New York Jets: Getting The Most Out Of Mark Sanchez

After breaking down the tape, here is how Tony Sparano can get the most out of Mark Sanchez this year

While staff writer Chris Gross has been spending his time in the film room breaking down the New York Jets draft picks, I have spent the bulk of the my time in the film room going back through Mark Sanchez’s first three years as a NFL quarterback. There is no reason to sugarcoat the reality, this is a make or break year for Sanchez. There isn’t a backup quarterback in the NFL breathing heavier down the starter’s neck (for the wrong or right reasons) than Tim Tebow.

Sanchez has had more success in terms of winning football games than any other quarterback in franchise history, outside of Joe Namath. Unfortunately for him, NFL fans and New Yorkers in particular have a short memory. Right now all everybody can remember is Eli Manning hoisting up his second Super Bowl trophy in five years and Sanchez flaming out at the end of last season, most notably against those Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

So for better or worse, Sanchez’s time needs to be now. I have seen every snap he has taken since coming into this league but I wanted to go back to confirm my observations, with a particular focus on his best games and his worst games. What are the elements that went into the game plans that made him successful? What was missing in the games he struggled in? What is the best approach for Tony Sparano and the new offensive staff to take in order to get the most out of their starting quarterback?

Let’s start with a few general observations before getting into a specific games –

Pros

  • Sanchez’s arm strength is not an issue. A common misconception about Sanchez’s game is that he lacks the arm strength to make all the throws necessary in a NFL playbook. He actually throws a very good deep ball when given the opportunity and has zipped plenty of passes into tight windows through bracketed coverage. Brian Schottenheimer did not ask Sanchez to throw outside the hashes a high percentage of the time but he has completed his share of deep outs and comebacks.

  • He is a very good athlete. Sanchez is more mobile than people give him credit for and has an ability to extend the play. This has been a gift and a curse to him throughout his NFL career, as it has led to big plays and head scratching interceptions.

  • He throws well on the run/is a good play action quarterback. It is head scratching why Brian Schottenheimer didn’t move the pocket more last season with the Jets suspect line. Sanchez throws very well on the rollout and has consistently succeeded off play action throughout his career.

Cons

  • Coverage/Defense recognition. Many of Sanchez’s interceptions come from him not recognizing a defense properly, most notably not taking into account a defender playing underneath his target in a zone. The only solution to this is film study.

  • Quick Trigger. When Sanchez is getting poor protection his defensive recognition goes from questionable to non-existent. He will often lock into to his first read and if that isn’t open, look immediately to his check down with an inaccurate pass. There have been times he has extended a play with his legs and created something down field, which is something he needs to do more often. Sanchez also must do better with blitz recognition pre-snap.

  • Accuracy Inconsistencies. A factor in Sanchez’s low completion percentage throughout his career has been working with a different group of starting receivers every year of his career, including a few who couldn’t get separation. However, he is too often hot/cold when it comes to his accuracy. Sanchez must find a way to break himself out of slumps quicker.

The best stretch of football Sanchez played in his career, came in week 2-4 of the 2010 season. When he posted the following stat lines against his divisional rivals

  • Week 2 – Vs. New England – 21/30, 220 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
  • Week 3 – At Miami – 15/28, 256 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
  • Week 4 – At Buffalo – 14/24, 161 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs

What were the common denominators in these games? Three key things: Dustin Keller, running the football, and limited passing attempts. Keller had 115 yards receiving against New England with a touchdown, 98 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns against Miami, and 28 receiving yards and 2 more touchdowns against Buffalo. An involved Keller means a productive Sanchez.

The Jets ran the ball well in all three games, going for 136 yards, 146 yards and 273 yards respectively. In each game, they averaged well over 4 yards per carry. Finally, they kept Sanchez’s pass attempts at 30 or under. The offense was well balanced but tipped slightly towards running the football.

It is interesting to note that Sanchez had one other very strong stretch in 2010 in week 9-11 that broke with the trends from the earlier stretch.

  • Week 9 – At Detroit – 22/39, 336 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • Week 10 – At Cleveland – 27/44, 299 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
  • Week 11 – Vs. Houston – 22/38, 315 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT

Note that despite Sanchez playing well, he turned the ball over in every game because his pass attempts went above 30. The Jets also didn’t run the ball as well producing 110 yards, 172 yards and 103 yards respectively and never cracking over 4 yards per carry. The Jets did win all three of these games but all were under extraordinary circumstances against subpar competition.

Sanchez had one last very good stretch of football in 2010, the divisional round against New England and the AFC Championship Game against Pittsburgh, with the best game coming against the Patriots. He went 16/25, for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns. Once again, under 30 attempts and a strong rushing effort (120 yards, 4.1 yard per carry) were present. Keller wasn’t a factor but Jerricho Cotchery filled the safety blanket void by coming up with 96 receiving yards. In the AFC Championship Game, Sanchez did just barely crack 30 attempts, going 20/33 for 233 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs but Keller had 8 receptions.

Looking at 2011, Sanchez didn’t really have a game that touched his stretch early in the 2010 season. He did have a few games that mirrored the middle stretch where he threw the ball a ton, racked up a bunch of passing yards but also turned the ball over. Sanchez threw the ball over 30 times in 10 games and the Jets had a 4-6 record in those contests. He actually threw the ball 35 times or more in 7 games and the team had a 2-5 record when that occurred.

Not surprisingly, his three best games from the standpoint of quarterback rating came when he threw 21 times, 26 times, and 25 times respectively. The running game was good not great in those games but in reality the running game was never great for the Jets last year, which was a major contributor to Sanchez’s and the team’s struggles.

What was most perplexing about last season is that the Jets waited until they had a questionable offensive line to drop Sanchez back at a much higher rate. 35 passes against Baltimore with Colin Baxter and Wayne Hunter starting? 59 passes against the Giants pass rush, with Wayne Hunter still starting? 40 passes in Denver, with yes…Wayne Hunter starting? That is poor coaching and those were three of Sanchez’s worst games last year. As you could imagine, the Jets averaged 75 rushing yards per game in those three losses and Dustin Keller averaged 43 yards receiving and had zero touchdowns.

On top of that, Sanchez was dealing with play calls that forced him to focus seemingly exclusively inside the hashes, where the most possible traffic was. The options on the outside were limited thanks to a sluggish Plaxico Burress and a struggling Santonio Holmes.

When it comes to coaching Sanchez this season, Tony Sparano would be wise to focus on building a reliable, power rushing attack. Ideally, Sanchez should be dropping back 22-28 times per game and be able to take advantage of his play action skills on a big chunk of those pass attempts. He should frequently be moved outside the pocket and Dustin Keller always needs to be a big part of the game plan. Rookie Stephen Hill and second year receiver Jeremy Kerley should help clear more space in the intermediate passing game for him. Finally, Sparano can’t be afraid to let Sanchez throw outside the hashes and down the field.

Without question, one of his biggest challenges will be game planning around the right tackle’s deficiencies, whether it is Wayne Hunter or Vlad Ducasse. If Sparano could protect Sanchez adequately, he has a quarterback more than talented enough to win with.

New York Jets: Day One Of New Offense

The New York Jets process of learning Tony Sparano’s new offense officially started today

The headlines surrounding the New York Jets first day of voluntary workouts centered on Santonio Holmes tone with reporters and his entertaining decision to Tweet a picture of himself wearing a shirt that said “captain.” Personally, I couldn’t give a damn if Holmes gave an attitude to reporters and how could you not crack a smile at that picture?

Let’s talk about more important things. In case you haven’t noticed, the Jets roster isn’t going to look much different from last season. They are relying on improvement to come from within and from a new offensive system led by Tony Sparano.

Not only does Sparano have to teach starting quarterback Mark Sanchez a new offense, different from the only one he has ever learned in the NFL, he needs to figure out how to best incorporate Tim Tebow’s Wildcat/Option package. He also needs to help the Jets rediscover their elite power running game, which was absent last year and find a way to hit big plays down the field in the passing game. Should be a busy man, no?

At a minimum, Tebow’s arrival should make the running game more dangerous and dynamic. If designed properly there will be more lanes for Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight from Tebow’s presence under center. Yet, the Jets will need Tebow to not just be their backup quarterback but be a primary ball carrying option. Greene hasn’t proven to be the “bell cow” the team thought he could be and McKnight, despite showing potential, hasn’t shown he is capable of being a 1B option full time.

Basically you are hoping Greene can be a 1A when he has produced like a 1B and that McKnight can be a 1B when he has produced like a backup. If they can both improve and Tebow gives them 5-10 strong carries a game, the Jets have the makings a capable three headed monster running the football. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they spent a late round pick on a running back to compete with Bilal Powell for a roster spot.

In the passing game, Sparano must find a way to compensate for Wayne Hunter or Vladimir Ducasse’s shortcomings at right tackle in pass protection. If the Jets can protect Sanchez, he has the ability to connect on passes down the field and outside of the hashes, areas he rarely had the opportunity to throw to in Brian Schottenheimer’s scheme.

Who will stretch the field? Santonio Holmes isn’t a true vertical receiver. He works better in the intermediate passing game and then making people miss after the catch. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t shake a defender with a double move every now and then, as he did in the Washington game last season on his game winning catch. Chaz Schilens has the top end speed and the size to be a good candidate to run go routes down the sideline, but can he stay healthy and can he produce consistently? Perhaps at a minimum he can give the Jets a Dedric Ward type threat. In 1998, Ward caught only 25 passes but averaged 19.8 yards per catch and hauled in 4 long touchdowns.

Dustin Keller and Jeremy Kerley both have the ability to get down the seam. Yet, with Kerley I would expect him to be used in a Davone Bess type role in Sparano’s offense, working in the slot and primarily in the short passing game. Bess averaged between 10 and 10.5 yards per catch the last four seasons under Sparano.

When it comes to Keller, interestingly enough Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano has averaged more yards per catch in three of the last four seasons. Most people have talked about Sparano using the tight end primarily as a blocker yet he has found ways to create a higher YPC for Fasano, despite him being much less than athletic and versatile than Keller. As we say every year, Keller has the skill set to consistently be a big play weapon. Can Sparano get the most out of him and have him picking up the big chunks of yardage this offense desperately needs?

Despite a lack of depth of receiver, running back, and right tackle, this offense still has talent. It is now up to Sparano to do what Brian Schottenheimer couldn’t, maximize that talent.

New York Jets: The Offensive Issues Of Tim Tebow As A Backup QB

TOJ breaks down the offensive issues of having Tim Tebow as your backup quarterback

The New York Jets have committed to Tim Tebow being their backup quarterback, ending the 4 days of the Drew Stanton era, who is already requesting a trade or release. Let’s examine the football aspects of Tebow being the backup. We know the media/locker room issues which are apparent to anybody with eyes or ears but how does having Tebow as your backup quarterback affect the development of your offense?

Tebow isn’t a traditional NFL quarterback. We saw what happened last year when he attempted to run a standard, pro-style offense and it wasn’t pretty. He is most effective running an offense tailored to his skill set. Call it the speed option. Call it the Wildcat. Call it whatever the hell you want, it is a completely different offense than the one Mark Sanchez and the first unit will be running.

Tony Sparano now has the challenge of installing, not one new offense, but two new offenses which the entire starting and backup group will learn. You remember complaints about things being too complicated under Brian Schottenheimer? You now have every lineman, tight end, running back, and wide receiver needing to learn the standard pro-offense Sparano will install for Sanchez and the quarterback as running back offense he will install for Tebow. It will involve completely different blocking schemes, route running, and steps for the running backs to learn.

What this means, is that instead of dedicating all of the practice and meeting room time to teaching Sanchez a new offensive system, large chunks of time will be spent fleshing out an offense the Jets could run if Sanchez is hurt, pulled or taken out for a few series for Tebow to jump start the offense (a scenario that Mike Tannenbaum said could happen on the radio today).

Keep in mind the Jets aren’t stocked with quarterbacking gurus to handle the process of teaching two new quarterbacks, two completely different offensive systems. They have Matt Cavanaugh, a holdover from the Schottenheimer regime who the coaches didn’t want back in the first place. He doesn’t know a thing about Sparano’s normal offense or Sparano’s Wildcat/Option offense, so he will be starting from scratch too.

I am not attempting to rain on the parade of fans who think Tebow can provide positive elements to this team because I believe that he can. However, it would be foolish to ignore the downside to having to dedicate practice/installment time to two offenses. Every advantage you get by making defenses prepare for two schemes, you are losing in preparation time to perfect one offense.

People talk about the jump Eli Manning and Drew Brees made after their third year with hopes that Sanchez could do a similar thing. Whether he was ever going to reach that level or not, the odds just became that much longer. If you played a sport, you know every second of practice time counts and the Jets will losing time to prepare a normal NFL offense. Will it be worth it for what the Wildcat brings? That is the question that will likely determine how long Mike Tanennbaum, Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano have jobs.

TOJ Monday Night Rant: New York Jets Passing Game

TOJ with a Monday night rant on the New York Jets passing game

Considering the disappointment of the 2011 NFL season, I find it fitting to kick off the next few weeks with a rant. Today’s topic is the New York Jets passing game…or lack thereof.

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Watching the New York Jets passing game last year was an ongoing exercise in frustration. You know how your favorite NFL team has the ability to pick up big chunks of yardage by completing 15-20 yard passes to open receivers? Well, the Jets didn’t have that ability. It was at the point where if it was 3rd and 8 or longer, you knew they weren’t converting because it didn’t seem they had a play in their playbook to pick up the necessary yardage.

The Jets passing game last year consisted of check downs, 5 yard stop routes to Dustin Keller, 4 yard crossing patterns on 3rd and 12, and of course slants…and then more slants.

The blame falls on a number of people: Mark Sanchez, the wide receivers, former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and inconsistent pass protection to start. Basically, you had the toxic recipe of an awful right tackle, a usually premier left tackle having a down year, an offensive coordinator with limited downfield playcalls, a quarterback who struggles heavily with the pass rush in his face, a painfully slow #2 receiver, and #1 receiver double teamed who was playing frustrated. Yikes.

What is the solution? Tony Sparano isn’t known for his passing game knowledge and the Jets never got around to hiring that “passing game coordinator” there was talk of. However, Sparano should help improve the protection up front which will go a long way towards helping improve Mark Sanchez’s play. If you have watched Sanchez since he started playing in the NFL, you know he has enough arm strength to make the deep throws necessary but he needs the protection, personnel, and playcalling to support him.

Sparano has emphasized he wants to pick up “chunks” of yardage through the passing game, despite having a run first approach. He will need to find a way to create mismatches for Dustin Keller and Santonio Holmes, along with Jeremy Kerley in the slot for that happen. Hopefully they will be supported by a split end with some speed via the draft or free agency, which will help open things up. He should also work to get Joe McKnight out in space in the passing game. He has the receiving skills to make a large impact in both the screen game and being split out wide.

Fellow TOJ writer Rob Celletti asked me numerous times this season, “how come the Jets can get a broken coverage, where a corner falls down or the defense makes a mistake to allow them to get an easy big play?” The reason was the Jets never threatened down the field, there was nothing for defenses to get confused over or cornerbacks to trip from. Teams would just bracket Shonn Greene on his checkdown and Dustin Keller on his short stop route.

Times need to change with the Jets passing offense and hopefully Sparano can deliver on the “big chunks of yardage” he has talked about.

New York Jets: Where Does Dustin Keller Fit In The New Offense?

Where is Dustin Keller going to fit into Tony Sparano’s offense?

There has been some minor speculation this off-season about the potential of Dustin Keller being traded. Yet, it remains more likely he will remain on the New York Jets roster next season as an integral part of their offense. The question is, how will Tony Sparano use a tight end who is not much of a blocker and has a skill set more suited to being a wide receiver?

First off, the Jets are going to add a blocking tight end after parting ways with Matthew Mulligan (better known as “Holding. Number 82”). If Anthony Fasano gets cut, which seems like a strong possibility, look for the Jets to add him. Fasano or whatever blocking tight end is added is going to have a large role on the offense as a key part of the running game.

Keller is likely to see less reps in the traditional tight end spot. Look for Sparano to have him help fill the gaping hole the Jets currently have at split end by using him both as a H-Back and putting him out wide.

We have discussed the possibility of adding Robert Meachem, Pierre Garcon or Laurent Robinson here. Unfortunately, those three remain fairly long shots. Garcon is likely headed back to Indianapolis, where the Colts have prioritized him over Reggie Wayne. Robinson and Meachem will both be sought after by many teams. Are the Jets and their Ground and Pound approach really going to spend big money on a wide receiver in the free agent market? Beyond that, couldn’t you see them having reservations about coming into this offense, especially with both coming from wide-open passing attacks?

I think it is more likely the Jets will spend a 3rd or 4th round pick on a wide receiver with some size and groom him for the starting spot opposite Santonio Holmes. For the upcoming year, Keller could spend a chunk of reps at receiver, along with Jeremy Kerley taking some reps on the outside, while the rookie is working up to speed.

Tony Sparano is going to look at Dustin Keller and see more of a wide receiver than a tight end, so anticipate him being used that way and for the Jets to spend more money on a free agent tight end than a free agent wide receiver.

Can Tony Sparano Turn Joe McKnight Into Reggie Bush?

TJ on if Tony Sparano can get Joe McKnight to produce like Reggie Bush did in Miami last year

Joe McKnight was brought to USC in 2008 to be the next Reggie Bush. Instead, those sky high expectations in following the nation’s top RB, contributed to McKnight’s decision to forego his senior year.

“My career was OK. It was good, but not like Reggie. There was a constant pressure to be like Reggie.”

Gang Green took McKnight in the 4th round of the NFL draft that year. Perhaps the stage could be set again for McKnight to get get another chance in trying to be “the next Reggie Bush.” This time as a top tier NFL back under the guidance of new Jets OC Tony Sparano, who coached Reggie for much of his breakout year with Miami in 2011.

The Jets rushing attack needs an infusion of speed and the threat to gain big time yardage outside. Before looking outside of the organization for this solution, the stage could be set for a real hard look at McKnight as a split carry back. After all, he showed what he could do in the open field this past season on special teams.

Score touchdowns.

RB Trent Richardson of Alabama has been a name that has been tossed around as a potential first round choice for the Jets who may want to press reset in the feature back department of the new rushing attack altogether.

Should the Jets choose NOT to take a RB in April’s draft, opting to stay with Shonn Greene and McKnight as their top duo, then an attempt to mirror the rise of Bush in Miami with McKnight, may be the Jets best path to an increase in production on the ground. With Greene being the straight ahead compliment, who already owns a solid resume of late game knockout blows.

Bush made some big game breaking plays over his first four seasons as a Saint, but rushing attempts went from a Saints high of 157 in 2007 to 216 in his first year in Miami. A number that would have been higher had he not taken weeks to wrestle the feature back job away from Daniel Thomas.

More touches and a game plan better suited to revolving around HIS strengths helped Bush go from the perimeter ornament he was in the Big Easy, to one of the NFL’s top feature backs by seasons end. This despite the knock on Bush that he was too small to handle the increased workload. Especially inside the tackles.

The same label that McKnight currently faces.

Following Bush’s act as a USC Trojan was asking too much. Could McKnight obtain similar numbers in games to Bush’s in 2011, with twenty or so carries a game? We bet plenty of those who follow the Jets would love to see McKnight get the chance to.

Thoughts On New York Jets New Offensive Staff

Thoughts on the New York Jets finally moving on from Brian Schottenheimer and hiring Tony Sparano

A collection of thoughts on the New York Jets decision to officially make former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano their new offensive coordinator –

1. You could have replaced Brian Schottenheimer with Paul Hackett and Jets fans would have been happy. Yet, I have to say that my initial reaction is positive to the decision to hire Sparano. Why? The Jets went outside the organization. They didn’t make the easy choice and hand the job to Bill Callahan. Rex is taking on a different kind of personality than himself but one that has the potential to mesh very well with him. What is important about Sparano is that he a disciplinarian and believes in running the football, which fits the identity this team has been successful with. The discipline is badly needed on offense as well.

2. This hiring will feel better if the Jets officially lock down Todd Haley to handle the quarterbacks/passing game. Haley and Sparano have worked together before and both come from the Parcells coaching tree. Haley will be the necessary in the face presence to Mark Sanchez that Brian Schottenheimer wasn’t. You won’t catch Haley and Sanchez playing grade school pranks on each other like we saw Schotty and Sanchez do on Hard Knocks.

3. It shouldn’t be all rainbows and sunshine when discussing these moves. There are reasons Sparano and Haley were fired and both have question marks surrounding how well they could work together in this capacity. It could be a dangerous situation to have one coach focused on the run and another focused on the pass. There needs to be one unified voice and plan. If Haley doesn’t come on board, the Jets need to find somebody else to work on developing Mark Sanchez.

4. Sparano hasn’t called plays since 2006 with the Dallas Cowboys, a season in which he was very successful at it. Obviously, many fans are clamoring about the use of the Wildcat. I am sure we will see some of it next season, particularly as Jeremy Kerley becomes a bigger part of the offense. However, the real question is what the backfield will look like next season. Is the 1-2 punch of Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight going to be enough, or will they look to add somebody in free agency? Beyond that, blocking tight end and right tackle also remain a big priority.

5. Sanchez is getting a new system. There is no more Schottenheimer scapegoat. I will get more into the criticism of him tomorrow. Yet, it is hard to deny that this will be a make or break season for him.

New York Jets: Schottenheimer Out, Sparano In, Sanchez Ripped

It has been an eventful day for the New York Jets to say the least

You thought the New York Jets would stay out of the headlines just because their season was over?

Think again.

First off, as expected Brian Schottenheimer was let go as offensive coordinator. It is being painted as a resignation but common sense here people, the Jets pushed him out the door. This is a move that will be celebrated by 99.9% of Jets fans and was the proper thing to do. The Jets needed new voices and a new philosophy on offense badly, which they will get with Schottenheimer gone, Bill Callahan gone to coach in Dallas, and wide receivers coach Henry Ellard also fired.

Secondly, it sounds like basically a done deal that former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano will becoming the Jets new offensive coordinator. Sparano has an offensive line background and will favor a run heavy style that should please Rex Ryan. However, it is expected that former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley could join the Jets offensive staff as an assistant head coach/passing game coordinator. Haley and Sparano are old friends who have expressed an interest in working together. The combination sounds good on paper, but there is always dangers in having too many voices in the room.

Finally, Manish Mehta dropped this bomb in the Daily News this morning, where unnamed players and sources around the organization rip Mark Sanchez to pieces, basically saying he is coddled by the organization, doesn’t have great practice habits, and that the team should replace him with Peyton Manning if possible. I will go into more detail on this later in the day, but it is always a cowardly move to throw quotes to the media without putting your name behind it. The debate will now rage, who said these things? How much validity is there to them? Can Sanchez really be brought back as a starter?

It will be a busy day Jets fans, stay tuned.

Miami Dolphins Heading In Wrong Direction, Makes Us Smile

The AFC East will likely end up being a two team race this season between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. For the past couple of seasons the Miami Dolphins have hung around but ultimately flamed out late in the season to finish at 7-9. It would seem this upcoming year they are closer to competing with the Buffalo Bills to stay out of last place than they are at coming near the Patriots or Jets.

Am I aware that the Dolphins have beat the Jets, three out of their last four meetings? Yes, it is one of the ugliest stats of the Rex Ryan era but hey in 2009 Ted Ginn Jr was solely responsible for both Miami wins and the Jets improved to a split last year with him gone. With the direction the Dolphins are moving and the direction the Jets are moving, I am calling for the sweep this year.

What direction is it that Miami is moving in? They flirted with hiring Jim Harbaugh long enough to be their head coach that made it clear they didn’t really want Tony Sparano back, but were then forced to bring him back. They then went on to make the same mistake with the quarterback position by flirting with Kyle Orton long enough to make it clear they weren’t confident in Chad Henne being their quarterback, and now they are stuck with him, as Dolphins fans chant “We Want Orton” everyday at training camp. I suppose they could always turn to Matt Moore, one of the few worse quarterbacking options in the league than Henne.

I can’t say I don’t think Reggie Bush could be a valuable player for them but it sounds like are expecting an awful lot out of a specialty back coming off an injury. They can talk up rookie Daniel Thomas all they want but the bottom line is that he is a rookie who had no work with any of the coaches all off-season up until now.

In the end, this is a positive trend for the Jets to have Miami move closer to being a 5-11 Buffalo type team instead of a team who hovers around .500, especially if the Jets can help our collective sanity by stopping the losses to an inferior Miami team.

They are a team stuck in limbo with a coach they don’t really want or a quarterback they don’t really want, which isn’t how competitive teams are built.

Armando Salguero: A Dolphins Beat Writer Living In A Fantasy World

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Since the beginning of the Rex Ryan era, one of my favorite beat writers to read has been Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald. It is always entertaining to get a cheap laugh from the nonsense he has to say in relation to the New York Jets and their rivalry with his Miami Dolphins. It is clearly bothering Armando to be working in a JV sports town like Miami. You know Miami, the city that puts less people in the seats for a Heat game than a WNBA pre-season match-up, despite having a perennial playoff team and one of the best players in the league? The same city that has more fans in green and white than orange and blue during Jets/Dolphins games in their home stadium. We can only hope D-Wade moves on to a real sports town, where his talent can be appreciated and The Miami Herald soon hires a Jets beat writer to cater to all the team’s fans in the area.

Anyway back to Armando who recently wrote a gem of an article entitled “Miami Dolphins Are Not Concerned by New York Jets’ Moves.” He decided to beat the old drum about the Jets crowning themselves as champions in the off-season. Don’t you remember this story from last year when Miami was attacking the Jets for having the same attitude? I remember and I also remember how that attitude brought them within one half of a Super Bowl appearance with a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach while the Dolphins enjoyed the Miami weather with some golf and relaxation. Their off-season started when the regular season ended, while the Jets played until the end of January.

PhotobucketArmando didn’t like how Mark Sanchez said he was confident his team would return to the White House in February, after he returned from a visit himself when he was invited to meet Mexico’s President and his wife. I don’t mind seeing our young quarterback having confidence in his team, instead of spending time criticizing the abilities of college players who are heading into the NFL Draft. Don’t you remember Chad Henne saying he didn’t think Tim Tebow could cut it at this level? Obviously, Henne is an authority on what it takes to be an NFL quarterback considering his 75.2 QB rating last season and his 14 interceptions to 12 touchdowns.

I know, I know those stats are better than Mark Sanchez’s last season, right? Sure they are, but last time I checked Sanchez got better when the games counted more while Henne got worse. I seem to remember Sanchez leading a 4-6 team to the playoffs with big wins in November and December, followed by winning two road playoff games. I also remember Henne having Miami in position to grab a playoff spot at 7-6, before he finished with a 0-3 record leading his to team to a quite impressive 7-9 finish.

Armando also didn’t like Bart Scott talking about the Jets striving to be the greatest defense in NFL history. Why set such high goals, right? The problem is that Scott just can’t say he wants the #1 defense in the NFL, because the Jets already did that last year. Armando has never liked the Jets boasting and bragging. He likes to paint them as a low character team, led by a buffoon of a head coach who flaps his gums too much.

My favorite part of Armando’s latest article was who decided to use for quotes. He went to Jason Ferguson…the guy who is suspended for 8 games this season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. High character indeed. Starting corner Sean Smith was also cited with a few laughable quotes about winning his battles against Braylon Edwards last year. Don’t you remember Smith? The guy hanging on to Edwards for dear life as he carried him into the end-zone during their week 8 match-up. As Manish Mehta of The Daily News recently pointed out on his blog, Edwards had 9 catches for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Dolphins last season. I hope Sean Smith remains satisfied with his level of play because I am sure the Jets would take those numbers again from Braylon.

But back to the picture Salguero like to paint of the Dolphins. The high character team, with no issues to speak of unlike the Jets. Nobody is saying the Jets brought in a bunch of choir boys this off-season but let’s not ignore Miami signing Richie Incognito one of the NFL’s dirtiest players…actually maybe the NFL’s dirtiest player. The guy has had four games in three years, where he had two personal foul penalties in a single game. He also got into a screaming match on the sideline with his coach last season, which was followed by a $50,000 fine by the league and him subsequently being cut.

What about last off-season when four Miami Dolphins were arrested? Ronnie Brown, DUI. Will Allen, DUI. Randy Starks, assaulting a police officer. Tony McDaniel, domestic battery. All of them are still on the team. Oh and don’t forget about Brandon Marshall who was recently acquired and who has a record of quitting on his team, beating up women, and getting involved in gang fights. What about GM Jeff Ireland who was kind enough to ask Dez Bryant in a pre-draft interview if his mother was a prostitute? High class, all the way around in Miami.

PhotobucketSalguero wrote in his article “Miami Dolphins Have True Character, While Jets Are Full of Characters” last November that “The Dolphins are a team with character. The Jets are a bunch of jerks.” Very eloquent and mature writing, Armando…you would think Bart Scott and David Harris took his lunch money or something. Salguero also scripted up these zingers…

“The Jets? They are a beaten, battered bunch…go for it Rex. Have your locker room filled with big talk and so little in the form of results. Have a locker room that drips sarcasm when a little humility is more appropriate.”

He went on to praise the “resilience” and “character” of the Dolphins. Funny enough, after their November match-up the beaten and battered Jets went to the AFC Championship game while the resilient Dolphins finished with a 3-5 record. The Jerks from New York found a way to get the job done.

Salguero has never been too fond of Rex Ryan. He took a cheap shot at him on Twitter the other day, when he praised Tony Sparano for losing 30 pounds this off-season…without the help of a lap-band. Another mature and professional comment. Way to attack a guy who is trying to get healthy and who has attempted to lose the weight without a medical procedure but has now been forced to use that option so he could be around for his family and his football team.

When Salguero discusses Sparano and Ryan, you would think the Dolphins coach has a glittering record of accomplishments. I actually do think he has done a pretty job in Miami but let’s not forget in two seasons, he has zero playoff wins while Ryan has two wins in one season. Sparano made the playoffs once but was smacked around by the Baltimore Ravens, who were led by Ryan on defense, to the tune of 27-9. Salguero must have been cringing with each of the five turnovers Ryan’s defense forced that day.

The final Salguero piece I need to touch on is another funny read “Miami Dolphins, Jets similarly matched despite offseason boasts” from May 16th. Armando seems to be convinced the Jets and Dolphins are basically even on both sides of the ball heading into this season.

PhotobucketThe last time I checked both of Miami’s starting corners would be battling to be a nickel back on the Jets. Their big time acquisition at receiver, Brandon Marshall, will be taken out of the game by that Darrelle Revis guy, leaving the likes of Davone Bess, Greg Camarillo, and Brian Hartline to get open on Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson. Somehow I don’t think Rex Ryan is losing sleep over that. The Jets have a substantial advantage on the offensive line, even without Alan Faneca which compensates for the Dolphins having more talent at running back. Beyond that, I am fascinated to see how Miami plans to cover Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes (in their second match-up), Jerricho Cotchery, and Dustin Keller with their collection of defensive backs. Finally, the Jets have a clear advantage at both outside linebacker and inside linebacker. You couldn’t find a GM in the league who would take Channing Crowder, Karlos Dansby, Cameron Wake, Charlie Anderson, and Koa Misi over Bart Scott, David Harris, Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, and Jason Taylor.

How does Salguero expect the Dolphins to beat the Jets without Ted Ginn Jr. on the roster? The only reason Miami beat the Jets twice last year was for some reason the first round bust decided to actually produce against the Jets. Without Ginn’s heroics against the Jets in 2009, the Dolphins would have been a 5-11 team.

Keep on writing in your fantasy world, Armando and if you ever want debate Jets/Dolphins, I’d love to make an appearance on your radio show.

Did You Win This Battle, Sean?