Feeling the Tremors of the NFL Offseason – Part 1

In a two part column, Assistant Staff Writer Mike Donnelly rates the NFL Offseason using a Richter Scale system. Be sure to check back Friday for Part II. – CG

While lying in bed and flipping through the channels the other night, I came across a Discovery Channel show about earthquakes (not the wrestler, unfortunately) and put the remote down. I was fascinated not so much by the earthquakes themselves, but by the tool they use to measure them: The Richter Scale. I think it’s great how they can measure any earthquake anywhere at any time and determine which ones were bigger than the others and give a definitive answer based on a 1-10 scale. Then a thought hit me: Wouldn’t it be great if we could measure everything in life and have an accurate ruling? And more importantly, how can I relate this to football? I’ve been meaning to put together an offseason review, so let’s go ahead and combine the two. I present the 2012 NFL Offseason Review, as graded by the Richter Scale.

(Please note I’ll be giving you the breakdowns of the real Richter Scale descriptions and the magnitude–or score–of each offseason move in it’s respective category)

Magnitude: -2.0 – 0 – “Laughable” (Yeah, I made this one up, but it’s surely worth mentioning)

-2.0 – Rams Hire Brian Schottenheimer as Offensive Coordinator –   I can’t wait to watch Sam Bradford work with former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer this year and keep tabs on all the “Is Sam Bradford a bust?” stories that will inevitably be coming out. Just wait, Rams fans, just you wait. And fantasy football players out there, stay clear of this train wreck. You’ll thank me later. Now let’s move on.

Magnitude: 0 – 1.9 – “Micro” (Not felt) 

0.1 – Lee Evans signs with the Jaguars – There are a ton of free agent signings you can put in this “micro” category, but this is my favorite one. Not because it’s a good signing or anything (it’s not), but how is Lee Evans still getting work? For years people said “If Lee Evans just had a good QB throwing to him..” Well, it turns out, Lee Evans just isn’t that good, and his final year in the league will be spent having Blaine Gabbert skip passes to him. At least the lasting memory of him won’t be that of dropping a touchdown in the final seconds of a playoff game that could have sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl or anything. Oh wait, yes it will.

Magnitude: 2 – 3.9 – “Minor” (Barely felt, causes no damage)

2.2 – Brandon Jacobs signs with the 49ers – At this point Jacobs is more known for what he does off the field with his big mouth and delusions of being a professional racecar driver than for what he does on the field. I guess that makes sense, since what he does on the field these days is, well, nothing.

3.5 – Hines Ward and Matt Light retire – I bunched these two together because their situations are so similar: Once-great players who spent their entire careers winning with one franchise, whose play slipped dramatically seemingly overnight. Hines Ward became an afterthought in the Steelers offense last year, and Light was on the verge of being replaced by 2011 rookie Nate Solder anyway. Enjoy retirement, fellas.

Magnitude: 4 – 4.9 – “Light” (Noticeable, but no significant damage)

4.0 – Aaron Ross signs with Jaguars for $15 million – And that’s over three years! For Aaron Ross to deserve $15 million, the contract should span about 30 years, give or take a few. This doesn’t register a 4.0 because of Ross’s play on the field (that would be in the 1.5 range), but rather because of the impact it will have around the league. If Ross is worth $5 million a year, what is someone like Darrelle Revis worth? On a side note, New York fans everywhere are laughing at the Jaguars for signing Drew Coleman and Aaron Ross in back-to-back offseasons. Do some of these teams not have scouts?

4.1 – Ryan Tannehill and Joe Philbin are the new faces of the Dolphins – And you wonder why Dolphins fans stage rallies and protests outside the stadium to get GM Jeff Ireland fired? Tannehill went #8 overall! Really?! He’s likely to become the 73rd (or maybe it just seems that high?) quarterback to come in and fail since Dan Marino’s retirement. At least this is a better option than David Garrard, right Dolphins fans? Right? Ok, maybe not..

4.2 – Giants get Keith Rivers for a 5th round pick – A total win-win move for the Giants here. If Rivers stays healthy–which is a big if–they get a guy who was a top-10 pick just four years ago and has played well in his limited action between injuries. If he gets hurt again, it was still a worthwhile gamble for a team that is very thin at linebacker and they only lose a 5th rounder. Moves like this are why Jerry Reese is considered one of the best GM’s in the NFL.

4.4 – Falcons get Asante Samuel for a 7th round pick – Samuel is a limited cornerback, but he’s very good at what he does, which is cover people on the outside. The Falcons clearly need some help in the back end of their defense, and a 7th round pick is practically nothing to give up. Unfortunately for Atlanta, they have far bigger problems to deal with than their #2 cornerback situation–like figuring out why their quarterback hyperventilates and wets himself in the playoffs, for example.

4.5 – Alex Smith gets upset with 49ers, signs 3-year contract anyway – The 49ers were clearly not too concerned with Alex Smith getting any big offers elsewhere. They sniffed around Peyton Manning, evaluated all their options, then figured they’d bring Smith back short-term and just look to replace him again next year. After watching his comical performance down the stretch against the Giants in the NFC Championship last year, I can see why they weren’t so eager to bring him back right away. I mean you could actually see the fear on his face as he fired passes directly into the turf 4 yards ahead of him. But still, a Super Bowl favorite signing their starting QB is going to cause some ripples, any way you slice it.

4.6 – Laron Landry signs with the Jets – (And to a lesser extent Yeremiah Bell, plus the drafting of Josh Bush and Antonio Allen to overhaul the position) An argument can be made that this should register lower, but the homer in me says otherwise. If you’ve watched the Jets safeties play the last two seasons, you’d understand why this is such a big move. Landry has good size, great speed, can jam tight ends, and actually make tackles. It will be nice to see a Jets safety out there that doesn’t require a sun dial to time his 40 yard dash. If –and this is another big if — Landry can stay healthy, he can take the Jets defense from being “very good” back to being “dominant”.

4.8 – Randy Moss un-retires, signs with 49ers – I love that this happened. Randy Moss is one of the most dominant receivers of all time, and he will likely be playing with a major chip on his shoulder this year. That being said, he’s sulked and slouched his way through games and entire seasons when he wasn’t the focal point of the offense and catching highlight reel touchdowns. Now he’s on the run-first, run-second 49ers. Should be interesting. I’m prepared for anything.

Magnitude: 5 – 5.9 – “Moderate” (Can cause slight to major damage)

5.0 – Bucs spend big for Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, Eric Wright – Another example of teams perhaps over-spending on free agents, but all three of these guys can help Tampa win. They likely won’t compete for the division title this year, but the signings of Jackson and Nicks will go a long way towards helping quarterback Josh Freeman progress into the franchise signal-caller they hope he can be. Plus, Tampa now has to be considered a potential target for big-time free agents. Hey, Greg Schiano always was a pretty good recruiter.

5.1 – Matt Flynn signs with Seahawks – I don’t necessarily think Flynn is going to turn into a star or anything, but how he plays these next few years will have a lot of impact on how much money future backups-hoping-to-be-staters can get in coming years, which is a pretty major thought. The last two high profile quarterbacks in that category, Matt Cassell and Kevin Kolb, have largely flopped, so let’s see if Flynn can buck the trend. Oh, and his performance will likely be the determining factor in whether or not Pete Carroll gets fired. No pressure. On the bright side, it sure beats having Charlie Whitehurst and Tavaris Jackson run the show.

5.3 – Patriots sign non-washed up veteran (Brandon Lloyd) and trade UP in draft– Whoa, talk about bucking some trends. The Patriots, for the first time in many years, sign a veteran player who is actually kind of in the prime of his career and can help Tom Brady on the field (Sorry, Ochocinco). Not only that, after years of trading down in the draft for future picks and taking project players, they shocked everyone and surprisingly took two defensive players with high ceilings that can come in and help their porous defense from day 1. Times, they are a-changin’! (Well, not changing that much. The Patriots are still going to be awesome. Also, Belichick couldn’t help himself and signed Joseph Addai. The washed up veteran signing streak lives.)

5.4 – Cowboys and Eagles bolster their defenses– I lumped these two together as well, because their moves are so similar. Both these NFC East contenders knew they had to do something about their defenses to compete against one another and the Giants this year, so they did. The Cowboys last year appeared to be running a charity on the field for opposing quarterbacks with their terrible secondary. To amend that problem, they signed CB Brandon Carr for big money and traded up in the draft for Morris Claiborne. On the flip side, the Eagles had no problems defending the pass, but their defensive front allowed holes big enough for trucks to drive though. So Andy Reid wised up and traded for run-stuffing Middle Linebacker DeMeco Ryans, and traded up for DT Fletcher Cox. Mission accomplished. The NFC East is going to be tough this year.

5.9 – Bears acquire Brandon Marshall and Michael Bush– After years and years of failing to provide Jay Cutler a solid NFL-calibre WR to work with, the Bears mercifully went out and got Cutler’s favorite receiver to play with, Brandon Marshall, for just two 3rd-round draft picks. How did they get an elite talent for so little? Well, other than Jeff Ireland being an idiot, it’s probably because Marshall allegedly assaulted yet another woman–this time in a bar–and might spend some time in prison. Should he avoid the slammer, Marshall gives them a legitimate receiving threat, while Bush will provide an excellent inside runner to pair with Matt Forte, who is coming off knee surgery.

 

How Yeremiah Bell Fits In With The Jets

Heading into the offseason, the New York Jets most obvious need, along with Right Tackle, was undoubtedly the Safety position. To say the Jets were poor in this part of their secondary last year would be an understatement, and in a division where you face two of the NFL’s top tight ends, in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, twice a year, safety play is crucial to the success of a defense. The Jets have taken another step in addressing the position by adding free agent Yeremiah Bell this past Friday. Bell will join LaRon Landry and rookies Josh Bush and Antonio Allen as the four safeties New York has added this offseason.

There are some concerns about how Bell will fit in, since he is very similar to Landry in terms of play. Like Landry, Bell is a very physical safety whose talents are best utilized in run support. So, the obvious question that comes about is why the Jets would add two strong safety types, when the greater need is in coverage. However, there are numerous factors as to why this signing makes sense.

1.) The Jets will be taking a more physical approach toward covering tight ends this season. While New York needs people who can keep up with guys like Gronkowski and Hernandez, they could be moving more towards a scheme that requires the safeties to play more physical in coverage. This includes a heavy amount of jamming at the line of scrimmage, while doing anything possible to disrupt the routes of the opposing tight ends. The Jets could certainly run packages where they put both Landry and Bell in press type coverage, while allowing someone like rookie Josh Bush, who has fantastic cover skills, to play in a centerfield type role, where he excelled in college. With the ability to bring in Bush, Eric Smith, and Kyle Wilson as the nickel corner, expect New York to mix it up with personnel in the defensive backfield through a number of various schemes to keep opposing offenses on their toes.

2.) Bell gives the Jets much needed veteran depth at the safety position. Besides Landry and Smith, the other four safeties on New York’s roster have played in a combined 12 NFL games. Although rookies Antonio Allen and Bush are very promising, combining them with DeAngelo Smith and Tracy Wilson as your only backups in the event that Eric Smith or the injury prone Landry get hurt would be an idiotic move. Veterans in the secondary will be crucial not only to the success of the defense, but also to the development of the young guys.

3.) Jim Leonhard is not healing well enough from his season ending knee injury for the Jets to commit to him. The Bell signing most likely signifies the end of Jim Leonhard’s run as a Jet. Leonhard has been a valuable piece to Rex Ryan’s defense since joining his defensive mentor in coming to New York three seasons ago. However, season ending leg injuries in each of the past two years have seemed to seal his fate with the Jets. If this is, in fact, the end of Leonhard in the green and white, his cerebral contributions, and constant fire and tenacity to Ryan’s scheme will surely be missed, and will be difficult to duplicate. Unfortunately, though, health has caused Leonhard to become too much of a liability for the Jets to invest in.

Although it may not sit well with most fans, opting for Bell over Leonhard is a smart, safe move. Since his rookie season, in which he played in 13 games, Bell has played in all 16 games in each of his 8 seasons in the NFL, with the exception of 2007 when he suffered a torn Achilles in week one, which sidelined him for the entire year. Since recovering, Bell has never missed a game, while recording over 100 tackles in each season following his injury.

Other than the concern that Bell is too similar to Landry in terms of ability, another popular issue that has caused some alarm for Jet fans is how he will be able to pick up Rex Ryan’s complex defensive system. Although he may not be on Jim Leonhard’s level anytime soon, the notion that Bell will not be able to pick up the scheme because it is too complicated is being blown way out of proportion. Every defense in the NFL is complex, and Bell is a professional. While it certainly may take some time for him to truly get comfortable, he should get a full grasp of the defensive concept in no time. Fortunately for him, he has a great amount of time between now and the start of training camp, and will be surrounded by players like Darrelle Revis and Eric Smith, who are very familiar with the scheme, to help him adjust mentally.

Why Do You Hate The Jets? NFC East Edition, Part I

In continuation with our new Why Do You Hate The Jets? series, we follow our review of the AFC East with the division’s counterpart in the NFC. The NFC East is very similar to the AFC East on a number of levels. There’s a team in the New York Giants who, like the Patriots, have unquestionably dominated the division recently. There is the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys who are, surprisingly, similar to the Jets. All three of these teams look solid on paper year in and year out and generally have a vast amount of hype surrounding them each season. Then there is the Washington Redskins, who most closely resemble the Buffalo Bills. Like the Bills, Washington has struggled throughout the past decade.

For the second edition of this series, we will use the same criteria for each of these teams in relation to the Jets. However, the NFC East Edition will be broken down into two separate parts, the Washington Redskins, and everyone else. For Part I, we will look at Washington solely, then we will follow up with an analysis of the remainder of the division. If you missed the first article, here are explanations of the three categories that teams will be placed in. Onto the Redskins.

Just Shut Up:

Washington Redskins – I haven’t seen a more unaccomplished, poorly run organization with as great a sense of entitlement as Washington. Fans of the Redskins seem to hang onto the one playoff victory they’ve had in the past decade for dear life. They seem to forget that owner Daniel Snyder has treated his head coaches like a game of musical chairs. Since taking ownership in D.C. in 1999, Snyder has gone through six head coaches. Now, I am not mathematician, but that averages out to a new coach roughly once every two seasons. Say what you want about the Jets struggles to find consistency and an identity, but a coaching shuffle like Washington’s is unheard of.

The Jets are also often criticized for personnel decisions, most recently the team’s decision to give Santonio Holmes a $50 million contract. Whether or not Holmes will prove to be worth his contract remains to be seen. However, since Daniel Snyder has come to town, the Skins have become notorious for shelling out big dollars to big name free agents who rarely end up working out. Snyder brought in players like Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, and Mark Brunell well into the twilight of their careers to assume starting roles, while offering them hefty salaries. Most recently, though, the Redskins inked Defensive Tackle Albert Haynesworth to a 7-year deal worth $100 million in 2009, with $41 million guaranteed, only to trade him in the summer of 2011 for a measly fifth round draft pick.

Likewise, in 2010, the Redskins traded a second round draft pick to Philadelphia for Quarterback Donovan McNabb. Later in the season, the team extended McNabb’s contract to five years, $78 million, despite the quarterback having been benched by head coach Mike Shanahan in week 8. The rocky relationship between McNabb and Shanahan ended up exploding by the end of the year, and McNabb saw himself fall to third string on the depth chart. The following summer, McNabb was traded to Minnesota for a sixth round draft pick.

The most recent questionable free agent signing by the Washington Redskins, though, is Safety Brandon Meriweather, who inked a 2 year, $6 million deal on March 15th of this year. A little over a month later, Meriweather, who has had a history of off the field trouble, was arrested for a DUI. The Jets have recently gotten a bad reputation for some of their personnel decisions, but when it comes to anticipating value, assessing talent, and evaluating character, no one seems to do it worse than the Washington Redskins.

The most heavily criticized player on the New York Jets is undoubtedly Mark Sanchez. Besides winning four playoff games in his first two seasons in the NFL, Sanchez is widely viewed as a bust throughout various fan bases around the league. Whether or not this proves to be true, Washington certainly has no room to talk when it comes to drafting quarterbacks. Remember Jason Campbell? Yeah, neither does anyone else. Washington selected the Auburn quarterback with the 25th overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft. From 2006-2009, the Redskins compiled a 19-32 record with Campbell as a starter, before allowing him to leave via free agency following the ’09 season.

The Redskins faithful will surely argue that the recent acquisition of Quarterback Robert Griffin III will return the franchise to one of the most respected organizations in the league. However, after selecting RGIII with the second overall selection in this year’s draft, the Redskins questionably selected Michigan State Quarterback Kirk Cousins in round 4. Surely, it is always good to have a backup quarterback, as it can be detrimental to a team if there is no depth at the postion. Just ask Chicago and Indianapolis about the importance of Quarterback depth.

However, Cousins was widely viewed by many draft analysts to be the fourth best quarterback in the draft behind Ryan Tannehill. He has received excellent reviews from his former head coach Mark Dantonio, and many believe he will be a high quality starter in this league at some point. Although it will certainly be RGIII’s team during the early stages of these young quarterbacks’ careers, this situation screams quarterback controversy down the road if Griffin begins to struggle. Criticize the Jets acquisition of Tim Tebow all you want, but the decision by Washington to draft two very quality young quarterbacks during the same draft is not only a questionable move, it could also prove to be very costly in the future.

I surely can go on and talk about how the Redskins have not even sniffed the playoffs since Rex Ryan has been in New York, but there is no need to bother. Washington is an inferior franchise, and until they prove to be anything else, should know their role as the punch line of the NFC East, while not breathing a word about the quality of the Jets as a team or as an organization.

 

The 5 Biggest Fears Of New York Jets Haters

Turmoil. Despair. Cancer. Implosive. These are just a few of the words that have been used to describe the New York Jets since the conclusion of the 2011 season. The end of the season meltdown in Miami that capped a horrible December for the Jets last year, has stuck with them throughout the entire offseason, and will likely be around until game one of next year. Most fans of the NFL who don’t cheer for the green and white have relished in this. As they see it, the big bad Jets, who have never lived up to their coach’s brash guarantees, finally got what they deserved. This attitude certainly will not be easing up anytime soon. However, there are 5 scenarios that would ultimately prove to be devastating to everyone who thrives in New York’s sufferings, and would likely rip the soul out of any negative commentary directed toward the Jets.

5.) Quinton Coples Produces Double Digit Sacks As A Rookie. Most people who love to point out any hardships faced by the Jets always seem to use their history of ineffective drafting as one of the many forms of ammunition against them. We all know the story. Ken O’Brien over Dan Marino. Kyle Brady over Warren Sapp. Vernon Gholston over…well, anyone. Jets haters are praying that the next chapter reads “Quinton Coples over Melvin Ingram.” These fans would love nothing more than to see Coples come out and be the loaf that he has unfairly been portrayed to be among draft analysts, media, and some uninformed fans. Coples certainly has the potential to be an excellent player in New York’s defense for years to come, and him fulfilling this potential would surely leave quite the sour taste in the mouths of everyone wishing negativity upon the Jets.

4.) The Jets Display Great Team Chemistry. How happy do you think fans of teams like New England, the Giants, and Buffalo were to see Santonio Holmes screaming on the field like a 4th grader in Miami last season. What surely made them even happier was Holmes’ miserable mug on the sidelines, watching as the team he “captained” saw their season slip between their fingers. To add even more to their joy was the week that ensued from the blowup on South Beach. Bart Scott was flipping off the media, Rex Ryan was crying, and anonymous sources were telling everyone how bad Sanchez was. A nightmare for anyone associated with the Jets, but a dream come true for all of Gang Green’s most passionate haters.

Speaking of nightmares, though, how terrifying of a thought is it, to everyone that hates the Jets, of the team actually unifying and displaying great team chemistry throughout the entire season? We already saw how much Giant fans quiver at this idea, as displayed by the immense amount of boos directed toward Sanchez and Holmes when they attended a recent Knicks game together.

Not only do people love the idea of the Jets failing professionally, but to see them waist deep in turmoil and drama is pure bliss. Imagine how sick it would make these fans to see the Jets come together as one, and achieve the type of unification that propelled them to back-to-back AFC title games just over a year ago.

3.) Tim Tebow Is A Vital Piece To The Jets Offense, But Not As A Quarterback. The day the Jets traded for Tim Tebow was surely the happiest day of the offseason for everyone that despises New York. Mark Sanchez has become the most heavily scrutinized quarterback in the NFL today. No player in the history of the league has had such an early amount of success overshadowed by constant questions of job security. Due to the fact that Sanchez was able to achieve so much in his first two seasons, those who hate the Jets will take every opportunity to point out even the slightest flaw in number 6’s game. This same group of people undoubtedly would like nothing more than to see Sanchez dethroned by the newly acquired Tebow. Haters of Gang Green love the fact that the Jets brought in the most popular player in the NFL to undermine Mark Sanchez, and create, as they see it, an inevitable quarterback controversy to further add to the team chemistry issues.

Most people have started predicting not if, but when, Tebow will become the full time starter in New York. Sanchez’s success, coupled with his portrayal as a “pretty boy,” has caused him to be one of the most hated players in the league. Mass amounts of people would love to see nothing more than Tebow take the reigns from Sanchez, with the Jets eventually kicking the former 5th overall selection to the curb.

However, could you imagine the pain it would cause this same sample of fans to have to watch the Jets win with both Sanchez and Tebow contributing? Picture a world where Sanchez is the unquestioned starter, and leader, of the Jets, with Tebow being a vital piece to a successful offense as a running back, h-back, wild cat quarterback, jack of all trades type player. Most people seem to forget how effective Tebow can be as a runner in this league. Group that with Tony Sparano’s run first philosophy, and this hypothetical could very well become a reality.

2.) Mark Sanchez Makes The Pro Bowl. As stated above, Sanchez is probably the most hated player on the Jets, among the many players that draw so much angst from those who look upon New York with such disapproval. Other than fans and personnel of the team, no one on the planet wants to see Sanchez succeed. To see him lead the Jets to a division title, while making his first career pro bowl, would not only kill so many punch lines for those who like to poke fun at the Jets’ misfortunes, but would put an end to any questions regarding the position heading into next offseason.

1.) The New York Jets Win The Super Bowl. This would be the ultimate defeat for anyone who has even the slightest feeling of animosity toward the Jets. To see Rex Ryan finally hoisting that Lombardi Trophy above his head in the Superdome next February would probably drive some of New York’s biggest haters into exile for at least a few weeks. The amount of ammo that Jet fans would have to fire back at everyone who has sulked in the team’s recent struggles would certainly be too much for any of them to handle. Not to mention, there would be no further questions of controversy, internal dissent, or lack of leadership, and we would likely witness a disappearing act of every anonymous source living in the Jets’ locker room. What on earth would the mainstream media write about?

 

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack: Eyes On The AFC East

The TOJ 12 pack looks at the moves made in the AFC East that should get the New York Jets attention

In case you haven’t noticed, all three of the New York Jets division rivals have been fairly active this off-season. Today’s 12 pack is dedicated to examining which of those moves will have the biggest impact. I can promise you the Jets will be a consensus pick to battle for last place with Miami this year while Buffalo will be everybody’s sweetheart pick to challenge New England and grab a playoff spot. To that I say…good. I am glad this team is back to playing with low expectations and in more of an underdog role.

12. Watch Him – Under the radar signing, corner/safety Richard Marshall going to Miami. He is a good, versatile player who will be a nice addition to that defense.

11. Bit Pieces – New England made a handful of minor moves on their defense by signing Jonathan Fanene, Bobby Carpenter, and ex-Jet Marquice Cole. These are the kind of transactions that don’t get much press but then you see all three of them making impact plays for the Patriots.

10. Mid-Round Steals – Credit Buffalo for getting great value in the second and third round of the NFL Draft. Cordy Glenn has a good chance to start immediately at tackle and I wouldn’t be surprised to see wide receiver T.J. Graham starting by the end of the year.

9. Quiet Secondary – New England didn’t make any major splashes in improving their consistently awful secondary this off-season. However, keep an eye on free agent Steve Gregory and second round pick Tavon Wilson to make immediate impacts at the safety position.

8. We Want An Island – Buffalo selected highly touted cornerback Stephon Gilmore in the first round to help sure up the back end of their secondary. He has the skill set to make an immediate impact on a defense that allowed Mark Sanchez to throw four touchdowns against it last season in a single game.

7. No Law Firm – New England decided to let BenJarvus Green-Ellis leave for Cincinnati in a somewhat surprising move. They will be relying heavily on Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen to step up to fill the void. Personally, I am happy to see Green-Ellis go. He was a savvy, hard running and productive back. I wouldn’t be surprised if New England added Joseph Addai in the coming weeks.

6. Light On Receivers – Miami surprisingly shipped wide receiver Brandon Marshall off to Chicago in a trade, leaving them thin at the wide receiver position unless you consider Brian Hartline and Davone Bess major threats.

5. Linebacker Nation – New England drafted two players in the first round to boost their pass rush and linebacker play, by grabbing Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower. Jones will line up all over New England’s formation and Hightower should be an instant upgrade at inside linebacker.

4. If It Ain’t Broke, Or Was It? – Buffalo decided to continue to roll with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback and Stevie Johnson as their top wideout. One thing that everybody forgets when discussing the Bills as a contender is that Ryan Fitzpatrick, outside of a few early season flashes…kind of sucks. Johnson has a weird ability to get open on Darrelle Revis on short and intermediate routes but is also an idiot and a loose cannon who frequently hurts his team more than he helps it.

3. Receivers On Receivers – New England had depth issues at wide receiver last year…not anymore. They added Brandon Lloyd, who is a viable deep threat and one of the more productive receivers in the league the past few years, along with Jabar Gaffney, Anthony Gonzalez, and Donte Stallworth. So long Ochocinco.

2. Miami Drafts Tannehill – The Dolphins finally decided to take a quarterback in the first round, not the second round. It is hard to imagine a scenario where Tannehill doesn’t start at some point this season, with apologies to the immortal Matt Moore and David Garrard. Opinions were mixed on him coming out of college, so he could be a boom or bust prospect. However, we do know there were not mixed opinions on his wife.

1. Buffalo Gets After The Quarterback – The biggest free agent signing of the NFL off-season not involving Peyton Manning was the Buffalo Bills getting Mario Williams to lead the improvement of their stagnant pass rush. They supplemented the move by bringing in Mark Anderson who had 10.5 sacks last season for New England. The popular line of thought is that Buffalo has the best front seven in football now, we’ll see about that. Either way, Tony Sparano has his work cut out for him with Wayne Hunter, Vlad Ducasse and Caleb Schlauderaff all potential parts of the line.

New York Jets Need To Put Finishing Touches On Roster

The New York Jets should consider making the following moves to solidify their roster

After reviewing the New York Jets post-draft depth chart, it becomes clear the team should consider making moves to solidify their roster. Nothing major is coming at this point as the team is clearly banking on substantial improvement from within by making better use of their resources, most notably on offense with Tony Spranao taking over for Brian Schottenheimer. However, that doesn’t mean a few tweaks can’t go a long way to helping insure the Jets are competing for a playoff spot this season.

You can argue about right tackle until your lungs are sore. At the moment it appears the plan is for Wayne Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse to compete for the position. You can allow that to occur while still protecting yourself to some degree. Keep in mind the Jets let Robert Turner walk in free agency and have very questionable depth behind their starters. Mike Tannenbaum can praise Caleb Schlauderaff all he wants, he has still never played a meaningful NFL snap. Right now he and the loser of the right tackle battle project the team’s top two backups. There is no logical reason to not bring a low cost veteran for insurance purposes. Vernon Carey makes too much sense to ignore since he is experienced at tackle and guard and has played in Tony Spranao’s offense.

Why not get him in sooner rather than later? Why wait until the offensive line shows signs of struggling in the pre-season? If not Carey, at least get another veteran who has seen some type of NFL action on the roster. You are currently one injury away from starting both Wayne Hunter and Caleb Schlauderaff, did we learn nothing last year?

Beyond that on offense, the Jets would be wise to add a blocking tight end. Simply put they don’t have one on their roster. Billy Bajema, Justin Peelle, and Jeff Dugan are all examples of players the Jets could sign to the veteran’s minimum and would help on a run heavy offense.

I don’t see them adding to wide receiver or running back at this point. A player like Braylon Edwards would only slow down Stephen Hill’s development. You traded up to get him, so put him out there. If healthy, Chaz Schilens will provide adequate depth. Edwards is more likely to go somewhere that he has a clearer chance to start, maybe St. Louis with Brian Schottenheimer now running their offense. At running back, there aren’t many impact players left out there. I’d rather see the team give Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell and Terrance Ganaway a real chance to become impact players instead of putting another veteran in the mix.

On defense, the Jets would be wise to add Yeremiah Bell and Chris Johnson, both who visited with the team last week. Many fans get sentimental about bringing Jim Leonhard back and while we respect what Jim did for the Jets the past few years, let’s be realistic here. Bell is bigger, more athletic and more durable than Leonhard. At this point, Eric Smith knows Rex Ryan’s defense well enough to mentor the younger safeties and if you are looking for a leader in the secondary, Darrelle Revis better be able to fill that role by now.

Johnson is a more reliable 4th corner than Ellis Lankster or Isaiah Trufant would be and would be another low cost addition. He would also be a solid special teams contributor.

You can never underestimate the importance of depth on a NFL roster and the Jets could go a long way to solidifying theirs by making a few minor moves.

NFL Draft: How Will Risers And Fallers Impact New York Jets?

The rising and falling of certain draft prospects could alter the New York Jets draft plans

It is a familiar process to anybody who follows the NFL Draft. Players skyrocket up draft boards, while simultaneously players who were popular months ago begin to see their stock steadily decline. Look at the case of three pass rushers associated with the New York Jets. A few months ago, it appeared South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram would be well out of reach for them with the 16th pick. Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw was a popular pick for the Jets but some questioned whether they’d need to move up a few spots for him. Syracuse’s Chandler Jones was considered a second round prospect who the Jets could trade back to target if they focused on a different position in round one.

Take us to today, where there is talk of Courtney Upshaw falling out of the first round, Ingram being available for the Jets at 16 and Jones potentially being taken even before Ingram.

Jones is 6’5, 247 pounds and has the long arms teams desire in their pass rushers. Many teams, including the Jets if they take him, believe he could make the transition from being a college defensive end into being a 3-4 outside linebacker. He has more explosiveness off the ball than Courtney Upshaw and most believe he has a higher upside. I am not sure if he actually will end up leapfrogging Ingram on draft day but if the Jets miss out on Ingram, it would no longer be a surprise if they took Jones over Upshaw.

Due to his versatility, Ingram has to be the top pass rusher on the Jets draft board. While many teams wouldn’t be happy with Ingram’s lack of a clear cut position, Rex Ryan loves it and would relish the chance to turn him into an improved version of Adalius Thomas during his Baltimore years. Ingram would likely see time at four different spots in the Jets defensive scheme and give them much needed explosiveness in their front seven.

The question for the Jets now becomes, can they risk waiting until #16 for Ingram? Most people seem to agree that Ingram is going to fall out of the top ten but there is increased chatter that Seattle could target him with the 12th pick. A move from #16 to #11 should’t be cost prohibitive for the Jets as they may be able to hang on to their 2nd round pick this year in the process.

Ultimately, it will come down to how badly the Jets want Ingram in comparison to other pass rushers in the first round. I think his versatility sets him apart enough that they will do what it takes to get him, even if it requires moving up a handful of spots. Jones is a tempting fallback but I still think he is valued too high at number 16. The Jets will hope Mark Barron is available if they miss out on Ingram but if he isn’t, it could come down to staying put and taking Jones or Upshaw.

When Quarterback Rankings Go Wrong: Jason Smith Of NFL.com

A recent ranking of NFL quarterbacks by Jason Smith of NFL.com has TOJ scratching his head

Jason Smith is a fantasy football writer for NFL.com. However, he recently ranked the top 32 quarterbacks in the league not based on their fantasy projections but just on where each quarterback in the NFL currently ranks heading into 2012 overall as a player. The list was a head scratcher to say the least, particularly with his classification of Mark Sanchez who continues to receive zero respect from any mainstream media analysts.

Sanchez is number 23 on this list. Behind Andrew Luck, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford, Carson Palmer, Robert Griffin III, and Jake Locker. Let’s ignore the fact that Sanchez has more playoff wins (4) than all of these players combined (0) and then just compare stats.

In 2011, Sanchez threw for 3,747 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions with a 56.7 completion percentage. He also ran for 6 touchdowns, en route to leading his team to 8 wins. One other note, Sanchez has missed 1 start in 3 years of being a NFL starter.

Sam Bradford missed 6 starts last season. When he was on the field, he threw 6 touchdowns, 6 interceptions and had a 53.7 completion percentage. After a strong rookie year, he regressed. Sanchez has improved every single year since coming into the league.

Josh Freeman did have a higher completion percentage than Sanchez last year, at 62.8. He also threw for less yards at 3,592 and threw 22 interceptions to 16 touchdowns on a team that won 4 games. He regressed substantially in his third year, while Sanchez…at least statistically, did not.

Carson Palmer went 4-6 as a starter last year for Oakland, while throwing 13 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. He was also outplayed by Sanchez head to head in a playoff game in 2009, when the Jets beat Cincinnati in their building.

As a rookie, Jack Locker played meaningful snaps in three games. All three were losses. He threw a total of 66 passes last year. In Sanchez’s rookie year he won two road playoff games and started 15 regular season games.

Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck haven’t played a NFL snap yet. They could be Akili Smith and Ryan Leaf for all we know.

Other crazy parts of this list include Matt Ryan being listed ahead of Jay Cutler and Tony Romo. Ryan Fitzpatrick being ranked higher than Alex Smith and Tim Tebow not being included while Colt McCoy and Chad Henne are.

New York Jets: Day One Free Agency Review

TOJ reviews the first day of free agency for the New York Jets

The New York Jets were cautious in the opening hours of free agency, not diving in with the normal frenzy we have seen the past couple of years. This is leading to some anxiety among fans, especially with the activity of other AFC East teams. However, I would encourage everybody to take a breath and wait to see where the chips falls, we aren’t even 24 hours into free agency yet. Let’s review what we are hearing about at each of the position of need for the Jets –

Quarterback – It certainly sounds like Chad Henne isn’t going to end up with the Jets. He has already visited with Jacksonville and has another visit lined up with Seattle, both teams who can offer him more money and a better shot at playing time than the Jets could. The fallback plan appears to be Drew Stanton of the Detroit Lions, who has 4 career starts and 187 career passes. He is expected to visit in the coming days. While Stanton is an upgrade over Mark Brunell’s corpse, I’m not sure he puts any type of real pressure on Mark Sanchez.

Running Back – Nothing of note, I would expect in a few days we will hear about Ronnie Brown taking a visit.

Wide Receiver – The Jets have “kicked the tires” on Laurent Robinson, the top free agent receiver left on the market now that Robert Meachem is in San Diego, Vincent Jackson is in Tampa Bay, Reggie Wayne went back to the Colts, and Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan went to Washington. Jacksonville and Dallas are recruiting Robinson as well and he is expected to have a hefty price tag. Former Oakland Raiders WR Chaz Schilens is expected to come in for a visit. He played for new wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal. While Schilens could be a low cost, high reward player, he isn’t a sufficient answer opposite Santonio Holmes. Mario Manningham does remain on the market by the way.

Tight End – Nothing reported yet.

Offensive Line – Outside of the Jets signing an undrafted center from USC, Kris O’Dowd, we haven’t heard anything which is a little scary with Buffalo potentially closing in on Mario Williams. Highly sought after right tackle Eric Winston has already visited Miami and has other visits lined up with Kansas City and St. Louis.

Defensive Line – Nothing reported yet.

Linebacker – Outside of resigning Bryan Thomas, the team hasn’t done anything here yet. It is expected they will recruit Jarret Johnson and Jameel McClain but we haven’t heard about visits yet.

Safety – The Jets have reported interest in Reggie Nelson, LaRon Landry, and Brandon Merriweather. Nelson is the best option out of the three but he will cost the Jets. Signing Merriweather would be an exceptionally foolish move. He is a complete thug both on (check his fine history) and off the field (check his police history), who was awful in Chicago last year.

Around The League

  • I love how Tampa Bay is building around their young quarterback by giving him a big time receiver in Vincent Jackson and a big time lineman in Carl Nicks. What other team do we know that should give their young quarterback a receiver and offensive lineman? Hmmm
  • It is good to hear that Mario Williams is leaving Buffalo to meet other teams. The media was reporting this as a done deal last night but the longer it string along, the lower the odds he ends up in the AFC East. Buffalo already struck out on Robert Meachem.
  • As of now, I am guessing Peyton Manning ends up in Denver and Matt Flynn ends up in Miami.

NFL Free Agency Madness: Early Updates

NFL free agency has started fast and furious, particularly in the AFC East

As expected, NFL free agency is roaring out the gate, particularly in the AFC East where the New York Jets primary competitors are either making major moves or are on the cusp of making them. Mike Tannenbaum has been quiet so far. Let’s round up the early chatter. Make sure you are following Turn On The Jets on Twitter and Facebook.

– Miami and Chicago made the biggest splash right out of the gate with the Dolphins trading Brandon Marshall for two third round picks to the Bears, reuniting Marshall with Jay Cutler. Jets fans should be concerned that this move was a prerequisite to signing Peyton Manning who reportedly wanted no part of playing with Marshall. However, there is also the chance the Dolphins new coaching staff wanted a more reliable number one receiver, regardless of their QB. The move cleared over 5 million in cap space for the Dolphins.

– The Buffalo Bills are hosting visits with Mario Williams and Robert Meachem tonight. They are expected to make a monster offer to Williams, if he accepts, it should be a large kick in the rear end to the Jets to add a tackle immediately. Meachem is a speedy receiver who would provide a needed downfield threat for the Buffalo offense, while limiting the Jets options in free agency.

– New England is expected to pursue and eventually land Brandon Lloyd.

– The Jets have already inquired about Chad Henne but he is currently visiting Jacksonville, where he is expected to receive more money than the Jets are willing to offer. Early reports are making it sound like the Jets want Henne but the feeling isn’t mutual.

– In other free agency battles with Jacksonville, the Jets have expressed interest in Laurent Robinson but he is also meeting with the Jaguars. You would hope the Jets and Mark Sanchez’s reputation hasn’t fallen far enough that a receiver would pick Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars over them.

– Two linebacker options off the market: Tavares Gooden to San Francisco and Curtis Lofton to Tampa Bay. Gooden was a former Raven who could have fit in the Jets defense well.

– Pierre Garcon has signed with the Redskins.

– Jason Campbell is expected to sign with the Chicago Bears.

– The Jets will be competing with the Indianapolis Colts for outside linebacker Jarret Johnson.

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