Category Archives: Jets

AFC East Season Preview

Like the fall turning into winter and winter turning into spring season, it seems like a Patriots division title is a yearly occurrence. Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick rule over the AFC East with no mercy. The team so many love to hate is consistent as the change of seasons. This year we may have the same result but it will be a lot more interesting.

The Patriots will win the division. They had a strong group of free agent signings that will make them stronger defensively. Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner will help the secondary. Will Smith is a very underrated signing that will help the defensive line. Last season New England managed to have a competent defense despite injury after injury. The 2014 Patriots have bigger goals than just competent performance from their defense. Last season Tom Brady showed how remarkable he really is. He led the Pats to an AFC Championship appearance with a pedestrian set of offensive weapons. Much with the Patriots offense is up to Rob Gronkowski staying healthy. When healthy, New England can have a special offense. When he is on the sideline its just good.

The Patriots may have more competition than they’ve had in recent years. The New York Jets hit a home run in free agency and had a remarkable draft. Michael Vick is not a great quarterback, but he gives the offense a sense of legitimacy that Geno Smith couldn’t provide. He also has small flashes of brilliance. Erik Decker is a very good and reliable receiver. The Jets also got a big matchup nightmare tight end of their own, when they drafted Jace Amaro. Amaro and Jeff Cumberland make one of the best tight end duos in the league; expect to see a lot of 12 personnel sets from the Jets. The Jets also signed veteran running back Chris Johnson. They focused heavily on offense this offseason. They went 9-7 last season with abysmal quarterback play. With the major improvements they have made they can possibly be a 10 win team if they just get serviceable play from Michael Vick.

The Dolphins are going to be competitive, but I predict they finish third in the AFC East. Once again the Dolphins were players in free agency. They signed two decent cornerbacks in Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes as well as Louis Delmas at free safety. Their biggest splash was getting Brandon Albert to be their left tackle. The Dolphins draft was mainly a head scratcher, but Jarvis Landry will be a productive receiver. They drafted two tackles in Ja’Waun James and Billy Turner and they are expected to start one of them at guard. Miami was an 8-8 team last year and I don’t think much has changed. They will be better on defense but the offense still has some question marks. I still am hesitant to say they’ve addressed their offensive line problems correctly. The Dolphins are in my eyes behind the Patriots and the Jets. With a tough schedule it will be hard for them to make the playoffs.

The Bills got better offensively drafting a superstar in Sammy Watkins. They also added former Buccaneer, Mike Williams. This should help bring along the young EJ Manuel under center. The Bills lost Jairus Byrd in free agency which was a blow to the defense. The moral of the story (long story short) is that Buffalo will be an exciting team to watch but they are not quite there yet.

While we will likely get the same result of a Patriots division title it will be more interesting than usual. The Jets will make a strong push and be in the mix for a wild card spot. It would not be a stretch to see Miami in the hunt as well. It should be a fun 2014 season in the AFC East.

Draft Grades AFC East

New England Patriots: D+

The New England Patriots did not have their typical solid draft. While the Patriots are not afraid to be unconventional, they were actually ineffective. They had a reach in round 1, taking Dominique Easly. Easly was far from the best defensive lineman available. I had a 3rd round grade on Easly in a deep defensive line crop. Then the Patriots drafted Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garappolo. While Brady is getting up there in age, this was a head scratcher. Garappolo impressed at the Senior Bowl, but there are concerns with his ability to make all the throws. New England took Bryon Stork in the fourth round. Stork has short arms, a red flag for centers. The Patriots reached & reached. They can say it was a “future” oriented draft, but it was not good.

Miami Dolphins: D-

The Dolphins wanted to rebuild their offensive line; and they forced it. They drafted two offensive tackles in the first three rounds after signing left tackle Brandon Albert in free agency. The 19th overall pick, Ju’Waun James, was the worst reach of the entire draft, I had him as a 5th round talent. Billy Turner was good value but it was odd to draft another tackle. The Dolphins forced drafting for need, and ended up with very little value. Their one good pick was LSU receiver Jarvis Landry.

Buffalo Bills: C-

The Bills traded next years first and fourth round picks and swapped spots with Cleveland at 4. The trade was too much. They did draft a great player in Sammy Watkins. They then traded veteran Stevie Johnson to San Francisco for a low value of a fourth round pick next year. Taking Cyrus Kuandjio in the second round was unforgivable, especially with Morgan Moses & Billy Turner still on the board. Kuandjio is huge but already has knee problems and has surprisingly little upper body strength for his size. They had a few questionable picks. They grabbed a couple of good picks in Ross Cockrell and Cyril Richardson. They had 3 good selections out of 7.

New York Jets A

While it was surprising they took Calvin Pryor over Clinton-Dix; the Jets got a good safety and the one they preferred.
Jace Amaro in round 2 was a great value and a great pick. Maryland cornerback, Dexter McDoogle was an awesome pick; if it were not for McDoogle’s injury he’d be a first rounder. Jalen Saunders was the only reach with the 104th overall selection. Dakota Dozier was great value in round 4.

Team Needs AFC North, AFC East

Chris Schisler

AFC North
1.) Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens have two major needs. They need a free safety to pair with last years first pick Matt Elam. Baltimore also needs a right tackle. Right tackle is not typically a position drafted. Don’t be surprised if the Ravens try to find the long term solution at wide receiver. With the uncertainty around Ray Rice Baltimore will probably use one of their third round picks on a running back.

2.) Cleveland Browns: The Browns have a good team, they really do. To show the world this they will need a franchise quarterback. They also need a receiver to pair with Josh Gordon. Running back is also a need.

3.) Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have a handful of needs. They need a free safety and should also look for the aging number 43 as well. The Steelers need a receiver and a cornerback.

4.) Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals biggest need is defensive end. A guy like Kony Ealy would make a lot of sense.

AFC East

1.) New England Patriots: The Patriots need weapons for Tom Brady. I expect them to draft a wide receiver. They could also use help on the defensive line.

2.) Miami Dolphins: I don’t think the dolphins are satisfied at wide receiver. Their biggest need however is help on the offensive line.

3.) New York Jets: With Eric Decker signed in free agency the Jets are less receiver needy. I could still see them drafting one though. I think their biggest need however is cornerback.

4.) Buffalo Bills: The Bills need more explosion offensively. This would be a common sense landing spot for tight end Eric Ebron. The Bills will also look for help at right tackle and in the secondary.

Johnson Signing Continues Great Jets Offseason

Chris Schisler

The New York Jets have signed three big name free agents in Eric Decker, Michael Vick and now Chris Johnson. After going 7-9 with Geno Smith under center (which is overachieving) the Jets are focused on offense. Head coach Rex Ryan, earned another shot. After trying not to be the joke of the NFL in 2013; the Jets have much higher expectations for 2014. Michael Vick may not be a great quarterback, but he is capable of great moments. Vick does not need to be a rock star, he needs to not be terrible. With better QB play the Jets can lean on their running game and always impressive defense.

When no one gave the Jets a snowballs chance in hell, Rex Ryan had them just on the outside of a playoff appearance. Ryan may have plenty of critics but this past season is an example of his finest work. There is a blueprint to Rex’s success. And no I’m not talking about what he says but what he does. The Jets want to play a ground and pound style and let the organized chaos of the defense beat you. Rex Ryan did a pretty good job sticking to that blueprint and the Jets did better than anyone expected. No one believed in the man or his team, but the Jets played hard for him. Rex Ryan took a sinking ship and got to land… it was not always pretty but it worked. This earned Rex one more chance, this time he must deliver playoff success to keep his job.

Much like Vick, Chris Johnson is far removed from his best seasons. Johnson may not be the feature back he once was but he is still a decent back. A decent back who perfectly pairs with Bilal Powell. Vick and Johnson provide a lot of big play capability for one backfield. Be honest, back in the day who did not pair Vick with Johnson in Madden. I know I did, anyway. The Jets defense will be strong, the question is ( as it always has been under Rex) how the offense will fair. Jeff Cumberland is a great security blanket for any QB, Eric Decker is quite talented. Have little doubt the Jets will draft a wide receiver this May. There is no reason the offense cannot be at least adequate.

The Jets were inconsistent in 2013. One week they destroyed Drew Brees and the Saints and the next week they got killed by the Bengals. The important take away is that the Jets had a lot of positive moments, and it seemed as if they were heading in the right direction. The Jets are a better team- in terms of talent- than they were in 2013.There is no reason the Jets cannot be better in 2014. I am not calling them contenders. I am not saying they will win their division. What I am saying is that they have a chance to get into the postseason. They were close to the postseason last season and now they have more talent and experience on offense.

Chris Esposito’s Report From Jets Camp

A Day in Cortland | Chris Esposito

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As the NFL season starts to snowball towards their September kickoff, all 32 training camps are at a fever pitch. I decided this year I wanted to travel to Cortland, NY and catch the annual Green & White scrimmage game for the NY Jets. So my wife and I hopped in the car and made the five hour drive north to beautiful SUNY Cortland and we weren’t disappointed. For anyone that doesn’t know what this game is, the offense is the white team and the defence is the green team. Basically two “halves” are played as all four QB’s in camp split time with each offensive unit (1st team, 2nd team, 3rd string, practice squad) and the defence is broken into the same four units as well.
The big talk in camp for the Jets this year is who will be the starting quarterback come week one at home versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Will it be Mark Sanchez? Who outside of Alex Rodriguez is probably the most vilified athlete in New York? Or will it be the fresh faced wunderkind from West Virginia Geno Smith. We got there around 2:30 and gates opened at 4, as we walked through the winding maze and past the practice field, the chatter from 6,000 fans was exactly the same; “We need Geno to start, we can’t afford another year of the Sanchize.” Once at my seat, there were a handful of Jets players out on the field, mostly practice squad guys, loosening up and signing a few autographs for fans. Then, at the 50 yard line, I see a guy in Jets uniform pants, a grey cutoff Jets shirt and a pair of bright red Beats headphones. “Who is that?” my wife asked as she is putting names with faces. I only said one word, “GENO.”
Yes, I was one of the first to bash the Jets front office for drafting this kid. I was afraid of the work ethic; I didn’t want ANOTHER rookie QB to take the team over, like a certain 6th overall pick four years ago that will remain nameless until later in this piece, and have him fall from grace just as fast. It’s just not fair to a kid, as much as I bash Sanchez; it’s not fair to him either. He was put in this position to fail, after two AFC championship game seasons, Jets front office started to gut what was left of the Mangini era leaving crumbs for Sanchez to work with. Geno finished up the pre game workout and went in the “locker room”. Fast forward to 5:55 pm est. (game started at 6 on the dot) and here comes the cavalry, a sea of green and white gave the beleaguered Jets fan chills. Make no mistake, I’m an NFL guy, but I’m a proud Jets FAN. The quarterbacks were in their customary red jerseys (no contact for QB’s in camp) and took to the side of the field that the white team was on. The PA announcer called for the Jets first team offense and first team defence, and all 6,000 fans at SUNY Cortland perked up to see who was going to be the field general for that first drive. Yes, it was Geno, and the crowd erupted like we just won the division. I settled in and took in the first Geno Smith experience; completion after completion, firing on all cylinders, Geno had this offensive unit humming. Showing only teasing glimpses of his footwork and his ability to break the pocket and scamper for yards, Geno was 4/5 for 45 yards faster than anyone could blink. Smith only finished the day throwing for 77 yards and leading his units to 3 scrimmage points, however, 3 penalties and a couple dropped passes led to the few number of points put up.
Then there’s Mark, with a headband full of perfectly messy hair and a cavalcade of baggage, seemingly without a care in the world as he took the helm of the 2nd team unit and then the 1st team unit. Sanchez looked lost at times, VERY lost, and I understand that this is his 3rd offensive coordinator in three years, but if you want to be taken seriously as an NFL QB you need to roll with change and adapt to your surroundings. Mark started off ice cold, tripping over his feet in what people were calling “butt stumble”, but even he soon found a groove throwing for over 100 yards on the day and leading the offense to 10 scrimmage points. The two points of the day, one high and one low were a 65 yard strike to Stephen Hill on a “go route” down the sideline, and a 10 yard overthrow interception to Antonio Cromartie. It was a nice over the shoulder grab by “Cro”, but the Gang Green die-hards in attendance didn’t seem to care. As soon as the ball hit Cromarties’ hands, boos cascaded from person to person seemingly drowning Mark in a song he has heard for far too long. From “we want Tebow” to “we want Geno”, the last year has been a low point in an even lower career both on and off the field. If I can give Sanchez ANY credit through all of this, it’s that he has grown some very thick skin dealing with the Jets faithful.
The surprise of camp that day was Greg McElroy. Greg, with the 3rd team and practice squads, connected on two touchdown passes raising some eyebrows for the 3rd string battle. A couple of names not dressed for the game were Kellen Winslow, Chris Ivory and Santonio Holmes. Ricky Sapp had the hit of the day absolutely rocking a backup running back with a shoulder hit that sent up an “OWWWWWW” from the Cortland crowd. My overall take on the day was a positive one, the defence looked solid. Sheldon Richardson has a good sense of where he should be on every play and the retooled secondary handled the receivers quite well. There were some good blitz packages from the linebackers and DeMario Davis seemed to have more hop in his step than everyone else. On the offensive side of the ball, I’m pretty sure Sanchez will start the season as the starter barring some major collapse. I will go on record though and make a prediction; Geno Smith will be the Jets starting QB by week 5 and the Jets will have better offensive numbers with Geno under center.

Ryan’s Song

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Ryan’s Song |Chris Espo | July 9, 2013

Good ol’ gang green, from the days of Namath on through the sack exchange and now the circus that is the Ryan administration. There’s a lot to be said for the New York Jets in these past four years that Rexy has been at the helm. At first Rex came in with the vibrato of 300 Spartan soldiers and guaranteed Super Bowl victories and the mantra; “If you take a swipe at one of ours, we will take a swipe at two of yours.” Hey, as a Jets fan I was right there with him. With a sword in one hand, a green and white shield in the other, and the cry of; “THIS IS GANG GREEN!” In the first two seasons boy did Rex deliver, back to back AFC championship games and it seemed all the pieces were in place to finally capture the brass ring that has eluded us since 1969. A rookie QB with a golden boy attitude, a defense full of swagger and a coach posturing with the coloring of a million peacocks fanning their feathers at the competition.

However, in the long list of clichés, all that glitters isn’t gold and the following year the Jets were brought back to reality with a tumultuous 8-8 season and followed that up with another sub-par 6-10 campaign. What people fail to realize about the two Jets AFC Championship game seasons is that outside of the draft picks, 80% of those players were part of the Eric Mangini regime. So in actuality we owe a debt of gratitude to the Man-genius and not crucify him like so many Jets fans love to do.

So, now we travel back to the present and take a peek at the 2013 New York Jets and realize that not much has changed. Last year it was “We want Tebow!” and this year its “We want Geno!” This, my friends, is not what any team needs in July. Many people may say that this isn’t Rex Ryan’s fault that New York has no talent, and to a certain extent I agree. From no running game to no receiving threats, a suspect line-backing core and a scarce secondary that traded away the best cover corner in the last ten years, this team has no identity! However, when you are the face of the franchise and that rah-rah mentality doesn’t translate to the players on the field anymore, it’s time to go. With a new GM in place this year and the ushering in of potential young superstars in Geno Smith, Mo Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, the Jets need to act now and say bye-bye to Ryan time. Stay as far away as possible from this team and hope when they say goodbye to Sanchez that your wife can cover up that tattoo on her body with a new jersey. I heard the CFL is hiring…..