Grading Out the Jets/Texans Game

First a few updates:

1. A bunch of the Jets talked about Rex Ryan’s pre-game speech before their beatdown of the Texans. According to Jay Feely, Ryan used the f-word about 52 times. The general gist of the speech was that the Texans were a soft, finesse team and the Jets were going to kick the crap out of them, and sure enough they did. Ryan sent a message to Houston right away by deferring after winning the coin toss, showing he wasn’t scared of their hyped up offense. Kris Jenkins joked that Ryan should be banned by the NFL as performance enhancing drug because of how motivated he had the team…I hope he has a strong encore performance for this week’s game.

2. The Jets don’t have permanent captains but their game captains for Houston were Kris Jenkins, Alan Faneca, Howard Green, and James Dearth.

3. After being presented with the game ball by Kerry Rhodes, Rex Ryan turned and flipped it over to Woody Johnson for giving him the chance to be a head coach in the NFL, before getting a little emotional in the locker room. I wonder if Eric Manginishowed any emotion in his opening game with the Browns?

4. Shonn Greene was inactive because the Jets wanted to carry an extra linebacker because they were concerned about Bryan Thomas having a sore leg, so Jason Trunsik was active over Greene who is now 100 percent healthy.

5. Across the top of the page, you can now find “Jets Stats” which has their updated leaders in all major statistical categories. I also added the Jets/Texans highlights to the “Game Highlights” section, don’t be confused by the lettering on the video that says “Colts vs Jaguars,” it is the Jets/Texans highlights. Also the first episode of TOJ TV is archived under the “TOJ TV” page.

Grading Out the Jets/Texans Game

Quarterbacks: (A-) I’m not sure you could have asked for a better performance by Mark Sanchez in his first career start. Yes, he threw a costly interception and nearly had two others picked off but he dominated third down going 12/15 for 191 yards and a touchdown, showing his clutch ability. He also moved tremendously well in the pocket, avoiding sacks and keeping multiple plays alive. People love to talk about the “it” factor at quarterback, I’m not sure it is reasonable to assess a trait that can’t clearly be defined to somebody but it sure as hell looks like Sanchez has “it.” He plays with a ton of energy and acts like a leader on the field, sprinting out to break up a fight after Jay Feely knocked through a field goal. Would Brett Favre have been out there last year, trying to prevent a penalty?

Running Backs: (A-) 19 touches for Leon Washington? It is about damn time. Washington averaged 4 yards per carry and provided a consistent performance. He also chipped in 4 catches and a key pass breakup on a near interception. Thomas Jones started with 14 carries for 16 yards and finished with 20 carries for 107 yards, which is why you stick with the running game. Tony Richardson was excellent, providing a crushing block on safety Nick Ferguson that sprung Jones 38 yard touchdown run. I am going to keep harping on this…the closer Jones/Washington get to 40 touches a game, the more likely the Jets are to win. They combined for 39 against Houston, with a near perfect split of Jones having 20 and Washington having 19.

Wide Receivers: (B+) Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey’s ability to run after the catch converted a handful of key third downs for the Jets. After dropping his first pass, Cotchery caught the next 6 thrown to him. If they can play like this on a weekly basis, people won’t think twice about Laveranues Coles or any other veteran receiver for a long time. Brad Smith had a nice run on a reverse but also had a drop and a holding penalty. David Clowney wasn’t targeted at all.

Tight Ends: (A) Dustin Keller led the Jets in receiving yards with 94 and had two key third down conversions, including the biggest catch of the game, a 40 yard catch and run when the Jets faced a crucial 3rd and 3 with a 17-7 lead. He is going to be a nightmare match-up for defenses all season. Ben Hartsock played very well for somebody who just joined the team a week ago, providing steady blocking and playing a bunch of reps.

Offensive Line: (A) Whenever you allow zero sacks and have 190+ yards of rushing, you get an A. The only negative was three false start penalties. D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Damien Woody more than held their own against Mario Williams.

Defensive Line: (A) It was comical watching Kris Jenkins throw Texans center Chris Myers around like a rag doll all day. Jenkins didn’t have a big day statistically but anybody who watched the game knows how well he played. Mike DeVito had a big fumble recovery, thanks to his hustle down the field. Marques Douglas had a TFL…oh yea, Steve Slaton only ran for 17 yards.

Linebackers: (A) The A’s are getting redundant, but trust me I’m not getting tired typing them. David Harris was a beast with 11 tackles, a sack, and a pass defensed. He also knocked Andre Davis into another planet when he tried to come over the middle. Bart Scott set the tone early with a crushing blow on Matt Schaub, who played scared the rest of the game. Vernon Gholston had 3 tackles, a TFL and held his own for the entire day which is a step in the right direction for him. Jamaal Westerman continues to look like a UDFA steal, as he recorded his first NFL sack.

Secondary (A) Outside of Nnamdi Asomugha, who is a better corner than Darrelle Revis in the NFL? He is straight lockdown, period. Andre Johnson might as well stayed in the locker room because it was hard to notice he was even out there. Kerry Rhodes and Jim Leonhard were both active around the line of scrimmage. Donald Strickland had a great game with 3 tackles, a key forced fumble, and a QB pressure that led to an INT. Lito Sheppard was strong in run support and also had an interception. Eric Smith had a big 4th down pass break up and had a surprisingly active day.

Special Teams (A) Jay Feely made all his kicks. Steve Weatherford punted well and the Jets allowed zero return yards on punts. Leon Washington and Jim Leonhard were solid on returns.

Coaching (A) Rex Ryan had the Jets motivated and came up with a game plan that had Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak’s head spinning. Brian Schottenheimer did a great job using Leon Washington and throwing some well timed screens to keep Houston off balance.

Highlights of the Jets Week One Win Over Houston

Grading Out the Jets/Ravens Game

First a few updates:

1. John Clayton speculated it would take a 1st and 4th round pick for the Jets or any other team for that matter to acquire Brandon Marshall from the Broncos…that is a steep price for the Jets, who only drafted three players last year and still badly need to add depth/talent to the WR, TE, and OL/DL. However, how much better would Mark Sanchez be with a guy like Marshall to throw to? It is an interesting debate, as of now I still wouldn’t expect anything to happen.

2. The Rex Sox just acquired Billy Wagner…did somebody say desperate? Also, it is really historically unbelievable how bad the Mets season has gone, in terms of injuries and everything else that has happened around the team.

3. I just found out you can download something called “NFL Replay” which allows you to watch any NFL game on your computer within 24 hours of it ending. Thank god…I was contemplating not going to Italy with my family because I would miss the Jets/Colts week 16 game.

4. My fantasy football league is holding our live draft this Saturday…and I am stuck the #5 pick. Suggestions are still welcome.

Grading Out the Jets/Ravens Game

Quarterbacks: D+ – Yeeesh. Let’s be honest here, outside of one play it was an ugly, ugly night for Mark Sanchez. The rookie threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown (a ridiculously athletic play by Haloti Ngata), threw another ball right into the arms of Ray Lewis, fumbled an exchange, had two delay of game penalties, and a miscommunication with Jerricho Cotchery. Yes, he did make an athletic play and a great throw on a 19 yard touchdown pass to Leon Washington on a third down, which shows some character and a short memory, both necessary for a successful quarterback but outside of that play, he was simply bad. Hopefully, this night be will remembered as an important part of his development and learning curve as a NFL QB. The Ravens in their building are as good as it gets in the NFL…Sanchez will learn from last night and be better prepared the next time around.

Kellen Clemens had a real shot to make the quarterback battle alot more interesting last night but didn’t respond to the challenge. He threw a horrible interception at the end of the first half, which was returned for a touchdown and only completed 50 percent of his passes. He did drop in a nice 28 yard touchdown to David Clowney (who else?) and threw a beautiful long ball to Brad Smith that was dropped (shocking…I know).

The Jets are built to play defense and run the ball. They need a quarterback who can protect the football and not give points to the opposing team. If you take away the 2 INT’s for touchdowns last night, the Jets win that game handily. They can’t have turnovers from the quarterback position, period.

By the way, Erik Ainge looked pretty good last night and is probably on his way to being the #2 quarterback next year when Clemens isn’t resigned.

Running Backs: A – Pay Leon Washington. Pay Leon Washington. Pay Leon Washington. Pay Leon Washington. #29 is the engine the keeps the Jets offense running. He put on a display last night that clearly showed his value to the Jets. 48 rushing yards on a 6.0 yards per carry (just like last season…give him more touches), 2 receptions for 35 yards including a 19 yard touchdown, and a 52 yard kickoff return. Pay Leon Washington. Thomas Jones also looked like he was in 2008 form with 32 yards on 8 carries. Shonn Greene had a nice 15 yard catch but took a rib shot that limited his action. I am still not that impressed with Danny Woodhead, who isn’t going to make the roster. Brock Christopher looked pretty good filling in for Jehuu Caulcrick. Good to see Tony Richardson back out there.

Wide Receivers: D – Nothing from Jerricho Cotchery or Chansi Stuckey, who combined for 1 catch for 7 yards. Brad Smith dropped a touchdown and had an offensive pass interference penalty. Britt Davis dropped a long touchdown. Marcus Henry couldn’t get open on the 2 point conversion that could have won the game. Wallace Wright was quiet. On the positive side, David Clowney just keeps making plays as he caught another touchdown pass, using his speed to blow by Frank Walker. How can Clowney not be the Jets #2 receiver right now? Everybody talks about how much they love Stuckey in the slot, so put Clowney and Cotchery on the outside and have Stuckey work the slot.

Tight Ends: C – Quiet night from Dustin Keller. Jack Simmons had a drop and Kareem Brown didn’t have a catch, although they all deserve some credit for strong blocking in the running game.

Offensive Line: B+ – It says alot about Nick Mangold and Alan Faneca that they strapped it up last night…that is exactly what you want to see from your veterans, that they are excited about the team/season and are raring to get back out there. The offensive line did a great job opening up holes in the running game and did decent in pass protection, considering the amount of blitzes the Ravens threw at them. Wayne Hunter played much better filling in for Damien Woody than he did last week.

Defensive LIne: B+ – Very strong games from both Howard Green and Ropati Pitoitua, who both recorded a sack and are showing that the Jets have pretty good depth along their defensive line. The run defense was great and the entire line got a solid push all night. It will be a huge boost to get Kris Jenkins back in the next couple of days.

Linebackers: B – David Harris is going to record alot of sacks in Rex Ryan’s defense. He continued his terrific pre-season with 5 tackles and a sack. Bart Scott missed a tackle in the backfield on third down that would have ended a drive. Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace both had productive games, including another sack from Pace who the Jets are going to miss badly for the first four games this year. Kenwin Cummings and Marques Murrell were both active. Vernon Gholston did nothing except get out-run by Joe Flacco.

Secondary: C – They badly miss Darrelle Revis. Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman were picked on all night. Coleman had a nice pass deflection but was toasted deep by Derrick Mason. Lito Sheppard was beat a couple of times. Kerry Rhodes was pretty active and had a nice pass deflection, to break up a screen play. Marquice Cole had a nice interception but was beat deep later in the game. James Ihedigbo had an interception called back on a penalty.

Special Teams: C – Average punting, decent kicking, a big kick return by Leon Washington, a nice job on punt returns by Jim Leonhard and a near turnover by Aundrae Allison.

Highlights From the Game Last Night:

Sanchez Nears Knockout Punch in QB Battle

First a few updates:

1. We got a nice long weekend of sports coming up. The Yankees and Red Sox start up tomorrow, hopefully the Yankees will deliver the knockout punch in the divisional race over the next three games. Fortunately, the Jets will prevent me from getting too depressed on Sunday night since they are on Monday Night Football against the Ravens, with Mark Sanchez making his first start under center.

2. I got my fantasy draft next weekend and I am still very undecided on my #5 pick. Although I am leaning towards Drew Brees or Larry Fitzgerald…yes Fitzgerald, I’m not shy about taking a WR at #5. Yes, I am also excited about taking Thomas Jones and Dustin Keller in the late rounds because nobody in my league touches any Jets because they are too high and mighty as Giants fans.

3. Minor Jets roster moves – They released guard Dennis Conley and signed safety Nate Ness.

Sanchez Nears Knockout Punch in QB Battle

Today was the final day of practice up in Cortland, New York and similar to how he exited mini-camp, Mark Sanchez ended with a bang. In the situational drills, which were set up to imitate the final play of the game with the Jets needing a touchdown from the 5 and 15 yard line, Sanchez twice found Brad Smith for a touchdown. Kellen Clemens on the other hand went 0-2 with an interception. Prior to the situational drills, Sanchez also hit Jerricho Cotchery with a 35 yard touchdown strike and Clemens was intercepted by backup DB Rashad Barksdale. Can anybody else read the writing on the walls? Unless Clemens lights it up on Monday night and Sanchez completely tanks or gets hurt, #6 will be under center for the first snap of every game in the 2009 season.

Up to this point both quarterbacks have been slightly inconsistent, trading good days with rough days and being overall pretty average. However, Sanchez is learning a new offense and adjusting to play at the NFL level. This is Kellen Clemens fourth year in the system and he hasn’t improved as camp went on. In fact, if you remember early on Clemens had a clear lead on Sanchez but slowly squandered it away. The rookie will take his lumps this year but should be able to stay healthy behind a premier (please stay healthy) offensive line and supported by a strong running game. In the long run, Sanchez will benefit from being thrown into the fire with a team that harbors playoff expectations. I believe he could play as well as Joe Flacco did last year and that he won’t impede the Jets from being a playoff contender.

What about the other training camp battles? We have had a strong camp by Chansi Stuckey, slowly being forgotten because of the recent resurgence of David Clowney who remains the Jets only legit home run threat at the position. Expect to see alot of Stuckey in the slot, with Clowney and Brad Smith (also quietly having a good camp) splitting out alongside Jerricho Cotchery. I expect the Jets to keep 6 receivers, with Wallace Wright and promising UDFA Britt Davis rounding out the depth chart.

Over at tight end, nobody has really stepped up behind Dustin Keller and I am still waiting for the Jets to bring in another veteran after roster cuts are made. Regardless, expect Jack Simmons and Wayne Hunter to see the majority of the #2 TE reps for now. At outside linebacker, neither Vernon Gholston or Marques Murrell has done anything that impressive this summer, with UDFA Jamaal Westerman arguably outplaying both of them. On the positive side, Bryan Thomas has had a very good camp and Calvin Pace looked like a beast in the Jets first pre-season game.

In terms of injuries, the Jets haven’t sustained anything major but rather a handful of minor injuries. As of right now, it doesn’t look like they will be missing anyone week one because of an injury. I would expect Darrelle Revis, Kris Jenkins, Tony Richardson, and maybe Alan Faneca to play in the third pre-season game and wouldn’t be surprised if Nick Mangold suited up on Monday.

Kerry Rhodes and Nick Mangold compete in throwing contests to prove who deserves the higher Madden rating:

Troubling Trends at Jets Camp

First a few updates:

1. Sorry about the lack of posts since Saturday, I just moved in to my new apartment out by Lehigh and had orientation for grad school all day yesterday. I don’t know if anybody who reads this has ever been to the campus but let me tell you it was quite a workout finding my way around. Our orientation was held on top of Mt. freakin Everest, it was like being at Mile High Stadium up there, I needed oxygen.

2. Last night I just finished re-watching the last season of The Sopranos, so of course I spent the majority of my day reading theories on the final scene. I am convinced now the big guy was whacked, unfortunately.

3. I played in a touch football tournament over the weekend. My team lost in the finals but we had a great run in preparation for the spring league which we will be taking part in. I was like Keyshawn on the 1998 Jets out there but I am now paying the consequences since I have been hobbling around my apartment the past few days.

4. Brett Favre with the Vikings? A team built to play defense and run the ball, with average receivers?…good luck Minnesota.

5. I updated the Jets depth chart with the subtractions of TJ Conley, Keith Fitzhugh and J’Nathan Bullock and the addition of Ken Parrish, Joshua Magua, and Huey Whittaker.

Troubling Trends at Jets Camp

I have to say I felt really good after the Jets pre-season opener last Friday night. Mark Sanchez looked great. David Clowney looked like a viable deep threat. Shonn Greene showed some burst. The first team defense was all over the place and had a great pass rush. Regardless of the loss, there were plenty of encouraging things shown by the team. However, since the game has passed there have been some things you have to be concerned about, things that are getting me worried we could be running into a pre-season buzzsaw this Monday Night on national television against the Ravens.

1. Nagging Injuries – Alan Faneca is out for the Baltimore game and potentially the rest of the pre-season with a broken finger. Ryan wants to hold him out until week one, although Faneca has expressed interest in getting some pre-season reps. I wouldn’t mind seeing him play a series or two against the Eagles in a few weeks but over all he is a pro’s pro and should be fine for the regular season. Kris Jenkins still isn’t participating in team drills and isn’t going to play Monday. I would really like to see the big fella in there against the Ravens running game to see where the defense is truly at. Darrelle Revis might play, but he is still nursing a sore hamstring which is a nightmare for skill position players. I doubt we will see Damien Woody until the regular season because it isn’t worth risking it with a concussion. Tony Richardson is also still out with a hip pointer. On the positive side, Nick Mangold is probably going to play this Monday and is recovering well from his twisted knee.

2. What’s Up Mark? – Ever since the most heralded 3/4 90 yard performance in NFL history, Mark Sanchez has been awful in practice. His numbers the past few days have been things like 4/12 with 2 interceptions and 2/11 with three wide open receivers missed. Is he being complacent? I don’t think so. I think it is just normal rookie inconsistency. However, there is something about an inconsistent rookie on an off day starting behind an offensive line featuring Wayne Hunter and Stanley Daniels against arguably the best defense on football that is causing me to lose sleep.

3. Take it Easy, Rex – Let’s be clear I love the bravado and swagger Rex Ryan has brought to the Jets team. However, his comments about the Ravens were a little unncessary. We understand he was disappointed he didn’t get the job last year, but still talking about it now and calling it “BS” sounds a little immature. Also, criticizing the organization for giving out Michael McCary’s number to a rookie is a little over the top. Just worry about the Jets.

I don’t know maybe it is the pessimistic Jets fan inside of me but is anybody else worried about a rough showing on Monday Night Football this week? This team has had good training camp, a pretty encouraging pre-season opener and seems to have alot of confidence. I would hate to see an ugly performance against the Ravens that makes questions swirl about the quarterback battle, offensive line depth, and exactly how good the defense will be, because at this point…who the Jets have is who they are playing with in 2009.

I just can’t get enough of this commercial:

Eight Observations on Jets Training Camp

First a few updates:

1. Some schedule news – The Jets open their pre-season schedule this Friday at home against the St. Louis Rams. On Thursday, their practice will be closed to the media. Wednesday is family night at 6 PM out at Hofstra, throwing a bone out to the Jets Long Island fans. Tomorrow they have one full practice in the morning and an afternoon special teams session.

2. The Jets released their first official depth chart today, I will update it accordingly on the site which can be accessed on the top of the home page.

Ten Monday Observations on Jets Training Camp

– I know it is only one game and I know that it was somewhat expected but don’t underestimate the blow of not having Shaun Ellis for week one against the Texans. The Jets will now have their top two sack leaders from last season suspended for week one against a Houston offense that loves to spread it out and throw the football. They will be also now be giving two players their first ever NFL start, likely Mike DeVito at defensive end and Vernon Gholston at outside linebacker. If you want to look at the silver lining, DeVito and Gholston will gain some valuable playing time which will improve the Jets overall depth. However, in reality the Jets will be hurting without Pace and Ellis.

– Speaking of hurting, the list of minor Jets injuries is starting to concern me. It is almost comical how Rex Ryan brushes off every single injury as not significant and it’s not that I don’t believe him, it is just that a high number of key guys are nursing injuries. Nick Mangold’s knee is bothering him, Kris Jenkins is still out with a sore calf, Darrelle Revis isn’t taking part in team drills because of a tight hamstring, Tony Richardson is out with a hip pointer, Shaun Ellis sat out today with a tight back, and Donald Strickland is still out with a knee bruise…how can that not bother you a little bit? Richardson and Jenkins won’t play on Friday, which will give a big opportunity to Sione Pouha and Jehuu Caulcrick.

– Mark Sanchez has taken a few baby steps back since his big time performance with the starters on Saturday. He has struggled the last couple of practices with his accuracy, missing a few open targets while Kellen Clemens has been decent although he threw another interception today, giving him 11 throughout camp compared to Sanchez’s 3. Ryan is giving Clemens the start at home against the Rams because he will logically alternate and given Sanchez the 2nd start in the pre-season. Why would Ryan want Sanchez starting week 2? He wants to throw his highly touted rookie right into the fire on national television against his former team, the Baltimore Ravens on the road. You want to see what Sanchez has before the regular season…in Baltimore, against their starters for a full quarter on ESPN is a great test.

– So it looks like Wayne Hunter is really going to be the Jets #2 tight end. Apparently the big fella caught a 20 yard out route in front of Bart Scott the other day….impressive. Here is a fun fact about Wayne Hunter, the guy had an overall 100 morale rating in Madden 2008. Why is he so happy? I don’t know, but keep your spirits up Wayne and keep catching those passes.

– Rex Ryan raved about Vernon Gholston today like he was Bruce Smith because he has recorded a couple of sacks in the Jets last few practices. Yes, we are all happy to see Gholston finally making some plays in practice but keep in perspective that he has been outplayed all camp by Marques Murrell and Jamaal Westerman. I think we all would be encouraged by a sack this Friday night.

– I am disappointed by the quiet training camps from Brad Smith and David Clowney, especially Clowney. However, I am intrigued to watch Britt Davis and Wallace Wright this Friday and see if they can make a move up the depth chart.

– You have to love Leon Washington for putting together such a strong camp despite the Jets playing hard-ball with him on his contract negotiations…just pay the man his money, Mike Tannenbaum.

– A few observations on the Jets depth chart – Surprised to see Kareem Brown in front of Jack Simmons at tight end, Jamaal Westerman has already hopped Larry Izzo and Kenwin Cummings at inside linebacker, good to see Matt Slauson behind Alan Faneca at LG.

Sanchez's Saturday: Rookie Has Big Morning Practice

First a few updates:

1. I would have wrote an article last night about what we have learned through the first week of Jets training camp, but I got caught up in the 15 inning classic between the Yanks and Red Sox. What a game, and with the way CC is pitching as I type this (1 hit through 6 innings) it looks the Yankees might take the first three games of this series.

2. Movie Review of the Day – I saw “Funny People” during the week and I’d give it 2.5 out of 4 stars. There are some great 1 liners, the big guy from Superbad is real funny but the movie is wayyyy too long and the whole love plot line is very dull.

3. Abbreviated version of what we have learned from the first week of Jets training camp: Kellen Clemens can’t protect the football…Chansi Stuckey has been the Jets 2nd best receiver, behind Jerricho Cotchery…Wallace Wright has been their third best receiver…Marques Murrell is more active around the football than Vernon Gholston…the Jets secondary is going to be very, very good…Wayne Hunter is leading the battle to be the #2 tight end, ut oh…Shonn Greene is going to contribute on offense this year…Rex Ryan loves David Harris, Jamaal Westerman, and Dwight Lowery…Mark Sanchez is going to start week one against Houston unless there is a drastic turn of the events in the pre-season.

Sanchez’s Saturday: Rookie Has Big Morning Practice

Story of the Day: The Jets have decided to rotate their first team quarterback every other practice and today Mark Sanchez was under center with the 1’s and he didn’t disappoint. The rookie had his finest practice of training camp, going 10-19 and throwing two touchdowns, including a 40 yard post to Jerricho Cotchery over Darrelle Revis on the first 11 on 11 play. He then led a two minute drive that culminated in a 25 yard touchdown to Chansi Stuckey. Sanchez continued to show great command of the offense and the huddle and drew praise from numerous veterans after practice. Kellen Clemens continued to struggle, going 4-12 and throwing an interception. Regardless, Rex Ryan named Clemens the starter for the Jets pre-season opener against the Rams this Friday.

Opinion on Quarterback Battle: Ryan is giving Clemens the start only because he is the veteran. Unless Sanchez implodes, he will start the second pre-season game and every game after that. Sanchez has pulled ahead in the battle and it is doubtful that he will look back. He hasn’t turned the ball over as much as Clemens and is beginning to look comfortable in the offense, especially the two minute drill. More importantly, it appears the veterans are starting to gain some confidence in Sanchez.

A Vernon Gholston Sighting: #50 had a sack today! Gholston has been quiet all camp, being outplayed by Marques Murrell and Jamaal Westerman, hopefully he can start to turn it up in time for the Jets first pre-season game.

Rex Talks: Ryan was effusive in his praise of linebacker David Harris, who is having a very good camp. He also continues to talk up the secondary, which should have excellent depth. It will be interesting to see how the reps are divided up between Donald Strickland, Dwight Lowery, Eric Smith, and James Ihedigbo behind the four starters in the secondary.

Injury Updates: Keith Fitzhugh remains out with a shoulder injury but should be back by the end of the week. Shonn Greene rested his sore ankle today. Kris Jenkins is close to coming back. Bart Scott also has a sore hamstring, that I’m sure the Jets will be careful with. Tony Richardson remains out with a hip pointer.

Don’t Sleep on Wallace: Who would have thought that Wallace Wright would be in contention for serious reps at receiver? So far he has outplayed David Clowney, Brad Smith, and the recently hyped up rookie Britt Davis. Wright is a strong route runner, with decent enough size who has great hands, meaning he could be a quality option for reps at split end so they could slide Chansi Stuckey in the slot. Keep an eye on #15 this Friday.

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 5th

First a few updates:

1. Big weekend coming up, starting tomorrow night with the Jets Green and White Scrimmage and of course, the beginning of a huge 4 game series between the Yankees and Red Sox. As of right now, it looks like the Yanks will head into the series with a 2.5 game lead in the standings, which means this series really gives them a chance to put some distance between them and Boston over the weekend.

2. A complaint from a frustrated New York sports talk radio listener – Due to my long commute to Newark everyday, I spend alot of time listening to both 660 and 1050 AM and I can’t tell you freakin’ tired I am of hearing about the Mets. The Yankees are in first place in the best division in baseball, the Jets and Giants are both in training camp, and yet all I hear is discussion about the Mets, a fourth place team who is 5 games under .500, enough, nobody cares, their season is over. We all understand how awful they are and how many injuries they have, now spend some more time talking about my Yankees and Jets. (Sorry for another Mets bashing paragraph, Mandy, but I can’t help myself).

3. A quick comment on the New York Football Giants – Congrats to Eli for signing his fat new contract. The guy won a Super Bowl, he earned it. The G-Men are arguably the best team in the NFC this year despite their pedestrian receiving core that is counting on the likes of Domenick Hixon, Mario Manningham, and Sinorce Moss to handle major reps. The only thing that bothers me about the Giants is how much they talk about being disrespected and flying under the radar, it isn’t two seasons ago guys, everybody respects you and realizes you are a good team.

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 5th

Story of the Day: Good day for the rookie…Mark Sanchez slightly outperformed Kellen Clemens today and did a good job with his extended reps with the first team. This battle is basically even right now, with a maybe a slight tilt towards Clemens. However, Kellen struggled today, taking too many sacks and throwing another interception into the hands of Kerry Rhodes. Sanchez showed good pocket presence in practice and had a better two minute drill than Clemens, who went three and out. Tomorrow is a big day for Sanchez who will get to go head to head versus Clemens in the Green and White Scrimmage. If he wants more reps with the first team, tomorrow is the day to make a statement.

More Quarterback Daily News: Rex Ryan said he wants to name a starter before the Jets third pre-season game against the Giants. You would have to think he will let Clemens and Sanchez start a game a piece before then and hope one of them seizes the job. The third pre-season game is when the starters see extended work, meaning whomever gets the nod in that game will be in good shape to start the regular season against Houston.

Secondary Love: Ryan talked at length today about how good he believes the Jets secondary is. Dwight Lowery continued his strong camp by knocking down three passes in practice today and Drew Coleman also flashed a few times, with an interception and a pass defensed, drawing praise from Ryan who thinks his skill set fits well with the Jets new scheme on defense. Ryan’s also complimented Donald Strickland’s versatility to play corner, nickle, and safety. James Ihedigbo looks like he will have a bigger role on the defense this season and could be active in nickle and dime packages. Darrelle Revis? He is the best corner in football according to Ryan and you won’t get much of an argument from me, although Asomugha on Oakland is probably still #1.

Tight End Issues: First off, condolences to Kareem Brown who lost a close friend in a car accident, which is why he missed the first few Jets practices. Many of the beat writers dedicated articles in today’s paper to the Jets lack of depth at tight end. Unless Jack Simmons, Brown, or the newly signed Kevin Brock really picks things up in the next week or two, the Jets are going to have bring in a veteran. Right now, reserve tackle Wayne Hunter is working as the primary backup. Hopefully, somebody will make a few plays tomorrow in the scrimmage and then in the first pre-season game to distinguish themselves.

Injury News: Shaun Ellis, Kris Jenkins, Shonn Greene, Tony Richardson and Donald Strickland are all nursing minor injuries and should be back soon. I don’t know if any of them will play tomorrow, but it would be nice to see Greene out there since he is a rookie. There is no need to rush veterans like Ellis, Richardson or Jenkins back.

Receiver Transaction: The Jets released Mario Urrutia (what kind of person would pick this guy to make the 53 man roster and think he was an under the radar guy to watch in camp…ooops) and got Aundrae Allison off waivers from the Vikings. Allison is a speedy guy, who has experience as a kick returner. He also has 18 career catches for 231 yards, which is nothing to scoff at when guys like David Clowney (1 career catch) and Wallace Wright (6 career receptions) are competing for major playing time.

Good Camp/Bad Camp: Good Camp – Wallace Wright, Chansi Stuckey, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Bart Scott, Dwight Lowery, Howard Green, Jim Leonhard….Bad Camp (Or Quiet Camp) – David Clowney, J’Nathan Bullock, Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha, Jason Trusnik, Huey Whittaker, Marcus Henry

Tomorrow: Morning Session closed to the media and Green and White Scrimmage at 6 PM (Live play by play audio on www.newyorkjets.com, I know I’ll be listening).

5 Guys to Watch For in Tomorrow’s Scrimmage:

1. Mark Sanchez – Duh, big chance for the rookie to make some plays and a make a move in the QB battle.

2. David Clowney – He has been quiet all camp, can he make a few big plays?

3. Vernon Gholston – See above.

4. Jehuu Caulcrick/Shonn Greene – Who? Caulcrick will be the starting fullback with T-Rich out with injury. If Greene plays, he should be in line for some short yardage carries.

5. Kareem Brown/Jack Simmons/J’Nathan Bullock – Somebody could get a leg up in battle for the #2 TE spot.

Jets Positional Analysis: Running Back

First a few updates:

1. I’m already tired of hearing about Brett Favre and he hasn’t even officially signed with the Vikings yet.

2. There hasn’t been any news about Thomas Jones and Leon Washington’s ongoing contract negoitations and  I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. All I know is that training camp starts in 5 weeks and they both better be there since they are the Jets two best skill position players. You have had a good off-season Mike Tannenbaum, don’t ruin it now by not working something out with your two pro-bowl running backs.

3. I am really getting a kick out of all the controversy Eric Mangini is causing in Cleveland. A 10 hour mandatory bus ride for rookies? Not allowing coaches to wear sun glasses? Painting over a mural of famous Cleveland players? It sounds like they hate him over there. Honestly, I supported Mangini through his time here and thought he took the fall for Brett Favre. I did hate his press conferences but I thought he had a good football mind, but Cleveland seems destined for a 5 win season this year so you have to wonder how long he will last out there. His approach is only tolerable when your team is winning games.

4. You will have to excuse the lack of pictures in this article, I am having some technical issues with storage space that should be sorted out soon.

Jets Positional Analysis: Running Back

Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to go through all of the Jets positions and assess each player, continuing today with the running backs:

1. Thomas Jones #20, Last Season: 290 carries, 1,312 yards, 13 rushing touchdowns. 36 receptions, 207 yards, 2 receiving touchdowns.

History: After a disappointing 2007 season, Jones took advantage of a revamped offensive line to have a career year in 2008. He was a workhorse for the Jets last season and showed an ability to get tough yards in crucial situations, along with the versatility to be an important part of the passing game. He sat out of voluntary activities this off-season and is ignoring the media at mandatory practices in protest of his current contract. The dispute is still ongoing, although Jones is expected at training camp.

Chance of Making Roster: 100% (If Not Traded)

Best Case Scenario for 2009: The Jets work out some type of deal to keep Jones happy and he produces at a similar level to the 2008 season. If Rex Ryan wants to win his way, he needs a healthy and focused Thomas Jones pounding on opposing defenses.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: The contract dispute gets ugly and Jones is traded away for a late round draft pick.

Prediction: Something is worked out to keep Jones in New York for 2009. He has another good year, but not quite to the level of 2008 due to increased role for Leon Washington and the selection of Shonn Greene. He finishes with 1100-1200 yards with 7-10 touchdowns.

2. Leon Washington #29, Last Season: 76 carries for 448 yards, 6 rushing touchdowns. 47 receptions for 355 yards, 2 receiving touchdowns.

History: Washington remained the Jets top playmaker in 2008, building on a very good 2007 season. He made the pro-bowl as a kick returner on top of his offensive production. He ripped off long touchdowns against Buffalo, Kansas City, New England, and Tennessee last season displaying his ability to score at any time. He is also currently unhappy with his contract but did appear at voluntary workouts and is talking to the media. Hopefully, the Jets can work out a long term deal with him.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Washington receives a long term deal. He is given more touches on offense leading to more big plays for the Jets, while remaining a pro-bowl caliber kick returner.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: The contract dispute turns ugly, leading to Washington missing a large portion of training camp and potentially even a game or two, damaging the development of the Jets young offense.

Prediction: The Jets give Washington his long term extension, they’d be stupid not to. He receives more carries and receptions on offense, as the Jets run the ball even more than they did last season and he steps up to help fill the void left by Laveranues Coles and Chris Baker.

3. Shonn Greene #23, Rookie: Drafted in the Third Round

History: The Jets traded away multiple picks to move up to the top of third round to get Greene, showing how highly they think of him. Greene was the 2008 Doak Walker Award Winner at Iowa, given to the best running back in the nation.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He develops a role on the Jets offense as a short yardage/goal-line back and learns behind Thomas Jones. Greene finds a way to get 5-8 touches a game and helps wear defenses down in the fourth quarter. After Thomas Jones leaves next year, he is ready to step up and split carries with Leon Washington.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Greene either gets hurt or struggles so much in camp that he can’t stay on the active roster.

Prediction: Greene will be on the active roster and get a few touches a game on offense. Although I think it will be hard to get him ball after already dividing carries between Jones and Washington. It is going to be hard to take carries away from Jones in short yardage situations after the success he had last year.

4. Tony Richardson #49 (Starting Fullback), Last Season: 10 carries for 65 yards, 1 Reception for 4 yards. Many, Many Men blocked.

History: Richardson is a pro-bowl caliber fullback and made a big difference in the Jets short yardage game last season. It was a great move by the Jets bringing him back this season, anybody who watches them play knows how valuable he is to their offense.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He stays healthy and keeps blocking the way he always has.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He gets hurt and the Jets short yardage problems surface again.

Prediction: I got faith in T-Rich to do the job he always has throughout his career.

5. Danny Woodhead #22, Last Season: Injured

History: Woodhead was a dominant player in Division II during his college career. He received alot of work this off-season with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington skipping practices. Despite a lack of size, he has great speed and ran tough in OTA’s. He was having a good training camp last year before hurting his foot and going on IR.

Chance of Making Roster: 50%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Woodhead makes the roster by carving out a role on special teams and flashing enough big play ability on offense to merit some occasional touches. His biggest problem is that the Jets have a guy named Leon Washington who does what he does, except much better. Unless Washington or Jones gets hurt, he isn’t going to see many touches this season if he makes the team.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles in training camp and is cut.

Prediction: I think he ends up on the practice squad. His best chance of making the active roster is by finding a role on special teams, which could be hard with guys like Wallace Wright and Brad Smith taking spots he would probably excel at.

6. Jehuu Caulcrick #39, Last Season: Practice Squad

History: The Jets picked him up as a UDFA last year. He stayed on the practice squad all season. Caulcrick has good size and has been used as combo FB/RB. A few people have compared him to Le’Ron McClain when talking about him. I’m sure if Rex Ryan sees that, he will find a way to keep Caulcrick around until T-Rich retires or Jones moves on.

Chance of Making Roster: 50%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He makes the roster as a special teams player and finds a way to contribute in short yardage situations. He proves he could be an adequate replacement for Tony Richardson when he retires.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He gets cut.

Prediction: I think he has a better chance of making the roster than Woodhead. If the Jets keep 5 running backs, I think he’ll be the 5th.

Overall Position Analysis: Jones, Washington, Richardson, and Greene are all locks to make the roster with Woodhead and Caulcrick battling for a potential fifth spot, that may or may not be there. I know I may sound a little too optimistic about Jones and Washington’s contract negoiations but I just don’t see the Jets being dumb enough not to have both those guys back and happy this year after the seasons they had in 2008.

Five Underappreciated Jets

First a few updates:

1. Thomas Jones did show up for OTAs today…and that is all we know. He will have his chance to say his piece tomorrow to the media. Hopefully, it won’t be the third year in a row where an established veteran on the team is ripping the organization in the off-season. Pete Kendall put on his show two years ago, Chris Baker did his last year, and now Jones may be following their example.

2. The Jets claimed tight end Martrez Milner off waivers today from the New York Giants. Milner was a fourth round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2007. During that season, he made two starts and had 9 catches for 50 yards. He was inactive all of last year. They also released offensive lineman Kyle Link and tight end Rob Meyer,

3. There still hasn’t been any movement in the Leon Washington situation. I am going to be sick to my stomach if he skips mandatory sessions, which begin on June 9th. Washington is the Jets most dynamic playmaker on both offense and special teams.

Five Underappreciated Jets

It easy to talk about Darrelle Revis, Kris Jenkins, Leon Washington, or Thomas Jones. Everybody is well aware of how valuable they are to the team. However, there are plenty of players who don’t receive much press but were extremely important to the Jets in 2008 and who the team needs another big season from in 2009. Here are five in particular:

Tony Richardson

Everybody talks about Thomas Jones improving so much in 2008 because of the Jets revamped offensive line, but don’t sleep on the difference fullback Tony Richardson made. Despite his advanced age, Richardson remains a great blocking back, who vastly improved the Jets overall rushing attack, especially in short yardage. He also did a good job running the ball the few times his number was called, finishing with 65 yards on 10 carries.

Brandon Moore

The Jets least heralded offensive lineman but arguably their most consistent. Fortunately, the Jets came to their senses and did the right thing this off-season by re-signing Moore after originally letting him go. Moore is solid in both run and pass blocking, never gets hurt, and is the Jets longest tenured starter on the line. Alan Faneca may receive all the hype and accolades but Moore was every bit as good as him at Guard last year.

Shaun Ellis

For some reason alot of people were calling for the Jets to release Ellis this off-season, which makes no sense. Despite doing some stupid off the field things, Ellis is still coming off a 8 sack season as a 3-4 defensive end. He is talented enough to be an every down player and is a veteran leader on the defensive side of the ball.

Wallace Wright

You have to give some love to the special teams. Wallace Wright was an undrafted free agent who has carved out a nice role for himself on all of the Jets coverage and return units. Last year he recorded 22 tackles and always seems to make at least one key play a game on special teams. He has also done a pretty good job when asked to play receiver, espcially as a blocker.

Jay Feely

More special teams love…Feely came in for an injured Mike Nugent last year and did an excellent job, going 24/28 on FG’s. He hit two that were over 50 yards and handled his pressure kicks well, especially when he buried a 50+ yarder against Oakland to force overtime. The Jets were confident enough in Feely to let Nugent (a former second round pick) go this off-season.

Ten Reasons the Jets Will Make the Playoffs

First some updates from OTA’s today, which were open to the media:

1. Mark Sanchez had a rough day. Rex Ryan characterized his first week as being good (Tuesday), bad (Monday), and ugly (today). He struggled in the two minute drill, only going 1-4 and getting sacked once. Despite looking sharp in individual drills, his 7 on 7’s and team drills were filled with mostly incompletions and interceptions. The defense was all over him, often taunting him about holding the ball too long and hanging his receivers out to dry. He also apparently has been hearing plenty about his GQ photo spread. I wouldn’t panic too much about a rough practice in May, Sanchez is a rookie going against a very talented defense that is running a complex scheme, the guy will be fine.

2. Kellen Clemens had a decent day and a good overall week. He dropped in a 25 yard touchdown pass to Brad Smith during redzone drills and led the first offense to a field goal during their two minute drill. Clemens isn’t going down without a fight and to his credit has remained helpful and supportive towards Sanchez despite their competition.

3. Rex Ryan was angered by the high amount of dropped passes by his receivers today. Somebody needs to step up and fill Laveranues Coles’ shoes. Jerricho Cotchery has been good, as expected but another receiver is going to need to step up, so far Chansi Stuckey appears to be leading the pack as the #2 receiver. The defensive backs were the most impressive position group today, with Darrelle Revis standing out as usual and Ahmad Carroll having a strong day.

4. The ongoing theme of these OTAs has been how the defense has been ahead of the offense. You have to expect this with a young quarterback and Thomas Jones/Leon Washington MIA. Danny Woodhead ran with the first team again, since Shonn Greene sat out today with a minor hamstring injury.

5. Ryan praised the progress of Vernon Gholston, Jamaal Westerman, and Kareem Brown. Gholston is taking advantage of participating in these OTAs, which he missed last year. Westerman was a college defensive end who has already worked at both inside and outside linebacker for the Jets and Brown is apparently making strong progress at tight end, despite a drop today.

Ten Reasons the Jets Will Make the Playoffs

After yesterday’s negative article, let’s take a more positive look at next season:

1. Defense Wins – Everybody knows you need a good defense to play into January. The Jets already had a very good defense last season and only got better with the addition of Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, and Lito Sheppard. Rex Ryan will put a more aggressive scheme in place that will take advantage of the Jets personnel, notably Calvin Pace, Kerry Rhodes, and Vernon Gholston who excel attacking the quarterback.

2. Running Wins – Let’s assume everything gets settled with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington in the next few weeks. The Jets have the potential to have the best rushing attack in the AFC, with two pro-bowl RBs, and rookie Shonn Greene. Beyond that, they have a very good fullback in Tony Richardson and one of the better offensive lines in the league. The Jets should be able to hand the ball off 35 times a game and be able to wear out opposing defenses.

3. Winning Attitude – Rex Ryan has changed the culture around this team. They are no longer a passive, reactive team with no notable emotions or personality. Ryan is encouraging a confident, talkative team that will play with some swagger on the field. The Jets won’t be a team that sits back and lets the other team dictate to them anymore.

4. Match-Up Problems – Despite how thin they are wide receiver and tight end, the Jets have two match-up nightmares on offense with Dustin Keller and Leon Washington. Keller shredded up the Patriots and Titans last year because they simply had nobody who could cover him, and Washington is a threat to score a touchdown anytime he touches the ball. He has the ability to play running back, fullback, split end, and in the slot.

5. No More Brett – The Jets will be better off without Brett Favre’s 22 INT’s and the constant side-show that he brought to the team. Yes, Sanchez and Clemens are inexperienced but they won’t throw 20+ interceptions this season, which will improve the Jets overall turnover ratio.

6. Mad Backers – Bart Scott leads a deep and talented group of linebackers who should anchor the Jets defense. He should also help the learning curve for David Harris, Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, and Vernon Gholston because of how familiar he is with the system. Scott and Harris should feed off of each other and Kris Jenkins in front of them, making it difficult for teams to run the ball.

7. Schedule Is Manageable – The Jets schedule isn’t as easy as last season but it isn’t as hard as everyone is making it out to be. Houston, New Orleans, Oakland, Jacksonville, and Tampa Bay all missed the playoffs last season. The Jets should be able to manage a 4-2 record in their division, because I believe Miami will be down from last year and that the Jets match-up well against New England and Buffalo.

8. Big Man – Rex Ryan’s defense should be easier on Kris Jenkins, allowing him to two-gap less and showing more 4-3 looks. If Jenkins could be healthy down the stretch, it will make a huge difference for the Jets run defense.

9. Opportunities – David Clowney never got a chance last season to build on a monster pre-season, but with Laveranues Coles now in Cincy he should receive plenty of reps to flash his deep speed and big play ability. Dustin Keller should also get more chances with Chris Baker in New England. Hopefully, Brian Schottenheimer will exercise some common sense and give Leon Washington more touches this year.

10. C’mon Now – We have to be due for finding the right coach and right quarterback, don’t we?