New York Jets: WR Depth A Serious Concern

Chris Gross takes a closer look at the New York Jets depth issues at wide receiver

Among the positives that came out of yesterday’s Green and White scrimmage for the New York Jets, eyes were opened to a serious concern when starting Wide Receiver Santonio Holmes was sidelined with what was originally thought to be a fractured rib. X-rays have reportedly come back negative on Holmes, who is listed as day to day, however, with Mark Sanchez’s primary target down, it became truly evident how thin the Jets are at the Wide Receiver position.

Other than Holmes and Tight End Dustin Keller, there is an alarming lack of experience on the roster. Hopes are high for rookie Stephen Hill, but coming from a triple option offense at Georgia Tech, combined with the fact that he has never taken a single NFL snap, it is far too early to depend on him to carry the workload in the receiving corps. Jeremy Kerley had a very promising rookie campaign last season, but he’s been put in Rex Ryan’s dog house in the early days of training camp for what seems to be a conditioning issue. Regardless, Kerley is much more of a slot type receiver, who may not be very serviceable if plugged into the first or second spot on the depth chart.

Among the other receivers on the roster, newcomer Chaz Schilens has the most experience with four NFL seasons under his belt, however, his career has been plagued by injuries, having played a full 16 games in only his rookie season. Patrick Turner showed some positive signs at the end of last year, hauling in a touchdown in the season finale in Miami, but like many of his colleagues, he too has very little NFL experience, with just 20 games under his belt. Rookie Jordan White had an astounding college career at Western Michigan, but he has been hampered by a lingering foot injury during the first week of camp, so his potential level of production is still extremely hard to gauge.

To put it nicely, if Holmes were to miss significant time, New York would be more dependent on Sanchez and the run game than they have ever been. With this reality looming over the team, there is a good chance General Manager Mike Tannenbaum will look to bolster his group of receivers in some way, shape, or form. Certainly, trades are always a possibility with Tannenbaum, as he didn’t get the nickname “Trader Mike” because it has a nice ring to it. However with very few, if any, realistic trade scenarios out there, the most logical step would be to look at who remains in Free Agency. While there is certainly no abundance of talent left on the open market, New York could use, at the least, a veteran presence in its receiving corps. Here are some names to keep in mind in the coming weeks:

Greg Camarillo – 2011 Team: Minnesota Vikings, Stats: 13 GP, 9 receptions, 121 yards, 0 Touchdowns. 

Camarillo is coming off of his worst statistical season as a pro last year with the Vikings. However, the Quarterback situation in Minnesota was comparable to that of the Jacksonville Jaguars, simply atrocious. Donovan McNabb was released by December, and rookie Christian Ponder struggled greatly at times. However, Camarillo has a great sense of familiarity with new Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano’s system. The sixth year veteran out of Stanford played for Sparano during his first two seasons at the Miami Dolphins’ Head Coach, and accumulated the two most productive seasons in his career. In the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Camarillo played in a combined 27 games, while catching 105 balls for 1,165 yards and 2 touchdowns. Although these numbers aren’t jumping off of the stat sheets, this level of production looks impressive when compared to what is behind Holmes, if Camarillo can return to that under Sparano. The reliable target (0 drops in 2009) would likely come at a very cheap price as well. Tannenbaum may be picking up the phone to get him in for a workout at some point in the near future.

Mike Sims-Walker – 2011 Team: St. Louis Rams/Jacksonville Jaguars, Stats: 6 GP, 12 receptions, 150 yards, 0 Touchdowns (Season ending knee injury).

Sims-Walker faced a bit of a rough patch in his career last season, having played in just 6 games. However, before being hit by the injury bug, he was quite productive in 2009 and 2010 for Jacksonville, having played in 29 games while catching 106 passes for 1,431 yards and 14 touchdowns. Sims-Walker worked out for the Houston Texans in June, and reportedly looked healthy and impressive according to Head Coach Gary Kubiak. Concerns over his knee are likely why Sims-Walker remains a free agent, but he could be worth a glance.

Roy E. Williams – 2011 Team: Chicago Bears, Stats: 15 GP, 37 receptions, 507 yards, 2 Touchdowns.

Of the remaining free agents, Williams has probably been the most productive over the course of his career (393 receptions, 5,715 yards, 44 touchdowns), however he has been bounced around between Detroit, Dallas, and most recently, Chicago since becoming the 7th overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft. At 6’3” 215 lbs, Williams has the physical ability to contribute as a solid run blocker, something that is crucial in this offense, but he must be willing to do so. At 30 years old, he likely has some decent football left in him, and the Jets could certainly look his way as well.

Bernard Berrian – 2011 Team: Minnesota Vikings, Stats: 5 GP, 7 receptions, 91 yards, 0 Touchdowns.

Berrian hasn’t played a full 16 game season since 2009, which was also the last time he caught a touchdown. After signing a $42 million dollar contract with Minnesota in 2008, Berrian was productive early for the Vikings (103 receptions, 1,582 yards, 11 touchdowns over 2008-2009 seasons combined). Unfortunately, like many of the others, he has been nagged by injuries lately, making him simply irrelevant. New York would be much better suited looking to one of the previous three, before kicking the tires on Berrian.

Anthony Gonzalez – 2011 Team: Indianapolis Colts, Stats: 8 GP, 0 receptions, 0 yards, 0 Touchdowns.

While the Quarterback situation in Indianapolis last year was well below par, Gonzalez has played in just 11 games over the past 3 seasons. He was signed by New England earlier this offseason, but was released prior to training camp due to lingering injuries. His career is seemingly over.

Terrell Owens – 2011 Team: Allen Wranglers (Indoor Football League), Stats: 8 GP, 35 receptions, 420 yards, 10 Touchdowns.

This is simply not going to happen. New York is trying to repair their public image and what many consider a fractured locker room, not further tarnish it.

Plaxico Burress – 2011 Team: New York Jets, Stats: 16 GP, 45 receptions, 612 yards, 8 Touchdowns.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently had a sit down with Burress, whom he reported to be in tremendous shape. While he was very productive in the red zone for the Jets last season, New York has simply moved on. Burress was publicly critical of Mark Sanchez and the organization after the conclusion of last season, yet still remains without a job. A reunion can be ruled out by nearly 100 percent.

It will be very interesting to see how this situation plays out in New York. The Jets have to be aware of the lack of experience on the depth chart behind Holmes and will likely look at some of the names mentioned above. While nothing is imminent, Mike Tannenbaum could be picking up the phone in a couple of weeks, particularly if the receiving corps does not impress in the early preseason games.

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TOJ Tuesday Afternoon New York Jets Link Dump

TOJ with updates on Plaxico Burress, Mike DeVito, Emmanuel Cook, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium and more

Green Lantern with some deserved praise for Plaxico Burress

Burress is quickly becoming one of the most popular players on the team because he is one of the few players who has been improving down the stretch. He has already earned his contract by catching seven touchdowns and it is hard to see the Jets not making a strong push to bring him back next year. He has clearly matured from his time in prison and remains a clutch player on the field.

Jim Leonhard on fans booing Mark Sanchez during introductions

This has inspired a good debate on Twitter. I tend to agree with @RobCelletti in that fans have every right to boo poor play on the field during the game, but booing your starting quarterback during introductions is uncalled for. Obviously paying fans have a right to express themselves in how they see fit but all you are doing is contributing to the ugly stereotype of Jets fans. If you are booing Mark Sanchez when he is called out to start, don’t cheer for him when he throws a game winning touchdown. Like many others, I am tired of hearing the Jets don’t have a homefield advantage because of their stadium. A stadium is a building. It is the fans who make a homefield advantage. I have seen Jets fans rise to the occasion against New England in 2009 and 2010, they just need to be more consistent.. like their team.

Why was Mark Sanchez so angry?

My best guess is that he was fired up after throwing a game winning touchdown after being booed in his own stadium and got emotional (in an angry way) on the sideline.

Emmanuel Cook released and replaced by Tracy Wilson

This does give the vibe of a sketchy situation. A few notorious rumor mongers out there are saying there was an altercation involving Cook and special teams coach Mike Westhoff. Considering Cook’s personality that doesn’t seem to make sense. He has interviewed with us here before at TOJ and we have reached out to him about the situation.

Injury Updates

Mike DeVito isn’t going to play this Sunday, which is a big loss. Fortunately, Marcus Dixon and Ropati Pitoitua have shown themselves more than capable of filling in. Jeremy Kerley is expected back, giving the Jets another guy who can hopefully avoid muffing punts. Shonn Greene is banged up with his rib injury but is expected to play, just look for more work for Joe McKnight and LaDainian Tomlinson who will be back.

One Down, Five To Go: Jets Win Ugly…Very Ugly

It was far from pretty but the New York Jets are alive thanks to a last second win over the Buffalo Bills

The New York Jets will never make it easy. They will make us sick at times. They will confuse us. They will make it as hard as possible on themselves. They didn’t play well today. They put themselves in a dogfight with a subpar, injured team. Yet, in the end, they fought…and they found a way to win. We’ll get to that later, but let’s start with the problems.

First off, what the hell were they thinking by putting Antonio Cromartie deep on punt return instead of Jim Leonhard? Cromartie hasn’t returned a single punt all season and you put him deep in a one touchdown game, in the windy Meadowlands? I heard the excuse about Jim Leonhard having the wind knocked out of him. I am not sure I am buying it. If that was the case, the Jets need a more sure handed backup option than Cromartie who has zero ball security skills. Put Santonio Holmes deep. Call a timeout to get Leonhard his wind back or tell him just to fair catch it.

While we are on Cromartie, he has been generally awful this year and it didn’t stop today. He let up a touchdown to Brad Smith and was beaten up and down the field by him. By Brad Smith, who is far from a quality NFL receiver. Wasn’t Cromartie supposed to be a playmaker? All I can remember from him this year is turning the football over on special teams and allowing touchdowns on defense.

Now on to the most confusing part of the day, Darrelle Revis who was beaten up and down the field by Stevie Johnson. It was bizarre to watch the eight receptions and the touchdown on him, granted they only added up to 75 yards. It was a busy day for Johnson, who cemented himself as three things: a talented wide receiver, a scumbag, and a choke artist. The imitation of Plaxico Burress shooting himself was as classes as it gets. Fortunately, everybody gets the last laugh on Johnson as he choked yet again, late in the game by dropping a potential touchdown pass. It reminded me of this one from last year.

Over to the offense. Mark Sanchez had the worst four touchdown performance you will ever see today. He was inaccurate, particularly in the first half and he continued to throw into coverage. For some reason he kept throwing the same dig route into triple coverage, fortunately it only intercepted once. There was also multiple communications with the wide receivers. Brian Schottenheimer was inconsistent again, calling too many passes and inexplicably going away from Joe McKnight when it appeared Shonn Greene was hurt. McKnight had 40 yards on 6 touches. Do the math. He needs more of them.

Turnovers. Miscommunications. Subpar Play. But still, a victory. And for that, you must give some credit to Mark Sanchez, who did improve his play in the second half and did put together yet another game winning drive that ended with a Santonio Holmes touchdown. The talent is there but the consistency needs to improve…immensely.

Plaxico Burress deserves a ton of credit for another terrific game, highlighted by a beautiful one-handed third down grab that kept the Jets game winning drive alive. He also scored his 7th touchdown of the season and never went down to Stevie Johnson’s level to respond to him.

In the end, the Jets are alive and very much in the thick of the AFC playoff picture. They need to get better…much better but they live to fight another day. Rex Ryan said in his post-game speech, “don’t let anybody rob us of our dreams”…let’s see if the Jets can prevent the Redskins from doing that next week.

A New York Jets Positive: Plaxico Burress

TOJ on a recent positive for the New York Jets: wide receiver Plaxico Burress

After the New York Jets knocked off the Miami Dolphins a few weeks ago, it looked like the Plaxico Burress signing wasn’t working out. He was struggling to consistently stay involved in the offense and looked disinterested at times. Fortunately, over the past few weeks Burress has done a 180 and is both producing on the field and acting like a veteran leader off it.

Against the San Diego Chargers, Burress showed his ability to still dominate in the red-zone with three touchdown receptions. The following week he put together his most complete performance of the season against the Buffalo Bills with 5 receptions for 79 yards. Burress scored his fourth touchdown in three weeks the next game against the Patriots and then this past Thursday he added another 4 receptions for 64 yards against the Broncos.

He looks better getting off the line of scrimmage and has routinely drawn defensive pass interference penalties. Considering his pace to score around 10 touchdowns, it is looking like the signing may actually pay off.

Off the field, Burress hasn’t sniped about Mark Sanchez’s inconsistent play, which he has been baited to do in multiple post-game press conferences. Today he actually stepped up and took responsibility for Sanchez’s pick six against the Denver Broncos saying he should have came back to the ball more. In reality, considering the type of route he was running, a whip route (very similar to an out), that wasn’t necessarily the case. Rod Boone of Newsday tweeted out that Sanchez seemed to appreciate the sentiment from Burress and considering the heat he has been facing from everybody lately receiving some support from his veteran receiver certainly doesn’t hurt. It was a good, veteran move by Plax to take some of the blame even when it wasn’t his fault.

The Jets offense will need Burress to continue to strive down the stretch if they have any plans of making a post-season run.

New York Jets Offense: They Can Do It All

TOJ on why there is no reason for the New York Jets offense not to have a monster game this Sunday night

The New York Jets offense has seemed like a perpetual work in progress the past couple of years. In the past few games, we have seen steps in the right direction. The shift to a greater focus on the running game with a play action passing attack working off it has given the Jets back the identity they have thrived in.

There was a reason behind the chest puffing from members of the offense in the pre-season. There is a high talent level on this unit, enough talent to consistently put up around 30 points on a weekly basis. You have a legitimate number one, slot receiver, a split end who is rounding into form as a big time target over the middle and in the red-zone, a tight end with the ability to stretch the field and an improving rookie slot receiver. In the backfield, you have a good north/south runner who fits in well behind a very good offensive line, complimented by a more than capable third down back and a potentially electric change of pace back.

The quarterback is still developing, still prone to occasional bonehead mistakes but on the whole is continuing to improve and is more than capable of putting together big games, particularly in big spots.

WIth the defense they are facing this week, there is no reason the Jets can’t do it all and play to their true potential. The running game should absolutely take the lead but don’t handcuff Mark Sanchez. When New England starts stacking the box, their personnel has no chance of matching up with Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, and Dustin Keller. Take the play action shot down the field.

Brian Schottenheimer needs to be able to find the mix of exploiting New England’s secondary, while still allowing his running game to keep rolling. Shonn Greene can get his 20 carries with Sanchez still taking his shots down the field.

The Jets put up 21 in New England back in week 5. Considering their progress since then, there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to put 31 this time around.

Initial Reaction: They’re Not Dead Yet, New York Jets Win 27-21

The New York Jets put together a complete team effort to come up with a huge win over the San Diego Chargers

This was the New York Jets team we expected to see in the 2011 season. An offense led by a power rushing attack, with Shonn Greene racking up nearly 6 yards per carry (20 attempts, 112 yards) supported by an improving Mark Sanchez (18/33, 173 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT). Plaxico Burress being a beast in the red-zone (3 touchdowns) and contributions from the other receiving options when Santonio Holmes has a quiet day (Dustin Keller 53 yards, Jeremy Kerley 4 receptions). On the other side of the football, a defense shutting down one of the league’s top offenses and coming up with big plays in big moments.

We got it today, as the Jets won a crucial home game over the San Diego Chargers 27-21, moving to 4-3 on the season and 4-0 at home. It is time now to gear up for back to back AFC East showdowns against the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots.

What was impressive was the resiliency shown by the team today. At the half this was a 21-10 San Diego lead, as the Jets failed to take advantage of a strong offensive performance. On defense the Jets were getting pushed around and looked like they were ready to allow 35+ points. However, give credit to Rex Ryan and the rest of the unit for shutting out the Chargers in the second half and allowing the offense to score 17 unanswered. The defense also came up with two interceptions, including yet another one by Darrelle Revis who is making another campaign for Defensive Player of the Year.

This team is far from perfect but I got news for you, the AFC is wide open this year. The Jets still have a shot to make noise in the AFC East and if the Patriots do happen to pull away, they are going be right in the mix for a wild-card spot with a cluster of other teams. This offense has enough weapons to consistently score 24-28 points and even though the defense has some issues at linebacker and safety, with Rex Ryan’s coaching they can still flip the switch to come up with big time performances.

Bring on the Bills.

New York Jets: Plaxico Burress Becoming Invisible

Plaxico Burress is becoming invisible on the New York Jets offense

Plaxico Burress started his New York Jets career with a bang, putting together a monster second half in their opening night victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Since then, outside of a few plays in near garbage time against the Oakland Raiders, he has been an invisible man on the Jets offense. After dropping a pair of passes last week in New England, Burress had a concerning performance last night.

After not seeing a pass thrown his way in the first half, he finally caught a 16 yard slant route in the second half, which he followed by shaking his head repeatedly in a “why aren’t we doing this more often” kind of way. He followed up by dropping a dig route and then jogging on a deep ball that was thrown his way. Yes, Burress did throw a nice block on the Santonio Holmes touchdown and yes he has been surprisingly strong with that aspect of his game but what kind of factor will he be in the Jets passing attack moving forward?

Burress is clearly the type of receiver who appears to get frustrated if he is not involved early in game. Mark Sanchez and him have not fully developed their chemistry yet, while Brian Schottenheimer hasn’t found a way to get Burress in the rhythm of the offense. Where is the back shoulder fade that he traditionally runs so well? Where is the creativity in the red-zone?

The blame falls on all three of them, Burress, Sanchez, and Schottenheimer. In retrospect, it is looking like it might have been smarter just to keep Braylon Edwards as he had developed a good rapport with Sanchez and was coming off a strong season. However, the Jets are stuck with Burress now and he needs to run sharper routes, stop the sulking, work his way back to the football when it is thrown to him, and not jog any route. Sanchez and Schottenheimer need to find a way to get Burress going early, along with Sanchez improving his timing with him.

This offense needs a possession receiver and red-zone target opposite of Santonio Holmes. Burress is still working off the rust but the clock is ticking with a must win upcoming against the San Diego Chargers.

Five Remedies To The New York Jets Offense

Relax and take notes Brian Schottenheimer before people start picketing in front of your home…

1. More McKnight, More Screens – The New York Jets always had an issue using Leon Washington enough back from 2006-2009. Not surprisingly, Brian Schottenhiemer has done a poor job of incorporating Joe McKnight into the Jets offense. Wasn’t he drafted because of his ability to spread out as a receiver, along with be a running back. Can we split him out and get a mismatch on a linebacker? Can we throw the guy a screen pass in some space, since he is ripping off a monster kick return a week right now? One carry isn’t enough, he should be getting 6-10 touches on offense and on the whole the Jets need to use more screens to him, LaDainian Tomlinson, Dustin Keller, and their starting wide receivers.

2. Look Deep Early – Teams load up to prevent the Jets running game and short/intermediate passing “attack.” They need to take a shot deep early in the game to loosen up the opposing defense. How about a slant and go, since the Jets throw about 8 slants a game? I recall the Jets running that route once under Schottenheimer and it going for a 80 yard touchdown.

3. Where Are You Dustin? – The Jets offense always seems to operate at a better rate when Dustin Keller is actively involved in the offense. He has been MIA the past few weeks after a big start. The excuse that teams are doubling him doesn’t work. He has the ability to move around all over the formation. The Jets need to get creative about getting him involved.

4. The Happy Medium – You don’t have to either be an all out Ground and Pound or a pass happy, chuck and duck attack. There could be a gray area or a happy medium. You run the football to help protect Mark Sanchez but don’t hold him back if the opportunities are available down the field.

5. More Of This – Back shoulder fades to Plaxico Burress…LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene in the same backfield…The Wildcat with Jeremy Kerley and Joe McKnight in the backfield…A vertical pass to Santonio Holmes.

Final Thoughts On Jets/Raiders

Jets Inactives – Kenrick Ellis, Rob Turner, Nick Mangold, Emmanuel Cook, Kevin O’Connell, Bilal Powell, Logan Payne

– I feel very strongly the Jets are going to put together a statement performance today. Too many people are overestimating the Raiders. They have beat nobody of significance in the past two years. Yes, they will be feisty in the their home opener and yes the Mangold injury will hurt but in the end the Jets are a substantially better team and that will shine through.

– Considering the Raiders defensive scheme and their starting corners, I’d be very surprised if Mark Sanchez doesn’t for right around 300 yards or more. Look for a big day from Plaxico Burress, who I think the Jets will finally get involved early.

– Look for Joe McKnight and Jeremy Kerley to be involved today on offense.

– Very interested to see how the Patriots/Bills game goes today. That place is going to be rocking.

Jets vs. Raiders: 12 Pack Of Predictions

A rainy Friday…a perfect time to take an extended lunch break with the 12 pack. Remember to check out today’s video picks and highlights.

1. Darren McFadden is going to run for less than 100 yards. The Jets run defense has been solid ever since Rex Ryan took over and regardless of how well McFadden has been playing, the Jets will keep him contained no matter how many touches the Raiders try to get him.

2. Santonio Holmes is going to have a big day, especially if Chris Johnson spends extended time covering him. As a matter of fact, there is no reason Plaxico Burress won’t have a big day either. Look for the Jets starting WRs to combine for 150 yards of receiving and at least one touchdown. Derrick Mason will also be more involved than he has been in previous weeks.

3. The Jets will have a tough time running the football up the middle, which will lead to more outside handoffs for Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson. I still don’t expect a big day from the running game but they will do enough to keep Oakland’s defense honest.

4. Mark Sanchez will have another turnover but will throw for over 275 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He will also rush for at least 20 yards.

5. The Jets defense will continue their early season turnover forcing spree and come up with at least one interception and one forced fumble.

6. Antonio Cromartie won’t get the opportunity to return any kicks this week as Sebastian Janikowski will be kicking them out of the end-zone.

7. Rookie third round pick Kenrick Ellis will be active for the first time this Sunday.

8. Jason Campbell won’t throw for more than 225 yards and will be sacked at least twice. Bart Scott will continue his early season tear with another sack. Kyle Wilson will grab his first NFL sack.

9. Dustin Keller will be kept out of the end-zone for the first time this season.

10. Oakland will get off to a strong start in their first home game of the year but the Jets will weather the early blows and go into halftime with the lead.

11. Jeremy Kerley will gain some type of offensive yards this Sunday.

12. A tight game into the fourth quarter will turn into a two possession Jets victory, 27-17. Eat another hot dog, Sanchez…3-0 and heading to Baltimore.