Thoughts On Jets First Quarter

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Some assorted thoughts on the first quarter of the Jets season, along with a few statistical projections:

Mark ‘Freakin Sanchez – What a sharp turnaround over the past three games. Mark Sanchez seems to be progressing into the quarterback all of us hoped he would be. After four games in 2009, here were Sanchez’s stats followed by his stats so far this year:

  • 2009 – 63/110, 4 TDs, 5 INTs, 2 fumbles lost
  • 2010 – 60/103, 8 TDs, 0 INTs, 0 fumbles lost

Wow. What a change. The bottom line is that if Mark Sanchez protects the football and keeps playing at the level he did weeks 2-4, the Jets will be going 3-1 or 4-0 in the next three quarters of the season.

LaDainian Tomlinson, Revived

  • Who would have thought that after four games, LaDainian Tomlinson would be on pace for this season:
  • 224 carries, 1364 yards, 12 touchdowns, 48 receptions, 328 yards

The Jets have to somewhat limit his number of touches so he doesn’t burn out, which is why Shonn Greene’s recent performance against the Bills was so encouraging. Greene is on pace for 208 carries for 892 yards. Could the Jets end up with two 1,000 yard rushers if Greene continues to pick it up?

Receivers

Dustin Keller has stolen the show and established himself as the Jets top receiving target. He has on pace for 76 receptions, 1016 yards, and 20 (yes 20 touchdowns). Obviously, as teams begin to key on him and with the return of Santonio Holmes those numbers likely won’t carry out. Yet, there is no reason Keller shouldn’t be in double digits for touchdowns and flirt with 1,000 yards.

Braylon Edwards is on pace for 48 receptions, 908 yards, and 12 touchdowns. His yards per catch is extremely impressive at 18.9. There is no reason he can’t continue to be a big play threat and a red-zone target with the return of Holmes. I wouldn’t be stunned if his numbers didn’t fall too short of those projections.

Jerricho Cotchery is off to a slow start and is only on pace for 44 receptions, 360 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Many things the Jets do with Cotchery (namely the quick smoke screens) will likely fall to Holmes now. It will be interesting to see if the Jets can find a way to keep him involved in the offense. Maybe, with him fully embracing the slot receiver role, he can become a big time third down weapon.

Brad Smith is on pace for 316 rushing yards and is averaging 9.9 yards per carry. He also has a touchdown pass, a reception, and is probably the Jets overall best special teams player.

Defense

On defense, Shaun Ellis is on pace for 12 sacks. Let’s hope he can get back healthy next week. David Harris is leading the way with a pace for 92 tackles, with Bart Scott close behind en route to 84. Neither of them have recorded a sack yet but both have 2 tackles for a loss.

The Jets are on pace for 32 sacks in 2010. They had 32 sacks in 2009.

The Jets are on pace for 16 interceptions in 2010. They had 17 in 2009.

Unofficially, Kyle Wilson is on pace to allow 5,000 receiving yards and be called for 200 pass interference penalties.

Turning Point

In week 2, the Jets were getting beat up and down the field by the New England Patriots. They fell behind 7-0 on a Wes Welker touchdown in the second quarter and it felt like 0-2 could be on the way. However, the offense responded with a 12 play, 77 yard drive that ended in a Braylon Edwards touchdown. They haven’t looked back since.

Favorite Plays From Weeks 1 – 4

  • Shaun Ellis and Bryan Thomas demolishing Joe Flacco on the first defensive snap of the season.
  • Jason Taylor’s strip sack of Tom Brady to clinch a victory against New England.
  • Dustin Keller beating Yeremiah Bell on a fade for a first quarter touchdown against the Dolphins.
  • Drew Coleman’s game sealing interception against the Dolphins.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson breaking out the juke move for a 26 yard touchdown against the Bills.
  • Braylon Edwards smoking Leodis McKlevin for a 41 yard touchdown.

Look at LT Go

Grading Out Jets/Bills Round 1

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1. The Jets resigned defensive lineman Howard Green today, along with releasing wide receivers David Clowney and Patrick Turner to make room for Santonio Holmes on the active roster. Welcome back, #10. Good luck to Clowney moving forward.

2. It sounds like Darrelle Revis and Calvin Pace are on track to come back for this Monday’s game. Obviously, their progress throughout the week will be closely monitored, but I’d be shocked not to see Pace out there and Revis out there, even if it is with limited reps.

3. A reminder to recruit 5 new Facebook fans for Turn On The Jets and e-mail me their names at JCaporoso@fanball.com to become eligible to win a OCNN shirt, a Jets hat, or a Joe Namath Book/DVD.

4. The “Stats” section has been updated, and we will have an article coming later tonight with some overall observations on the first quarter of the season, along with statistical projections.

5. Who is rooting for a scoreless tie tonight?

Grading Out Jets/Bills Round 1

Quarterback (A) – An efficient performance from Mark Sanchez, who took what the defense gave him, threw the ball well off of play action and hit the big play when it was available. Considering the way Sanchez played at times last year, it is pretty amazing that he has zero turnovers through four games. The bottom line is that he has been one of the most improved players in the NFL through the first quarter of the season.

Running Backs (A+) – LaDainian Tomlinsonwas the best player on the field yesterday. He looked fast and displayed his trademark shiftiness that is going to make him a first ballot hall of famer. Tomlinson averaged 7 yards a carry en route to 133 yards, also adding 3 receptions for 22 yards. Shonn Greene had his first big game of 2010, with 117 yards on 22 carries. If the Jets can get this type of 1-2 punch going consistently, they are going to be one hell of a tough team to beat.

Wide Receivers (A) – Braylon Edwards put together a very good game, with 86 yards and a touchdown. He has been the big play threat the Jets needed during the Santonio Holmes suspension. Jerricho Cotchery has been quiet all season, yet I wonder if a full time move into the slot with Santonio Holmes back will bump up his production. Brad Smith is just a terrific all-around football player.

Tight Ends (A) – Dustin Keller is playing better than any tight end in the NFL right now, not named Antonio Gates. Ben Hartsock and Matt Mulligan continue to be reliable blockers.

Offensive Line (A+) – They physically dominated the Bills all game long, running the ball down their throat and keeping Mark Sanchez on his feet. Also, they finally avoided the killer penalties that had plagued them the first 3 weeks.

Defensive Line (A) – Shaun Ellis sprained his knee but there is a chance he could be back for this Monday night. Let’s hope, the Jets are already thin enough on the defensive line. Trevor Pryce was quiet in his debut.

Linebackers (A) – David Harris led the way with 6 tackles and a nice shot on Ryan Fitzpatrick that nearly forced a fumble. Bryan Thomas had a forced fumble, recovered by Jason Taylor. This unit should receive a big boost from the return of Calvin Pace this week.

Secondary (A) – Antonio Cromartie completely took Lee Evans out of the game. Drew Coleman held his own at the other starting spot. Dwight Lowery and James Ihedigbo both had sacks. Kyle Wilson? He still doesn’t understand the concept of turning around when the ball is in the air.

Special Teams (B) – Nick Folk finally missed an easy one…let’s hope he got it out of his system. Steve Weatherford continues to play well. Jim Leonhard looks much better than Wilson on punt returns.

Coaching (A) – Great job by Rex Ryan having his team ready to go and avoid the trap game. Brian Schottenheimer’s game-plan was solid and kept the Bills off balance.

Jets/Bills Highlights

Grading Out Jets/Dolphins Round 1

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Quarterback (A) – Who is this guy throwing for three touchdowns every week and never turning the ball over? Mark Sanchez has now put together two straight performances, where it certainly looks like he gets “it.” He is attacking all levels of the field and fully taking advantage of all the weapons around him. This offense has the potential to be one of the better units in the league if Sanchez keeps playing like this. Don’t forget he is getting that Santonio guy back in week five.

Running Back (B+) – LaDainian Tomlinson just keeps getting the job done, with another 70 yards on 15 carries along with 3 more receptions. He is hitting the second gear and looks great on the Jets outside runs. Shonn Greene doesn’t appear to be running with any confidence right now. The Jets are going to need him to get going sooner rather than later.

Wide Receiver (A) – Braylon Edwards only had two catches but they were both game changing plays. Brad Smith continues to be extremely valuable, finishing with 52 total yards on offense. Jerricho Cotchery had a quiet night and even David Clowney pulled in a reception.

Tight End (A) – Dustin Keller and Mark Sanchez are very much on the same page and that is a scary thing  for any opposing defense. He is developing into the Jets most consistent big play threat and is playing at a Pro-Bowl level.

Offensive Line (C) – The penalties continue to plague this unit. However, there were a few questionable calls. Matt Slauson is still struggling at times, yet the Jets didn’t allow any sacks last night and I am pretty sure Mark Sanchez only got hit once.

Defensive Line (B) – The run defense continues to be very, very good. The pass rush remains a little inconsistent. Shaun Ellis grabbed his second sack of the season. Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito, and Vernon Gholston had quiet nights.

Linebackers (B) – David Harris lit up Ronnie Brown on a screen pass and led the team tackles. There were some struggles in pass coverage, but Jason Taylor did get another sack. It was a quiet night for Bart Scott and Bryan Thomas. Calvin Pace should be back next week.

Secondary (D) – Kyle Wilson…turn around, man. It feels like there has been about 15 plays this season where he is in perfect position but can’t make a play on the ball in the air. Antonio Cromartie had a few nice plays but for the most part was beat up by Brandon Marshall. How about Drew Coleman making a big play on the game’s final two plays? Kudos to Brodney Pool for breaking up the pass on fourth down to seal the game.

Special Teams (A) – Nick Folk remains reliable. Eric Smith remains a special teams beast. Brad Smith had a very strong night on kick returns.

Coaching (A) – What distraction? Darrelle who? The Jets found a way to win, despite being short handed and dealing with the Braylon Edwards arrest. Brian Schottenheimer called his second strong game in a row.

Grading Out Jets/Patriots Round 1

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 First a few updates:

1. Stay posted on the TOJ Facebook and Twitter page for reaction to Rex Ryan’s press conference today and any updates on Darrelle Revis’ hamstring, Jason Taylor’s elbow and any other injury issues the Jets currently have (Nick Mangold, Eric Smith, Brad Smith). If the Jets are smart they will rest Revis now, he should not return until he is absolutely 100 percent or his hamstring will be an issue all season. I would prefer to see him sit the next two weeks and then hopefully he can be back for Minnesota. They will have to cut Taylor’s arm off for him to miss the Miami game this week and I wouldn’t expect Calvin Pace back until the Buffalo game in week four.

2. Early line has the Jets as 1.5 underdogs to the 2-0 Dolphins.

Grading Out Jets/Patriots Round 1

Quarterbacks (A) – Probably the most complete, well-played game of Mark Sanchez’s young career. He was everything the Jets drafted him to be yesterday: confident, poised, and showing the ability to make any throw on the football field. The Jets have a ton of talent around Sanchez and if he can play like that on a consistent basis, the Jets are going to be a very, very tough team to beat.

Running Backs (A-) – LaDainian Tomlinson looks completely rejuvenated and provides a ton of energy every time he touches the football. He averaged 6.9 yards yesterday on 11 carries, along with adding 4 receptions for 26 yards. The Jets are giving him the perfect amount of touches as of right now. I just hope Tomlinson can keep it up all season long. Shonn Greene took a step in the right direction after week one, with no turnovers and 52 yards on 15 carries.

Wide Receivers (B+) – Braylon Edwards stepped up in a big way when the Jets desperately needed it in the 2nd quarter. It is about time the Jets used his height around the red zone. Jerricho Cotchery just missed on a few big plays from Sanchez but still had a nice touchdown grab, 4 receptions, and 2 carries. Brad Smith was banged up early and David Clowney stepped in to play a ton of reps, mostly as a decoy.

Tight Ends (A) – Dustin Keller played the best game of his career with 7 receptions, 115 yards, and a touchdown. He ripped the Patriots cover 2 apart and was a constant threat in the middle of the field.

Offensive Line (B-) – We are still waiting for our first 100 yard rusher of the season and New England did record 3 sacks, but overall they got the job done, particularly in the second half.

Defensive Line (B+) – The pass rush was a little sluggish at times but they were excellent against the run. Sione Pouha led the team in tackles with 6 and Mike DeVito chipped in 5 himself. Vernon Gholston added a tackle for a loss and Shaun Ellis had a big third down pressure.

Linebackers (B+) – They had occasional struggles in pass coverage but made their share of big plays, none bigger than Jason Taylor strip sacking Tom Brady out of a three-point stance in the fourth quarter. David Harris had 6 tackles and Bart Scott had a nice pass defense.

Secondary (A) – They get the “A” for stepping up in the absence of Darrelle Revis, especially Antonio Cromartie who was terrific in the second half. Brodney Pool made an impact in his first game in a Jets uniform with an INT. Kyle Wilson improved from his week one performance.

Special Teams (A) – Our kicker and punter are playing at a pro-bowl level through two weeks, who would have thought? The return game was only average.

Coaching (A) – Good bounce back game for Brian Schottenheimer and Rex Ryan made the necessary adjustments at half time to shut down New England’s offense.

Grading Out Jets/Ravens: U-G-L-Y

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First a few updates:

1. For the second straight year, Kris Jenkins will have season ending ACL surgery. You have to feel terrible for the big guy, who is one of the Jets most likable players and worked himself back into great shape for 2010. Despite how well Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito played last night, the Jets have a serious depth issue on the defensive line. Forget the Albert Haynesworth talk…it is much more likely Marques Douglas will be brought back.

2. Adalius Thomas visted with the Jets today, so there is obviously a good chance he could sign within the next 24 hours. There is also talk about a Laveranues Coles return, which certainly couldn’t hurt the offense.

Grading Out Jets/Ravens: U-G-L-Y

Quarterback: (D) – The only positive from Mark Sanchez is that he didn’t turn the ball over. Beyond that, he looked like he was lacking confidence and appeared anxious in the pocket. He certainly wasn’t helped by the Jets decision to use an unnecessarily high amount of motions and shifts, along with Brian Schottenheimer’s play calling. Regardless, 10/21 for 74 yards is a joke.

Running Backs: (C) – LaDainian Tomlinsonwas the Jets best player on offense last night, finishing with 62 yards on 11 carries and 16 more receiving yards. Shonn Greene was simply put, awful. He fumbled once and had a bad drop, along with a whopping 18 yards on 5 carries. Tony Richardson seemed to struggle more than usual with his run blocking.

Wide Receiver: (F) – All I can remember from them is a killer drop from Jerricho Cotchery and a killer penalty from Braylon Edwards. Brad Smith was the Jets second best player on offense but he did from the quarterback position, not from the receiver spot.

Tight End: (F) – 4th and 10…that is 10 yards, Dustin.

Offensive Line: (C-) – Too many penalties and shoddy pass protection in big spots. I wonder when the Jets will start considering putting Rob Turner in as the starting guard over Matt Slauson.

Defensive Line: (A) – Shaun Ellis was playing like a man possessed with 7 tackles, .5 sack and a FF. The Ravens did absolutely nothing running the ball, thanks in large part to Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito who both had 7 tackles. Matt Kroul gave some quality reps and Vernon Gholston was actually very active.

Linebackers: (A) – What got into Bryan Thomas? He was a beast last night with 9 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Jason Taylor was better than expected in run support. Bart Scott had 9 tackles. A quiet night for David Harris.

Secondary: (D) – The penalties were absolutely brutal. Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson have to learn how to play the football in the air. Darrelle Revis looked like his old self. Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith played well but are liabilities in pass coverage.

Special Teams: (A) – Great night from Nick Folk, Steve Weatherford, and Jim Leonhard.

Coaching: (F) – The Jets were completely undisciplined but the reason this is so low is because of the pathetic game plan constructed by Brian Schottenheimer. Enough with the motion and shifts and give your quarterback a chance to get in rhythm at some point. Why do we even have wide receivers?

Back To Camp: Jets Thursday Recap & Venting On Secondary

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First a few updates:

1. Listen to Turn On The Jets live tonight at 8PM on Football Reporters Online Presents: Pro Football NYC at this link (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/football-reporters/2010/08/19/football-reporters-online-presents-pro-football-nyc

2. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (@TurnOnTheJets).

3. The Jets have special teams practice at 4:15 today, an 8:20 AM practice tomorrow and then off on Friday in preparation of their pre-season game in Carolina Saturday Night at 8 PM. After how much the starters played on Monday night, don’t expect to see any first unit players get any reps outside of the first quarter.

4. Of course, Hard Knocks 10 PM tonight.

Thursday Practice Recap

The Good – Plenty of work for the second team today, with a few starters getting the day off and many getting limited reps. James Ihedigbo and Vernon Gholston both recorded sacks of Mark Brunell. Steve Weatherford got a shot to kick field goals today and hit all three (33, 38, 43 yards).

The Bad – There was another fight at practice today, this time between Matt Slauson and Matt Kroul. Rob Turner and Shaun Ellis were also exchanging some heated words…I think the players may be itching to leave Cortland full time. Marquice Cole was called for pass interference, extending the offenses’ two minute drive.

Play of the Day – Laveranues Coles had a one-handed grab of a Mark Brunell pass during the two minute drill.

Sanchez Stats – 6/11, No INTs, No TDs

Injury – Nick Mangold was back on the practice field today after missing the pre-season game against the Giants with a headache.  John Conner (knee) and Jason Davis (ankle) both had limited reps at fullback. Donovan Warren has a head injury. Lance Laury got stitches on his lower lip after the Giants game. Bart Scott, Matthew Mulligan Mike DeVito and Brandon Moore were given the day off.

Depth Chart – With Brandon Moore out today, Vladimir Ducasse worked at left guard while Matt Slauson worked at right guard. Kenwin Cummings filled in for Bart Scott at inside linebacker. Mark Brunell was back to working with the second offense.

Rex Ryan Press Conference Highlights –

  • Disappointed with practice, thought it was sluggish. Too many false starts penalties.
  • No movement in left guard battle, thought both played well.
  • Said Joe McKnight needs to learn sometimes to just “get three yards and give us what you got in between the tackles.”
  • Praised Danny Woodhead’s courage and toughness.
  • Praised Kyle Wilson’s ability to learn defense and how coachable he is.
  • Would like to see more of Brashton Satele and Josh Mauga at linebacker.
  • He has been impressed with Jason Taylor’s ability to stop the run.
  • Said he believed Tony Dungy “unfairly judged him” and left him a message to call him and come visit camp.

Revis Update – Nada…and Dwight Lowery, Drew Coleman, and Marquice Cole are all still battling for the “David Barrett Award” given to the Jets corner who is beat at least 95% of the time the ball is thrown their way.

Venting On Secondary

I have been trying not to think about the Darrelle Revis holdout too frequently. Honestly, once the Jets got rolling with practice, unless it was explicitly brought up (like in Hard Knocks), it was easy to just focus on the players on the field. However, we were all served a cruel reminder on Monday night about the Jets corners, not named Cromartie and Wilson.

In case you forgot about Dwight Lowery getting beat like a drum up and down the field in the AFC Championship Game, he reminded you of his coverage abilities. In case you forgot about Drew Coleman miss timing his jump in the AFC Championship Game on a Peyton Manning deep ball before the half that should have been intercepted and his general awfulness that traces back to missing tackles that lead to 60 yard touchdowns in 2006 against the Bears, he reminded you. In case you forgot who Marquice Cole was, he reminded you that he shouldn’t be a name worth remembering on the Jets defensive depth chart.

Bottom line is the Jets can’t have players like that on the field in their nickel package against teams like the Patriots, Packers, Vikings, and if it comes to it, the Colts. The Jets spent the off-season building themselves to beat a team like the Colts, by improving their pass rush with Jason Taylor and more importantly improving the depth in their secondary by trading for Cromartie and drafting Wilson. Unfortunately, their depth is back to where it started when the league’s best corner isn’t in the lineup. I don’t know about you but I am not interested in seeing a repeat of last year’s AFC Championship Game in 2010. Darrelle Revis just intercepted some leverage from the Jets and he will likely get more if the Panthers carve up the Jets reserves on Saturday.

Guessing That Drew Coleman Won’t Be Featured In A Commercial Anytime Soon

Jets Practice #4 Recap & Thoughts On Offensive Depth Chart

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Practice #4 Recap

The Good – LaDainian Tomlinson beating David Harris on a slant route and taking it all the way to the end-zone. Mark Sanchez drawing Kris Jenkins off-sides. Joe McKnight holding his own against Bart Scott in pass protection drills. John Conner getting another big hit in, this time on Calvin Pace. Braylon Edwards beating Dwight Lowery for a 20 yard touchdown in 7 on 7 drills. Sanchez squeezing one down the seam to Jerricho Cotchery for a touchdown. Kyle Wilson getting his first interception of camp, when he picked off a Mark Brunell pass headed towards David Clowney. Aundrae Allison catching a long touchdown from Kevin O’Connell. Antonio Cromartie pulling in two more interceptions from Sanchez.

The Bad – Dwight Lowery getting beat for a touchdown, where is our Island? Joe McKnight had yet another drop today. Mark Sanchez was picked off  twice by Antonio Cromartie in 11 on 11s. Kellen Clemens was picked off by Drew Coleman. Mark Brunell was picked off by Kyle Wilson. Sanchez botched a pitch to LaDainian Tomlinson. Nick Folk missing a 35 yard and 40 yard field goal.

Play of the Day – Braylon Edwards out jumped Antonio Cromartie for a one-handed reception that set up the game winning field goal in the two minute drill.

PhotobucketPlayer Who Helped Himself – John Conner is catching everybody’s attention at least once every practice. He might end up with a bigger role on the offense than Joe McKnight and his pan hands.  Antonio Cromartie has interceptions two consecutive days and from all accounts has put together a very good few days to start camp.

Player Who Hurt Himself – Mark Sanchez hasn’t gotten off to the best start this summer. His completion numbers have been a little disappointing and he has thrown a few interceptions over the past couple of practices.

Sanchez Stats – 8/17, 2 INTs in 11 on 11s (both INTs by Cromartie)…thanks to Manish Mehta for the numbers.

Folk Stats – 6/8 (1 miss from 35 yards and 1 miss from 40 yards)

Roster Moves – Kris Jenkins was taken off the Active/PUP list and was back to practice. Don’t expect to see Erik Ainge anytime soon, since it was reported that he has been checked into a drug treatment/rehab facility. Ainge was suspended four games in 2008 for substance abuse. Kellen Clemens is back to practicing 100 percent. Santonio Holmes has to pass his conditioning test this morning and then is expected on the field this afternoon.

Injury – Shaun Ellis sat out of practice today because the coaches advised him to take a day off.

Depth Chart – John Conner saw some reps with the first team offense at fullback. Matt Slauson was back to working as the starting left guard. Ropati Pitoitua and Vernon Gholston both received first team reps at defensive end, as did Jason Taylor.

Rex Ryan Press Conference Highlights –

  • Called today the “Cromartie and Braylon Edwards” show.
  • Santonio Holmes will have to pass his conditioning test after his suspension and will be a full go in this afternoon’s practice.
  • Praised punter Steve Weatherford’s work this off-season, including his holding.
  • Said he hasn’t noticed the Hard Knocks cameras in meetings and that they have been discreet.
  • He praised Antonio Cromartie’s desire to learn how to do things “the Jets way.”
  • Jim Leonhard is the top “hands” option as a punt returner, meaning if there is any poor weather conditions he would be placed back there. However, he said the coaching staff wants Kyle Wilson to win the full time job.

Revis Update – In an interview yesterday, Peter King of SI said he believed Revis had more leverage than the Jets and that a deal wouldn’t be finalized until around Labor Day.

Thoughts On Offensive Depth Chart

It sounds like Matt Slauson has a much better chance at winning the starting left guard job  than most people (including myself) originally gave him. He has been rotating every practice with Vladimir Ducasse and got the nod in the Jets first practice. Rich Cimini of ESPN New York gave him a slight edge when asked about the battle. If Slauson does happen to win the job, it will be interesting to see if the Jets spend the season grooming Ducasse to replace Damien Woody at right tackle in 2011. Ducasse could also be given a role in some of the Jets short yardage packages, similar to Robert Turner and Wayne Hunter.

Photobucket Tomlinson is off to a strong start in camp and has been receiving a good amount of reps with the first team offense. I still don’t buy him competing with Shonn Greene for the starting job but he will get plenty of work in the pre-season to show the Jets he still has the necessary burst. Tomlinson is probably looking at 9-13 touches a game until Joe McKnight gets his act together and can become a bigger part of the offense. Also in the backfield, it sounds like John Conner is having one of the most impressive overall camps so far. He may actually carve out a little role for himself in the offense this year in certain situations or if he keeps playing so well, is it possible the Jets could release Tony Richardson at some point this summer? Going back to McKnight, if he keeps struggling it only increases the chances of Danny Woodhead sticking on the roster.

Santonio Holmes returns to the practice field this afternoon. I am anxious to hear about where Brian Schottenheimer is lining him up and if the Jets are trotting out any four and five receiver sets. There hasn’t been much talk about the Jets using their “Tiger” formation yet, however they could just be waiting until the more basic offensive installation is done.

Jets are back on the practice field at 4:20.

New York Jets Defense – Three Layers Of Excellence

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The New York Jets had the NFL’s number one ranked defense last season and there is plenty of reasons to believe they will improve in 2010. Whether it is the increased familiarity the returning players have with Rex Ryan’s system or the influx of talent through trades, free agency, and the NFL draft; the Jets are position to improve their defensive weaknesses from 2009 and become an even more dominant unit.

PhotobucketThe Jets had the number one ranked total defense thanks to their number one ranked passing defense, which blew away the rest of the NFL by allowing 153.7 yards per game. The second place team was over 30 yards behind. There is no reason to think the Jets pass coverage should suffer in 2010, considering they upgraded their second, third and fourth cornerback and replaced the underachieving Kerry Rhodes with Brodney Pool.

Despite having such an exceptional pass defense, the Jets didn’t rack up impressive sack totals in 2009. They finished tied for 18th in the league with 32.0 sacks. This number should improve in 2010 because of the addition of Jason Taylor, who Rex Ryan will use as a pass rush specialist. The return of a healthy Kris Jenkins will also help push the pocket on the quarterback. Finally, the Jets will have their returning sack leader, Calvin Pace, for 16 games instead of the 12 they had him for in 2009.

The Jets had the 8th ranked rushing defense in the NFL in 2010, nothing to be ashamed of but also nowhere near the level of their pass defense. Again the return of Jenkins at nose tackle should lead to improvement and having Pool at safety instead Rhodes, who struggled in run support and tackling in general last season, will help.

PhotobucketThe return of Kris Jenkins at nose tackle gives the Jets a legitimate All-Pro caliber player at all three levels of their defense. Jenkins on the defensive line, David Harris at linebacker, and Darrelle Revis in the secondary. This is a luxury few teams in the NFL currently have and means you need to have exceptional talent on the offensive line, running back, and receiver position to handle all three of these players.

Jenkins is flanked by a collection of blue-collar players who fit well into Ryan’s system. Shaun Ellis is the most well-know of the rest of the bunch and is one of the better 3-4 defensive ends in the league. He has the ability to stop the run and provide a solid pass rush. Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito aren’t household names but they did more than an adequate job when Jenkins went down last season and are good run stopping defensive lineman.

PhotobucketHarris is surrounded by two borderline pro-bowl caliber players in Bart Scott and Calvin Pace at linebacker, along with Taylor who is a former All-Pro that should benefit from only having to focus on rushing the passer and from Ryan’s aggressive scheme overall. Bryan Thomas is the lowest profile player in the linebacker group but remains a competent starter who does many of the little things for this defense that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

Revis is now paired with Antonio Cromartie at cornerback, who could have made the claim to being the best corner in the NFL after the 2007 season. I don’t know if Cromartie will ever play at that level again but he will certainly have opportunity to flourish in New York because of how his skill set matches up to the Jets defensive system and because of how many balls will be thrown his way. Rookie first round pick Kyle Wilson will be asked to step into the nickel role, which speaks to the talent in front of him. Former starter/nickel back Dwight Lowery can now slide into the #4 corner/extra safety in certain packages role, which best suits him. The Jets don’t have big names at safety in Jim Leonhard and Brondey Pool, but Leonhard is consistent and won’t give up the big play and Pool will have the chance to shine the way Rhodes was supposed to in 2009. Reserve safeties Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo are also key contributing members to this unit off the bench.

There are questions about the Jets heading into the 2010 season but it is hard to see their defense not being an elite unit in the NFL again. Considering what they did last year and their influx of talent, it would be a legitimate disappointment if they didn’t have the NFL’s number one ranked unit.

What To Watch

Projecting The Jets Defensive Statistics

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First a few updates:

1. RIP George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard. The greatest owner and PA announcer both gone in back to back days…sad stuff. It will make the Yankees inevitable 28th championship a little sweeter when they win it for both of them though.

2. NBA Free Agency Thoughts – Despite my intense hatred of the Miami Heat, bringing back Udonis Haslem and adding Mike Miller were both solid moves. Miller is going to have insane amounts of open looks from three point range and Haslem is a solid all-around role player. However, they are still behind the Lakers in my mind, especially since Derek Fisher decided to head back to LA and will now pair with Steve Blake at point guard. Also if the Lakers pick up Raja Bell, it will be a big addition for them. It will give them three top level on ball defenders with him, Kobe, and Ron Artest. The Heat will score points in bunches but can they stop anybody? Despite not getting LeBron or Wade, the Chicago Bulls have quietly upgraded their roster substantially. Carlos Boozer up front to pair with Joakim Noah and Kyle Korver and JJ Redick to boost their backcourt. They have more than enough all around talent to give the Heat a serious run. It was obviously a dissapointing off-season for the Knicks. However, they have a young, talented roster in place and should compete for a 7 or 8 seed in the East season after adding Amare Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, and Anthony Randolph. Now we are just holding out hope for Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony to eventually come on board. For all the hype about the Nets during the first couple of weeks of free agency, they ended up having Travis Outlaw and Jordan Farmar to show for it.

3. It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Mark Brunell will be joining the Jets on July 22nd and that move will be coupled by the release of Kellen Clemens. Again, I agree with decision to sign Brunell but not the decision to cut Clemens. Why not keep Clemens as the #2 and let Brunell be the #3? It is a better depth chart than having Brunell as the #2 and Kevin O’Connell or Erik Ainge as the #3. I am also holding out hope that the Jets will bring back defensive end Marques Douglas. Why not have the rich get richer on defense?

Projecting The Jets Defensive Statistics

Depsite having a notoriously aggressive pass rush, the Jets didn’t have impressive overall sack numbers in 2009. They looked to remedy that this year by adding Jason Taylor, who should primarily play on third downs and passing situations. I trust Ryan’s ability to utilize Taylor’s ability to rush the passer and think he will end up in the 9 -11 sack range in 2010. I also think Calvin Pace will crack double digits, based on the fact he had 8 sacks in only 12 games during his first season in Ryan’s defense. Outside of that, Shaun Ellis should be good for his usual 5 – 7 sacks and the defensive backs should rack up a decent amount, considering how much Ryan loves sending them off the edge at the quarterback. Look for Kyle Wilson, Eric Smith, James Ihedigbo, and Dwight Lowery to all get plenty of opportunities to pull in a few sacks each. If Kris Jenkins is kept fresh by rotating with Sione Pouha, he should also be good for a handful of sacks.

Photobucket– In the defensive backfield, it isn’t out of the question for Darrelle Revis to exceed his 6 interceptions from last year. The beauty of Rex Ryan’s system is that it forces opposing offenses to challenge Revis and the overwhelming majority of the time, he wins the battle. Revis is basically always going to be covering the team’s top option, which sometimes includes sliding in the slot to cover their primary third down target. For example, against the Chargers last year he spent time on Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates, and LaDainian Tomlinson out of the backfield depending on the situation. He also slid inside to cover Legedu Naanee on some third downs, because he was a favorite target of Philip Rivers in that particular situation. Ryan makes it nearly impossible to avoid throwing at Revis at least a few times a game. Antonio Cromartie should see plenty of balls come his way also when teams attempt to work away from Revis and he has the athleticism to make teams pay for challenging him, especially if he is covering their second or third option. Honestly, there is no reason Revis and Cromartie can’t both pull in 6 – 8 interceptions in 2010. Beyond that, I think Brodney Pool will have the third most. He had 4 interceptions in 11 games last year on a relatively poor defense, so it will be interesting to see how many he grabs on this team.

– Unless there is an injury, David Harris is going to lead the team in tackles by a good margin with Bart Scott finishing up in second place. Harris filled up the stat line last year (127 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 FFs) and those numbers should only increase as he gets more comfortable in Ryan’s system. Scott had an impressive 11 tackles for loss last season but hopefully he can cause a few more turnovers and get to the quarterback more in 2010. He had 0 FFs and INTs in 2009, along with only 1 sack.

– It will be interesting to see how the Jets rotation off the bench works on defense. You know Taylor and Wilson will see a good amount of reps and will almost always be in on third downs and passing situations. Depending on the game plan, Eric Smith should be on the field frequently to match-up with tight ends, running backs, or be used as a blitzer. Ryan also showed last year that he likes to use James Ihedigbo in pass rush situations. Dwight Lowery is working both at safety and corner now, which will help increase his reps. He will likely only get substantial playing time against teams who spread the field. On the defensive line, Sione Pouha will play near a starter’s amount of reps to help keep Kris Jenkins fresh and to occasionally pair up with him. Hopefully, either Vernon Gholston, Ropati Pitoitua, or Matt Kroul can step up to also give some quality reps off the bench.

That’s How You Come After the QB

What To Watch

Ranking The Jets Defensive Starters

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First a few updates:

1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

2. I was surprised how many people on Facebook and Twitter responded to the TOJ Question of the Day “Who do you think will lead the team in receptions this season” with Santonio Holmes. The guy is only playing in 12 games, I doubt he can catch Cotchery or Edwards after their four game head start. I agree Holmes is probably the best overall receiver of the three but in this offense, this season…I will stay with Cotchery having the most receptions.

Ranking The Jets Defensive Starters

Since I ranked the Jets offensive starters on Friday, I had to finish the job by heading over to the other side of the ball.

1. Darrelle Revis – The best corner in football and the number one headline going into training camp because of his contract dispute.

2. David Harris – A top five inside linebacker in the NFL, who deserves a new contract and will hopefully get it soon for staying quiet about an extension similar to D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

3. Kris Jenkins – When Jenkins is healthy, he has the ability to take over football games and be a premier defensive lineman in the NFL. In 2010, he will be benefited from having Sione Pouha able to spell him and keep him fresh the entire season.

4. Antonio Cromartie – On pure talent and potential, I am placing him above Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, who are coming off better seasons. Cromartie has shown the ability to be a top flight corner in the NFL. Hopefully the move to New York will rejuvenate his career.

5. Calvin Pace – There were plenty of questions about the Jets giving Pace a monster contract two years ago but he has given them two very productive seasons. I expect him to have over 10 sacks this season.

6. Bart Scott – The loudest player on the field and an emotional leader on the team. Scott had a very good first season in New York and will look to build on it in 2010.

7. Shaun Ellis – The longest tenured Jet, remains one of the better all-around 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL.

8. Jim Leonhard – Consistent player who knows the ins and outs of Rex Ryan’s defense.

9. Bryan Thomas – His numbers from last year won’t blow anybody away but Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine swear by his value to the defensive unit as an all-around solid player who does all the little things well.

10. Brodney Pool – I am excited to see what this guy can do in Ryan’s defense. Kerry who?

11. Mike DeVito – The UDFA from the University of Maine has come a long way. The Jets like his ability to stop the run.

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