Eight Observations on Jets Training Camp

First a few updates:

1. Some schedule news – The Jets open their pre-season schedule this Friday at home against the St. Louis Rams. On Thursday, their practice will be closed to the media. Wednesday is family night at 6 PM out at Hofstra, throwing a bone out to the Jets Long Island fans. Tomorrow they have one full practice in the morning and an afternoon special teams session.

2. The Jets released their first official depth chart today, I will update it accordingly on the site which can be accessed on the top of the home page.

Ten Monday Observations on Jets Training Camp

– I know it is only one game and I know that it was somewhat expected but don’t underestimate the blow of not having Shaun Ellis for week one against the Texans. The Jets will now have their top two sack leaders from last season suspended for week one against a Houston offense that loves to spread it out and throw the football. They will be also now be giving two players their first ever NFL start, likely Mike DeVito at defensive end and Vernon Gholston at outside linebacker. If you want to look at the silver lining, DeVito and Gholston will gain some valuable playing time which will improve the Jets overall depth. However, in reality the Jets will be hurting without Pace and Ellis.

– Speaking of hurting, the list of minor Jets injuries is starting to concern me. It is almost comical how Rex Ryan brushes off every single injury as not significant and it’s not that I don’t believe him, it is just that a high number of key guys are nursing injuries. Nick Mangold’s knee is bothering him, Kris Jenkins is still out with a sore calf, Darrelle Revis isn’t taking part in team drills because of a tight hamstring, Tony Richardson is out with a hip pointer, Shaun Ellis sat out today with a tight back, and Donald Strickland is still out with a knee bruise…how can that not bother you a little bit? Richardson and Jenkins won’t play on Friday, which will give a big opportunity to Sione Pouha and Jehuu Caulcrick.

– Mark Sanchez has taken a few baby steps back since his big time performance with the starters on Saturday. He has struggled the last couple of practices with his accuracy, missing a few open targets while Kellen Clemens has been decent although he threw another interception today, giving him 11 throughout camp compared to Sanchez’s 3. Ryan is giving Clemens the start at home against the Rams because he will logically alternate and given Sanchez the 2nd start in the pre-season. Why would Ryan want Sanchez starting week 2? He wants to throw his highly touted rookie right into the fire on national television against his former team, the Baltimore Ravens on the road. You want to see what Sanchez has before the regular season…in Baltimore, against their starters for a full quarter on ESPN is a great test.

– So it looks like Wayne Hunter is really going to be the Jets #2 tight end. Apparently the big fella caught a 20 yard out route in front of Bart Scott the other day….impressive. Here is a fun fact about Wayne Hunter, the guy had an overall 100 morale rating in Madden 2008. Why is he so happy? I don’t know, but keep your spirits up Wayne and keep catching those passes.

– Rex Ryan raved about Vernon Gholston today like he was Bruce Smith because he has recorded a couple of sacks in the Jets last few practices. Yes, we are all happy to see Gholston finally making some plays in practice but keep in perspective that he has been outplayed all camp by Marques Murrell and Jamaal Westerman. I think we all would be encouraged by a sack this Friday night.

– I am disappointed by the quiet training camps from Brad Smith and David Clowney, especially Clowney. However, I am intrigued to watch Britt Davis and Wallace Wright this Friday and see if they can make a move up the depth chart.

– You have to love Leon Washington for putting together such a strong camp despite the Jets playing hard-ball with him on his contract negotiations…just pay the man his money, Mike Tannenbaum.

– A few observations on the Jets depth chart – Surprised to see Kareem Brown in front of Jack Simmons at tight end, Jamaal Westerman has already hopped Larry Izzo and Kenwin Cummings at inside linebacker, good to see Matt Slauson behind Alan Faneca at LG.

Green and White Scrimmage Recap

Green and White Scrimmage Recap

The Jets defense is way ahead of their offense, but hey…we knew that already. The Jets ‘Green and White’ scrimmage didn’t do anything to change that notion. Neither the first or second offense was able to manage any points (keep in mind, a couple of fourth down conversions were attempted and failed in field goal territory), the lone touchdown of the day came from the third offense, when backup receiver Paul Raymond scored on a 15 yard reverse. Let’s go over what we saw from each position….

Quarterback – Kellen Clemens didn’t turn the ball over, which was a positive. However, he didn’t do anything to separate himself from Mark Sanchez. He mostly threw short, safe passes and finished roughly 5-7 for 26 yards. His best throw was probably a 11 yard completion in the seam to Dustin Keller on a third down. His worst throw was on a 3rd and 20, when Chansi Stuckey got behind Drew Coleman and Clemens under threw him, leading to a jump ball that was nearly intercepted.

Mark Sanchez played very well and drew a high amount of praise from Rex Ryan. The rookie was victimized by four dropped passes, including two from Britt Davis (who received some press earlier in the day as the “mystery” receiver the Jets organization was excited about, maybe they jinxed him…) and one by Jack Simmons, who also didn’t help himself with an offsides penalty. Unofficially, Sanchez was 9-15 for 70 yards. He showed his chemistry with Wallace Wright, hitting him 3 times for 23 yards including a nice throw on a deep comeback route for about 15 yards. He didn’t have any turnovers but did take a sack, when he failed to notice a backside corner blitz. Sanchez made the quarterback battle even tighter with his performance today, I’d say right now it is an even 50-50, after it being slightly tilted in Clemens favor most of the week.

Erik Ainge actually played half way decent, hitting Marcus Henry for a 38 yard gain, which was the day’s biggest offensive play. He led the offense on their only scoring drive of the day.

Running Back – Thomas Jones was relatively quiet, except for a monster blitz pick-up. Leon Washington had 3 catches for 12 yards. Shonn Greene was the best news of the day on offense. The rookie third-round pick had 25 yards on 6 carries, including a 12 yard run when he broke to the outside. He also had a 33 yard reception on a screen pass. You have to get excited when thinking about the Jets potential three-headed monster at running back.

Receiver – Britt Davis received the hype today and struggled to validate the coaching staff’s excitement with two key drops. David Clowney had a quiet day with 1 catch for 7 yards. Brad Smith didn’t do anything of note. Chansi Stuckey and Jerricho Cotchery had 2 catches a piece. Marcus Henry had the play of the day with a 38 yard reception over Drew Coleman. Wallace Wright had a strong outing and is pretty much locked into a roster spot. The only way Davis or Henry make the roster at this point is if the Jets decide to keep 6 receivers.

Tight End – Jack Simmons had a drop and a penalty. Kareem Brown had a 8 yard catch. Dustin Keller had one catch for 11 yards…the Jets still need help at this position.

Offensive Line – Three plays were called as “sacks,” although two came from members of the secondary which could fall on the running backs and their blitz pick-up. The best news? No injuries.

Defensive Line – Mike DeVito left with an injury but according to Rex Ryan it isn’t that serious. The Jets showed some unique looks on the defensive line, with Shaun Ellis sliding over to nose tackle and Sione Pouha dropping to MLB (no, that wasn’t a error).

Linebacker – Vernon Gholston had an active today, which is a step in the right direction for him. He was around the ball alot and made a handful of tackles. Marques Murrell had a tackle for a loss, Kenwin Cummings had a tackle for a loss, Jamaal Westerman had a sack, Brandon Renkart had a quarterback pressure. Ryan singled out Cummings and David Harris as having particularly strong days.

Secondary – The secondary continued their excellent training camp. Darrelle Revis was lockdown as usual, Lito Sheppard played well and did good in run support. Dwight Lowery had a sack, Drew Coleman had a couple of passes defensed. James Ihedigbo had a sack, Kerry Rhodes had a tackle for a loss. The Jets secondary is going to be very good this season, especially if second-tier players like Ihedigbo, Coleman, and Eric Smith keep playing well.

Tomorrow – The Jets have off and are taking a trip out to the pro football Hall of Fame…however, I won’t take off and will write an article about what we have learned through the first week of Jets training camp.

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 5th

First a few updates:

1. Big weekend coming up, starting tomorrow night with the Jets Green and White Scrimmage and of course, the beginning of a huge 4 game series between the Yankees and Red Sox. As of right now, it looks like the Yanks will head into the series with a 2.5 game lead in the standings, which means this series really gives them a chance to put some distance between them and Boston over the weekend.

2. A complaint from a frustrated New York sports talk radio listener – Due to my long commute to Newark everyday, I spend alot of time listening to both 660 and 1050 AM and I can’t tell you freakin’ tired I am of hearing about the Mets. The Yankees are in first place in the best division in baseball, the Jets and Giants are both in training camp, and yet all I hear is discussion about the Mets, a fourth place team who is 5 games under .500, enough, nobody cares, their season is over. We all understand how awful they are and how many injuries they have, now spend some more time talking about my Yankees and Jets. (Sorry for another Mets bashing paragraph, Mandy, but I can’t help myself).

3. A quick comment on the New York Football Giants – Congrats to Eli for signing his fat new contract. The guy won a Super Bowl, he earned it. The G-Men are arguably the best team in the NFC this year despite their pedestrian receiving core that is counting on the likes of Domenick Hixon, Mario Manningham, and Sinorce Moss to handle major reps. The only thing that bothers me about the Giants is how much they talk about being disrespected and flying under the radar, it isn’t two seasons ago guys, everybody respects you and realizes you are a good team.

Jets Training Camp Wrap Up: August 5th

Story of the Day: Good day for the rookie…Mark Sanchez slightly outperformed Kellen Clemens today and did a good job with his extended reps with the first team. This battle is basically even right now, with a maybe a slight tilt towards Clemens. However, Kellen struggled today, taking too many sacks and throwing another interception into the hands of Kerry Rhodes. Sanchez showed good pocket presence in practice and had a better two minute drill than Clemens, who went three and out. Tomorrow is a big day for Sanchez who will get to go head to head versus Clemens in the Green and White Scrimmage. If he wants more reps with the first team, tomorrow is the day to make a statement.

More Quarterback Daily News: Rex Ryan said he wants to name a starter before the Jets third pre-season game against the Giants. You would have to think he will let Clemens and Sanchez start a game a piece before then and hope one of them seizes the job. The third pre-season game is when the starters see extended work, meaning whomever gets the nod in that game will be in good shape to start the regular season against Houston.

Secondary Love: Ryan talked at length today about how good he believes the Jets secondary is. Dwight Lowery continued his strong camp by knocking down three passes in practice today and Drew Coleman also flashed a few times, with an interception and a pass defensed, drawing praise from Ryan who thinks his skill set fits well with the Jets new scheme on defense. Ryan’s also complimented Donald Strickland’s versatility to play corner, nickle, and safety. James Ihedigbo looks like he will have a bigger role on the defense this season and could be active in nickle and dime packages. Darrelle Revis? He is the best corner in football according to Ryan and you won’t get much of an argument from me, although Asomugha on Oakland is probably still #1.

Tight End Issues: First off, condolences to Kareem Brown who lost a close friend in a car accident, which is why he missed the first few Jets practices. Many of the beat writers dedicated articles in today’s paper to the Jets lack of depth at tight end. Unless Jack Simmons, Brown, or the newly signed Kevin Brock really picks things up in the next week or two, the Jets are going to have bring in a veteran. Right now, reserve tackle Wayne Hunter is working as the primary backup. Hopefully, somebody will make a few plays tomorrow in the scrimmage and then in the first pre-season game to distinguish themselves.

Injury News: Shaun Ellis, Kris Jenkins, Shonn Greene, Tony Richardson and Donald Strickland are all nursing minor injuries and should be back soon. I don’t know if any of them will play tomorrow, but it would be nice to see Greene out there since he is a rookie. There is no need to rush veterans like Ellis, Richardson or Jenkins back.

Receiver Transaction: The Jets released Mario Urrutia (what kind of person would pick this guy to make the 53 man roster and think he was an under the radar guy to watch in camp…ooops) and got Aundrae Allison off waivers from the Vikings. Allison is a speedy guy, who has experience as a kick returner. He also has 18 career catches for 231 yards, which is nothing to scoff at when guys like David Clowney (1 career catch) and Wallace Wright (6 career receptions) are competing for major playing time.

Good Camp/Bad Camp: Good Camp – Wallace Wright, Chansi Stuckey, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Bart Scott, Dwight Lowery, Howard Green, Jim Leonhard….Bad Camp (Or Quiet Camp) – David Clowney, J’Nathan Bullock, Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha, Jason Trusnik, Huey Whittaker, Marcus Henry

Tomorrow: Morning Session closed to the media and Green and White Scrimmage at 6 PM (Live play by play audio on www.newyorkjets.com, I know I’ll be listening).

5 Guys to Watch For in Tomorrow’s Scrimmage:

1. Mark Sanchez – Duh, big chance for the rookie to make some plays and a make a move in the QB battle.

2. David Clowney – He has been quiet all camp, can he make a few big plays?

3. Vernon Gholston – See above.

4. Jehuu Caulcrick/Shonn Greene – Who? Caulcrick will be the starting fullback with T-Rich out with injury. If Greene plays, he should be in line for some short yardage carries.

5. Kareem Brown/Jack Simmons/J’Nathan Bullock – Somebody could get a leg up in battle for the #2 TE spot.

Jets Positional Analysis: Defensive Line

First a few updates:

1. Sean Payton filled in for Peter King in his Monday Morning Quarterback article and predicted the Jets would be a playoff team this season and also spoke highly of Mark Sanchez. Big news? Not really, but it is nice to hear a respected quarterback coach in the NFL have a favorable view of Sanchez.

2. No news on the Thomas Jones/Leon Washington front and enough of this nonsense about Danny Woodhead and Shonn Greene being able to step in for them this year…get your two pro-bowl running backs into camp on time, you have a rookie quarterback who you just invested 60 million dollars in…help the guy out.

3. I recently found out where my season tickets in the new stadium were located…10 rows higher than my previous ones and in the endzone instead of the 30 yard line…thank you New York Jets.

4. Just watched Hideki Matsui hit a walk off home run, and I am now hoping Texas can hold on against Boston to put my Yanks in first place by the time I wake up tomorrow.

Jets Positional Analysis: Defensive Line

Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to go through all of the Jets positions and assess each player, continuing today with the defensive line:

1. Kris Jenkins #77, Starting Defensive Tackle, Last Season: 50 Tackles, 3.5 Sacks, 4 Tackles For Loss, 1 Forced Fumble, Selected to Pro-Bowl

History: The Jets acquired the big fella in a trade before last season and he responded positively to a new environment. Jenkins was a dominant player on the Jets defense during the first 11 games last year before injuries slowed him down. Rex Ryan must find a way to properly rest him throughout the season so he can be 100 percent during the stretch run in December.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Jenkins plays at the level he did during the first 11 games last year for an entire season and returns to the pro-bowl.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Injuries take a toll on him and he misses extended time, severely hurting the Jets run defense.

Prediction: I think after watching tape from last season, Rex Ryan will find a way to maximize the big fella’s extraordinary talent on the Jets defense by moving him around the defensive line and properly resting him. Jenkins will have a slightly better season than he did in 2008, and return to the pro-bowl.

2. Shaun Ellis #92, Starting Defensive End, Last Season: 60 Tackles, 8 Sacks, 1 Tackle For Loss, 2 Forced Fumbles, 1 Large Snowball Tossed

History: Ellis is the longest tenured Jets player, spending all of his 10 seasons in green and white. Very quietly, he had a very good season in 2008. 8 sacks for a 3-4 defensive end is extremely impressive. Ellis remains a solid two way end and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down with age.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He duplicates his performance from last season, except he isn’t arrested for marijuana and doesn’t throw a huge snowball in the stands after the Jets lose a game.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Ellis begins to break down with age, leaving the Jets ridiculously thin at defensive end.

Prediction: I think Ellis will be a good player in Rex Ryan’s system. I don’t expect him to match the 8 sacks from last season but I think 5-6 is a reasonable number.

3. Marques Douglas #93, Starting Defensive End, Last Season: 36 Tackles, 5 Tackles For Loss

History: The Jets signed Douglas as a depth player who was familiar with Rex Ryan’s system. However, after they traded Kenyon Coleman in the Mark Sanchez deal, Douglas became the presumed starter. He has been a backup mostly throughout his career but now will have an expanded amount of reps.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He keeps his tackles for loss numbers high and holds his own as a starter. There is no drop off from Kenyon Coleman to Douglas and he helps teach the D-Line Ryan’s scheme.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He can’t handle being a full time player and the Jets struggle on the defensive line all season because of it.

Prediction: Douglas won’t be a downgrade from Kenyon Coleman but won’t be a noticeable upgrade either. The Jets need to address defensive end next season with Ellis aging and Douglas better suited to be a role player than a starter.

4. Mike DeVito #70, Backup Defensive End, Last Season: 24 Tackles, 0.5 Sacks, 2 Tackles For Loss

History: A UDFA who has stuck on the Jets roster the past three years and should see a major bump in playing time this season as the primary backup defensive end to both Ellis and Douglas. He has a good motor and the defensive coaching staff is high on his potential.

Chance of Making Roster: 95%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: DeVito blossoms in Ryan’s system and becomes a capable NFL starter at defensive end.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He bombs out in camp and can’t stay on the active roster.

Prediction: I think DeVito will prove to be a solid player off the bench and may show enough to become an eventual starter.

5. Sione Pouha #91, Backup Defensive Tackle, Last Season: 23 Tackles, 0.5 Sacks, 1 Tackle For Loss

History: The Jets drafted him in 2005 but he has struggled with injuries and been nothing but an average backup. He had a pretty good year in 2007 but seemed to regress last season.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He plays the way he did during 2007 and is part of a group that does a good job spelling Kris Jenkins.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles in camp and during the season, forcing Jenkins to play more reps than he should, leading to declining production from him as the season goes on.

Prediction: Pouha wasn’t very good last year so it is hard to predict a solid season for him in 2009 but hopefully he can be a decent role player.

6. Howard Green #95, Backup Defensive Tackle, Last Season: 21 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Tackle For Loss, 1 Forced Fumble

History: The Jets signed him this off-season to improve the depth behind Kris Jenkins and push Sione Pouha for reps. Green had a decent season in Seattle last year and before that played in New Orleans.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Green develops into a very good backup for Kris Jenkins.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Green proves to be nothing more than a journeyman and is cut.

Prediction: I think Pouha and him will split reps behind Jenkins and be adequate.

The Rest of the Guys:

7. Ropati Pitoitua #79, Defensive End – Huge player (6’8, 310) who was on the practice squad last season, could battle for a backup defensive end spot.

8. Zach Potter #98, Defensive End – A UDFA from Nebraska.

9. Matt Kroul #63, Defensive Tackle/End – A UDFA from Iowa.

10. Ty Steinkuhler #61, Defensive End/Tackle – Another UDFA from Nebraska.

Overall Position Analysis: Jenkins is a dominant force in the middle, Ellis is a quality NFL starter, but Douglas/DeVito have to step up at the other DE spot this year. There is also pressure on Pouha and Green to give Jenkins a rest and provide good reps off the bench.

Jets Highlight of the Day: In honor of the defensive line, here is Shaun Ellis having a snowball fight with the Seattle fans last season.

Why the Jets Defense Is Legit

First a few updates:

1. The Jets claimed wide receiver Mario Urrutia ,off waivers from the Bengals. He was a 7th round pick last year and spent the season on the practice squad. He has a great size at 6’6, 232 lbs and was a legit deep threat during his time at Louisville. The more competition at the receiver position, the better.

2. I am glad the Yankees are getting to beat up on New York’s AA team to get back on a roll. I know they are dealing with a ton of injuries but the Mets offense is a joke right now.

Why the Jets Defense Is Legit

One of the interesting things I have been hearing debate about is the Jets defense heading into this season. Jets fans are confident that the unit is going to be one of the league’s best, while other people are more skeptical and believe they are being overrated. Many people scoff at the assertion that Rex Ryan will have the same success he dad last year as a defensive coach, because the Jets have nowhere near the amount of the talent the Ravens did last season. I am not saying they will be as good as Baltimore was in 2008, because yes the Ravens do have more talent, but not that much more talent. ESPN recently rated the Jets as the fourth overall team defense in the league, behind the Steelers, Ravens, and Vikings and I think it is a fair rating, here is why:

The Jets already had a very good defense last season, with a below average coordinator in Bob Sutton. As a team, they were excellent against the run, created turnovers (14 INTs, 29 FF), got to the quarterback (41.0 sacks) and scored points (4 defensive touchdowns) despite struggling in pass coverage. As a reference to other great defense in 2008, the Jets had 7 more sacks than the Ravens and forced 16 more fumbles. They also had 2 more INTs than Minnesota and 7 more forced fumbles.

This off-season they improved their linebackercore by upgrading from Eric Barton to Bart Scott. They will also have a healthy David Harris, who was banged up most of last season. Vernon Gholston can’t be any worse than he was last year and I think it is reasonable to have faith in Rex Ryan to get something out of him in 2009.

In the secondary, they added Lito Sheppard, Jim Leonhard, and Donald Strickland. Dwight Lowery also now has the experience of being a starter last year under his belt. On the defensive line they did lose Kenyon Coleman and his .5 sacks but replaced him with Marques Douglas and Howard Green.

When discussing the Jets defense, I think they have 4 pro-bowl caliber players, 3 very good players, 2 solid starters, and 2 question marks.

You can’t argue against the talent of Kris Jenkins and Darrelle Revis. Both are coming off pro-bowl seasons and they are both top five players in the league at their respective positions. Bart Scott is a pro-bowl caliber linebacker who knows Rex Ryan’s system and no longer has to play in the shadow of Ray Lewis. I am also putting Kerry Rhodes at the pro-bowl caliber level, which is debatable since he has never been selected to one and he hasn’t been an all-pro selection like Jenkins and Scott. However, Rhodes has been held back by the Jets system the past few years and from not having a steady starter opposite him. He also should have been an all-pro player in 2006, but was robbed because he didn’t have a big name at the time.

The next tier of Jets defensive players is Calvin Pace, Shaun Ellis, and David Harris. Most people sleep on Ellis but he is coming off a very good year, which saw him record 60 tackles, 8 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. 8 sacks is nothing to look down at for a 3-4 defensive end. Pace is another guy most people ignore when analyzing the Jets defense. Despite being forced to play in coverage more than he should have been in 2008, Pace still had 80 tackles, 7 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles. Rex Ryan will have Pace attacking more in 2009, which plays to his strengths. David Harris had a monster rookie season in 2007 with 127 tackles and 5 sacks. He was slowed by injures in 2008 but is back at full strength and will benefit from having Scott next to him.

Bryan Thomas isn’t a great player by any stretch of the imagination but is still a consistent starter (57 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 3 FF in 2008) and he should be platooning with Vernon Gholston in 2009. Jim Leonhard is going to be a full time starter for the first this year but thrived in the playoffs last season. He will also be a major upgrade in coverage over Abram Elam.

The Jets two biggest question marks are at defensive end and corner opposite Darrelle Revis. Marques Douglas and Mike DeVito will be splitting time at d-end opposite Shaun Ellis, and yes it is fair to say that is a weak spot. Douglas does know Ryan’s system well however and it shouldn’t be that hard to replace Kenyon Coleman statistically (50 tackles, .5 sacks, 0 FF). Lito Sheppard has struggled the past two years in Philadelphia but has been a pro-bowl player in the past. It remains to be seen if he can return to his 2004 and 2006 form. However, the Jets have very good depth behind him with Donald Strickland and Dwight Lowery. Strickland is a solid veteran who could handle increased reps if necessary and Lowery was a solid starter opposite Revis last year as a fourth round rookie until he hit the wall late in the season.

The talent is there for the Jets in 2009 and they have one of the brightest defensive minds in the game to lead them. They are capable of winning games 17-14 and 16-10, which should be music to Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens’ ears.

5 Things We Learned From Jets Minicamp

First a few updates:

1. The Jets released tight end Martrez Milner yesterday, which is a good sign for undrafted free agents Jack Simmons and J’Nathan Bullocks both of whom had pretty good OTAs. Kareem Brown has also progressed nicely at tight end and might be able to handle splitting the #2 spot with Bubba Franks.

2. Plaxico Burress’ trial is apparently going to be pushed back until sometime in 2010, which improves the chances of him being able to play this year. Everybody is expecting him to receive a 4 game suspension from the league though, which is something the Jets will have to consider if they are going to sign him. Regardless, it seems they have a genuine interest in bringing him in.

3. Congrats to the Pittsburgh Penguins for winning the Stanley Cup and congrats to the Orlando Magic for choking away game 4…can you make some free throws? The ghosts of Nick Anderson are still haunting this franchise.

5 Things We Learned From Jets Minicamp:

1. It’s going to be a tight one – The battle for starting quarterback that is, which is bad news for Kellen Clemens. The Jets veteran has been consistent and shown a good command of the offense but hasn’t done anything spectacular that is making the Jets regret trading up for Mark Sanchez. On the other hand, Sanchez started out slow but progressed nicely over the past month and is proving to be a quick learner. The guy is getting one of the most complex defenses in the NFL thrown at him everyday in practice as a rookie and handling it pretty well. I’d be shocked if Sanchez isn’t under center week one against Houston.

2. Receivers Battling – Chansi Stuckey has begun to pull away as the #2 receiver behind Jerricho Cotchery. Stuckey doesn’t make many mistakes and catches everything he can get his hands on. He had a pretty good season last year and if he wasn’t phased out of the offense in the middle of the year, probably could have been a 45-50 catch guy. Brad Smith is making his usual acrobatic catches that excites the coaching staff and is probably the #3 receiver now. David Clowney had a case of the drops the past month but has too much talent to fall too far down the depth chart. Wallace Wright impressed the coaching staff and will be on the roster in September because of his special team skills, but he may be working himself a spot on the offense.

3. Defense Rules – The consensus has been that the Jets defense is miles ahead of the offense right now. It makes sense since the Jets are being led by an inexperienced quarterback and were without Thomas Jones and Leon Washington for long periods of time. Beyond that, the Jets defense is just pretty damn good. Kris Jenkins should be even more effective than he was in last year’s scheme, Darrelle Revis remains a lockdown corner, and Bart Scott has added some intensity and swagger to the unit. This is a very deep and talented group, especially when you throw Calvin Pace, Kerry Rhodes, Lito Sheppard, Shaun Ellis, and David Harris into the mix.  

4. Making a Name – Eric Smith, James Ihedigbo, Marques Murrell, and Jamaal Westerman all have impressed the coaching staff and look like locks for backup positions on the Jets defense. Smith recorded 5 interceptions in 3 days this past week is a good #3 safety, Ihedigbo will likely be the #4 safety and has some experience from last year. Murrell could see reps off the bench as a pass rusher and is pushing Vernon Gholston for time. Westerman is an undrafted free agent who the Jets love. He has been working at inside linebacker, after playing defensive end in college.

5. Swagger – The Jets new head coach has tons of it, throwing himself into a verbal battle against both the Patriots and Dolphins. This team couldn’t have a more different personality than they did last year, when Eric “10 hour bus ride” Mangini led without any emotion. Rex Ryan put it best, the Jets aren’t in the AFC East to “kiss Bill Bellicheck’s rings.”

Five Underappreciated Jets

First a few updates:

1. Thomas Jones did show up for OTAs today…and that is all we know. He will have his chance to say his piece tomorrow to the media. Hopefully, it won’t be the third year in a row where an established veteran on the team is ripping the organization in the off-season. Pete Kendall put on his show two years ago, Chris Baker did his last year, and now Jones may be following their example.

2. The Jets claimed tight end Martrez Milner off waivers today from the New York Giants. Milner was a fourth round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2007. During that season, he made two starts and had 9 catches for 50 yards. He was inactive all of last year. They also released offensive lineman Kyle Link and tight end Rob Meyer,

3. There still hasn’t been any movement in the Leon Washington situation. I am going to be sick to my stomach if he skips mandatory sessions, which begin on June 9th. Washington is the Jets most dynamic playmaker on both offense and special teams.

Five Underappreciated Jets

It easy to talk about Darrelle Revis, Kris Jenkins, Leon Washington, or Thomas Jones. Everybody is well aware of how valuable they are to the team. However, there are plenty of players who don’t receive much press but were extremely important to the Jets in 2008 and who the team needs another big season from in 2009. Here are five in particular:

Tony Richardson

Everybody talks about Thomas Jones improving so much in 2008 because of the Jets revamped offensive line, but don’t sleep on the difference fullback Tony Richardson made. Despite his advanced age, Richardson remains a great blocking back, who vastly improved the Jets overall rushing attack, especially in short yardage. He also did a good job running the ball the few times his number was called, finishing with 65 yards on 10 carries.

Brandon Moore

The Jets least heralded offensive lineman but arguably their most consistent. Fortunately, the Jets came to their senses and did the right thing this off-season by re-signing Moore after originally letting him go. Moore is solid in both run and pass blocking, never gets hurt, and is the Jets longest tenured starter on the line. Alan Faneca may receive all the hype and accolades but Moore was every bit as good as him at Guard last year.

Shaun Ellis

For some reason alot of people were calling for the Jets to release Ellis this off-season, which makes no sense. Despite doing some stupid off the field things, Ellis is still coming off a 8 sack season as a 3-4 defensive end. He is talented enough to be an every down player and is a veteran leader on the defensive side of the ball.

Wallace Wright

You have to give some love to the special teams. Wallace Wright was an undrafted free agent who has carved out a nice role for himself on all of the Jets coverage and return units. Last year he recorded 22 tackles and always seems to make at least one key play a game on special teams. He has also done a pretty good job when asked to play receiver, espcially as a blocker.

Jay Feely

More special teams love…Feely came in for an injured Mike Nugent last year and did an excellent job, going 24/28 on FG’s. He hit two that were over 50 yards and handled his pressure kicks well, especially when he buried a 50+ yarder against Oakland to force overtime. The Jets were confident enough in Feely to let Nugent (a former second round pick) go this off-season.

Swaggalicious: Jets Defense Must Lead Way in 2009

First a few updates about the site:

1. Across the top of the site, you’ll notice I have a 2009 depth chart, which I will try to keep as updated as possible. I last updated it yesterday with where the Jets stand coming out of their rookie mini-camp. You’ll also notice that whomever is at the top of the depth chart at their respective position has the distinct honor of having their picture up under their position name.

2. I also have the 2009 schedule, with one of my favorite pictures of all time on top. Hopefully, we will be seeing something similar against New England both times this year.

3. There is an off-season additions page, with a listing and photos of all the major players the Jets acquired this off-season through free agency, trades, and the draft.

4. Finally, there is an About the Author Page, which just has a little more information about myself, nothing too exciting.

Swaggalicious: Jets Defense Must Lead Way in 2009

When being interviewed at the Jets recent non mandatory mini-camp, “Swaggalicious” was the word Bart Scott used to describe the way he envisions his defense playing this year. Scott knows that Head Coach Rex Ryan wants to win with an aggressive, stingy defense leading the way, supported by a solid running game and a quarterback who protects the football. The Jets were already a very good defensive team in 2008, but a few off-season additions have many thinking they could have one of the top units in the NFL this upcoming year.

Starting at the top, Rex Ryan and newly hired defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will advocate more of an attacking scheme that puts more people in the box and more pressure on the quarterback. Too many times last year, the Jets were a “reactive” defense, sitting back and waiting to adjust to whatever game-plan the offense came out with. Ryan isn’t going to do that, he is going to force offenses to adjust to a wide variety of looks and blitzes, and also hopefully be better at in-game adjustments than his predecessor.

The Jets defensive line is probably their weakest unit on this side of the ball. Kris Jenkins is a beast at nose tackle but needs to be properly rested or he will wear down at the end of the year. Sione Pouha and Howard Green need to step up and provide quality reps off the bench or Jenkins is going to fade during the stretch  run. At defensive end, Shaun Ellis is a solid veteran who should be good for 7-9 sacks. On the other side, Marques Douglas and Mike DeVito will be asked to split reps. Neither is really built to be a full time player, but hopefully they can combine to form a decent duo opposite Ellis. Kareem Brown is a decent depth player, but the Jets could really use another player in their d-line rotation.

The Jets should be rock solid at inside linebacker with Bart Scott and David Harris. Scott will be looked on to be the vocal leader of the defense, as an experienced pro-bowler in Ryan’s scheme. Harris is coming off an injury plagued year, but if he can return to his rookie form from 2007, he has the potential to be a pro-bowler himself. At outside linebacker, Calvin Pace is a very good all around player who will hopefully be given more of a chance to rush the passer this year. Eric Mangini had Pace dropping into coverage way too often last year, when his real strength is going after the quarterback. Bryan Thomas will start out at the other spot, but all eyes will be on 2008 first round pick Vernon Gholston, who was a complete bust in his rookie year. If Ryan can get Gholston to reach his potential, the Jets will gaining a valuable pass rushing weapon. The back-up spots at both inside and outside are wide open, although Marques Murrell and Jason Trunsick have shown potential and should get roster spots. Larry Izzo will make the roster as a special teamer and provide depth at the inside position.

The Jets secondary made a habit of getting beat like a drum last season. They addressed this weakness by trading for former pro-bowler Lito Sheppard at cornerback, signing Jim Leonhard to play safety, and adding Donald Strickland to play nickel-back. Darrelle Revis is one of the best corners in the league, and if Sheppard can stay healthy opposite him, the Jets will have one of the best duos in the NFL. Kerry Rhodes is coming off a down year, but many blame Eric Mangini’s scheme for his lack of big plays in 2008. Leonhard should provide a good complement to him, and help the adjustment to Ryan’s scheme as one of his former players. Strickland and second year player Dwight Lowery will battle for reps at corner behind Revis and Sheppard, Lowery showed great potential last year but struggled down the stretch. Strickland is a solid veteran, who is expected to get most of the reps as the #3 corner. Cornerback Ahmad Carroll was re-signed for special teams purposes, but is a former first round pick who may be able to find some reps on defense. Eric Smith is the top backup at safety and does have starting experience from last year.

On paper, the Jets have the ability to have one of the league’s best defenses. Jenkins, Revis, Ellis, Sheppard, and Scott are all former pro-bowlers and Ryan is considered one of the NFL’s brightest defensive minds. There are obviously a few variables that need to break the Jets way for them to reach their full defensive potential but we will look at those tomorrow.