Welcome to Turn On The Jets weekly ranking of the New York Jets beat writers, which will be compiled every Wednesday by myself, Chris Gross, and Mike Donnelly. These rankings are based on our composite votes and each of us will take two different writers to explain their position. As always feel free to agree or disagree here on the site, our Facebook Page or on Twitter.
1. Jenny Vrentas, The Star Ledger – Vrentas was the consensus number one pick for all three of us. She puts out consistently high quality content, doesn’t look to sensationalize negative stories about specific players, and digs deeper for interesting angles the other writers ignore. A perfect example was from OTAs last week, Vrentas noted that Demario Davis was working with the first team sub defense, which was a great nugget of information gleamed over by the other beat writers. Her piece featuring Dustin Keller talking about the Jets offensive identity was another interesting angle from her recent work. Vrentas is a strong writer, although we’d like to see more interaction from her on Twitter with fans. The fact that she doesn’t use Sulia is also a big plus. – Joe Caporoso2. Rich Cimini, ESPN – Cimini generally does a very good job of covering the New York Jets, and is personally one of my favorite beat writers. He consistently keeps his coverage on point, up to date, and relevant. He usually keeps his columns creative, particularly his “Sunday Notes,” and more recently his “Take Five.” Cimini does a good job of using the resources he has at ESPN to provide quality, well-researched analysis, and typically stays engaged with his Twitter followers and readers as displayed by the replies shown on his timeline, and particularly the Jets chat that he holds on ESPNNEWYORK.com.
What keeps Cimini from the top ranking for the inaugural week is his habit of sensationalizing any negative stories revolving around the Jets. If there is a rocky situation, Rich tends to blow it even more out of proportion. For instance, he repeatedly made note of Santonio Holmes’s absence from OTAs, while seemingly poking fun at the fact that he was visiting injured US Troops in Germany via twitter.
He also loves the Tebow drama, but he cannot be faulted for this in these rankings because so does just about every other Jets beat writer. Drama is what sells, and in Cimini’s defense, he usually doesn’t let that get in the way of his analysis, with some exceptions. – Chris Gross3. Manish Mehta, The Daily News– Manish took over the Daily News beat from Rich Cimini a little over two years ago, and has become one of the most prolific writers on the Jets beat, as evidenced by his over 30,000 Twitter followers. When Manish took over, he was like a breath of fresh air for Jets fans, and it seemed like he really connected with his audience. He churned out great articles and feature columns like they were going out of style (Which technically they kind of were, since he works for a newspaper and all.. maybe not the best choice of words there). He quickly earned himself many fans with his excellent writing and great information, and I was one of the biggest–until about 6 months ago.
Perhaps fueled by seeing fellow AFC East beat writers like Ian Rappaport and Jeff Darlington receive “promotions” to the national scene for NFL Network, it seemed as though our boy Manish wanted in on the action and decided the easiest way to do so would be to create controversy. And so shortly after the 2011 season ended, that’s what we got: We got harsh articles on players like Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez with sensationalistic headlines. We got anonymous quotes–A LOT of anonymous quotes–that always seemed a little too perfect and wrapped his controversial stories up in nice little bows. It got to the point I jokingly started referring to him as Scott Templeton, which you Wire fans out there will know is no compliment. More recently, he was one of the main conductors of the Tebow Hype Train, and seemingly couldn’t wait to force Mark Sanchez out of town. He even resorted to charting every single pass thrown by the two at OTA’s in MAY, four full months before the season. It was a far cry from the thoughtful and well-written articles I came to love reading two years ago.
Other random critiques of Manish that we’ve heard from many anonymous sources (see, I can do it, too) are that he doesn’t interact with his Jets fans enough on Twitter, unless of course he’s sending them condescending DM’s as seen below so nobody can see how salty he’s being. (Sorry, Manish, but you don’t need Jets credentials to write about the team.) Also, it’s worth mentioning that he’s gone way overboard with this annoying Sulia stuff on Twitter, which is something that should be outlawed. It may seem like I’m being hard on Manish or that I dislike him. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I actually like him and his work very much, and if I’m hard on him, it’s because I’ve seen what he can do on the Jets beat, and I wish we saw more of that guy. Come back, Manish. We’ve missed you. Your spot at #1 can be reclaimed. – Mike Donnelly4. Jane McManus, ESPN – McManus covers both the Jets and Giants for ESPN and has been a strong writer in the New York market since she started out in 1998. It is hard to put her higher on the list because she simply doesn’t put out the same volume of content as others ahead of her, however she has a unique, engaging writing style and is an entertaining follow on Twitter. She doesn’t use Sulia, which we love and knows how to handle an angry Bart Scott. It would be nice to see less Tebow talk from her and more content on other aspects of the team. – Joe Caporoso
5. Brian Costello, New York Post– Brian Coz, as he’s known on Twitter, is a guy I’ve read in the Post for a while now, but only recently started following on Twitter. I’ve always enjoyed his writing and think his columns are enjoyable and good reading for Jets fans. He doesn’t try to create controversy or sensationalize headlines to get attention. He just reports on and writes what he sees.
That being said, Costello has a tendency to be a little bit bland with his columns. He seems to write on the same topics all the other reporters do on a given day and never really goes “outside the box”. By that, I mean I never really get the feeling something is MUST-SEE, to the point I feel like I have to go and post it on a Jets message board immediately to get the reaction of fellow Jets fans. It’s more like bathroom reading that’s used to kill a few minutes–not that there’s anything wrong with that. Also, his Twitter account leaves something to be desired. There are not that many tweets, there’s not much breaking news or info, and he doesn’t interact with fans much. Again, I like Brian Costello, and I’m going to be paying closer attention in the coming weeks, hoping we can move him up this list. – Mike Donnelly
6. Kimberly Martin, Newsday – Martin has certainly shown some promise in the early stages of her career as a Jets beat writer. According to her Newsday bio, the National Association of Black Journalists named Martin the 2011 Emerging Journalist of the Year. While she certainly has credentials, and has displayed some promising work, there is not quite enough of a sample of that work to rank her ahead of the first five. As the season unfolds, though, she could easily move up the rankings.
Since we don’t have enough material from Martin to give her a fair analysis yet, this week’s honorable mention for the absolute bottom of the barrel of Jets writers goes to ESPN AFC East Blogger James Walker. Although he certainly likes to bury the Jets every chance he gets, as he displayed by ranking Matt Moore above Mark Sanchez in his AFC East QB rankings last week, Walker earns a bit of a pass here for his most recent article defending Sanchez. If not for this article, which is the first coherent, intelligent analysis I’ve truly seen him give, I would have used this as a forum to bash Walker for his repeated use of minute points and incoherent analysis.
Take his AFC East QB rankings for example. Walker defers to the “Sanchez-Fitz-Moore Watch” as the measuring system used to determine who is the number two quarterback behind Tom Brady in the division. However, when digging deeper into this, Walker’s system goes back to week one of last season when it was initially the “Sanchez-Henne-Fitz Watch.” Walker explains that the column will be a scorecard held throughout the season to determine who deserves to be recognized as the East’s second best quarterback. What credentials does he use in his evaluation you ask? To answer, we have a quote from the first ever edition of the column:
“ Each week, the AFC East blog will keep an updated scorecard on the three quarterbacks, grade each performance on a variety of factors, and determine who’s better at the end of the season.” – James Walker, AFC East Blog, 9/14/11
That’s it. No explanation of what the “variety of factors” is, just simply a “variety of factors.” This leaves his analysis far too open ended, as these factors could vary week to week based on how Walker is feeling. By not clearly stating what he is using in his evaluation process, Walker is ultimately giving himself the ability to rank the quarterbacks on his opinion, since there is no accountability without a clearly defined “variety of factors.” So, Walker claims to have put Moore ahead of Sanchez “fair and square,” but it seems as if his idea of that is based on whom he prefers. I’d love to be proved wrong on this, but unfortunately, the print doesn’t lie.
So, now you have Matt Moore ranked ahead of Mark Sanchez by Walker, who then goes on to praise Sanchez in a defense article noting his ability to play big in big spots, and his habitual winning, less than a week later. A bit contradictory if you ask me. Perhaps Walker smartened up and actually did some research on this one. For that, JW gets a slight pass, but it will be a long season, and he is sure to cause some rumblings in these rankings again.
Still, Walker is not completely off the hook just yet. As pointed out by our good friend Kristine Reese, James is the biggest proponent of retweeting himself on twitter, which would be the equivalent to him “liking” his own status on Facebook. It is simply just not in good taste. Retweeting yourself is a no-no. Get it together James. – Chris Gross