What are reasonable expectations for the New York Jets in 2012?
The general consensus from the mainstream media about the 2012 New York Jets isn’t positive. We have seen them ranked as low as 27th in Power Rankings by Evan Silva of Rotoworld, along with most commentators pegging them for 3rd or 4th in the AFC East behind Buffalo and in some cases behind Miami. This line of thinking isn’t that surprising when you step back and consider a few things.
Most people view the Jets as a brash talking organization who has seen their small window close. They are a roster stuffed with overhyped, overpaid players who had an ugly meltdown to end the 2011 season. Everybody who doesn’t wear a green and white jersey on Sundays is giddy at the thought of Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez failing and being out of a job this time next year.
The hate towards Ryan makes sense. He bit off more than he could chew last year when his big words weren’t matched by a successful January run that came up just short of a Super Bowl appearance. Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants made him look foolish and petulant. He is an easy target because of his personality. Yet, it doesn’t mean the man can’t coach the hell out of a defense or that he wasn’t more successful than 95% of NFL coaches are in their first three years.
The hate towards Sanchez is a little more perplexing because few individuals in the league face more unwarranted criticism. It could be because of the Hollywood, appearing on GQ Cover persona. It could just be having Rex Ryan as his head coach. Whatever it is, Sanchez is treated as a backup, masquerading as a starter instead of a young, developing quarterback like his counterparts Josh Freeman (who was truly awful last year) and Joe Flacco. Nobody is saying Sanchez has been anywhere near a great quarterback the past three years, but he has had more than enough great moments to merit faith in him being the future quarterback of a successful team.
Certain prominent players on the Jets roster have a negative public perception which blurs objectively looking at their talent on the field. Santonio Holmes is a selfish diva, not a former Super Bowl MVP who had 4 game winning receptions for the Jets in 2010 and 2 more in 2011. Antonio Cromartie is a guy with a ton of kids, not one of the best number two corners in football. Other prominent players are soft-spoken and stay out of the limelight leading to them being overlooked. People forget David Harris is a top five inside linebacker in football. Nick Mangold is the best center in the NFL and Sione Pouha is one of the league’s top nose tackles. Is there 10 better guards in the league than Brandon Moore or 5 better left tackles than D’Brickashaw Ferguson? I’m not so sure.
It almost seems that with each passing month the Jets 2011 record got a game worse. You would think from commentary on their team that they finished at 4-12 or 5-11 last year. The reality is that they were 8-5 and lost their last 3 games to finish a very average 8-8. A tip here or a tip there away from being a playoff team at 9-7 or 10-6.
So where does that put them heading into 2012?
It is equally as foolish to rank the Jets as a top five team heading into the 2012 season, as it is to rank them a bottom five team. The Jets didn’t get worse this off-season by making their starting tandem at safety Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry instead of Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith. They didn’t get worse by adding Quinton Coples, Stephen Hill and Demario Davis through the draft. And if used properly, they didn’t get worse by adding Tim Tebow and all that he brings to their offense. Finally, they certainly didn’t get worse by replacing Brian Schottenheimer with Tony Sparano at offensive coordinator.
Considering the talent on their defense (which was still top five in the NFL last season by the way) and a schedule that features games against offensive juggernauts like St. Louis, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Miami (twice) and Seattle, the Jets have the look of a team that will range between 7-9 and 11-5 depending on how they play in close games.
The Jets are built to play tight, low scoring football. The results of these games will depend on winning the turnover battle, special teams, and finding a way to make the big play at an opportune time.
A large burden falls on Mark Sanchez to protect the football and hit big plays when they are available. He has a wide receiver who has the longest resume of clutch receptions currently in the NFL. A very good receiving tight end who he is comfortable with and a rookie speedster who is 6 foot 4. This team doesn’t need 45 pass attempts and 350 yards from Sanchez. It needs 18/25 for 200 yards but most importantly accuracy and smart decision making in big moments, which Sanchez has displayed in the past. They have the makings a competent, not great running game that could be dynamic at times if Tim Tebow is used properly.
Ultimately, there is too much talent on this roster to see the Jets as a 5 or 6 win team but there is enough questions to prevent expecting double digit wins. The difference between another 8-8 year and a playoff run into January will be their offense or special teams doing more of this in big spots –
The New York Jets have experienced yet another exciting offseason of player acquisitions. While the early weeks of free agency had the majority of Jets Nation convinced there was a new mentality in the front office due to the lack of pursuit of the marquee free agents, General Manager Mike Tannenbaum returned to his roots as “Trader Mike” and made the splash of the offseason in trading for the most polarizing figure in the NFL, Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow. Beyond the Tebow trade, Tannenbaum and the Jets achieved, what could prove to be, their best draft in recent years. With the acquisitions of eight players in this year’s draft, there are plenty of newcomers on board with Gang Green this season, many of whom have already stood out at OTAs and Mini-Camp.
The Jets filled a great amount of needs on their roster this offseason, particularly at the safety position where they added four new players (two rookies, two veterans) to the position that was popularly considered the worst on the defense last year. New York has also gone international with the signing of Aussie Rugby Star Hayden Smith, who is vying to make the team as a Tight End, another position in need of depth on the Jets roster. It seems that Mike T and Co. have added players via every means possible this offseason – signings, trades, draft picks, international, domestic, you name it. With so many new additions to the team for the 2012 season, what can we expect from those who will wear the Green and White for the first time this year? This week’s New York Jets Fact Or False takes a look at the “New” New York Jets.
Chaz Schilens will have the greatest impact of all newcomers at the Wide Receiver position.False. While the Jets certainly have a young and promising group of speedy, athletic receivers, Schilens was signed to a one year deal after a season of just 23 receptions in 2011, prior to the Jets selections of rookies Stephen Hill and Jordan White in this year’s NFL Draft. While Schilens certainly has the physical tools (6’4” 4.3 40 yard dash) to be a dangerous weapon in New York’s receiving corps this year, durability will be the key issue, as it has been throughout his career. Schilens has already missed 20 games due to injury in his short four-year career, and has never once recorded 30 receptions in a single season.
However, Schilens showed flashes of brilliance during mini-camp after obtaining a surplus of reps due to injuries to Hill, White, and Santonio Holmes. While Schilens could certainly be a diamond in the rough for Gang Green if he can stay healthy, history does not look favorable for the four-year veteran out of San Diego State. In terms of Jets newcomers at the wide receiver position, Hill, who will likely be starting opposite Santonio Holmes come week 1, is the most likely to have the greatest impact among the new wide outs. Jordan White is certainly another name to keep an eye on if he can come back completely healthy from a foot injury that will have him sidelined until training camp.
Quinton Coples will have the largest impact of all rookies.Fact. DeMario Davis is another candidate here, however with Coples likely to crack the starting lineup right out of the gate this year, he will ultimately have more opportunity to provide a greater impact to the team this season. We’ve repeatedly gone over the physical intangibles of Coples here at Turn On The Jets, not to mention how the shift toward more four-man fronts will benefit his skill set. However, what has not been discussed to a great extent is the work ethic Coples has been displaying since joining the Jets.
Heading into the draft, Coples unfairly saw his character and work ethic come into question, although review of his college game film proves he is anything but lazy and unmotivated. So far, we have yet to hear these concerns about Coples. The first round selection out of North Carolina has displayed nothing but high character and a tremendous work ethic during OTAs and Mini-Camp practices, and has earned praise from the coaching staff and media alike. Coples has the ability to fill the void the Jets defense has been truly lacking since the days of John Abraham, a pass rusher that opposing offenses must game plan around. Rex Ryan will use his vast defensive knowledge and creativity in order to ensure Coples is in every position possible to succeed.
Hayden Smith will make the active roster.False. The idea of Hayden Smith is a very intriguing one for Gang Green. The Jets took a shot at signing the Aussie Rugby star who has never played a down of football in his entire life, but has the physical tools (6’6” 255 lbs) to be an elite tight end in this league. While Smith is highly unlikely to develop into the next Jimmy Graham or Antonio Gates, he could end up being a solid contributor down the road for the Jets. Rex Ryan has already praised his tenacity and work ethic, and for good reason. Smith seems poised to learn the game of football from both an intellectual and fundamental standpoint. However, his development will likely take more than just one offseason before he can contribute, not only on the Jets, but also at the NFL level in general. A year on the practice squad is likely the destination for Smith this year, but that may be just what he needs to build his game and become a contributor in 2013.
Yeremiah Bell will provide more bang for the Jets buck than LaRon Landry. Fact. This could easily turn if Landry stays healthy for the entire year, as New York obtained the Pro Bowl caliber player on a rather cheap one-year contract, however, like Schilens, Landry comes with serious durability concerns. When healthy, Landry has been extremely productive, but over the past two seasons, the former first round selection out of LSU has played in just 17 total games. Bell, on the other hand, has not missed a game in the past four seasons and has accumulated over 100 tackles in each. While the ex-Miami Dolphin was certainly a bit more of an under-the-radar signing than Landry, his impact will likely be much greater with the Jets defense this season due to his durability and production.
Of the two rookie safeties, Josh Bush will see the majority of the reps.Fact. This is a no brainer. Antonio Allen is absolutely a very young, promising prospect for the Jets. However, like Landry and Bell, Allen fits the mold of an in the box, strong safety type player. Conversely, Bush is the only true free safety on the Jets roster and will likely see his reps increase as the season progresses, while picking up the defense a bit more each week. Bush has been widely regarded as one of the better cover safeties in this year’s rookie class, as shown by his All-American and All-ACC honors last season at Wake Forest. While Allen could certainly be used on special teams and in some sub packages, primarily as a blitzer, Bush fills a greater need for the Jets as of right now, and will likely see the majority of the reps among the two.
Tim Tebow will cause a Quarterback controversy in New York.False. While everyone from fans and mainstream media are drooling at the prospect of seeing Tebow come in and replace Mark Sanchez, the reality of the situation is that there will be no controversy at the Quarterback position for the Jets this season. It is certainly easy to argue against this proclamation as Sanchez is coming off of his most criticized season as a pro, despite accounting for 32 total touchdowns in 2011, while the Tebow magic is still fresh in the minds of everyone who witnessed arguably the most polarizing figure in all of sports defy all the odds last season in leading Denver to a playoff victory.
While Tebow will remain the number two quarterback in the event that Sanchez gets injured, he was not brought to New York to take the job from number 6. Tebow will likely be used at quarterback in some wildcat and spread option sub packages, however he will take very little, if any, snaps at QB when the regular offense is on the field. Despite the fact that Sanchez is poised for a breakout season, Tebow’s unique skill set is too diverse to see him taking snaps under center this year. Expect to see Tebow in a variety of roles including H-Back and Running Back. New York has already begun to get him reps here, all of which will likely increase heading into the season. Remember, Sanchez AND Tebow, not Sanchez OR Tebow.
Chris Gross explores if the Jets should make a run at attempting to trade for wide receiver Percy Harvin
After trading with the Cleveland Browns to obtain Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the New York Jets reportedly attempted to execute another trade in order to move back into the bottom half of round one to select WR Percy Harvin of the University of Florida. As it is now known, the Jets were unsuccessful in their attempt to obtain that pick and Harvin. However, with recent reports surfacing earlier this week that Harvin has requested a trade out of Minnesota, New York could explore another attempt to swing a deal that would bring in the player they nearly landed just three seasons ago. While it remains to be seen whether or not the Vikings will even entertain the idea of moving one of their most vital offensive weapons, if Harvin does in fact become available, the Jets would be wise to look into swinging a deal for the three-year veteran.
With a new offensive coordinator in place in Tony Sparano, New York has high hopes for offensive improvement for the 2012 season. Bringing in Harvin would bolster those hopes even further, and would give the Jets a very unique arsenal of offensive personnel that, if used properly, could become one of the most dangerous in the league. When looking at Harvin, there are several reasons as to why he would be a great fit with Gang Green, all of which fit the identity of the new scheme to a T.
Speed Kills – The Jets are making a big push to add some much needed speed to their offense as displayed already by the decision to draft burner Stephen Hill out of Georgia Tech (4.3 40 yard dash), as well as the signing of free agent wide out Chaz Schilens, who has also been timed in the low 4.3 40 yard dash range. Bringing in another speedster in Harvin (4.41 40 yard dash) to put alongside Santonio Holmes, Schilens, and Hill would give the Jets a near perfect amount of YAC potential in its receiving corps.
Big Play Threat – One of Tony Sparano’s greatest points of emphasis in his offensive philosophy is the importance of achieving “Chunk Plays,” meaning the ability to make large gains on any particular play, moving down the field in “chunks.” Harvin would fill yet another piece of this puzzle. Over his three-year career, Harvin has made receptions of at least 20 yards in 27 total contests, averaging out to exactly 9 games per season. Of those 27 games, he has made receptions of at least 30 yards in 15, 8 of which he had receptions of at least 40 yards, all while building a career average of 12 yards per reception. Harvin certainly has the ability and athleticism to provide Sparano and the Jets offense with a good amount of these chunk plays that the offensive philosophy covets so wildly.
Dual Threat – In an offense that will likely see a great amount of creativity and versatility, Harvin would prove to be a vital weapon within this approach. Although he has had great success as a wide receiver during his three years in Minnesota, Harvin has also done very well running the football, accumulating an average of 6.9 yards per carry, with three touchdowns. These numbers are certainly not mind blowing, but impressive considering the fact that he achieved them with arguably the greatest back in the league on his team in Adrian Peterson. With New York’s desire to return to the “Ground and Pound” offensive style, there is certainly never enough room for players with the ability to effectively run the ball.
Familiarity – Prior to entering the 2009 NFL Draft, Harvin played in his final two seasons at the University of Florida with current Jets backup Quarterback Tim Tebow as the starting signal caller for the Gators. During those two seasons, Harvin posted numbers that were impressive enough to secure a first round selection in 2009. With Tebow running the helm, Harvin amassed 99 receptions for 1,502 yards and 11 touchdowns. Conversely, Harvin served as a very successful ground threat in Florida’s spread offense scheme with Tebow, as he carried the ball 153 times over his final two seasons as a Gator for 1,423 yards, culminating in an astounding 9.3 yards per carry, while amassing 17 touchdowns along the way.
A large part of the Jets’ “Tebow Package” is expected to include a good amount of Wildcat formations, however it has recently been reported that New York may be reluctant to run these formations because that would put starting Quarterback Mark Sanchez as a receiver every time Tebow takes the field. Instead, Sanchez will likely come completely out of the game when Tebow enters, which could lead to a more read-option approach under #15, a scheme very similar to the one Harvin and Tebow were a part of at Florida. Could Sparano and Co. rekindle the chemistry that produced a National Championship and Heisman Trophy during the two years that the two were together in Gainesville? Odds are the offensive coaching staff, along with General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and Head Coach Rex Ryan, would be drooling at the prospect of implementing a personnel group centered around Tebow and Harvin. This would add a dynamic to the Jets offense that has yet to be seen in the league.
Production – Harvin’s career numbers in Minnesota speak for themselves. Over the past two seasons, Harvin played in 30 total contests reeling in 158 passes for 1,835 yards and 11 touchdowns. In New York, the Jets’ number one receiving option over the past two years has been Santonio Holmes. During those seasons, Holmes played in 28 total games, while collecting 103 receptions for 1400 yards and 14 touchdowns. Although Harvin has been a bit more productive than Holmes in terms of receptions and yardage, the two have each been collectively successful considering the situations of each of their respective offenses. Minnesota went through a drastic quarterback shuffle last season, while the Jets maintained virtually no identity under the philosophically challenged Brian Schottenheimer. Pairing the two of them with rookie Stephen Hill would give the Jets one of the most dynamic, fast, and youthful wide receiving corps in the NFL.
While a trade for Harvin would certainly come with a great amount of obstacles, most notably the compensation that Minnesota will likely seek in return, knowing Mike Tannenbaum, this move cannot be completely ruled out until the 2012 trade deadline passes. Few people expected the Jets to trade for Brett Favre and release Chad Pennington during training camp heading into the 2008 season, and even fewer expected the organization to trade for Tebow just a few short months ago. With this front office, anything is possible, and a move like this would not only bolster the talent of the Jets offense, but would also contribute to the identity this offense is trying to achieve, something that was virtually non-existent last season.
Mike Donnelly with a needed reminder to Jets fans: It is not Sanchez vs Tebow…it is Sanchez AND Tebow
Mike Donnelly with a much needed rant to New York Jets fans to kick your week off…
Read that title again, Jets fans, and let it sink in. I’ve observed an inordinate amount of arguing, fighting, name-calling, and general assholery permeating through the Internet since the Jets traded for Tim Tebow — and it is only getting worse as we get closer to the season. I’ve seen trouble-making writers with bad hairpieces like Mike Florio play the Tebow vs. Sanchez card to generate some interest in their columns or blogs; I’ve seen fans spew vitriol on Twitter toward one another in an attempt to bash and belittle Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow, depending which one they support; I’ve witnessed people call other people idiots — that’s the G-rated version — for supporting either Sanchez or Tebow, respectively.
These things are to be expected from the men and women of the media who are always trying to create a buzz, or from rival Patriots and Dolphins fans engaging in varying levels of trash talk (Speaking of which, if Dolphins fans want to talk down about Sanchez, all Jets fans should throw the big LOL right back at them for the lethal Garrard to Ochocinco connection). But that’s only a small part of it. The majority of these comments and attacks I’m talking about aren’t coming from bozo writers or Masshole Pats fans; they are coming from Jets fans and are directed at Jets fans, and it’s getting ugly. That’s right, it’s Jet fan on Jet fan crime, and it has to stop.
Take a deep breath and let the following sink in:
Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow are both Jets players. It’s not Mark Sanchez versus Tim Tebow this year. It’s Mark Sanchez AND Tim Tebow, and they’re taking on the NFL. As teammates. As New York Jets.
Full disclosure here: I am an unabashed Mark Sanchez fan and supporter. I am Team Sanchez all the way, and I’ll defend him against any and all critics. Is he the best QB in the NFL? No, certainly not. But he’s a damn fine quarterback with a ton of potential who has been mishandled by the Jets organization throughout his career (Check out the book excerpts I was fortunate enough to be able to share in that column). Despite that, he’s improved every season, showed great big-game moxy, and led the team to four road playoff wins in his first two seasons. The Jets can win with Mark Sanchez as they’ve shown, and I support him all the way. Under no circumstances do I think he should be replaced by Tim Tebow this season, or ever.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t support Tim Tebow, too. Trust me, that’s allowed, I checked it out and everything. Tebow is a Jets player now, and when he’s on the field I’m going to be rooting for him to do well and help the Jets win a football game. All Jets fans should. We don’t have to choose just one of them to root for, because it’s Sanchez and Tebow. On the same team.
Now I’m not naive enough to think that is going to actually be the case with all Jets fans this year, however. I know full well that whether I’m sitting in the stands of MetLife or watching the game from a sports bar, I’m going to hear nonsensical comments from both Jets fans and Jets haters (unfortunately sometimes one person fits both categories). I know there will be Sanchez fans who won’t cheer if Tim Tebow makes a big play, just like there will be Tebow fans openly upset when they see Mark Sanchez throw strikes down the field to Stephen Hill with great success. I know this is going to happen.
Jets fans, we’re going to hear enough crap this year from all angles when it comes to the Jets and their quarterback spot; we don’t need to give it to each other too. There are already enough Jets — and Sanchez — haters out there. We already see and hear enough garbage about Sanchez: the made-up stats like “near-interceptions”, the discrediting of his good play by saying “Oh, he was wide open, so what?”, or pointing to his stellar line and running game his first two years, as if he’s the only quarterback who needs help on the field and can’t do everything himself. The haters like point to Sanchez’s shortcomings like his completion percentage instead of acknowledging the positives like the 32 touchdowns he contributed last year. And it comes from all over the place. Heck, we even had disgruntled former Jet Plaxico Burress take shots at Sanchez recently and imply he doesn’t think Mark can lead the team to the Super Bowl (That’s probably good though, since before the genius shot himself in the leg, he had similar things to say about Eli Manning and we know how that turned out).
And if you think all of that’s bad, get ready, because we’re going to hear more than our fair share of Tim Tebow chatter coming up. Every time he skips a pass across the turf or gets sacked this year, there will be pointing and laughing form rival fans. We know that. So if you’re really a fan of the Jets, there’s no need to pile on and hurl insults at your fellow Jets fan standing there in his Tebow jersey; just like I don’t need that same guy with #15 across his chest telling me I’m an idiot for supporting Mark Sanchez while he’s rooting for him to fail so the Messiah–err, I mean Tebow, can come into the game. The goal of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow this year is for the Jets to win games. That should be what we want too, no matter how it happens. We’re all in this together.
So think about it, Jets fans. I know how many of you feel. I was against the Tebow trade at the time like many others, but there’s nothing to be done about that at this point; he’s a Jet now, which makes him one of us. And as a Jets fan, if he’s out on the field helping the Jets win football games, we should all support that and cheer when he does so. You don’t have to love him as a person, or get down on your knee to “Tebow” when he scores, but you absolutely can cheer that he helped the Jets win without feeling guilty about it, or as if you are cheating on Mark Sanchez (you can also do everyone a favor and just take that snarky Tebow joke you spent half the night thinking of and lock it up in a box somewhere).
And I didn’t forget about you Jets fans who loved the Tebow trade or just simply think Sanchez should be benched for some silly reason. As much as it may pain you to do so, when Mark Sanchez makes a few nice passes this year and leads a touchdown drive without Tebow, take that sour puss off your face, unfold your arms, and cheer! Be happy that Mark Sanchez just helped the Jets win. Get used to it too, because it’s going to happen a lot; and when it does, we can all do without your half-assed (or worse) analysis of why you think he still stinks and Tebow is better, thanks. Afterall, if Tim Tebow is on the sideline cheering his teammate on — and you know he will be — why can’t we all?
Remember, it’s not Mark Sanchez versus Tim Tebow this year. It’s Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow versus the NFL. It’s Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow versus the Patriots, versus the Bills, the Dolphins, the Steelers, the haters, the critics, the writers, and we should be supporting both of them the whole way. It’s Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow versus the world pretty much. Together. As teammates.
The New York Jets need to add another running back to their depth chart
In case you haven’t heard, the New York Jets are committed to running the football this season. It is said so frequently, that you wonder if members of the organization think they could increase their yards per carry simply by talking about the running game. Here is an overview of the type of quotes we have been hearing all off-season about returning the offense to their lost “Ground and Pound” identity –
“We’re a power football team…we’re going to get physical with these guys, run, we’re going to punch the ball in there.” – Dustin Keller
“I think for us to be successful as a team, we have to be able to run the football. Sometimes is it going to be tough sledding? Absolutely. But that has to be who we are.” – Rex Ryan
“Start on the ground and take it from there” – Shonn Greene
“This is a physical football team; I like playing a physical style of offense. I think anybody that knows me knows I want to be physical.” – Tony Sparano
“We are a team that’s built for that. I think bringing Tony Sparano in will be great for us, help us get back to our swag, and just help us get out there and do what we do best.” – John Conner on running the football
You would think for a team so adamant about running the football, there would be more of a concern about the current depth chart at running back. Currently this is what the Jets are heading into the season with –
Shonn Greene – The reality on Shonn Greene is this, if you remove three monster games during the 2009 season (2 of which came in the playoffs), he has proven to be a slightly above average NFL back at best. He is a good straight ahead runner but has shown little elusiveness and limited big play ability. His skill in the passing game leaves something to be desired. To his credit, his durability and fumbling issues are overstated. Greene didn’t lose a fumble last season and missed a portion of only one game. However, at his best Greene is a player that needs a quality supporting back alongside him.
Joe McKnight – McKnight has shown potential and it is fair to hope that with an expanded role he could become a capable third down back and big play weapon. Yet, he had 43 carries last season and averaged a disappointing 3.1 yards on those carries finishing only with 134 yards rushing. McKnight also has viable durability concerns as he was banged up all of last season despite only having a very limited role. As a backup to Greene, he is not built to run the ball inside when spelling him. If the Jets are running 35-40 times a game, could McKnight be counted on for 12-14 carries on a weekly basis?
Bilal Powell – A 4th round pick last year who didn’t look good when given a small opportunity. Last season he averaged 1.6 yards per carry and fumbled inside the 1 yard line when he was fortunately bailed out by Matt Slauson recovering the ball in the end-zone. Yes, he only had 13 carries in the regular season but in the pre-season when given a total of 22 carries, he finished with 62 yards (2.2 yards per carry). Basically, Powell looked like a slowed down version of Greene which is why many questioned taking him so high in the 2011 draft. He has been banged up for a portion of spring practices with a hamstring injury.
Terrance Ganaway – Yes he did run with an encouraging amount of power in college and is familiar with the option, which could get him on the field with Tim Tebow. But how much faith could you place in a 6th round rookie, who only started and produced for one season in college?
While I do think Tim Tebow will be a factor in the Jets running game, particularly in short yardage situations. I wouldn’t expect him to get more than 4-6 carries a game.
Doesn’t it make sense to add another running back? Shouldn’t a self-proclaimed run heavy team have as many reliable power running backs on their roster as possible? There is no need to risk having a major issue at running back if Greene happens to go down for a few weeks and then you are forced to hand the entire running game off to three unproven players in McKnight, Powell and Ganaway.
Right now there are two cheap, proven veteran options available in Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant. Benson had nearly identical statistics to Shonn Greene last year and is a capable power back. The Jets don’t need him to start but he could easily provide 6-8 carries a game and start a few games if Greene goes down with an injury. Grant has a higher upside and despite durability questions is only two years removed from a 1,253 yard season with 11 touchdowns. He could easily be a spot starter and is a more natural receiver out of the backfield than Shonn Greene.
Why not add another proven veteran at a place where you are thin? New England could have easily handed off their running game to just Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen but they covered themselves by signing Joseph Addai for insurance because that is what good teams do, they protect themselves.
There is no reason to be cheap at running back when your entire identity is going to be built around running the football. On a team like Green Bay or New Orleans, you can’t have enough receivers. On a team like the Giants, you can’t have enough pass rushers. On a team like the Jets, it should be that you can’t have enough running backs.
Chris Gross with his weekly New York Jets Fact or False, looking at New York Jets mini-camp issues
The 2012 New York Jets have countless story lines and question marks surrounding them heading into this pivotal year for both Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez. Following the conclusion of today’s third, and final, mini-camp practice, the Jets will not be together in their entirety until the beginning of training camp at the end of July. A lot can be taken from the OTA’s and mini-camp period of the off-season, however, it is important to remember that the regular season is still months from kickoff and absolutely nothing is set in stone yet. For this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False, we’ll examine six of the most prevalent headlines as we begin the early transition from the offseason into the preseason.
1.) Santonio Holmes is still the team villain. Fact. While Santonio Holmes has gone through great efforts to stay out of the spotlight all offseason, while seemingly working to repair his fractured relationship with Mark Sanchez, as well as saving some time to visit with injured U.S. Military Troops in Germany, it took number 10 only one day of practice to grab the headlines in a negative way. After struggling to fulfill his desired number of reps during the first day of mini-camp, Holmes reportedly threw his helmet as he came off of the field, while expressing his disapproval for the workload he was expected to achieve in his first day back with the team.
While this was likely just a simple act of frustration from the ultra-competitive Holmes, Tone has to realize that everything he does will be under heavy scrutiny this season, particularly acting out like this in a practice session open to the media. It is certainly understandable that highly spirited athletes are often emotional, however Holmes is in a unique situation. The majority of media outlets are seemingly waiting for him to implode, so he needs to be smart about repairing his image, if he truly intends to do so. Until then, Holmes will remain portrayed as the villain of the Jets, and the majority of the moves he makes will be painted in a negative light, until he changes the perception of himself in the media.
2.) The more rigorous strength and conditioning program is the reason for the early hamstring plague.False. Among others, Holmes and rookie WR Stephen Hill each missed practice time this week due to tweaked hamstrings. Yesterday, ESPN’s Rich Cimini hinted at the idea that the cause for the ongoing hamstring issues in mini-camp were related to the more intense weight room regiment. While an increase in strenuous muscle activity could contribute to some types of injury if not conditioned well enough, this is the NFL. The players and coaches are professionals, and experts in their respective trades. An NFL level strength and conditioning coach is certainly capable of implementing stretching and flexibility techniques to decrease the risk of muscle related injuries.
While it is easy to assume that an increase in weight room intensity is an underlying cause for the recent run of hamstring issues, it is more likely a case getting back into playing shape. The most durable NFL players usually have the most strenuous offseason programs. During his time with the New York Giants, Tiki Barber was known for having one of the most intense weight room regiments out of any player in the league, and as a result, missed only six total games throughout the span of his ten year career, four of which came during his rookie season. Strength training does not increase the risk of injury, but more commonly reduces it.
3) Tim Tebow will be playing just about everything other than “traditional” Quarterback this season. Fact. While Tebow is the backup quarterback, he was not brought to New York for that reason. Conversely, he was not brought here to be the starter either. The Jets traded for Tebow to be the excellent football player they know he is. He has reported to mini-camp at a career high 249 lbs, and reports indicate that the Jets would still like him to add weight. By traditional standards, there aren’t any 250 lb athletes with the overall football skills of Tebow serving as pocket passers. The added weight will allow Tebow to serve more effectively as an all around football player, particularly in an H-Back, Running Back type role. Over his two seasons in the NFL, Tebow has rushed for 887 yards and 12 touchdowns, with a very impressive 5.4 yards per carry.
There will surely be a good amount of Wild Cat QB thrown in for Tebow as well, especially with the newly hired Tony Sparano’s knowledge of the system, coupled with Rex Ryan’s infatuation with it. In fact, since Ryan has come to New York, the Jets have the highest total yards per play out of the Wildcat in the entire NFL during that time frame, at 6.1 YPP. Expect Tebow to serve as a jack-of-all-trades for Gang Green this season, while seeing very little, if any, time as the regular quarterback.
4.) David Harris will finally get his much deserved recognition this season.False. Is there a more underrated defensive player in the NFL than David Harris? Since being drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Harris is averaging 102.8 tackles, 3.9 sacks, and 1 interception per season over his first five years in the league, while never being selected to a single Pro Bowl. Yes, he was a second team All-Pro in 2009, but has been snubbed by for the Pro Bowl in each year of his impressive NFL Career. In 2007, Harris’s rookie campaign, he tallied 127 tackles, including 90 solo, 5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. His AFC counterpart DeMeco Ryans was elected as the starter to the Pro Bowl that same season, although he registered only one more tackle than Harris, with three fewer sacks. Similarly, Ray Lewis was elected as the reserve at middle linebacker that same season despite notching seven fewer tackles and three fewer sacks than Harris. Sure, Ryans had collected over 150 tackles in the season prior, and Ray Lewis is, well, Ray Lewis, but this tells you all you need to know about how far under the radar Harris has flown since entering the league.
Although Harris has been the most consistent player on the team not named Darrelle Revis over the past few seasons, he still receives very little, if any, recognition. Although the Jets linebacker corps is one of the biggest question marks of the defense as we head into July, they have still received a fair amount of publicity during mini-camp. However, the spotlight has once again left the Hitman in the dark as the focus has been primarily on the revival of Bart Scott and the possible emergence of rookie DeMario Davis. Harris is a staple, not only of the defense, but also of the entire team, yet he often goes without mention when it comes discussing the vital keys to New York’s successes. Harris will likely rank in the top 2 in tackles among defensive players this season, yet few words will likely be printed about the 5 year veteran out of Michigan.
5.) The Jets have their defensive core of the next generation in Quinton Coples, DeMario Davis, and Josh Bush.Fact. The three of these rookies have all been heavily involved in mini-camp practices. Coples will be starting from day one, as expected, and according to reports out of practice, it is with good reason. Coples has been very impressive during his first early practices as a Jet, and the new scheme will surely maximize his skill set. The Jets were criticized for passing on Melvin Ingram, but now with their intentions to use more 46 and 4-3 looks this season, the move to select Coples is beginning to become more praised each day. The 16th overall selection out of North Carolina is out to prove the Jets organization right, and all of his many doubters wrong. Expect nothing less from Coples this season and beyond.
As for Davis and Bush, there was a good chance they would be playing a significant role this year due to the lack of depth at their respective positions. Bush is the only true free safety on the roster that is capable of playing the center field role in the secondary, and Davis is brings some much needed speed to the linebacker corps. Each of these players have been running with certain first team sub packages, and expect them each to play a heavier role as the season progresses, while serving on special teams.
The three of these young players certainly have the potential to fill as the core of the defense down the road. By the time they are entering the primes of their careers, Muhammed Wilkerson will be right there with them, while Darrelle Revis will likely still be the best corner in football and David Harris will be young enough to remain as a very important piece of the defense. If each of them can fulfill their potential, the defense will have the potential to be ranked among the best in the league for years to come.
6.) Chad Ochocinco will get off of Revis Island in 2012. False. To quote Ochocinco himself, “Child Please.” In his 6 career games against Darrelle Revis, Ochocinco has compiled only 16 catches for 289 yards, with no touchdowns. Those numbers average out to about 2.67 receptions for 48.17 yards per contest. With the artist formerly known as Chad Johnson entering the twilight of his career, coupled with the nightmare that is the Dophins’ quarterback situation, Ocho would be wise to set up his beach chair and lather up with sunscreen because Revis Island will be his residency for two of the sixteen weeks this season.
The buzz surrounding Jets West Camp should be about Mark Sanchez’s leadership, not Tim Tebow’s attendance
For the third straight year, Mark Sanchez and his family will be hosting a collection of New York Jets offensive players for “Jets West” Camp. It has become a yearly tradition for Sanchez to gather his teammates in the weeks leading up training camp to review the offense, hold practices and spend roughly a week together. He organizes the whole thing, takes care of the scheduling and accommodations, along with extending invites to all the team’s skill position players.
Things like Jets West were part of the reason it was laughable when anonymous sources questioned Sanchez’s work ethic and leadership. Since day one of joining the team, Sanchez has reportedly been the first one in the building and the last one out. Recently, newly hired offensive coordinator noted that he has been the team’s hardest worker on offense and has mastered the offense in the classroom already.
Of course, the primary story being written about Jets West this year is that backup quarterback Tim Tebow will be in attendance. Why wouldn’t he be? Greg McElroy will be there and Tebow should be too. The narrative about Jets West Camp should be about Sanchez’s leadership, not Tebow’s attendance. Yet, in what should be an ongoing theme leading up to the regular season, Tebow is again being spotlighted over Sanchez.
This year’s camp will be a chance for Sanchez to further instruct his teammates on Sparano’s offense, which he began learning well before anybody else on the team when he went out of his way to train with Chad Pennington. Yes, the lazy Sanchez tracked Pennington down on his own and took multiple trips down to Florida to learn his new offense before OTAs began. His early knowledge will pay off in a situation like Jets West, where he could instruct his fellow skill position players and work towards developing chemistry with them.
Since the Jets season went down in flames, Sanchez has done all the right things. Hosting Jets West is just another one of them that will help pay dividends in September.
Chris Gross weekly Fact or False looks at the New York Jets passing game
The New York Jets passing offense of 2012 will likely be one of the hottest topics in the NFL this season. Countless story lines centered around the heavily criticized Mark Sanchez, the polarizing Tim Tebow, and new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano are sure to have every major media outlet placing New York’s passing attack under the microscope. For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, lets examine what we should and should not expect from Sanchez, Tebow, and the rest of the bunch this season.
1.) Chaz Schilens will play a significant role this season. False. The Jets signed Schilens to a 1-year, $765,000 contract this off-season. Prior to the start of free agency, the only other receiver with significant playing time that would have been capable of starting opposite Santonio Holmes was Jeremy Kerley. While Kerley is certainly a very promising young talent, he is best suited as a number 3, slot type receiver, rather than a number 2. As a result, the Jets grabbed Schilens as a cheap, low risk option to add depth to their receiving corps. However, with the addition of second round pick Stephen Hill in this year’s draft, Schilens may struggle to find a spot on the roster.
Schilens and Hill are both similar in size, both around 6’4” in the 215-225 lb range. However, Hill has much more upside than Schilens due to his youth, big play ability, and willingness to block. This is not to say that Schilens will not display such attributes, however with his history, it is highly unlikely. Since entering the NFL in 2008, Schilens has had an injury-plagued career and has played in only 44 out of a possible 64 total NFL games. His production has been very sub par, as he has recorded just 72 catches for 902 yards over his brief four-year career in Oakland. Of course, a fresh start in New York could replenish Schilens, but don’t count on it.
Schilens was seemingly brought in for his size and speed, however with the addition of Hill, the Jets got a much better, younger player to add that dimension to their offense. Schilens will likely remain on the roster because he is such a cheap option, but if rookie Jordan White emerges during training camp, as I fully expect him to do, Schilens could find himself battling it out with Patrick Turner, Scotty McKnight, and a few others for the fifth receiver spot on the roster. Regardless of whether he makes it or not, I wouldn’t expect Schilens to contribute in a significant manner for the Jets this season.
2.) Rookie Stephen Hill will open up the passing offense early and often. Fact. While we all know Hill is certainly a raw product, having come from the triple option offense at Georgia Tech, the threat of his size and speed alone will add a new dimension to the passing game this season. While Hill should certainly develop into a more polished receiver as his career progresses, his fantastic size and speed (4.30 40 yard dash) will make him an immediate deep threat. Defenses will have no choice but to account for him, whether it be through double teams, or sliding their coverage toward him when he is on the field. This should, realistically, open up a great amount of underneath and sideline work for Holmes, Kerley, and Tight End Dustin Keller, which is where they have thrived in the past. Hill’s big play ability will be a plus for the Jets this season, not only in making those plays, but for what his presence alone will bring.
3.) Santonio Holmes will make the Pro Bowl this season. False. While it is highly likely that Holmes will improve drastically from last season, I wouldn’t bank on him making a Pro Bowl, at least for this year. Holmes has never been voted to the Hawaiian exhibition, and while there is certainly a first for everything, especially for a talent like #10, who many forget achieved a career high in touchdown receptions last season (8), the Jets will be going back to their ground and pound approach under Tony Sparano this year. Unfortunately, this is not exactly the philosophy that will statistically get a wide receiver a Pro Bowl nod.
However, elite talent knows no boundaries. Brandon Marshall made two Pro Bowls playing in this system in Miami, so if Holmes can re-establish himself to the level that earned him a Super Bowl MVP trophy in 2009, a Pro Bowl is certainly not out of the question in the future. For this year though, it could be tough for him to accumulate numbers worthy of the honor in the inaugural season of a new offensive system. Still, expect to see Holmes return to his 2010 form.
4.) Jordan White will make an impact as a rookie. Fact. Anyone who has read my rookie analysis series knows what I think of Jordan White. White is an extremely tough, hard working, determined player who put up a career of immense production at Western Michigan (306 receptions, 4,190 yards, 32 touchdowns). His route running ability and knowledge of the game is NFL ready, which will give him an immediate advantage heading into training camp. White will undoubtedly prove his worth on special teams, and not only do I expect him to make the active roster, but I would be shocked if he did not contribute to the offense at some point during the season. White is a player whose intelligence, work ethic, and reliability, could make him a perfect fit with Quarterback Mark Sanchez.
5.) Tim Tebow will become the starting quarterback at some point this season. False. Most people seem to be afraid to touch this issue because, like ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, they believe the fix is in for Tebow to dethrone Sanchez as the Jets starting quarterback. However, let’s all take a deep breath and think about this situation. People can say that the Jets brought in Tebow for the publicity factor that he would bring with him. While this could be the case, that does not mean they brought him in to be the starting quarterback. Regardless of what everyone thinks, Tebow will be a role player this year. Teams do not place players whom they feel are going to be their starting quarterback on special teams. In today’s NFL, that will simply never happen. There is far too much of a liability factor involved to be risking the health of your offensive general as a personal protector on the punt team. If the Jets seriously thought Tebow was going to beat out Sanchez, they would not even consider placing him anywhere other than an offensive formation.
The Jets have been criticized for bringing in Tebow, as many see this move as the team ultimately setting up Sanchez to fail. Yet, remember how New York was bashed after the Drew Stanton signing? Most observers felt this was yet another incompetent quarterback who would not realistically challenge Sanchez. The same people who stressed the importance to bring in competition to push Sanchez, highly due to the publicized notion that the organization babied their young quarterback, are now the ones who are criticizing the Tebow move. The Jets traded for arguably the hardest working, most encouraging player in all of professional football, who will undoubtedly push Mark Sanchez to get the most out of himself this season, not by breathing down his neck, but by providing stability behind him, while contributing as a significant role player, whether it be in the wildcat, as a running back, or as an H-back.
Like any backup quarterback, Tebow will be ready if Sanchez fails to get New York to where they need to be. However, that will not happen this season, nor is it why Tebow was brought to New York. He was brought here because he is a terrific overall football player, and an even better teammate, something greatly needed in a locker room that is currently being rebuilt. Tebow will certainly get his plays this year, but barring an injury, don’t expect to see #6 on the sidelines watching him run the every down offense.
6.) Mark Sanchez will silence all of his critics. Fact. Every hater of Sanchez and the Jets are on the edge of their seat waiting to see, not if, but when he will finally succumb to all the pressure and negativity, and pack it in, paving the way for Tim Tebow to enter and install the heroics he displayed in Denver last year. I apologize in advance to these people because this is simply not going to happen.
Despite Sanchez putting up a career high in touchdowns last season (32 overall), many still insist that the young quarterback regressed in his third year as a pro. Unfortunately, those who believe this are completely ignorant to an abundance of facts. First of all, Sanchez was under the tutelage of arguably the least competent Offensive Coordinator in the league last season. Brian Schottenheimer saw Sanchez’s strengths in his first two years, yet seemingly wanted to become some type of mastermind, genius coordinator, and force his quarterback into game plans he clearly was not comfortable in (see 12/24/11). The Jets offensive line was also the worst it has been since Sanchez arrived in 2009, yet the kid showed his tenacity and competitiveness by hanging in there game in and game out, taking repeated beatings, while never breathing a word of negativity about the lack of blocking he was getting, despite the unwarranted claims that he is mentally weak.
The Jets replaced a Sanchez favorite in Braylon Edwards with the prehistoric Plaxico Burress, who could not get separation between the twenties if his life depended on it. The struggles of the offensive line also hurt the Jets once elite running attack, which in turn, all but eliminated the play action pass, something Sanchez is highly successful at.
However, this season, Sparano brings in a new offensive regime. The Jets have seemingly addressed what issues caused the struggles for Sanchez last season. They have hired a coordinator who vows to return to the philosophy that gave the Jets so much success in 2009 and 2010. They drafted youth and speed at vital positions of the offense, and they have added a new dynamic to that offense with Tebow. New York will be tougher, faster, and flat out better, in every area that the offense struggled in last season, and I firmly believe that the new coaching staff will reveal an improved Wayne Hunter for 2012. Sparano has already stressed the need to create “chunk” plays offensively, many of which are likely to come via play action pass, especially in this run heavy offense. Expect to not only see Sanchez make strides under Sparano, but to lead New York back to the playoffs, while establishing himself as the unquestioned leader of the Jets and silencing all of his critics along the way.
How will Santonio Holmes fit into Tony Sparano’s offense?
We know the New York Jets will be re-embracing their “Ground and Pound” identity this season under newly hired offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. However, Sparano and the rest of the offensive unit has emphasized a large part of the new offense will be looking to acquire big chunks of yardage off the play action passing attack, which Mark Sanchez has been productive with so far in his career.
When taking a broader look at the Jets passing game, which struggled desperately to create big plays last year, it is impossible not to focus on wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Despite second round pick Stephen Hill’s endless potential, Jeremy Kerley’s quickness in slot and Dustin Keller’s notable chemistry with Sanchez, it is Holmes who is without question the Jets biggest playmaker in the passing game and on the entire offense.
Like many parts of the team, Holmes disappointed last season. Yet, don’t become victim to a short memory and forget his heroics from the 2010 season and the Super Bowl MVP he has under his belt. The Jets need Holmes to be the number one receiver they are paying him to be and that he has the talent to be.
How will Holmes fit in Sparano’s offense? Last season, Holmes had 102 targets and 51 receptions. Here are the targets and receptions for Sparano’s number one receiver the past 4 seasons –
The past two years were the only time Sparano had a true number one receiver and Marshall received substantially more targets in both seasons than Holmes did under Brian Schottenheimer last year. Obviously, the playcaller has far from exclusive control over targets but at a minimum I would expect Holmes to see more plays called that are designed for him as the primary option than he did in 2010.
Holmes is most productive in the intermediate passing game and running after the catch. I would expect Sparano to move him around the formation a good amount and in certain instances, use him how he used Bess in Miami by giving him shorter passes in space, where he can create yards on his own after the catch.
While Holmes deserves his share of the blame for struggling to get open last season. He was hampered by having the immobile Plaxico Burress opposite of him and not much else. Stephen Hill’s speed and a more experienced Jeremy Kerley will allow the Jets to line up Holmes at split end, flanker and in the slot and use him on a higher variety of routes.
Ideally, Holmes is going to be a primary target on many intermediate crossing routes off play action, where he can catch the ball with a head of steam and should also be a reliable target on deep comeback routes with Sanchez rolling out. Outside of an occasional double move off a short or intermediate route, I don’t think you will see him sent deep frequently. Hill has the raw speed and size for the go route and should also see more favorable match-ups, at least early in the season.
Tony Sparano has an unenviable list of challenges this year as the Jets offensive coordinator but he can maintain a big play element to his unit by keeping Holmes properly involved.
2 weeks worth of thoughts on the New York Jets after leaving the country
A huge thanks to Chris Gross for running Turn On The Jets, while I spent a couple of weeks aboard in Ireland, Netherlands, and Germany. It is good to be back and getting after it here at TOJ, stay posted throughout the week as myself, Chris, and the rest of our writing staff will be bringing you the high quality content you have come to expect.
1. How could you not laugh at the reaction to Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow’s performance in a 7 on 7 OTA practice? Get used to the meticulous tracking of every throw and movement they make at each practice and the unavoidable overreaction to it. Personally, I think without question Sanchez is the superior quarterback, should start and shouldn’t necessarily have a quick hook. However, I can admit it is crazy to get down on Tebow because he threw a pair of interceptions in his first practice in a new offense. Practice is important but nobody remembers your completion percentage in practices when the bullets start flying in a game. Sanchez is going to start the season under center and the media/certain fans will be screaming for him to be pulled after one bad game, regardless of how much he outperforms Tebow this summer.
2. I am very happy with the decision to sign Yeremiah Bell over Jim Leonhard, which is exactly what it was regardless of what Rex Ryan says. Bell has more size and athleticism than Leonhard and has simply been a more productive player over the past few years. Yes, the Jets are going to have coverage issues with Bell and LaRon Landry starting, along with Eric Smith coming off the bench but Bell provides both needed insurance to Landry at strong safety and more athleticism than Smith would at free safety. His signing hurts the chances of rookie Antonio Allen seeing much playing time this year. On the other hand, rookie Josh Bush should remain a factor in a centerfield type role in certain three safety looks.
3. It is a shame to hear about Kenrick Ellis, as his jail sentence will obviously slow his development. Hopefully, he can get it split so he doesn’t miss any training camp. Regardless, with a crowded depth chart at defensive line, his chances of becoming a major factor this year have only got slimmer.
4. Today, the Jets signed veteran tackles Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis. Both are journeyman but between them have 61 NFL starts. Considering the depth on the offensive line right now, don’t be surprised to see one or maybe both stick on the roster. These signings don’t bode well for Austin Howard.
5. I have no problem with Wayne Hunter and new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo talking tough about the upcoming season. I would hope they would project confidence in Hunter’s ability to handle a starting position. It is more than reasonable to be skeptical about Hunter but it certainly sounds like he will have every chance to prove his critics wrong.
6. Interesting but not surprising to hear Visanthe Shiancoe linked to the Jets in free agent rumors. They still badly need a number two tight end and Shiancoe is a proven veteran, who will give them a ton of versatility in their two tight end sets.