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
Posted in Randy Lange | 64 Comments »
Rex Ryan, fresh from the owners’ meetings in Arizona and a few pro days and perhaps en route to some NCAA Tournament watching this weekend, made a radio stop with Michael Kay and Don La Greca on Mike’s show on ESPN New York 98.7 this afternoon.
And Rex wasn’t about to be pinned by the Kay-La Greca tag team. The Jets head coach declined to discuss any Darrelle Revis speculation or to entertain notions that he’s coaching for his job in 2013.
The best of his take on Revis: “I’m on board with any Jet decision, any decision that’s in the best interests of the New York Jets. I’ve always been on board with it. Any decision we think as an organization is the best move for the organization, I will be behind it 100 percent, regardless of what that move is. And that’s not saying any specifics about this player or that player.”
And his best take on his quarterbacks wasn’t terribly new but was a further firming up of the competitive nature of the beast at every spot on this John Idzik/Ryan creation. It came when he was asked if he knew who his opening-day QB will be.
“No I don’t. It’s going to be a position where we’re bringing in competition,” he said. “That old thing about competition making the best of us all, I think that’ll be true. I don’t think there’s a clear-cut favorite in my opinion. I just think it’s going to be competition from day one.”
Does this hint at a loss of confidence in Mark Sanchez?
“I haven’t lost confidence in Mark, but I do know this: The play at quarterback has to get a lot better, there’s no doubt,” Ryan said. “Whether it’s Mark or somebody else, we know we have to improve in that area. I guess we can file that in the ‘no kidding’ category, but that’s it — it has to get better. I believe Mark will play a lot better. But I also believe there’s going to be some stiffer competition than maybe there’s been in the past here.”
Rex had a few bullet-point opinions on some of the newest Jets. On G Willie Colon: “He’s a huge person, a guy that can knock people off the ball, a mauler, very physical.”
And the thing he liked about RB Mike Goodson besides his explosiveness and speed was that “He was targeted 16 times last year in the [Oakland] passing game and caught all 16. That’ll give you an idea how effective he is out of the backfield.”
That’s a statistic that’s worth expanding on just a little. True enough, Goodson was 16-for-16 for the Raiders, according to Stats Inc., not a lot of passes but nice production with what he got, especially considering his 12.2 yards per catch on those 16 balls.
For his career with the Panthers and Raiders, Goodson caught 59 of the 78 passes thrown his way (75.6%) for a solid 8.9-yard average and a 10.4-yard average after the catch.
It’s certainly not a fair comparison, one player’s four-year career vs. a number of backs’ one season in the same offense, but the Jets’ backs last year unofficially had 80 balls targeted for them and caught 44 (55%) for an average of 7.8 yards per catch and 6.6 YAC.
Of course, those numbers won’t mean much once the Jets take the field in the coming months. This team figures to be vastly different than any of Ryan’s four previous teams. We’ll be pointing out the positives as we are wont to do, but there will be many negatives and bumps in the road as the Jets get themselves back on track.
Yet if that’s the hand you’re being dealt, don’t grumble about it and blame the football gods. Play it the best way you know how. And that’s what Ryan appears to be gearing up himself and his team to be doing soon. That came through in his answer to Kay’s question about his possible lame-duck status heading into ’13.
“I totally disagree with that,” Rex said agreeably. “I believe we’re going to have a football team that’s going to play a certain brand of football that I don’t think we’ve played yet. I think there’s much more for our players to give and I think we’re going to get it out of them.
“We’re going to be committed to that style of football, and quite honestly to playing that style of football that can make our fans proud. We understand that. It was a rough season on the fans as well as on our team. They deserve better than that, and I think we’re going to give it to them.”
Next week we’ll begin to crank up our annual draft preview here on newyorkjets.com with position-by-position previews by reporter John Holt and myself, a piece on the Jets quarterbacks on the roster and perhaps available in this draft from the independent personnel analysts at Real Football Services, and blogs from Eric Allen and myself. For now, enjoy the free agency, the NCAA hoops, and the rest of this weekend.
Tags: Darrelle Revis, Don LaGreca, John Idzik, Mark Sanchez, Michael Kay, Mike Goodson, Rex Ryan, Willie Colon
Posted in Randy Lange | 166 Comments »
Speculation the past few days was that eight-year veteran nose tackle Sione Po‘uha’s days in green and white were coming to a close. That speculation turned into an official transaction this afternoon as the Jets announced that “Big Bo” had been released.
Po‘uha was the Jets’ third-round selection, 88th overall, of the 2005 draft out of Utah. After a slow first four seasons with the team, including the ’06 season that he spent on IR, his career picked up speed in the middle of the Jets’ defensive front.
He started 50 of the Jets’ 54 games from 2009-11 (including the six playoff games) and put up solid numbers each of those seasons (61 tackles in ’09, 46 tackles; two sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss/no gain, three fumble recoveries in ’10; 55 tackles, sack, one forced fumble, two recoveries and a safety in ’11).
Also during this time he became the elder statesman among the D-linemen and a go-to locker room guy with his thoughtful, sometimes even lyrical comments on himself, his fellow linemen, his defense and his team.
A year ago, Po‘uha could have become an unrestricted free agent but was happy to be able to re-sign with the Jets.
“Every player that approaches the last year of their contract and enters the screen door of free agency, there’s always a possibility,” he said at the time of not re-signing with his only NFL team. “But in my mind I always wanted to stay with the Jets, be with the Jets. Me and my agents, they had an understanding that I always wanted to be with the Jets, and I’m just glad it worked out that way.”
However, last season didn’t play out as planned as Bo, 33, bothered by a balky back from the offseason, sat out the preseason and four regular-season games and averaged only 25 defensive snaps in the 12 games he played. He finished with 38 tackles, a four-year low, and no tackles behind the line for the first time since ’07.
The Jets had no comment on whether Po‘uha could return after the initial wave of the NFL’s unrestricted free agent signing period dies down. In general, first-year general manager John Idzik stated his philosophy about cutting and then re-signing players during a conference call with the club’s season ticket holders earlier this month.
“I don’t think we ever shut the door on anything, especially when it comes to your own players,” Idzik said. “You get in free agency and it’s constant change day to day, it’s a little unpredictable, but you just have to let it kind of take its form and let it play out and see what you’re able to do as the pieces start to fall into place, and hopefully you’re able to retain some of your guys. So we go in with that mindset, that we never close the door and we’ll see what happens.”
Tags: John Idzik, Sione Pouha, unrestricted free agency
Posted in Randy Lange | 245 Comments »
We chatted up Terry Bradway on Thursday afternoon back in his office following his sitdown with Eric Allen on Jets Talk Live. And aside from the NFL Combine topics he hit on with EA in the interview, I wanted to get a few insights into Terry’s new boss, John Idzik.
Bradway’s a go-to guy on this subject. He’s been the Jets’ senior personnel executive since ’06 but from ’01-05 he was the Jets GM.
Needless to say, he wasn’t going to compare Idzik with Mike Tannenbaum, with whom he had a close relationship in the Jets’ front office for the previous dozen years. But John has brought his own past, procedures and personality with him from Seattle and Bradway has been impressed with the way the I-Era of Jets football has begun.
“Throughout his career he’s always been able to go out to a certain degree and cover players,” Bradway said, “and he’s been very involved in both free agency and the draft any place he’s been. He’s really is a good football guy.”
Idzik is also a people person, which obviously has come out early, from the team’s February personnel meetings through the combine. He’s formed opinions on many of the players who participated in the Indianapolis workouts, but he wasn’t going to dominate the discussions with the Jets scouts.
“John was very respectful of the scouts in terms of their presentations,” Bradway said. “He’s a great listener and I think he’s going to be able to generate great discussions and opinions as we come up with what we feel will be the final grades and evaluations on these players as we go into the draft.”
A small enhancement to the evaluations was an expansion of Bradway’s personal “+/N/–” combine grading system he’s used over the years. He puts a quick grade on each participant in each drill he watches each year — either a plus, “looked good,” an N, “looked average,” or a minus, “didn’t look good.”
This year he was joined in his grading by Idzik and new director of college scouting Jeff Bauer.
“This was the first time we’ve done it as a group,” he said. “It’s subjective, but it’s the eyeball test. It’s not the numbers — ‘Oh, he vertical-jumped 39′ — but it’s here’s how the guy moved, here’s how he did his position drills.”
If you haven’t seen EA’s interview with Bradway yet, the first half of the session was archived on NewYorkJets.com last night, and the second half should be available on the site this afternoon.
Tags: Jeff Bauer, John Idzik, Lucas Oil Stadium, Mike Tannenbaum, NFL Combine, Terry Bradway
Posted in Randy Lange | 206 Comments »
Updated 6:19 p.m. ET
In theory the NFL Combine is a place to talk with, talk about, time, measure and analyze the draft-eligible college players heading into the draft two months down the road.
In reality, John Idzik and Rex Ryan held an impromptu Darrelle Revis news conference when they spoke with reporters at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this afternoon.
The new general manager and the fifth-year head coach had the same bumper sticker for the media, fans and the NFL: WE ♥ REVIS ISLAND.
“Darrelle Revis is obviously a great football player, a great New York Jet and a tremendous asset to our team,” said Idzik at the podium shortly after 4 p.m. ET. “I don’t know that anything has really changed. We’ve always wanted Darrelle as part of our team. That has not changed.”
Idzik declined several times to respond to questions about Revis rumors, contract matters or trade terms. But, he stressed, “In respect to Darrelle, our focus is to aid him any way we can in his rehabilitation so he can return to the player we all know he is.”
Ryan followed Idzik to the microphone — each talked for about 16 minutes — and recounted a phone conversation he had with Revis, who’s rehabbing the knee injury that ended his season in Game 3 at Miami, about trade rumors that surfaced the day before Idzik held his introductory news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
“I told him it’s not accurate,” Ryan said. “If he’s going to be involved in a trade, I think he and his agents would know about it, as would the GM and myself. There’s no validity to it. I don’t know where that gets drummed up. … I provided him the answer that I know to be true, which is that was not accurate.”
It was certainly likely that the game of Twit-for-Tat between Revis and Seahawks CB Richard Sherman the past day or so would be posed in the form of a question to Ryan. Rex declined to get into the middle of that Twitter war while still strongly supporting his former All-Pro corner.
“I will say this: Obviously the guy [Sherman]‘s a heck of a football player. I don’t know him well enough to compare him to Darrelle Revis,” Ryan said. “But if you’re putting yourself in that company, that’s the company you want to be in, that’s for sure.”
The two-fer news conferences were about more than Revis. Both Jets officials were asked about their quarterbacks, specifically Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.
Idzik had a new turn of phrase to describe the way the teamwide 2013 depth chart will shake out.
“I don’t think you isolate it to any one or a few positions. We’re going to have a general mantra here with the New York Jets and it’s going to be ‘Competition Through and Through,’ ” he said. “That’s going to be true this year as we enter free agency, it’s going to be true as we go into the draft, it’s going to be true as we come out of the draft, it’s going to be true as we go into training camp and into the regular season. And if we have success and we win a championship, it’ll be true after we win a championship.
“I think everyone, Mark included, recognizes that he, our offense — shoot, our team as a whole — has to perform better than we did in 2012. And we’re going to do that. We’re going to do everything to increase the competition so that he plays better. We’ve got a new offensive coordinator, we have a new quarterback coach, we have staff changes that I think will be healthy for Mark and so that we can again get the juices flowing and turn the page into 2013, not look back to 2012, start anew and get rolling.”
“We’re bringing in competition at every position, not just the quarterback position,” Ryan said. “That’s what we want to do here. To say Mark Sanchez, this quarterback, that quarterback — clearly there’s going to be competition at that position.”
Tebow’s situation arose only late during Ryan’s time at the mike.
“Tim’s under contract to be a New York Jet,” the head coach said, “and we’ll see how things go in the offseason.”
We’re expediting the processing of transcripts of both Idzik’s and Ryan’s remarks today and they’ll be up on newyorkjets.com shortly.
Draft Order Update
The NFL has released its tentative round-by-round order for the 2013 draft. The order is tentative because it doesn’t include compensatory picks, which will be awarded at the bottom of Rounds 3-7 and announced next month. So the Jets’ first three picks are fixed and the positions of Rounds 4-7 will change depend on how many compensatories are inserted at the end of each prior round. Here are the Jets’ picks at the moment:
Round 1 — 9th in the round, 9th overall
Round 2 — 8th in the round, 39th overall
Round 3 — 10th in the round, 72nd overall
Round 4 — 9th in the round (103rd-plus overall)
Round 5 — 8th in the round (134th-plus overall)
Round 6 — 10th in the round (168th-plus overall)
Round 7 — 9th in the round (199th-plus overall)
Tags: Darrelle Revis, John Idzik, Lucas Oil Stadium, Mark Sanchez, NFL Combine, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow
Posted in Randy Lange | 204 Comments »