The defense seemed ahead of the offense in the conclusion of today’s first full-pads practice of Jets training camp, but that was OK with Geno Smith, who got in some shots of his own while running the first offense.
“It felt good to have the pads on. Guys were out there hitting, getting back to football,” Smith said late this afternoon, standing near the Cortland Stadium turf field where the Jets finishing up their morning practice that was truncated by heavy rain and lightning. “It felt really good to see guys out there competing. The offense and the defense did a really good job out there.”
It was Smith’s turn to work with the first offense, and while that unit was on fire in its first day of full-pads contact (but not taking runners to the ground), Smith seemed comfortable in moving around in the pocket, avoiding the multiple pressures, and finding some of his receivers. He hit Jeff Cumberland downfield in position drills (more on that from reporter Josh Citron in a little while) and then a big 40-yarder to Stephen Hill.
Geno shrugged off any significance of getting his turn with the ones.
“I think going against the first-team defense is a lot different because those guys have a lot of veterans on that side and they know what they’re doing, they know how to disguise things, so it makes it a bit tougher,” he said. “But I think it all helps us out, especially me being a young guy, it helps me out seeing a defense that’s so experienced, just to get a chance to compete against those guys.”
Mark Sanchez took his turn with the twos and went 5-for-7 passing to Smith’s 4-for-6. Afterward, No. 6 told reporters, just a short distance away from No. 7’s media gathering, that no matter which unit he’s working with, he likes the Jets’ juice up here in central New York.
“I love the energy we have here,” Sanchez said. “I love what we’re building here in Cortland. I think we’ve got a ton of talent. Now we’ve just got to use it the right way and trust the coaches to do that. … We’ve really turned the page from last year. I think we’ve got a good group.”
The positivity didn’t end for either QB regarding one of the hot topics of the last 24 hours, GM John Idzik’s Saturday statement that “I have a pretty big role” in the ultimate starting QB decision and head coach Rex Ryan’s agreement today that “at no time is it a one-man show. It’s always a team decision. That’s the way it’s always been.”
Mark on his relationship with Idzik: “John has an open line of communication, as do I. Things have been good. We’ve talked about the ballclub, we’ve talked about whatever comes up. It’s been good.”
Geno on the QB call that will be made in several short weeks: “I just come out here and do my job, which is to compete. Like I’ve always said, they’re going to make the decision. The only thing I can do is take care of what I can control, which is manage every single rep I get on the field and make sure I prepare myself for the classroom.”
DT Kenrick Ellis and DE Muhammad Wilkerson were very active for the first D, especially against the run, while LB Josh Mauga made some plays for the twos. … TE Kellen Winslow and WR Braylon Edwards, on that Ryan “pitch count,” were not in pads for the p.m. session. … The attendance for the short one-period-long morning workout before the suspension and for the afternoon stadium practice was a combined 990.
Tags: Cortland Stadium, Geno Smith, John Idzik, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 16 Comments »
Updated, 3:38 p.m. ET
There’s something different about Kyle Wilson this offseason, and it’s a lot more than the absence of the trademark dreadlocks the cornerback wore his first three seasons in green and white.
“I’m excited about where Kyle is,” head coach Rex Ryan said this morning before the start of the final practice of the Jets’ full-squad minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “This is the best [offseason] he’s had, and its not close. I’ve been proud of the way he’s come into these OTAs, the way he’s competing.”
Wilson said there are no big secrets to the offseason he’s had.
“I’m just using my experience to my advantage,” he said. “I know exactly what to look for, I know why we’re calling stuff in different scenarios. I try to use that to think like a coach out there so I’m not having rookie mistakes. But you can see things and understand what we’re trying to do defensively to put myself in a better position.”
Wilson has a couple of things going for him in the Jets’ post-Island world. When Darrelle Revis went down for the season at Miami in Game 3, Kyle moved into Revis’ left corner spot for the last 13 games and 14 overall opposite Antonio Cromartie, giving him his most playing time as a pro — he averaged almost 60 defensive snaps a game playing either outside or in the slot.
The other element is the drafting of Dee Milliner ninth overall. Many assumed Milliner, the Alabama corner, was taken to plug into the starting lineup after Revis was traded to Tampa Bay the week of the draft.
“That’s wrong,” GM John Idzik said at the time. “It may be perceived that way, but the reality is Dee was one of our highest-ranked players, regardless of position on the board, so we took him.”
And the offseason reality has been that Milliner has been sidelined by his shoulder rehab as expected while Wilson has been picking up where he left off.
Motivation? “Yeah, it’s going to do something,” Wilson said in the locker room today before he and his teammates split for their last extended downtime of the year before the start of training camp. “But me just staying focused is going to help me out and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
“Certainly there’s going to be competition for that spot,” Ryan said. “Dee will have every opportunity to compete for that as well. You take a guy with the ninth overall pick for good reason. We’ll see how it goes.”
“Right now my focus is it doesn’t matter to me who’s here and who’s not here,” Wilson said. “I don’t think anything is going to change the way I go out there and perform on the field. That’s really my focus of getting better, doing my best personally to help out the team.”
Geno Comments a Day Later
Rookie QB Geno Smith clarified his no-comment responses to several questions at the end of his Wednesday locker room news conference regarding his attending Jets West, the independent get-together of Jets skill players that Mark Sanchez holds back in his Southern California stomping grounds.
“When you guys asked me about Jets West yesterday, myself and Mark, we hadn’t met to discuss that,” Smith said. “It kind of caught me off guard because it’s not on my schedule. Basically I didn’t comment because I was always taught if you don’t know what you’re answering, not to comment on it. We hadn’t talked about it.
“But from my understanding, it’s something that’s done annually, all the guys go out there, and it’s been a great event. Mark hasn’t officially extended the hand to me, but I’m pretty sure there’s no problem there. I’m more than willing to go there, get some work, and work with the guys, because it helps team bonding. I fully support that.”
Ryan on the minicamp and offseason: “I’m happy where the team’s at. Clearly we have a long way to go in a lot of areas, but we threw so much at our guys. I’m really proud of the preparation our guys showed, and obviously I think we made a lot of strides in our strength and conditioning. We’ve got a ton of stuff to improve on, we know that. This is just the beginning of the process.”
Receivers’ hands showed up better today. Stephen Hill had a nice go-route, wrong-shoulder grab of a Geno pass over Josh Bush during the final practice inside the Jets’ fieldhouse. Veteran tryout WR Mike Sims-Walker also had a nice grab. … Demario Davis and Aaron Berry had nice aggressive interceptions. … Ryan on the possibility of signing tryout WR Kellen Winslow: “I’m not going to discuss that now but I see exactly what you see. … You can certainly feel his presence.” … RB-KR Joe McKnight tweaked his ankle Wednesday but finished that practice and worked today.
Tags: Dee Milliner, Geno Smith, John Idzik, Kyle Wilson, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 44 Comments »
Updated, 6:08 p.m. ET
The Jets’ wideout field is getting crowded these days, mostly by guys that not many have heard of just wanting to get a fair shot at making the roster.
Just the way Ben Obomanu likes it.
“That’s what every player wants, an opportunity to earn his keep,” Obomanu told me last week, “to have that open competition and have the ability to come in and make a play or two and not have a stigma placed on them before they even get started. I feel the same way.”
Obomanu has overcome that situation before. He was a seventh-round pick of the Seahawks in 2006 and gradually worked his way into decent playing time in 2010, when he caught 30 passes for 494 yards (16.5-yard average) and four touchdowns. The yards, average and TDs were all career highs.
“I think that season I finally got a chance to play,” he said. “For the longest time, I think, as a seventh-round pick, I kept getting overshadowed, overlooked. I think 2010 was my first real good chance of getting some starts and I actually did pretty well, made a lot of good plays, got a contract extension.
“I’m trying to get back to that point. I’m trying to get that opportunity again to show that what I did in 2010, when I was a legit starter, those same plays I made there, I’m still capable of now.”
He was a salary-cap casualty this three months ago and so started the searching process for a new team. Perhaps it didn’t hurt that one of Seattle’s front office members, John Idzik, is now the Jets’ GM, but as Obomanu put it, “There was a connection with John, but I had to come in and work out with a couple of other guys before I ended up being the guy they signed. I had to earn it.”
Even though Obomanu knows he’ll have to step up and earn a roster spot this summer, he won’t mind a bit of an inherited cheering section. When he came to the Jets, he wore uniform No. 9, but after a few days he swapped numbers with undrafted rookie Zach Rogers for No. 15.
Yes, Ben knows Tim Tebow wore 15 in green and white last year.
“In Seattle I was No. 87. I kind of wanted to do something different here. I was trying to figure out with family and friends what kind of number I wanted,” he said. “Tim’s a good guy. I understand that a number is a number. But it’d be neat, if I did come in and could keep 15, I’m pretty sure there’s some leftover 15 jerseys out there and I can have a little fan base from the start.”
From the sounds of things, D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s fifth annual Building Communities One Brick at a Time dinner gala and auction was a sturdy success.
“It was a great event and we raised a lot of money for our youth, aiding the Long Island area,” Brick told us. “We’re thankful for all the support.”
The gala, held June 4 at The Swan Club in Glenwood Landing, N.Y., honored Mark Sanchez, former N.J. Secretary of State the Rev. Regena Thomas, and Philip Castaldo, president of UFOLI, the United 7-Eleven Franchise Owners of Long Island and New York, which also performs great work in the community.
As Ferguson stated in a printed message to the dinner guests, the goal of the D’Brickashaw Ferguson Foundation is to be a strong support system to young people before and after they enter college.
“The Skills and Drills conference is a vehicle that helps foster growth by peer-to-peer mentorship, team-building exercises and the sharing of experiences by seasoned professionals,” Brick said. “Programs like these are needed in order to help encourage and inspire our youth. With your support we will be able to grow and change more lives. Thank you.”
No, thank you, Brick, for continuing to be a role model and mentor to young people as you work your good work off the field in with your good work as the Jets’ starting left tackle.
Tags: Ben Obomanu, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, John Idzik, Seattle Seahawks, Tim Tebow, Zach Rogers
Posted in Randy Lange | 24 Comments »
The Jets have several job openings on offense. One is for youthful competition at quarterback. And they may well have a spot for a young, up-and-coming wide receiver.
Any Volunteers? Why, yes we do. Two, in fact.
“It’s a small football world,” said Matt Simms.
Simms is the first-year QB with North Jersey roots who spent his last two college seasons with the University of Tennessee, then worked his way onto the Jets roster last offseason. Now he’s back for a second go-round in green and, like all the QBs on this roster, learning a new offense in coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s West Coast scheme.
And one of the wideouts he’s playing pitch and catch with these days is Zach Rogers, the 6’0″, 177-pounder out of Nashville who was viewed by more than a few draftniks as one of the top undrafted wideouts available following the end of Round 7 last month.
“Coach Ryan and Mr. Idzik were very passionate about me coming here,” Rogers told me in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room recently. “They preached open competition and that’s really all I want. I wanted a shot to make a name for myself and try to make an impact on this team.”
And where did Rogers play his college ball? Tennessee, of course. In fact, he and Simms teamed up on several occasions in the 2010 and ’11 seasons, most notably on a 72-yard touchdown catch-and-run early in the Vols’ 32-29 OT win over Alabama-Birmingham in 2010.
“It’s good to be back teammates with Matt again. He’s a good guy,” Rogers said. “He’s very intelligent. I learned a lot from him. And he’s still got a cannon.”
Simms returns the compliments.
“Zach’s definitely a fast guy, he plays fast, and he’s a really smart guy,” he said. “There’s not too much on the field that he’s not aware of.”
The two didn’t have a lot of connections on the field, only 13 catches in those two seasons (but for 212 yards, a 16.3 average per catch). That’s because Rogers didn’t play a lot in ’10, both were limited in ’11, and last year Simms was gone. Before he departed for the pros, he recalled a business course the two had together. After one class, the two got to talking and Rogers said he was taking his education very seriously because he didn’t think the NFL would be in his future.
“You have the talent,” Simms told him then. “You never know what’s going to happen. It’s a long season.”
Last season at Tennessee, Rogers, despite divvying up passes from Tyler Bray with a pair of top draft picks-to-be — Cordarrelle Patterson went 29th to the Vikings, Justin Hunter 34th to the Titans — Rogers finished with 32 catches for 491 yards (15.3 avg.) and seven TDs, which attracted the attention of the aforementioned Rex Ryan and John Idzik.
“The Rogers kid, we expected him to look good, and he was a tremendous player at Tennessee, albeit he never started because of the other two guys,” Ryan said. “But he was very productive there and he really did a nice job of running routes and catching the football.”
“I was always hoping to get drafted,” Rogers said, “but at the same time this was the hand I was dealt so I’m trying to make the most of it. I was blessed to play with those big-time receivers, though. I learned a lot from them.”
“Remember that story you were trying to tell me?” Simms told Rogers when they were reunited in North Jersey. “It proved to be wrong. It just goes to show that a year or two can really make the difference.”
Now for the disclaimer. Rogers has a long road ahead to get onto the Jets’ regular-season roster, being that he’s one of 13 wideouts, with five of them veterans. And Simms, even though he’s now in a four-man QB competition after David Garrard apparently withdrew due to his ongoing knee issues, knows the field is still crowded.
“But right now I’m just going to take it day by day, improve on one thing at a time, and just go from there, really,” he said. “I’m going to keep my head in the playbook and just keep working.”
Same thing for Rogers, a volunteer no more, who worked a lot out of the slot during the rookie minicamp.
“I’m trying to learn as much as I can. Coach [Sanjay] Lal is teaching me little technique things that maybe I didn’t think about in college,” he said. “I think it’s going pretty well. I’m just trying to learn the offense the best I can and work with my new teammates. It’s a great opportunity for me and really I’m just trying to make the most of it.”
Tags: Cordarrelle Patterson, John Idzik, Justin Hunter, Matt Simms, Rex Ryan, rookie minicamp, Sanjay Lal, Zach Rogers
Posted in Randy Lange | 52 Comments »
Parting is such sweet sorrow, not just in Shakespeare but in football. But today’s going-away celebration was necessary for JoJo Wooden to take the next step in his desired career path.
“I was not looking forward to it at all,” Wooden, the Jets’ assistant director of player personnel, said of the small party thrown by the team’s football and business sides at the Atlantic Health Training Center as congratulations for JoJo moving 3,000 miles away to become the Chargers’ director of player personnel.
“Leaving is really, really hard, you know?” he said, still feeling the emotion of the moment. “It’s about the people.”
Wooden knew a lot of folks and wore lots of hats during his 16 seasons in the Jets’ front office. He began on the pro personnel side as an assistant, a pro scout, a senior pro scout for the AFC, assistant director of pro scouting and then director of pro scouting before getting his most recent title and adding college duties to his résumé in 2006.
“I’ve had the chance to be involved in both, and maybe the last three years or so it’s been a lot more college than pro, but I still had my hand in both,” he said this afternoon in his now in-transition office. “This is an opportunity to become the director of player personnel, overseeing both the college and pro departments, so that’s going to be exciting.
“It’s a great step. My ultimate goal, I want to be a general manager, and I think this was the next logical move for me.”
San Diego and new GM Tom Telesco were in need of a new director after Jimmy Raye, son of the well-traveled former Jets assistant coach, departed the job to saddle up with the Colts.
The Chargers offered Wooden a great opportunity, and it had to be great for him and his wife, Sarah, and two daughters to undo their ties with the Northeast. He was born and raised in Connecticut and was a two-year starter at OLB for Syracuse University.
“I’m excited, the family’s excited. They’re on board, which is big,” JoJo said. “It’s a new chapter in our life and we’re looking forward to it.”
But in keeping with his status as a Jets employee for one more day, he used the first person plural to talk about the state of the Green & White. Asked about his highlights during his Jets tenure, he offered a nod toward the Jets’ AFC Championship Game appearances in 2009 and ’10.
“Those are the biggest things, just the wins. Pittsburgh and Indianapolis … it’s hard just to get yourself in that position as an organization, and to be fortunate enough to do it two years in a row was good.”
And the team he’s leaving behind?
“I love the direction the team’s heading in now with John [Idzik] and Coach Ryan,” he said. “I feel very good about the draft, the guys we acquired. You like the direction this place is heading … and so now you’re sad that you’re jumping off ship.”
But there are plenty of tall ships in San Diego, plus the start of a new program under first-year head coach Mike McCoy. It’s tough to see Wooden head west, but it’s great to see this young man and great guy get to take that next career step. Here’s a proverbial NFL toast, JoJo: Best of luck in all you do against 30 of the NFL’s 31 other teams.
No. 1, Part II
We asked several questions Tuesday, after uniform No. 1 became free with the waiving of WR Thomas Mayo, about that non-crooked number in Jets uni history. Here are the answers:
■ Who was the last Jets player to wear No. 1 during training camp? Last year WR Raymond Webber was “the one.” The year before, P Chris Bryan wore it. Neither made it to the regular season wearing the number.
■ Who was the last Jet to wear No. 1 in a regular-season game? That was K Mike Nugent’s number from the time he was drafted in 2005 through his free agency departure following the ’08 season.
■ Who was the last non-kicker to wear No. 1 in a RS game? The only non-kicker to wear the Big Green One was RB Mike Adamle, who played for the Jets in 1973-74.
As for who if anyone will inherit the one this season, we don’t have any rookie uniform number information yet. But we will post the winning numbers as soon as we are cleared to do so this week.
Tags: Chris Bryan, director of player personnel, John Idzik, JoJo Wooden, Mike Adamle, Mike Nugent, Raymond Webber, Rex Ryan, San Diego Chargers, Thomas Mayo
Posted in Randy Lange | 39 Comments »
Tick … tick … tick …
That’s the sound of your favorite draft countdown clock. Or if you don’t have that countdown clock on a computer screen in front of you, it’s the internal draft clock echoing down the college canyons of your mind.
The NFL Draft finally arrives tonight, and for Jets fans it can’t come soon enough. GM John Idzik said the draft will be the Green & White’s lifeline, and with beginning with picks 9 and 13, the team will begin to pull itself toward 2013 with, at the moment, eight selections from tonight through late Saturday afternoon.
We say at the moment because there’s no need to tell Jets fans that all draft picks (except compensatories, of which the Jets have none this year) can be spent on other picks. It’s possible the Jets could package 9 and 13 and move into the top five in this draft. It’s also possible that the I-Team will entertain phonecalls from other teams about wanting to trade up to one or both of the Jets’ high first-round positions and thus that they could trade down and pick up at least one extra pick for each move down.
Purely as a mental exercise using one of the now ubiquitous Draft Trade Value Boards, if the Jets were to drop from, say, No. 13, just a few spots, the trading partner would need to send over something high in Round 4 to the Jets for the privilege. A Jets tradedown to around No. 20 would be in the high-third-round neighborhood. A move to the mid-20s might bring a mid-second-round choice in return.
But just as surely the Jets could stand pat at Nos. 9 and 13 and pluck the top-ranked player on their value board at that time for the move into the future.
Here’s one more bit of trivia for draftniks as we wait for the last few hours to slip-slide away. Since the first AFL-NFL common draft in 1967, the Jets have spent the No. 13 pick on a player twice:
■ In 1973 they tabbed Miami safety Burgess Owens, who had a solid 10-year NFL career, the first seven spent patrolling the Jets’ deep middle.
■ In 2000 they selected South Carolina DE John Abraham, one of the best pass rushers in franchise history for at least six seasons, which is the amount of time he spent in green and white, accumulating 53.5 sacks before he was traded to Atlanta in 2006.
Similarly the Jets also have used the No. 9 pick on a pair of players since ’67:
■ In 1972 they chose Jackson State WR Jerome Barkum, who went on to play both wideout and tight end in his distinguished 12-year Jets career.
■ And in 1995 they grabbed Penn State TE Kyle Brady, who unfurled an efficient 13-year pro career, the first four seasons with the Jets, then eight with Jacksonville, then as a contributor to New England’s Super Bowl team in 2007.
I remember Brady getting a bit of a boo-bird ballad cascading down from the Jets fans in the Paramount Theatre at Madison Square Garden that year, and Brady saying later, slightly mystified, that he didn’t quite expect that kind of reaction.
Certainly that is possible at any draft from the Jets faithful, but I just have a feeling that the reaction will be favorable tonight — two picks in the top 13 with all but a handful of the best college players available for the picking at either spot. At 10 minutes maximum per pick, we’d expect the Jets to make the first selection of the Idzik regime somewhere around 9:30 p.m. EDT.
Before-Show on NewYorkJets.com
If you’ve got that computer, SmartPhone, BlackBerry, etc., available at any time from 6:30-8 p.m., check out the Jets Talk LIVE predraft show. Eric Allen, my partner, hosts the festivities from the season ticket holders draft party at MetLife Stadium. He’ll have a whole bunch of Jets players and other celebrities for on-camera interviews, recorded features, and several guest phone-ins (one of whom will be yours truly reporting from Radio City Music Hall just before the start of the draft around 7:45 p.m.).
Here at the Jets we do a great job of putting on a predraft televised special (if I do say so myself), and this year’s before-show figures to be the best yet.
And on Sunday, Some Good Cheer
As if the draft isn’t enough in the Jets universe, the team will wrap up the weekend with the 2013 New York Jets Flight Crew audition finals at MetLife Stadium. Director Denise Garvey will welcome 54 finalists to the audition — 26 Flight Crew veterans and 28 preliminary- and semifinal-round contestants.
In the early afternoon the finalists will present dance routines and kicks taught to them during the semifinal round. And by 4:30 p.m., Garvey plans to announce up to 40 members of the 2013 New York Jets Flight Crew.
The audition finals are closed to the public, but we’ll let you all know who made the Flight Crew Class of ’13 as soon as we can on Sunday.
Tags: Burgess Owens, Eric Allen, Flight Crew, Jerome Barkum, Jets Talk Live, John Abraham, John Idzik, Kyle Brady, NFL Draft
Posted in Randy Lange | 221 Comments »
Nine-and-13. If that refers to a major league team’s record after 22 games, it’ll put you off the early pace of the division leader. If the subject is a horse owner’s Derby post positions or a race team’s Indy post position, you’d probably like better.
But positions in the NFL Draft? Now we’re talking.
That’s just what the Jets have at the moment in Thursday night’s first round of the draft at Radio City Music Hall. Their own pick at No. 9 and the No. 13 they acquired from Tampa Bay in the Darrelle Revis trade give them a prized position among the 32 teams, most of which will be spending one pick in Round 1 and none of which have two picks in the top 13 as the Jets do.
We mentioned the other day that the Jets have had that distinction, spending two picks in the top 13 in one draft, just once before since the start of the common draft in 1967. That was 2000, the draft of the “Four Aces,” when DE Shaun Ellis was tabbed 12th and DE John Abraham 13th (ahead of QB Chad Pennington at 18th and TE Anthony Becht at 27th).
But what is the track record of the entire league with two picks in the top 13 of a given draft? There aren’t a lot of examples, but generally those teams that do spend two such high picks fare fairly well in the coming season.
Interesting enough, the last NFL team with this distinction was … those same Jets in 2000 (with an asterisk). In the past 12 drafts, no team wound up using those two picks once it came time to push the chips forward in Round 1.
The asterisk I refer to above is that the Jets weren’t alone in that ’00 selection meeting with two high picks. The Redskins, you may remember, held Nos. 2 and 3 and went for LB LaVar Arrington and T Chris Samuels. Then the Ravens (with a younger Rex Ryan on that coaching staff) spent Nos. 5 and 10 on two offensive players, RB Jamal Lewis and WR Travis Taylor, who weren’t nickel-and-dimers.
Since 1990, that two-in-the-top-13 situation came up 10 times. And a trivia note about those 10 teams is that in the season after they spent those picks, they posted an average improvement in their previous season’s record of 2.5 wins. Eight of the 10 improved their previous record, four made the playoffs (Atlanta ’91, Dallas ’91, Miami ’92 and Baltimore ’00), and the ’92 Colts in part used their 1-2 punch of top pick Steve Emtman and LB Quentin Coryatt to improve eight games, from 1-15 to 9-7.
Splitting the 9 from the 13 for the moment, Since 1990, players selected at No. 9 (… No. 9 … No. 9 … ) have fared pretty well. Not every nine was a winner, but T Richmond Webb (Miami, ’90), RB Fred Taylor (Jacksonville, ’98), LB Brian Urlacher (Chicago, ’00), DT Kevin Williams (Minnesota, ’03) and RB C.J. Spiller (Buffalo, ’10) are among the best.
As for players who were plucked at lucky 13, there are TE Tony Gonzalez (Kansas City, ’97), LB Takeo Spikes (Cincinnati, ’98), John Abraham by the Jets in ’00, WR Lee Evans (Buffalo, ’04), and LB Brian Orakpo (Washington, ’09).
Clearly, this is no guarantee that the Jets will hit a two-run homer with both their picks or improve anywhere from 2.5 to eight wins over last year’s 6-10 mark. And if they trade one of those picks and move out of the top 13, then all of this trivia is for naught.
But the Jets have a good, experienced college draft team now led by long-time scout Jeff Bauer, and a new man at the top in GM John Idzik who has said that this draft and every draft will be a lifeline to how the team does in the season(s) ahead. And their 9-13 exacta could be just the ticket for the next favorable development on the road to the 2013 season.
Tags: Darrelle Revis, Jeff Bauer, John Abraham, John Idzik, NFL Draft, Rex Ryan, Shaun Ellis
Posted in Randy Lange | 163 Comments »
The month of April always brings a level of buzz and excitement to Terry Bradway and Jeff Bauer.
Bradway, the Jets’ senior personnel executive, annually informs reporters on some predraft statistics. He did so once again this afternoon.
“We have 1,426 players we’ve evaluated,” Bradway said. “We visited 271 schools. We wrote over 5,000 reports, conducted over 300 interviews at the [Senior Bowl] all-star game, combine, our 30 visits and also our local day. So we’ve spent a lot of time with these players, getting to know them not only as players but as people.”
Bradway described the entire process as beneficial and said that his staff has narrowed its big board down to 220 prospects.
“I think this is a draft that is very deep in the mid-rounds, especially,” he said. “I think there’s going to be some players late in the draft and good quality college free agents that will be available to us as we go through this.”
Bauer is approaching the one year mark from when he was named director of college scouting last May 18. For the prior 11 years, he had served as one of the team’s college scouts, covering the Midwest region. From his perspective, it’s been special establishing a relationship with first-year Jets general manager John Idzik.
“When John came here, he stressed that it’s the group, every scout has a voice,” Bauer said. “I think we’ve had healthy discussions about all the players, everyone.”
Bradway echoed Bauer’s remarks.
“I think the thing that’s been impressive with John is he’s respected our process of the evaluations in the fall, the all-star games, the crosschecks, the February meeting, the combine, and so on,” he said. “He’s been able to add a lot to that also. We’re excited about that, because any time you have change, I think you get invigorated. We’re excited about what we’re doing, and we’ll get a chance to keep building on that as we keep moving forward, too.”
At the present time, Idzik said he and his staff are finishing the detailed evaluations and developing final alternative plans and “what-if” scenarios. He also credited head coach Rex Ryan for the head coach’s input since he arrived in January.
“Obviously, Rex is the head coach,” Idzik said, “so he’s very influential in what we do, especially when it comes to acquiring talent through the draft, free agency and what not. you want your head coach feeling good about what you’re doing and the decisions you make. By his involvement and his staff’s involvement in what’s been going on so far, we’re completely confident that’s going to happen.”
With the first round just eight days away, Bradway, Bauer, Idzik and Co. are prepared to select the best player available when the Green & White get on the clock with the ninth pick.
“I think all of us, as a group, the whole staff is excited for next week,” Bauer said. “We feel we’re going to get good players and we’ve done a great job researching and getting in the right spot.”
Tags: Jeff Bauer, John Idzik, Rex Ryan, Terry Bradway
Posted in John Holt | 31 Comments »
Jay Fiedler had a short career as an AFC East opponent of the Jets and an even shorter stay as a Jets quarterback. He’s been out of the game for seven seasons.
But Jay’s never left his Long Island base and he never stopped keeping tabs on the Jets. And he continues to teach the game to Jets fans and their kids as well as those who wear colors different than the green and white.
Fiedler’s latest endeavor in the football camp field is the Prime Time Football Offense and Defense Passing Skills Camp, which will be held on Sunday, April 28, at Randall’s Island Field No. 8, with former Jets Bobby Jackson and Bruce Harper serving as coaches. We’ll provide more details on the camp a little farther down in this blog.
“My dad, Ken, has been running summer camps for 50 years,” Fielder told me. “My brother, Scott, took over the Prime Time sports camps seven or eight years ago, and I’ve run my own Brookwood football camp for the last 15 years in Glen Spey, near Port Jervis, N.Y.
“Just these past couple of years, I’ve expanded and done a lot more year-round stuff, local clinics, quarterback/wide receiver clinics. I started talking with the people of the Yorkville Youth Athletic Association and they wanted me to come in and do something for them. So we came up with the idea of running a one-day clinic out on Randall’s Island.”
Being in the heart of the city is right up Fiedler’s alley. He grew up in Oceanside on the Island and starred as a quarterback, point guard and decathlete at Oceanside High. He stayed in the Northeast and had an outstanding Ivy League career as Dartmouth’s QB, then moved on to the pros. He actually coached receivers for a short while at Hofstra, the Jets’ former HQ, before stringing together seasons with Minnesota and Jacksonville and then a five-year stay as a starter with the Dolphins.
Jay’s Short Stay in Green
Fiedler came to the Jets as an unrestricted free agent in 2005 and made it to the third game of the regular season. That, of course, was the disastrous affair against the Jaguars, when he and Chad Pennington suffered devastating shoulder injuries within two second-half series of each other. Despite rehabbing the shoulder well enough to get consideration from several teams, he never played in the NFL after that.
“No doubt I wanted my Jets stay to be much longer,” he recalled. “Being a local guy and having the opportunity to play for the team, even as brief as it was, I still made some connections with other guys I played with and other alumni. Also, just being involved in the local football market, I’m involved with a lot of former Jets and see them at a number of events.”
Fiedler talked about his post-football pursuits, among them owning a minor-league basketball team and a concert-promotion company. These days he handles a regional market of the energy service company started by Pro Football Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas.
“As much as you hated Thurman as a Jet, he was some back,” Fiedler remembered. “Probably one of the smartest players I came across in my 10 years in the league.”
Fiedler, needless to say, has the smarts, too, to earn his degree from Dartmouth. And if you recall that school from recent Jets stories, well, yes, it’s true that he is a fellow Green Wave alumnus along with current Jets GM John Idzik.
“I didn’t know John from Dartmouth, but when I was coming out as a player, he was with the Tampa Bay organization,” he said. “My coaches put me in touch with him and he was definitely helpful throughout the process when I was being scouted, going to the combine. We weren’t in close touch but when we played against teams he was involved in, we made it a point to reach out to each other.”
And Fiedler, like many longtime fans of the Green & White, likes what Idzik has been doing in his first months on the job.
Moving in Right Direction
“For him it’s just about getting down to business, building the team from inside the locker room rather than on the sports pages,” he said. “I think they’re doing a good job of refocusing the organization and how they want the team to be run. We’ll see how it plays out over the next couple of years. There’s definitely a few holes they have to fill, but I think they’re moving in the right direction, and I’m excited to see how things progress.”
As for the progress of Fiedler’s April 28 camp, it’s designed for teaching age-appropriate fundamental passing, receiving and coverage skills and drills. Fans of all NFL teams are invited, although the staff has a Jets alumni flavor. Harper, the Jets running back from 1977-83 who easily remains the franchise’s all-time kick-return yardage leader, will coach offensive skills. Jackson, the team’s 90-game left cornerback starter from ’78-85 who was a top interceptor and a defensive team captain, will work the defensive side of the passing game.
“Bobby and I over the past couple of months have been working on some weekly clinics throughout Long Island. His son, Ashun, who was a college wide receiver, comes in and helps out along with Bobby,” Jay said. “And everyone loves Bruce from his days as a player. I’ve gotten to know him at events the past couple of years and I love the way he interacts with fans. Certainly he can teach people a great deal.”
Additionally, Fiedler has invited other former NFL players to coach and make appearances. All the former clinicians will be supported by experienced high school and youth coaches from around the area.
The afternoon schedule has been set up for three age groups. The Pee Wee Clinic for Grades 1-4 ($50 advanced registration/$60 cash only at event) will run from noon-1:30 p.m., the Youth Clinic for Grades 5-8 ($75/$90) will run from 1:30-3:30, and the High School Clinic for Grades 9-12 ($99/$120) goes from 3:30-6 p.m. Youth and high school quarterbacks can receive a video analysis of their footwork and technique for an additional fee. All participants will receive a T-shirt courtesy of Modell’s.
Tags: Ashun Jackson, Bobby Jackson, Bruce Harper, football clinic, Jay Fiedler, John Idzik
Posted in Randy Lange | 87 Comments »
An interesting “backgrounder” involving Jets GM John Idzik was posted by Don Banks and Sports Illustrated late last week. It details the places of Idzik and others not in the “Tampa 2″ but in the “Tampa 7.”
“Idzik’s 20-year NFL career leaves him quite familiar with the experience and pressure of working for a franchise desperate for a turnaround,” Banks wrote. “He did, after all, get his start in the league as part of the remarkable collection of front office talent that Tampa Bay amassed in the mid-90s. …
“Incredibly, Idzik is the seventh member of those mid-90s Bucs to come to power in an NFL front office, tabbed to lead Woody Johnson’s Jets after 11-plus years spent in Tampa Bay’s front office, three more in Arizona, and the past six seasons in Seattle’s well-respected personnel operation.”
Besides Idzik, the other six members of the Tampa 7:
■ Current Falcons president/CEO Rich McKay, the former Buccaneers GM from 1993-2003 who hired Tony Dungy as head coach in 1996, starting the process toward the Super Bowl XXXVII title.
■ Jerry Angelo, the longtime Bucs director of player personnel (1987-2000) whose 11-year stint as the Bears’ GM was highlighted by their 2006 Super Bowl run.
■ Current Titans scout Tim Ruskell, who spent 17 years in the Bucs front office and was Seattle’s GM during its lone Super Bowl season of 2005.
■ Mark Dominik, entering his fifth season as the Buccaneers’ GM and a member of the Bucs front office since 1995.
■ Current Tennessee EVP/GM Ruston Webster, now in his fourth season with the Titans after spending four years in Seattle’s front office and 18 years in a variety of roles with Tampa Bay’s (1988-2005).
■ Current Lions GM Martin Mayhew, a starting cornerback for the 1995-96 Bucs, the final two seasons of his eight-year NFL playing career.
It’s a good read as always by Banks, although he clearly didn’t get a hold of Idzik, who remains publicly quiet while privately working hard at retooling the Jets for 2013 and beyond. But back when the I-Man was first hired, he had this to say about his Buccaneer years and what all of his NFL stops have meant in getting him to this point in his career:
“Rich McKay, Jerry Angelo, Tim Ruskell, Ruston Webster — we went on quite a journey in Tampa. We saw it from the bottom to the top. It was very special. To me, all of those experiences have solidified the power of ‘we’ over ‘me.’ That’s something that is going to be very strong here in New York. As it goes there, it goes here in New York, too. It will be based on a collaborative effort. It will be inclusive, it will be well-thought-out and researched.”
There’s a long way still to go before Idzik’s first Green & White team takes the field, but so far, so good.
Antwan’s New Number
We’ll preview new Jets LB Antwan Barnes’ interview with Eric Allen and the Jets Talk Live Crew on Wednesday — EA’s chat with AB will air Thursday on JTL — but for now we can say Barnes has settled on uniform No. 95 with his newest NFL outfit.
“There were a couple of options open, but I’m going to stick with a 90s number,” said Barnes. “I may not be the size for a 90s number, but I can sure play like it, though.”
We didn’t think there was a linebacker size requirement for the 90s as opposed to the 50s, and Barnes looks, if not immense, big enough at 6’1″, 251. He started out at No. 50 with the Ravens (assistant coaches: Rex Ryan and Dennis Thurman) in ’07, but Garrett McIntyre’s got that one here, and he wore 98 with the Chargers (plus two games as an Eagle), but that’s Quinton Coples’ deal here.
The last Jet to wear 95 on the field was NT Martin Tevaseu in last year’s preseason finale at Philadelphia. Now it’s Barnes’ turn.
So Long to an NFL Legend
A head coach that Idzik’s father, John, ran into back when he was offensive coordinator of the Jets in the late Seventies has passed away. Jack Pardee, 76, died Monday of gall bladder cancer.
Pardee was a legend in the game, from his time as one of Bear Bryant’s “Junction Boys” at Texas A&M in the mid-Fifties through 15 seasons as a solid, one-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Rams and Redskins through 11 seasons as an NFL head coach of the Bears, ‘Skins and Oilers.
The Jets didn’t run into Pardee much as a player, since they didn’t start to play NFL teams until the end of his career. He was the LLB starter and team captain for the Rams in a 31-20 Jets win in L.A. in 1970, and the starter again on the left side for Washington in a 35-17 Jets loss at Shea Stadium in ’72.
They fared worse against him as a coach, losing four of five meetings with his teams. The first was in ’78, when Pardee’s ‘Skins whipped the Jets of Walt Michaels and OC Idzik Sr., 23-3. The only Green & White win came in Bruce Coslet’s first year at the helm, at Houston by 17-12 in 1990. But the Jets paid for that by losing twice the next season to Pardee’s Oilers, 23-20 at home in the regular season and 17-10 in the Astrodome in the ’91 playoffs.
Wherever the game took him, it always seemed to bring him back to the Lone Star State. He coached the “run-and-shoot” offense with the USFL’s Houston Gamblers, then the University of Houston, then the Oilers before ending his NFL coaching career in ’94.
“We lost a great coach and, more importantly, a great man today,” Mike Munchak, current Titans head coach and a player and assistant coach for Pardee, said in a statement. “I truly admired his passion for football and was especially inspired by his love of the history of the game. He often shared stories of his NFL playing days to motivate his players, which has greatly influenced the way that I now coach my players. Coach Pardee will surely be missed.”
Tags: Antwan Barnes, Bruce Coslet, Don Banks, Garrett McIntyre, Jack Pardee, John Idzik, Martin Tevaseu, Mike Munchak, Quinton Coples, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Walt Michaels
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