No Huddle – New York Jets Pre-Season Recap

TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle on the positives and negatives we saw from the New York Jets first pre-season game

TJ Rosenthal is back with his weekly No Huddle piece, this week focusing on the good, the bad…and the very ugly from the New York Jets pre-season opener. Make sure to give TJ a follow on Twitter and to check back later in the day for further coverage and analysis – 

Well one preseason game is now in the books and with it an opportunity to feel good in some way about the new offense right out of the gates.

Oh well.

It is time to move on towards a date with the world champs on Saturday but before we do, we huddle up and run some quick outs. Or shall we say, roll right screens to John Conner, regarding the past weekend –

1 – Coples the Game Changer?

Rookie Quinton Coples made plays. He stopped runs, tipped passes and got to the QB. A game full of production that topped the entire career of Vernon Gholston, the last pass rushing hope the Jets selected in the first round, in just one night.

The question is, can Coples get on the fast track now and become a real game changing force. A Jason Pierre Paul type of disrupter who can help cover up struggling offenses and any holes in the secondary that may arise during a game. If so, the Jets will have gained a much needed home run hitter. After all, Tim Tebow can’t line up on defense and rush the passer too.

2 – Offensive line, Stop Being Offensive

OC Tony Sparano says that the five sacks the Jets gave up Friday night were due to the lack of scheming for Cincy.

Really?

We did notice a few stunts or two but are you telling us that Mike Pettine doesn’t dial up a few criss crosses in Cortland during the week? Linemen have to communicate. Running backs have to chip in and chip. Football 101. Simple as that. If this doesn’t improve, the Jets record of 8-8 from 2011 won’t either.

3 – Tebow The Playmaker

Tim Tebow is not a pocket passer. Never will be. On a team with few proven touchdown makers however, he is a necessity right now.

We all saw what he did out there. In typical Tebow fashion he moved chains and created a threat to be accounted for. He wasn’t pretty, in dodging tacklers and rarely is. If the Jets can’t block though,  he’ll be needed more often to escape jailbreak pressure. His attributes are best suited for that type of desperation.

Don’t hate on him Jets nation. Be thankful that he provides the Jets with that choice.

4 – No Wildcat Marvin Lewis? Then Don’t Blitz Either

Now we already discussed the Jets struggles in protecting Mark Sanchez, Tebow and Greg McElroy. Apparently however, Marvin Lewis called Rex Ryan Friday morning and asked him not to run the Wildcat during the game. Fine, then why did Lewis send blitzers to get after any Jets signal callers?

If you’re asking a team to play vanilla then do the same.

5 – Safeties In The Same Zip Code As Tight Ends

How shocking was it to see Bengals tight ends covered? OK so nobody out there resembled Gronk and Hernandez but it is a start. We’ve moved from not being in the same time zone over the past few seasons, to being in the same zip code as tight ends.

It was a welcome sight.

Now if the Jets defense can build off of this, and actually take away the middle of the field option from opposing QBs once in a while, that would be the next step in the growth towards becoming the shut down unit Ryan and Co expect to be in 2012.

Initial Reaction – New York Jets Inconsistent Against Bengals

The New York Jets had an inconsistent performance, at best, in their pre-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals

A handful of thoughts from the New York Jets pre-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, a 17-6 loss that was far from the prettiest football game you will ever see –

1. Mark Sanchez didn’t receive much help in the way of protection or his receivers getting separation. However, he protected the football, scrambled for a first down on a 3rd down and hooked up with Patrick Turner 3 times. Overall, the first offense was rather disappointing, particularly Shonn Greene who finished up with 11 yards on 5 carries. Tony Sparano’s new offense remains a work in progress but remember how vanilla they were tonight.

2. Tim Tebow was Tim Tebow. He had three very impressive scrambles and finished as the team’s leading rusher with 34 yards on 4 carries. Yet, he struggled to throw the football only finishing 4/8 for 27 yards with an ugly interception. I remain confident in my belief that Tebow will be the team’s second leading rusher and is more of their number two running back than their number two quarterback.

3. Quinton Coples was the star of the night. Few people were more critical of his selection than yours truly but the rookie impressed tonight with 4 tackles, a tackle for a loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass defensed. Yes, many of his big plays came against the Bengals second unit but Coples looked athletic and like he could be a factor against both the run and pass.

4. Bilal Powell played over Joe McKnight as both the third down back and number two running back but it was McKnight who stole the show at running back. Powell finished with 16 yards on 5 carries and 1 reception for 4 yards, along with a missed block that led to a sack. McKnight showed some good giddy-up with 32 yards on 7 carries and 3 receptions for 34 yards.

5. Overall the defense was very good against the run, surrendering only 2.8 yards per carry. Kenrick Ellis filled in admirably for Sione Pouha and David Harris racked up 4 tackles in limited action.

6. Defensive end Jay Richardson had a head turning performance with 4 tackles and a sack. Garret McIntyre also had a sack and was active. Rookie linebacker Demario Davis had 4 tackles and a tackle for a loss.

7. Aaron Maybin struggled against the run and wasn’t effective getting to the passer despite extended reps. Isahiah Trufant and Julian Posey were beat like a drum all night long at corner. Josh Bush also doesn’t look quite ready for any kind of first team reps yet.

8. The Jets backup offensive lineman were downright awful, nearly getting Greg McElroy killed in the 3rd and 4th quarter. Depth is a major concern with this unit.

9. Can we keep Bart Scott out of coverage? When you can’t keep up with BenJarvus Green-Ellis over the middle, you have a problem. Demario Davis needs to be in on passing downs.

10. Rookie Stephen Hill had an ugly drop on a 3rd down. However he did haul in two high Tebow passes. It would have been nice to see him stretch the field but I’m sure that will come in time.

11. I would hate to be in the special teams meetings tomorrow…

New York Jets: Rookie Defenders Should Make Immediate Impact

What kind of impact will the New York Jets rookie defenders make in 2012?

The New York Jets drafted four defensive players in the 2012 NFL Draft, three of them are locks to make the roster and contribute in some capacity in their rookie year. How much will the Jets be asking from their newest additions and will they be able to handle the workload? Let’s run through the four selections and discuss what reasonable expectations should be –

Strong Safety – Antonio Allen – 7th Round – Allen fell further down the draft board than most people expected. He is a natural strong safety who basically played like an extra linebacker at South Carolina. Talent-wise the Jets got great value with Allen but it will be extremely difficult for him to make any kind of impact this season on defense. LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell and Eric Smith are all similar players to Allen and ahead of him on the depth chart. Unless there is significant injuries throughout the Jets secondary, it is difficult seeing Allen being active on a weekly basis. The only way he will be, is if he proves to be a monster on special teams. It isn’t out of the question for Allen to be a practice squad player in 2012 as he projects to make a bigger impact down the road after Landry, Bell or Smith have moved on.

Free Safety – Josh Bush – 6th Round – Walked into a better situation than most 6th round picks. Bush is entering training camp as the team’s fourth safety and only true free safety likely to make the 53 man roster. If he can hold his own throughout August, he will see significant playing time particularly in the Jets sub and nickel packages. Don’t be surprised to see Bush playing a Dwight Lowery type role in Rex Ryan’s defense, bouncing between safety and corner to take advantage of his coverage skills. If Bush can’t establish himself as a competent role player with long term potential in 2012 it will be disappointing and hurt the Jets already questionable depth at safety. Bush is a likely candidate for an extensive role on special teams, particularly on coverage units.

Demario Davis – Linebacker – 3rd Round – The pre-training camp darling of the Jets draft class who has already been given comparisons to Ray Lewis (seriously, come on Rex) for his intensity and natural leadership. Davis has something the other Jets linebackers lack: speed. It is going to get him on the field immediately on passing downs and he is already running with the first unit in the sub package. Davis will also be a fixture on just about every special teams unit from day one. The question is, can Bart Scott hold him out of the starting lineup for the entire season? Make no mistake, Davis will be the opening day starter at inside linebacker in 2013 but will he crack the starting lineup in 2012?

Quinton Coples – Defensive End – 1st Round – We won’t hide from our initial criticism of the Coples selection however with the Jets apparently moving to a defensive scheme that is more 4-3 and 46 heavy it at least makes a little more sense. Beyond that, Coples put together a very strong OTAs and says everything you want to hear from a first round pick with motor questions. He is going to start from day one and is physically the most talented pass rusher the Jets have had on their roster in awhile. Alongside Muhammad Wilkerson, he has the chance to be a special player in this defense.

TOJ’s Top 50 New York Jets Countdown: 20-30

Turn On The Jets counts down the top 50 New York Jets currently on the roster, continuing today with numbers 20-30

Frustrated and confused after seeing the NFL’s Top 100 player list? TOJ was as well. Due to that, we have decided to rank the current New York Jets on the roster from 50 all the way down to 1. Along the way, we will be classifying the players into the following five categories:

  • Bottom of the Roster (strictly a depth and developmental player)
  • Middle Class (Situational player, spot starter)
  • Quality Starter (Capable starting player or very good role player)
  • Red Chip (Swiping this term from Michael Lombardi, an above average stater/borderline Pro-Bowler)
  • Blue Chip (Another swipe from Lombardi, an elite player at his position)

READ NUMBERS 40-50 HERE

READ NUMBERS 30-40 HERE

(STILL IN MIDDLE CLASS CATEGORY)

29. John Conner, Fullback – The Terminator was average at best last season, his first one as a full time starter. Hopefully, with a more run orientated approach this season he will develop into a more consistent lead blocker and bigger cog in the offense, as Tony Sparano hasn’t been shy in the past about using his fullbacks as runners for short yardage situations. Conner must also work on his hands, so he can be a reliable checkdown option.

28. Wayne Hunter, Tackle – Despite filling in for Damien Woody admirably at the end of the 2010 season, Hunter’s frankly awful 2011 makes it more than fair to question if he is capable starter in the NFL. The Jets are betting that Sparano will help turn into a competent every down player and for the sake of Mark Sanchez’s health, they better have bet right.

27. Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver – The hope is that he will quickly prove to be a capable starter and based on physical attributes, there is no reason he can’t become that immediately. Unless he gets injured, he will start from day one opposite Santonio Holmes and be relied on to prevent teams from double teaming him or Dustin Keller.

26. Kyle Wilson, Cornerback – Wilson bounced back somewhat from a disappointing rookie season in 2011 but still left something to be desired for a first round pick. People forget that when he was selected, he was anticipated to be a big time punt returner and hyped as somebody capable of the holding the fort down if Darrelle Revis missed time from a holdout. He is no longer a factor as a returner and has the looks of a good, not great nickel back that hasn’t proven he can be an every down player yet.

25. Joe McKnight, Running Back –  He proved to be a very good kick returner last season but never really received the chance to flourish into a big part of the offense. Tony Sparano found a way to make Reggie Bush more successful than he ever had been in his NFL career last season in Miami and while McKnight isn’t on the same talent level as him, he does have a comparable skill set. He should be given every opportunity to be the team’s primary third down back and a big part of the passing games, particularly on screens.

QUALITY STARTER (CAPABLE STARTER OR VERY GOOD ROLE PLAYER)

24. Jeremy Kerley, Wide Receiver – Flashed a ton of potential in his rookie season and will be the team’s slot receiver in 2012. Davone Bess caught plenty of passes in Miami in this same offensive system and Kerley should do the same. He will also likely be the team’s primary punt returner. Kerley has excellent short area quickness and should be a frequent target on third downs.

23. Quinton Coples, Defensive End – For where the Jets took him in the first round, he better be ready to be a starter out of the gates. Coples has drawn rave reviews for his performance in OTAs and mini-camp, and seems to be playing with a chip on his shoulder. I was skeptical of the selection at the time but you have heard exactly everything you want to hear about a first round pick since he was taken. Coples has the potential to be a force up front, particularly in the Jets 4-3 alignments alongside Muhammad Wilkerson.

22. Aaron Maybin, Linebacker/Defensive End – The team’s top pass rusher last season, who should improve in 2012 with a full off-season to master Rex Ryan’s defense and work on diversifying his rush techniques. He has bulked up in anticipation of an increase of reps. There is no reason to think he can’t approach double digit sacks in this system.

21. Matt Slauson, Guard – Slauson has been the team’s starting guard the past two seasons and has proven to be competent. He played through a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his left shoulder last season and is anticipated to be 100% healthy in 2012. Slauson won’t be elected to any Pro-Bowls but won’t hold the Jets offensive back as a starter.

20. Eric Smith, Safety – Defensive backs coach summed up Smith perfectly when he said, “you will love him 300 reps, not at 900 reps.” He was overextended as a starter last season and was also banged up down the stretch run. However, Smith can thrive in Rex Ryan’s defense as a role player like he did in 2009, which will also allow him to focus on being the team’s top special teams player.

Check back tomorrow for players 10-20…

New York Jets Fact Or False: New Jets Edition

TOJ’s weekly Fact or False from Chris Gross – Focusing on the newest members of the New York Jets roster

Our weekly Fact or False from Chris Gross…make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter and let him know what you think –

The New York Jets have experienced yet another exciting offseason of player acquisitions. While the early weeks of free agency had the majority of Jets Nation convinced there was a new mentality in the front office due to the lack of pursuit of the marquee free agents, General Manager Mike Tannenbaum returned to his roots as “Trader Mike” and made the splash of the offseason in trading for the most polarizing figure in the NFL, Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow. Beyond the Tebow trade, Tannenbaum and the Jets achieved, what could prove to be, their best draft in recent years. With the acquisitions of eight players in this year’s draft, there are plenty of newcomers on board with Gang Green this season, many of whom have already stood out at OTAs and Mini-Camp.

The Jets filled a great amount of needs on their roster this offseason, particularly at the safety position where they added four new players (two rookies, two veterans) to the position that was popularly considered the worst on the defense last year. New York has also gone international with the signing of Aussie Rugby Star Hayden Smith, who is vying to make the team as a Tight End, another position in need of depth on the Jets roster. It seems that Mike T and Co. have added players via every means possible this offseason – signings, trades, draft picks, international, domestic, you name it. With so many new additions to the team for the 2012 season, what can we expect from those who will wear the Green and White for the first time this year? This week’s New York Jets Fact Or False takes a look at the “New” New York Jets.

Chaz Schilens will have the greatest impact of all newcomers at the Wide Receiver position. False. While the Jets certainly have a young and promising group of speedy, athletic receivers, Schilens was signed to a one year deal after a season of just 23 receptions in 2011, prior to the Jets selections of rookies Stephen Hill and Jordan White in this year’s NFL Draft. While Schilens certainly has the physical tools (6’4” 4.3 40 yard dash) to be a dangerous weapon in New York’s receiving corps this year, durability will be the key issue, as it has been throughout his career. Schilens has already missed 20 games due to injury in his short four-year career, and has never once recorded 30 receptions in a single season.

However, Schilens showed flashes of brilliance during mini-camp after obtaining a surplus of reps due to injuries to Hill, White, and Santonio Holmes. While Schilens could certainly be a diamond in the rough for Gang Green if he can stay healthy, history does not look favorable for the four-year veteran out of San Diego State. In terms of Jets newcomers at the wide receiver position, Hill, who will likely be starting opposite Santonio Holmes come week 1, is the most likely to have the greatest impact among the new wide outs. Jordan White is certainly another name to keep an eye on if he can come back completely healthy from a foot injury that will have him sidelined until training camp.

Quinton Coples will have the largest impact of all rookies. Fact. DeMario Davis is another candidate here, however with Coples likely to crack the starting lineup right out of the gate this year, he will ultimately have more opportunity to provide a greater impact to the team this season. We’ve repeatedly gone over the physical intangibles of Coples here at Turn On The Jets, not to mention how the shift toward more four-man fronts will benefit his skill set. However, what has not been discussed to a great extent is the work ethic Coples has been displaying since joining the Jets.

Heading into the draft, Coples unfairly saw his character and work ethic come into question, although review of his college game film proves he is anything but lazy and unmotivated. So far, we have yet to hear these concerns about Coples. The first round selection out of North Carolina has displayed nothing but high character and a tremendous work ethic during OTAs and Mini-Camp practices, and has earned praise from the coaching staff and media alike. Coples has the ability to fill the void the Jets defense has been truly lacking since the days of John Abraham, a pass rusher that opposing offenses must game plan around. Rex Ryan will use his vast defensive knowledge and creativity in order to ensure Coples is in every position possible to succeed.

Hayden Smith will make the active roster. False. The idea of Hayden Smith is a very intriguing one for Gang Green. The Jets took a shot at signing the Aussie Rugby star who has never played a down of football in his entire life, but has the physical tools (6’6” 255 lbs) to be an elite tight end in this league. While Smith is highly unlikely to develop into the next Jimmy Graham or Antonio Gates, he could end up being a solid contributor down the road for the Jets. Rex Ryan has already praised his tenacity and work ethic, and for good reason. Smith seems poised to learn the game of football from both an intellectual and fundamental standpoint. However, his development will likely take more than just one offseason before he can contribute, not only on the Jets, but also at the NFL level in general. A year on the practice squad is likely the destination for Smith this year, but that may be just what he needs to build his game and become a contributor in 2013.

Yeremiah Bell will provide more bang for the Jets buck than LaRon Landry. Fact. This could easily turn if Landry stays healthy for the entire year, as New York obtained the Pro Bowl caliber player on a rather cheap one-year contract, however, like Schilens, Landry comes with serious durability concerns. When healthy, Landry has been extremely productive, but over the past two seasons, the former first round selection out of LSU has played in just 17 total games. Bell, on the other hand, has not missed a game in the past four seasons and has accumulated over 100 tackles in each. While the ex-Miami Dolphin was certainly a bit more of an under-the-radar signing than Landry, his impact will likely be much greater with the Jets defense this season due to his durability and production.

Of the two rookie safeties, Josh Bush will see the majority of the reps. Fact. This is a no brainer. Antonio Allen is absolutely a very young, promising prospect for the Jets. However, like Landry and Bell, Allen fits the mold of an in the box, strong safety type player. Conversely, Bush is the only true free safety on the Jets roster and will likely see his reps increase as the season progresses, while picking up the defense a bit more each week. Bush has been widely regarded as one of the better cover safeties in this year’s rookie class, as shown by his All-American and All-ACC honors last season at Wake Forest. While Allen could certainly be used on special teams and in some sub packages, primarily as a blitzer, Bush fills a greater need for the Jets as of right now, and will likely see the majority of the reps among the two.

Tim Tebow will cause a Quarterback controversy in New York. False. While everyone from fans and mainstream media are drooling at the prospect of seeing Tebow come in and replace Mark Sanchez, the reality of the situation is that there will be no controversy at the Quarterback position for the Jets this season. It is certainly easy to argue against this proclamation as Sanchez is coming off of his most criticized season as a pro, despite accounting for 32 total touchdowns in 2011, while the Tebow magic is still fresh in the minds of everyone who witnessed arguably the most polarizing figure in all of sports defy all the odds last season in leading Denver to a playoff victory.

While Tebow will remain the number two quarterback in the event that Sanchez gets injured, he was not brought to New York to take the job from number 6. Tebow will likely be used at quarterback in some wildcat and spread option sub packages, however he will take very little, if any, snaps at QB when the regular offense is on the field. Despite the fact that Sanchez is poised for a breakout season, Tebow’s unique skill set is too diverse to see him taking snaps under center this year. Expect to see Tebow in a variety of roles including H-Back and Running Back. New York has already begun to get him reps here, all of which will likely increase heading into the season. Remember, Sanchez AND Tebow, not Sanchez OR Tebow.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Mini-Camp Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly New York Jets Fact or False, looking at New York Jets mini-camp issues

The 2012 New York Jets have countless story lines and question marks surrounding them heading into this pivotal year for both Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez. Following the conclusion of today’s third, and final, mini-camp practice, the Jets will not be together in their entirety until the beginning of training camp at the end of July. A lot can be taken from the OTA’s and mini-camp period of the off-season, however, it is important to remember that the regular season is still months from kickoff and absolutely nothing is set in stone yet. For this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False, we’ll examine six of the most prevalent headlines as we begin the early transition from the offseason into the preseason.

1.) Santonio Holmes is still the team villain. Fact. While Santonio Holmes has gone through great efforts to stay out of the spotlight all offseason, while seemingly working to repair his fractured relationship with Mark Sanchez, as well as saving some time to visit with injured U.S. Military Troops in Germany, it took number 10 only one day of practice to grab the headlines in a negative way. After struggling to fulfill his desired number of reps during the first day of mini-camp, Holmes reportedly threw his helmet as he came off of the field, while expressing his disapproval for the workload he was expected to achieve in his first day back with the team.

While this was likely just a simple act of frustration from the ultra-competitive Holmes, Tone has to realize that everything he does will be under heavy scrutiny this season, particularly acting out like this in a practice session open to the media. It is certainly understandable that highly spirited athletes are often emotional, however Holmes is in a unique situation. The majority of media outlets are seemingly waiting for him to implode, so he needs to be smart about repairing his image, if he truly intends to do so. Until then, Holmes will remain portrayed as the villain of the Jets, and the majority of the moves he makes will be painted in a negative light, until he changes the perception of himself in the media.

2.) The more rigorous strength and conditioning program is the reason for the early hamstring plague. False. Among others, Holmes and rookie WR Stephen Hill each missed practice time this week due to tweaked hamstrings. Yesterday, ESPN’s Rich Cimini hinted at the idea that the cause for the ongoing hamstring issues in mini-camp were related to the more intense weight room regiment. While an increase in strenuous muscle activity could contribute to some types of injury if not conditioned well enough, this is the NFL. The players and coaches are professionals, and experts in their respective trades. An NFL level strength and conditioning coach is certainly capable of implementing stretching and flexibility techniques to decrease the risk of muscle related injuries.

While it is easy to assume that an increase in weight room intensity is an underlying cause for the recent run of hamstring issues, it is more likely a case getting back into playing shape. The most durable NFL players usually have the most strenuous offseason programs. During his time with the New York Giants, Tiki Barber was known for having one of the most intense weight room regiments out of any player in the league, and as a result, missed only six total games throughout the span of his ten year career, four of which came during his rookie season. Strength training does not increase the risk of injury, but more commonly reduces it.

3) Tim Tebow will be playing just about everything other than “traditional” Quarterback this season. Fact. While Tebow is the backup quarterback, he was not brought to New York for that reason. Conversely, he was not brought here to be the starter either. The Jets traded for Tebow to be the excellent football player they know he is. He has reported to mini-camp at a career high 249 lbs, and reports indicate that the Jets would still like him to add weight. By traditional standards, there aren’t any 250 lb athletes with the overall football skills of Tebow serving as pocket passers. The added weight will allow Tebow to serve more effectively as an all around football player, particularly in an H-Back, Running Back type role. Over his two seasons in the NFL, Tebow has rushed for 887 yards and 12 touchdowns, with a very impressive 5.4 yards per carry.

There will surely be a good amount of Wild Cat QB thrown in for Tebow as well, especially with the newly hired Tony Sparano’s knowledge of the system, coupled with Rex Ryan’s infatuation with it. In fact, since Ryan has come to New York, the Jets have the highest total yards per play out of the Wildcat in the entire NFL during that time frame, at 6.1 YPP. Expect Tebow to serve as a jack-of-all-trades for Gang Green this season, while seeing very little, if any, time as the regular quarterback.

4.) David Harris will finally get his much deserved recognition this season. False. Is there a more underrated defensive player in the NFL than David Harris? Since being drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Harris is averaging 102.8 tackles, 3.9 sacks, and 1 interception per season over his first five years in the league, while never being selected to a single Pro Bowl. Yes, he was a second team All-Pro in 2009, but has been snubbed by for the Pro Bowl in each year of his impressive NFL Career. In 2007, Harris’s rookie campaign, he tallied 127 tackles, including 90 solo, 5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. His AFC counterpart DeMeco Ryans was elected as the starter to the Pro Bowl that same season, although he registered only one more tackle than Harris, with three fewer sacks. Similarly, Ray Lewis was elected as the reserve at middle linebacker that same season despite notching seven fewer tackles and three fewer sacks than Harris. Sure, Ryans had collected over 150 tackles in the season prior, and Ray Lewis is, well, Ray Lewis, but this tells you all you need to know about how far under the radar Harris has flown since entering the league.

Although Harris has been the most consistent player on the team not named Darrelle Revis over the past few seasons, he still receives very little, if any, recognition. Although the Jets linebacker corps is one of the biggest question marks of the defense as we head into July, they have still received a fair amount of publicity during mini-camp. However, the spotlight has once again left the Hitman in the dark as the focus has been primarily on the revival of Bart Scott and the possible emergence of rookie DeMario Davis. Harris is a staple, not only of the defense, but also of the entire team, yet he often goes without mention when it comes discussing the vital keys to New York’s successes. Harris will likely rank in the top 2 in tackles among defensive players this season, yet few words will likely be printed about the 5 year veteran out of Michigan.

5.) The Jets have their defensive core of the next generation in Quinton Coples, DeMario Davis, and Josh Bush. Fact. The three of these rookies have all been heavily involved in mini-camp practices. Coples will be starting from day one, as expected, and according to reports out of practice, it is with good reason. Coples has been very impressive during his first early practices as a Jet, and the new scheme will surely maximize his skill set. The Jets were criticized for passing on Melvin Ingram, but now with their intentions to use more 46 and 4-3 looks this season, the move to select Coples is beginning to become more praised each day. The 16th overall selection out of North Carolina is out to prove the Jets organization right, and all of his many doubters wrong. Expect nothing less from Coples this season and beyond.

As for Davis and Bush, there was a good chance they would be playing a significant role this year due to the lack of depth at their respective positions. Bush is the only true free safety on the roster that is capable of playing the center field role in the secondary, and Davis is brings some much needed speed to the linebacker corps. Each of these players have been running with certain first team sub packages, and expect them each to play a heavier role as the season progresses, while serving on special teams.

The three of these young players certainly have the potential to fill as the core of the defense down the road. By the time they are entering the primes of their careers, Muhammed Wilkerson will be right there with them, while Darrelle Revis will likely still be the best corner in football and David Harris will be young enough to remain as a very important piece of the defense. If each of them can fulfill their potential, the defense will have the potential to be ranked among the best in the league for years to come.

6.) Chad Ochocinco will get off of Revis Island in 2012. False. To quote Ochocinco himself, “Child Please.” In his 6 career games against Darrelle Revis, Ochocinco has compiled only 16 catches for 289 yards, with no touchdowns. Those numbers average out to about 2.67 receptions for 48.17 yards per contest. With the artist formerly known as Chad Johnson entering the twilight of his career, coupled with the nightmare that is the Dophins’ quarterback situation, Ocho would be wise to set up his beach chair and lather up with sunscreen because Revis Island will be his residency for two of the sixteen weeks this season.

New York Jets: Sorting Through Rex-Talk

TOJ sorts through Rex Ryan’s praise for any and everything related to the New York Jets

To say Rex Ryan isn’t shy about praising his own players is an understatement. Rex wouldn’t hesitate to call Tanner Purdum the greatest long snapper he has ever coached or Matt Kroul the most talented third string center in NFL history. My personal favorite Rex-ism was calling Wayne Hunter the best backup tackle in the NFL during the 2010 season, like he had taken an inventory of all 32 teams 7th and 8th lineman and knew Hunter was the best.

Today’s press conference was a shining example as it seemed that Rex went through the entire roster in numerical order and offered everybody a “tremendous” or an “impressive” adjective. There isn’t a player on the team who hasn’t wowed the coaching staff on his return to the facility. Listen, I have no problem with Rex building up his players to the media. However, it makes sorting out who has actually been performing notably well a bit of a task.

Let’s go over what we know from OTAs and mini-camp so far –

1. Boom Not Bust – Of course it is too early to call first round pick Quinton Coples anything. However, by every indication he has been a borderline dominant presence since suiting up for the Jets in practice. A day hasn’t passed where he hasn’t came up with a sack or two. The other day he intercepted a pass and knocked another one down. More importantly, he seems to be playing with a chip on his shoulder and a high amount of energy/emotion. Nobody could ever question Coples talent, it doesn’t mean that some of us (including me) didn’t question taking him in the first round. He has a long way to go but so far, so good.

2. Young Pups – While we are talking about rookies, Demario Davis and Josh Bush have both spent time with the first defense in multiple practices, a very encouraging sign for mid-round draft picks. Both of them should be factors in passing situations. Davis is the fastest linebacker on the team and Bush is the only true free safety on the roster. If these two pan out alongside Coples, Mike Tannenbaum very well may have rebuilt his defense for the long run in a single draft.

3. O’ No – Same song every year. The offense is behind the defense. This makes even more sense this year since they are installing a new system and the wide receivers have been banged up. Is it a cause for concern? Not yet but it hasn’t been pretty out there for the Jets passing game thus far.

4. Forgotten Man – Chaz Schilens was a forgotten man by many after the Jets drafted Stephen Hill in the second round. However, he has taken advantage of extended playing time due to Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill’s injuries. Schilens has been one of the bright spots on offense and has the skill set to be a big play factor on offense.

5. Watch For ‘Em – Ellis Lankster as the #4 corner and a core special teams piece. Royce Pollard on punt returns and somebody who just may stick on the roster. Jeff Cumberland seeing a big bump in playing time. Yeremiah Bell seeing more time at free safety than he was accustomed to in Miami.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Defensive Line Edition

This week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False. Chris Gross on what to expect from a revamped Defensive Line this season.

The New York Jets defensive line is poised to have a completely new look this season. With a new coach in Karl Dunbar, the addition of first round pick Quinton Coples, and New York’s intention to use more 4 man fronts this season, here’s a look at what we should and should not expect from the Jets’ D-Line this year in this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.

1.) Quinton Coples will be Vernon Gholston 2.0. False. The comparisons that have been drawn between Coples and former Jets’ first round bust Vernon Gholston are completely unwarranted. Work ethic, passion, talent, size, speed, and all intangibles could be taken into account to realize that Coples is the superior player, however the key factor that will keep Coples from turning into Big Vern is that he is being brought to New York to play in his natural position as a defensive lineman.

When the Jets drafted Gholston, he was expected to make the conversion from defensive end to outside linebacker in the Jets 3-4 scheme. This transition proves to be extremely difficult for players year in and year out. Many of them fail to successfully make that transition simply because, as a linebacker, the cerebral reaction time can only be attained by few. For defensive lineman, reaction time and play is based primarily on physicality. Defensive linemen rely on their technique and instinct more so than their ability to read opposing offenses and make decisions on the fly. Of course, there is still a cerebral part of the game for defensive lineman in terms of reading the stances of the opposing offensive lineman, their splits, alignment, and where on the field the tight ends and backs are, but it is nowhere near as complicated and dense as it is for a linebacker.

While Rex Ryan has acknowledged the fact that Coples is athletic enough to play that outside linebacker position, he made it clear he is coming to New York to play with his hand on the ground. This is one of the smartest statements Rex has made since becoming the head coach of the Jets. Coples is a natural talent for the position, and has the size (6’6” 280 lbs) to be extremely versatile along the Jets several defensive fronts this season. There is no need to fix what isn’t broken. Coples will prove to be light years ahead of where Vernon Gholston ever was, starting in week one (Remember, all it will take is a single sack).

2.) Outside of Tony Sparano, the addition of Karl Dunbar will prove to be the most significant of the offseason. Fact. Many people forget that for the past two seasons, the Jets have had a secondary coach coaching the defensive line. While Mark Carrier certainly had a solid work ethic, and likely brought everything he had to his job every day, like a player playing out of position, it is extremely difficult for a coach to adapt to an area outside his realm of expertise, particularly in the NFL. Prior to coming to the Jets, Carrier played in the NFL as a Safety from 1990-2000 for Chicago, Detroit, and Washington, respectively. As a coach, Carrier served as the defensive backs coach at Arizona State for two seasons before joining the Baltimore Ravens as the team’s secondary coach from 2006-2009, just prior to joining the Jets, where he was seemingly given an opening on the staff as the Defensive Line Coach, a position in which he had no previous experience. This is a huge reason for New York’s pass rushing woes over the past two years.

Enter Karl Dunbar. As a player, Dunbar was a second-team All-SEC defensive tackle during his career at LSU, before bouncing around the NFL and other various professional football leagues during the early 90s. Following his playing career, Dunbar came onto the coaching scene in 1998 and, besides two seasons as the strength and conditioning coach at LSU, has coached only Defensive Line throughout his entire career.

Dunbar joins the Jets after six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. During his time in Minnesota, Dunbar orchestrated one of the best d-lines in all of football. Last season, Minnesota led the NFL with 50 total sacks, including a Vikings single season record 22 out of NFC Defensive Player of the year Jared Allen. In fact, since coming under the tutelage of Dunbar, Allen hasn’t had a season with fewer than double-digit sacks, while leading the NFL in the category twice (2007, 2011).

In Dunbar’s six seasons in Minnesota, the Vikings ranked in the top 10 in sacks four different times. In three of those seasons, Minnesota ranked in the top four in the category, two of which led the league. Conversely, Minnesota ranked first in rush defense during Dunbar’s first three seasons, second in his fourth, and in the top eleven during in his final two.

The acquisition of Dunbar is going to pay dividends for the Jets early and often. In Minnesota, Dunbar produced 3 Pro-Bowlers, including Allen, the three time All-Pro Defensive End. Considering he worked with only 4 starters, 75% of his starting line earned trips to the Pro Bowl. Dunbar will undoubtedly be able to maximize the talents of players like Coples, Mohammed Wilkerson, Aaron Maybin, and Sione Pouha. Expect the Jets defensive line to have a completely different look under Dunbar this season.

3.) Quinton Coples will be used solely as a Defensive End. False. Don’t be confused by this. Coples will be used primarily as, but not limited to, a Defensive End, and will see time elsewhere. The common assumption would be to think outside linebacker, however, as previously stated, Coples is coming to New York to play with his hand on the ground. Expect to see several formations that slide Coples to the inside in a defensive tackle role, especially during passing situations.

As a junior at North Carolina, Coples was forced to play defensive tackle for the majority of the season due to the immense amount of players the program lost due to suspension. During his time there, Coples recorded 10 sacks, an astonishing number for an interior defensive lineman. He certainly has the size to compete on the inside, and his speed will give him a superior advantage against guards and centers.

Coples has the potential to turn into what Justin Tuck was early in his career for the Giants, seamlessly switching from the outside and inside on the defensive line, while being able to defend the run and rush the passer from either position. On passing downs, the Jets will likely replicate what so many teams around the league are doing these days by placing their best pass rushers in the game, regardless of their roster position. Don’t be surprised to see Coples and Pouha line up on the interior with Wilkerson and Maybin lining up at end in a variety of passing situations this year.

4.) The Jets will be in a four man front for the majority of their defensive snaps in 2012. Fact. This could very well be 51% to 49%, but don’t be surprised if it is even greater. The Jets know the strength of their team lies in the secondary and in their defensive line depth. While the line backing corps is promising, outside of David Harris there are still some question marks. Bart Scott has reportedly dropped weight and looks rejuvenated in comparison to his play last season. DeMario Davis is turning heads at OTAs, and should eventually prove to be an excellent piece of this defense, but the Jets are wise enough not to depend on the rookie out of Arkansas State too much in his first year. Maybin should have a very promising season, but like Davis, needs to show consistency before the team can lean on him as a pillar of the defense. Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace are nearing the back end of their careers, and each need to have bounce back years after a disappointing 2011.

In order for the Jets to be successful on defense this season, they need to have their best 11 players on the field for the majority of plays. This includes their defensive line, and their secondary. Although the safety position was a bit of a hole last year, the Jets have certainly addressed the need this off-season by adding LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell in free agency, while drafting the young and talented duo of Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. New York also has arguably the best cornerback trio in all of football in Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and the up and coming Kyle WIlson.

WIth the addition of Quinton Coples via the draft, the Jets now have one of the most youthful, talented defensive lines in the league. The key for their success will be how they mold together. Mohammed Wilkerson is poised for a breakout season after a very impressive rookie campaign. Then, of course, there is Mike DeVito and Sione Pouha who are the heart and soul of this unit. You won’t see too many flashy numbers from either of these two, but their presence alone, presumably both at defensive tackle in a four man front, will not only help with the development of the young guys, but will command respect from opposing offensive lines across the league. Marcus Dixon and Kenrick Ellis should be able to provide some quality depth as well. This could be a very dangerous group as they develop together throughout training camp and into the season.

5.) Mike DeVito will be far less significant this season than he has been in the past. False. The notion that DeVito is slowly going to ride off into the sunset due to the addition of Coples may hold some truth down the road. However, for this season, that assumption could not be farther from the truth. We already know the Jets’ plan to use more four-man fronts this year, and a big part of that is because of DeVito. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and Rex Ryan realize what DeVito brings as a competitor, player, and leader, and have openly acknowledge the importance of getting him on the field.

Outside of his play, DeVito will play a key role in rebuilding the Jets fractured locker room. While this is certainly already in progress, as displayed by the new attitude we have seen from the team thus far, DeVito is at the point in his career in New York where he is respected as an unquestioned leader of this team. DeVito is one of the hardest working, most blue collared players on the entire roster. His influence over the young guys, particularly on the defensive line, will go miles in terms of their development. Coples, Wilkerson, and Ellis are fortunate to be in an environment with a player like DeVito.

6.) At least one player on the Jets defensive line will get double digit sacks this season. Fact. This is an extremely bold prediction considering the fact that the Jets have not had a single player record double digit sacks since John Abraham notched 10.5 in 2005, a six-year drought. However, the Jets have some serious under the radar talent when it comes to pass rushers. Aaron Maybin, who will likely fluctuate between linebacker and defensive end this year, led the Jets with six sacks last season after missing the first four games. With a full season ahead of him, combined with a complete off-season with the team, and the fact that he has added over 10 lbs since the end of last year, Maybin could turn into a significant force in the Jets pass rush.

Aside from Maybin, Muhammed Wilkerson is due for a big year after his impressive rookie campaign in which he started from day one and recorded 3 sacks. Quinton Coples’ talent level alone will give him the potential to achieve this accomplishment in each year of his career, however he will be asked to live up to that potential and rise to the occasion very early for Gang Green. How he handles this will ultimately be the key to his success, and should determine his degree of achievement.

Each of these young men should benefit greatly from the new scheme, as well as the addition of Dunbar. There is far too much talent and potential on this unit for someone to not reach the double-digit mark in sacks. Adding the expert that is Dunbar will surely maximize that potential, and ultimately allow a player to reach this feat.

A Closer Look At The New York Jets 46 Defense

A closer look at what roles individual players will play in the New York Jets 46 defense

This video on NFL.com provided an encouraging look at the New York Jets 46 defense, which has repeatedly been talked up by the coaching staff as a major part of their scheme for 2012. The decision to hire Karl Dunbar and draft Quinton Coples only reinforces that. We already discussed the 4-3 looks the Jets could use this season, so let’s take a closer look at how their personnel could be deployed in the 46:

NT – Sione Pouha is going to receive the lion share of the reps here. Ideally, Kenrick Ellis could provide quality reps off the bench this season but he is far from a proven commodity. The Jets also still have Martin Tevaseau behind Pouha, who does have some experience. Finally, Mike DeVito does have the ability to slide into this spot if there was an emergency.

DT – Surrounding Pouha up front, the Jets will likely have Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples starting out, with DeVito and Marcus Dixon rotating in off the bench. Obviously, Coples is a better option on passing downs and DeVito is a better presence against the run at this stage of their careers.

DE – Calvin Pace could see the majority of reps here because of his ability to set the edge and occasionally get after the passer. He also has a good amount of experience with his hand in the dirt. Aaron Maybin could also line up here on passing downs, where he could utilize his speed.

LB (On Line) – The LBs you see diagrammed lined up alongside the defensive line will likely be Bart Scott in the interior and Bryan Thomas on the outside as starters. Scott can utilize his run stopping ability here and Thomas has proven he can set the edge against the running game. However, Demario Davis should replace either Thomas or Scott in passing situations, where the Jets could use him to either cover the tight end or get after the quarterback. Finally, the Jets could also line up one of their many strong safeties on the edge occasionally, whether it is LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, or Eric Smith.

LB (Off Line) – Lined up alongside the strong safety, David Harris will be the primary player in this spot. He will have the ability to roam free and do what he does better than anybody on the defense, make tackles. In certain passing situations, I could see the Jets putting Yeremiah Bell or Eric Smith in this spot, alongside LaRon Landry at strong safety.

SS – LaRon Landry’s skill set fits best to this position. However, we could also see him and Bell be interchangeable in this spot, along with E. Smith occasionally seeing reps there, particularly if the Jets line up Landry up on the line in certain situations.

CB – Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie get the opportunity to take advantage of their man to man skills in this scheme. Could the Jets deploy a formation where Cromartie drops to FS and Kyle Wilson comes in at corner? I wouldn’t put it past Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine.

FS – The Jets lack a proven one on their roster. You could see Bell or E. Smith getting reps here, along with rookie Josh Bush or maybe even Cromartie as previously mentioned. Ideally, Bush picks up the defense quickly and becomes a capable centerfielder because he has the best skill set for this spot.

There is plenty of versatility with this formation. For example, the Jets could opt to take advantage of their collection of strong safeties by putting Landry on the line as the outside LB, putting Bell at the off the line LB and having E. Smith as the strong safety. Demario Davis has the speed to set the edge on either side or line up as the off the line LB in passing situations. Calvin Pace can play on either side of the formation, with his hand in the dirt or standing upright.

What is nice about the 46 and the Jets personnel is the ability to mix and match the player’s positions, which is something Rex Ryan loves to do and will keep offenses on their toes.

A Final Look At The New York Jets 2012 Draft Class

Chris G gives one final round-up of the New York Jets 2012 draft class

After watching hours of film on every selection made in the 2012 Draft by the New York Jets, we have analyzed each player and where we think they will fit in with the team, based on their skill set and potential. Now, it’s time to have fun with some predictions for each of these rookies in 2012 and beyond. Let’s have a look at what a yearbook of the Jets’ 2012 Draft Class would probably read.

Most Likely To Succeed – DE Quinton Coples. This was a very tough decision, as I think Stephen Hill will undoubtedly have a successful career in the NFL. However, Rex Ryan is a defensive minded coach, and besides Darrelle Revis, has yet to have a player in New York with the physical upside of Coples. With all the criticism emerging from the Jets’ decision to pass on Melvin Ingram for Coples, expect Rex to make it a priority to ensure the young DE out of North Carolina will thrive underneath him.

Most Likely To Be Considered A Steal – LB DeMario Davis. Davis has the passion, drive, and physical ability to be an elite NFL linebacker down the road. It will benefit him greatly to play in a system designed by Rex Ryan, while learning under the tutelage of David Harris and Bart Scott in the early years of his career. From what Davis was able to demonstrate in college, along with his tremendous speed and size for the position, there is a very high chance that, in the coming years, people will be questioning how he ever fell to the third round.

Biggest Sleeper Pick –WR Jordan White. Not too many people are talking about White, but when taking a closer look, this kid has all the potential in the world to be a very solid NFL Wide Receiver. His production at Western Michigan speaks for itself, while he has repeatedly proved to be tough, physical, and athletic on film. His intelligence displayed by his ability to find holes in the defense, as well as his fantastic route running ability will put him right where he needs to be in camp in order to compete for a roster spot. I would be shocked if he is not on the active roster at some point this season, while developing into a reliable safety net for Mark Sanchez in the future.

Best Value – S Antonio Allen. After reviewing the game film of safety Josh Bush, I have an excellent feeling about his play and how he will succeed as a Jet. However, I have had Allen rated as the third best safety in this year’s class right behind Harrison Smith. A further review of his game film only solidified that notion, and in the 7th round, the former Gamecock was certainly the best value pick by New York this year. The Jets likely selected Bush ahead of Allen because of their greater need for a true centerfield-type safety, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum were ecstatic to see him still on the board in round 7.

Least Likely To Ever Play A Significant Down – G Robert T. Griffin. Don’t get me wrong, Griffin’s massive frame, and great tenacity give him tremendous upside. However, he appears to be light years away from being a capable NFL offensive lineman. His skill set is very far behind in terms of his strength, footwork, and technique. There’s always a chance that he proves this assertion to be false, but in all likelihood, Griffin will find a home on the practice squad and settle there for a few years, before becoming a career backup, at best.

Only time will truly tell how each of these young men will fare as NFL players. Surely, they have all done things well enough to find themselves in the rare position that they are in. There’s no doubt that they are all good football players, but which of them will go the distance to ensure success in the NFL?