Five Questions About The Jets Offense

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First a few updates:

1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

2. HBO will be airing a 12 minute preview of Hard Knocks on July 28th at 11 PM. The actual show starts on August 11th at 10 PM. Jets training camp opens on August 2nd. For the second year in a row they will be in Cortland, New York but also have open practices at Florham Park and Hofstra.

Ten Questions About The Jets Offense

As training camp rapidly approaches, here are five questions about the Jets offense that still need to be sorted out –

1. How will Santonio Holmes be integrated after he returns from his suspension in week 5?

– When Holmes joins the Jets it remains to be seen how many reps he will immediately receive and whose reps he will be taking away. Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards will remain the de facto starters but Holmes needs to be on the field much more than a standard number three receiver. There could be a push to use more three receiver sets but that moves away from the Jets “ground and pound” approach by putting them in a more spread formation. Cotchery, Edwards, and to an extent Dustin Keller will have to be prepared to sacrifice both reps and looks from Mark Sanchez after Holmes returns to the line-up. Also if Holmes starts making a high amount of his usual big plays, Edwards or Cotchery could be looking at a demotion from the starting line-up. Overall, this a good problem to have because it means the Jets have substantial talent at the receiver position but it will be require personal sacrifices from all the receivers and tight ends for the good of the team.

2. How many carries will LaDainian Tomlinson receive on a weekly basis?

PhotobucketIt is going to be interesting to see what LaDainian Tomlinson’s exact role on this offense will be and if he is satisfied with it. I would assume he will start the year off as the team’s third down back, short yardage/goal-line back, and taking a series or two each half to rest Shonn Greene. As the season progresses, Joe McKnight should start to take over some of the third down responsibilities and take a bigger overall role in the offense. I don’t doubt Tomlinson’s ability to help the Jets as a pass catcher out of the backfield but I wonder if he can handle receiving less than 10 carries for a few games in a row if Greene is playing to his potential and McKnight starts coming on. It is likely better for Tomlinson’s productivity to be in the 8-11 carry a game range but will he see it that way?

3. How long will it take Joe McKnight to become a consistent contributor?

As with any rookie there is going to be a period of adjustment for Joe McKnight. He can’t step in as a third down back or get any substantial number of reps until he proves he can pass protect and demonstrate a satisfactory knowledge of the Jets running and passing schemes. McKnight is athletic enough to line up in the slot, which will help the Jets find ways to get the ball in his hands out in the open field, where he is most dangerous. If McKnight quickly develops as the season goes on, we could be seeing less and less of LaDainian Tomlinson as McKnight is groomed to be the long term complimentary back to Shonn Greene.

4. Will Vladimir Ducasse be ready?

– Will the Division I-AA graduate be ready to hold his own at guard by week one and if he isn’t will Bill Callahan be able to scheme up ways to protect him? Ducasse is fortunate enough to be surrounded by Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, which should help cover up any of his early mistakes. However, he still has to be able to do his job on a consistent enough basis or the Jets running game and pass protection is going to suffer.

5. Will there be an urge to throw the ball more frequently and move away from the ground and pound approach from last season?

– It is easy to look at the collection of players the Jets have as pass catching options and fall in love with throwing the football all over the place, however that moves away from the formula they used to win games last season. Mark Sanchez isn’t ready to be throwing the football 35 times a game, regardless of how good his wide receivers and tight end are. If the Jets lose a tight, low-scoring game with Sanchez only throwing 18 passes there is going to be plenty of clamoring for them to open things up, but the question remains will Rex Ryan push the offensive staff to keep the ground and pound approach in place?  Hopefully, the Jets can find a happy medium that opens up the offense slightly from last year without moving too far away from what got them to the AFC Championship Game.

Training Camp Is Getting Close

Jets Area Of Concern – Left Guard

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First a few updates:

1. Sorry for the day off yesterday, we had some administrative problems with the site. You can expect 1-2 posts every single for the entire month of July. There is no shortage of things to talk about with this Jets team or with the NFL for that matter. Also keep an eye out for a new TOJ TV by the weekend and a new Podcast by the end of next week. Tomorrow check back for a little two a day action to compensate for no article on Wednesday.

2. I haven’t heard anything positive about the Knicks in free agency yet. If it becomes clear to the organization that they aren’t getting a top tier guy, they should focus on building their team with a few mid-level guys and role players this season, followed by a pursuit of Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul next year. It sounds to me like the Nets have a much better chance than the Knicks of getting LeBron as of right now. It makes sense, wouldn’t you be more excited to play for Prokhorov and Jigga Man instead of Jim Dolan?

3. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

Jets Area Of Concern – Left Guard

Contrary to the belief of some fans, the Jets roster isn’t perfect. Like any team in the NFL, they have multiple areas of concern throughout their roster heading into the 2010 season. Today is our final look at one of these areas, left guard:

On the Jets starting offense, there are three question marks: running back, quarterback, and left guard. Out of these three, left guard concerns me the least. You can buy into the “competition” between second year player Matt Slauson and Vladimir Ducasse all you want, but the reality is that unless something drastic happens, Ducasse will be the opening day starter. The Jets didn’t spend a second round pick on the guy to put him on the bench for a player of Slauson’s caliber.

Ducasse is making a major jump from Division I-AA at UMass to the NFL, so why aren’t I that concerned? The people surrounding Ducasse will make him better and help compensate for his rookie shortcomings. He will be lining up directly between All-Pro center Nick Mangold and Pro-Bowl left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. The Jets other guard is one of the better ones in the NFL, Brandon Moore. Ducasse is also benefited by having one of the NFL’s best assistant coaches, Bill Callahan, leading his unit. Beyond that, look how pumped up Ducasse and his people were to be joining the Jets:

The Jets will design plays to help protect Ducasse and not put too much pressure on him during his rookie season. He will make mistakes but Mangold and Ferguson are good enough to help cover some of them up. Beyond that, he will be getting a hell of a hands on education from watching the Jets entire offensive line working on a day to day basis. You couldn’t ask for a better situation for a rookie to come into. Unless of course you were Kyle Wilson, learning from the best player in the NFL at your position everyday. Good thing he is on the Jets too.

There will be growing pains for Ducasse and as long as they don’t result in too many free runs at Mark Sanchez (especially considering our backup quarterback situation), the Jets are good enough to overcome them. In 2010, Alan Faneca would have been a better player but for the long term, but Ducasse has the physical skills, size and people around him to develop into a very good lineman, which will fit him in right in with the rest of the Jets offensive line.

TOJ TV (New Episode Coming This Weeekend)

Jets Area of Strength – Wide Receiver

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 First a few updates:

1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets) and now also follow us on YouTube.

2. The big story of the day is that the Jets have an interest in JaMarcus Russell. I said this on the Facebook page and I will say it again here, I would love to have Russell as a backup…to Kris Jenkins. Maybe, even bring him in to compete with Vladimir Ducasse and Matt Slauson at the left guard spot. Wherever he is playing, he better not be throwing any footballs in green and white next season.

3. Speaking of Ducasse, the Jets are apparently near signing him to his rookie deal. How about some positive contract news for the Jets?

4. Let me throw out some final guesses on where the major free agents end up: I am going with LeBron and Bosh to Chicago, Carlos Boozer to Miami, Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudemaire to the Knicks, Rudy Gay and David Lee to the Nets, and that’s all I got for right now.

Jets Area of Strength – Wide Receiver

Here at TOJ, we have been going through the various areas of concern and strength for the Jets heading into the 2010 season. So far the areas of concern have been quarterback and running back, while the area of strength has been linebacker. Today we add another area of strength with the Jets group of wide receivers:

Links to previous “Areas of Concern” and “Areas of Strength” articles

http://turnonthejets.com/2010/06/24/jets-area-of-strength-linebacker/

http://turnonthejets.com/2010/06/23/jets-area-of-concern-running-back/

http://turnonthejets.com/2010/06/28/jets-area-of-concern-quarterback/

The Jets have come a long way from Chansi Stuckey battling David Clowney and Brad Smith for a starting spot opposite of Jerricho Cotchery last summer. There may not be a team in football with a better top three receivers than the Jets this season. Yes, they will be without Santonio Holmes for the first four games because of a suspension but for the 3/4 of the season they are at full strength, their top three options are going to give defensive coordinators nightmares.

Here is the production of Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, and Santonio Holmes last year:

  • Edwards – 45 receptions, 680 yards, 4 touchdowns
  • Cotchery – 57 receptions, 821 yards, 4 touchdowns
  • Holmes – 79 receptions, 1248 yards, 5 touchdowns

Initially, those numbers are nothing to go crazy over especially since Holmes is coming off his best season ever and can’t possibly match those numbers in only 12 games this season (except the touchdowns). Yet, keep in mind Edwards spent 4 games with a quarterback disaster in Cleveland and arrived just in time for the rough patch of Mark Sanchez’s season. Cotchery missed two and half games with an injury and was a likely 1,000 yard guy without that missed time. He produced at a high level, even with a rookie quarterback. As I said before, 2009 was Holmes best season. Here is the stat lines from Edwards and Cotchery’s best season:

  • Edwards (2007) 80 receptions, 1299 yards, 17 touchdowns
  • Cotchery (2007) 82 receptions, 1130 yards, 2 touchdowns (or you could argue for 2006 when he had 82 receptions, 961 yards and 6 touchdowns).

PhotobucketAll three of these guys are capable of being 1,000 yard receivers. Edwards is the most physically gifted of the three and seems poised for a big year after a great off-season and the expected improvement of Mark Sanchez. Holmes is just entering his prime as a legitimate number one receiver, and is the best overall receiver of the group. Cotchery will get looked over by people but he was doing just fine as the Jets number one receiver before the Edwards trade last  year and is going to kill teams out of the slot this season. He has the best hands out of the group, is the most precise route runner, and has the best chemistry with Sanchez. If you had to bet which of these three guys will have the most receptions, I would go with Cotchery.

The depth behind the Edwards, Cotchery, and Holmes is solid. Brad Smith is more of a do everything guy than a receiver, but as a #4/5 option is about as solid as you will get in the NFL. David Clowney flashed at times last season and is capable of being the number three receiver while Holmes serves his suspension. Aundrae Allison is a burner who could push for a roster spot because of his kick return and deep threat ability. Also keep an eye on Britt Davis who has good size and impressed the coaches last training camp, along with Larry Taylor who looked like a good slot receiver in the making at mini-camp.

Overall, the production of players like Edwards, Cotchery, and Holmes will depend on Sanchez’s progression in year two. However, if he takes the expected steps forward, all three will have plenty of opportunities to make plays. I don’t know if there will be a 1,000 yard receiver out of this group because of the division of looks between them, Dustin Keller, and the running backs but Edwards and Cotchery should get close. Holmes should still put up a big chunk of receiving yards because of his big play capability and will hopefully find the end-zone 4-6 times.

TOJ TV

12 Reasons Why The Jets Will Win 12 Games

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First a few updates:

1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets). Also check out the new episode of TOJ TV at the bottom…And now follow Turn On The Jets on YouTube at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/Turn0nTheJets

2. I will making an appearance on Marty Schupak’s Green Rewind Podcast tonight, I will post the link once he has it up and running.

3. The Jets signed 4th round pick Joe McKnight today. They still have to sign Kyle Wilson and Vladimir Ducasse to finish up their draft pick deals.

12 Reasons Why The Jets Will Win 12 Games

I was amazed by  how high the levels of optimism were when I was interviewing Jets fans at mini-camp practice this past week. Out of the 40 people we interviewed, not a single person put their record below 11-5. Personally, I share the optimism because I genuinely believe this is a 12 win, division winner type team this season just I like I genuinely believed they would be a 10 win, wild-card  type team last season (close enough on the win total). Am I being blinded by the fact I am a Jets fan? I don’t think so, why should I say a team that should win 12 games, shouldn’t? Here are 12 reasons, why the Jets will win 12 games in 2010

Photobucket 1. Familiar With Defensive System – This is year two in Rex Ryan’s defensive system, which means all of the returning starters will be substantially more comfortable. They were already number one in the league and now they will have the ability to expand into more complex packages and blitz schemes. The players will also be given more of a chance to freelance and create plays based on what they see from the offense.

Some quotes from Bart Scott earlier in the off-season on this issue…

“Now it’s not what the coaches can do more of, it’s what the players can do more of. Last year we were doing everything pretty much straight by the book. Now we can improvise…The only field coaches we had last year were me, Marques Douglas and Jim Leonhard.  Now you’ve got 22 people here that know the defense and can teach the defense.”

2. Improved Sanchez – I find it hard to believe after the solid postseason Mark Sanchez had, an off-season spent at the team facility, and a year of experience under his belt that he won’t improve on his 20 interceptions to 12 touchdowns from last season. The Jets won 9 games with Sanchez having a pretty awful statistical season, just imagine how many they could win if he makes the expected improvements to his touchdowns, interceptions, completion percentage, and QB rating.

3. Welcome Back – One of the top defensive lineman in the NFL will be returning to the Jets this season. They did struggle against the run at times last season, especially in the wild-card round against the Bengals but the return of Kris Jenkins should alleviate those problems. He will also provide a much better push on the pocket in passing situations.

4. First Down – The addition of Santonio Holmes will allow the Jets to run a wide variety of personnel groupings and formations with their three wide receivers, who are as good of a top three as any in the NFL. Watch for Jerricho Cotchery to become to one of the best slot receivers in the NFL on third downs this season, while all the attention is being paid to Holmes and Braylon Edwards on the outside.

5. No More Corner Problems – The Jets weak spot on defense last year was the cornerback position opposite Darelle Revis. How do you solve a problem like that? You trade for a former All-Pro corner who is one of the best overall athletes in the NFL and spend a first round pick on one of the draft’s top corners. I doubt you can name a team with four corners better than Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, and Dwight Lowery.

Photobucket6. A Mismatch NightmareThe Jets loaded receiver position and number one ranked rushing attack, makes you forget they have one of the better pass catching, and most athletic tight ends in the NFL in Dustin Keller. His regular season numbers weren’t overwhelming last season but in the playoffs, he caught a touchdown in every single game and appeared to finally be on the same page as Mark Sanchez. Keller will get plenty of favorable match-ups this season with attention focused on the Jets receivers and running backs.

7. Defensive Depth – The growth of young players Jamaal Westerman and Kenwin Cummings, along with the additions of veterans Jason Taylor and Lance Laury has given the Jets solid depth at the linebacker position. You already read about their corner depth, which is matched by quality depth at the safety position with Eric Smith, James Ihedigbo, and Donovan Warren. The defensive line could use a little more but that problem could be solved if they add Marques Douglas to the roster over the summer.

8. Safety Valve – The Jets have added two very good pass catching running backs, LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight which will benefit Mark Sanchez. Unlike previous years, the Jets screen game was nearly non-existent last season. Sanchez lacked a good outlet out of the backfield. The presence of Tomlinson and McKnight will help his completion percentage and also create some big plays in the screen game.

9. Playing For The Money – The Jets have three very, very talented players in Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Antonio Cromartie playing for a contract that will secure them for the rest of their careers.

10. Safety Upgrade – Despite not having as big of a name, Brodney Pool will prove to be an upgrade for the Jets at the safety position over Kerry Rhodes, who was a major disappointment last season.

11. Offensive Line – Even with the subtraction of Alan Faneca, who was arguably the Jets fifth best lineman last year anyway, the Jets will still have a very good offensive line in 2010. Nick Mangold is an All-Pro. D’Brickashaw Ferguson is a Pro-Bowl player. Brandon Moore should have been a Pro-Bowl player last year. Damien Woody is a solid, consistent veteran. Their experience will help overcome the growing pains of Vladimir Ducasse.

12. Special Playmakers – The Jets have a serious collection of playmakers for their return game. Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, Joe McKnight, Brad Smith, Aundrae Allison, and David Clowney give Mike Westhoff plenty of options.

New TOJ TV

Three Offensive Question Marks For The Jets

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First a few updates:

1. It is always fun to rile up Dolphins fans. A big thank you to everybody from Miami who took the time out of their day to visit my site to criticize my article on their delusional beat writer and team.

2. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

3. Episode number 2 of TOJ: The Podcast is now up and running, as you could see in the story below this one and from “The Podcast” link on top of the page. Give it a listen, as me and Dan Donohue debate the Jets and Giants records in 2010 and where LeBron James will end up.

4. The Jets have OTAs today and tomorrow, followed by ones on June 8th and June 10th.

5. NBA Finals – I am having a real tough time making any type of prediction in this series. It should be a 6 or 7 game battle that is very evenly matched. This series is huge for Kobe Bryant, who could cement himself as one of the five greatest players in NBA History in my mind, if he could beat the Celtics (who embarrassed him last time) and win his second title without Shaq. The major differences between this match-up and the 2008 match-up is that the Lakers now have Ron Artest “Say Queensbridge!” to guard Paul Pierce, Andrew Bynum can give them some minutes in the middle, and on the other side Rajon Rondo has turned into arguably the best point guard in the NBA. I respect what the Celtics have done this year but that doesn’t mean I can’t stand them and their constant whining at the officials…plus I have a natural hate of Boston sports teams. So let’s get it done Black Mamba…I am taking the Lakers in 7.

6. More charity work being done by one of the classiest guys on the team, receiver Jerricho Cotchery. http://bplolinenews.blogspot.com/2010/04/bpl-to-host-score-big-with-new-york.html

Three Offensive Question Marks For The Jets

In reverse order of importance…

Number Three – The Running Backs

PhotobucketThe Jets had the number one ranked rushing attack in the NFL last season, when they racked up 2756 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. An extremely large chunk of that came from Thomas Jones who ran for 1402 yards and 14 touchdowns. Leon Washington also chipped in 331 yards before his week 7 injury. Jones is now in Kansas City and Washington is now in Seattle. Shonn Greene will be replacing Thomas Jones as the number one back and LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight will be combining to replace Leon Washington. I doubt the Jets production will match what is was in 2009 because they are going to throw the ball more and because they will miss Jones and Alan Faneca’s run blocking. That being said, while there are some fair questions about Greene’s ability to be a number one back, he did come on very strong at the end of last season and did show he can carry the load in two playoff games. If he is healthy for all 16 games, he should be a 1100-1200 yard back in this offense. Tomlinson will be relied on to score a big portion of the touchdowns Jones did last season, as he will likely be the team’s goal-line and short yardage back. He will also have to spell Greene a series or two each half and hold down the third down back spot until McKnight is ready. The quicker McKnight can learn pass protections, the quicker he can become a contributing part of the offense.

Number Two – Left Guard

Alan Faneca was probably the Jets fifth best offensive lineman last season. However, he was still a very good run blocker and provided plenty of intangibles and veteran leadership. Despite talk of a competition between this year’s second round pick Vladimir Ducasse and second year player Matt Slauson, it looks like the job is Ducasse’s to lose. He will be making a major jump from Division I-AA at UMass to the NFL. Fortunately, he will be supported by playing in-between two Pro-Bowl players in Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson and he has one of the NFL’s best offensive line coaches in Bill Callahan. Look for the Jets to primarily run the ball behind Brandon Moore in big spots to take pressure off the left guard but either Ducasse or Slauson still has to hold up in pass protection and when the team needs to run to the left side.

Number One – The Quarterback

Well, obviously. It is encouraging that the Jets made it to the AFC Championship Game with Mark Sanchez throwing 12 touchdowns to 20 interceptions and having a 53.8 completion percentage but the team needs more from him in year two. If Sanchez can play the way he did in weeks 1-3, both Dolphins games and the playoffs, the Jets are going to be a 12-4 or 13-3 team and I truly believe that. He needs to find some level of consistency in year two, do a better job of protecting the football, and be more accurate. There isn’t a team in the league with a better top four targets than Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery, and Dustin Keller…Sanchez has to take advantage of that.

No Questions At Receiver

Jets OTA Thoughts: Safety, Rookies, Rex, Receivers

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First a few updates:

1. Nothing would make me happier than to watch the Bruins and Celtics both choke away 3-0 leads within weeks of each other…that would have to be a sign of bad things to come for the Patriots this NFL season, right?

2. I know you are wondering when TOJ: The Podcast is coming back with episode 2, well we are recording it tomorrow and hopefully it will be posted by Sunday night.

3. I want everybody to Facebook message “James Corbett” and bother him to make some free time to record a new episode of TOJ TV.

4. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

Jets OTA Thoughts: Safety, Rookies, Rex, Receivers

Yes, I wasn’t at OTAs today but that doesn’t mean I didn’t read every single word written by every single person who was there today, which I will use as writing prompts:

PhotobucketRex RyanI tell you I can never get tired of listening to Rex Ryan’s press conferences. Since LOST is off the air, it is basically my new favorite TV show. I love Rex’s optimism and the confidence he has with the organization but it is hysterical to listen him discuss any coach or player on the team. According to him everybody is the best in the NFL at what they do. Bill Callahan is the best offensive assistant in the league. Brian Schottenheimer is the best young offensive mind in the league. Mike Westhoff is the best special teams coach in the league. Mike Pettine is the best young defensive mind in the league. Dennis Thurman is the best secondary coach to ever step on a field. Kris Jenkins? Nick Mangold? Darrelle Revis? Best players at their respective positions. The best part about this is that Rex isn’t too far off when discussing most of these guys.

He is already talking about LaDainian Tomlinson like he is Chris Johnson in OTAs and Jason Taylor like he is Mario Williams. I give him a few months before he says Kyle Wilson is one of the best corners in the league, Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards are battling for the title of the NFL’s best receiver, and Mark Sanchez is the AFC’s best quarterback.

Braylon – It was very encouraging to hear Rex Ryan cite Braylon Edwards as the most impressive offensive player for the Jets in OTAs. Edwards has been expanding his knowledge of the playbook and doing some work at the Z receiver (flanker), which is different from where he usually plays (X aka split end aka where I was a first down converting beast for Muhlenberg). The more versatile he is in their offense, the more it will help him get open. Edwards has the talent to be a legit number one receiver and is the most physically gifted offensive player on the team. If he has his head on straight and has the proper work ethic, watch out because he is capable of putting up some scary numbers.

Eric Smith – Reiterating what he said in his video conference with fans on Wednesday, Rex Ryan said the goal is for Brodney Pool to be the opening day starter, while Eric Smith keeps his role coming off the bench and playing in a variety of defensive packages. Smith is a versatile player who is a core special teams guy, so Ryan does have a good point. Pool is athletically more gifted than Smith and will hopefully be able to make the plays Kerry Rhodes didn’t last season.

Rookies – Kyle Wilson apparently had a welcome to the NFL rookie type of day by receiving an education from Jerricho Cotchery in the slot. Wilson will eventually come around but the thing to be excited about is how good of a slot receiver Cotchery is going to be for this team. He is going to kill teams on third downs this season. Vladimir Ducasse continued to run with the first team and it basically sounds like unless he forgets how to walk, he will end up the opening day starter at guard. I am happy to hear that Joe McKnight didn’t vomit today. This is a step in the right direction.

Angry Rex

Wrapping Up Jets Week Of OTAs and Other Thoughts

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First a few updates:

1. I’d annoy everybody about following Turn On The Jets on Facebook but we jumped from 315 fans to 348 fans in the last 24 hours…well done. You can also follow TOJ on Twitter (TurnOnTheJets).

2. The Jets have the same schedule next week for OTAs, with a practice on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, with Thursday being the only day with media access. They then have OTAs on June 2-3, June 8th, and June 10th.

3. Jason Taylor is practicing with #95 for now but in a recent interview it sounded like Bryan Thomas would be willing to sell #99 to him.

4. Darrelle Revis has refuted reports he is asking for 20 million dollars a year but he has stated he wants to be the highest paid corner in football. Currently, Nnamdi Asmougha is and he makes about 15.2 million a year, so look for Revis to end up with something in the 16-18 million dollars a year range. Pay. The. Man.

5. It looks like we are headed to Lakers vs. Celtics in the NBA Finals. Can I buy a competitive series in this NBA Playoffs?

6. I can’t get enough Mikhail Prokhorov…I may have to become a Nets fan soon especially if the Knicks don’t come through with LeBron.

Wrapping Up Jets Week Of OTAs and Other Thoughts

New Additions – Antonio Cromartie has been doing some work as a kick returner. I think most people assumed the Jets would have Brad Smith, Kyle Wilson, and Joe McKnight battle for that job but Cromartie is obviously an explosive player with the ball in his hands. I doubt he would have the job full time but I could see them throwing him back there a few times a game.

Santonio Holmes probably didn’t make many people in the organization happy when he said he didn’t want a Super Bowl to be played at the Meadowlands. Regardless, outside of being knocked over by Darrelle Revis in a blocking drill, Holmes seems to be blending in well with his teammates according to people reporting from practice and his fellow teammates. Holmes best asset for the Jets is his versatility to line up all over the formation, which will help him integrate into the offense quicker when he returns in week 5.

PhotobucketVladimir Ducasse was running with the first team offense and made a good impression on Rex Ryan. It will be interesting to see how much of a shot Matt Slauson really has at winning the job. If Ducasse can hold his own in his rookie year as the starting left guard, it will speak well for the Jets front office who took a chance on him as a small school prospect in the 2nd round.

In my mind, the most concerning news of the week was that Nick Folk missed about every kick he took. You can’t be a team built around running the ball and playing defense and have a kicker who can’t make a 40 yard field goal…actually no team can afford to have a guy like that. It looks the Jets may have to wait and see who loses the kicking battle in Houston or take somebody else off the scrap heap. Mike Nugent? John Hall? Is he still around?

Second Year Players – It was good to hear Sanchez was participating in some drills this week…any time spent with the offense is valuable. There is no need to push him too far during OTAs, the key is that he is 100 percent for training camp and the pre-season. Apparently, neither Kellen Clemens or Erik Ainge was impressive during OTAs. Also, Rich Cimini reported Shonn Greene looked like he put on some weight and not the good kind of weight. I am a little worried about the Jets running back situation this year, I hope #23 can prove me wrong and show he is capable of being a full time number one back.

Other Thoughts/Questions

1. Who will be the Jets main competition for the AFC East title, Miami or New England? It is easy to assume New England but I could see the Dolphins being better than them this season. New England’s offense just doesn’t scare me without Wes Welker out there and they still have question marks on their defense.

2. If the Jets could do five things before the regular season starts, I would want to see them add a new kicker, lock down Revis long term, lock down Mangold long term, sign Mark Brunell, and sign Adalius Thomas.

3. What prime time game are you looking forward to the most this year? Personally, I can’t help but get the most pumped about hosting the Vikings (if they have Favre) on Monday Night Football. I also badly want a win on Sunday Night Football over the Dolphins in their building.

Ten Monday Thoughts On The Jets Offense

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First a few updates:

1. A reminder to check out Turn On The Jets, new site (http://web.me.com/turnonthejets/Site/Podcast/Podcast.html), where you could find our Podcast and eventually a few other things. It is in the early stages of construction but episode 1 of The Podcast is up and running so give it a listen.

2. Congratulations to Chris Embree and Shawn Perincheril for winning the TOJ DVD Contest, both will be receiving free copies of “New York Jets Best Games of 2009” from Warner Home Video.

3. The final week of LOST is under way and the real question is now what show should I start watching when it is over. I think my plan is to watch “The Wire” from start to finish, followed by the “The West Wing” but I am open to suggestions on shows currently on TV.

4. I have read some bad Power Rankings in my day…but Peter King putting the Dolphins at #6 in his power poll and the Carolina Panthers at #8 has to be up there among the worst.

Photobucket5. Let me just throw in some quick commentary on the Jets PSL/Parking Lot situation – It was bad enough when Deadspin released this story about how the Jets hosted their draft party (http://deadspin.com/5533012/tell-me-how-my-class-tastes-scenes-from-the-worst-nfl-draft-party-ever) but now the reports about the Jets dividing up parking lots based on whether you own a PSL or not have taken the organization’s arrogance to a new level. We knew PSLs were coming for the Jets and they managed to keep out of the upper levels (where my family has their season tickets) but telling people they can’t park near the stadium because they sit in the upper level is a joke. They are breaking up groups of people who have been tailgating together for years and diminishing the game day experience for fans who look forward to hanging out with their friends in the parking lot before and after games. I don’t mind the long walk to the stadium from the parking lot but plenty of older fans and people with younger children certainly will. The Jets have a predominantly working class fanbase and the team has done a spectacular job of alienating them as much as possible with their decisions on the new stadium. The fact that the team is nowhere near selling all the PSLs after one of the best season’s in franchise history, one of the best off-seasons in franchise history, and the rise of the team to one of the biggest stories in the NFL, speaks to that point.

Ten Monday Thoughts On The Jets Offense

1. You have to wonder how many reps Erik Ainge and Kevin O’Connell will get during OTAs with the first team offense. Mark Sanchez won’t be participating until mid-June and even though Kellen Clemens is still technically number two on the depth chart, there is a good chance he won’t be with the team when week 1 comes around. Obviously, the Jets think O’Connell has potential since they carried four quarterbacks last season and Ainge had a very good pre-season in 2009. If either of these guys can play well during OTAs, it could expedite the process of getting rid of Clemens. The Jets will also likely sign Mark Brunell after July 22nd to be the backup for this season but in the long term, Ainge and O’Connell are battling to be Sanchez’s backup. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get an extended look with the starters while Sanchez continues to rehab.

2. The Jets may be better off if Matt Slauson can beat out Vladimir Ducasse in training camp for the starting left guard position. If this happens, Ducasse can spend time learning behind Damien Woody to take over at right tackle, when Woody is no longer with the team which is coming sooner rather than later. If Slauson has a good camp and pre-season, wins the job and can hold his own in 2010, the Jets will be heading into 2011 with a young group on the offensive line, and will have effectively replaced Alan Faneca and Damien Woody which has been a concern since they both were brought in before 2008. Ducasse might also benefit from having a season coming off the bench and slowly working into the Jets offense in short yardage packages, considering he is raw coming out of a I-AA school and won’t have to deal with the pressure in his rookie year of filling Alan Faneca’s shoes. Slauson has a year of learning in the Jets system already and gained valuable experience playing behind Faneca and Brandon Moore in his rookie season.

Photobucket3. It will be very interesting to see how the Jets integrate Santonio Holmes into their offense starting in week five. Unless somebody is really struggling or gets hurt, the Jets aren’t going to pull Jerricho Cotchery or Braylon Edwards from the starting line-up but obviously as the weeks pass with Holmes in the lineup he is gradually going to build up more reps. Cotchery is a team player and won’t have a negative public reaction to losing reps but will Braylon be able to keep his mouth shut if his playing time starts to decrease substantially in his contract year? His best remedy to the problem is to simply catch the football when it is thrown to him.

4. The decision to trade Leon Washington is going to increase LaDainian Tomlinson’s reps on the Jets offense, especially if Joe McKnight can’t get his feet under him in the early part of the season. The Jets can’t trust McKnight in the third down role right out of the gate, so Tomlinson will have to take the bulk of those reps, along with spelling Shonn Greene, and being the Jets likely short-yardage and goal-line back. If Tomlinson is as washed up as he looked towards the end of last season, the Jets could have serious problems with their Ground and Pound approach. Maybe, rookie fullback John Conner will take some short yardage carries to lighten the load on Tomlinson. I am not writing off McKnight in his rookie year but remember it took Shonn Greene awhile to get involved in the Jets offense last year.

5. Speaking of Greene, what are fair expecations for him this season? Honestly, I just want to see him stay healthy for 16 games, protect the football, and make some strides as a pass catcher. If he can do those three things, nobody is going to miss Thomas Jones. I also don’t doubt if he can do those three things, he won’t duplicate the number of yards Jones had rushing in 2009, although I doubt he comes near the 14 touchdowns because Tomlinson will be taking away goal-line carries.

6. If Mark Sanchez makes the expected strides in his second year, how much of the Jets “Tiger” formation will we see? The Jets won’t be helping their offense if Sanchez is in rhythm with Braylon, Cotchery, and Santonio by pulling him out and sticking Brad Smith in to run the option. That being said, Smith is still a valuable big-play weapon so it benefits to find a way to involve him in the game plan in some way on a weekly basis…it is just a matter of having the proper timing and using the proper plays.

Photobucket7. It is easy to lose him in the shuffle when talking about all the Jets wide receivers and running backs but Dustin Keller remains a potential x-factor on the Jets offense. He should be a primary target whenever the Jets get near the end-zone because of his ability to create mismatches. Keller is also benefited by Mark Sanchez’s ability to throw on the run because the Jets love calling the play action bootleg for him, in which Keller is normally the number one option. I don’t know if Keller will have the stats to be a pro-bowl tight end but he should be able to provide the Jets with a big play or two each week.

8. The Jets are going to throw the football more this season than they did last year but will they have a smooth transition into a more balanced offense? We all know Rex Ryan loves to run the football and allow his defense to win games but what happens if the Jets throw the ball 30 times in one week and that leads to a couple of Sanchez interceptions. Will the color code system go back into effect, with the Jets throwing the ball 14 times a game? How much rope will Brian Schottenheimer have with the offense in 2010?

9. Names to remember…Chauncey Washington, if one of the Jets running backs gets hurt he could get called up to the active roster and see some substantial playing time. Britt Davis, had a strong training camp last year and could push for a roster spot at receiver. Matthew Mulligan, the Jets number three tight end who is battling for long snapper job with Tanner Purdum. Aundrae Allison, maybe the Jets fastest player who could push for a roster spot at receiver and kick returner.

10. If you assumed the Jets had 60 plays in a game, how would you ideally divide up the touches as of right now? (assuming it is week 5 and Holmes is back)…here is my crack at it:

  • Sanchez – 24 pass attempts, hopefully 16-18 completions. Let’s say 17 for the sake of this.
  • Greene – 21 carries.
  • Tomlinson – 9 carries.
  • McKnight – 4 carries.
  • Smith – 2 carries
  • Cotchery – 4 catches
  • Holmes – 4 catches
  • Keller – 3 catches
  • Edwards – 3 catches
  • Tomlinson – 2 catches
  • McKnight – 1 catch

Let Us Tailgate In Peace

Devil's Advocate: Why The Jets Won't Be Good This Year

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First a few updates:

1. You know I love updates but I have to cut them somewhat short today because I have to figure out how to get TOJ The Podcast up and running this week and do some filming for TOJ TV. Don’t forget the Jets DVD Contest…E-Mail me 5 new fans you got to become fans of the Facebook Page and you will have a chance to win a free copy of “New York Jets Best Games of 2009.”

2. It is a real shame Brian Cushing will remain Defensive Rookie of the Year…I am not sure what kind of message it sends to give him the award again after it has been proven that he cheated.

3. How entertaining is tomorrow night’s Cavs/Celtics game going to be? The entire fate of the NBA for the next 10 years could be on the line. How will LeBron respond to all the criticism he is receiving? If you aren’t tuning in tomorrow…you aren’t a sports fan.

Photobucket4. Thoughts On Lost Season 6, Episode 15 “Across the Sea” – You will be hard pressed to find a bigger defender of LOST than me. I think the show is terrific and the writers take too much crap from fans, who have ridiculous expectations. Season six has been very good and even great at times, but last night’s episode was a swing and miss. I have only watched it once and maybe on a re-watch, I will appreciate it more. Look I understand, you can’t have something tangible as being the reason the Island is special, so I don’t have a problem leaving it as this ambiguous entity, but the imagery of that yellow cave was lame. The kid actors were crappy and I didn’t like the whole “drink this wine and now you are the protector of the island” scene. However, I expect more details on “rules” of the island and what actually happened when the MIB was thrown into the cave to be fleshed out in the final 2 episodes. In terms of theories, I do believe the original woman on the Island was the smoke monster herself and had orchestrated a long plan to get herself a replacement as both the island protector and as the smoke monster. Regardless, I am looking forward to getting back to the main characters this week.

5. So much for having short updates today.

Devil’s Advocate: Why The Jets Won’t Be Good This Year

For the first time since 1999, I genuinely 100 percent believe the Jets are one of the five best teams in the NFL heading into a season. I don’t think my fandom is clouding my vision when I say I expect the Jets to win 11 or 12 games and be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Yet, as we see every year in the NFL expectations aren’t always met and teams frequently come out of nowhere to make the playoffs and occasionally win the  Super Bowl. Despite the optimism I share with many fans for 2010, thee are two sides to every argument. So, let me play a little devil’s advocate to myself and feelings on the 2010 Jets, by looking at why the Jets won’t be good this season and by not good, I mean 8-8 or less.

Let’s start on offense where the Jets could have problems at three crucial positions: quarterback, running back, and left guard. Mark Sanchez was Jekyll and Hyde last year, what if he comes back in 2010 with a bunch of Buffalo/Atlanta/At New England performances? He missed time this off-season rehabbing from injury and still has a long way to go from his 12 touchdowns/2o interceptions performance in 2009. Defenses will scout out what the Jets did to protect Sanchez down the stretch last year and how they played to his strengths in the playoffs, and come up with new ways to confuse him. Sanchez may become a franchise quarterback one day but there is a really good chance he isn’t ready to be consistent enough to lead a team past Tom Brady for a divisional title. Beyond that, Sanchez hasn’t shown he knows how to avoid taking a hit when scrambling and he is coming off surgery. If he gets hurt, who is stepping in? Kellen Clemens? Erik Ainge? Mark Brunell? I’d feel okay about Brunell if he was throwing to Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith but this isn’t ten years ago.

At running back, there is no proof Shonn Greene can handle being a number one back for an entire season. Despite not receiving substantial playing time until the stretch run last year, he dealt with multiple injuries and on top of that had a fumbling issue. It is a big step to go from 108 carries to being asked to carry the ball 20 times each week from September to January. If Greene struggles or gets hurt, LaDainian Tomlinson is past his prime as a #1 back and Joe McKnight is a rookie fourth round  pick who can’t get through a practice in shorts and a t-shirt without throwing up.

PhotobucketAt left guard, the Jets are expecting either last year’s sixth round pick, Matt Slauson, who received no real experience last season or a rookie from a I-AA school, Vladimir Ducasse, to fill in for Alan Faneca. There are inevitably going to be bumps in the road for whomever wins the starting job and problems at one spot on the line can trickle down to the rest of the unit.

On defense, the Jets are very thin at the defensive end position. They are starting a backup caliber player in Mike DeVito opposite Shaun Ellis, who is getting up there in age. They will be relying on Jason Taylor to be their top pass rusher and there are also concerns about his age, along with whether his heart is really in New York. Brodney Pool is being relied on at safety but can he stay healthy? Antonio Cromartie also has to prove that he can be the player he was in 2007 and not the lazy disappointment he was last year.

What about on special teams, where the Jets have replaced Jay Feely with Nick Folk who was awful last season on Dallas. The Jets are a team built to play close football games but don’t have a reliable kicker. Their coverage teams were poor enough last year and they lost their top special teams player in Wallace Wright. They are also breaking in a new long snapper, which could be problematic in a big spot.

Overall, the Jets were only a 9-7 team last year who happened to get hot at the right time, along with some assistance from teams resting starters. Whenever there is high expectations for the Jets, they struggle to live up to the hype. There is a ton of attention around the team, more than ever in the team’s history, will they be able to handle it? Could it be possible I was naive in overlooking potential chemistry concerns?

I need to go wash my hands.

Nah, I think we’ll be alright next year

Analyzing The Jets Offensive Depth Chart

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First a few updates:

1. The Jets have signed tryout linebackers Cory Reamer from Alabama and Brashton Satele from Hawaii and released linebacker Broderick Stewart. Ryan was raving about Reamer throughout the Jets rookie minicamp and it will be interesting to see if he has a real chance to stick on the active roster. The depth chart has been updated accordingly and I also finally got rid of that Kerry Rhodes picture in the 2009 stats section.

2. It is being reported Leon Washington will have to play with a rod in his leg this season and there is still a chance he could start the year on the PUP list. Hopefully Leon can get himself back to 100 percent but you have to wonder if these injury concerns played a major part in the Jets decision to trade him and draft Joe “Get The Guy Some Rolaids” McKnight.

3. Anybody else enjoying the Red Sox being well on their way to a 75 win season? Also, you have to feel bad for Mets fans…I mean they get themselves in position for a big early season series against the Phillies, they are in great position to steal 2 out of 3 but then their ace walks a 47 year old pitcher with the bases loaded en route to being completely shelled.

Digging A Little Deeper Into The Jets Roster

By this point we have a general idea of who the starters for the Jets will be on both sides of the ball and who many of the key reserves coming off the bench will be. However, there are still some spots that remain up for grabs on the Jets final 53 man roster. Let’s take a look through at current situation on the Jets depth chart heading into May’s full squad OTAs, starting today with the offense:

Quarterback

  1. Mark Sanchez – Locked in as the #1 quarterback, likely won’t participate in all of the Jets OTAs as he recovers from off-season surgery.
  2. Kellen Clemens – Has a very, very tenuous hold on the #2 job. I wouldn’t bet on him being a Jet when the season starts.
  3. Erik Ainge – He will be given every opportunity to make a run at the #2 job.
  4. Kevin O’Connell – The Jets must think he has potential to compete for the backup job since they held on to him all last season as their #4 quarterback.

Potential Additions – Mark Brunell – If one of the other Jets UFAs signs somewhere, Brunell will likely be quickly added or they could wait until July 22nd to sign him after the Final Eight rules stop restricting them.

Analysis – I wouldn’t expect the Jets to carry four quarterbacks for the second year in a row. It is a waste of a roster spot. It is hard to determine right now what the Jets depth chart will look like behind Sanchez on opening day. If I had to guess today, Brunell will be brought in as the #2 quarterback while Ainge and O’Connell battle for the #3 spot and long term backup position. Kellen Clemens will either be traded to a team who suffers an injury at quarterback in camp or be released.

Running Back

  1. Shonn Greene – Locked in as the starting running back.
  2. LaDainian Tomlinson – Locked in as the number two back.
  3. Joe McKnight – Considering the Jets spent a fourth round pick on him and traded up to get him…locked in as the #3/third-down back.
  4. Chauncey Washington – Unless there is an injury, he won’t be on the 53 man roster.

Fullback

  1. Tony Richardson – He will start out the year as the team’s #1 fullback and mentor to 5th round pick John Connor.
  2. John Connor – He will be on the 53 man roster to learn from Richardson and be groomed as the full time fullback.
  3. Jason Davis – Unless there is an injury, he won’t be on the 53 man roster.

AnalysisI would expect the Jets to carry Greene, Tomlinson, McKnight, Richardson, and Connor on their 53 man roster. McKnight or Connor will be battling to be active each week, depending on the game-plan, their progress, and how much they are contributing on special teams.

Tight End

  1. Dustin Keller – Locked in as the team’s starting tight end.
  2. Ben Hartsock – The Jets #2/blocking tight end.
  3. Matthew Mulligan – Battling Tanner Purdum for the long snapper job.
  4. Tanner Purdum – Not technically a tight end but battling for the long snapping job with Mulligan.

Analysis – The Jets will carry Keller, Hartsock, and whoever ends up being their long snapper.

Wide Receiver

  1. Jerricho Cotchery – I still consider him the Jets #1 receiver until Braylon is more consistent and Santonio returns from suspension.
  2. Braylon Edwards – Playing for a long term contract.
  3. Santonio Holmes – Man, we have a hell of trio at receiver.
  4. Brad Smith – He will be on the roster because of his versatility, big play ability and special teams skills.
  5. David Clowney – He will have a tough time making the roster because of his lack of contributions on special teams.
  6. Danny Woodhead – He is versatile but needs to show more on specials to stick.
  7. Aundrae Allison – Has incredible speed and potential as a kick returner, which makes him intriguing.
  8. Britt Davis – Made an impression last season in training camp but needs to show something on special teams.

Potential Additions – Laveranues Coles – Apparently the Jets have recently been in contact with Coles and his agent, but I doubt anything happens. He would have to accept being a number 4 receiver after Holmes returns from suspension.

PhotobucketAnalysisOne of the more interesting position battles on the team will take place for the #5 receiver spot. I doubt Coles joins the Jets, which means Clowney, Allison, Woodhead, and Davis will fight it out. Since Holmes will be suspended for the first four games, two of them will likely make the opening day roster with one of them being cut or moved to the practice squad after he returns from suspension. Clowney has the advantage of gaining starting experience last year. I don’t think Woodhead can stick as a full time receiver and he didn’t do much on specials last year. Davis has good size and could be a good project player to hold on to. If Allison can win the kick return job, than he will obvious stick as the #5.

Offensive Line

  • LT – D’Brickashaw Ferguson – Bookend tackle.
  • LG – Vladimir Ducasse – He will be one of the most watched players in training camp as he battles to replace Alan Faneca.
  • C – Nick Mangold – The best in the business.
  • RG – Brandon Moore – Rock solid and underrated.
  • RT – Damien Woody – Solid veteran.
  • G – Matt Slauson – He will battle for the starting left guard spot with Ducasse…has an uphill battle considering where Ducasse was drafted.
  • C – Robert Turner – Mike Tannenbaum said after the draft Turner would backup Mangold and he also contributes as an extra tight end in short yardage packages.
  • T – Wayne Hunter – Backup tackle who also plays in short yardage packages.

Potential Additions – Veteran Left Guard – If Ducasse and Slauson struggle in camp, don’t be shocked if the Jets look to add a veteran guard.

Analysis – I would anticipate the Jets carrying their five starters with Slauson/Ducasse, Turner, and Hunter as their backups.

Overall Analysis – If you figure the Jets carry three quarterbacks, five running backs, six receivers (until Holmes comes back), three tight ends, and eight offensive lineman, that totals 25 players, which gives Rex 26 defensive players to keep (with the kicker and punter rounding out the roster). He could also add another defensive player to the 53 man roster after week 4 when Holmes comes back and the Jets likely demote one of their receivers to practice squad or release them.

Don’t Sleep On J-Co