Why Do You Hate The Jets? AFC South Edition

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

Just Shut Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Classy Bud

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

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

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

Some Room To Talk

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

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

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

Feeling the Tremors of the NFL Offseason – Part 2

Turn On The Jets Assistant Staff Writer Mike Donnelly breaks it down with Part 2 of his NFL Offseason Review, as graded by the Richter Scale. In case you missed Part 1, be sure to check it out Here, for a full explanation of each category. Also, make sure you are following Mike on twitter: @TheMikeDonnelly, along with the rest of the TOJ Staff. – CG

Magnitude: 6 – 6.9 – “Strong” (Can be destructive)

6.0 – Salary Cap Violations against Redskins and Cowboys– This was a pretty important story that kind of got swept under the rug, but these two teams were hit hard for supposedly cheating the system during the uncapped season. The Redskins were docked a whopping $36 million in cap space (spread over two seasons), while the Cowboys were docked $10 million. For two teams that play in the same division as Super Bowl champion New York Giants, that’s a major disadvantage. At least last time Mike Shanahan cheated the salary cap, he got two rings out of it. This time? Not so lucky.

6.6 – Calvin Johnson signs 7 year / $132 million extension with $60m guaranteed– Megatron wasn’t a free agent who could have left Detroit or anything, but any time a player shatters the previous record for highest contract ever, it certainly can cause damage around the league. Not only will Calvin be playing to prove he’s worthy of it and continue to dominate defenses on the field, but now off the field every player is going to try to surpass this deal when their time comes. Could be big trouble.

6.7 – Mario Williams signs with the Bills– The only reason Mario’s 6 year / $100 million contract with $50m guaranteed is rated slightly higher than Calvin’s is because Mario was actually a free agent, welcome to sign with any team he chose. And for some reason, he chose to live in Buffalo for the next 6 years.

On the field, this gives them a potentially dynamic defense with Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Nick Barnett, and rookie Stephon Gilmore. Oh, and yes, the Jets are planning on blocking him with Wayne Hunter or Vlad Ducasse. Should be fine.

Magnitude: 7 – 7.9 – “Major” (Can cause serious damage)

7.0 – NFL suspends 4 Saints players for roles in “Bountygate” – (To be clear, this is JUST the impact of the player suspensions, not the bounty scandal as a whole). Jonathan Vilma (1 year), Anthony Hargrove (8 games), Will Smith (4 games), and Scott Fujita (3 games) all had the hammer dropped on them by Commissioner Roger Goodell for their role in the bounty scandal, where they intentionally tried to injure opposing offensive players. Vilma got the harshest penalty, because he was found to be the one offering up cash rewards for injury inducing hits. Such harsh punishments show that Goodell means business and there is now a precedent set for future infractions. This is a big deal. In terms of this season’s impact on the field, it’s pretty big, but not Vince Wilfork big. Vilma is a shell of the player he used to be, Hargrove is now a backup for Green Bay, and Fujita was never that great to begin with. Smith’s absence will hurt the Saints, but they’ll get by.

7.2 – Tim Tebow traded to the Jets – While I was publicly against this trade, it is undeniable how big of an impact this move will have. Had this been graded strictly on his play on the field, it would be in the 5.0 range (or a -1.5 if based only on his passing), but there is so much more when it comes to Tim Tebow. The media attention, the scrutiny, his impact in the locker room and on Mark Sanchez, the off the field nonsense, and the fact that the possible Messiah will now be in the world’s greatest city is all enough to push this into the 7’s. If he runs in more than a few touchdowns and helps the Jets win a lot of games, this can easily register an even greater impact.

7.3 – Terrell Suggs tears Achilles tendon – Yikes. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year and unquestionably the most important player on the league’s most imposing defense tears his Achilles in May, likely knocking him out for the season. That’s a pretty major deal. Suggs claims he’ll be back in October, but logic seems to dictate otherwise. If Suggs is out for the season, or even severely limited upon his return, a Super Bowl contender takes a major step back. Unless of course Joe Flacco actually plays like the league’s best quarterback, which he hilariously claimed to be this offseason. (You read that right. He really said that.)

Magnitude: 8 – 9.9 – “Great” (Can be devastating) 

8.0 – Redskins trade three 1st-Round picks, one 2nd round pick for Robert Griffin III – If you’re saying that’s an awful lot to trade, give yourself a prize, because you are correct. The Redskins have been desperate for a franchise quarterback for a very long time now, and after the Shanahans (Mike and Kyle) hilariously thought they could make chicken soup out of chicken sh– err, Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck, they needed to make a splash and get one of the best QB prospects to come out in years. Redskins fans finally have some hope as the RG3 era begins. Rarely do you see a player carry the entire weight of a franchise on his shoulders, but that’s what RG3 is doing here. Tough situation to be in.

8.5 – NFL Suspends Saints Coaches and Executives for roles in “Bountygate” – (As with the players section, this is strictly about the impact of the suspensions on the coaches and executives) A case could be made that no coach in the NFL has more of an impact on his team than Sean Payton does with the Saints. It’s as if he and Drew Brees share a brain out there. If Brees is the driver of the luxury automobile that is the Saints offense, then Payton is the engineer who specifically tailored every nook and cranny to fit Brees and the rest of the personnel to a T. Well, none of that will be happening in 2012, as Payton was given a full year suspension and is forbidden from contact with the team. Yikes.

Joining him on the couch this year is the new (and now former) St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was allegedly the mastermind of the whole bounty program. Williams was given an indefinite suspension and may never be allowed to return to the league. Good riddance. Interim Head Coach Joe Vitt was unable to escape punishment either, and was given a 6 game ban. General Manager Mickey Loomis was given 8 games. So if you’re scoring at home, the Saints decision maker (Loomis) is gone half the season, the Head Coach (Payton) is out for the entire season, and the guy replacing him (Vitt) is also missing 6 games. Yeah, this is going to have a pretty big impact on the Saints and the league in general.

9.0 – Junior Seau’s Suicide – In a truly sad story, legendary linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide on May 2nd. The motives are still currently unknown, but it very likely was the final call for help from the former player. This tale is sadly becoming all too prevalent amongst former players, and his death is hopefully going to be the wakeup call the league and players everywhere need. The sad truth is, many of these men are unprepared for life after football both physically and mentally. Things in the NFL are going to change in a big way going forward, and that’s why this gets such a high score.

Magnitude: 10+  “Massive” (Never recorded, widespread devastation)

10.0 – Colts cut Peyton Manning, draft Andrew Luck #1 overall – Never before has a team had a “once in a generation” player run their team for 14 years, then cut that player and be in a position to get the next “once in a generation player” that very same year. Think about this: Peyton Manning led this Colts team to the playoffs 9 consecutive seasons before he was knocked out of the entire 2011 season due to injury. In that time, he won a Super Bowl, played in another, won a whopping four MVP awards, and won at least 10 games in 11 of his 13 seasons as the starter. Not only that, but without him in 2011 the team, with largely the same players, went from 10 wins in 2010 and a division title to 2 wins and the #1 overall draft pick. Wow. You can see why many consider him to be the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill, but if anybody can do it, it’s probably Andrew Luck. The Stanford product is considered to be the best quarterback prospect to enter the league since–you guessed it– Peyton Manning. Over the last 30 years only Manning, Troy Aikman, and John Elway were considered such sure-things. That’s some pretty excellent company for young Mr. Luck. He’ll take his lumps early in his career on this poor team, but before long he will make Colts fans realize they made the right decision by cutting the legend for the young buck. There’s a very good chance you’ll never see a scenario like this unfold again.

10.0 – Broncos sign legendary QB Peyton Manning, trade possible Messiah– I could have lumped this one in with the last one, but it deserves its own section. How many times are you going to see a sure-fire Hall of Fame quarterback, perhaps the best of all time, who likely still has a few seasons left, come available in free agency? The answer is never. But that’s exactly what we saw happen this year, and the Broncos were the lucky winners of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. That alone makes this worthy of a 10, but when you add the Tim Tebow factor, it really goes off the charts. When have we ever seen a player (who may or may not have magical powers) become so simultaneously beloved, hated, respected, worshipped, and criticized, lead a team to a playoff win, become a local hero, then get dumped by that team after his second year in the league because a legend like Peyton freakin’ Manning was signed to take his place? I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. This Peyton Manning thing has had major implications for three NFL teams: the Colts, Broncos, and Jets. It’s rare you see such a wild chain of events, but we did. And that’s why this gets a 10.

10.0 – Dolphins sign Jamaal Westerman – Just kidding.

10.0 – BountyGate – We’ve already covered the coaches and players getting suspended, but the “BountyGate” scandal is far bigger than any individual players or coaches. We are talking about one of the biggest scandals in NFL history, where players and coaches were rewarded with money bonuses for purposely injuring opposing players. That is reprehensible, and something we have never seen before (and hopefully never see again). This is the kind of thing that causes major changes in the league, and Roger Goodell has shown he isn’t taking this stuff lightly any longer. This was a major story, not just for the Saints, but for the NFL as a whole, and that’s why this gets a 10 spot.

New York Jets: Free Agency Primer 3.0

What will free agency look like for the New York Jets after restructuring Mark Sanchez’s contract?

We are now only two days away from NFL free agency starting up and the picture has changed substantially for the New York Jets with the restructuring of Mark Sanchez’s contract, which freed up 6.4 million of cap space this year and dropped them out of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. What kind of changes will this roster have in the coming weeks?

Offensive Line – We knew not to take Mike Tannenbaum at his word when he said Wayne Hunter would be back as the starting right tackle. There are already reports about the Jets trying to trade him, which we all know isn’t going to happen unless a team’s GM gets dropped on their head. Vernon Carey has long been speculated as a veteran replacement for Hunter but with the extra freed up cap space could the Jets look to take a run at Demetrius Bell or Jared Gaither? I wouldn’t rule it out or rule them out looking to swing a trade for a team with a surplus at tackle.

Wide Receiver – If they Jets are going cheap, Braylon Edwards will always be there as an option around May after they take the time to exam his leg and make sure he is healthy. If they are going to spend a little money, Laurent Robinson remains an intriguing option that will hit the market, as is Early Doucet. If the Jets don’t sign a wide receiver in free agency, they will need to address it early in the draft as there is a lack of talent and size opposite of Santonio Holmes.

Running Back – We know the Jets need some veteran insurance at this position and the only name we have heard mentioned is Ronnie Brown. He does make sense considering his history with Tony Sparano and the role the Jets are looking to fill. The team isn’t look for somebody to do much more than provide insurance as a third down back and maybe give them 10-12 plays a game. Joe McKnight is going to be given a larger role and they have to give Bilal Powell some type of a look after spending a fourth round pick on him last year.

Tight End – The Jets will likely sign another tight end to compliment Dustin Keller, with Anthony Fasano being a favorite if he becomes a free agent. If not, they could look at Maretellus Bennett, John Carlson, or Jacob Tamme.

Quarterback – Chad Henne or Jason Campbell might not want to come here considering Sanchez’s security the next two years. The Jets could look to the next tier of backups like David Garrard, Josh Johnson or Drew Stanton…or they could always trade for Tim Tebow after Denver signs Peyton Manning…just kidding.

Defensive Line – Expect Sione Pouha to be locked up in the next day or two.

Linebacker – The Mario Williams rumors have picked back up since Sanchez’s contract was signed but from everything we have heard that isn’t going to happen. They will likely make a push for Jarret Johnson and Jameel McClain, while hopefully also considering Erin Henderson. I wouldn’t expect them to sign more than one linebacker, instead looking to boost the position through the draft.

Secondary – The safety market has been picked apart by the franchise tag, leaving LaRon Landry, Dwight Lowery, and Reggie Nelson as the top players out there. Landry is going to cost too much for a player who can’t cover and can’t stay healthy. Would Tannenbaum swallow his pride and bring Lowery back? He might have to strongly consider it. The Jets could also consider trying to swing a trade here or aggressively going after Mark Barron in the draft.

The End Of The Peyton Manning Colts

Justin sorts through the wreckage Peyton Manning is leaving behind in Indy

They started angry. Disrespected. No one believed they had a chance to compete without Peyton Manning. 4-12, 2-14, etc. Many a radio and television personality go against the stream of public opinion, even advocate it while simultaneously agreeing with about 90% of their colleagues. Some would call this hypocrisy. Sometimes though, you just can’t fight it, and as the 2011 season got underway things started to look…strange.

The Colts have bad blood with the Texans for as long as the Texans have existed. As soon as the Texans got any sort of momentum, the Colts have proceeded to stomp out their playoff dreams. This did not sit well with the Texans, so hearing that Peyton Manning would be out for a good portion of the season was the old “Christmas came twice” idea, literally.
Looking back, even Peyton Manning would have had trouble with the new look 3-4 Texans defense. A brief list of defensive stars: JJ Watt, Brooks Reed, Brian Cushing, Demeco Ryans, Mario Williams, Jonathan Joseph. Not what a team who lost their coach/qb/coordinator/predictor of the future is ready to handle.

So how does Jim Caldwell counter this relentless pass rush? He puts in Dallas Clark, the only “tight end who is not a tight end and is really a slot receiver” to block Mario Williams. Wait, doesn’t Mario Williams play defensive line? No. Wade Philips saw to it that he assembled the wildest 3-4 defensive end/linebacking core in the AFC, and Mario Williams is the new centerpiece.

So Kerry Collins gets hurt, before which he is illustrating rather blatantly that he has to huddle every single play because he is looking more and more like a guy who should have stuck to recording music on his farm and not decided to attempt a savior role in the most complex NFL offense in the history of the game. But that’s OK, because Curtis Painter has been around and can attempt a paper tiger version of the offense. Hell even Reggie Wayne backed Painter because he’s had enough time to watch Peyton orchestrate like my main man MTT (Michael Tilson Thomas). As the announcers pointed out during the Browns game, Painter got a lot of mental reps watching Peyton Manning, but watching Picasso paint and painting like Picasso are two different things.

Here we stand at week 2, where Colt McCoy and his band of mediocre skill players, his mediocre offensive line (save for Joe Thomas), and his mediocre defense decided to put on a clinic on how to completely demoralize a team that was a field goal away from the AFC championship game and was what could be considered the second or third best team in the last ten years.

In his second year in the NFL, with his second head coach, in his second offensive system in two years, McCoy was privy to a revelation. Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are old. So old that they only play 50% of snaps. Despite this, they are ferocious when they are on the field, so McCoy took his time, and when he didn’t want to get pancaked and knew Freeney and Mathis were coming, he handed off to Peyton Hillis, the greatest “throwback to 1950’s football” running back this game has ever seen.

This formula worked for a few reasons. The Colts defense is small, the secondary is awful, and the Colts were slowly realizing that life without Peyton was awful on all fronts. Even the people in the concessions handed out popcorn with the look of someone who just came back from the killing fields. When Adam Vinateri starts missing field goals, you might as well curl up into a ball to start protecting vital organs.

So it’s week 5, Joseph Addai has been replaced (due to injury) by the tandem of Delone Carter and Donald Brown, who are completely opposite types of running backs and both of whom should be kept, with Delone Carter getting the starting nod because of his “bowling ball full of steroids” frame and flashes of Darren Sproles lateral agility.

THE ROAD TO PERDITION

The Chiefs were without Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry for this game, which should help both sides of the football for the Colts. Trouble is, the Colts suck. I’ve been waiting to say it, but it must now be said. Reggie Wayne can’t be Reggie Wayne, Jacob Tamme hasn’t had anyone even attempt to find him, Pierre Garcon is up and down, and Painter is starting to have serious doubts about the possibility of even converting a 3rd and 7.

How long lord? 11 weeks to go. To review, the Colts put up a decent fight in both prime time games, got rolled on by the Chiefs, Browns, and Texans, and are now heading into a game against the Bengals.

The Bengals are starting to turn into a serious contender at this point in the season. The running game and the new offense coupled with a very aggressive and well coached defense would have put the Bengals into a bye week if they didn’t play in the same division as the Steelers and the Ravens. None of this is good for the Colts, who proceeded to keep the game close until about 5 minutes to go, when a missed field goal, an interception, and a fumble all sealed the fate for the rest of the year.

So the Colts didn’t win that game. And so they limped into the Superdome, for another shot at Sunday Night Football.

LIFELINE

Although Aaron Rodgers and his band of receivers put up points and numbers at will, the fact that Drew Brees throws to sequoias at receiver and tight end, has a rookie running back who won the Heisman, and the most complete running back in football is something straight out of Madden. The Colts had no chance. Everything was scripted to perfection. Colts play zone? Find the soft spot. Colts blitz up the middle? Check it down to the hot route.

What started to look life an offense that could have mustered a competitive game started to fall apart. Painter missed throws, threw interceptions, and everything began to look disengaged on all fronts. This was essentially the beginning of the end.

They go to Tennessee, where the blandest team in the NFL decided to play out of their mind for the first quarter on special teams and block a punt in the end zone for a touchdown. That was pretty much the most exciting part of the game for Colts fans, as Donald Brown got ripped by Caldwell, Pierre Garcon looks like he doesn’t care anymore, and Dallas Clark decided to start catching passes.

So how can the strange get weird? A nice sideline throw by Painter getting tipped by the corner back, and the Cover 2 safety catching the tip for an interception. Again, general ugliness. I started sewing myself a Luck jersey at this point, and would variously look up to find the score slipping away. Donald Brown had a touchdown, but Donald Brown’s touchdowns are like noticing a ruby necklace on a leper.

DREAM THEATER

In review, the Colts are 0-8. Peyton Manning is explaining to Curtis Painter how the goal of the defense is to sack him, and that he should attempt to throw the ball down the field towards the end zone, upon which he will be awarded 6 points. The winner…most points.

The “Suck for Luck” campaign begins somewhere around here, and the true clowns in the audience are starting to show up in Luck jerseys. So here it is, Atlanta, namely Roddy White and Julio Jones, who are proceeding to put on a show of complete dominance against the Colts defensive backs. DB’s are being shuffled in at breakneck speed, and Curtis Painter is throwing interceptions number 15, 16, 17, etc.

Matt Ryan is too good to not take advantage of the now scripted Freeney/Mathis substitutions, and is gashing the Colts up the middle with Michael Turner and Jaquizz Rodgers while Pat Angerer attempts a halfhearted tackle against the much larger Tony Gonzalez. Things are beginning to get sad.

There would be a chance for redemption the next week, as the Jaguars, helmed by another long haired blond excuse for a quarterback is somehow making Curtis Painter look poised and in control of his offense. Think about this, if the Jaguars didn’t have Maurice Jones Drew, they would be the ones getting Andrew Luck, and it wouldn’t even be close. They would score somewhere around 160 points on the season and their owner would have personally paid for a trip to expedite Blaine Gabbert as soon as possible.

As a side note, many experts had Gabbert over Newton in last years draft. Experts.

So what prevented a Colts victory? The JETS. Well, the fact that the Jets undervalued Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery to the point that they let them walk and single-handedly rescue the Jaguars from both the Colts and the Ravens. But the Jets didn’t need them. Eric Smith did in fact have a…um….”competent” season for a starter. No, no he did not. He was awful.

Despite only allowing one touchdown through 3 quarters, the MJD factor reared it’s head, pitting a small man in Drew against an even smaller man, Angerer, and the Pro Bowler won. Easily. It might have been the most deflating loss of the season, simply for the fact that they could, and should have beaten the worst rookie QB in the league, and that’s being nice.

The matchup was the Patriots, and looking at the matchups, it wouldn’t even be close. Any chance Indy had on defense was thrown out because Pat Angerer was out, Mathis and Freeney are so one dimensional all it took was a few step ups into the pocket from Tom Brady to pick apart the zone (zone with an undersized defense against Tom Brady? Really?).

The Indy offensive line at this point was Jeff Saturday and a bunch of Wayne Hunter impersonators, so the Patriots simply laid back in off coverage with a 5 man defensive front and waited for Dan Orlovsky (who looked more Manning than Painter) to try and air it out deep.

The highlight of the game was Pierre Garcon’s chuck of anger after a receiving touchdown at a sign with a bulls-eye intended for Rob Gronkowski. I watched it and mumbled to myself “screw your contract, this place is a lake of tears”.
After starting 0-12, things start to get comical.

The Colts had beaten the Ravens the last 10 times they played each other, so they were going to use this opportunity to promptly destroy any hope of even going on a 4 game winning streak, which was the largest streak possible at this point in the season.

It is common knowledge that any action, according to the laws of science, has an equal and opposite reaction, so if the play of the Patriots offense could be seen as “action”, the Baltimore defense is “reaction”. It demoralizes teams in the exact same way, keeping your offense off the field, getting blitzed on 3rd and long, and a complete lack of rhythm and timing.
Like the Saints blowout, this was one of the games you only pay attention to for moments at a time, because even I was starting to feel bad for guys like Mathis and Freeney, knowing that Ray Rice was going to negate every spin move by cutting back through the middle and gashing the middle linebacker for 8 yards at a time. It was completely relentless for the Ravens defense, as they pressed the receivers at the line, clogged the line of scrimmage and occasionally sent a corner blitz to keep Orlovsky on his toes. 0-13.

TURNING POINT

0-16? The blandest, most middle of the road team in the NFL! The Titans! I suppose after 0-13, you take what you can get.

So how did it happen? Orlovsky channeled his inner Peyton off the play action, and wings one to Wayne in the corner. The CORNER of the endzone, where hope was born. But QB’s are ok, Jacob Lacey, man of iron and steel, decided to put the team on his back and snag a pass right out of the hands of a Titans receiver and run that the whole way to the endzone. 1st of the season. Game 14. Too late? Not In Indy! Not long after that the floodgates opened. Angerer strip for a turnover. Donald Brown running like a wild man, and then ANGERER! Interception in the Tampa 2.

It feels like the Colts have been waiting the entire season to play like this. At home! “Give the people a show”, Caldwell mumbles to himself as a single tear of a thousand hours labor falls with the grace of a dove down his quiet cheek. Peyton is overjoyed.

OK, OK. Not to get too overjoyed, it’s going to be the dream killing Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. And what happens first play? Brian Cushing decides to hit Orlovsky hard enough that he is, to put it nicely, “parted from the ball”. 10-3 Texans. Reggie Wayne is getting pissed, as multiple passes tip off Wayne’s fingers, old man time is standing on the sideline, waiting, smiling at Wayne. But if 6 is ⅓ of 18, then Orlovsky will hit 1 of 3 passes to Wayne. But 12, Jacoby Jones gets an insane tip pass. Ah damn this logic!

This is the Orlovsky hour, and he never cared about rivalries, or the fact that his team has 1 victory in 14 games. And it’s Reggie Wayne with 13 seconds left for the win. And that’s all I care about. Two feel good wins at home for the Colts in a season of complete disaster. It was fate that they won at home, because it would have been laughed off as a joke if they didn’t do it at their own place. I, a Jet fan, actually felt good for the Colts.

They lost the last game of the season. Andrew Luck will have some work to do next year.

EPILOGUE

As I’m writing this, literally at 6:32 PM March 6, 2012, the fact that Peyton Manning is getting cut is becoming abundantly clear as Chris Mortensen preps the montage of Manning clips, and then delivers the notice that Peyton Manning will be released by the Colts. I always had a relatively emotionless relationship as someone watching Manning (which wasn’t all that often), appreciating the myriad of achievements but never really appreciating just how well versed he was in a system he created for himself after years of being mentored by the irreplaceable Tom Moore (to whom Dallas Clark owes his career).

Manning will not be duplicated. He might not have always executed up to his potential, but he certainly could have, and he almost always knew how to work over a defense with audibles at the line of scrimmage, “check with me” calls, and a slew of incomprehensible code words that may have just been psych out material. We will never know, but we will see if there’s one last go round for what Rex Ryan called “the hardest working quarterback he’s ever seen”.

New York Jets Start Off-Season Strong: Extend Mark Sanchez

The New York Jets have extended quarterback Mark Sanchez’s contract and ended their pursuit of Peyton Manning

The New York Jets made the right decision tonight. It had become clear, very early that Peyton Manning wasn’t coming here unless he did a complete 180 so the Jets assertively supported their current quarterback, the one who they invested their future in three short years ago, by extending his contract and guaranteeing his money the next two years.

The official numbers are a three year contract extension with 20.5 million guaranteed over the next two years and a total of 58.25 million over the first five years of his initial contract.

This is Mike Tannenbaum realizing early when he isn’t going to get his big name, which is what he didn’t do last year with Nnamdi Asomugha and then going all in on the player he went all in on three years ago.

This was the right move from the beginning, even before it became clear that Peyton Manning was never coming here. You don’t throw away the identity you have been building after three years that netted a 28-20 regular season record and four playoff wins. You build around your guy, who now clearly has the confidence that his organization has his back. The restructuring of Sanchez’s deal makes the Jets serious players in the free agent and trade market.

After the Jets lock down Sione Pouha in the next day or two, expect an aggressive upcoming month from Mike Tannenbaum, where he turns every rock to find a new starting right tackle, a new starting wide receiver opposite Santonio Holmes, a pass rushing linebacker, and a safety.

The Jets are all in on Mark Sanchez and it is going to help them have a successful off-season addressing the other holes on their roster.

If you have followed this site, we have always been Pro-Sanchez…let’s hope the kid proves us right in the next couple of years.

TOJ 12 Pack: New York Jets Quarterback Position

TOJ with 12 thoughts on the New York Jets quarterback position

Mark Sanchez. Peyton Manning. Mark Sanchez’s feelings. Peyton Manning’s neck. Mark Sanchez’s attitude. Peyton Manning’s flights. Chad Henne. Jason Campbell. And so the cycle continues, let’s talk about the New York Jets quarterback position –

1. It certainly sounds like the New York Jets are just about out of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. Is it over? Of course not but right now with trips lined up to Denver, Miami, and Arizona those three seem like the most logical destinations. By the way, why isn’t everybody worried about Tim Tebow’s feelings being hurt as John Elway aggressively recruits Manning? Personally, I have thought Manning will end up in Arizona all along. It makes the most football sense and he could use Miami to drive up the price on them. Nobody in sports, outside of maybe the New Jersey Nets, gets more hype for going after big names and then continually comes up nothing more than the Dolphins.

2. None of these teams could be crazy enough to give Manning any type of guaranteed contract without watching him workout first, right?

3. I am as pro-Sanchez of a person you will find out there but by no means do I think Mike Tannenbaum did the wrong thing by inquiring about Manning. He is doing his due diligence like 12 other team’s GMs did. Tannenbaum has made plenty of mistakes recently, most notably guaranteeing Wayne Hunter’s contract and then trying to trade him a month later when he is arguably the worst offensive starter in the league, but this isn’t one of them.

4. On to Sanchez, I am exhausted of hearing about his emotional and physical anguish because of the Jets inquiring about Peyton Manning. First off, Sanchez has been off the grid since the season ended, so unless you have been hanging out with the guy, you have no idea what his current mental state is. According to reports he has been working out at the team facility recently and prior to that likely took a few weeks off to be with his family and friends. Bottom line is that Sanchez has to deal with this. Since he has been drafted what has he done to show you that he isn’t competitive or not intelligent? I can’t remember too much. He knows this is part of being quarterback in New York and he has no choice but to prepare to make improvements next year.

5. That being said, it is about time to hear something from Sanchez. Let’s end the media blackout. I am not against “letting his play and actions” do the talking but it doesn’t hurt to give an interview or two. It is time to hear “this is my offense, I will get it in order and I am ready to roll.”

6. Can we stop acting like Sanchez was Josh Freeman last year? Oh wait, you mean Freeman who is constantly lauded by the mainstream media as having “tons of potential” despite winning 4 games last year, throwing 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions while Sanchez is considered “done and a lock to be an average quarterback” even though in his supposed “worst year” threw 26 touchdowns, ran for 6 more, and threw 18 interceptions along with winning 8 games.

7. We all know Sanchez struggled down the stretch last year but why, oh why would you give up on him after three years? Go look at Eli Manning and Drew Brees stats after 3 years and then remember they didn’t beat Tom Brady and Peyton Manning head to head on the road in the playoffs within those first 3 years. I don’t know if Sanchez will ever be a “top ten” quarterback in this league and honestly I don’t care because I do believe he has already proven to be good enough for the Jets to win with him, because with him as a starter they are 27-20 in the regular season and 4-2 in the playoffs.

8. Focusing on building around Sanchez, the most important thing is protecting him. I don’t believe for a second that Wayne Hunter will be the opening day starter at right tackle next year. I also think the Jets will add a solid blocking tight end and have improved depth with Robert Turner back and Austin Howard continuing to develop.

9. Valid criticisms of Sanchez – He gets rattled after taking a few hits. He lets a few bad throws snowball into a bad game. His body language isn’t great. His mechanics are inconsistent.

10. Invalid criticisms of Sanchez – He doesn’t have the arm to make every throw needed. He doesn’t work hard. He isn’t athletic. He has never “won” any games for his team.

11. I think the Jets want to add Chad Henne as a backup and it makes a ton of sense but he could very well end up being too costly.

12. Any backup is an improvement over the Mark Brunell joke from the past two years.

History Teaches The Lesson: What The Jets Will Do This Off-Season

If history is any indication, this is the approach the New York Jets will take this off-season…

When attempting to understand what the New York Jets could do in the off-season, the best approach is to study the history of Mike Tannenbaum’s career as the team’s General Manager. We broke down that history in a two part series right here:

Part 1, The Mangini Years

Part 2, The Ryan Years

After review, here are a few things to expect –

Trades – Mike Tannenbaum has traded for a starter in every single off-season he has been the General Manager, except for last year. In total he has acquired eight starters via trade: Kevan Barlow, Thomas Jones, Brett Favre, Kris Jenkins, Lito Sheppard, Braylon Edwards, Antonio Cromartie, and Santonio Holmes. He also hasn’t hesitated to trade away big name veterans on his team, most notably dealing John Abraham, Pete Kendall, Jonathan Vilma, Dewayne Robertson, Kerry Rhodes, Leon Washington and Dwight Lowery.

It would be reasonable to expect the Jets to address one of the needs they can’t fill via free agency or the draft through a trade or two. Neither safety or tackle has an impressive list of available free agents, so look for Tannenbaum to target teams with a surplus at the position in the coming months. We also know the Jets window for making a big trade extends all the way into the regular season, as we saw with Braylon Edwards. As for players on their own team who could be on the market, we already know Bart Scott is and it wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world to see Dustin Keller traded.

Familiar Names – Tannenbaum won’t hesitate to pursue players that his coaching staff has worked with in the past. For Eric Mangini, be brought in Matt Chatham, Ty Law, Tim Dwight, and Hank Poteat about eight thousand times. For Rex Ryan, he signed Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Marques Douglas, Trevor Pryce, Derrick Mason, and Howard Green. Many are speculating the Jets will add multiple ex-Dolphins this off-season to help retool the offense, notably Chad Henne, Vernon Carey, Anthony Fasano, and Ronnie Brown because of their familiarity with new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. Even though he isn’t a head coach, it is a safe bet to expect to see at least a couple of former Dolphins added to the Jets roster this year. Beyond that, don’t be surprised to see Tannenbaum sign Jarret Johnson or Jameel McClain who both played for Rex Ryan in Baltimore.

Big Names – The reason there is validity to Peyton Manning to the New York Jets is because Mike Tannenbaum found a way to get Brett Favre to come here, after the Jets just went through a 4-12 season. He can recruit the big name, which is why it would be foolish to think the Jets have no shot at Manning.

Making Space Where There Is None – It seems that nearly every year the Jets are portrayed as having no cap space, yet then Mike Tannenbaum restructures a few deals, swings a few trades and the Jets end up having an active off-season. I am not saying they are going to pull in a handful of marquee names in the coming weeks but the Jets will be active and aggressive in attempting to fill their holes.

BREAKING NEWS: SOURCE ON PEYTON MANNING AND NEW YORK JETS

TOJ with breaking news on the New York Jets pursuit of Peyton Manning

Considering how NFL news is being reported these days, I found it important to pass along the following information on the New York Jets pursuit of Peyton Manning. The following has been confirmed by a source –

– The New York Jets will inquire about Peyton Manning potentially playing for them.

– The New York Jets will determine how healthy Peyton Manning is.

– If Peyton Manning is healthy to the team’s standards and expresses a desire to play in New York, the Jets will make an offer to him.

– If he accepts that offer, he will be their starting quarterback next year.

– If he declines that offer, they will attempt to make nice with Mark Sanchez…and Sanchez will get over it and be under center for the Jets next year.

– Certain players on the New York Jets team think they’d be better off with Peyton Manning, others would rather stick with Sanchez.

My source? It is called common sense and it doesn’t need a headline on a New York newspaper or a bunch of asterisks next to it on Twitter (looking at you Incarcerated Bob).

Of course the New York Jets will inquire about Peyton Manning. Mike Tannenbaum would be negligent in his job if he didn’t. You know who else will inquire about Manning in the coming days, either publicly or not publicly? About 18 other teams. It is called doing your job. You at least research what Manning’s status is in terms of monetary demands and health.

If the Jets reach out, determine he is healthy to the team’s standards and he says, “hey, Mike, Rex, and Woody I want to be a Jet.” Guess what, folks? He is going to be on the team. Woody is too much of a star lover and Rex is too infatuated with Manning’s skills for it not to. Is that going to happen? Probably not. Is it a smart decision, if it does sign with them? Probably not, but that is an argument for a different day.

Finally if the Jets pursue Manning, fall short and turn back to Sanchez, he will deal with his “hurt feelings” that people are speculating about and remain their starting quarterback. People are talking like Sanchez is going to demand a trade the second the Jets call Manning’s agent. Where is Sanchez demanding a trade to? Where does he think he will be welcomed as an unquestioned starter? The kid isn’t stupid and he is a competitor. If given a chance to remain the Jets starter, regardless of a Manning pursuit, he will do it…he will do it because he will want to prove himself and the Jets will give him the best chance to do that. You think he wants to run off to Seattle to split snaps in camp with Tavaris Jackson? Stop it.

Finally, it isn’t news that “certain players” in the Jets locker room anonymously think Peyton Manning is better than Mark Sanchez. Manning is a first ballot Hall of Famer, it isn’t hard to find somebody to say they’d rather have him under center. But wait…maybe it is, since that person won’t reveal their name. I do know Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Dustin Keller, Muhammad Wilkerson, Darrelle Revis, Sione Pouha, Antonio Cromartie, and multiple others have put their name to supporting Sanchez.

Let’s not let the Manning madness blind us to the fact that the Jets have one safety under contract right now and are in a division with the New England Patriots, who have 2 of the 5 league’s best tight ends or that Wayne Hunter is still the starting right tackle.

I hope the common sense source continues to divulge knowledge for the rest of the off-season.

How Will The New York Jets Play The Peyton Manning Hand?

The Jet Report explores how the Jets could approach Peyton Manning in the coming weeks

Not enough has been said out of Florham Park regarding Mark Sanchez, to change our minds about this. In seven days when the “play clock” runs out on the Colts who would owe Peyton Manning 28 million unless they release him, the Jets will be one of those teams who inquire about his services. Not just to grab a few headlines either. At first, they will try to do it subtly. It won’t work. Given their recent history, the Jets just don’t do subtle very well. On the field or off of it.

The Colts have to make a move on March 8th. If they don’t cut Manning loose, his 25 million dollar bonus kicks in. The number would be an insanely steep price to pay, when considering that QB Andrew Luck is slated to be selected first overall by Indy in the NFL Draft this April.

After the shock we all experience in seeing Manning actually let go dies down, the sharks will immediately hit the water smelling for blood.

Miami, looking to make a splash these days and in need of a starter, will claim they own the best chance to catch him. They could even be right. The Redskins and Daniel Snyder should be in the mix too because after all, an exorbitantly high priced big named star coming off of many surgeries will be available. It’s possible Peyton ends up as a Cardinal, paired with WR Larry Fitzgerald.

There will be other teams coming to the surface too. Recent reports from around the league support this belief.

The Jets? They will do more than just survey this situaton.

Because of the delicate nature of possibly having to fall back to Mark Sanchez should Manning sign elsewhere though, we expect the Jets to play it off early on. Posing as a club that is dipping it’s toes in the water just to “feel the temperature” of things.

How quickly however, could the Rex Ryan coach speak of “Mark’s still our guy” turn into “Mark was our guy,” should a crush on Peyton and the chance to sign him be too much for Jets owner Woody Johnson to resist?

Pretty quickly.

Is Manning the best move for the Jets right now? Given the legend’s health risk, age, and the addition of OC Tony Sparano to spearhead a “rushing first” attack on offense we’ll say no, but explain why in further detail another day.

Our focus for now is on how the Jets will play this hand.

We will guess that the Jets level of interest in Peyton is already more serious than just window shopping. Yet following our theory regarding the team hedging their bet to appear “Pro Sanchez” in case they lose the lottery, or learn that Manning is damaged goods, GM Mike Tannenbaum will try to employ the “stealth bomber” style.

One that calls for diving in and out of the water gathering “data” regarding Manning’s neck, cap solutions, and even Reggie Wayne, unknown to other GM’s and reporters like a Navy Seal. Tanny will do this by taking cover behind his go to tag line of doing his yearly “due diligence,” in the market. Claiming the club naturally has to look at every player and position, including Peyton Manning.

Signs of a clear interest by the Jets will become apparent however, after ESPN shows video highlights of Mr Laser Rocket Arm firing balls on a high school practice field, with Jets officials on hand. While Johnson is spotted that same night by Page Six with Archie Manning, having dinner on the West Side.

The Jets cover will have been blown. Then, look out. Can you imagine the back pages?

The Mannings May Own New York….Peyton and Eli?…Jets Trying to Steal Thunder from Super Bowl Champs.. Jets have lost faith in Sanchez. Manning-sanity.

Once that line of “covert” crosses over into “buyer” it will be tough to reel back in for any NFL club. Much less for the team that lost it’s cameo role as the top team in New York, in a matter of six winter weeks, and may want it right back. Thinking that the Manning THEY would be purchasing would be the same great one they last saw when he last played an NFL game. Against them in the 2010 playoffs.

For the Jets, the downside of a drama growing from a quiet inquiry into a media circus, is the lingering affect it could have on the guy who WILL steer the ship next season: Mark Sanchez.

A player whose confidence seems so adolescent at times, yet a guy who at 25, is still young. In need of nurturing, better coaching, and alot of emotional repairing. As opposed to further psychological damage that could be obtained from having to answer endless questions starting in July about his near exit OUT of New York.

Should Manning be pursued by the Jets yet end up elsewhere, Sanchez COULD take a lesson from Jets CB Antonio Cromartie. A player who after Nnamdi Asomugha signed with the Eagles after a maniacal post lockout chase by the Jets for the top free agent corner ended, harbored no visible ill will in playing temporary second fiddle. Cro stated instead that “it’s a business,” where teams have the right to do what is in their best interests to upgrade wherever they see fit.

As of now, with less than a week to go until the Colts press that red “detonate” button it’s all just speculation. For us, you, Manning, the Colts themselves, any NFL teams who covet him, and of course the Jets.

Gang Green could have avoided all of this Peyton talk that swims around them now, by declaring that “Mark Sanchez is the starter in 2012” with a stronger, more forceful tone since that final loss in Miami on New Years day. Instead they haven’t.

So what are we supposed to think? What many out there believe already. That the Manning sweepstakes may very well include the team from New York that doesn’t own one yet.

TOJ 12 Pack Of Thoughts On New York Jets – Headline Players Edition

TOJ with a 12 pack of thoughts on the Jets most talked about players so far this off-season

March 13th is getting closer by the second, along with the days prior to it which be filled with endless free agency rumors. The dry spot in the NFL schedule is just about done with the combine underway and Rex Ryan giving a quote filled press conference yesterday. Let’s celebrate with a 12 pack of thoughts on the names most frequently being discussed when it comes to the New York Jets off-season these days —

1. Mark Sanchez – Where is he? Well we know he was at a Knicks game last weekend with D’Brickashaw Ferguson. He took the time to tweet Santonio Holmes a Valentine’s Day Card and that he is probably spending some nights with Kate Upton…lucky guy. Regardless, it is time for Sanchez to end his media silence and speak up for himself. I want to hear Sanchez, say “this is my team, the front office can bring in whoever they want to compete with me but I will be starting quarterback and will get this locker room fixed. Me and Santonio have been successful in the past and we will be again. As for my work ethic, I challenge whoever said this about me to show their face because I pride myself on being the first one in the building and the last one out everyday. I expect to see all my skill position players at Jets West in the coming months!”

You can take that verbatim if you want, Mark. Just cite me (@TurnOnTheJets).

2. Peyton Manning – Rex Ryan left the door open yesterday by saying the Jets were open to exploring all opportunities at every position. Listen, the Jets are going to kick the tires on Manning like 26 other teams in the league are, that doesn’t mean he is coming here. I am not sure if he is healthy. I don’t think he wants to play for the Jets and I don’t think it is smart move for this organization. Yet, until he is in a Cardinals or Redskins uniform, we won’t stop hearing about Manning and the Jets.

3. Santonio Holmes – He has sent out a sporadic tweet here and there about being excited for next season, of course followed with the #ToneTime hashtag. Santonio is who he is and that certainly isn’t a captain but at that same certainly the kind of receiver you can win with. He is on the team for the next two years so let’s hope he bounces back and starts playing like the number one receiver we paid him to be.

4. Sione Pouha – The big fella is the only major free agent the Jets have to worry about bringing back. They aren’t going to franchise tag him but are apparently working feverishly to get him under contract before free agency starts. Hopefully, they lock him down to a 2-3 year deal so he can keep anchoring the run defense until Kenrick Ellis is ready.

5. Shonn Greene – Is a lead back? Is he not a lead back? Will the Jets get him support via free agency or the draft? Personally, I am leaning towards thinking he isn’t a true lead back. Yet, the Jets don’t have the means to add a big name at running back. Look for them to add a journeyman veteran like Tim Hightower or Tashard Choice, a mid-round draft pick and then hopefully expand Joe McKnight’s role in the offense.

6. Courtney Upshaw/Melvin Ingram/Trent Richardson/Mark Barron – Popular names being thrown around with the Jets for the upcoming draft. Upshaw is the most ready to contribute 3-4 outside linebacker in the draft, which means if he gets near number 16, Mike T needs to make a move to get him. Ingram has potential but I worry about his migration to the 3-4 system. There is some chatter about Richardson falling a bit now due to his recent surgery. I still don’t think the Jets have a shot at him and that is probably a good thing, I am not sold on the value of first round running backs. Mark Barron would be an ideal addition if the Jets found way to maneuver their picks to get him in the 25-35 range.

7. Bart Scott/Calvin Pace – Also known as “those two slow Jets linebackers who never get to the quarterback.” There are rumors about both of them being cut. I would guess the Jets eat the guaranteed money and cut Scott but hold on to Pace, who is valuable against the run and can be a good secondary pass rushing option. As for the filling the hole at inside linebacker, I wouldn’t be surprised if they handed his role off to Josh Mauga for the time being and spend a middle round pick on one.

8. Jeremy Kerley – A player we are all excited to see in a bigger role next season. A role that could be bigger than expected if the Jets don’t invest in the free agent wide receiver market. TOJ is hoping they take a long look at a player like Robert Meachem or Laurent Robinson but not overly confident that will happen. The Jets could add a cheaper player with deep speed (maybe Harry Douglas of Atlanta?) and then add a draft pick at WR with some size.

9. Every Ex-Jet Imaginable – There is an ongoing infatuation among Jets fans about bringing ex-players back, most notably Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, John Abraham, and Dwight Lowery. Honestly, I do think Braylon makes a good amount of practical sense…I just doubt it happens.

10. Dustin Keller – It is going to be interesting to see how he fits in Tony Sparano’s offense and if the Jets bring in a blocking tight end to pair with him. Expect to see Anthony Fasano in green and white, if he hits the open market.

11. Wayne Hunter – Who are the Jets going to bring it to challenge him for the right tackle position? Vernon Carey seems like a logical move, as does bringing in a draft pick. It is a scary thought to imagine Hunter starting again next year, even if Sparano can protect his deficiencies better.

12. Eric ‘Freaking Smith – How are the Jets going to improve their safety position? They need a complete overhaul, which in my mind is signing a free agent (Reggie Nelson, Tyvon Branch, Michael Griffin are out there), investing a high pick on one and then bringing Jim Leonhard back on a veteran’s minimum deal as insurance. If Eric Smith comes back it has to be in a reserve/situational/special teams role.