Archive for August, 2011

August 20, 2011

Thoughts on the Jets 1st Preseason Game

Here are some thoughts on the Jets 1st Preseason Game (in no particular order):

  •  I thought Sanchez looked sharp.  He went 6 for 7 and he should get a Mulligan on his one incompletion since it was a dropped by Matthew.  It was nice to see some chemistry with Mason.  It would have been nice to see Sanchez throw the ball down the field more but with a decimated offensive line, I’m glad he was only really asked to make the short underneath throws.
  • When I saw the replay of Bart’s injury on the Texan’s fist offensive play, I felt like we dodged a bullet.  That could have been very ugly.  In one of Rex’s press conferences this week, Rex mentioned how savvy veterans like Bart have a feel for situations like this and that Bart was alert enough to let go so his body would fall with his leg.  It is amazing that, prior to this injury, he had only missed 3 practices since coming into the league in 2002.
  • One of my major concerns coming into this season was depth at ILB and when Bart went down, I was certainly holding my breathe.  While we’re all rooting for Bart to come back soon and healthy, it was a pleasant surprise to see Josh Mauga come in for Bart and on his first two plays have a tackle for a loss and sack.
  • The most glaring struggle of the Jets defense was covering RB’s and FB’s.  Running-backs and Full-backs accounted for 9 of the Texan’s 16 completions.  While you’d certainly expect a higher completion percentage to RB’s and FB’s given the depth of their typical routes, the numbers in the Texans game were stark.  The Texan’s Quarterbacks completed 82% of their passes to RB’s and FB’s and just 35% of their passes to WR’s and TE’s.
  • The most glaring struggle of the Jets offense was their offensive line.  In all fairness to them, they didn’t have Mangold or Moore but their performance was nonetheless poor and cost Rob Turner about 3 months.  Ducasse obviously needs to step his game up significantly.  I feel for the guy in that he keeps getting shuffled around from position to position but the coaches wouldn’t be doing that unless they thought he could handle it.  After the one play where he was beaten badly to the outside, the ‘b’ word started floating around in my head.  However, after the heat of the game, I shed those thoughts.  For one, on that particular play, Rex mentioned in one of his press conferences this week that they went to a silent count without Ducasse knowing.  He was beaten so badly because he didn’t know the ball was snapped.  Also, offensive lineman can take a while to develop.  We all knew Ducasse was a developmental project when he was drafted.  We can take some comfort in knowing that he has one of the best offensive line coaches in football.  Wayne Hunter has been in the league since 2003 and never started a game until he started once for the Jets in 2009.  Last year he had 4 starts and this year, he’ll hopefully start 19.
  • I like Westhoff’s kick return strategy of returning kickoff’s even from deep within the endzone.  I’ll probably write another post on this later.  Kerley is going to be fun to watch.
  • I thought Shonn Greene looked good.  He had a nice run and it was great to see him catch a ball out of the backfield.
  • I thought Joe McNight looked pretty good though the play-calling for him could have been better.  He ran a lot between the tackles and I think he’d be better utilized on the edges where he can leverage his quickness in space.  Also, there’s no way he should be expected to block an untouched rushing LB with a full head of steam – someone should have at least chipped Reed before he got to McNight.  McNight didn’t even slow Reed down; it was like a fly hitting a windshield.
  • When the rosters are as big as they are for the first preseason game, I know it’s nearly impossible to work everyone in but I was really hoping to see what Scotty McNight in action.  Hopefully he’ll get some targets this Sunday evening against the Bengals.
  • I am very pleased with how Greg McElroy played.  I wrote a post before the Jets draft stating that they should draft a QB and I was thrilled when they drafted McElroy.  He’s knows how to win – he won the Texas state championships in High School and a National Championship in College.  His accuracy and smarts remind me of Chad Pennington.   In the Texan’s game, he reminded me of another Jet, Ken O’Brien, in that he showed he’s as tough as nails.  He got pummeled when he first got in the game.  On the play where he fumbled, with the way his head hit the turf, I thought for sure that he sustained a concussion.  With about 5 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, I thought the Jets did a good job of adjusting their play-calling.  They gave him a bunch of short dump-off passes to gain some momentum and confidence while slowing down the Texan’s pass-rush.  For only spending a couple of weeks at an NFL training camp, I thought he was remarkably poised and had a natural command of the game.  Furthermore, I’d be curious to see if he could improve his accuracy even more if he didn’t take helmet-wearing advice from John Hall.  I think he’ll be great in the quarterbacks room and will become a more-than-adequate back-up for Sanchez.  Playing back-up is something that McElroy has done before.  In High School, as a sophomore and junior, McElroy backed-up Chase Daniel, who later contended for the Heisman Trophy while playing for the Missouri Tigers.  I’m very glad he’s a Jet.
  • It’s tough to zero in on non-skill players when watching the game on TV but it looked to me like Kendrick Ellis held his own.  I’m looking forward to seeing the Jets play Bengals in person to watch him more closely.  Lineman are obviously coached to get their hands in the air to disrupt passing lanes when they don’t get penetration but it’s not too often that they successfully knock down a pass.  It was nice to see Ellis do it and it might be an indication that he has some good natural instincts.  We know he has the frame and the Monday Night Football broadcast crew was quick to point out Ellis’ unusual speed, range and motor for a big man.  All this gives us good reason to get excited about him.  That said, I’m still bummed that Jenkins is no longer our man in the middle.
  • Cumberland looks like he could make some nice contributions to the team this year.  I think both Cumberland and Keller will benefit from having Tom Moore on the coaching staff.  Moore loves to utilize his TE’s.  Cumberland caught 6 of the 8 passes that were thrown in his direction and averaged almost 13 yards per reception.

In the upcoming Bengals game, I expect the offensive line will play significantly better.  I also expect that the RB’s and FB’s won’t have nearly bonanza that the Texan’s backs had receiving the ball.  I’m looking forward to seeing McElroy throw the ball downfield more and to see which WR’s step up and seize their opportunity.  The Texans only averaged 2.2 yards per rush against the Jets.  I’d like to see the Jets young defensive line have another solid outing.

August 15, 2011

What’s the Biggest Question for the Jets Offense this Season?

How much better is Mark Sanchez v.2011 versus Mark Sanchez v.2010?  With all the free agent frenzy that occurred and the questions about who will be better Burress or Braylon, Mason or J-Co, the biggest opportunity for the Jets offense to improve is quite possibly this year’s performance of our number 6 versus last year’s performance.  In Sanchez’s first year, he was, frankly, a liability.  As fans, we were rooting for him not to lose the game.  Last year, he improved tremendously.  He showed that in crunch-time, when it matters most, he has nerves of steel.  He won us a bunch of games last year.  This year, if he can even out his performances and play the way we all know he can throughout the game, we will be a much better team.  Sanchez has acknowledged, after studying each game last year, that he needs to start games faster.  If he can do that, not only will we not need to pull out so many last minute victories but we’ll have an excellent chance of winning the division and more.

Is Wayne Hunter ready?  Damien Woody has left tremendous shoes to fill.  He will truly be missed.  I know in the past that Rex has called Hunter the best back-up OT in the league but I really hope Hunter ready to become a full-time starter.  Running right has always been a staple of our offense.  If Hunter isn’t ready, it would wreak havoc with our offense.

Who is Plaxico Burress?  I go back and forth on this one.  When I think of the kind of fool it takes to tuck a loaded gun into a pair of sweatpants to head out to a club and then to literally shoot yourself in the leg, I want no part of him.  However, when I think of the debt he’s paid and hear him speak, I think that he certainly deserves a second chance.  Then I think back to all the drama when he was a Giant with being late for meetings and getting fined and I think, why expose ourselves to these shenanigans.  However, when I think of how diametrically different Tom Coughlin’s and Rex Ryan’s styles are and how Coughlin could probably drive Tebow to swear, I think maybe Burress will be different under Rex.  As much as I go back and forth on Burress as a guy, I do the same with him as a player.  Part of me thinks that he’s been away too long at too old an age to just pick up where things left off.  Then the other part of me thinks, here’s a rare athlete with a one year contact with a whole lot to prove.  Given our well documented issues in the red zone and Burress height, I think he was worth the gamble but this is one of the big questions we have on offense this year.  Let’s also hope Burress stays healthy enough for us to find out.

What impact will Tom Moore have?  Play calling is a thankless job.  Unless you’re the team holding the trophy at the end of the year, there will always be critics.  As an avid football fan, I appreciate great play callers and offensive schemers such as Sean Payton.  Fundamentally, I am a huge proponent of a strong running game.  I drink the Ground and Pound Kool Aid.  However, Schottenheimer’s play calling and offensive schemes have left me scratching my head more than a few times.  For many reasons, I have not advocated for a new Offensive Coordinator.  I think one of the Jets’ biggest strengths coming into this season in particular is the stability of the organization, it’s staff and core players.  That said, I love the idea of adding an offensive guru to mix and am very hopeful that he will have a big positive impact.

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August 15, 2011

What’s the Biggest Question for the Jets Defense this Season?

Can we stay healthy?  We’re returning 10 of 11 starters on a defense that was ranked 3rd last year is great.  However, we don’t have much depth at the linebacker position and an injury there could be devastating.

Can we cover big TE’s?  While I think Eric Smith improved his game significantly last year and Jim Leonard is an excellent leader, our Safeties really struggled last year covering TE’s, especially big ones.  To win the division this year, we’re going to have to deal with New England’s 6’ 6″ Gronkowski.  I hope our Safeties and coaches are up to the task.

Will Kyle get his groove back?  As a 1st round pick, the expectations were high for Kyle Wilson as he came into camp last year.  He played well early in the year but seemed to lose his confidence after the Miami game.  With Drew Coleman playing at a high level, it was hard for Wilson to work his way back on the field.  However, after an offseason working with Darrell Revis and another year under his belt, big things are expected of Wilson.

Will Jamal Westerman shine as our Designated Pass Rusher?  Westerman was poised last year to take on a bigger role but that was thwarted when Jason Taylor danced onto the scene.  Now that Taylor is back where he belongs, Westerman will get his shot.

How good is Calvin Pace?  With one foot tied behind his back, Calvin was still a force to be reckoned with.  Ryan assessed Pace’s foot as “only 20 percent healthy” by the end of last season.  Pace, now healed, is poised to have a monster season.

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August 15, 2011

What’s the Biggest Special Teams Question for the Jets this Season?

Who will be Mike Westhoff’s new wonderboy?  While we will all surely miss one of my favorite Jets, Brad Smith, it will be interesting to see who Mike Westhoff molds into the next Chad Morton/Justin Miller/Leon Washington/Brad Smith.  Early money certainly points to Jeremy Kerley.

Can Conley step in for Weatherford?  Last year, Weatherford tied the record for the most punts inside the 20 in a season with 42.  Pinning opponents deep is obviously a tremendous help to an opportunistic defense.  Also, will he buy his teammates shake-weights and if not, will how will the teams conditioning be affected?

Which Nick Folk will be kicking for the Jets?  The former All-Pro or the guy that missed more than 1 of 3 between between 18 – 28 yards?

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August 11, 2011

Who Will Make the Jets 53 Man Roster?

It is rare that this early in camp, there are so few questions about the roster but in looking at the Jets’ newly released depth chart, I’ve come up with what I think will be their 53 man roster.

In terms of the breakdown of numbers of players by position, I think the Jets will make a few adjustments as compared with last year.  The biggest of which is, I think the Jets will carry an addition Offensive Lineman at the expense of carrying one less Defensive End.  The other changes are more subtle.  They are as follows:

  • one more Safety at the expense of a Cornerback
  • one more Wide Receiver at the expense of a Tight End
  • one more Running Back at the expense of a Full Back

I believe the biggest competitions are going on are at Wide Receiver and Inside Linebacker.  The locks at WR are obviously Holmes, Burress, Mason and Kerley.  Last year, we carried 5 WR’s.  I think this year, there’s a good chance that 6 will make the 53 man roster.  I expect Patrick Turner and Scotty McKnight to round out the WR corp but it is by no means a lock.  Both Courtney Smith and Michael Campbell have shown promise.  Plus Logan Payne is currently listed ahead of McKnight, Smith and Campbell on the depth chart.  Dan DePalma is currently the biggest WR long-shot to make the squad.  Plus has been reported that the Jets have added another WR to the mix – undrafted FA Cordarol Scales from Fort Hayes State.  I’m not sure what he’ll add but the WR competition will certainly be one for us Jets fans to focus on during the preseason games.

At Inside Linebacker, I believe the only two locks to make the squad are our starters from last year.  Behind Harris and Scott there are currently six players competing for probably two spots.  I think Josh Mauga is probably the front-runner with Nick Bellore next in line.  Brashton Satele and Joey LaRocque are also in the mix while Matthias Berning and David Harron are both long-shots to make the squad.

Knowing how much Rex’s relies on Cornerbacks, it might seem odd that I think he’ll go with one less than last year.  However, I’m also suggesting that he carries one more Safety.  Dwight Lowery is among the five Safeties I’m suggesting will make the team.  If need be, Lowrey could return to his old position at Cornerback.  There are however, three CB’s in camp that are competing for a roster spot.  They are Julian Posey, Ellis Lankster and Richard Taylor.  If one of these three CB’s make the squad, then Safety Emanuel Cook probably will not.  According the Jets recently released depth chart, Donald Strickland is ranked fifth, FIFTH!, among the Cornerbacks.  Having five starting-caliber corners on one squad is a luxury.  It will be fun to see what exotic defensive schemes are made possible with such an embarrassment of riches.

My take on who will make the Jets 53 man roster

August 11, 2011

Nnamdi – He Chose… Poorly

Well, now that it the Jets’ offer has been made public (3 years, $30M), it is a little clearer why Nnamdi chose the Eagles but I still think he chose poorly.  If it was just about the money, he shouldn’t have voided the remainder of his contract with the Raiders.  In the tradition of Rex, I certainly don’t wish Nnamdi well but I hope he stays healthy.  I also feel that we are very fortunate to have signed Cro.  We have FIVE starting-caliber corners on the roster!  Can’t Wait! (bill me for that one Bart)