Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jets claim OG Fladell

Don't ever say Mike Tannenbaum doesn't turn under every rock or that he doesn't work hard. Former New York Giants practice squad OG Mike Fladell has been claimed by the Jets off waivers.

Fladell started two years at Rutgers before being picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Giants. He's a big, big guy, at 6'7, 344 pounds. As you might expect, his main weakness is a lack of athleticism that comes with his massive size. He ran a 5.43 forty yard dash coming out of college.

He joins Mario Urritia and Rashad Barksdale (not related to Avon Barksdale from The Wire) as waiver wire pickups in the past week.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Jets claim former Bengal, Louisville WR Urrutia

The Jets have claimed former Louisville WR Mario Urrutia off waivers from Cincinnati.

Urrutia is 6'6, 235 pounds, but he failed to make an impact with the Bengals as a rookie 7th round pick last year.

He probably won't make the team, but his size is certainly intriguing, and he had some success in college. He's only 23 years old, so there's still upside to be had. Still, with Jerricho Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey, Brad Smith, David Clowney, and Wallace Wright all likely to make the roster, Urrutia is a long-shot at best.

The Jets also signed former Eagle, Chief, Giant, and Albany Great Dane Rod Barksdale. He is a 6'0, 208 pound cornerback who will add depth to a position that has already seen Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland brought in. He played six games in 2007 for Kansas City, recording nine tackles, but it's unlikely that he makes the final roster.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Great Rex Ryan article from SI

Just wanted to pass out this link.

Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated did a fabulous profile on Rex Ryan for Sports Illustrated that should be a must read for Jets fans. Some of it you will already know, but Layden's a good writer, and all Jets fans will appreciate this.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shonn Greene Signed

No terms disclosed yet, but the Jets have agreed to terms with 3rd round runningback Shonn Greene. The Jets are the first team in the league to sign all their draft picks, and they have done so by the middle of June. Not bad. Although it can't be that hard to sign just three guys...

3rd round picks never hold out, so this wasn't ever going to be anything to worry about, but I'm sure Mike Tannenbaum is glad he doesn't have to worry about signing these guys anymore. Now the focus will likely become what to do with the receiver position (Plaxico Burress?) and what to do with his two disgruntled backs, namely Leon Washington.

Burress, by the way, had his court date adjourned to September 23rd. His camp says he'll be able to play this year. We'll see for just how long. I'm not sure why he would keep putting it off, as it seems like the elephant in the room that will rear its ugly head again during next football season, but I'm not close to that situation. Procrastinating is something somebody like me does with homework or with writing a blog post. It's not something to be doing with prison time.

One receiver option that could pop up is Denver WR Brandon Marshall who has asked for a trade. Marshall is extremely talented, but a bit of a head case (what receiver isn't?). Personally, I prefer to give up nothing but cash to sign Burress rather than move a high pick for Marshall, even though the Bronco star is younger and probably better at this stage.

UPDATE (5:35 PM): Rich Cimini reports that the Jets have "cooled" on Plaxico Burress. If that's true, it has to be because of his legal problems.

Still, I don't really believe it. Rex Ryan praised Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff to no end before trading up for Mark Sanchez. The receiving corps has some young talent, and I think the Jets might be warming to the idea of giving them a chance, especially considering the risk of bringing in a prima donna who still might get suspended or jailed.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Minicamp Day 3 Review

Today's practice, I spent a lot of time watching the quarterbacks again because, let's face it, it's the most important positional race on the team and it's the easiest thing to look at in practice.

Neither of the quarterbacks really stood out. Both had a few hiccups practicing out routes, but against actual defenses, here is how they did.

Clemens was 11-15 in a variety of 4 on 3's, 6 on 7's, and 11 on 11's, having some success moving the ball and completing his last seven passes. He had a pair of touchdowns, one to Dustin Keller, who beat everybody's favorite secondary whipping boy Drew Coleman and another to Wallace Wright.

Sanchez was a mostly shaky 13-20, but in an 11 on 11 drill towards the end of practice, he completed his last six passes, culminating with a fade to Wallace Wright in the corner of the endzone for a touchdown. This prompted excited teammates to chant "Wallace, Wallace" after the grab, while the fans were cheering the throw. Sanchez himself was happy to end the practice on a good note. The key receivers on that drive were Wright, who caught the touchdown, and David Clowney who had four receptions.

The biggest difference between the two quarterbacks at this point is the decisiveness. The newly signed Sanchez has been hesitant, often holding onto the ball for too long. Anybody can tell by watching the two quarterbacks which one is the veteran and which one is the rookie because Clemens makes his reads much more quickly than Sanchez does at this point. The game needs to slow down for the golden boy, and there's no reason to expect that it won't. Hopefully, Rex Ryan never uses the "s" word by saying Sanchez is "swimming" learning the offense. We all saw how well that went for Vernon Gholston (who actually had a few pressures in yesterday's practice that I forgot to mention).

Clemens was far from perfect though. Most of his completions were short, and he tended to struggle landing the deep ball, overthrowing a few deep passes. He probably doesn't offer a whole lot of upside, but he also rarely made mistakes.

Sanchez, on the other hand, did throw one interception, and it was once again Eric Smith making the play after a James Ihebdigo tip. He also fumbled one snap. As for Smith, this was his fifth interception in the three day camp, making him the clear top performer. Still, don't expect him to challenge Jim Leonhard for a starting job, at least not yet.

Players that caught my eye were Dwight Lowery, who had another nice pass deflection today. Also, I must add that the quarterbacks must be pretty smart because they barely throw the ball in Darrelle Revis's direction.

D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Damien Woody both looked bigger than last year. The offensive line sealed really well on an outside run by Shonn Greene that he would have broken for a long gain if it was real. Greene is being given a lot of respect by the coaching staff, as he's right there behind Thomas Jones and Leon Washington in terms of reps, including on the goal line.

Finally, it's time to mention the punting battle, where both Reggie Hodges and T.J. Conley had good practices. Reggie Hodges punted well, averaging 45 yards on four punts, including one booming 55 yarder angled towards the sideline. But it was Conley who had the slightly better day, averaging 45.9 yards a punt, including two 55 yarders with good hang time.

As for the people receiving the punts, Chansi Stuckey muffed one Conley bomb. More interesting was the Music City Miracle-style lateral play the Jets ran on another Conley boomer. Jim Leonhard received the punt, took a step and then threw it across the field to Darrelle Revis for a good gain.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sanchez Signed. Plus Minicamp Day 2 Notes

Let's start off with the big news.

First round pick Mark Sanchez has been signed to a contract, making him the second first rounder to agree to a deal. Terms have not been disclosed, but getting Sanchez in camp on time was the number one priority for Mike Tannenbaum, and he's definitely done that. Rod Boone of Newsday reports the deal is five years for as much as $60 million total, $28 million guaranteed, though Dave Hutchinson of the Star Ledger has the deal at $50 million total. With this signing, Tannenbaum continues his track record of getting his first round picks in camp.

Also, the Channing Crowder-Rex Ryan war of words is only getting juicier. Crowder responded to Ryan's comments in the Miami Herald, and Ryan did not back down. Bill Bellichick also had a response to Ryan, though he was not interested in talking trash.

Finally, punter Eric Wilbur was released, and last year's punter Reggie Hodges has been re-signed. Wilbur's problem was inconsistent hands. In other words, he fumbled too many snaps.

Now, onto today's afternoon practice.

These stats are unofficial, but here's how I calculated the quarterbacks.

In 7 on 7 drills, Clemens was 5-6, throwing primarily short routes. Sanchez was 5-9.

In 11 on 11 situational drills, Clemens was 5-8, and Sanchez was 4-6.

Judging by one mini-camp practice, I would rate Clemens as still having an edge over Sanchez. The fourth year quarterback clearly has a better handle on the offense, as the ball leaves his hands on time almost all the time, normally taking what the defense was giving him. He was far from spectacular, except for a pinpoint pass down the sideline to Thomas Jones for a touchdown, and one other beautiful throw to Jerricho Cotchery through double coverage. Most of his passes were short and pretty accurate. At this point, he would be a much better game manager than his rookie counterpart.

That isn't to say Sanchez didn't have his moments. He made a number of nice reads and throws, usually looking for deeper pass rather than the checkdown. However, too often he held the ball too long in 7 on 7's. It's easy to spend time in the pocket and wait for the open receiver without any pass rush, but he won't get nearly as much time to throw during real games. He acclimated himself pretty well on 11 on 11's, too, and he had a few nice passes as well. Still, he got intercepted twice, one on a tip ball hauled in by Eric Smith (who had three interceptions yesterday) and once by Dwight Lowery.

No receivers really stood out. In 11 on 11's with Clemens (who played with the first team), Jerricho Cotchery was clearly the number one weapon. He made one nice catch in double coverage as I mentioned earlier, but he also had a terrible drop on an all-out blitz that Clemens read, reacted to, and made a good throw. Rookie TE Jack Simmons and Dustin Keller also got a bunch of work in the passing game, though Keller had a bad drop on what would have been a touchdown.

I also watched the new punting battle a little bit. Neither punter had a phenomenal day, but there weren't any really bad shanks either. While I was watching, Hodges punted six times for a 42.8 yard average (unofficially), while Conley punted four times for a 46 yard average. Conley had been having a significantly better go of it until Hodges's last two punts went about 48 and 55 yards respectively. Conley's long was 55 yards as well.

As for players who impressed me, tight end J'Nathan Bullock had really impressive athleticism. As a former basketball player, it's not surprising to see him quick in and out of cuts, but he caught the eye of many fans with his speed and agility. Simmons got a lot of work, too.

Dwight Lowery has a new uniform number (#21), but he's just as impressive as he was last year. It just seemed like he was always around the ball, making a number of pass break-ups, including one interception.

I didn't see a whole lot of the defense except for in team drills, but there was a lot more blitzing than in previous years. Even Vernon Gholston got in the action, with a couple of pressures early on.

Finally, I spoke briefly to Kerry Rhodes at the end or practice during the autograph sessions. He did not back down from his boast that the defense would be the best in the league. I then asked him if he would be blitzing more this year from the safety position. He smiled and said, "Oh yeah." With Abe Elam gone, Rhodes is again the best blitzing safety on the team, so he'll get some opportunity to show his skills in that regard.

UPDATE (2:55 AM)
: Multiple outlets are reporting that the deal is indeed worth $50 million over the five years.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ryan Doesn't Back Down from Crowder's Comments

I love Rex Ryan more every day.

In case you haven't heard Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder's comments regarding Rex Ryan, here they are again.

"Oh, he's going crazy. He's going absolutely nuts. I know it's his first chance to be a head coach, and I know he's excited about life. But, like I said, I've never played a football game in June in my whole life. So congratulations to him. He's the OTA, the OTA Super Bowl winner."

So today, with the first open practice giving him another opportunity to speak his mind, he unleashed a few gems.

"I don’t know this Channing Crowder," Ryan said. "All I know is that he’s all tatted up. He’s right about one thing. I’m a first-time head coach, but I’ve been around the game all my life. I'm no different than I’ver ever been, just that more people are listening."

And what does he think about Crowder saying that teams don't win in June?

"I think he’s wrong," Ryan said. "You do win in June. You win with your preparation. If I were younger, I’d handle him myself. He’s a good player and all that kind of stuff and it is fun to ruffle some feathers. I’ve got no problem doing that. I’m confident in our football team. I'm confident in myself, the players, the coaches and the entire organization. That’s why I say the things I say. I make no apologies for any of those types of things."

There are more quotes if you follow the link at the top of the page.

Clearly, there are two factions starting to develop among Jets fans: those who agree with Crowder and think Ryan should shut up and coach, especially considering the lackluster track record of Baltimore assistants, and those fans who are getting excited that the team is finally getting some swagger.

I definitely fit in the latter category.

I LOVE Ryan's quotes so far. After Eric Mangini's three year crusade on eliminating all the fun in football, Ryan is bringing it back. He's boosting his own players' confidence, and he's building expectations, rather than downplaying them. What's wrong with that?

For so long, the Jets have been an afterthought. Sure, there have been several playoff years recently, but the Jets have never scared anybody, and part of the reason is because they never really have had an identity, especially in the last few years.

Mangini's teams were predicated on smart football players who loved the game and could adapt to any situation. And while there's nothing wrong with that at some point, for a team to make the leap to a legitimate contender, an identity needs to emerge. Last season, it looked like the Jets were finally getting one. Despite the addition of Brett Favre, for eleven games the Jets were clearly a team that ran the ball and stopped the run. When Jenkins got banged up and Mangini panicked, the season went down the drain. Favre didn't help either.

Ryan's team will certainly be based on the same two things, and they won't be afraid to tell you about it. Now, if the Jets go 4-12 this year, the defense disappoints, and the offense is inept, then Ryan will have to eat his words, and he will look completely stupid. However, on paper, the defense has a ton of talent, and it's much easier to have a swagger and an identity on that side of the ball than it is offensively. And it's much easier to scratch together an offense, especially when there is a young (potential) franchise quarterback already on the roster in Mark Sanchez.

OTA Information

Open practices are upon us, and you the fan have a chance to view minicamp at the Florham Park facility. Depending on my work schedule (which I will receive tomorrow), I plan on coming up to watch practice on Wednesday and hopefully Thursday. I'd be wearing a JetsDaily shirt, so if you see me, come up and say hello. I'm certainly excited to see both the Jets in action and the new practice facility.

By now, the storylines are pretty set in stone, but I'll list the top storylines quickly.

1. How does the golden boy Mark Sanchez look, and can he show the coaching staff enough to begin to wrest the starting job from Kellen Clemens?

2. Is the defense worth the hype? You can't really tell in this setting, but you can see Rex Ryan and Bart Scott in action and some of the differences between this year's team and previous years.

3. How does rookie coach Rex Ryan conduct minicamp, and how different will it be compared to previous coaches Eric Mangini and Herman Edwards. Ryan is clearly a players' coach, but I can't see him running a Herm-like "Club Med" training camp. This will be your first clue.

4. Which receiver will emerge? Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller are going to be the top two options, but will Chansi Stuckey continue to impress, or will David Clowney or Brad Smith flash their skills?

5. Is Shonn Greene good enough to make Thomas Jones expendable?

6. Can Vernon Gholston show anything?

7. Who has the upper hand in the exciting Eric Wilbur - T.J. Conley punting competition?

8. How do the newcomers look? Not just Bart Scott, but Lito Sheppard, Jim Leonhard, Marques Douglas, Donald Strickland, and Howard Green as well.

Now for some helpful links for those planning on going to Florham Park in the next few days...

Here's the schedule of events for what's left of "Jets Week."

Here are directions to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Facility.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Could the Jets move Thomas Jones?

I wrote a piece back in February about the pros and cons of trading Thomas Jones. Back then, it was a very risky proposition moving the AFC's leading rusher with Leon Washington the only other halfback on the roster. But with the addition of Shonn Greene in the draft, the idea of moving Jones makes a lot more sense than ever before. Greene and Washington would compliment each other perfectly as a thunder and lightning combination, with Jehuu Caulcrick or Danny Woodhead getting carries here and there. There are also number of veterans eager for an oppportunity such as Warrick Dunn, Deuce McAllister, and DeShaun Foster.

Mike Lombardi of the National Football Post
says that "there's talk" that Jones might be made available, especially if the front office is confident enough with Greene.

Jones, who will be 31 years old come opening day, is coming off the best year of his career. His value will never be higher, and it's highly likely that this is his last season in green and white considering his contract structure, Greene's presence, and a probably new big contract for Washington.

The downside is that with a raw quarterback at the helm, moving the only proven full-time back on the roster is a very risky proposition. Greene and Washington look great on paper, but Washington is a little undersized and has never carried a full load, while Greene is a rookie with one year as a starter under his belt in college. If the Jets want to win now, trading their most proven offensive weapon is counter-intuitive, especially if the Jets plan on being a smash mouth team.

Also, while Jones's value may be at its peak, it still isn't that high. He may not net more than a 4th round pick on the open market, considering his age and the surplus of runningbacks in the league. Braylon Edwards could be a possibility down the line, but most of the speculation surrounding him was media-generated. Still, it makes a lot of sense for the Jets to try to move Jones and a draft pick for Edwards. Of course, if he really wants $10 million a year, don't expect him to go anywhere. Mike Tannenbaum has been known to make some big moves, so nothing should be surprising at this point.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rex Ryan on WFAN

"The message has already been sent to New England. I didn't come here to kiss Bill Belichick's rings, I came here to win."

How do you not love this guy? This is music to the ears of any Jets fan. Attitude? Swagger? When was the last time the Jets had either of these things. Of course, talk is cheap, the Jets need to walk the walk, but between Kerry Rhodes tweeting that the Jets might have the best defense in the NFL and Ryan's bravado, they sure do act the part.

Listen to Ryan's full interview with Mike Francesa here.

Sorry for the lack of updates. Both Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are back in camp, and another runningback (Georgia FB Brannan Southerland) is gone. I should have more later.