October 16, 2014

Here’s How to Fix the Jets

When your beloved team loses 5 straight games through 6 weeks, it’s easy to lose perspective. We all knew this stretch of our schedule would be brutal but, going into the season, I really believed our team had a legitimate chance to compete for a wildcard spot. Under Rex, we’ve had some really tight battles with New England and beaten them with some less talented teams. In my eternal optimism, I began thinking that if we could steal this game in New England, it could spark a run and the season might not be lost. The schedule is obviously much better for the Jets from week 8 on. To try and gain some of this lost perspective and to try and understand just how unrealistic putting a run together might be, I looked at the statistics from the first 6 weeks of the season.

The good news is that the Jets are not that bad. On defense, we are 6th in the NFL in yards/game. We’re 9th against the run and (surprisingly) 15th against the pass. On offense, we are dismal in the passing game (32nd) but solid in running game (12th). Looking at these numbers, you’d think if we could just get the passing game going, we’d be okay. We’ve seen glimpses of it throughout the season (albeit way too brief) so there’s hope that if Geno can play how he played for much of the 1st half of the Packers game, we’d have a chance.

The bad news is that it’s not just about the passing game. In looking deeper into the numbers, I think the issue with our team is mental. It is easy to blame a lack of talent as the culprit for our record but I believe we have the necessary talent to win. I think our team needs to learn how to win. I say this issue is mental because the Jets were competitive in 4 of their 5 losses but couldn’t figure out how to win. The statistics bear this out. The Jets need to play better, on both sides of the ball, in critical situations. Here are three examples of such critical situations and how the Jets stack up to other teams around the league:

On 3rd down conversions, on both sides of the ball, the Jets rank poorly. On offense, the Jets rank 24th converting only 37.6% (Dallas is 1st in the league and converts 56.3%). On defense, the Jets rank 25th and allow conversions 46.7% of the time (Indianapolis is 1st allowing just 29.7%).

In the Red Zone, on both sides of the ball, the Jets rank poorly. On offense, the Jets rank 30th converting TD’s only 38.9% (Atlanta is 1st in the league and convert 75%). On defense, the Jets also rank 30th and allow TD conversions 72.2% of the time (Baltimore is 1st allowing just 35%).

Lastly, the Jets are 29th in the league in the giveaway/takeaway differential with -7 (there are two teams that are +9). The Jets rank 22nd in giveaways with 10 and rank 30th in takeaways with only 3. How many times this year have bad decisions contributed to the giveaway number? How many times on defense did a “sure” interception bounce off of one of our players?

So it all comes down to this:

The Jets need to do a better job in the passing game. This isn’t all on Geno. We need better blocking from the big fellas and separation from our receivers. And yes, we also need much better play from Geno too.

We need to get mentally tough. We need to play as well or better on 3rd down than in the previous two. We need to play as well or better on either edge of the football field as is played in between the 20’s. We need to take care of the football and we need to finish games.

Simple, right?

August 28, 2014

Let’s Make A Deal!

I am sure John Idzik is leaving no stone unturned to try and replenish our CB position. In looking at the available talent on the street, it’s no surprise to me that the Jets haven’t added anyone since they signed journeyman LeQuan Lewis over two weeks ago. I think the only way the Jets can add talent that will impact their CB position is via trade.

Since we need to look to a trade to add talent, I suggest making a run (albeit highly unlikely, borderline delusional) at the Browns’ Joe Haden.

I suggest that we bundle several players on the fringe of our roster as well as a mid-round pick. I’d trade Antwan Barnes, Stephen Hill and Daryl Richardson along with a 3rd or hopefully 4th round pick.

Antwan Barnes – Pettine loves “Barnesy”. After coaching him in Baltimore, Pettine wanted him back on his squad. Prior to the 2011 season, when coaches began contacting NFL free agents, Pettine’s first call went to Barnes. Unfortunately the timing didn’t work out for the Jets that year as they were strung along by Nnamdi Asomugha and weren’t signing anyone until they Asomugha made his decision. Barnes waited as long as he could but ultimately resigned with the Chargers prior to Asomugha signing with the Eagles. Now, finally a Jet, Barnes is getting healthy but, with the addition of Babin, Barnes becomes tradeable.

Stephen Hill – We all know about Mr. Hill. His physical tools are off the charts but he has yet to figure out how to translate it to production on the field. Sometimes guys like this benefit from a change in scenery (and coaching). Hill is a very hardworking and likable guy. Pettine was a coordinator with the Jets when we traded our 5th and 7th round picks to move up four spots in the second round to draft Hill. With the suspension of Josh Gordon, the Browns are obviously very thin at WR and are in a position to take a gamble on a guy like Hill.

Daryl Richardson – With the Jets having three players solidly ahead of Richardson on the depth chart, Richardson is in danger of not making the 53 man active roster. Richardson is too good not to be on an active roster. The Browns have two new runners at the top of their depth chart – former Arian-Foster-back-up Ben Tate and 3rd round pick rookie Terrance West. With the uncertainty of two unproven, new players, I’m sure the Browns would welcome some additional talent and experience in the backfield.

Most teams would not consider trading a player of Joe Haden’s caliber (and I suspect the Browns won’t either) but the Browns drafted CB Justin Gilbert with the 8th overall pick in this year’s draft. They also spent a 4th round pick this year on CB Pierre Desir and a 3rd round pick last year on CB Leon McFadden. In addition, Pettine has his old guys from the Jets CBs Isaiah Trufant and Aaron Berry and S Jim Leonhard to help bolster his secondary. Losing Haden would obviously weaken their secondary but hopefully the net addition of these other contributors would tip the scales for the Browns.

Like many coaches, Pettine has shown that he likes to bring in “his guys” (he also has Jamaal Westerman on his roster). I think Barnes is the jewel in the deal for the Browns but with his health a question mark, it’s doubtful the Browns would bite. However, by throwing in a 4th or even 3rd round draft pick next year and by taking on Haden’s healthy $67 Million contract, the Browns might just go for it. What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

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May 9, 2014

Pick and Move: The Best Strategy for the Jets on Day 2

nfldraftI was thrilled when both Brandin Cooks and Darqueze Dennard fell to us. I would have been extremely happy with either pick. I must admit, my initial reaction to the Pryor pick was one of disappointment. While I believe Safety is a position of need, I am more confident with our current Safeties than I am with our current WR’s. Also, the prospect of pairing Milliner with an elite press corner, like Dennard, would have shored up the CB position for years to come. That said, Pryor will be a welcome addition to our Safety corps and until Idzik proves to me otherwise, I trust him. I did not love the Sheldon Richardson pick this time last year but I sure love it now.

In light of the Jets bolstering their secondary with Calvin Pryor at Safety, I would like to see the Jets help out the offense on Day 2 of the draft.

With Jets 17th pick of the 2nd Round (49th overall), they should draft a Wide Receiver. There are three different Wide Receivers on the board that I would be happy to see the Jets spend their second round pick on. In order of preference, they are:

  1. Donte Moncrief from Ole Miss
  2. Jordan Matthews from Vanderbilt
  3. Jarvis Landry from LSU

Any one of these receivers would be a fine addition to the squad and would likely contribute immediately.

With Jets 16th pick of the 3rd Round (80th overall), they should bundle it with their 15th pick of the 4th round (115th overall) and move up 13 spots to get the Raiders’ 3rd Pick in the 3rd round (67th overall). With 12 picks in this year’s draft and probably only about 10 roster spots realistically available for rookies, I am okay with the Jets packaging some picks to move around for players they want in the 3rd round and beyond. In the first couple of rounds, I think the price to move around is too steep.

With their newly acquired 3rd Pick in the 3rd round (67th overall), the Jets should draft Troy Niklas, TE from Notre Dame. Niklas is new to the TE position, only having played it for two years. His first year, he played behind the Bengals’ first rounder Tyler Eifert. In his one year as a starter, he showed he was a match-up nightmare as a pass catcher and an exceptional blocker (recruited from high school as an offensive and defensive lineman, converted to OLB as a freshman, then converted to TE as a sophomore). Also, Niklas is related to the Matthews clan (nephew of Bruce). He has a high floor and a ceiling that has yet to be determined. He is a player on the rise that has just scratched the surface of his potential. At 6’ 6″, 270 lbs and with 34 1/8″ arms, he has fantastic size. Add in good hands and playmaking ability and he could be the ideal TE for the Jets’ offense.

May 4, 2014

In the 2014 Draft, the Jets Should Select…

nfldraftThere has been a lot of speculation that the Jets may pick a CB with their first pick.  I think it would be tough to draft a CB with their 18th pick and expect him to start right away.  Dee Milner was the highest rated CB prospect last year and he was benched 3 times in his rookie year.  Wilson was also a first rounder and was buried deep in the CB depth chart his rookie year.  I think we should draft a CB (or two as you will read) but not with our first couple picks.  I think they should select players that can start right away with their initial picks. I think the Jets should draft…

  • Round 1
    • Pick 18, Odell Beckham Jr. (WR) LSU

I like that he was a productive three year starter.  Both of his parents were athletes; his mother was a collegiate national track champion and his father was a RB for LSU.  Beckham is extremely versatile which is ideal for a West Coast Offense.  He can line up as either an X, Z or Slot receiver.  He even won the Paul Hornung Award given to the Nation’s Most Versatile Player.  I think having Beckham as the X, Decker as the Z and Kerley in the Slot would be a very solid starting receiving corps.  Beckham can also return punts and kickoffs. In a lot of mock drafts recently, Beckham has been off the board by the 18th pick.  If that’s the case, I would try and trade down.  A possible trade partner could be the Browns where we could trade our 1st & 6th (195th overall) round picks for their 1st (26th overall), 3rd (71st overall) and 5th round picks.  Another possible trade partner could be the Rams where we could trade our 1st round pick for their 2nd and 3rd round picks this year and their 2nd round pick next year. If we trade out of the 18th pick, I would like to see the Jets draft Donte Moncrief (WR) from Ole Miss. If Beckham is off the board at 18 and we are unable to trade down, then I’d like to see the Jets draft Brandin Cooks (WR) from Oregon State.

  • Round 2
    • Pick 49, Troy Niklas (TE) Notre Dame

Keeping with the theme of bloodlines, Troy Niklas is NFL royalty; he’s related to the Matthews clan (nephew of Bruce).  In high school, Niklas was an offensive and defensive lineman.  In his freshman year at Notre Dame, he played OLB.  He was moved to TE as a sophomore and played behind the Bengals first rounder Tyler Eifert.  With just two years of collegiate experience as a TE and only one year as the full-time starter, his ceiling is still yet to be determined.  He has outstanding size at 6’6”, 270 lbs and 34 1/8” arms.  He is a very good blocker and would immediately contribute to the run game as he refines his route running and continues to develop as a complete TE.  He has flashed playmaking ability and is a player on the rise.

  • Round 3
    • Pick 80, Stanley Jean-Baptiste (CB) Nebraska

At 6’3” and 218 pounds, he has the size to match up with today’s bigger receivers.  He can play press coverage and gets a strong initial jam on receivers.  He has excellent leaping ability and had the highest vertical leap among CB’s in this year’s Combine and second highest among all positions (41.5”!).  He played safety and receiver in prep school and played his first year at Nebraska as a receiver before being moved to CB.  He is a playmaker that has a nose for the ball.  In his senior year, he had an interception in each of his first four games and in his entire time at Nebraska, he averaged a little more than an interception every three games.  I wouldn’t expect Jean-Baptiste to come in and start but I think he has a lot of potential and would be a great piece of clay for Rex and DT to mold.

  • Round 4
    • Pick 104, Dri Archer (WR) Kent State

If the Jets drafted Archer, they would have the top two 40 yard dash performances in Combine history on the same offensive unit (and three of the top seven).  Chris Johnson was #1 with 4.24, Dri Archer #2 with 4.26, and Jacoby Ford #7 with 4.28.  Archer is a very versatile player and is listed in some draft profiles as WR and others as a RB.  He can be utilized in ways similar to players like Woodhead, Bush and McCluster.  Like those players, he can line up in either the backfield or the slot and be set in motion to the other to create mismatches (depending on the defensive personnel package).  Archer can also contribute in the return game; however, given his small frame and propensity for injury, he’s probably best used the way Cromartie was in the return game (only when we need a spark).

  • Pick 115, Christian Jones (ILB) Florida State

With Nick Bellore as our only depth player at ILB and David Harris joining the 30 club, I’d like to see the Jets add another ILB to their roster.  Jones is an excellent athlete that possess the height (6’ 3”), speed, and fluidity to cover tight ends and receivers down the field.  He is a versatile player that has played Will, Sam and defensive end.  He could immediately help the Jets on special teams and in passing situations.  In college, he was a durable three-year starter.  He has been characterized as a player who “loves football and works at it.”

  • Pick 137, Ross Cockrell (CB) Duke

I do not expect Cockrell to win a starting job this year.  However, he plays smart, is a leader and is tall enough (6’ 0”) to match up with today’s larger receivers.  He was highly productive in college and leaves Duke as their all-time leader in interceptions (12) and pass breakups (41).  He can line up in the slot and could be groomed as a possible Kyle Wilson replacement considering Wilson will be a free agent next season.  Cockrell is a ballhawking corner who possesses an excellent feel for the game.  He has a lot to learn as he is more accustomed to playing zone, but is very smart and coachable.  He should also be a good locker room presence considering he was a team captain at Duke and had been characterized as “a coach on the field.”

  • Round 5
    • Pick 154, Howard Jones (OLB) Shepherd

Jones is a classic developmental project.  He has intriguing raw tools which make him worthy of a 5th round selection.  He is very athletic, fast and explosive.  He has long arms (34 1/8”), a high motor and a good work ethic.  He is also an exceptional teammate.  However, his technique is very raw and unpolished.  Jones was a very productive and durable four-year starter at Shepherd, having started all but two games during his time there.  He even holds the school’s sack record (35).  However, he earned his production by making the most of his natural athleticism, overwhelming the lesser Division II competition.  Jones has special team experience and could help the Jets immediately as a special teamer and as a situational pass rusher.  Jones will need to do some significant work on his technique and edge-setting ability before he can compete for a starting OLB position.

  • Round 6
    • Pick 195, Kevin Pamphile (OT) Purdue

Like Jones, Pamphile is a developmental project.  He is a terrific athlete, but is extremely raw.  Pamphile was initially a basketball player, who only started playing football his senior year of high school.  He was originally a defensive lineman, but transitioned to the offensive line as a junior in college.  He only started his senior year.  He has the ideal size (6’5”, 310 lbs, 34 1/4” arms) and foot quickness needed to shadow and mirror defenders in pass protection.  Pamphile posted some impressive numbers at his pro day, including a 4.94 40 time (that would have been 3rd best among all OL at the Combine, only behind Taylor Lewan’s 4.87 and Greg Robinson’s 4.92). This may seem like a déjà vu pick considering that last year we made a very similar 6th round pick with William Campbell.  However, I like the practice of drafting an offensive lineman late each year and working to develop them.  You never know who the next Brandon Moore (although he wasn’t even drafted) or Matt Slauson will be. However before we select Pamphile… If the Raiders select Sammy Watkins with their 5th overall pick, there has been speculation that they will then look to trade Denarius Moore (having also added James Jones from the Packers in free agency).  They will probably be asking for a 4th rounder but expecting to take a 5th rounder.  With the Raiders having no picks in the 5th or 6th rounds, if there are no other takers for Moore, we might be able to deal our one trade-able 6th round pick (compensatory picks are not trade-able) for Moore.  Moore is, by no means, an elite talent but he is a solid, young receiver that could add some nice depth to our WR corps.  Sanjay Lal, our WR coach (and former Oakland WR coach), has already had two of his former Oakland players wearing the green and white (Chaz Schilens and Jacoby Ford).  Three’s a charm! What makes getting Denarius even more attractive is that the Jets have a history with Moore.  The Jets planned on drafting a WR in the 2011 draft, having targeted either Moore or Kerley.  When Moore was selected by the Raiders with the 148th overall pick, the Jets moved up and traded with the Eagles (getting their 153rd overall pick) to ensure landing Kerley.  In Nicholas Dawidoff’s book “Collision Low Crossers,” in which he chronicles the 2011 Jets season, Dawidoff refers to the Jets then Vice President of College Scouting, Joey Clinkscales, as being downright “effusive” in his praise of Moore.  Ironically, Clinkscales is now Director of Player Personnel in Oakland.

  • Pick 209, Jeff Janis (WR) Saginaw Valley

Janis is one of my favorite players in the draft.  He was very productive in college and has intriguing measurables.  He is 6’ 3” and 219 pounds.  Janis is extremely strong and fast (running a 4.42 40 yard dash at the Combine).  He wracked up 1,572 yards and had 14 TD’s in his senior year alone.  Scouting reports say that he has an exceptional work ethic and character.  The big knock on him is that he is a small school guy who faced inferior competition.  It is tough to project small school WR’s to the NFL.  However, for a 6th round pick, he is well worth the risk. However, if we were able to trade our 195th pick for Denarious Moore, then, instead of drafting Janis, I would draft Kevin Pamphile with the 209th pick.

  • Pick 210, John Urschel (OG) Penn State

If people have heard of Urschel, the one thing they probably know is that this guy is smart – not smart for an athlete but elite smart by any measure.  He has already earned a Master’s degree in mathematics (with 4.0 GPA) and has taught Analytic Geometry to Penn State undergraduates.  He has published an article entitled “Instabilities of the Sun-Jupiter-Asteroid Three Body Problem” in the scientific journal Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy.  As the nation’s premier college football scholar athlete, he was awarded the Campbell Trophy (also known as the academic Heisman).  Typically, I favor smarts for offensive tackles and centers and nastiness for guards, but Urschel is not just another beautiful mind; he has some serious NFL ability for such a late round selection.  He is a three-year starter at Penn State and is well-versed in a pro-style offense.  Urschel was a team captain with “sparkling intangibles.”  He has good quickness and is a scrappy player.  At this point in the draft, it is not realistic to think you are going to find a player that can start immediately (unless there are serious character issues – see my next pick), but I think Urschel has that potential.  At worst, he will likely be an excellent depth player in that he has the versatility to play guard on either side, as well as the potential to play center.

  • Pick 213, Colt Lyerla (TE) Oregon

Speaking of character issues, this guy has more red flags than a Chinese military parade but his athleticism and talent are undeniable.  I am typically (almost universally) against drafting prospects with questionable character, however, given how late in the draft he should go, how big his upside is and how big our need is at his position, I think it makes sense to take a flier on him – that is, of course, unless the Patriots don’t draft him first.

  • Round 7
    • Pick 233, Jeff Mathews (QB) Cornell

I’m a proponent of Ron Wolf’s rule that teams should try and draft a quarterback almost every year.  This year, I had been tracking Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech who had been ranked in the 230’s but has recently shot up to the 170’s.  With all of our needs, I wouldn’t spend our 5th round pick on a QB; therefore, in the 7th round, I like Jeff Mathews of Cornell. Mathews is an experienced, four-year starter who was a three-time team captain (first in Cornell history).  He has ideal size for a QB (6’4”, 223 lbs, 10 1/8” hands).  He was very productive in college and now holds 47 Cornell records and 18 Ivy League records.  Mathews has very good arm strength and accuracy and is a good decision maker.  He is a very intelligent, determined, hard worker with strong preparation skills and a team-first attitude.  Some of the reasons why Mathews is not projected to go earlier include shaky footwork and mechanics, lack of competition and a poor winning percentage (.324 winning percentage; 12-25 record).  I think Mathews would be a steal at this point in the draft.  He has all the attributes you would want in a back-up and has the raw tools that indicate he has the potential to be more. In summary, if we do not have any trades, we would draft the following positions:

  • 3 WR’s (rounds 1, 4 and 6) (Dri Archer in the 4th round is a WR/RB hybrid)
  • 2 TE’s (rounds 2 and 6)
  • 2 CB’s (rounds 3 and 4)
  • 1 ILB (round 4)
  • 1 OLB (round 5)
  • 1 OG (round 6)
  • 1 OT (round 6)
  • 1 QB (round 7)

Some of the common themes are versatility, college productivity, bloodlines, character, leadership, intelligence, durability and playmaking ability.  Also, many of the later round selections have the size and athleticism but have raw mechanics in need of refinement.  Most of the late round selections can also be immediate contributors on special teams, which many will need in order to secure a roster spot. Given our plethora of draft picks (most since 1998), our steady, disciplined leadership in the front office and the depth of this draft, in the immortal words of Bart Scott, I “Can’t Wait!”   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJshw2Axsqc

April 25, 2014

Heading into the Draft, Jets Fans Should Be Thrilled

can't wait  (Noah K. Murray/The Star-Ledger)Thanks to the Buccaneers’ 4th round pick from the Revis trade and four compensatory picks, we have a whopping 12 picks going into this year’s draft (more than we had in ’07, ’09  & ’10 combined).

The four compensatory picks are the result of losing more unrestricted free agents than we gained last year.  We gained Antwan Barnes and Mike Goodson while losing Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry, Mike DeVito, Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller and Matt Slauson.

Currently we own the following picks in this year’s upcoming draft:

Round 1 – Pick 18, 18th overall

Round 2 – Pick 17, 49th overall

Round 3 – Pick 16, 80th overall

Round 4 – Pick 4, 104th overall (from the Buccaneers); Pick 15, 115th overall; Pick 37, 137th overall (compensatory)

Round 5 – Pick 14, 154th overall

Round 6 – Pick 19, 195th overall; Pick 33, 209th overall (compensatory); Pick 34, 210th overall (compensatory); Pick 37, 213th overall (compensatory)

Round 7 – Pick 18, 233rd overall

So far I absolutely love what John Idzik and the Jets have done in free agency.  I, like just about all Jets fans, would have liked to see us sign a top tier CB in free agency but I respect that the Jets were disciplined and stuck to their philosophy of not overpaying for the position.  If Dimitri Patterson can stay healthy (big if), I think many Jets fans will be very pleasantly surprised with the quality of play we have at corner this year.

I also wanted to see us retain Austin Howard but I wouldn’t have paid him half of the inexplicable 5 year / $30 million the Raiders ponied up.  Apparently the spirit of Al Davis is alive and well in Oakland.  While I place a big premium on continuity of the offensive line, I can not imagine paying any right tackle anything close to the Raiders’ offer.  Howard was a nice find for us and I would have liked to keep him a Jet but, for that kind of money, the Jets absolutely made the right move by letting him fly.

I also love that we did not sign DeSean Jackson.  No doubt he is a playmaker and we are certainly in need of playmakers but there’s a reason (other than just money) that the Eagles let him walk.  We just purged ourselves of one WR with questionable character, we don’t need another one to put on the same number.  I was calling for the Jets to cut Santonio Holmes immediately after the Miami loss on New Year’s Day 2012.  How is it that our best receiver and an appointed team “captain” was on the sidelines late in the 4th quarter as the team was trying to get in position for a game-winning FG as well as the 4th quarter TD drive that brought the Jets to within 2?  A game that, if we had won, would have propelled the Jets into the playoffs.  A game that our supposed best offensive player had his first career zero catch game.  Despite the huge cap hit that would have ensued, the Jets should have immediately cut him and sent a message to the team.  Obviously no one has the ability to predict injuries but with the power of hindsight, we can see that since that game on 1/1/12, Holmes has played in only 15 of 32 games and scored just two TD’s – TWO!  (Chaz Schilens also played in 15 games and had 2 TDs over the same time period and he wasn’t even on an NFL roster last season!)  We should have taken the hit.

So getting back to DeSean – he was instantly one of my least favorite players in the league when I watched him on Monday Night Football in only his second game as a “professional” when he flipped the ball on the 1 yard line in what should have been a 60 yard TD completion.  What was even more amazing to me was when I learned he made a similar mistake in High School during an Army All-American game when he fumbled the ball at the 1 yard-line while attempting to do a celebratory flip into the end zone.  This kind of selfishness and lack of learning from one’s mistakes are not qualities that are conducive to team sports.  Providing these types of players with fat contracts sends the wrong message to teammates that are doing their best to do things the right way.  Sure I’d love to have his speed and playmaking ability on the team but not at the expense of his baggage.  Plus at only 175 pounds and concussion-prone, who knows how long he’ll stay on the field.

 

So that’s a little bit about what the Jets didn’t do (that I love), here’s a little bit about what they did do (that I love)…  I love that they resigned Colon, Pace and Douzable.  Colon was a nice surprise for us last year.  Sure he had a lot of penalties but his toughness and leadership were great additions.  I have long thought that Pace was underrated – it was nice to see him get double digit sacks last year and earn another contract.  Also I think Douzable is a fantastic rotational player.  It’s a long season and depth is great thing.  Also resigning other back-up players and special teamers like Bellore and McIntyre are great because they know the system and have been getting better each year.  While they will likely never be starters, they’re very valuable and play a lot more snaps than most people realize.

Regarding the bigger names we’ve signed, the differences between Tannenbaum and Idzik became glaringly obvious.  I have a lot of affection for Tannenbaum (mainly because of his passion and love for the Jets) but I liken his free agency approach to be very similar to that of the nutritional choices that one makes when they opt to go grocery shopping in a gas station minimart on payday after fasting for two days.  To make a comparison with Idzik, I’ll use another analogy.  This one is of how two individuals may choose to enter a pool from a high-dive.  Tannenbaum would jump a bunch of times on the board, wave his hands getting everyone’s attention then grab his knees and cannonball into the pool drenching the first couple rows of spectators.  Idzik would wait a while, contemplating his options at the stairs before climbing the high dive.  The spectators might get bored and not even notice his climb.  Idzik would then deftly jump up and swan dive into the water.  The water would barely part enough to envelop him with a splash-less entry that would make any olympic diver jealous.

Universally, going into free agency, everyone said the Jets needed help on offense.  We had very little speed and hardly any weapons at the skill positions.  So what did Idzik do?  He went out and got the highest rated free agent QB in Vick, the highest rated free agent WR in Decker and the highest rated free agent RB in Johnson.  He also added a speedster WR in Jacoby Ford.  At 26, if Ford can stay healthy (his only complete season was his rookie year), he could prove to be a great addition.  Very quietly, Idzik added a lot of speed to the team.  A couple weeks ago Jeremey Lundband (@JLundbladESPN), a senior researcher at ESPN tweeted, “Jets now have NFL’s fastest RB (Chris Johnson 99), WR (Jacoby Ford 98) & QB (Michael Vick 92) according to Madden speed rating”  Idzik did all this without fanfare and without breaking the bank.  The Jets are in fantastic cap shape and have a ton of options.

In my next blog post, I’ll reveal who I think the Jets should target in the upcoming draft.

December 16, 2013

The Jets are Still Alive in the Playoff Hunt – So You’re Saying There’s A Chance…

NImageope. Not even as the eternally and irrationally optimistic Jets fan that I am, there’s no chance the Jets will make the playoffs this year. There’s even less of chance than we had in 2009 when Rex Ryan prematurely proclaimed that we were eliminated after our week 15 loss that year.

Despite this acknowledgement, I couldn’t help but look at all the stars that would need to align. Basically, there are 9 games that need to go a certain way. I grouped them into one of the following three categories of likelihood: probably, toss-up, and doubtful. In this crazy NFL, valid arguments could be made that I don’t have any of these games in the right category but that would just further another point that I’ll make shortly. However, first let’s waste a little more time and look at the games:

Probably
The Jets will beat Cleveland next week
The Patriots will beat the Ravens next week
The Packers will beat the Steelers next week or the Browns will beat the Steelers in two weeks
Toss Up
The Lions will beat the Ravens tonight
The Bengals will beat the Ravens in two weeks
The Chiefs will beat the Chargers in two weeks
Doubtful
The Bills will beat the Dolphins next week
The Raiders will beat Chargers next week
The Jets will beat the Dolphins in two weeks

As I mentioned, a valid case could be made that many or even all of these games are in the wrong categories. So let’s just assume that all of these games are a 50/50 proposition. If we proceed with that assumption (and the assumption that I correctly remember how to calculate probabilities), that would mean the Jets chances of making the playoffs are 1 in 512! Even Jim Carrey wouldn’t like those odds.

Here’s what I’d like to see in the final two games… I want our team to show improvement, play well and WIN. Draft position is highly overrated and a crapshoot at best. I want wins to build on for next year. Sit Santonio Holmes and any other players that aren’t anticipated back next year and work on building a winning culture.

April 29, 2013

In the 2013 NFL Draft, The New York Jets Should Have Selected…

Jets Draft

Round 1, 9th overall pick

  • Chance Warmack, OG from Alabama; instead the Titans picked him with the 10th overall pick.

I think that Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper were rare prospects at Guard that happened to line up with a huge area of need.  I was surprised Warmack fell to us at 9 and was very disappointed that we didn’t draft him.  I would have been happy with any of the top 5 CB’s in this year’s draft and we could have landed one of them in the second round.  We could have added a future pro-bowler to Mangold and Richardson and really gone a long way to solidifying our Offensive Line.

Round 1, 13th overall pick

  • Jarvis Jones, OLB from Georgia; instead the Steelers picked him with the 17th overall pick.

Outside Linebacker has been a big area of need that we’ve been neglecting for the last several drafts.  I’m still not over passing on Melvin Ingram last year.  In this year’s draft, I thought there were three OLB’s worth taking in the first round.  With Jordan and Mingo off the board, I thought we should have drafted Jarvis Jones.  He was the anti-Gholston.  There were a lot of reasons for concern with him except when watching him play.  He was a highly productive and dominant player against excellent competition.  I’d welcome him to my team any day.

Round 2, 39th overall pick

  • Johnthan Banks, CB from Mississippi State; instead the Bucs picked him with the 43rd overall pick.

While I would have much preferred my draft to the one that the Jets actually had, I sincerely hope that I am wrong.  I did not agree with drafting Geno Smith in the second round despite his perceived value at that spot.  I actually would have much preferred taking Nassib in the 4th round if we had to take a QB.  While QB is certainly a huge area of need, I would have preferred to give Tebow and Garrard a chance this year and draft a QB next year if needed.  We just have too many holes to fill this year and the likelihood that any of the QB’s in this year’s draft class would have an immediate positive impact is, in my opinion, doubtful.

Round 3, 72th overall pick

  • Keenan Allen, WR from California; instead the Chargers picked him with the 76th overall pick.

Having Keenan Allen fall to us in the third round was a big surprise and I think that we should have jumped at the opportunity to add such value at that spot.

Round 4, 106th overall pick

  • Trade pick to the Saints for Chris Ivory, RB.  Well done Jets!

I love what the Jets did with their 4th round pick.  I think that Ivory was the Saints’ best running back on their roster but because he was an undrafted free agent and the Saints had traded up in the first round to draft Mark Ingram, have a $14M contract with Sproles, and have an established producer in Pierre Thomas, Ivory never had a fair shot at the starting job.  I think he will excel when given the opportunity to be the number one RB and is better than any RB we could have selected in the 4th round or that we had on our roster.

Round 5, 141st overall pick

  • Josh Evans, FS from Florida; instead the Jaguars picked him with the 169th overall pick.

Round 6, 178th overall pick

  • Michael Williams, TE from Alabama; instead the Lions picked him with the 211th overall pick.

Round 7, 215th overall pick

Safety and Tight End are areas of need that obviously didn’t get addressed in the draft.  If we had more cap space, I wouldn’t try and address every need via the draft but, as we all know, the current state of Jets’ cap makes it tough to do anything.

  • Chase Thomas, OLB from Stanford; instead went undrafted but signed with the Saints.

With the final pick, I think teams need to look for value more-so than in any other round.  I couldn’t believe that Chase Thomas was available.  I would have expected him to go no later than in the 4th round and was one of the players I’ve been tracking.  I would have been pleased if the Jets drafted him in the 5th or 6th rounds but when he was still on the board in the 7th round, and the Jets passed on him again, I just shook my head.  For him to fall that far, I think there must have been some negative info floating around the league that was not made public.  NFL.com actually had him rated higher than the Cowboy’s first round draft pick!

Anyway, the last time the Jets spent their first round pick the way I wanted them to was in 2008 when we drafted Vernon Gholston so I’m not going to get too upset.  One thing the draft teaches us is that none of us really know anything anyway (except maybe Ozzie Newsome).  I think the Jets draft choices give them the most opportunity for an immediate turnaround but they also carry with them the most risk.  If Geno Smith can come in and play like Russell Wilson did last year, if Dee Milner can start right away and at a high level and if Sheldon Richardson proves to be the dominant force our scouts believe he is capable of, we could be in for a very nice season.  However, when you have really high draft picks like the Jets had this year, I believe it is even more important to not miss.  The safest picks statistically when picking 1-16 (according to The Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective) are at Linebacker and at Offensive Line.  In this draft we had huge areas of need in those positions and had excellent draft prospects available to us in those positions.  I think it would have made a ton of sense to draft Warmack and Jones but, that said, I wish our newest Jets the best and hopefully Geno proves to be a better seer than his new head coach… and yes, somebody did say Playoffs!

April 23, 2013

In the 2013 Draft (2.0), the Jets Should Select…

nfldraftSince the scenario I proposed in my previous post hasn’t come to fruition (Revis for a 1st, 3rd and 5th round pick in this draft), I have amended my picks.  While I was disappointed that we only got two picks for Revis, I am glad that the deal is done and we now have two early picks in this year’s draft.  This post reexamines the draft in the Jets’ current scenario, with just one additional trade.

I’d like to see the Jets make a few more moves in free agency.  I would make signing Safety Charles Woodson and WR Braylon Edwards a priority.

I know the thought of having a 36 year old defensive back sounds borderline laughable but age is, after-all, just a number.  Woodson has played at a very high level for many years.  I believe that the main reason the Jets pass defense was so stout last year despite losing Revis was the much improved play at Safety.  We’ve now lost both our starting Safeties from last season to free agency.  While I like the pick-up of Dawan Landry and am looking forward to seeing Josh Bush continue to develop, I think Woodson could add a lot to the secondary even if its just for one year.

Despite not being helped by competent QB play last season, our wide receivers are in need of significant improvement.  Hill was the only WR who consistently got open but he dropped way too many passes to be trusted.  I think our WR’s need to be shuffled around.  Santonio Holmes should be moved to the slot.  Stephen Hill needs to step up this year.  Hopefully he has invested in a jugs machine this offseason and has worn it out.  Hill should be the Z Flanker and Braylon could come in as the X Flanker.  While I’m not crazy about some of the locker room reports that seem to follow Braylon around the league, he has always been solid for us.  It could be argued that he was our best receiver last year despite only being on our roster for three games.  I would sign Braylon to a two year deal without a lot of guaranteed money so he could be cut after a year if needed.  I have the Jets drafting an X Flanker in the 4th round this year to compete with Braylon.  If the rookie doesn’t win the starting job by the end of the season, I would recommend drafting another X Flanker in second round of the 2014 draft (1st round pick should be for a QB).  I also see Kerley taking over the slot role in 2014 and cutting Holmes after this season ends.  If it were up to me, I would have cut Holmes immediately after the New Year’s Day game in Miami in 2012 when our “captain” was on the sideline when the season hung in the balance.  I know it would have been a massive cap hit but sometimes, when team dynamics are in play, you can add through subtraction.   I also hope that Jordan White gets some playing time this preseason so he can prove that he deserves a roster spot.  I really liked this late round pick from last year but he has been really limited in his opportunities to showcase his skills.

Other free agents we should consider bringing in, based on price, are G Brandon Moore, TE Visanthe Shianco , NT Sione Po’uha and either ILB Carlos Dansby or ILB Larry Grant.

One trade we should still make before the draft, and is rumored to be in the works, is trading our 5th round pick (141st overall) to the Saints for RB Chris Ivory.

After this trade, we’ll have gained RB Chris Ivory and have the following draft picks:

  • Round 1
    • pick 9, 9th overall
    • pick 13, 13th overall (from the Bucs)
  • Round 2
    • pick 7, 39th overall
  • Round 3
    • pick 10, 72nd overall
  • Round 4
    • pick 9, 106th overall
  • Round 5
    • pick 8, 141st overall (traded to the Saints)
  • Round 6
    • pick 10, 178th overall
  • Round 7
    • pick 9, 215th overall

1st Round

  • Barkevious Mingo, OLB from LSU
    • If Dion Jordan, OLB from Oregon happens to is still on the board, as unlikely as that is, Jordan should be drafted instead of Mingo.
  • Chance Warmack, G from Alabama
    • If Warmack off the board, then Jonathan Cooper G from North Carolina should be drafted.

2nd Round

  • D.J. Hayden, CB from Houston
    • It is looking highly unlikely that Ryan Nassib, QB from Syracuse, will be on the board at 39 but if he is, the Jets should draft him instead.  If he’s off the board, I think the Jets should wait until next year to draft a QB.  However, I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Jets spent this pick on QB EJ Manual from Florida State although he will likely also be off the board by the 39th pick.
    • If Nassib, Manual and Hyden are all off the board, then the Jets should draft Johnathan Banks, CB from Mississippi State.

3rd Round

  • Travis Kelce, TE from Cincinnati

4th Round

  • Aaron Dobson, WR from Marshall

5th Round

  • none (traded to the Saints for RB Chris Ivory)

6th Round

  • Jordan Mills, OT from Louisianan Tech
    • If Mills is off the board, the Jets should draft Josh Boyd, DT from Mississippi State

7th Round

  • Eric Martin, OLB from Nebraska
    • I originally had Michael Buchanan, OLB from Illinois but he has been moving up the draft boards and will likely go in the fourth round.

UFA’s

  • Jordan Kovacs, SS from Michigan
  • Michael Mauti, OLB from Penn State
  • Oscar Johnson, OT from Louisiana Tech
  • Steve Demilio, OT from Gardner Webb
  • Levine Toilolo, TE from Stanford
  • Alec Lemon, WR from Syracuse (only if we draft Nassib)
  • Marcus Davis, WR from Virginia Tech
  • Zach Rogers, WR from Tennessee
April 19, 2013

In the 2013 Draft, the Jets Should Select…

Currently we own the following picks in this years upcoming draft:nfldraft

  • Round 1 – pick 9, 9th overall
  • Round 2 – pick 7, 39th overall
  • Round 3 – pick 10, 72nd overall
  • Round 4 – pick 9, 106th overall
  • Round 5 – pick 8, 141st overall
  • Round 6 – pick 10, 178th overall
  • Round 7 – pick 9, 215th overall

Three trades we should make before the draft:

  1. We trade Revis to the Bucs for their 1st (13th overall), 3rd (73rd) and 5th (147th) round picks.  The Bucs are balking at this deal but as the draft draws closer and Revis’ recovery progress is verified, hopefully another suitor (real or imaginary) will emerge and act as a catalyst to get the Bucs to agree.  In addition to making a ton of sense for the Jets, it would also add a little more drama to the opening game to the season.
  2. We trade our 3rd round pick (72nd overall) to the 49ers for one of their 3rd round picks (93rd), and both of their 4th round picks (128th and 131st).  The 49ers have a 13 draft picks this year and a team that is among the most complete.  They will likely be looking to trade volume for quality.  According to the Trade Value Chart, the value of the three picks from the 49ers equals 213 and the 72nd overall pick we’d trade them is worth 230.
  3. We trade the two 4th round picks acquired from the 49ers (128th and 131st), our 5th round pick from the Bucs (147th) and our 7th round pick (215th) to the Saints for Chris Ivory and their 4th round pick (109th) and their 6th round pick (183rd).  While the Saints have placed a second round tender on Ivory, it’s not realistic that any team would be willing to give that considering Ivory’s limited production.  However, given that the Saints only have five draft picks this year and have a fair number of needs, the prospect of gaining an additional two picks for a player they signed as an undrafted free agent should be attractive.  The Saints backfield is crowded and this would enable them to add players where they need them.

After these trades, we lose Revis, gain RB Chris Ivory and have the following draft picks:

  • Round 1
    • pick 9, 9th overall
    • pick 13, 13th overall (from the Bucs)
  • Round 2
    • pick 7, 39th overall
  • Round 3
    • pick 10, 72nd overall (traded to the 49ers)
    • pick 11, 73rd overall (from the Bucs)
    • pick 31, 93rd overall (from the 49ers)
  • Round 4
    • pick 9, 106th overall
    • pick 12, 109th overall
    • pick 31, 128th overall (from the 49ers) (traded to the Saints)
    • pick 34, 131st overall (from the 49ers) (traded to the Saints)
  • Round 5
    • pick 8, 141st overall
    • pick 14, 147st overall (from the Bucs) (traded to the Saints)
  • Round 6
    • pick 10, 178th overall
    • pick 15, 183rd overall
  • Round 7
    • pick 9, 215th overall (traded to the Saints)

Many of the guys I’ve had on my list have been moving up draft boards and are now not likely going to be available where we’re picking.  In some cases below, I’ve made mention of who I originally wanted to draft.

1st Round

  • Barkevious Mingo, OLB from LSU
    • If Dion Jordan, OLB from Oregon happens to is still on the board, as unlikely as that is, Jordan should be drafted instead of Mingo.
  • Chance Warmack, G from Alabama
    • If Warmack is off the board, then Jonathan Cooper G from North Carolina should be drafted.

2nd Round

  • Ryan Nassib, QB
    • A lot of sites have Nassib ranked somewhere in 40‘s among this year’s draft prospects, however some mocks have him going as high as number 8 to Buffalo.  If he’s available for the Jets with the 39th pick, we should draft him.
    • If Nassib is off the board, then we should draft Zach Ertz, TE from Standford.

3rd Round

  • Travis Kelce, TE from Cincinnati if Nassib is drafted in then second round.
    • If Ertz was drafted in the second round, then the Jets should draft Quinton Patton, WR from Louisiana Tech or Da’Rick Rogers, WR from Tennessee Tech.
  • Shamarko Thomas, S from Syracuse

4th Round

  • Brennan Williams, OT from North Carolina
    • I originally had Justin Pugh, OT from Syracuse slated for this spot but he has since risen up the draft boards and will likely go late in the second round.
  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB from Connecticut
    • He has been moving up draft boards and some people now have Wreh-Wilson going as early as the second round.  If he is off the board, then the Jets should draft Leon McFadden, CB from San Diego State.

5th Round

  • Kevin Reddick, ILB from North Carolina

6th Round

  • Eric Martin, OLB from Nebraska
    • I originally had Michael Buchanan, OLB from Illinois but he has been moving up the draft boards and will likely go in the fourth round.
  • Denard Robinson, WR from Michigan

7th Round

  • none

UFA’s

  • Michael Mauti, OLB from Penn State
  • Oscar Johnson, OT from Louisiana Tech
  • Steve Demilio, OT from Gardner Webb
  • Levine Toilolo, TE from Stanford
  • Alec Lemon, WR from Syracuse (only if we draft Nassib)
  • Marcus Davis, WR from Virginia Tech
  • Zach Rogers, WR from Tennessee

It’s been years since we’ve headed into a season with as many holes and unknowns on our roster.  A lot of the season will depend on if guys like Bush, Davis and Ellis can step up on defense and  if guys like Hill, Smith, Colon and Goodson can step up on offense.  Oh wait… having even just mediocre QB play will be necessary too if we are to compete this season.  I am really excited for the draft and to see how our new GM does.  So far, I really like what I see.  He’s made the cap room we need, secured some low risk/high reward players in free agency and has stated that he wants to build the team through the draft.

April 26, 2012

Could the Jets be Getting Ready to Trade Revis?

Image

(Schultz/AP)

Obviously much of what makes news just before the draft turns out to be part of an orchestrated smoke-screen of misinformation sent out to mask an organizations true intention. Normally, I would immediately chalk up the recent speculation that the Jets might have interest in Tent Richardson as pure gamesmanship. Surely a team that has much bigger needs at positions like OT, OLB, S and WR would not consider giving up the number of picks required to jump from the 16 spot to the 3 spot for what most would consider a luxury pick.

However, with Mr. T’s well documented proclivity for moving up, one needs to consider the possibility. As I looked at the math in swapping draft picks, it just didn’t add up. It is widely thought that the Browns will take Richardson with their 4th overall pick; so that would mean that the Jets would need to get the Viking’s 3rd overall pick if they want Richardson. While the old draft chart is not as accurate as it once was now that the rookie wage scale is in place, it is still a useful tool. According to it, the number 3 pick has a value of 2,200. All of the Jets picks (excluding the compensatory ones as they can not be included in a trade) are collectively less than 1,700. The Jets would need to dip into future drafts to make the deal work.

However, what if the Jets were to trade the person who, by the end of his career, I believe will be the consensus best CB in the history of the NFL? We’ve all seen the hold-out chatter AGAIN. We know that the Jets do not get along with Revis’ agent. We also know that the Buccaneers are sitting with the 5th overall pick are in need of a CB. They also have a lot of money to spend. If this deal were to happen, I could see the Jets trading Revis to the Buccaneers for the 5th overall pick and then trading the 5th pick to the Vikings to get the Viking’s 3rd pick. To get the 3rd pick, the Jets would likely need to trade their 2nd and 3rd round selections (47th and 77th) for the Vikings 4th and 6th round selections (98th and 175th).

To be clear, I am not saying the Jets should do this deal. I certainly do not think they should. If anything, I think the Jets should trade down if possible. I am simply saying that, given the Jets track-record of moving up and the Revis contract issues, this could be a plausible scenario.

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