Monday, January 25, 2010

Five coaches gone, but don't expect too many other changes

Assistant defensive backs coach Doug Plank was fired, while assistant quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, special teams coach Kevin O'Dea, and defensive quality control coach Brian Smith will not have their contracts renewed. Lastly, pass rush specialist Chuck Smith left to become the new defensive line coach at the University of Tennessee.

Plank's firing is the most interesting part of this. As a player, he was a staple of the 4-6 defense, but obviously the Jets think they can do better. O'Dea and DeFilippo's roles were redundant, while Smith was asked to stay on the whole year after helping out during training camp.

With Brian Schottenheimer likely staying put and Mike Pettine not on the coaching radar just yet, there may not be much more turnover in the coaching staff. Runningbacks coach Anthony Lynn was briefly a candidate for the Texas Tech head coaching job that ended up going to Tommy Tuberville.

Meanwhile, just as the core of the staff will likely remain intact, so will the core of the team. Assuming next season is uncapped as so many people expect, the Jets will not be able to sign free agents worth more than the ones that leave the team. So look for Gang Green to build off this past year and hope Ryan and Sanchez's second year is even better than the first.

The key free agents for the Jets coming up this season are as follows.

QB Kellen Clemens*
CB Drew Coleman*
WR Braylon Edwards*
DT Howard Green*
OT Wayne Hunter*
S James Ihedigbo
DE/LB Marques Murrell
S Eric Smith*
WR Brad Smith*
RB Leon Washington*
WR Wallace Wright
* means that if a new collective bargaining is reach, these players would become unrestricted free agents

The key players on that list are Edwards and Washington. The Jets have already made it clear they want to keep Edwards another season and will probably give him the maximum tender. Leon Washington is a more interesting case, but he'll probably earn the same as the Jets won't want to lose him. Both Smiths, Brad and Eric, Hunter and Wright very well could return as well.

DE Marques Douglas
K Jay Feely
ILB Ryan Fowler
TE Ben Hartsock
ILB Larry Izzo
FB Tony Richardson

Douglas was a key component of the top ranked defense as he was very solid. However, he's not a difference maker, and defensive end is a position that the Jets need to get younger at, and they need to get someone who can push the pocket and get to the quarterback more. Look for Douglas to return, but my guess is the Jets will draft or sign someone to push or replace him as a starter. Feely should return, but you never know. The Jets should try to bring back Richardson, but at 38, he could choose hang it up. The others are probably gone.

The ironic thing is that some of these players may not be wanted back by the Jets for the sole reason that if they sign a contract with another team, the Jets can then sign a free agent for that money. So the new CBA could hurt some role players whom teams will be glad to see leave just so they could sign someone else or give someone else more money.