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Sunday, July 8, 2018

5 Questions About The Jets Defense

Going into the 2018 season there are tons of questions about the defense. Here are a few......

Leonard Williams
The Jets picked up the fifth-year team option on Leonard Williams before the May 3rd deadline. Only 24 years old, some people think he still has a tremendous upside. Others think he will never amount to the player scouts thought when many had him ranked as the number one player on the draft board. Last year (2017) was a disappointing year for Williams compared to his 2016 season when he had 7 sacks and made the Pro bowl. He only has 12 sacks in 48 career games. This stat may be skewed a bit because of a few factors. Though he only had 2 sacks in 2017 he did have 25 quarterback hits during the season (65 QB hits lifetime). If Jet fans remember Williams sprained his wrist in the Giants pre-season game last August and it wasn’t 100% healed till the end of November. This may sound like a petty excuse considering most NFL players are playing through nagging injuries the whole season. However in Williams case, playing on the defensive line with only one good hand will definitely affect his overall play. With both Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson gone, defenses were able to focus of Williams. The Jets are hoping defensive tackle Nathan Shepard drafted in the third round will step in right away and help take some of the pressure off of Williams.  I would play Williams on the outside more and put him in a good spot to pressure the quarterback. The bottom line is Leonard Williams does have a high ceiling. I expect him to bounce back in a big way in 2018. 




Darron Lee
Anyone who has kids is probably familiar with the children’s puzzle books Where’s Waldo? The book has series of pages with illustrations that the reader is suppose to locate the character Waldo who is hidden in illustrations. What does this have to do with Darron Lee? Well in his first two years in the NFL there were too many times when I said to myself or out loud, “Where’s Darron Lee?” He would become invisible during a game, then all of a sudden you would see a player moving laterally with tremendous quickness and make a great play. The problem is he is more like Waldo then the blur going across your screen a few times. Darron Lee has got to step up his game in 2018. Lee was the Jets first round pick in 2016, 20th overall. Many had him as a top 10 player but he has been far from that. Personally I was screaming at my television wanting the Jets to draft Myles Jack. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF) Darron Lee is ranked as the 86th best linebacker in the NFL with a poor rating. Also according to PFF: 

“Darron Lee had enjoyed an impressive three-game run, culminating in the highest single game grade of his career against the Buffalo Bills on a Thursday night. Lee posted a grade of 86.0 in the Jets 34-21 win, largely due to an impressive run defense grade of 87.1.Lee compiled two sacks and a hit as a pass-rusher along with two run stops on a very productive night for the second year linebacker. It follows two weeks of impressive play that started in Week 7 against the Miami Dolphins where he racked up 11 tackles and six defensive stops. Over the past three weeks, Lee has accumulated nine stops in the running game for a run stop percentage of 12.5 percent.Up to this point, Lee had struggled somewhat in his young NFL career. After being selected with the 20th pick in the 2016 NFL draft, he posted a PFF grade of just 36.2 as a rookie. Through six weeks of his sophomore season, Lee had only managed an overall grade of 31.9 before his recent string of breakout performances”

Darron Lee has got to put up or shut up in 2018. I am not optimistic about his long term prospects with the Jets. He has got to produce and produce big or the Jets will have to move on from him. 

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Lorenzo Mauldin
If Darron Lee is linebacker question mark #1, then linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin is #1a. Lee may have a two year leash but the time is shorter for Mauldin. Lorenzo Mauldin has overcome tremendous odds to get where he is at right now. He spent most of his youth going from one foster home to another. At the time he was drafted with his background written about, you couldn’t help but want him to make it big. In 26 career games he has 6.5 sacks. Unfortunately last August Mauldin got into a fight with offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum and threw a punch. Mauldin didn't touch the field for the remainder of camp and landed on IR Sept. 4. He had season-ending back surgery. Last year was a total wipe out for this player who went to Louisville. According to Darryl Slater of NJ.com, New York Jets linebacker coach Kevin Greene “has a plan to get more out of (LB Lorenzo) Mauldin,” including becoming more than a “finesse” player. Mauldin has played in a reserve pass-rush role each of his first two seasons on the edge. Of his 615 total snaps 450 of them have been rushing the quarterback. Whatever Greene has in mind, Lorenzo Mauldin has got to stay on the field and has got to make plays. He has been a major disappointment and like Darron Lee, his Jet career may be short. There is no lock for him to even make the 53-man roster in 2018.

                                     
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Jets Pass Rush
All Jet fans have heard it over and over again, “the Jets have not had a legitimate pass rusher since John Abraham.” In 2017, the Jets ranked 28th in the NFL with 28 total sacks for the season. No player on the team recorded more than 5 sacks on the year. On day three of the draft, the Jets opted to trade a seventh-round pick for former Colts defensive lineman Henry Anderson. However, this move has flown under the radar somewhat with the focus on the players brought in via the draft.  Anderson's pass rush numbers don't exactly jump off the page, as he has just three career sacks in three years and hasn't generated pressure at a particularly outstanding rate. However, he had two in just eight starts last season and showed an ability to be a disruptive pass rusher in his final year at Stanford with a career-high eight sacks and some of the best pressure numbers in the nation. Anderson is probably not the long term answer to the Jets pass rushing woes. Surprisingly one of the Jets top pass rushers is safety Jammal Adams. When he played in the hybrid linebacker/safety role, he showed a pretty good push for getting into the opponents backfield. With the strengthening of the Jets secondary, I would look for more of using Adams blitzing until a pure pass rusher is had. Did the Jets miss the boat on getting a pass rusher in free agency? General manager Mike Maccagnan made no significant moves to bolster his pass rush in free agency. (In fairness, it was a very weak class.) The Jets should draft the best pass rusher available in 2019. Or they can look at the free agent market which will be lot stronger in 2019 than 2018 with the Jets having the assets to grab one. For 2018 the pressure on the opposing quarterbacks will be weak unless a surprise player steps up.

                                       

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Jets Secondary
Sam Darnold may not have been the biggest addition for the Jets in the offseason. Trumaine Johnson may be. With the addition of Johnson, the chatter that is coming from the Jets secondary would make it seem like they are the second coming of the “Legion of Doom.” Jamaal Adams and Marcus Maye both had solid rookie seasons. Mo Claiborne re-upped for one year and depending on which game you saw him play last year he provides some stability. On paper the secondary seems formidable but when you look closer, they may not be as good as they themselves are touting. Adams and Maye should get even better in 2018 but Johnson may be on the downside of his better playing days. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the 68th best cornerback in the league with an average grade. In 2015 Johnson had 7 interceptions but his play has gone down the last 2 years. Whether he can regain his nose for the ball and play like a “shut down” cornerback like he thinks he is, remains to be seen. He is still only 28 and has all the physical ability but let’s see him pass the “eye test.” Mo Claiborne never played to the level that everyone thought when he was the 6th pick in the draft when he came out. There were times last year that he looked like an All-Pro. But other times the opposing quarterback kept throwing his way. With the Jets lacking a pass rush, look for the defense to blitz a lot and like last year Adams will be rushing the passer more than Jet fans would like. Keep an eye on draft pick Parry Nickerson and second year player Doug Middleton. Both can play a key role with the team and should take plays away from Buster Skrine.
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Around the NFL
…..The four-game suspension of Julian Edelman has been upheld. Edelman will miss the first four games of the season.…..Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor has called it a career and retired…..Rumor surfacing that Dez Bryant will end up with the Redskins when he finally signs…..The Steelers , the Cowboys, the Lions, and the Rams have until Monday, July 16, to work out long-term deals with running back Le'Veon Bell, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, defensive end Ziggy Ansah, and safety Lamarcus Joyner, respectively. If a long-term deal isn’t signed and approved by the league office before 4:00 p.m. ET on the 16th, the window for doing a long-term closes until the 2018 regular season ends…..ESPN’s Mike Clay just came out with his backfield rankings. His top five: 1) New Orleans Saints 2)Los Angeles Rams 3) Pittsburgh Steelers 4) Atlanta Falcons 5) Dallas Cowboys…..Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim was cited for DUI in Chandler, Arizona, on the Fourth of July…..Giants stars Landon Collins and Odell Beckham Jr. will get $12MM and $18MM per year on their next contracts, writes cap expert Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com, but they won’t both be with New York, he opines. Fitzgerald thinks at least one will be signing with a team other than the Giants. At this point, Collins seems the likelier of the two to be allowed to walk, considering it was reported recently the team had concerns about his fit with their new scheme…..The Dolphins did a lot of revamping this offseason, and one of the moves they made was trading for defensive end Robert Quinn. With fellow pass-rusher Cameron Wake now 36, the Dolphins are hoping Quinn can “anchor the defensive line for the foreseeable future” according to Mike Rodak of ESPN. The Dolphins gave up a fourth round pick to get him, and it sounds like he’ll be playing a big role in 2018…..Fully guaranteed contracts are in place in the NBA, NHL, and MLB, but aren’t commonplace in the NFL. It was a big deal when Kirk Cousins received his from the Vikings this offseason, and the hope (from a players perspective) is that his would be the first of many……Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones has been suspended two games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Jones pleaded no contest to a marijuana-related charge in February. The charge was a result of an Oct. 1 traffic stop…..Nick Foles' autobiography, titled "Believe It," will debut at No. 5 on the New York Times Hardcover, Nonfiction list on Sunday, July 15…..One third of the Atlanta Falcons' new, tantalizing trio of receivers just put his pen to paper. First-round selection Calvin Ridley signed his rookie contract Thursday, the team announced. The agency representing Ridley, SportsTrust Advisors first tweeted Ridley agreed to his deal last Wednesday…..
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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Jet Management Can’t Wait For Camp


The time leading up training camp can be a nightmare for NFL coaching staffs. Having players out of town with the possibility of getting in trouble is on every team’s mind. Let’s face it. We all know the potential situations with millionaires under 30 looking for fun and excitement. General Managers and coaches are on edge hoping players will do the right thing such as calling the NFL limo service to drive them home if they were drinking. And god forbid the unthinkable should happen such as this week with the cross town Giants and Janoris Jenkins. His older brother has been charged with felony aggressive manslaughter in the death of a man found at the New York Giants cornerback's residence in New Jersey on Tuesday. An issue like this will linger and management has to measure what degree it will affect the player and the team. The Jets have their share of headaches and are hoping they don’t escalate. Already on the docket is the hearing for Dylan Donahue on August 9th in Montana for a DUI charge while the Jets play their first pre-season game on August 10.
According to a site called NFL Arrest, 4.71% of NFL players ( of around 1,700 active players) have been arrested. This arrest rate is actually lower than the USA arrest rate. The crimes range from drugs (the most common) to domestic violence to assault. For whatever reason linebackers are arrested more than any other position. For the last five years the Jets have the second most arrested players behind the 49ers. I’d like to see the numbers if the Robby Anderson arrests are taken out of the equation. I always go by the credo that pro athletes should adhere to: “Nothing good ever happens after 2:30 AM.” Let’s hope that league and Jet players will be more mature off the field in the future than they have in the past.
                                     

No Contract For Sam! 
Jet fans should not be too concerned that Sam Darnold has yet to sign his rookie contract. Of the five first round quarterbacks drafted, only Lamar Jackson drafted #32 by the Ravens and Josh Rosen drafted #10 by the Cardinals have signed their contracts. Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen are also still unsigned. Usually, once the first QB drafted signs, the dominos begin to fall. As far as the amount, it is projected that Sam Darnold’s contract will have a total value of around $32,993,327. with a signing bonus of around $20,285,749. Jet fans need not worry. Sam Darnold will be signed before training camp starts.

Jets Open Practices
The Jets have scheduled 3 open practices this year, Sunday, July 29, Saturday, August 18, Sunday, August 19. Unfortunately according to the Jets web site all 3 sessions are sold out. If you know someone who has an extra ticket, and you’ve never been to one of their practices, get going! I can be the biggest Jets critic but they do a great job for their fans at these open sessions. And if you ever get a chance to bring your kids, the interactive games they have are great. It is too bad there are only 3 open practices this year. The Jets and the NFL need to do a better job with more dates and allow more fans to attend. Why not have these 3 open practice at Met Life Stadium?

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Green Tidbits
…..Lorenzo Mauldin recently spoke with urgency about his standing with the team, "I'm definitely trying to fight for my roster spot. I'm overwhelmed, actually, because now it's like: It's now or nothing.”…..Jets free agent RB Isaiah Crowell is only one of two backs (the other Frank Gore) to play in all 64 games the last 4 seasons…..Un-drafted free agent OLB Frankie Luvu from Washington State should make the 53-man roster. In his Senior year he recorded 6.5 sacks and 48 tackles, 12 of which were for a loss. He seems to be making his way into the Jets’ good graces, as he saw time with the first-team during minicamp….. TE Eric Tomlinson signed off Texans practice squad on Nov. 5, 2016 may be a sleeper. Pro Football Focus rated him third in pass blocking efficiency among tight ends…..The Jets Green and White scrimmage will be on Aug. 4 at HighPoint.com Stadium at Rutgers……

What The Jet Scribes Are Saying
Rich Cimini, ESPN
The New York Jets ended the 2016 season with an old, overpaid team that suffered from a serious talent deficiency. The powers-that-be expected the playoff-contending window to stay open that year, but it came crashing down with such force that it shattered the glass. They decided to start over, but instead of another half-baked rebuild -- the story of the Jets' history -- they really meant it. What we've seen over the last two offseasons has been nothing short of dramatic. If this were a book, it would be entitled, "How to Overhaul a Football Team in Only 16 Months." The Jets will report to training camp in a month with a team that barely resembles the not-so-sweet '16 group -- only seven holdovers among the starting 22. General manager Mike Maccagnan flipped the roster, and the best way to appreciate that is to heed the famous line from "All the President's Men." Follow the money. In 2016, seven of the 10 highest-paid players on the team (based on cap charge) were in the 30-and-over category. It's always dangerous when you invest in players on the downside of their careers, as the Jets painfully discovered…..
…..Chances are, the top of the roster will have a different look in 2019 because 10 of the Jets' 17 highest-paid players will be unrestricted free agents, including seven on offense. With a projected $90 million in cap room, the plan in Year 3 is to pour money into the offense, which should have the most important piece in place -- quarterback Sam Darnold. Realistically, the Jets need one more productive draft and another free-agent cycle before the roster is ripe for contention. That would constitute a three-year plan, which should be enough time to get it right.
           
    
Menus Mehta, NY Daily News
(Brandon) Shell has shown enough promise in his 15 career starts to give Gang Green hope that he can continue to improve at such a pivotal position. His size and athleticism have always been his strengths. It’ll be up to new offensive line coach Rick Dennison to cultivate Shell’s talent. The third-year tackle has plenty of room for improvement. Expect new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and Dennison to employ plenty of stretch runs, so it’ll be incumbent upon Shell to polish that area of his game. The Jets had a lot of success on outside-zone runs last season, ranking third in the league with 2.07 yards before contact on outside zone runs, according to Pro Football Focus. There will be a renewed focus on the running game in 2017 after former play-caller John Morton’s tendency to fall in love with airing it out. What’s Shell’s ceiling? The Jets believe he will continue to grow into a dependable piece to their puzzle.
                                

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Brian Costello, NY Post
(Kelvin) Beachum joined the Jets last year after a disappointing season with the Jaguars. There were questions about his surgically repaired knee, but he was fully healthy and missed just one snap the entire season. Beachum’s play was up and down. He was a strong pass blocker, allowing just four sacks all season, according to Pro Football Focus. He was not as strong in the run game. The Jets’ offensive line as a whole was a disappointment in 2017, and Beachum was part of that. The Jets fired offensive line coach Steve Marshall after the season because the group took a step back. PFF had Beachum ranked as its 35th best tackle. He was 71st in run blocking and 18th in pass blocking. He allowed 21 quarterback hurries. Beachum was called for four holding penalties.
Beachum did emerge as one of the locker room’s leaders, particularly on the national anthem issue. Beachum is involved with the Players Coalition and was one of the point men for the Jets in the talks with the league and NFL owners. Beachum is the second left tackle the Jets have acquired in hopes of replacing longtime standout D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Beachum played much better than Ryan Clady did in 2016, but still was not convincing that he is a long-term solution for the position. Beachum will be the starter again this year, and there is really no one on the roster who could even challenge for the job. Ben Ijalana is the only other player who has experience at left tackle.This is a big year for Beachum. The Jets could cut him after this season and save $8 million in cap space. If he is unimpressive, that would be an easy decision.


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Around The NFL
…..The NFL suspended Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston for the first three games of the season for violating the league's personal conduct policy, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources informed of the situation…..Mark Ingram was suspended for the first four games of the 2018 regular season after the National Football League determined the running back had violated their performance enhancing drugs policy…..Former NFL player Keith McCants was arrested by St. Petersburg, Fla., police early Monday and charged with felony possession of crack cocaine, the Tampa Bay Times reported……Randall Cobb could miss the start of Packers training camp with an ankle injury, according to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel…..Atlanta announced Monday it signed defensive back Ron Parker. The 30-year-old is set to enter his eighth season in the NFL……Sam Beal went into his Pro Day as one of the top prospects in the supplemental draft in years. That was confirmed by the presence of all 32 teams at Western Michigan on Thursday. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47…..Danielle Hunter was considered a raw prospect when he entered his name into the 2015 NFL draft after registering 4.5 sacks during the latter two seasons of his three-year career at LSU. On Wednesday, the Minnesota Vikings awarded Hunter a five-year contract extension worth $72 million, with $40 million in guarantees…..Former Buffalo Bills guard Richie Incognito said Wednesday that he is considering a return to the NFL…..NFL Network's David Carr is predicting the 49ers will start the season 0-4…..

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Jets Gear Up For New Era With The Same Coach!

The Jets mini-camp just finished and a kind of new era is beginning. Though the Jets still have Todd Bowles as head coach, if you are a Jet fan like me there is a different feeling going into the 2018 season. I don’t know if it is the Jets lucking out and getting Sam Darnold or maybe it is new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates. Or is it that they finally cut ties with Christian Hackenberg. Whatever it is I’m seeing the glass half full for the first time in a while. The 2018 Jets will be younger and more interesting. Sure they need an edge pass rusher in the worst way and question marks loom big with the receiving corps and the offensive line. The injury and arrest situation is nothing to brag about but looking at the draft and what the Jets did in free agency are steps to building a good foundation for this franchise. Up I-95 there have been whispers of problems within the Patriots organization with cracks in the 
BB-Brady-Kraft relationship(s). Their problems extend beyond personalities with offensive line issues as well as receiver Julian Edelman serving a 4 game suspension. Morale there has not good since the benching of Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl and it is still haunting all the players who thought that game was surely theirs with Butler. Whatever the reason, in about six weeks the Jets will look different and it is refreshing for the first time in a while. As a big critic of Todd Bowles, I have to give him credit for looking more the part as head coach now than anytime in his first three years. He must work on his clock management and in-game decisions especially in the final two minutes but players will always tell you how continuity is a big part of the formula for a successful franchise so this is the last mulligan Todd Bowles gets. 

Jets Turmoil
What has 180 legs and keeps getting arrested and injured? 
Must be the NY Jets franchise! I can’t keep up with the Jet arrests and now the injuries. What in the name of John Schmidt is going on here? I don’t think my Camry can reach 90 MPH and now every Jet arrested seems to be going 100+ MPH with one foot on the brake. And the injuries. First Terrell Pryor and now Rontez Miles. Are the Jets using the same training staff and doctors as the NY Mets? I hope not. I don’t want to sound like I’m making light of the situation but for god's sake, some common sense here. Linebacker Dylan Donahue was arrested for DWI driving the wrong way in the Lincoln Tunnel and crashing into a bus. He also faces a drunken-driving charge in his home state of Montana. The Robby Anderson situation is ridiculous. This guy is so lucky he had the felony charges dropped. If it was up to me, I'd put him in a two week bootcamp situation. He has got to get his life in order. Rookie tight end Chris Herndon was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after crashing his car into a vehicle operated by a 76-year-old man. According to the accident report obtained by ESPN, an eyewitness told NJ State Police that an SUV believed to be driven by Herndon was traveling at least 100 mph on Route 80. The report said Herndon's SUV flipped after colliding with another vehicle, which caught fire. The SUV slid approximately 700 feet after initial contact. In addition CB Rashard Robinson was arrested in Hanover Township for possessing marijuana-laced candy, according to police.  And Lorenzo Mauldin had an assault charge dropped. This is not good. By the way the Jets trading for Rashard Robinson was an awful trade. He has had a history of issues and for a cornerback he cannot cover a bed. This was a bad one for Mike Maccagnan. Not quite on the Hackenberg level but bad.

Special Teams
The Jets finished 29th in the league in return yardage. Specifically for punt returns they averaged 4.5 yards per return the worst in the NFL. It was a combination of horrible return men and it seemed the opposition always got their best punts off against the Jets. In the draft they picked up speedster Trenton Cannon, the RB from Virginia State who returned kickoffs in college but did not return punts. The word is he has not looked good in OTA’s as a punt returner. This can be a horrible situation that it is often overlooked with the potential yardage that can be gained on special teams. Field position is so important and when you see a team like the Jets return punts 5 yards or less each time and the Detroit Lions return every punt 14 yards, it makes a huge impact over the course of a game and a season. The Jets have got to get this right if they ever want to get to the playoffs. 

Green Tidbits
…..Former Jets tight end Kellen Winslow Jr.'s situation is unfortunate. According to NBC San Diego, the San Diego County Sheriff's department said Thursday Winslow has been charged with kidnapping and rape in addition to first-degree burglary….. Safety J.J. Wilcox came close to signing with the San Francisco 49ers. At the last second he changed his mind and said he wanted to play for Todd Bowles…..Jon Gruden blaming the unions’ CBA agreement and lack of reps for cutting Christian Hackenberg is hogwash. The guy just cannot play and no one wants to say it…..Sam Darnold improved as OTA’s progressed and was a sponge in the film room…..A shout out to NY Post Jet beat writer Brian Costello who recently lost his dad. Our deepest condolences. Brian is one of the good guys…..WR Chad Hansen has been the most improved Jet during OTA's…..The comparison drew quizzical looks and are-you-sure follow-up questions, but Stump Mitchell (RB coach) wasn’t backing down. The Jets’ running backs coach really sees some LaDainian Tomlinson in second-year pro Elijah McGuire…..Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers has his son Kacy Rodgers the second trying to make the squad…..After having auditioned for the Jets earlier this week, Courtney Upshaw has signed with the organization. The 2012 second-round pick initially entered the NFL as a linebacker, but he’s since been converted to a defensive lineman…..









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