Five New York Jets In Need Of A Big Game

In some situations it isn’t a big deal for a player to have a quiet pre-season but for the following players, it is time to put together a big performance to assert themselves as key parts of the team in 2011 –

5. Scotty McKnight – He is looking more and more like a practice squad player. The bottom line is that Patrick Turner offers more as a receiver and Logan Payne offers more on special teams. McKnight is going to need a big night on both offense and specials the next two pre-season games to have a chance at making the final roster.

4. Vladimir Ducasse – He is another poor performance away from the Jets signing a veteran offensive lineman and burying him on the depth chart. The 6th lineman on the Jets roster gets a decent amount of action as an extra tight end or tackle in certain running packages. Saturday is the time for Ducasse to show the coaching staff he can at least handle being the top backup for now.

3. Muhammad Wilkerson – The Jets first round pick has put together a solid overall camp. Yet, heading into the year as a full time starter it would be good for his confidence to come up with a tackle for a loss, a sack, or even just a couple of quarterback pressures. The more confident he goes into the season, the better, because he will be playing major reps right from the get go.

2. Shonn Greene – Despite looking good in his only pre-season game so far against the Texans, Greene could use a quality 8-12 carries with a good average behind his starting offensive line to head into the season with the proper momentum. There is no reason he can’t be a 1,200 yard back in this offense.

1. Jamaal Westerman – Rex Ryan called him his “designated pass rusher” early in training camp. Yet, how does a designated pass rusher in a Ryan defense not get near the quarterback in two straight pre-season games? I do think Westerman has the potential to be a big factor on this defense but he needs to come up with a play or two Saturday afternoon. If Aaron Maybin makes an impact against the Giants, he could begin pushing Westerman for reps.

New York Jets: Pre-Season Week 2 Rookie Report

A week by week look throughout the pre-season at how the New York Jets rookies are performing

Muhammad Wilkerson – (1 tackle) – Another relatively nondescript performance from the Jets first round pick. However, Wilkerson did look a little more comfortable at the point of attack and seems to be holding his own out there. He has looked solid against the run but it would be nice to see break through one of these weeks and get after the quarterback a little.

Kenrick Ellis – (1 tackle, 1 tackle for loss) – Ellis surprisingly didn’t get the start for an injured Sione Pouha, with Martin Tevaseu stepping in instead. Yet, Ellis was still productive during his reps, even though the bulk of them came against the Bengals backups. He certainly has the look of somebody who should be a contributor in the Jets defensive line rotation.

Bilal Powell – (9 carries, 22 yards, 1 reception, 2 yards) – A bit of a let down after an encouraging debut. Joe McKnight took a big step towards locking down the number three running back job by outplaying Powell against the Bengals. Powell had a couple of chances to pound the ball in after Brashton Satele’s interception but couldn’t get in the end-zone.

Jeremy Kerley – (1 reception, 5 yards) – Kerley hasn’t translated a big training camp into a big pre-season yet. He had difficulty handling a punt and only managed 1 reception for 5 yards, despite getting extended work with the first offense. He does still look dangerous in the open field and was a tackle away from breaking a big kick return.

Greg McElroy – (6/9, 52 yards, 1 TD) – McElroy was again impressive as Mark Sanchez’s top backup. Despite lacking big time physical tools, he does play confident and seems to have a good grasp of the offense. He did a nice job executing a play action fake down by the red-zone, which led to a short touchdown pass to Joe McKnight.

Scotty McKnight – Another night without a recorded stat for McKnight, who is starting to look more like a practice squad player. Patrick Turner has looked better at receiver and Logan Payne has more value on special teams, while also getting an occasional rep with the starting offense.

Out of the undrafted free agents, Garret McIntyre and Nick Bellore both recorded two tackles each at linebacker. Receivers Dan DePalma and Mike Campbell didn’t pull in any receptions.

New York Jets: Pre-Season Week 1 Rookie Report

A week by week look throughout the pre-season on how the New York Jets rookies are performing

Muhammad Wilkerson(2 tackles, 1 solo) – Wilkerson’s most notable play of the night was an offsides penalty but it is hard to expect too much on the stat sheet out of a rookie 3-4 defensive end going as a starter in his first action. He generally held his own up front, wasn’t pushed around and did get a decent push of his own on a few plays. Wilkerson certainly looked like he belonged out there and by the time September 11th comes around, he should be ready to be a solid contributor up front.

Kenrick Ellis(2 tackles, 1 solo) – Going against the backups, Ellis was more active around the football than Wilkerson despite having an identical stat sheet. He also batted a pass up in the air, which was intercepted by linebacker Josh Mauga.

Bilal Powell(9 carries 25 yards, 3 receptions 27 yards) – His yards per carry don’t indicate it but Powell showed good burst and vision in his performance, and now with Joe McKnight dealing with a concussion could have a chance to seize the #3 running back job. Powell was particularly impressive catching the ball out of the backfield, and nearly scored on a screen pass from Greg McElroy.

Jeremy Kerley – (3 receptions, 20 yards) – Kerley had such massive expectations coming in after impressing at camp, that any thing short of 150 yards receiving and two touchdowns could feel like a disappointment. Yet, the rookie wide receiver looked good on both offense and special teams as a returner. He is difficult to bring down and has good vision.

Greg McElroy (23/39, 208 yards, 1 touchdown) – McElroy was very impressive his debut last night. He took every rep after Mark Sanchez left, was beat up behind a makeshift offensive line, and rebounded from a shaky start. McElroy clearly lacks arm strength but showed accuracy on the intermediate routes and plenty of toughness. The Jets just may have found their long term backup for Sanchez.

Scotty McKnight – A night without any recorded stats for a rookie wide receiver isn’t a good thing. McKnight didn’t record a reception or make any tackles on special teams. He has an uphill battle to make the team following a strong offensive performance by Patrick Turner and a quality special teams effort from Logan Payne. Undrafted free agent  wide receiver Dan DePalma also had a good showing as a punt returner and on the coverage units.

Out of the undrafted free agents, outside linebacker Garrett McIntyre recorded two sacks and has a decent shot to stick on the final 53 man roster considering the Jets depth chart at linebacker. Tight end Josh Baker flashed very good hands and finished with 3 receptions for 45 yards. Undrafted free agent wide receiver Michael Campbell had a killer drop late in the game, which drew a few expletives out of Rex Ryan.

TOJ Top Five: Meaningless Lockout Stories

Today’s edition of the TOJ Top Five, will look at the five dumbest New York Jets stories that became a bigger deal than they should have because of the lockout…

5. Schotty’s ExcusesWe aren’t interested in your side of the story, just find a way to get the ball into the end-zone on four tries from the 2 yard line…yes, I am still bitter about this. How about four straight handoffs to Shonn Greene who was a bowling ball in this game?

4. The Receiver Procession Line – I am all for free agency speculation and I gladly took part in it, but the considering it was pushed back three months (and counting) the amount of names linked to the Jets at wide receiver and the amount of coverage they received was a bit much. Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Steve Smith…I’d think we’d all sign up for just having Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards back, let’s hope Mike Tannenbaum can work magic.

3. Scotty McKnight’s High School Essay – When the back cover of the New York Post is about a rookie 7th round pick writing an inappropriate essay as a high school student, you know it is a slow day in the sports world.

2. Rex’s Guarantees – If you haven’t noticed by now, Rex Ryan thinks the Jets are going to win the Super Bowl every single year. It isn’t a story anymore when he is interviewed and he comments that he thinks his team is going to win it all. I am pretty sure he has made the exact same comment in every interview he took this off-season.

1. Sanchez vs. McKnight vs. Klitschko – There were rumors floating around all off-season that Mark Sanchez was dating Vladimir Klitschko’s girlfriend, Hayden Panetierre…yet in the end, it turned out that it was Scotty McKnight who was dating her. First off, for a rookie 7th round pick…that is pretty good work. Second, if Klitschko is coming after anybody, I’d rather it be McKnight than Sanchez…sorry, Scotty.

How Much Can Jets Offensive Rookies Contribute?

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer recently discussed the four new offensive rookies the New York Jets added in April’s draft, all of whom are skill position players. Looking at the 2011 season, if and when it occurs, how much can the Jets really expect from their rookies with such a shortened off-season?

Jeremy Kerley – Considering the roster situation, Kerley seems the most likely to contribute in his rookie year. If free agency goes how expected, there is going to be some reps available at the wide receiver position and Kerley is expected to work into the mix as a slot receiver. He should also compete for the punt return job with Kyle Wilson and Jerricho Cotchery. However, he will have to pick up the offense quickly which will not be easy, especially for a slot receiver where many route changes are made on the fly and are dictated by certain coverages. Punt return won’t be as complex obviously. Look for the Jets to start him off slow by only featuring him in certain packages.

Bilal Powell – The highest of the Jets offensive selections won’t have any pressure to contribute right away considering he is behind Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Joe McKnight on the depth chart. Similar to Greene’s rookie year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him inactive for the first part of the season while he picks up the offense and then maybe get worked in depending on injuries and the productivity of the players in front of him.

Scotty McKnight – He does already have the chemistry with Mark Sanchez which will help him in his battle for reps at slot receiver. As a 7th round pick he will have an uphill battle to even make the roster so the pressure will be on to make an immediate impact in the pre-season. He is also going to have to show that he can contribute on special teams, which is something he didn’t really do in college.

Greg McElroy – McElroy is more than likely going to be the third quarterback, unless something unexpected happens in training camp or the pre-season. Apparently, he was just about the smartest player in the draft and he has two good mentors in front of him with Mark Sanchez and Mark Brunell, so he should be able to handle his role this season.

All About Scotty McKnight

A closer look at the Jets seventh round pick, Scotty McKnight 

Background – As we all know by now he is a childhood best friend of Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. The two of them used to be ball boys together for Mission Viejo high school.

College – McKnight decided to walk on at Colorado University, where he left as the school’s all-time leading reception and receiving touchdown leader. He led the team in receptions all four of his seasons in Colorado, a pretty amazing stat for anybody, never-mind a walk on. Last season he had 50 receptions for 621 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Vitals – 5’11, 182 pounds, 4.5 40 yard dash at his Pro Day.

Position – His skill set projects to a slot receiver, that could use his quickness and intelligence to his advantage to get open.

NFL Comparison – Not really sure…maybe a Greg Camarillo type?

Quotable

“Are you kidding me? Teaming up with a great organization and a great team and then being together with my childhood buddy who I grew up with.”

Where He Fits – McKnight will compete for the 4th or 5th receiver spot with a number of players, including Patrick Turner depending on how the Jets handle free agency.

Best Case Scenario – McKnight makes the roster and contributes as a slot receiver in some packages, while carving out a role for himself on special teams. He becomes E to Sanchez’s Vinny Chase in the streets of New York City and North Jersey (good Entourage references by Brian Bassett in his coverage of McKnight).

Worst Case Scenario – McKnight doesn’t make the team and Mark Sanchez forces the Jets to draft his other best friend next year.

The Occasional Idiocy Of New York Sports Journalism

For the most part I enjoy the work of the New York Jets beat writers. In particular, I think both Manish Mehta of The Daily News and Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger work hard to consistently produce unique content. However, I was disappointed to see the back cover on the early edition of the New York Post feature an “exclusive” story on Jets seventh round pick, Scotty McKnight written by long time beat writer Mark Cannizzaro.

Cannizzaro “got” McKnight by obtaining information about when as a 17 year old, McKnight was suspended from school for writing a inappropriate story for his creative writing class. As a bet with a friend, they attempted to come up with the most shocking “Quentin Taratino” like stories. Unfortunately, the teacher perceived these as direct threats to her, even though McKnight has no history of violence and has never been in any type of legal trouble in his life.

This is really headline, front-page news in the New York sports world? If Cannizzaro was interested in tearing down NFL draft picks just days into his career, he could have started with Kenrick Ellis or Bilal Powell who actually have a history of real problems, especially Ellis who is pending trial on an assault charge. Yet, he got his information, probably from a bitter old classmate of McKnight, who openly discussed the incident with the Jets before being drafted, and looked to tear down the kid just days into his NFL career.

New York…where a 17 year old kid writing an inappropriate story five years ago is headline news. Hide your pens and paper tri-state area, Scotty McKnight could be moving to a neighborhood near you. Give me a break. Do your job and go get some inside information on the Jets free agency plans instead of muckraking the past of their players.