New York Jets Fact Or False: Preseason Week 1 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the New York Jets opening pre-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals

For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we will begin a trend that will be prevalent all season long. Each week, F or F will be dedicated to the upcoming Jets game, as we will look at the most pressing issues facing Gang Green each week. For our initial take, let’s have a look at what to expect to see, as well as what to watch for, in tomorrow night’s game in Cincinnati.

AJ Green vs. Darrelle Revis will be the most intriguing matchup of the game. Fact.

AJ Green had a stellar rookie season last year, joining with Quarterback Andy Dalton to form the first ever rookie QB/WR tandem to make the Pro Bowl. Green hauled in 65 passes for 1,057 yards and 7 Touchdowns last season, while facing some excellent defenses along the way. However, this will be his first career matchup with Revis, and not to disrespect any other players, he has never quite faced a talent like this in his entire playing career. Revis is a completely different animal, but Green certainly has immense talent. Rest assured both of these players cannot wait to face each other, not only for the challenge, but for the opportunity to assert their dominance. Revis would undoubtedly like to strand yet another receiver on Revis Island, while Green would love to be one of the very few to get off. Although they will get limited reps against one another, expect each of those reps to provide the best matchup on the field tomorrow night.

Andy Dalton will outperform Mark Sanchez. False.

Although Dalton had a very solid rookie campaign last season, his numbers were average at best when facing defenses ranked in the top ten in the NFL. Against those opponents, Dalton completed 175 of 311 passes for 1,954 yards, 11 Touchdowns, and 10 interceptions with a completion percentage of 56.27 and a passer rating of 77.28. These numbers certainly are not terrible, especially for a rookie, but Dalton clearly struggled to protect the football. While he has already faced the stellar defenses of Baltimore and Pittsburgh twice each, he has yet to come up against a Cornerback tandem with the combined talent of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson. Factor in what should be improved Safety play, and Dalton could get overwhelmed quickly. He will certainly get his completions, however don’t expect him to outshine Sanchez. Sanchez is coming into this game with an extreme sense of confidence in relation to his knowledge of the new offensive system, and you’d have to think after what was probably the longest offseason of his playing career, he will be coming out with a heavy chip on his shoulder. Each of these players’ reps will be very limited, but look for Sanchez to play at a higher level than Dalton.

This will be a great test for the Ground and Pound. Fact.

Cincinnati ranked 7th in total defense last season, and for good reason. They have talent all over the board, especially in the front seven. They posses great size up front in players like Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, as well as defensive leader Rey Maualuga who racked up 88 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception in just 13 games last season. This is a very tough, hard nosed defense, with great experience against offenses that can effectively run the ball, as they play Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice each season. Any team that has to face Ray Rice twice in the same year is no stranger to power football, so this will be a very good, early test for the Jets’ projected return to the “Ground and Pound” philosophy. Friday night should be an excellent gauge of how far along this new system is, as well as where improvements need to be made. It will be very interesting to see how the heavily scrutinized Shonn Greene, the rising Bilal Powell, and the polarizing Tim Tebow contribute.

Mark Sanchez has the most to prove in this game. False.

While Sanchez may have the most to prove over the course of the entire season, this game will have little effect on how he is judged as the Quarterback of this team. He will see very limited reps, plus there are a countless number of players with much more to prove tomorrow night.

Patrick Turner is certainly one of those guys, as he is constantly overlooked despite having quietly developed what seems to be a nice chemistry with Sanchez. Jordan White was extremely productive in college and should have ample opportunity to prove his worth with all of the injuries at Wide Receiver. LaRon Landry certainly would love to show that he is healthy and capable of playing at the level that made him the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Quinton Coples would love to put all the question marks surrounding him to bed, and although that will not be possible in just one game, he can certainly take a step in the right direction.

Austin Howard will get plenty of reps with Wayne Hunter being sidelined, and he needs to prove to the organization that they do not need to add depth at the tackle position from the outside. As the season progresses, veterans like Bart Scott, Tim Tebow, Jeremy Kerley, and Santonio Holmes will all be highly motivated to put recent criticism behind them, but that will not happen in the first game of the preseason, especially for Holmes and Kerley who will not be participating in the contest. Tebow and Scott could certainly play well, but they will not be considered to have proven anything until the regular season.

The Jets Defense Will Impress Early. Fact.

Many observers forget how good this defense actually is. Rex Ryan and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine produced a top 5 defense last season, despite finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the first time with the Jets. New York has done what it could to address the areas of need at Safety and in the pass rush, so each of those areas should be improved in comparison to last season. More importantly though, the Jets defense seems to have gotten their edge back. Reports out of camp already reveal that Bart Scott is back to his “Madbacker” form. Antonio Cromartie, although many times painfully outspoken, certainly will be coming into this game a bit enraged due to all the recent criticism directed toward him in the past week. LaRon Landry seems ready to run through a brick wall if he doesn’t hit someone in a different colored jersey soon, and Aaron Maybin and Ricky Sapp have been turning heads all camp.

From what we have seen in training camp so far, this defense has regained its speed, its motor, and most importantly, its swagger. Expect the starting unit to come out looking to make a statement early, especially considering the fact that they realize they will only have a few series to do so.

Rex Ryan is the most intriguing coach in this game. False.

Rex undoubtedly loves to be in the spotlight, and the media generally loves to focus on him. However, this game is not so much about Ryan as it is about the newcomers. It is going to be very interesting to see the first live action of Tony Sparano’s new system. There is plenty to look for including an established running game, command of the offense by Sanchez, and whether or not the offensive line has improved yet.

Moving over to the defensive side of the ball, it will be extremely intriguing to see the work of new defensive line Coach Karl Dunbar. Dunbar certainly has a surplus of depth and talent up front, so it will be interesting to see if he is in the early stages of maximizing that. New York’s pass rush has been built primarily on scheme since the appointment of Rex Ryan as head coach, so if they can generate a rush without having to blitz as much, it will be a very positive sign for Dunbar and his unit. Wide Receiver’s coach Sanjay Lal is another newcomer to the staff, and considering all the injuries at the position so far, the wide receiver play could say a lot about his coaching ability. If the younger, less experienced players come out strong, it could tell us something very good about Lal.

JETS FOOTBALL IS BACK TOMORROW, GET YOUR NEW SHIRT TO KICK OFF THE NEW SEASON

New York Jets: Offensive Depth Still Area Of Concern

The New York Jets still have depth issues on the offensive side of the football

There is a fine line between having confidence in your young players and being ignorant about the depth on your roster. The New York Jets are walking that line right now. A suggestion for the addition of a veteran running back or wide receiver isn’t a questioning of the future potential of the youth at those positions but a call for needed insurance, in case of injury or a lack of productivity.

Let’s start at running back. Shonn Greene has stayed healthy throughout camp so far. He will likely receive minimal work throughout the pre-season and has proven to be fairly durable over the past two years. However, as we have mentioned before a rolled ankle or separated shoulder leaves the Jets perilously thin at running back for an offense built to be run heavy…very run heavy.

Yes, Bilal Powell has had a strong camp. He is likely the team’s best combo back because of a skill set has features traits needed for both a “A” and “B” back in their system. Powell has shown he can pass protect, catch the football well out of the backfield and mix up running inside and outside. That being said, he still hasn’t proven it in a NFL game and he is really ready to handle 20 carries in a game if Greene misses a few weeks?

Terrance Ganaway was back on the practice field today but has been banged up all throughout camp. He is a rookie 6th round pick. Joe McKnight did look good early in camp but seems to be losing ground to Powell as the team’s primary third down back. Beyond that, McKnight was very fragile with limited touches last year and is already nursing a shoulder injury this camp.

The question remains, why keep such an unproven (Powell, Ganaway) and injury prone (McKnight) group behind Greene with no support? Signing a player like Cedric Benson or Ryan Grant or swinging a trade for a player who is tumbling down the depth charts elsewhere like Knowshon Moreno is low risk, high reward move. Benson or Grant would come on a veteran minimum deal. Moreno wouldn’t cost more than a 6th round pick and has first round talent. You bring them into the rotation and if an injury occurs or  a 1B back never steps up on the Jets roster, you have insurance.

We have seen Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant and Knowshon Moreno run for a 100 yards in a NFL game. Insurance never hurts. New England is loaded at tight end because their offense is built around them. New Orleans and Green Bay is loaded at wide receiver because their offense is built around them. The Jets offense is built around their running game, why not work to be loaded at running back?

The presence of a veteran doesn’t mean you can’t give a player like Powell his touches. It just means that if he gets hurt or doesn’t perform in a game, you have another option.

At wide receiver, it is the walking wounded for the Jets. Santonio Holmes has sore ribs and he will miss the first pre-season game. Fine, he is a proven veteran and will be ready to go for the regular season. Stephen Hill has managed to stay healthy but remains a rookie. Patrick Turner has quietly put together a strong camp and does have a few NFL receptions under his belt. After that…everybody is hurt. Jeremy Kerley is out for another 1-2 weeks with a hamstring injury. Chaz Schilens has been banged up all throughout camp and has never been healthy in his NFL career. Jordan White is just returning from an injury and is a rookie. Dexter Jackson has flashed at times but is completely unproven.

Yesterday the Jets cut bottom of the roster dwellers Scotty “Can I have your girlfriend’s number?” McKnight and DaMarcus “why does this Jets Tweeter love me so much” Ganaway. The logical assumption would be that Mike Tannenbaum is getting ready to add somebody at the position. This makes sense because the Jets will be running out a 3 wide of Hill (0 NFL receptions), Turner (8 NFL receptions) and White/Jackson (0 NFL receptions) with Mark Sanchez this Friday if Holmes and Schilens don’t play.

Tannenbaum isn’t going to go big here. So get Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe out of your head (sorry fake Adam Schefter account from last night). If they look to the trade market, James Jones of Green Bay makes sense because of the surplus the Packers have at the position and because Randall Cobb has all but taken his job. Jones won’t be too pricey and is a proven big play receiver who can stretch a defense.

If they look to the free agent market, Greg Camarillo makes the most sense. He knows Sparano’s offense, is a reliable route runner and has very good hands. The hope is that Jordan White can seize the slot receiver role is Jeremy Kerley doesn’t get his act together but it never hurts to have insurance for a rookie 7th round pick. Again, Camarillo will cost you the veteran’s minimum. Low risk for a proven veteran if the injuries remain an issue.

It always better safe than sorry. Didn’t we learn that at the center position last season?

GET YOUR JETS SHIRT NOW

New York Jets: Walking The Tim Tebow Tightrope

Can the New York Jets find the proper way to use Tim Tebow in 2012?

The New York Jets voluntarily put themselves into a complex situation by trading for Tim Tebow this off-season. He is a polarizing player and a lightning rod for fans and critics alike. Keeping the focus to the football field, Tebow has the ability to help the Jets significantly this season if used properly. However, if not used properly, his presence could end up torpedoing the Jets season.

What is the best way to use Tebow? The New York Jets are thin at running back despite talking like they will be the most run-heavy team in the NFL. Despite also being the backup quarterback, Tebow is in position to be the de-facto number two running back. He could very well end up with the second most carries on the team behind Shonn Greene and should be a major factor in short yardage situations and around the goal-line.

There is no questioning the value of having a quarterback who can run the football like Tebow, who is more of a threat to throw than Brad Smith ever was. Tebow should be given the opportunity to throw a few times a game to keep defenses honest and to take advantage of his deep ball ability.

That being said, timing is everything. Considering the Jets…being well, the Jets…the following scenario can’t be allowed to happen – Mark Sanchez comes out on fire, goes 4/4 leads his team to the 18 yard line and is then promptly pulled for Tebow who sails a post pattern over Santonio Holmes head, which is then intercepted.

Tony Sparano has a very delicate balance to deal with. Tebow needs to be used as a complimentary part of the offense. A weapon that makes converting a 3rd and 2 an easy task or any time the team is within the 3 yard line an automatic touchdown. His role should never exceed 10-15 plays. Let’s not forget Mark Sanchez had 6 rushing touchdowns last year and is terrific with his play fakes by the red-zone. His bootlegs and quarterback draws will remain effective…just like surprising the defense with a Tebow pass on 3rd and short would be effective.

Mark Sanchez’s rhythm needs to be a major consideration. You don’t pull a hot hand at quarterback for any reason. On the other hand, you don’t send Sanchez to the bench for a full series because he went 0/3 on the last drive. Knee jerk reactions must be avoided that could lead to ping ponging between the two quarterbacks throughout the game.

The special teams chatter about Tebow? It is overrated. If Tebow plays more than 20 total plays on special teams this year it would be surprising. There could be a fake punt or field goal at some point or Tebow lined up as the personal protector to give the return team something to think about…but that is about it. He isn’t going to be the next Wallace Wright, chasing down kick returners and always lining up in the second line of the kick return team.

Outside of Tebow lining up under center offense, a few trick plays from time to time make sense. Maybe that is Tebow lining up at fullback or H-Back to take a handoff or throw a surprise pass but it won’t be a regular occurrence.

The Jets need to improve their running game and Tebow provides a needed runner who can do that. Hopefully Tony Sparano recognizes that is what his primary use should be.

CELEBRATE TRAINING CAMP KICKING OFF WITH A FRESH NEW JETS T-SHIRT

 

New York Jets: Wise To Explore A Trade For Harvin

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.

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch 6/26: The Tony Sparano Edition

Mike Donnelly with his weekly stock watch, focusing on Tony Sparano’s offense

Mike Donnelly is back with his weekly stock watch. Make sure to give Mike a follow on Twitter and Turn On The Jets a follow on Facebook

I’m going to mix things up this week and and list all my buys and sells under the umbrella of a much larger general investment strategy. That strategy is one that the New York Jets incorporated this offseason in an attempt to generate much larger returns  for the 2012 season. That strategy is simple:

SELL – Brian Schottenheimer

BUY – Tony Sparano

That’s not to say that all things Sparano brings are wonderful and the offense will automatically be a juggernaut, because there are certain aspects of the offense I am still not sold on. Likewise, not all things Schitty (that’s a typo, I swear!) brought to the table were awful. There was some good, I just don’t know what they were. Actually, forget I said anything; Brian Schottenheimer sucks. Anyway, I think the general theme of selling on Schotty and buying in to the Sparano era is going to be profitable for the Jets offense, and not just because like many Jets fans, I thought Schottenheimer was awful (I even wrote a whole column about how the Jets hired him to sabotage their QB’s with his incompetence), but also because Sparano brings a sorely-needed fresh approach. One play last year summed up Schotty’s offense and his reign as coordinator perfectly: 3rd and 6 against the Patriots, pivotal point in the game, needed a first down. This is what he came up with:

That’s right. Five receivers doing 4-yard curls on 3rd and 6! Needless to say, they did not  pick up the first down. The Brian Schottenheimer Era, ladies and gentlemen!

Further evidence of how he repeatedly hamstrung the offense can be found in this excellent piece by Jenny Vrentas, found Here. If you read between the lines of the players’ quotes, you can tell they couldn’t stand working within the confines of the his offense — it was too complicated, too restricting, too dumb, and too inflexible. He drew up bad game plans, confused his players, and couldn’t adjust when he had to. Against the Raiders, they threw him a curveball by switching to zone defense when all week the offense had prepared to face man coverage. That was apparently too much for Schotty to handle as he couldn’t –or wouldn’t– adjust, the offense collapsed, Holmes fumed, and the Jets lost. Mercifully, the book has closed on the Schottenheimer Era, and there’s a new hope for Jets fans.

Let’s take a look at what we should be buying and selling when it comes to Tony Sparano:

BUY- Tony Sparano the Play Caller and Line Coach – Contrary to popular belief, Sparano did not call plays in Miami. He did however call them in Dallas during the 2006 season when long-time bench warmer Tony Romo took the reigns and played very well. The offense finished 5th in the NFL in total yards, at 360 yards per game and 5th in passing with 239 per game. They also scored the 4th most points in the NFL. (If you want a good laugh, check out the ranks Schottenheimer has had during his career.) As the offensive line coach, he also built one of the best lines in the NFL during his tenure in Dallas. Solid players like Flozell Adams and Andre Gurode became Pro-Bowlers. Marginal players like Kyle Kosier and Marc Columbo became very dependable starters. Quite simply, Sparano has a history of success, and a proven track record of being very good at certain things. We can expect him to bring those things over with him to New York and improve parts of this offense.

BUY – Tony Sparano’s Attitude and Demeanor – Tony Sparano is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He’s loud, he screams, he curses, and he isn’t about to take any crap from the players. When asked about last year’s Holmes debacle, he said how he was a head coach and he knows how to handle problems. Reading between the lines, he was saying pretty much that that stuff isn’t going to happen this year. The Jets offense needed a swift kick in the ass heading into 2012, and Sparano is the exact kind of guy to deliver it.

BUY – Shonn Greene and the Run Game – I know there has been lots of debate lately about Greene and what kind of player he is after Evan Silva tweeted some less than flattering things about him. Why we are taking evaluation seriously from a guy whose job appears to be highlighting things beat writers tweet about, click “copy”, and then paste them on Rotoworld.com, I don’t know. I’m a believer in Greene and think he can do some great things when given the opportunity, but even his biggest supporters would admit he’s not a superstar. He’s just not that kind of player, but then again, you don’t need an Adrian Peterson to win a Super Bowl. That’s not to say Greene can’t carry the load and help this team win games though, because he can. Joe gave us a great look at Greene’s career and his production earlier today, and provided some valid observations, but there is plenty to be said in support of Greene, as well.

First of all, the new “power” system Tony Sparano brings with him is going to help Greene immensely. Last year Greene at times was the victim of thinking too much on the field instead of just hitting the hole and going, which is what he’s best at. He was also victimized by horrendous line play early in the season, as Nick Mangold went down with an injury and was slow to recover. Brandon Moore also started the season slowly as he was recovering from surgery. Once the line got it together, Greene took off in the second half of the season in a big way, despite not being used to his full potential and still finished with 4.2 yards per carry, which is very solid. Shonn is a streaky runner, so it was maddening to see him get on a role during games the past two years and then the team curiously going away from him for large stretches. Sparano has made it clear he’s going to ride his hot hand, so that shouldn’t be an issue this year. Greene also improved his receiving ability a great deal last year, as he caught 30 balls, which doesn’t make him Marshall Faulk, but it does make him more of a two-way threat.

The other important thing to keep in mind about Greene is that he offers great value to the Jets, and an awful lot of bang for their bucks. He is scheduled to make just under $800,000 this year which allows the Jets to allocate their salary cap dollars elsewhere (ahem, Revis), and with free agency around the corner, you better believe Greene is going to show up in shape, motivated, and ready to put up big numbers. I don’t believe investing big money in your backfield is the way to operate, but rather to have a few low-cost backs who can all get the job done, which is what the Jets have done. Greene may never be the “bell cow” Rex Ryan proclaimed him to be, but in a platoon with a guy like Joe McKnight, he can –and will– be extremely effective. We’ve seen what he can do when used properly, and I look forward to seeing more of it in 2012.

BUY – Mark Sanchez – Yes, I’m going to keep beating the Mark Sanchez drum. Sparano has had lots of success with quarterbacks in the past. I touched on Romo earlier, but he also did very good work in Miami with inferior talents to Mark Sanchez. Chad Pennington (not the Chad we all love from 2002, but rather the guy whose arm was hanging on by chewing gum and paper clips in 2008) finished 2nd in MVP voting. Average talents like Chad Henne and Matt Moore put up some very nice numbers. Mark Sanchez is better than all of them, and now that he’s been freed from Schottenheimer’s stale offense, we can all expect big things.

BUY- Jeremy Kerley and John Conner– Look at the way Davone Bess and Lousaka Polite were used in Miami, and it’s easy to see Kerley and Conner being big contributors this year. As a slot receiver, Bess recorded 54, 76, and 79 catches his first three years with Sparano. Look for Kerley to blossom in that role this year. As for the Terminator, I hope he’s ready for lots of short yardage work, because along with Tim Tebow, they’re going to be pounding lots of balls right up the middle on 3rd or 4th and 1’s.

SELL – Wayne Hunter – I’m sorry, but I’m just not buying all the “New and Improved” Wayne Hunter stuff. Yes, he will likely improve in this new blocking scheme but that’s kind of like saying you went from being the dumbest kid in class to the second dumbest. There’s only one way for Hunter to go, because he can’t possibly get worse than he was last year, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to all of a sudden be good. He’s more likely to get Mark Sanchez’s #6 jersey imprinted on the MetLife turf after he gets him flattened by Mario Williams than he is to become a very good starter.

Like I said, it’s not all flowers and rainbows with the Jets offense all of a sudden just because Sparano is here and Schotty is gone, but things are looking up. I’m buying the Tony Sparano Era. I hope we’re all cashing in in January.

No witty comment here to tie into the article but a sweet backpack, no? 10% off with “TurnOnTheJets” promo code

New York Jets: Wise To Wait On Keller Extension

Chris Gross explains why the New York Jets should hold off on giving tight end Dustin Keller a contract extension

For a counterargument to Chris, check out this piece at The Jet Press from Alan Schechter. Who do you agree with? 

It seems that Darrelle Revis is not the only New York Jet seeking a new deal heading into the 2012 season. Recent reports have revealed that Tight End Dustin Keller is also eager to ink an extension with the Jets. However, the former Boilermaker has confirmed that there has been no movement in that area thus far. While Keller is rightfully a fan favorite among the Jets’ faithful for his reliability and chemistry with Quarterback Mark Sanchez, the Jets would be foolish to jump the gun on committing a long-term deal to the four-year veteran.

Although Keller has proved to have the best chemistry with Sanchez, his contract with New York should, and likely will, be based on how he fits in the new offensive scheme of Tony Sparano. There have been some serious concerns about how Keller will fare under Sparano, primarily due to the amount of blocking the tight end is relied upon for. While Keller has always impressed with his athleticism and receiving skills, blocking has never quite been the strongest part of his game. This is not to say that Keller will not develop into a more efficient blocker under the tutelage of Sparano and new offensive line coach David DeGuglielmo, however this is going to be a major point of focus in working toward a new contract. Keller must prove his worth in this system, otherwise the Jets will surely let him walk. Giving him an extension prior to the season, before evaluating him in any real game situations in the new system, could prove to be a poor waste of money if he ends up struggling under Sparano. Not only would they be wrongly committed to him in years and dollars, but his trade value would likely plummet as well.

While Keller’s blocking ability will be a focal point for how he fits under Sparano, it may not be the deciding factor in whether or not he remains with the Jets beyond 2012. In the event Keller fails to develop into a capable blocker, the Jets could find a more suitable tight end to serve in that role, while allowing Keller to thrive in the receiving role where he has had his greatest success. Last season, Miami Dolphins Tight End Anthony Fasano was tied with Keller in receptions with 65, as well as touchdowns with 5. More impressively, though, Fasano also tied Keller with 12 receptions of 20 or more yards. While Fasano is certainly a higher quality blocker than Keller, he is not nearly as athletic. If Sparano, who emphasizes “chunk plays,” can get that type of receiving production out of Fasano (4.74 40 yard dash), than he should, realistically, be able to work wonders with Keller (4.55 40). If Keller fails to prove his worth as a blocker, but improves dramatically as a receiver in this system, it would be difficult for the Jets to not give Sanchez’s favorite target a new deal. Still, Keller needs to let his play do the negotiating.

While it may be unfair to claim that Keller, coming off of a career year with the Jets, still needs to prove himself in order to obtain a contract extension, it is the reality of the situation. While he did post career highs in three statistical categories last season, he is still nowhere near the production level of an elite tight end at this point in his career. Last season, Keller had 65 receptions for 815 yards and 5 touchdowns. The top five tight ends last year, Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Gonzalez, and Jason Witten each had 99, 90, 83, 80, and 79 receptions, respectively.

Keller is certainly still young and improving, however he does not yet deserve to be paid like an elite tight end, which is why he wisely would not comment on whether or not Gronkowski’s recent extension gave him leverage. In his second season as a Patriot, Gronkowski set an NFL record for touchdown receptions by a tight end with 17, and had previously caught 10 in his rookie year of 2010, exactly twice the amount of Keller’s career high. Gronkowski has proved to be a perfect fit in the role he plays in the Patriots’ offense. Keller will not comment on Gronkowski’s deal because he knows it has nothing to do with his contract situation.

A realistic contract for Keller would be more comparable to the five year, $37 million extension given to 49ers tight end Vernon Davis prior to the 2010 season. Although Davis was coming off of a career year before he received his deal, his most recent numbers have been very comparable to those of Keller. Last season, Davis had only two more receptions than Keller with 23 fewer yards, and only one more touchdown. If he can prove to be productive in the new system, expect a deal similar to Davis’s for Keller. Again, this is a crucial if.

Patience will need to be very prevalent within Keller’s camp in working toward any movement on a new contract. The Jets will likely not budge, and the tight end will need to let his play do the talking. While it may seem unfair for a player who has done all the right things during his NFL career, while improving his play nearly every year, it is simply the nature of the business. The Jets would be foolish to shell out a bunch of money to a player who is currently surrounded by question marks with regard to how he will fit in the offensive system. Although Keller has become not only a staple of the offense recently, but a leader of the team as well, there is a new offensive coordinator in town, and in a contract year, he needs to earn his money before receiving it.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Passing Game Edition

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.

New York Jets Passing Offense: Tony and ‘Tone

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 –

  • 2008 – Ted Ginn (93 targets, 56 receptions)
  • 2009 – Davone Bess (113 targets, 76 receptions)
  • 2010 – Brandon Marshall (147 targets, 86 receptions)
  • 2011 – Brandon Marshall (145 targets, 81 receptions)

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.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Run Game Edition

One of the most intriguing New York Jets story lines heading into the summer is whether or not the Jets will be able to, once again, establish themselves as an elite rushing offense. During Rex Ryan’s first two seasons as Head Coach of the Jets, they were ranked 1st and 4th in rushing offense, respectively. Last season, they dipped to the 22nd best rushing team in the NFL. This, of course, was largely due to the fact that former Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer seemingly forgot his bread and butter, and what his offense was built on.

During Ryan’s first two seasons with the Jets, there was no mistake that New York was a ground and pound, in your face, physical, run first, run second offense. Last year, though, they were extremely confused as to what their identity was. In an attempt to re-obtain that identity, the Jets replaced Schottenheimer with former Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano this offseason. Sparano has made it clear since he came to New York, that the Jets will, once again, be a run first offense, while stating the necessity of returning to the ground and pound style of play. We’ve already seen that Mark Sanchez is at his best when he has a solid running game to work with, as he greatly excels in the play action pass, so getting back to the top tier of rushing teams in the NFL is vital to the success of this offense.

For this edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we examine what to, and what not to, expect from the newly run Tony Sparano offense this upcoming season.

1.) Shonn Greene will finally have a breakout season and prove to be the Jets’ Bell Cow. Fact. As much as everyone likes to assert the opinion that Shonn Greene is not the guy to carry the running load for the Jets, it is often forgotten that he compiled 1,054 yards last season under the philosophically challenged Brian Schottenheimer. Although he only ran for 6 touchdowns, he had an average of 4.2 yards per carry. Even more impressive is his career average of 4.3 yards per carry.

Greene has all the tools to be an excellent every down back in this league. At 5’11” 226 lbs, he is certainly big enough to withstand the physical toll that an NFL season can take on a running back, and contrary to popular belief, he has a great ability to explode into the second level. Although he isn’t the greatest receiving threat out of the backfield, he still obtained 30 catches for 211 yards last season. Of course, this is likely a direct result of Sanchez’s numerous amount of check downs, but for the Jets, Greene’s ability to catch out of the backfield should have nothing to do with his status as the bell cow running back.

Greene needs to be the guy to wear down defenses with his big, physical style of running, while opening up the big plays for Joe McKnight and the receiving corps. Last year, Greene played in an offense that was utterly confused with what their identity was and still churned out over 1,000 yards. This season, there is no mistake the Jets are a run first, run second team, and Tony Sparano’s presence will establish Greene as “the guy” when it comes to running the football for the Jets. It should not be a shock to anyone to see Greene compile over 1,500 yards with double digit touchdowns this season. Sparano made a 1,000 yard rusher out of Reggie Bush who, prior to joining Miami last offseason, had a career high of 581 rushing yards, coming in his second NFL season. The season before signing with Miami, Bush ran for a pitiful 150 yards over only 8 games. If Sparano can get that type of production out of Bush, he can certainly propel Greene to finally become the guy everyone has expected him to be since being drafted by the Jets three years ago.

2.) Joe McKnight will obtain 1,000 yards from scrimmage. Fact. Although Joe McKnight has struggled to find his niche in the offense during his first two seasons, this could be the year that the former USC Trojan finally bursts onto the scene for Gang Green. With LaDanian Tomlinson now out of the picture, McKnight will immedeately step into the number two role behind Greene, and due to his fantastic athleticism and speed, could prove to be a very vital piece to the Jets offense this year. He showed his big play ability and explosiveness on special teams last season, a year in which he improved tremendously from his rookie campaign. Expect McKnight to take yet another step to improve his game and contributions to the team.

McKnight has reportedly come into OTAs at about 16 pounds heavier than his normal playing weight, with an eye on taking more of an involvement in the offensive game plan. He certainly has the tools to strike the big play, whether it be as a runner or a receiving threat out of the backfield. McKnight certainly seems poised for a breakout season, and 1,000 total yards from scrimmage should be fairly attainable for the third year pro.

3.) The WildCat will not be used frequently. False. This story line isn’t going anywhere Jets fans. Tony Sparano is one of the founding fathers of the wildcat offense, and Tim Tebow is the perfect wildcat quarterback. Rex Ryan has already proclaimed that Tebow will likely see up to 20 snaps per game, and based on how he has thrown the ball throughout his young career in a traditional quarterback role, the majority of those 20 plays are going to come out of this formation.

The Jets are no stranger to the wildcat, which was formerly run by Brad Smith, who played quarterback in college at the University of Missouri. However, Tebow is much more athletic, and contrary to popular belief, is a better passer than Smith. Everyone saw how much Rex gloated about the wildcat being used after the Redskins game last season, so expect to see a great amount of this, particularly in short yardage, and goal line situations. If Sparano can stay creative enough with this scheme to keep opposing defenses guessing, combining his intuition with Tebow’s athletic ability could make this a very potent offensive threat.

4.) Wayne Hunter will improve from his poor 2011 performance. Fact. There is certainly a great lack of faith in Hunter among Jets Nation, and for valid reason. Hunter, to put it nicely, was god awful last season. After allowing 11 sacks, along with 32 QB pressures, he certainly has a long way to go before winning over any fans of the green and white. However, with such a horrible performance last season, an improvement is seemingly inevitably. Is it humanly possible that Hunter could play worse than he did last season? I don’t think so.

Hunter will be coming out with a serious chip on his shoulder. Many of his detractors have considered him the worst lineman in the National Football League. However, we must not forget, that before stepping into a full time starting role, Hunter was exceptional as a reserve player. Filling in for Damien Woody in late 2010, Hunter earned himself his current contract with Gang Green, due to the high level of potential he displayed. Hunter is a physical freak, and certainly has a mean streak, as displayed by his on the field altercation with Santonio Holmes last season. Couple these facts with Sparano’s more physical style blocking approach,and Hunter could shock the world in 2012.

It is important to remember that in 2010, the Jets were a physical, smash mouth team. Last season, they seemingly got away from that style of play, focusing on more of a finesse type of offensive blocking scheme. This year, Sparano will bring the Jets offensive line back to where they thrived the most with a tough, man on blocking approach. Hunter will undoubtedly improve from 2011, and could actually surprise many by having an average to decent season as the Jets’ starting Right Tackle.

5.) Dustin Keller will prove to be a solid blocking Tight End under Tony Sparano. False. Keller has succeeded up until this point in his career for his athleticism and receiving skills. In fact, he was drafted so high because of these same attributes, after an impressive career at Purdue, followed by a lights out combine heading into the 2008 NFL Draft. Blocking has never been a strong point in his game, and New York shouldn’t expect that to start anytime soon.

This is not to say Keller will not be a valuable piece in Sparano’s system. In fact, Keller should realistically thrive as a receiving threat under Sparano. Miami Tight End Anthony Fasano had just one career touchdown before falling under the tutelage of his former head coach. Since then, Fasano has reeled in 18 touchdowns. If Sparano can get this type of production out of a one time anemic player at the position, imagine what he can do with an athlete like Keller.

As for the blocking aspect of the tight end position in this system, expect the Jets to closely monitor the development of Hayden Smith. At 6’6″ nearly 260 lbs, Smith certainly has the physical tools to be a great blocker, and his experience as a former rugby player prove that he has the tenacity needed to get in the trenches with some of the toughest defensive lineman in the NFL. What will matter most for Smith is how fast he can pick up this game and prove his worth to the coaching staff before the final roster adjustments need to be made. If he cannot convince them he will be a worthy piece of this offense, expect the Jets to look into free agency for a blocking Tight End, perhaps free agent Visanthe Shiancoe, who at 31 years old, certainly has some good years left in him.

6.) Terrance Ganaway will beat out Bilal Powell as the third RB. Fact. Although Powell may not have gotten the fairest chance to prove himself as a rookie last season (13 car, 21 yards, and a fumble), he does not seem to quite fit in with the direction the Jets are heading offensively. At 5’10” 204 lbs, Powell is a smaller back, who is certainly in no position to beat out Joe McKnight as the home run threat to the rushing attack this season.

Ganaway, on the other hand, fits the bill of the Jets new offensive identity to a T. He is very big at about 6’0″ 240 lbs, and has displayed excellent agility and elusiveness during his time as a Baylor Bear. Coming from Baylor, he has a high level of experience playing in an option type offense, and was seemingly drafted to play a similar role in New York’s wildcat package with Tim Tebow. The Jets certainly seem to have a plan in place for Ganaway, and barring something unforeseen, expect Powell to be on the outside looking in after training camp.

TOJ 12 Pack: New York Jets Post-Draft Predictions

Turn On The Jets gives out 12 post-draft predictions for the 2012 season

The New York Jets had open media availability yesterday and the top stories of the day were Tim Tebow’s dog, Darrelle Revis hating the Patriots and where Tim Tebow doesn’t live. Unfortunately, if you are looking for a 12 pack of information on that you are on the wrong site and should instead read some of the local newspapers. Instead I give you a 12 pack of post-draft predictions for the Jets 2012 season. If you are looking for more reading throughout the day, check back later this afternoon as Chris Gross will finish up our draft pick analysis by looking at Quinton Coples. I will also provide links to our other articles covering the rest of the picks.

On to the predictions…

1. Wayne’s World – The Jets opening day starter at right tackle will be Wayne Hunter. Should you be thrilled about this? Probably not, but perhaps this article from our good friend Jeff Capellini will make you feel better. It has become clear the Jets are content to let Hunter and Vladimir Ducasse battle for the position. While I think the organization would love to see Ducasse win, I think Hunter is the day one starter in camp and is steady enough to hold off Ducasse who hasn’t shown much of anything through two years. Tony Sparano will feel better going with a guy who has over a season of starting experience instead of the unproven Ducasse. For those who are asking, I do not think Austin Howard is a factor in this competition. If he was, the Jets wouldn’t have paid Hunter 2.5 million to comeback. They would have just let Howard compete with Ducasse.

2. Slow Safety – The Jets opening day starting safeties will be LaRon Landry and Eric Smith. At this point, I don’t think they will add Yeremiah Bell and even if Jim Leonhard returns, I don’t think it will be in a starting role. Look for rookie Josh Bush to be a factor in a centerfield type role when the Jets go to three safety looks and for rookie Antonio Allen to get on the field as a blitzer or to fill in for Landry if he gets hurt.

3. Out Wide – Braylon Edwards isn’t coming back. The Jets wide receiver depth chart will be Santonio Holmes as the starting flanker, Stephen Hill as the starting split end and Jeremy Kerley as the slot receiver. Behind them, I expect Chaz Schilens, Patrick Turner and Jordan White to stick as backups. White could be relegated to the practice squad unless he shows value on special teams.

4. Must Addition – The Jets will add a blocking tight end at some point. How can you run Tony Sparano’s offense without a single blocking tight end on the roster?

5. Where The Rookies Land – As I mentioned previously, I do think Stephen Hill will start from day one. Quinton Coples will be a de facto starter on the defensive line but will be rotated through with Mike DeVito, Muhammad Wilkerson, Marcus Dixon and Kenrick Ellis. Demario Davis will be a key special teams player and play in some defensive packages, same for Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. Robert T. Griffin has practice squad written all over him. Jordan White could join him unless he sticks as the #5 receiver and a special teamer. Finally, I think Terrance Ganaway will beat out Bilal Powell and be the third rushing option behind Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight.

6. Everybody Loves Tony – Leading up to the regular season, Tony Sparano will be one of the most popular men in the Jets organization with fans and players, simply because of how much everybody disliked Brian Schottenheimer.

7. Puppy Eyes – Tim Tebow’s popularity will be at a fever pitch heading into the season. He has already won over the media and skeptics of the trade with his quotes and smiles. Listen, I won’t argue that Tim Tebow seems like genuinely a great human being. It is good to have a player like that part of this organization. I also won’t argue that he works his ass off to get better. However, Mark Sanchez works hard too. Mark Sanchez is a better quarterback than Tim Tebow…by a good amount. If the Jets are going anywhere this season, it is with Sanchez as their starting quarterback and Tebow as a versatile weapon off the bench. Don’t forget that, regardless of how many times Tebow smiles for the camera.

8. Bounce Back – Santonio Holmes is going to have a very good year from start to finish. Why? Great football players are motivated to bounce back from down years and I don’t care what you think of Holmes personally, he is a great football player and the Jets top playmaker on offense. I think he will use everything the media has said about him as fuel. So let him keep being snippy with them, as long as he is catching touchdowns.

9. K-Ball – Josh Brown is going to be the Jets kicker this year, not Nick Folk. TJ Conley isn’t going to be the punter either. You could tell from Mike Westhoff’s quotes last week that he wants no part of Folk and Conley for another year.

10. Big Plays – Look for an increase in Dustin Keller’s yards per catch this season, same goes for Holmes. Anthony Fasano was posting higher yards per catch than Keller in Sparano’s offense and Keller has much more athleticism than him.

11. Annoying Training Camp Stories About Things That Will Have No Impact On The Jets Season – Anything related to Tim Tebow’s personal life. Any story on Matt Simms. Excessive coverage of Hayden Smith. Amateur psychology pieces on Mark Sanchez’s facial expressions during press conferences and practices. Rex Ryan looking skinnier (no joke).

12. Low, Low Expectations – Expect most people to pick the Jets to finish either 3rd or 4th in the AFC East, with a record between 6-10 (pessimistic) or 9-7 (optimistic).