A Full Off-Season Of New York Jets Workouts

Click here for more information on the Jets team workouts over the past few months

With the conclusion of “Jets Camp Lockout” today, the team likely wrapped up their last informal workout during the lockout (hopefully). Since the end of the previous season, here is an unofficial look at the different workouts Jets players took part in —

Jets West – List of attendees – A collection of skill position players led by Mark Sanchez at his high school, Mission Viejo out in California. The camp was in early May and lasted roughly a week. It was highly organized and included on field work, film sessions, and various team activities.

Jets Southwest – Darelle Revis and Kyle Wilson spent a couple of weeks training together out in Arizona. It was very encouraging to see Revis take Wilson under his wing and Wilson to be smart enough to follow the lead of the best corner in the NFL.

Jets East – Bart Scott, Vladimir Ducasse, Jerricho Cotchery, Jamaal Westerman and a few others worked out together in Martinsville, New Jersey and then traveled to Miami to work out with fellow AFC East players.

Jets City Club – A group defensive lineman, led by Sione Pouha held a few days of workouts in North Jersey a couple of weeks ago. First round pick Muhammad Wilkerson was in attendance along with Mike DeVito, Ropati Pitoitua, and Westerman.

Jets Camp Lockout – Roughly 40 players attended team workouts the past three days at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Here is a partial list of attendees.

Thoughts On Jets Full Team Workouts

The New York Jets are currently holding workouts in North Jersey, it is being reported that somewhere around 40 players are in attendance, with a partial listing of who is there right here. Mark Sanchez had previously mentioned bringing together as much of the team as possible if the lockout extended into the middle of the June. These workouts are looking to serve as informal replacement for mini-camp, which would normally take place around this time.

I wouldn’t get too worked up about who does and doesn’t attend these workouts which are expected to last for three days. There seems to be increasing optimism that the lockout is going to end within a month or so to allow for a full training camp and a pre-season, preceded by an abbreviated free agency period. You can’t expect potential free agents to risk an injury so close to a time when they will be looking for a new contract, which is why players like Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Antonio Cromartie are likely working out on their own during these days. It is worth noting that Brad Smith is in attendance despite being a free agent.

These few days will be good work for the rookies and younger players on the Jets roster who are expected to move into bigger roles. It is also another demonstration of Mark Sanchez’s leadership on this team, as he was able to gather up this many players for workouts. Sione Pouha said it a few weeks ago “when Mark makes the call…we’ll be there.”

Hopefully the amount of work Sanchez has put in participating, leading, and coaching these workouts will continue his development at a somewhat comparable pace to the work around the team facility he did last off-season.

The end may be finally be getting near for the lockout and on the whole it has been encouraging to see the amount of work the Jets players have put it in to stay in shape the previous few months.

Thoughts On Ongoing Jets Off-Season Workouts

Click here for more coverage of the New York Jets off-season workouts

1. Great work by Sione Pouha organizing the Jets defensive lineman for workouts in North Jersey. This is a group that will have some new pieces in the rotation with draft picks Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis, along with Ropati Pitoitua coming off season ending surgery now in the mix. It is also encouraging to hear that Shaun Ellis will join the workouts later in the week, considering his status with the team is up in the air. Let’s hope any work Wilkerson gets in the off-season will contribute to him making some type of immediate impact whenever the season starts.

2. It is encouraging to hear Mark Sanchez talk about putting together full team workouts, if the lockout continues to carry on. He stated he thinks somewhere around 50 players would show up, which would be great since New England only has around 40…every victory counts, right?

3. Speaking of New England, what is with the paranoia of keeping the media away from your team workouts? Did the secrecy pay off last year in January? Nobody is stealing the information about what routes you are running on air.

4. Jamaal Westerman is taking part in the defensive line workouts and had also worked out with Bart Scott and a few other Jets at the TEST facility in Martinsville, New Jersey earlier in the off-season. It is good to see Westerman getting after it, as he will have a chance to maybe contribute in some of the Jets defensive packages this season considering their depth chart at linebacker.

Click here for more coverage of the New York Jets off-season workouts

Underappreciated Lineman Anchor Jets Defense

There was no question the New York Jets needed to upgrade their defensive line this off-season. They had issues with their depth and struggled to consistently get after the quarterback. However, that doesn’t diminish the fact their defense was ranked third in the NFL last season at stopping the run and managed to generate enough of a pass rush to knock both Petyon Manning and Tom Brady out of the playoffs.

Two-thirds of the Jets starting defensive line are relative no-name players who don’t necessarily fit in with their big name, big talking counterparts. Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito have both very quietly developed into quality NFL starters and are a big part of why the Jets defense has been so successful the past two years.

Pouha has admirably stepped in for an injured Kris Jenkins in both 2009 and 2010. Jenkins was released this year, leaving Pouha as the official full time starting nose tackle. He is coming off a career year, where he racked up 59 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 recovered fumbles. A 3rd round draft pick of the Jets in 2005, Pouha has fought off early injuries in his career and multiple coaching changes to develop into the starting nose tackle on one of the league’s best defenses. The Jets drafted Kenrick Ellis in the third round this season, who should be able to spell him and could eventually develop into his replacement a few years down the road.

Mike DeVito is an undrafted free agent from Maine, now entering his fifth year with the Jets. He has clawed his way up from being an extra body in training camp, to the practice squad, to a rotational player and now finally to being a starting defensive end. The Jets showed confidence in him before last season by letting Marques Douglas walk in free agency, which left the starting job to DeVito. He responded with 59 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, and 2 forced fumbles. He is a good fit in Ryan’s scheme and is solid against the run.

The Jets first round pick Muhammad Wilkerson will likely replace Shaun Ellis in the starting line-up, if not this year, than likely next year. He should provide a pass rush out of the defensive end position, while DeVito can continue to plug up the run.

When discussing the Jets defense, it is usually names like Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Bart Scott, and Calvin Pace that come up first. However, don’t discount the production they are getting from blue-collar players like Pouha and DeVito.

New York Jets: Who Is On Thin Ice After Draft?

After seeing how the Jets spent their six draft picks over the weekend, which players from the 2010 team could be on thin ice heading into this upcoming year?

  • Shaun Ellis – Personally, I think it is still a smart move to bring Ellis back as a mentor for Muhammad Wilkerson and because the guy should finish his career where he started it. He is the longest tenured Jet and a respected leader on the team. However, the Jets aren’t going to overpay for him now after spending their first round pick on a defensive end. They could also bring Trevor Pryce back as a cheaper mentoring alternative for Wilkerson.
  • Kris Jenkins – Not that he was likely to be back anyway, but the Kenrick Ellis selection seals his fate.
  • Kellen Clemens – Good as gone.
  • Kevin O’Connell – Will probably be given a chance to compete in training camp with Greg McElroy but unless he blows him away (not likely considering his past few summers) he will join Clemens.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson – Everything we have heard since the draft indicates that he will still be back and it would be the smart move to have him return. The Jets need his leadership, receiving ability, and pass protection. Yet, you have to wonder if Bilal Powell looks good in the pre-season, if the Jets would consider letting him go.
  • Joe McKnight – If he replicates his 2010 summer and Powell is productive, the Jets could part ways with their 4th round draft from last year to make room for their 4th round pick this year.
  • Brad Smith – If Smith is commanding too much money, the Jets have drafted a player with a skill set to be his replacement in Jeremy Kerley. Even if Smith’s contract demands aren’t outrageous, they will have a tough time bringing him back with Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards both looking for new deals.
  • Patrick Turner – Will Sanchez’s old buddy from USC get bumped from the roster by his new buddy on the team, Scotty McKnight?

Plenty Of Work To Be Done On Rex’s Pride And Joy

The number of question marks surrounding the New York Jets defense heading into the Draft is at a somewhat worrisome number. Rex Ryan is a great defensive mind, who has the ability to get more out of less, yet the Jets have holes to fill at all three levels of their defense if they want to remain among the league’s elite units.

Defensive Line – Even if the Jets decide to re-sign Shaun Ellis (which they should) and Trevor Pryce doesn’t retire. They still need both a defensive end and a defensive tackle to improve their depth and youth at the position. Phil Taylor out of Baylor has been a very popular pick for the Jets in mock drafts and his selection would likely allow Sione Pouha to get some work at end. However, spending a first round pick on Taylor or somebody like him shouldn’t stop the Jets from potentially adding another lineman later in the Draft or via free agency (if it ever starts).

Linebacker – The long term replacement for Bryan Thomas needs to be found as the Jets look to improve their pass rush. If the right defensive lineman isn’t available at number 30, Akeem Ayers and Justin Houston have been linked to the Jets. Both players have question marks surrounding them, yet they would have a year or two to function as only pass rush specialists behind Thomas as they learn to become full-time players. The Jets could also use depth at inside linebacker behind David Harris and Bart Scott. Josh Mauga and Jamaal Westerman don’t seem to be any more than special teams players at this point.

Secondary – It is time to accept the fact that the Jets will always need corners and safeties as long as Rex Ryan is their head coach. Everybody is worried about the Jets front seven, while forgetting three of their top four safeties are free agents, along with two of their top three corners. They need to decide what they are doing about bringing Antonio Cromartie, Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, James Ihedigbo, and Drew Coleman back, along with supplementing the position through the Draft and likely a free agency move or two. Personally, I think Pool will be brought back to start opposite Jim Leonhard and they will add a safety later in the draft to groom behind him. At corner, the Jets better pray Kyle Wilson is ready to take his game up about five notches if they let Antonio Cromartie leave.

Assessing Jets Needs Heading Into Draft

A quick run down as we are now less than a month away —

1. Defensive Line – If the season started today, the Jets would be starting Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha, and Marcus Dixon up front with Ropati Pitoitua and Matt Kroul as the top backups…enough said. They need another player or two here and will likely spend their first round pick on the defensive line unless an outside linebacker jumps off the board. The Jets should also work to bring back Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce to improve their depth and to mentor the rookies brought in.

2. Outside Linebacker – The Jets need to improve their pass rush and in the 3-4 that means having outside linebackers who can get after the quarterback. Bryan Thomas is a solid, consistent all-around player but the Jets need more speed and athleticism off the edge to compliment Calvin Pace.

3. Secondary – The Jets could still use a play-making safety to pair with Jim Leonhard. Kerry Rhodes was a bust in Rex Ryan’s first year and the Eric Smith/Brodney Pool platoon from last year could stand to be improved. If Antonio Cromartie leaves via free agency, the Jets may also need to look at the corner position due to Kyle Wilson’s struggles last year.

4. Wide Receiver – This is under the assumption that either Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes isn’t on the team next year. The offense could use a player with some upside to develop behind Jerricho Cotchery.

5. Backup quarterback – They need a long term answer to the question of who will be Mark Sanchez’s backup, especially since he has had more than one injury issue in his brief NFL career.

6. Offensive Line Depth – With either Wayne Hunter or Vladimir Ducasse moving into the starting line-up to replace Damien Woody and Robert Turner’s status uncertain for next year, the Jets could use another lineman who is versatile between the tackle and guard spots to provide depth.

Concern About The Jets Front Seven

And now back to football…

Appropriately there is a general consensus that the New York Jets need to improve their defensive front seven this off-season, which has been spearheaded by most mock drafts pairing them with a defensive lineman or outside linebacker.

At defensive line and linebacker, the Jets are a little bit old and a little bit slow. Outside of David Harris, all three starting linebackers are over 30 and none (including Harris) have great speed. On the defensive line, Sione Pouhaand Shaun Ellis (if he returns) are both into their 30’s and if you saw Mike DeVito trying to cover Danny Woodhead last year, you know he didn’t run track in high school or college.

The depth isn’t great at either position, Jamaal Westerman and Josh Mauga don’t project as future starters at linebacker. On the line, Marcus Dixon, Ropati Pitoitua, and Matt Kroul have potential but still a long way to go to prove they deserve regular spots in the rotation.

Where will the help come from? At a minimum, the Jets need a long term replacement for Bryan Thomas at outside linebacker, a defensive end to replace Shaun Ellis (even if he ends up coming back), and another interior lineman to boost the rotation and maybe eventually take over for Pouha.

The draft could only solve so much, especially with the Jets missing a second round pick. Hopefully, Mike Tannenbaum’s first round pick can contribute immediately and he finds another later round prospect or two that contribute at defensive line or linebacker. The Jets will likely be handcuffed in signing new players in free agency, as they will be limited by the same “Final Eight” rules they were last year, if an injunction is granted as expected on April 6th.

In reality, it is going to take multiple off-seasons to get the defensive front seven where it needs to be. The Jets can take a big step in the right direction this year by having a strong draft, hoping a few of their developmental players (Dixon, Pitoitua) contribute, and maybe swinging a deal or two via free agency or trade.

New York Jets Recent Cuts Open Up New Opportunities

There have been varying emotions on the New York Jets recent round of cuts. A mix of joy and disgust as the Vernon Gholston disaster finally came to an end, sadness at seeing respected veterans like Kris Jenkins and Damien Woody go, amusement at Jason Taylor now only wanting to continue his career with the Jets, a team he once despised as much as we despised him, and indifference over Ben Hartsock (sorry #84). Regardless, all of these moves are going to open up new opportunities for other players on the roster and will affect strategy in April’s draft.

Woody – The Jets are expected to have veteran Wayne Hunter and second year lineman Vladimir Ducasse battle for his old spot. For Ducasse, this a make or break battle. The Jets are going to have to admit they may have missed in last year’s second round if Ducasse begins his NFL career by losing consecutive battles to Matt Slauson and Hunter. Towards the end of last season, Hunter showed he could be adequate as a starter but  I am sure the coaching staff is hopeful Ducasse will seize the position and be the long term answer at right tackle.

Jenkins – There is still a good chance Jenkins will come back at a reduced price. Regardless, this just means embracing Sione Pouha as the quality starter he has shown himself to be. It also means the Jets will have to look defensive line early in the draft, as we expected them to anyway.

Gholston – He didn’t play enough to shake up anything on the roster. The coaching staff does seem high on Marcus Dixon at defensive end and Ropati Pitoitua is returning from injury. Expect both players to get a shot at becoming large parts of the defensive line rotation in 2011.

Taylor – He has expressed an interest in returning to the Jets at a reduced price. I have a hard time seeing that happening as the Jets will likely look to get younger at linebacker and defensive end (where Taylor frequently lined up) in the draft. Jamaal Westerman might be a guy who gets more of a shot now that Taylor is gone. Westerman showed some potential in 2009 but wasn’t given much of a chance last season…until he roughed the punter against Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game.

Hartsock – The Jets decided to keep Jeff Cumberland on the roster all of the last season, despite only making him active once in week 17. He showed potential as a pass catcher in the pre-season and clearly the Jets think he can become a bigger part of the offense, which he may need to if Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith don’t return. In terms of blocking, Matthew Mulligan should be able to step into that role as he received occasional reps in run heavy sets last season.

Check Out Hartsock’s Lone Touchdown as a New York Jet at 1:05…and his incredibly lame celebration

Turn On The Jets 2010/201 Report Cards – Sione Pouha

Today we continue our series of evaluating how each player on the Jets performed this past season, along with looking forward to what their role on the team will be next year…up today, defensive lineman Sione Pouha –

Stat Line – 59 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 passes defended

Playoff Stat Line – 14 tackles, 1 sack

Best Moment – Two moments jump out to me when thinking about Pouha’s season, first was his fumble recovery when Joe Flacco was sacked on the Jets first defensive play of the season and second was his sack of Tom Brady in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Best Game – Despite coming in a losing effort, Pouha had a monster game against the Miami Dolphins in week 14 (sounds similar to Brodney Pool, know?). He racked up 10 tackles and a sack and the crowd got more into their “POOO-HA” chants than usual.

Overall Evaluation – Similar to 2009, Pouha stepped in for an injured Kris Jenkins and did a more than admirable job. He is a quality starter in the NFL and a very good fit for Rex Ryan’s system. I would love to see the potential of this defensive line if Jenkins could actually stay healthy for a season and have Pouha playing alongside him. Pouha’s tackle totals for a defensive lineman are particularly impressive and emphasize how solid he is against the run. (B+)

Future: Pouha will be back with the team next year and probably will be given the starting role as Kris Jenkins works back from yet another injury. If Jenkins can recover, it will be interesting to see how much work Pouha gets at defensive end alongside him. Regardless of how healthy Jenkins does get, Pouha is now at the point where he is going to play plenty of reps no matter what.

Look at the big fella with the scoop