New York Jets Offense Raising Concerns

The Jets failure to move the ball consistently Monday against the Giants, a crosstown rival that always owns a solid front four, have some concerned that the Jets will not become a unit poised to be more efficient and higher scoring in 2011. However in viewing the entire body of work so far, one can also make a case that the Jets are where most teams are at this point: still working out the kinks while showing brief flashes of production. A measure of concern that these Jets won’t be much different from the 2010 Jets on offense, a unit that had serious problems moving the ball at times, is understandable. It is too early however for widespread panic. There have been some bright spots.

Feature running back Shonn Greene’s two game rushing totals (he missed the Bengals game due to a skin infection) add up to 16 carries for 74 yards. A better than four yards per carry clip.

Newly acquired star, 6’4 WR Plaxico Burress, was silenced against his former team Monday, but gave Jets fans some hope that the club’s sagging red zone numbers will climb thanks to his performance against the Bengals, one that included a pretty diving touchdown catch in the rain.

Third year quarterback Mark Sanchez threw three TDs in three games, was 26-43 on pass attempts, with no interceptions and one fumble. Sanchez still needs to find a way to make Holmes and Burress serious threats. Sanchez must also make TE Dustin Keller a go to safety valve in the very least. Nonetheless, his prioritizing of ball security, a major key for a team that relies heavily on their top five defense, appear to be heading in the right direction.

As for the poor showing against Big Blue, Sanchez noted after the game Monday that it is always harder during the preseason when gameplans are not part of the equation. Add to that the myriad of changes made at wide receiver with limited offseason time together due to the NFL lockout and one could find it reasonable to cut the group some slack for now.

Let’s also remember that the biggest goal of any preseason, for any club, is to come out of it healthy. Aside from an ankle injury that may sideline FB John Connor in week one, the Jets offense is healthy and ready to go. It is true that the offense has to improve. Yet with practically all of the pieces healthy and in place however, the Jets thankfully have the opportunity to grow into a unit that can make life easier for the defense.

It hasn’t all been bad for the Jets offense over these three games. The Jets have had some pre-season moments that would make you believe that the potential is there for them to grow into a more functional offense than they were last season. For Sanchez and company in 2011, August simply has to one day be looked back upon as the starting point, not the template.

New York Jets Unveil Kerley & New Wildcat

It happened during the second half of the Met Life Bowl against the Giants Monday night, while both clubs rolled their backups out onto the field to fight for the Snoopy trophy and their own jobs, rookie Jeremy Kerley took direct snaps from center. With it came the official end of an era once spearheaded by former big play Jet Brad Smith. The former TCU wide receiver has now become the heir apparent to Smith as the pilot of the Jets new Wildcat formation.

The speedy Kerley moved well from the position, slashing quickly for positive yardage, tossing pitches to RB Joe McKnight, even completing his only pass attempt. A third option of the play design that Jets fans had often hoped would be employed by the former college QB Smith during his time in New York.

The current version of the Jets Wildcat presents the club with a new super speed package should Kerley and McKnight be the personnel implemented for it. Given the way the Jets stalled on offense Monday for much of the first half, this up tempo change of pace may become a welcome addition.

Smith made big plays both out of the Wildcat and in the return game consistently throughout his Jets career. Kerley who also has lined both as WR, returner, and now Wildcat QB and has shown elusiveness, but has yet to put together big plays so far this summer. His ability to do so in 2011 will make the loss of Smith, a momentum changing player, much easier to swallow once the games start counting in September.

Jets/Giants: Whose Town Is It? Who Cares?

Rex Ryan calls Met Life stadium the home of the Jets. Justin Tuck says it still be seen as Giants Stadium. Santonio Holmes and other Jets beg to differ with Tuck. The argument goes on and on. The debate as to who owns the town has grown louder in recent years between the Jets, the Giants, and their fans. The reality is, who cares? Both have more important issues and teams to deal with than each other.

With the recent runs to the AFC title game, the New York Jets have not only talked a good game, they have finally set themselves up to win for an extended time. The Jets loud, brash head coach has raised the temperature in this hometown battle but has done so without a Super Bowl title, raising the anger of Giants die hards.

For the Jets and their fans though, Ryan’s attitude, one that has brought with it notable one liners such as “Here we come baby” and “Let’s go eat a goddamn snack,” has been a breath of fresh air for a franchise that once felt sorry for itself. The confidence that Ryan has instilled in his Jets are a far cry from the “Same Old Jets,” lovable losers whose dramatic crash landings often grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Giants on the other hand, don’t talk. They never really have or feel as though they need to. This classic age old franchise HAS the Super Bowl hardware and old NFL title game resume. Their most recent, the upset of the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2008, was one of the greatest wins in professional football history.

Their coach Tom Coughlin is NOT Rex Ryan. He’s loud yes…on the field and brash at times on the sidelines too. Coughlin is old school. A decades old coach who allows his team do the talking, without the desire to impart his words as part of the weekday headlines.

From the top on down, these two franchises handle themselves differently. The results ON the field the past two seasons however, might be a reason perhaps for the heightened scrutiny that this Jets/Giants drama has received. The new Jets are loud. They love the limelight and the attention. They also win. The Giants are quiet. Business as usual. They however, have NOT had the January success during the past two seasons that the Jets have.

Jets fans love the new attention surrounding the club nationally. The notoriety. The feeling that THEIR team is now one of the best in the NFL, and the one on top in New York. Giants fans don’t like playing second fiddle to a club that for fifty years played the role of red headed AFL born step child.

To make matters worse, Big Blue supporters now must listen to those Jets fans who won’t keep quiet about who runs the Big Apple. The same Gang Green crazies who, for the longest time, sat back and watched the Giants, not the Jets bring home championships.

The argument of “Who Owns the Town” while in essence is fun, remains non essential. Yes the rivalry HAS grown. It has grown mostly however on paper, in the papers. These clubs, who face each other Saturday, even meet down the stretch in 2011 on Christmas Eve. When the games actually count. In spite of that odd reality in the scheduling this year, both teams have much BIGGER enemies to set their sights on from now until then.

The Jets have the Patriots. The Dolphins. After last January, you can also include the Steelers into the “rivalry” talk, albeit from a distance. The Jets schedule this season is brutal.

The Giants and their fans have atop their hatred list, the Eagles, especially after the DeSean Jackson game, to focus on. With it, the possible hangover that a nightmarish late game and late season collapse may have left for them this year. In fact, divisional and conference foes pose an entirely greater threat to both clubs Super Bowl dreams than any crosstown rival could.

The chatter surrounding who is king of New York makes this August game more exciting than other August games, but the Jets vs Giants “Met Life Bowl” for the Snoopy Trophy is a tune up. Always will be. Teams and fans can claim ownership of the tri state area if they want to, but there is room for both.

For the Jets, Giants and their fans want to REALLY win the argument as to whose town this is, they should focus on landing in Indianapolis next February, not on each other.

TJ Rosenthal runs The Jet Report and can be followed on Twitter. (He also took the picture at the top of the article)

Interviews With Mark Sanchez & Darrelle Revis

TJ Rosenthal made the trip out to Bryant Park yesterday and had the opportunity to interview both Mark Sanchez and Darrelle Revis.

TJ interviews Mark Sanchez about utilizing Dustin Keller more

TJ talks with Darrelle Revis on Kyle Wilson’s development

Check out www.profootballnyc.com for further coverage of yesterday.

Sunday Night Is Powell’s Time To Shine

It wasn’t the nine carries for 25 yards against Houston last Monday night that has Jets fans both curious and excited about the potential of Bilal Powell. It was the athleticism and calm sensibility that he displayed from the carries. Powell cut back, broke out of packs, waited patiently for his blockers, showed a burst, and an energy. With Shonn Greene out Sunday night due to a skin infection and Joe McKnight dealing with the concussion received against the Texans, the bulk of the work against the Bengals will be handed to Ladainian Tomlinson, and Powell.

Powell had eleven touchdowns and a combined 5.6 yards average from the line of scrimmage as a senior at Louisville. Those numbers somewhat mirror the eight touchdown, 6.2 rushing yards per carry accomplishments that McKnight, also battling for the number three job, achieved during his senior year at USC.

At this time last year, McKnight was in the doghouse. A fumbling, vomiting rookie who was unsure of himself. This year, especially after his 158 yard performance against the Bills in the final week heading into camp, McKnight began camp as third on the depth chart. With the upside potential to receive more work provided that he could turn his speed and solid hands into chunks of yardage. McKnight still may be that weapon for Gang Green.

This Sunday night however, is Powell’s chance to show the Jets what he can be, as he gets work against the Bengals first team defense. A solid night from the Jets fourth round selection in this year’s NFL draft will create an interesting backfield drama as training camp heads into the latter stages.

TOJ Roundtable: Strongest and Weakest Position?

Welcome to the TOJ Roundtable, where a collection of our writers debate a pressing Jets question of the day –

What is the strongest position on the Jets current roster? The weakest?

Joe Caporoso: The strongest position on the Jets roster is cornerback. I would go with offensive line but I am little concerned about Brandon Moore missing so much time this pre-season, while they are breaking in a new full time right tackle in Wayne Hunter. The offensive line is still strong and if Hunter is anywhere near what Damien Woody was the past few years and Matt Slauson continues to improve, this will be their strongest unit. Yet, their corners led by Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, the league’s top starting duo in my mind, takes my vote at the moment. Let’s not forget nickel back Kyle Wilson was a first round pick last year for a reason and veteran Donald Strickland provides excellent depth if Wilson struggles. Marquice Cole has also shown flashes on defense and is more than capable of stepping into the nickel role for a few weeks if necessary.

Backup quarterback is the weakest spot on the Jets roster. If Mark Sanchez misses an extended period of time, you are kidding yourself if you think Mark Brunell is capable of taking over. He hasn’t played a meaningful snap since NFL Quarterback Club was the video game of choice. Greg McElroy is only a rookie and would be in over his head if pressed into immediate action.

TJ Rosenthal: Strongest Position: The offensive line. It contains two All-Pros in D’Brickshaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. The entire unit is intact from the 2010 playoff run. Few teams can boast of that continuity. No unit is as essential to the success of what the Jets want to do offensively as the guys in the trenches are.

Weakest Position: The backup quarterback position. If Mark Sanchez goes down for any extended time, we can’t say that we are comfortable with Mark Brunell, in his 19th season, running the show for any EXTENDED period of time. The backup quarterback should be a capable functional player with some NFL experience, especially given how physical the AFC East may be up front this year with the addition of Marcell Dareus to Buffalo and the new parts of the Patriots defensive line. The Jets are skating on thin ice at the ultimate security position.

Rob Celletti: The strongest position on the Jets’ roster in my opinion is cornerback.  Anchored by one of the best players in the entire league in Darelle Revis, it is an all-around solid unit.  With Antonio Cromartie out to prove something this year, and the ever-improving, aspiring Revis-clone Kyle Wilson at third on the depth chart, it is safe to say the Jets are going to be very difficult to throw on this season, at least to wide receivers.

The weakest position, and really the key to the season, is the defensive line.  The Jets will have a serviceable line under Rex Ryan’s tutelage, no question, but it is a point every fan and journalist has been harping on since the start of training camp: are the Jets relying too heavily on unproven commodities (Mo Wilkerson and Kendrick Ellis) alongside solid role players (DeVito and Pouha) without any real dominant force?  It is hard to call the position “weak”, but it definitely raises the most questions.

Rex and Plax Gear Up For 2011 Together

The coach and his new star wide receiver. One coming off two heartbreaking AFC championship losses. The other a two year football hiatus due to a jail sentence. We all know THOSE stories. We won’t rehash them for you.

Rex Ryan and Plaxico Burress both enter the 2011 season with something to prove individually, both needing each other in order to achieve it. Ryan and the Jets will be that much more of a Super Bowl threat if much of the “old” Burress returns. Ryan has not been shy of his desire to get over the hump that has left him and his Jets one game short of the Super Bowl two years in a row.

Burress needs the Jets and their success as a team to help provide him a big time platform for his comeback. There are those who feel that the team has taken a step back in not bringing WR Braylon Edwards back. who was a big cog in the Jets 2010 machine but his off the field antics in conjunction with a desire for a long term deal, left the Jets in the market for a tall second receiver. A failure to make a run at the title this year may make Burress a culprit, should he fail to deliver in a significant way.

In fact, much of what the Jets have done this offseason will be seen through the lense of what Burress is able to contribute. He was the short term “bargain” as the Jets moved away from the concept of retaining the services of Edwards. The Jets will be able to relax and keep away from the distraction of having to defend themselves publicly regarding their free agency approach should Burress be a positive force.

Ryan will always be responsible for however this new Jets team ends up. In addition to the natural position of being the head coach, the Jets HC has, since his entry onto the scene in 2009, been one of the more outspoken personalities in all of professional sports. He has set the bar so high, that the Jets can’t afford a drop off in any way. Burress can help Ryan maintain the lofty goal of Indianpolis (site of the 2012 Super Bowl) or bust.

The season is quickly approaching. The offseason and free agency period have come and gone in a flash. The Jets are a little over five days away from unveiling their 2011 model in Houston.

The spotlight will once again soon be aimed down upon the Green and White. The light will shine even brighter on Ryan. It always does. Burress will, due to his own self inflicted drama, live under the microscope too. There will be nowhere to hide.

This pair likes it better that way and that’s a good thing, since they’ll have no choice in the matter. The entire NFL will be coming for the loudmouth Jets.  Production and results provided by both parties, will help make the upcoming flight for the Jets a smoother one.

TJ Rosenthal runs The Jet Report and can be followed on Twitter.

Should Injuries Caused By Lockout Alter Jets Summer Plans?

With the Jets opening camp this week, the question we raise today is should potential injuries due to the lack of organized workouts be enough of a concern that Rex Ryan and company alter the pace of their workout load?

Young players trying to making the team, veterans who are fighting to secure positions, and newcomers trying to impress will have a natural tendency to fire out of the gates in order to make an impression. By easing into contact and pulling everything back just a few notches, maybe the Jets can improve their chances that their star filled team remains healthy heading towards September 11th, when the opener at home against the Cowboys will take place.

We’ve all heard about Mark Sanchez’s “Jets West,” a players only, training session organized by the Jets QB, that sought to keep players accountable and the camaraderie consistent. However, just like nothing beats the experience of games, no unofficial practice will replace the pressure filled ones in training camp. Where watchful eyes grade players on their habits, performance, and demeanor. 

A slow starting gate will occur for clubs who have to fight off the Summer injury bug. One that this season more than ever, may cause a high number of early strains if practice tempos are not adjusted to accomodate the incredible amount of time missed during the offseason by all players in their own practice facilities.

Here’s hoping that the concept of letting players acclimate a bit, before running them out to fight for jobs and positions at full speed, has already been incorporated into the August workout plans of the New York Jets.

Cromartie’s Return To Jets Completes The Big Four

“They say Cro is back, Cro is back all #GangGreen fans say is Cro…lol I’m on my FLT headed home glad 2 b a JET…let’s go win a Superbowl” – Antonio Cromartie on Twitter, after re-signing with the Jets early Monday Morning.

Antonio Cromartie is back in Green and White. The deal according to ESPN is for four years, 32 million dollars. That’s eight million a year. Way up from the 1.7 he earned last year as a Jet. His first with the club.

The Jets have now completed the difficult task of locking down the “big four” starting issues they came into this free agency period with just days ago: Working within the cap space in order to lockdown both starting receiver positions, the second cornerback, and starting right tackle. Gang Green did so by working out long term deals in three places while achieving a short term deal for the other.

They brought back WR Santonio Holmes with a five year deal. RT Wayne Hunter, like Cromartie, received a four year deal and the other starting WR Plaxico Burress, was brought on board for one year at three million. A cheaper solution than Braylon Edwards was going to be.

Burress, the former Giant and Steeler, will provide solid production in return for his deal, if he comes back to football in shape and focused after two years away from the NFL.

It has been a great last twenty four hours for the Jets, who have now officially made it past the sting caused by losing Nnamdi Asomugha Friday night to the Eagles. The Jets went big and lost that race, but recovered well from the disappointment over the weekend.

The Burress and Cromartie moves now allow the Jets to open camp with almost every starting position in place. On both sides of the ball. 

Follow TJ on Tumblr and Twitter.

Jets Learn Lesson: Run Misdirection To Burress

It certainly wasn’t the biggest kept secret. The one that had Nnamdi Asomugha going to the Jets. In fact, it was probably one of the least discreet free agent pursuits for a marquee player in Jets history. The lessons learned however, in watching the sly Andy Reid Eagles swoop in to steal the NFL’s top corner on the market by laying low in the shadows, were put in play this morning. The Jets landed Plaxico Burress, the big tall second wide receiver they desperately needed, in less obvious fashion. They didn’t break the bank to do it either.

Burress, who led the Giants to the Super Bowl shocker over the undefeated Pats in 2008, and owner of 55 NFL TDs, became a Jet this morning for one year and three million dollars. This DESPITE  word that the scheduled meeting between the two parties had been “called off.” Burress was in demand. He had completed two positive visits this week already with former employers the Giants and Steelers. The 49ers were said to be waiting for a scheduled meeting with Burress as well. No need for that meeting now.

Perhaps by dimming the spotlight on a situation quickly growing dire for Gang Green (unproven Packers WR James Jones, a player with upside starting potential, was being talked about as a serius contender for the role) the Jets were able to focus, take aim, and grab hold of a much needed piece of the puzzle.

To land Burress, it may have taken a misdirection. An end around. A playing of possum that allowed the Jets time and the chance to make a serious pitch to Burress away from the camera’s eye. Not the detectable three step drop and downfield staring with tunnel vision that came back to bite the Jets late Friday night when “Aso” became an Eagle. A disastrous ending to a high speed chase that caused the Jets, who the media outed as having been at work restructuring deals and cutting salaries to make room for Asomugha, to quickly regroup and form an option B. That being a “no huddle” contingency plan whose goal was to fill the remaining position holes before the free agency clock showed nothing but zeros.

Comparing Braylon Edwards (whose cost would’ve been alot higher even though many Jet fans wanted to see him back in Green and White) to Burress, and the most obvious issues are rust and age. Plax has been in jail the past two seasons and at 33, is five years older than Edwards. However, at the time that Burress left the game after the ‘09 season, few were arguably better at his position.

The Jets can now see the Asomugha drama simply as point taken, starter gained. Should Burress be in top shape, and choose to play the entire 2011 season with a chip on his shoulder, then we may soon be upgrading the viewpoint of today’s signing to one of a serious offensive weapon gained by Rex Ryan’s Jets. Regardless of how it turns out on the field, the addition of Burress was a nice adjustment by the Jets as far as courting players more quietly. During what has been a loud and wild free agency period.

Follow TJ on Tumblr and Twitter.