First a few (or actually many) updates:
1. Jets backup tackle Wayne Hunter signed his restricted free agent tender offer with the Jets. Hunter is a valuable member of the Jets offense. He frequently sees the field as an extra tight end or tackle in short yardage or goal-line situations. The only current Jets restricted free agents who haven’t signed their tenders are Kellen Clemens, Drew Coleman, and Leon Washington. However, Clemens and Coleman have showed up to voluntary workouts with the rest of the team yesterday and today. The entire roster was in attendance (yes Braylon signed his tender and he is in the building) except recently signed Lance Laury and Washington.
2. Speaking of Leon, the word is that he is going to receive clearance to run within the next 10-14 days. His agent believes he will receive some interest in mid-April from other teams, although I think that is doubtful. Ryan didn’t hide his disappointment about Leon not being in attendance in recent quotes. “It is a voluntary situation, but the rest of his teammates volunteered to be there, so it was disappointing that he wasn’t there.”
3. Another interesting nugget of information on the Jets running back situation. Here is what Ryan had to say about Leon, LT, and Shonn Greene:
Leon – “What we should do with him in my opinion is put him back to his role, which he had initially, which is third-down back, a change-of-pace type back and a Pro Bowl returner,” Ryan said. “And there’s nothing wrong with that.”
On LT – “I’m sure some games he’ll have more rushing attempts than Shonn and I think Shonn will have more than LT in other ones,” Ryan said. “Our team is not based on a certain amount of touches. Hypothetically we’ see him carry the ball 15 times a game.”
While we are quoting Ryan, here is some general things he had to say about the Jets in 2010 – “We go into every game thinking we’re going to win. Every single game. I don’t care if we’re playing the Pro Bowl team, we expect to win. That’s just our mentality. That’s our belief in each other, our belief in our systems and our coaching staff and everything we do…When we were saying things, everybody thought we were crazy. I don’t know if they think we’re crazy now. We did go in there, saying we were going to have a dominant defense; we led the NFL in total defense. We said we were going to have a ground-and-pound offense; we led the league in rushing. So when I think we have an excellent football team, maybe you should take it to the bank because we’ve got an excellent football team.”
And a few parting shots he had for Kerry Rhodes – “To be honest with you, I don’t know if Kerry fully bought in. I think he did later. As the year went on, I could see him trying to do what we asked…If we thought he was giving us everything he had. It never would’ve been an issue.”
First off I pulled those quotes off Rich Cimini’s The Jets Stream (http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/jets/) and Tim Graham’s AFC East Blog (http://espn.go.com/blog/afceast)
I don’t know if I buy into LaDainain Tomlinso getting 15 carries a game and Leon being completely relegated to a third down role. I don’t know if that quote comes from trying to appease a recently signed Tomlinson and taking a dig at Washington for skipping workouts but that carry breakdown doesn’t sound right to me. Maybe in the beginning of the year, Leon will have a more limited role on the offense but I think when he gets his feet under him after the surgery he will move closer to his 2009 pre-injury role. In terms of Tomlinson, I think he would be better served with 8-10 carries and a few receptions a game. 15 carries a game could be pushing it. Shonn Greene should be getting 20-22 carries a game and no less than that because he wears on a defense and has the potential to pop a big run at any moment.
Third, you know I love Ryan coming out with that confidence this early in the year. I never wanted Ryan’s swagger to be a first year stunt. The Jets have a very good team and there is no reason he shouldn’t exude the confidence that is a natural part of his personality. When the season ended last year the Jets were the best team in the AFC East and as far as I am concerned, they are the team to beat in the division right now so there is nothing wrong with carrying some swagger.
Fourth, Rhodes took his shot at the Jets so I have no problem with Ryan saying something back to him.
4. Number updates…just in case you are rushing out to get your Brodney Pool jersey:
- LaDainain Tomlinson – #21
- Dwight Lowery – #26
- Brodney Pool – #22
- Antonio Cromartie – #31
- Nick Folk – #2
5. I am not crazy about the change in the OT rules. I don’t really like having different rules between the regular season and the playoffs and it takes some of the drama out of the overtime period. Although I am sure I won’t argue with the rule if it comes back to benefit the Jets in a playoff game this year. I will say it does bring some interesting strategy into the coaching of overtime now.
6. Follow Turn On The Jets on facebook…because we only need 68 more fans for 300.
What About Mark Sanchez?
I have confidence in Mike Tannenbaum, I think the Jets have a few minor moves left in free agency along with a solid draft on the horizon. Overall, I am feeling very good about the team in 2010. The defense will improve in year two of Rex Ryan’s system. If Antonio Cromartie’s head is on straight and he is properly motivated, he will be a substantial upgrade over Lito Sheppard. I think Brodney Pool, Eric Smith, and James Ihedigbo can fill the void (if you could call it that) left by Kerry Rhodes and by the way, Kris Jenkins is coming back and from early reports looks very good in the Jets off-season workouts. You didn’t forget about big 77 did you? Hopefully, Adalius Thomas will eventually be on board as an additional pass rusher but that remains to be seen.
On offense, obviously the offensive line remains a strength. Braylon Edwards should be improved after a full off-season with the Jets. Hopefully, Dustin Keller will carry over his level of play from the playoffs last year. Jerricho Cotchery is Mr. Reliable. Shonn Greene has the potential to be a 1,500 yard back. Leon Washington is coming back and LaDainain Tomlinson should be motivated to have at least one productive year behind the Jets offensive line. I like the coaching staff and the aggressiveness of the owner and GM. We have a new stadium for 2010 and a slate of prime-time games on the way. Yet, there is one thing that could hold the Jets back in 2010…the quarterback.
What about Mark Sanchez? After the encouraging run by Sanchez and the Jets in the playoffs, it is easy to forget the 12 touchdowns to 20 interceptions and 53.8 completion percentage he posted during the regular season. The Jets aren’t going to be any better than a 9-7 team if Sanchez puts up those type of numbers again. Is it a safe bet to believe Sanchez will make some substantial progress in his second year?
I feel confident that he will and here is why: first off, we saw Sanchez take a major step during the playoffs last year when the games got bigger. He put together a terrific wild-card game on the road. After some early struggles in the divisional round, he made a clutch third down touchdown pass that helped push the Jets to victory. Finally, he played a great game in the AFC Championship on the road in Indianapolis. When he stayed in the pocket, took a monster hit to the face and delivered a perfect pass to Dustin Keller for a third down touchdown, you had to feel good about the future of the Jets offense.
Second, by all accounts Sanchez has been living at the Jets facility this off-season. You want to hear about your quarterback spending all day and night in his offensive coordinator’s office breaking down tape. He got his knee taken care of this off-season and is currently ahead in his rehab. Sanchez will be 100 percent for training camp and hopefully will participate in the team’s OTAs in June.
I think Sanchez showed he has the physical tools to excel at this level last year. He will be returning for year two in the same offense, with the same offensive coordinator, the same top three receiving targets, a quality offensive line, and a very good group of running backs. There is no reason his touchdown to interception ratio shouldn’t improve to hopefully something like 17 touchdowns to 13 interceptions and his completion percentage moves into the 57-59% range. I don’t think Sanchez is going to light the world on fire in year two or be a fantasy football beast but I think he will protect the football better and be much more comfortable in the Jets offense. If he can do those things, the Jets maybe looking at a 11-5 or 12-4 record.