Sanchez Breakdown: Jets Offense Grounded in Pittsburgh

Rob Celletti breaks down Mark Sanchez’s performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 2

Stat Line: – 10/27, 138 Yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions – 66.6 QB rating, 37.0 completion percentage (yikes)

Season Stat Line – 29/54, 404 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception – 95 QB Rating, 53.7 completion percentage

To put it as simply as possible, two good drives are never going to be enough to win an NFL game. Ditto, just two trips to the red zone, as illustrated in this fancy graphic that all the stat-heads out there will surely enjoy. The Jets had issues in all three phases of the game, and the issues on offense weren’t only a function of poor quarterback play, but this is the place we discuss Mark Sanchez, so discuss him we will.

The Best: The first drive seemed to be a continuation of the week 1 success against the Buffalo Bills. This is what I expected the Jets to do most of the game to a Pittsburgh defense that was missing two of its impact players.  Sanchez and company responded to Pittsburgh’s opening drive field goal by marching right down the field, keyed by a big 45 yard hook-up with Jeremy Kerley where Sanchez again utilized a pump-fake to send Ryan Clark the wrong way before dropping a perfect, in-stride ball over three Steelers defenders for the big gain. Three plays later, a deft play-action fake and easy pickings on a quick slant to Santonio Holmes had the Jets up 7-3.

The Worst: Pretty much everything after the first drive was troublesome.  All of a sudden, Sanchez was out of synch with his receiving corps. Notable miscues happened with Jeff Cumberland and Jeremy Kerley, and after a solid opening drive, Santonio Holmes dropped a slew of catchable passes and in the end caught just three of the 11 balls thrown his way. The chemistry issues between Holmes and Sanchez have been discussed at length, but they’re worth noting again here. This is simply something that must be solved in order for the Jets to have a successful 2012 season. For better or worse, Holmes is the most experienced playmaker the Jets have, and if he and Sanchez aren’t on the same page, the offense will continue to sputter.

After the first drive, Sanchez completed just 6 of his next 22 passes (that’s 27.2%, for those of you scoring at home). The Jets did not enter the red zone after their second drive (they got to the 19 yard line), coming closest on their final, garbage time drive which ended at Pittsburgh’s 30 yard line. Sanchez also took some legitimate hits (including a rightly-penalized blow to the head), which was to be expected against Dick LeBeau’s defense. While I don’t think he was ever downright skittish, it’s clear that Sanchez was less decisive with the ball as the game wore on and Pittsburgh’s defense asserted itself.

The Key Moment: While I would love to harp on the Jets’ lack of aggressiveness at the end of the first half, I’ll keep the discussion to Sanchez, who said after the game that running the clock out was ultimately Tony Sparano’s decision.  A colleague of mine pointed out that after Sanchez missed Holmes for a would-be touchdown on the Jets second drive, everything seemed to stall out thereafter. It’s a good point. Watching the play again, it’s a terrific play-call on 1st and 10 from the 24, and the execution is there until the throw.  Sanchez playfakes, then bootlegs to the outside, which pulls Ryan Clark up the field. Santonio Holmes gets separation from Ike Taylor and runs into a fully vacated Pittsburgh endzone.  If Sanchez lays the ball out in front of Holmes, it’s an easy touchdown the Jets grab a 14-6 lead. Instead, the throw is high and a little behind #10, and the Jets settle for the three points that would be their last of the game. Sanchez has always been praised for his ability to throw on the run, and this play put him in his sweet spot, but the quarterback simply didn’t make the throw.

So now the question is, how will Mark Sanchez respond?  The Jets return to the place where their 2011 season officially and mercilessly went up in flames. Sanchez has a spotty history and just a 2-4 career record vs. Miami. Intriguing times ahead for the Jets’ quarterback.

Instant Reaction – Disappointing Jets Fall To 1-1

The New York Jets laid an egg in Pittsburgh to drop their record to 1-1

It was going to be a tall order for the New York Jets in Pittsburgh, against a desperate 0-1 team particularly without Darrelle Revis, Dustin Keller and Bryan Thomas in the line-up. However, there are no excuses for how the Jets lost today. Dropped passes. Muffed punts. Porous tackling. Questionable coaching decisions. The game was there for the taking and the Jets put forth a sloppy, borderline embarrassing effort.

On offense the Jets got off a fast start but eventually fizzled thanks to a lack of a running game and dropped passes. Shonn Greene had 11 carries for 23 yards and again made nobody miss and broke no tackles. On the eye test Bilal Powell looked better when carrying the football and yes, the Jets should have turned to Tim Tebow more frequently as a rushing option. Greene isn’t good enough not be a supported by another option or two. Santonio Holmes spent the entire game whining to the officials and dropping catchable passes. Stephen Hill wasn’t involved in the offense at all and the Jets badly missed Dustin Keller, as Jeff Cumberland looked clueless at times. Mark Sanchez missed a few opportunities down the field and couldn’t get the offense in rhythm after the first quarter.

On defense, the tackling was awful. Rex Ryan consistently dialed up the proper blitz call but watch LaRon Landry and David Harris whiff on sacks. Landry also picked up a pair of personal fouls. It was frustrating to watch the Jets inability to bring Ben Roethlisberger down. Quinton Coples barely played. Aaron Maybin was invisible. Where is the pass rush going to come from? Antonio Cromartie looked lost on Mike Wallace’s touchdown and Kyle Wilson didn’t impress in extended duty.

Look, the Jets weren’t going 16-0. There are worse places to lose than on the road in Pittsburgh…like at home to Arizona for example. The entire AFC East is 1-1 and the Jets are 1-o in their division. They need to handle business in Miami next week before facing a pair of brutally tough games at home against San Francisco and Houston. In order to do that, they must find a running game and have their playmakers actually make plays.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 2 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the New York Jets week 2 match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers

The New York Jets are coming off what is arguably their most impressive victory since defeating New England in the 2010 playoffs. The week 1 effort against Buffalo revealed a team that was clicking on all cylinders, recording touchdowns through all three phases of the game in route to a record setting opening day points total. That being said, the Jets face a daunting task heading into week 2 where they will travel to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who are fresh off of an opening day loss to Peyton Manning and the newly revamped Denver Broncos. Will the Jets offense be able to duplicate the success it had it week 1? And will the defense be able to shut down Ben Roethlisberger and his surplus of offensive weapons? This week’s New York Jets Fact Or False examines these issues, and more.

Mark Sanchez and the Offensive Line will be on their toes all game. Fact. While the Offensive Line did an excellent job last week in preventing Quarterback Mark Sanchez from getting sacked against a superbly talented Buffalo pass rush, Pittsburgh will be an entirely different animal this week. Steelers Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau is one of the most experienced and creative defensive minds in all of football who is notorious for developing creative and aggressive blitz packages to make preparation an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses.

Last week against Denver, when lined up in a normal defensive formation –any formation other than goal line, special teams, two point conversions- Pittsburgh blitzed 48% of the time (24/50 total plays). Of those blitzes, 13 came from the interior, while 11 were sent off the edge, all on a variety of downs. What this means is that LeBeau and the defensive staff are very good at not revealing any tendencies. It is extremely difficult to predict when and where the blitz will be coming from, therefore the pass protection for New York must be alert and ready to go on every offensive snap. In a game that both teams will be very defensively active, one lapse in pass protection could end up being the play that determines the game.

Sanchez will go another game without being sacked. False. Although the fact that Sanchez was not sacked once in the season opener is an extremely encouraging sign for the Jets offensive line, it is extremely rare to go duplicate that success in consecutive games, particularly against a blitz happy team like Pittsburgh. LeBeau and his staff will certainly get far more creative with their blitz packages than Dave Wannstedt was last week.

One of the reasons Sanchez was so successful against Buffalo was because of how comfortable he was in the pocket. You can be certain that LeBeau took notice of this and will do everything he can to keep him from regaining a similar level of comfort. Expect him to mix it up with blitz packages all game, and to really test Jets Right Tackle Austin Howard who will be making only his second career start. Sanchez will need to be elusive and remain poised on every offensive possession.

The Jets will look to get their Wide Receivers the ball in space. Fact. Last week, Peyton Manning did an excellent job of getting the ball to his receivers in space to allow them to make plays after the catch. The most notable example was the 71-yard touchdown from Demaryius Thomas on a simple, short out route, in which Thomas made multiple players on the Steelers defense miss after the catch on his way to the end zone. Expect the Jets to try and replicate plays like this. Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, and Jeremy Kerley all have excellent run after the catch ability, so expect Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano to try and find holes in Pittsburgh’s defense that will allow his receivers to make some plays in space. As we have seen in the past, and particularly last week with Hill and Kerley, anyone of these players has the ability to break off a big gain on any particular play. It will be very interesting, again, to see what kind of game plan Sparano draws up.

Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace are the extent of the Jets defensive worries. False. While Brown and Wallace are certainly two of the most dangerous offensive weapons, not only in Pittsburgh, but in the entire NFL, Roethlisberger and Steelers Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley like to share the wealth. Last week, Roethlisberger targeted Brown and Wallace a combined 14 times, while targeting Wide Receiver Emmanuel Sanders and Tight End Heath Miller a combined 15 times. Roethlisberger also completed passes to 8 different targets throughout the course of the game. While defending Brown and Wallace will be imperative to this game, the Jets cannot afford to ignore the rest of Pittsburgh’s offensive weapons. Sanders in particular could cause serious problems for New York if he isn’t defended properly. He is an excellent slot receiver with great speed and elusiveness, and does an excellent job of running routes and finding holes in coverage. The Jets will need to click on all cylinders in coverage this week.

Ben Roethlisberger will try to get the ball to Heath Miller as much as possible. Fact. Roethlisberger has an undying faith in his Tight End, Heath Miller, and it showed last week in Denver, particularly on “and goal” situations. Roethlisberger repeatedly looked to Miller inside the ten yard line, often attempting to force the ball to him. On one particular play early in the game, Roethlisberger had Wide Receiver Antonio Brown open in the end zone on a post route, but never looked his way as he was locked in on Miler the entire way, leading to a bad decision, and incomplete pass. Roethlisberger eventually found Miller later in the game for a 4-yard touchdown.

It will be imperative that the Jets safeties and linebackers play well in coverage this week. With how much Roethlisberger will look to get the ball to the trustworthy Tight End, especially close to the endzone, the slightest slip up in coverage on Miller will undoubtedly hurt this defense.

The Jets will register multiple sacks on Ben Roethlisberger. Fact. Although the Jets did not register a sack in week 1, expect them to exploit some weaknesses in Pittsburgh’s offensive line. The Right Tackle position for the Steelers was attacked mightily by Denver last week, as Marcus Gilbert fills in for the injured rookie Mike Adams. Denver went after Gilbert and it showed in a very big way as they registered 5 sacks and 9 Quarterback Hits as a team, including 2 sacks from Von Miller who put on a clinic against Gilbert. Like LeBeau, Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine will get very creative with their blitz packages, and will look to exploit the weakness at Right Tackle. Expect to see multiple looks consisting of Quinton Coples, Muhammed Wilkerson, and Aaron Maybin lined up over Gilbert, with countless blitzes mixed in. For anyone who is a major proponent of defensive creativity, this game should be extremely fun to watch from both sides.

TOJ THURSDAY NIGHT STAFF PICKS

  • Joe Caporoso – Green Bay (-5)
  • Chris Gross – Chicago (+5)
  • Mike Donnelly – Chicago (+5)
  • TJ Rosenthal – Chicago (+5)
  • Rob Celletti – Green Bay (-5)
  • Chris Celletti – Green Bay (-5)

New York Jets Offense – How To Use Their Weapons

Joe Caporoso and TJ Rosenthal on how the New York Jets can get the most out of Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Joe McKnight

Yesterday TJ Rosenthal wrote an article here looking at how the New York Jets can utilize the speed in their offense, namely Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Joe McKnight. Today TJ and myself take a closer look at what each player brings to the table –

Santonio Holmes

Joe Caporoso – Holmes is an elite route runner and is explosive after the catch. He works best in the intermediate passing game, where he can catch the ball with a little space to improvise after catching the ball. Can we see this guy run another route besides a slant?

TJ Rosenthal – Get Tone the ball. Let 10 set the tempo in the passing game. In fact, the Jets should be including Holmes in the discussion as far as what he feels can work given the QB he has and the protection issues that have taken place. He doesn’t need a “C” on his chest to feel as though he is being asked to provide leadership. Make him part of the process of devising ways to get him the ball. This will also put the onus on him to make sure he is calling for plays that are possible at this given time. We already know how clutch he can be already.

Stephen Hill

Joe Caporoso – Hill has elite top end speed and size at the wide receiver position. He is built to run deep posts and go routes, just like he did his entire career at Georgia Tech. With his frame he should also be effective on slant routes. A nice part of Hill’s game is a willingness to block down the field, which could help spring big plays in both the run game and short passing game. He is going to have occasional mental lapses as a rookie receiver and has struggled with drops in August. Look for Hill to fluctuate between big plays and errors all season. 

TJ Rosenthal – We heard so much about Stephen Hill’s blocking prowess yet all we’ve seen so far have been half hearted attempts to get his feet wet as a pass catcher. Let a guy play to his strengths, and feel good about himself. This will help relax him. In a four wide speed package, Hill can be a deep down the sideline guy but use him more so, as  the one who can crack OLB’s as Joe McKnight and Jeremy Kerley come across with the catch. Allow Hill to gain confidence as a deadly blocker who springs the little guys down the sidelines. Let him use his height and speed yet think less with some go routes in this formation as well. Hill can also be the short slant guy the way Braylon Edwards, and his 6’4 frame was in 2010.

Jeremy Kerley

Joe Caporoso – Kerley is more quick than fast and is built like a prototypical slot receiver. He is going to run a ton of option routes and quick outs, making him a primary target on most 3rd and short situations. However, if he can get matched up on a linebacker or safety, he should be able to get down the seam and make plays.

TJ Rosenthal – He needs to be an underneath route guy who can make big plays with his feet in space. He’s not a household name yet, but a few short receptions that turn into 25 yard gains will help the offense create a threat that can open up room for guys like Dustin Keller. Like McKnight, Kerley can be a slot screen option. Especially on the side of Hill should he line up that way.

Joe McKnight

Joe Caporoso – McKnight is a running back who can run routes and catch the football like a receiver. He also has durability issues and is prone to mental mistakes. The Jets can get the most out of him by working him on screen passes and then lining him up in the slot and hoping to get him matched up on linebackers. Tony Sparano needs to find a way to get him the ball in space consistently

TJ Rosenthal – Part of the reason in making 25 a slot guy is his inability to pass protect. A problem that has given Bilal Powell time on third down. This is a bigger problem for the Jets offense. One that needs explosive laymakers on the field as often as possible. Stop thinking about McKnight as solely a RB and use him on flares, screens and short underneath routes. Having him out there even as a decoy can serve the same purpose of opening up room for Keller as any success by Kerley would provide. Lining up Keller and McKnight to one side could create favorable one on one’s near the line of scrimmage.

New York Jets Offense – Offset Pressure With Speed

TJ Rosenthal on the need for the Jets offense to offset the pass rush they are facing with their speed

We all know that necessity is the mother of invention. That said, all that the Jets had hoped to achieve through the air in 2012 has to be under review in the coaches offices out in Florham Park these days. Better invent something fast. Well, one adjustment to complimenting a run first attack could be force feeding a “four wide” speed package. With on emphasis on short receptions and yards after the catch. Stretching the field will of course open up any run game but sacks, as we’ve seen since early 2011 on into this summer, will devastate it.  Maybe an empty backfield speed formation, sprinkled in with occasional shots “up top” can help.

In Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, and Joe McKnight, the Jets have four pieces on offense whose forty yard dash times can impress. Why not line them all up at once? With Kerley and McKnight in the slots?

Given the Jets struggles to protect the QB so far this summer, it might be a wise idea for OC Tony Sparano, in the search for an air approach that can ease the heat off of the QB. If three of the four make like Wes Welker, and work near the line of scrimmage while one goes deep, there will be home run hitters spread across and down the field.

Hill in particular, is known for his blocking, and could be a big help should Kerley or McKnight head his way with the rock after hauling in a catch made  after a safe three step drop by Mark Sanchez, a QB who could seriously benefit from positive plays that don’t entail running for his life prior to making them.

Unlike Hill, lining up McKnight up as a WR eliminates the need to use him as a blocker. A place where he has had troubles, but allows him to still make plays. Like the ones he made in open space on special teams last year.

Due to the early August injuries to Holmes and Kerley, the Jets offense has been unable to settle in at all on the outside, let alone feature any idea of four fleet footed players together all at once. With Kerley back now at a reported 90 percent, and Holmes close to a return as well, perhaps the time is near for to get a clearer sense of what they have.

In the meantime, if Sparano hasn’t already, he might want to get out a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, and begin to draw up a few “four wide” designs with this crew. Plays whose end goal would be to find that one on one mismatch. Given the pass protection issues that threaten the notion of too many downfield attempts this season, it may be time to give the four wideout speed package serious consideration. Use the weapons you have at your disposal,

Right?

Short, quick, high percentage throws that land in the hands of threats who can eat up the turf. That’s a weapon. No, we don’t mean roll out tosses to guys like John Connor folks. Please Sanchise. Enough with the fullback. Utilize speed instead. Gang Green has it in four guys who can catch passes, and must to overload defenses with the fear of it. It may be one of the few defenses against pressure the Jets have left.

New York Jets: Make or Break Year For Dustin Keller

This is a make or break year for New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller

New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller is entering the most crucial season of his NFL career. The team has understandably held off on giving him a large contract extension, instead choosing to wait and see how he produces in Tony Sparano’s offense. Through four years, Keller has been good but has never truly broke out in the way many around the team expect him to. This season, more than ever the Jets need the Pro-Bowl season that he has personally declared is on the way.

It doesn’t take an expert to see that the Jets are lacking proven offensive playmakers heading into this season, particularly in the passing game. Beyond that, Mark Sanchez is yet to have an opportunity to work with two of his top three receivers, Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley, this pre-season because of his injuries. Without question, Keller is the receiver he is most comfortable with and should see a ton of passes coming his way all season.

Keller has never been able to sustain productivity throughout his career. The four seasons are marked by stretches of All-Pro caliber play followed by weeks of inactivity. The productivity tends to occur early in the season and then tail off throughout the year.

Last season, Keller caught 16 passes for 249 yards 2 touchdowns in the Jets first three games. Over the next six games, he only collected 15 receptions for 224 yards and o touchdowns. He improved slightly down the stretch but not much, finishing the season with only 5 touchdowns and 12.5 yards per reception. In 2010, it was the same story. He caught 5 touchdowns in the Jets first 4 games and then didn’t catch one the rest of the season. He also saw a gaudy early season yards per catch average drop off to 12.5 by the end of the year.

Keller needs to improve his consistency, his red-zone production and downfield playmaking ability. All of these issues don’t fall solely on him. It is fair to place blame on Brian Schottenheimer’s horizontal passing attack and perplexing game plans. It is also fair to blame Mark Sanchez for his occasional struggles.

Regardless, the top priority of the Jets passing game this year should be keeping Keller involved on a weekly basis and getting him the ball inside the 20 yard line. His yards per catch should improve thanks to Tony Sparano’s scheme. Anthony Fasano averaged 13.5 yards per catch and 14.1 yards per catch the past two years respectively and he is substantially less athletic and versatile than Keller.

It can’t be used as an excuse that defenses are keying on Keller. Santonio Holmes is enough of a threat on the outside to keep double teams away from Keller in most situations, nevermind if Stephen Hill develops into a viable deep threat. Keller needs to be moved around the formation to get matched up on defensive backs who he can take advantage of with his size, particularly in the red-zone. If he is seeing coverage from linebackers, the Jets have to get him down the seam where Mark Sanchez throws the ball particularly well.

The Jets can’t afford to have Keller go 5 straight weeks with less than 3 receptions. The Jets can’t afford Keller to have another 5 touchdown season. It is time to expand his route tree beyond bootlegs. Creativity will be needed because he is without question the team’s second best all around receiver and their most versatile weapon in the passing game.

New York Jets – Is Mike Tannenbaum Asleep At The Wheel?

Is New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum’s inactivity this August acceptable?

It has become a weekly topic here at Turn On The Jets to question the New York Jets depth on the offensive side of the football.  In general, Mike Tannenbaum has done more good than bad since becoming the team’s general manager. The extent he is criticized by outlets like Pro Football Talk and Mike Lombardi on NFL.com is overdone and out of touch with reality. Regardless, facing arguably the most important season of his career, he has been surprisingly (and somewhat disturbingly) inactive in addressing his team’s issues.

Let’s start with something as simple as acquiring a blocking tight end before getting into the tired running back/wide receiver debate. The New York Jets want to be physical on offense. The New York Jets want to run the football. The New York Jets have pass protection issues at right tackle. The New York Jets don’t have a single blocking tight end on their roster. This makes no sense. You can’t bring in Jeff Cumberland to help block if he can’t even get a hand on the immortal (sense my sarcasm?) Manny Lawson before he steamrolls Mark Sanchez.

There was no logical reason for the Jets not to bring a player like Justin Peelle, Daniel Graham or another blocking tight end before training camp. Pittsburgh just signed Peelle to improve their depth at tight end and fullback because of an injury they sustained because smart teams who are perpetually in the playoffs and Super Bowls make sure they have depth.

If Jeff Cumberland keeps getting beat like a drum, perhaps Tannenbaum will sign a player a week or so before the season starts. That player will then have limited time to master the offense and pick up chemistry with the offensive line, likely leading to an early season slew of penalties and miscommunication…aka Matthew Mulligan 2.0. Why wait?

At wide receiver, Stephen Hill hurt his finger today in practice. Let’s say the Jets play it safe and keep him out this week against the Giants. Mark Sanchez will be throwing to a top three of Patrick Turner, Jordan White, and Royce Pollard. Not exactly the best way to break in a new offense for the Jets starting quarterback, right? Throughout the year if Hill gets hurt because he is a rookie and isn’t used to the rigors of a NFL season or Santonio Holmes re-injures his ribs or Jeremy Kerley’s balky hamstring acts up, where is the depth?

The Green Bay Packers just signed Cedric Benson. They did this because smart teams who are perpetually in the playoffs and Super Bowls make sure they have depth. Green Bay might run the ball 25% less than the Jets do this year but now have better depth than them at running back. Is Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets front office that much smarter than Green Bay that they couldn’t take on Benson for a veteran’s minimum deal?

All it takes is a rolled Shonn Greene ankle for the Jets to have the worst depth chart of running backs in the NFL…I repeat all it takes is a rolled Shonn Greene ankle for the Jets to have the worst depth chart of running backs in the NFL. The mighty Ground and Pound who is going to run it more than any team in the NFL will not have a single back on the roster who has eclipsed 150 yards in a season.

Smart teams who are perpetually in the playoffs and Super Bowls make sure they have depth. Wake up Mike.

New York Jets: Offensive Depth Still Area Of Concern

The New York Jets still have depth issues on the offensive side of the football

There is a fine line between having confidence in your young players and being ignorant about the depth on your roster. The New York Jets are walking that line right now. A suggestion for the addition of a veteran running back or wide receiver isn’t a questioning of the future potential of the youth at those positions but a call for needed insurance, in case of injury or a lack of productivity.

Let’s start at running back. Shonn Greene has stayed healthy throughout camp so far. He will likely receive minimal work throughout the pre-season and has proven to be fairly durable over the past two years. However, as we have mentioned before a rolled ankle or separated shoulder leaves the Jets perilously thin at running back for an offense built to be run heavy…very run heavy.

Yes, Bilal Powell has had a strong camp. He is likely the team’s best combo back because of a skill set has features traits needed for both a “A” and “B” back in their system. Powell has shown he can pass protect, catch the football well out of the backfield and mix up running inside and outside. That being said, he still hasn’t proven it in a NFL game and he is really ready to handle 20 carries in a game if Greene misses a few weeks?

Terrance Ganaway was back on the practice field today but has been banged up all throughout camp. He is a rookie 6th round pick. Joe McKnight did look good early in camp but seems to be losing ground to Powell as the team’s primary third down back. Beyond that, McKnight was very fragile with limited touches last year and is already nursing a shoulder injury this camp.

The question remains, why keep such an unproven (Powell, Ganaway) and injury prone (McKnight) group behind Greene with no support? Signing a player like Cedric Benson or Ryan Grant or swinging a trade for a player who is tumbling down the depth charts elsewhere like Knowshon Moreno is low risk, high reward move. Benson or Grant would come on a veteran minimum deal. Moreno wouldn’t cost more than a 6th round pick and has first round talent. You bring them into the rotation and if an injury occurs or  a 1B back never steps up on the Jets roster, you have insurance.

We have seen Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant and Knowshon Moreno run for a 100 yards in a NFL game. Insurance never hurts. New England is loaded at tight end because their offense is built around them. New Orleans and Green Bay is loaded at wide receiver because their offense is built around them. The Jets offense is built around their running game, why not work to be loaded at running back?

The presence of a veteran doesn’t mean you can’t give a player like Powell his touches. It just means that if he gets hurt or doesn’t perform in a game, you have another option.

At wide receiver, it is the walking wounded for the Jets. Santonio Holmes has sore ribs and he will miss the first pre-season game. Fine, he is a proven veteran and will be ready to go for the regular season. Stephen Hill has managed to stay healthy but remains a rookie. Patrick Turner has quietly put together a strong camp and does have a few NFL receptions under his belt. After that…everybody is hurt. Jeremy Kerley is out for another 1-2 weeks with a hamstring injury. Chaz Schilens has been banged up all throughout camp and has never been healthy in his NFL career. Jordan White is just returning from an injury and is a rookie. Dexter Jackson has flashed at times but is completely unproven.

Yesterday the Jets cut bottom of the roster dwellers Scotty “Can I have your girlfriend’s number?” McKnight and DaMarcus “why does this Jets Tweeter love me so much” Ganaway. The logical assumption would be that Mike Tannenbaum is getting ready to add somebody at the position. This makes sense because the Jets will be running out a 3 wide of Hill (0 NFL receptions), Turner (8 NFL receptions) and White/Jackson (0 NFL receptions) with Mark Sanchez this Friday if Holmes and Schilens don’t play.

Tannenbaum isn’t going to go big here. So get Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe out of your head (sorry fake Adam Schefter account from last night). If they look to the trade market, James Jones of Green Bay makes sense because of the surplus the Packers have at the position and because Randall Cobb has all but taken his job. Jones won’t be too pricey and is a proven big play receiver who can stretch a defense.

If they look to the free agent market, Greg Camarillo makes the most sense. He knows Sparano’s offense, is a reliable route runner and has very good hands. The hope is that Jordan White can seize the slot receiver role is Jeremy Kerley doesn’t get his act together but it never hurts to have insurance for a rookie 7th round pick. Again, Camarillo will cost you the veteran’s minimum. Low risk for a proven veteran if the injuries remain an issue.

It always better safe than sorry. Didn’t we learn that at the center position last season?

GET YOUR JETS SHIRT NOW

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.

GET YOUR TOJ SHIRT NOW

New York Jets: Green and White Scrimmage Recap

Mike Donnelly recaps the New York Jets Green and White scrimmage

Mike Donnelly provides a recap of today’s Green and White scrimmage. Make sure to give him a follow on Twitter and check back tomorrow for Chris Gross’ overview of the Jets options at wide receiver with Santonio Holmes likely being out for 4-6 weeks with a broken rib. 

With today’s first Jets Green and White scrimmage taking place, the important thing to remember is that today is August 4th and the season doesn’t begin for another five weeks. So getting too up or too down about certain players or position groups on this team based on one glorified practice is a pretty futile exercise. That being said, there would be no fun in keeping a level head and not breaking down the action that we saw, heard, or read tweets about this afternoon.

The main thing to know about today’s scrimmage was that in addition to learning a whole new system on the fly, the Jets offense was without wide receivers Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, and Chaz Schilens, plus 3/5 of their starting offensive line were out. (Nick Mangold was off in London to watch his sister compete in the Olympics, Brandon Moore was out watching Curtis Martin get inducted into the Hall of Fame, and Wayne Hunter was not playing, which would usually be good thing until you remember his backups are even worse, but that’s a whole other issue). Oh, and they were only going against arguably the best defense in the NFL.

No big deal. That of course won’t stop many “experts” and commenters from bashing the offense and making unfunny Twitter jokes, but the fact is, the defense is supposed to dominate in situations like that. So for the purposes of this article, I’m going to be looking at all of the positives that came out of today’s scrimmage and not taking petty shots at anyone; not even at Tim Tebow, i promise. Let’s break this down in easy-to-read fashion with random thoughts:

Quinton Coples – I guess all the fans ready to call him a Gholston (it seemed like some actually want him to fail so they can say “I told you so”, which blows my mind) can exhale and actually, you know, give the first round pick more than 6 practices before writing him off. On the very first play of the scrimmage he beat his man, knifed in, and stuffed Shonn Greene behind the line of scrimmage. After that, by all accounts he played very well and should only build off this performance.

Flashes of the new Defense – Rex Ryan started to show some wrinkles he’s incorporating into the new 46 defense this year, and came in with many different looks. Aaron Maybin was all over the field lining up at many different positions, and we even saw some looks where Calvin Pace and Coples were standing up next to each other on the same side of the line. It’s very easy to get excited about this defense, especially when you read things like…

Antonio Allen, Garrett McIntyre, and Ricky Sapp all looked great – Three guys who are all under-the-radar and unknown to casual fans all have had very strong camps and continued that today. Allen has looked like an absolute steal as a 7th round pick, and Sapp and McIntyre are proving that the Jets are not as thin at OLB as many would think. Those Stock Watch Buys of Sapp the past few weeks are looking like money makers so far!

Dustin Keller – Keller caught 3 passes for 31 yards against the first string defense, which is a very positive sign. It appears as though new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano got the memo Brian Schottenheimer never got around to reading, about Dustin Keller being a legit weapon for this offense and if put in the proper position can really do well. Better late than never I suppose. Speaking of Sparano..

Sparano makes adjustments, Sanchez looks sharp – After getting it handed to them early in the scrimmage, when the offense came out for the first drive after halftime, they looked totally different. Mark Sanchez looked great as he went 7-9 for 52 yards during a 60-yard drive that culminated in a touchdown pass to Bilal Powell. That halftime adjustment already gives Sparano one more than Schotty had in six years here as coordinator. Sad, but true.

Santonio Holmes broke his ribs – Oh wait, that’s not a positive at all. But it looks as though that is the case, as he was apparently leveled by #2 wide receiver Antonio Cromartie — yes, Antonio Cromartie made a big hit. Seriously. — and came out of the scrimmage. If the rib is indeed broken, his status for week 1 is very much up in the air. The options to replace him from outside the organization are downright putrid now that Braylon Edwards just signed with Seattle, so someone has to step up. If there is a silver lining to all of this, it will give players like Chaz Schilens, Patrick Turner, Jeremy Kerley and even Jordan White the opportunity to step in and show the coaching staff something. It remains to be seen whether or not they will do so, but if all else fails, I guess we can just look forward to watching a 57-8 run/pass ratio in week 1, right?

Curtis Martin going into the HOF – Not part of today’s scrimmage, but definitely worth mentioning. One of the greatest Jets of all time is heading into the Hall of Fame tonight, and we couldn’t be happier for him here at TOJ. If you missed my column on why Curtis deserves this honor so much, you can check that out here.