wide receiver for the Jets next season? With the current state of the salary cap, the Jets will need to have a very good draft, as well as landing a budget free agent, who they can get the most bang for their buck out of. That immediately rules out all of the big name players that will be hitting the market this offseason. Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings, Victor Cruz, and Wes Welker can all almost certainly be disregarded, barring any type of major trade that frees up cap space for New York. More realistic options in the free agent market would include players like Louis Murphy, Josh Cribbs, Kevin Ogletree, or Jerome Simpson. None of these players will be nearly as effective as the prior, but they would come at a much cheaper rate, and each of them have the ability to provide production beyond their pay grade, if utilized properly.

The trade market is quite possibly the most interesting aspect of the Jets offseason to monitor. We have previously explored the idea of moving CB Antonio Cromartie in an effort to maximize his trade value and relieve some much needed cap space. One possibility that Idzik could explore for Cromartie, is moving him to the Minnesota Vikings for Percy Harvin. Minnesota could certainly use help in the secondary having surrendered the 9th most passing YPG last season, with 244.2, and also generating the 4th least number of interceptions, with just 10. A player like Cromartie would greatly bolster the production level of this struggling secondary, while providing a nice veteran presence for young players like Harrison Smith to lean on.

Conversely, Minnesota and Harvin have publicly been at odds over Harvin’s contract situation since the conclusion of the 2011 season. Rumors have been floated for about a year about Harvin being moved, but Minnesota has been reluctant to do so thus far. Perhaps a package including Cromartie could finally entice the Vikings to rid themselves of Harvin and any lingering contract disputes.

For New York, Harvin would come in and likely become the primary receiving option right away. His skill set would fit nicely with what the Jets are moving toward on offense, having a a slightly more physical, larger style of play than Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson. Attaining a player like Harvin would then allow the Jets to explore the option of trading players like Santonio Holmes. Whether or not they would be able to find a partner for such a deal remains to be seen, but it would certainly be something that would be looked at in the hypothetical scenario of Harvin, or a player of that mold, being acquired.

Realistically, the Jets are likely to sign a low cost free agent, while taking a chance at a later round receiver in this year’s draft. For who those players could potentially be, be sure to check back Thursday, as our draft team breaks down the best wide receiving options for the Jets in the 2013 draft.

Mike Donnelly –  The Jets wide receiver position was an absolute wasteland last year, littered with players like Jason Hill, Mardy Gilyard, Clyde Gates, and Chaz Schilens. The unit’s best player, Santonio Holmes, was injured early in the season and was placed on IR. The 2nd round draft choice, Stephen Hill, was banged up numerous times throughout the year and when he did take the field, he showed an impressive ability to drop passes. Oh wait, that wasn’t a good thing at all, nevermind.

The best and most effective player week in and week out was clearly Jeremy Kerley, who actually had a very solid season and proved that he can be a major contributor going forward. The only other reliable option was Braylon Edwards, who was brought in toward the end of the season after being cut by Seattle due to a knee injury. It’s not too often you see a team pick up a starting receiver during week 14 after he was just cut by another team, but that is just what Mike Tannenbaum was forced to do.

As we all know by now, the Jets hired Marty Mornhinweg as their new offensive coordinator and he will be bringing his west coast offense with him. So what does that mean for the receiver position going forward and what changes will be made? Surprisingly, I don’t think the position will look all that different in 2013. Santonio Holmes will almost certainly be back due to his contract. Holmes tends to get lazy in his route running, but he has explosive after-the-catch ability and he could return to his big playmaker days. Stephen Hill is going to be here as the new coaching staff tries to develop him, because while his hands are made of stone, you can’t teach a player be be 6’4” with blazing speed. Jeremy Kerley is going to be back as well and play a major role as the slot receiver, which is a huge position in Mornhinweg’s offense. Look for him to have a ton of catches next year.

The other player likely to be back in 2013 and play a role for us? Braylon Edwards. Braylon loves being a Jet, and he was productive down the stretch, even though our quarterback position was a catastrophe. I don’t think the Jets are going to use a high pick on a WR this year, and will choose to develop Hill and Kerley instead. Under that scenario, we need a solid veteran to rely on along with Holmes, and Edwards fits the bill. He provides a tall target that can get deep down the field, and most importantly, his price tag will not break the bank. With the Jets salary cap situation being what it is, that is unfortunately going to be a major factor when shaping the 2013 depth chart. The Jets have pressing needs all over, so I don’t expect the WR position to be addressed in a major fashion. What we see is what we’ll get, whether we like it or not.

TJ Rosenthal – Vision for how the Jets should revamp the WR position is blurred until a new system is in place with a QB who can deliver the ball accurately and on time in it. As for the current roster, if the Jets go to a West Coast style, we could envision Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley thriving. Stephen Hill? We are not sure that system highlights what his strengths are.

Chaz Schilens and Braylon Edwards are not exactly constant quick hit speed guys to us but size will be needed in the red zone and on short yardage slants. The one WR Jets fans might want to see more of in a short spread passing game could be a healthy Jordan White. I believe he led the nation in catches as a senior in college. Reception monsters thrive in west coast systems.

The Jets clearly need WRs via free agency and the draft. The aforementioned group even with an elite QB is not good enough. New GM John Idzik will work within budget constraints in the attempts to fix the issue. We can’t expect Idzik to fix the problem with any one or two particular WR’s until we see who will be throwing the ball. Footwork, throws on time, hitting tight windows. Making good decisions. Give us that QB before we start to fill in who fits best on the outside.

No Huddle – Long New York Jets Off-Season Edition

TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle on the long off-season approaching the New York Jets

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Pats Lose But Jets Are Still A Mess

Jets fans loved seeing the Ravens knock the Patriots out. After five  straight years of Super Bowl pain that began when the David Tyree Giants shocked the world, through the Jets AFC title game years to now, the Har-Bowl will be much easier to stomach than a Pats or Big Blue appearance would have again.

Keep this in mind though. Today the offices in Foxboro will begin work on 2013. On being one, two games better. The Jets cleanup won’t be nearly as simple. What a job this will be for new GM John Idzik. Cleaning up the rubble of a bombed out city. Enjoy the Pats exit idiot bleed green and white, but keep in perspective.

One Thing Is Certain

Matt Flynn, Matt Moore, heck even call Vinny Testaverde if you have to. Mark Sanchez cannot be brought back with the hopes that new coaches and a new system will undoubtedly cure his brittle mindset. If Sanchez can’t be traded there has to be a veteran fighting for the same job right next to him this summer. Anything less would be considered negligence by the fans.

On Second Thought

We have raised the notion of a rebuilding process that could include trading Darrelle Revis in order to receive a handful of picks and players. After watching CBs suffer in this postseason, we are no longer in love with the idea. We hope that Idzik and Co. Would agree. The rules are too soft nowadays to lose a great corner. Sign Revis, for the long term. Once he shows that his knee is healthy again. In closing, we can emphasize enough how much we are looking forward to the coming weeks and months. A time when this roster will take shape and finally work towards becoming more viable offensively. It’s about time.

Stay with TOJ all week, as we will be continuing our roster breakdown, NFL Draft Preview and begin breaking down the West Coast Offense and how the Jets current personnel fits with it. 

New York Jets – How Could Idzik Handle Quarterback?

TJ Rosenthal explores if the Jets could have any interest in quarterback Matt Flynn this off-season

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The Jets moved up in the 2009 draft in order to grab the exuberant USC Rose Bowl star Mark Sanchez. Since then the one-time emerging quarterback’s play has fallen rapidly. Sanchez has time to be rehabilitated emotionally, but new Jets GM John Idzik may already have another plan in mind. One that includes giving the starting job to Matt Flynn, a player that Idzik helped bring to Seattle in 2011.

Flynn signed with the Seahawks in March of 2012. After two monstrous late season games in 2010 as Packers starter (while Green Bay rested god-like starter Aaron Rdogers for the playoffs). When he excited many teams who were in need of a quarterback, by throwing for a combined nine TD passes in eight quarters of play. Results that led to a three year twenty five million dollar deal for himself, to become the future in Seattle. One of those places in need of a fresh start from behind center.

Then all of a sudden the future of the NFL became something called the “run option.” Used by teams this past year such as the Seahawks and Redskins, who featured young athletic signal callers capable of spearheading it. With Russell Wilson (who shocked many by winning the job from Flynn in training camp) now firmly entrenched behind center for Pete Carroll’s club, many Jets fans are already wondering if Idzik is interested once again in the also-pricey Flynn.

Flynn or no Flynn, Sanchez is now on thin ice as a Jet. The Daily News is already suggesting that the Jets will explore the notion of trading Sanchez, if there is a market for him. Releasing him would work heavily against the Jets cap, but it remains an option. Successful teams do at times take financial hits in order to turn emotional pages inside of their locker rooms.

Could a Sanchez for Flynn deal be in the works with Idzik now at the controls? The answer could lie in part within the vision of Marty Mornhinweg, who was named the Jets new offensive coordinator today. Mornhinweg has called the plays for the Eagles for the past six years. He has worked alongside a mobile quarterback in Donovan McNabb, a run-first QB in Michael Vick, and a pocket passer in Nick Foles. Having seen all three style first hand, the new Jets play caller may lend a valuable hand in leading Idzik towards a direction that will serve the Jets best going forward.

If both elusive speed and arm strength is what Idzik now covets after seeing Wilson succeed as a rookie, Flynn will not be the right fit. He is clearly not as mobile as players like Wilson, Robert Griffin III or Colin Kaeperick are at the position, and his arm strength will never be considered among the elite.

However Flynn’s efficiency in the west coast style, proven briefly in Mike McCarthy’s system, could potentially make him a vast upgrade over Sanchez. Whose QB rating was ranked 30th in 2011 and 31st in 2012. Justifying a move to a player Flynn who could provide stability in the short passing game as a short term transition makes sense on some level, even if it were not the long term solution for Idzik’s new organization at the position.

If a deal that involved Flynn meant moving Sanchez came to fruition, the result would sadden any diehards who still believe that Sanchez had the ability to become a franchise quarterback. Had he been surrounded by the right talent, and developed properly by many ex-coaches. Whose failure to do so played a part in their respective firings.

It won’t be long before the fate of Sanchez and the mystery of who will be the starter, is addressed. As the process of rebuilding the Jets flawed roster finally begins. Matt Flynn’s name will certainly surface regularly as part of that conversation. From now until a choice by Idzik and the Jets is made.

Turn On The Jets Championship Weekend Picks

The Turn On The Jets gives their picks for Championship Weekend

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The Race for Steak is down to the final three games and it appears we have a winner clinched, although second place is still up for grabs. 

CURRENT STANDINGS

1. Rob Celletti (140-117-7)

2. Chris Gross (134-123-7)

3. Mike Donnelly (134-125-5)

4. Chris Celletti (129-129-6)

5. Joe Caporoso (119-138-7)

Joe Caporoso

Last Week (2-2)

  • Atlanta (+4) over San Francisco
  • Baltimore (+8) over New England

Mike Donnelly

Last Week (2-2)

  • Atlanta (+4) over San Francisco
  • Baltimore (+8) over New England

Rob Celletti

Last Week (2-2)

  • San Francisco (-4) over Atlanta
  • Baltimore (+8) over New England

Chris Celletti

Last Week (2-2)

  • Atlanta (+4) over San Francisco
  • Baltimore (+8) over New England

Chris Gross

Last Week (3-1)

  • San Francisco (-4) over Atlanta
  • New England (-8) over New England

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?

Stephen Hill

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.