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 »
This is the companion list to my Jets Combine news advance featuring Stephen Hill, one of the top performers at last year’s workouts, that just went live.
The presentation is based on research that can be found by clicking on the Past Top Performers tab at nfl.com/combine.
The list comes in two sections. The top part shows future Jets who finished in the top 15 in a particular drill among all participants in a given combine. If an athlete’s performance can be extended to a top-15 finish for multiple years to the present, that is shown as well.
The second half is for Jets-to-be who finished in the top 15 among all the participants at ALL the combines from ’06-12 (or in the bench press from ’07-12) at each player’s position as listed heading into that combine.
The list includes players such as Antonio Cromartie who didn’t make their first NFL stops with the Jets as well as players in italics who are no longer with the Jets.
This week, with participants beginning now to descend on Indianapolis and combine drills ready to roll out starting Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium, new Jets GM John Idzik and company have begun the process of finding the next Jets entries on these lists.
|Jets’Combine Bests, 2006-12|
|AMONG ALL PARTICIPANTS|
|Stephen Hill||4.36||’12||T-2nd; T-11th, ’09-12|
|Clyde Gates||40.0″||’11||T-8th; T-12th, ’11-12|
|Stephen Hill||11’1″||’12||T-1st; T-7th, ’06-12|
|Antonio Cromartie||11’0″||’06||T-4th; T-12th, ’06-12|
|Dustin Keller||10’11″||’08||T-4th; T-13th, ’07-12|
|Clyde Gates||10’11″||’11||2nd; T-13th, ’07-12|
|Nick Bellore||4.00||’11||T-7th; T-15th, ’10-12|
|220-Pound Bench Press|
|Vernon Gholston||37 reps||’08||T-1st; T-10th, ’08-12|
|AMONG ALL AT A PLAYER’S POSITION|
|LaRon Landry||4.35||’07||T-1st among Ss, ’06-12|
|David Clowney||4.36||’07||T-13th among WRs, ’06-12|
|Stephen Hill||4.36||’12||T-13th among WRs, ’06-12|
|Brad Smith||4.46||’06||4th among QBs, ’06-12|
|Dustin Keller||4.55||’08||T-8th among TEs, ’06-12|
|Brad Smith||39.5″||’06||2nd among QBs, ’06-12|
|Tim Tebow||38.5″||’10||4th among QBs, ’06-12|
|Dustin Keller||38.0″||’08||7th among TEs, ’06-12|
|Aaron Maybin||38.0″||’09||T-14th among DL, ’06-12|
|LaRon Landry||37.5″||’07||T-11th among Ss, ’06-12|
|Matt Slauson||34.0″||’09||T-6th among OL, ’06-12|
|Stephen Hill||11’1″||’12||T-3rd among WRs, ’06-12|
|Antonio Cromartie||11’0″||’06||T-5th among CBs, ’06-12|
|Dustin Keller||10’11″||’08||T-1st among TEs, ’06-12|
|Clyde Gates||10’11″||’11||5th among WRs, ’06-12|
|Brad Smith||10’8″||’06||1st among QBs, ’06-12|
|Vernon Gholston||10’5″||’08||6th among DL, ’06-12|
|Aaron Maybin||10’4″||’09||T-7th among DL, ’06-12|
|Demario Davis||10’4″||’12||T-11th among LBs, ’06-12|
|Nick Bellore||4.00||’11||T-3rd among LBs, ’06-12|
|Dustin Keller||4.14||’08||8th among TEs, ’06-12|
|Nick Mangold||4.36||’06||6th among OL, ’06-12|
|Tim Tebow||6.66||’10||1st among QBs, ’06-12|
|Dustin Keller||6.88||’08||12th among TEs, ’06-12|
|Tim Tebow||11.27||’10||1st among QBs, ’06-12|
|220-Pound Bench Press|
|Vernon Gholston||37 reps||’08||T-7th among DL, ’07-12|
|Demario Davis||32 reps||’12||T-5th among LBs, ’07-12|
|Dustin Keller||26 reps||’08||T-12th among TEs, ’07-12|
|Kyle Wilson||25 reps||’10||T-4th among CBs, ’07-12|
|Robert Malone||19 reps||’10||T-3rd, Specialists, ’07-12|
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Clyde Gates, Dustin Keller, NFL Combine, Stephen Hill
Posted in Randy Lange | 18 Comments »
The franchise tags are starting to roll in throughout the NFL and one of the top safeties in line to hit the open market on March 13 won’t be going anywhere as the San Francisco 49ers used their franchise designation on S Dashon Goldson. A week from Tuesday, the new league year will commence and you can expect the Jets to make at least a few moves.
“They don’t have a lot of salary cap space, but they are always active,” Adam Schefter told newyorkjets.com. “You look at what’s gone on with the coaching staff after a disappointing season, and Rex Ryan said that he wasn’t expecting any changes and we’ve already seen a lot of changes. I think the same will be true on the players’ side. They don’t have the flexibility to make a lot of moves, but again somehow I expect them to make a lot of moves.”
The Jets’ needs have been talked about in many circles and they include outside linebacker, No. 2 receiver, safety and backup quarterback. After some internal discord in 2011, the Green & White will want to add talented players who will be assets in the locker room.
“You want to make sure you have the right football character in your locker room,” said ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. “They’re not all going to be saints, but you need good football character people and they’ve lost some. They’ve lost some really good football-character people in there and they have to make sure if they go out in that free agency market that they are signing not just talented players but they have good football-character players.”
While the Green & White missed the postseason, they won four playoff games the previous two seasons and were 8-5 after 13 games this past season. There are pieces in place on both sides of the ball and this isn’t a terribly old team, either.
“I still look at a team that went to an AFC title game two years in a row,” Mortensen said. “This is not a team that is bankrupt. It always bothers me when I hear fans say, ‘We have to make a bunch of changes, we have to make a bunch of changes.’ Well, you always retool, you always fine-tune, you always do self-evaluations of what you need to get better. And you go forward and you play out the next season.
“It ain’t broke, so it’s just a matter of what do you have to do to get it back? Sometimes you just have to win two more games to get into the tournament and I mean that’s what it is. If you get into the tournament, you have a chance. The Jets proved that, the Giants just proved it again and the Packers proved it the year before.”
Busy already this offseason, New York’s AFC representative shook up their coaching staff with the additions of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, O-line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar. Sparano has not only received internal praise but many pundits also believe the Jets scored with the hire of the former Dolphins head coach.
“I think it was a great pickup and the great thing about it was the guy was really well-liked and well-regarded by his players,” Schefter said. “The players who played for him really liked him and really respected him, and he’s widely considered a really good coach in the football community. Dolphins fans have a lot of reasons to be upset and frustrated, and I think Tony Sparano — unfortunately for him — was a scapegoat for a lot of that and I think the Dolphins’ loss will be the Jets’ gain.”
“You want to see if Tony Sparano will bring what his head coach, Rex Ryan, wants him to bring, which is a toughness to that team,” added Mort. “Tony, people might think of him as a former offensive line coach, which he is, but he brings in explosive plays downfield. So you’d like to see that element of it and they have to get consistent at running the ball. Not ground and pound, just consistent running the ball.”
This coming week we’ll air our Combine interviews with Mortensen and Schefter.
The hot topic in the NFL the past several days is the league’s investigation into the charge of bounties being issued on opposing players by the Saints from 2009-11. Rex Ryan was asked about the topic and issued the following statement through the team Saturday: “This is something that is being handled by the NFL office. I’ve never condoned it and I’ve never coached it.”
Tags: Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, ESPN, NFL Combine, Rex Ryan, Tony Sparano
Posted in Eric Allen | 188 Comments »
The Jets need a safety or two and their shopping may start in a couple of weeks when the NFL’s league year commences. Both Jim Leonhard and Brodney Pool will be unrestricted free agents on March 13, so that leaves starter Eric Smith and reserve Tracy Wilson on the roster. Even if the Green & White add a safety in free agency or via a trade, they may be looking to add another one on draft weekend.
Alabama’s Mark Barron is the top safety prospect in the draft and he will probably be the only S selected in April’s first round. The 6’2”, 218-pounder will likely merit strong consideration from the Jets if he is still on the board in the middle of the opening round.
“You keep on hearing about Mark Barron, the safety from Alabama, is a good fit for what they need and that’s kind of where he should go,” ESPN’s Todd McShay told newyorkjets.com at the combine. “He had double-hernia surgery last month, and everyone says it’ll be fine and it’s something that will not affect him long-term or even in the short term when you’re talking about his rookie season. I think he would be a great fit there.”
Barron, who plans on working out in late March, is NFL-ready after playing both safety positions for Nick Saban at ‘Bama.
“We played in a very difficult defense, first of all,” he said. “We did a lot of different schemes. My role was, as far as communicating, I had a lot to do with that on the back end. And I felt like sometimes I brought some energy to it with the hits I make and things of that nature. I did a lot of different things, so I can’t pinpoint one exact role for me on defense.”
The versatile Barron lined up at free safety this past season and strong safety the year before. He was known not only as a big hitter — he collected 12 interceptions during his collegiate career.
“He is physical. He will come up and hit you,” McShay said. “The thing about Barron is there is no aspect of the game that he doesn’t do well. He’s not the best cover safety, if you will. He has some limitations in terms of man-to-man, but he can cover the tight end. He has good range in terms of being back. In being the high man in the three-safety or three-defensive-backs look, he comes up and is physical against the run. He can play in the box.
“I just love the way he plays the game, the tempo he brings and the leadership he brings in the secondary. It’s hard to imagine that he’s not a successful impact type of player who can be a leader on a defense.”
When asked by a reporter if he prefers to make a bone-crushing hit or an interception, Barron leaned to the takeaway but acknowledged both have their place.
“I like making plays, period. I would say interception because that’s more of a game-changer. That affects the game more,” he said. “But I like hitting and making interceptions.”
Quality safeties often have to wait around for a bit on draft weekend. Ed Reed, the Miami product who played for Rex Ryan in Baltimore and already has a jacket ready at the Hall of Fame, was selected No. 24 overall by the Ravens in the 2002 draft. A year later, USC’s Troy Polamalu went No. 16 overall to Pittsburgh. The 49ers’ Dashon Goldson, a Pro Bowler who had six interceptions in 2001 and is scheduled be a prized free agent this spring, was a fourth-round selection out of Washington in the 2007 draft.
“If a guy is a good player, then he’s just a good player,” Barron said. “I don’t see why position-wise, if you have a better player that’s a safety and then you have a corner that may not be a better football player than that guy, I don’t see a reason why that corner should go ahead of that safety if that safety is a better player. I’ve seen that happen, so I just don’t understand it. But that’s not my position to pick players and who gets drafted where.”
Not a huge fan of the NFL’s safety rules, Barron plans on continuing his aggressive play at the next level.
“Honestly, I don’t like them because the way I’ve been taught to play the game is hit and I hit hard,” he said. “I guess I’ll have to make some adjustments. Hopefully I’ll definitely make them — I’m not sure if I will because like I said that’s the way I was taught to play the game.”
Tags: Alabama, Brodney Pool, Eric Smith, Jim Leonhard, Mark Barron, NFL Combine, Todd McShay, Tracy Wilson
Posted in Eric Allen | 38 Comments »
You can never have enough pass rushers in the National Football League, and it’s part of Rex Ryan’s DNA to attack opposing quarterbacks. Depending on what happens in free agency with Jets veteran Bryan Thomas, there may be a starting vacancy available at outside linebacker across the formation from Calvin Pace when the draft commences in April.
“The defensive ends, outside linebackers, I think the value is probably going to be in the second round if some of these guys start to fall a little bit,” ESPN’s Todd McShay told newyorkjets.com at the combine. “But if Courtney Upshaw, another Alabama player, were to fall to 16, it would be hard to pass on him.”
As far as edge pass rushers are concerned, most draft experts believe Upshaw, North Carolina DE Quinton Coples and South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram are the top three talents in the draft.
“I do think Coples could go [early]. He’s very inconsistent on tape and much better in 2010 than he was in 2011, and doesn’t really fit the Jets’ scheme,” McShay said. “Melvin Ingram, another shorter defensive end who projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, I think he’ll be off the board somewhere in the top 10, top 12.
“And then Upshaw shortly thereafter, so if he does fall it would be an interesting decision whether to pass on him. He’s a little bit shorter, too, but he’s powerful, he seals the edge, he’s strong versus the run and he has a lot of power moves and shows a lot of flexibility getting to the quarterback.”
Playing the “Jack” linebacker at Alabama, the 6’1”, 272-pound Upshaw led the Crimson Tide with 8.5 sacks and his 17 tackles for loss ranked second in the Southeastern Conference and tied for 14th nationally.
“It’s a mind thing to me. Honestly, growing up playing football, I always wanted to be physical,” Upshaw told reporters at the combine. “As a young guy, always going in and throwing my shoulder into something, it was the fun part to me. Just going out and being tough and physical is something I love to do.”
Under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide captured a national championship last season and their defense was a major reason why. Upshaw, S Mark Barron and ILB Dont’a Hightower will all play on Sundays in 2012 and on Saturdays they competed against each other in the production department.
“We have this board where the production we have in the game, our position coaches gave you points for getting a sack, tackle for loss, a stripped fumble, stuff like that, and it all adds up at the end of the year,” Upshaw said, adding that Hightower “topped the chart, Mark Barron was second and I was third.
“Those games where you really don’t have as much production as the next player, you were kind of like ‘Oh, man, my coach cheated me’ or something. He won it fair and square, but I’m proud to say I was in the top three with those top two guys, so it was a fun competition.”
Upshaw will now compete with South Carolina’s Ingram to be the first hybrid edge rusher selected on draft weekend. While Upshaw would like to get down to 270, the 6’1” Ingram dropped 12 pounds since the Senior Bowl and weighed in at 264 pounds at the combine.
An All-SEC performer for the Gamecocks, Ingram has teamed up with one of the NFL’s top young rushers to help him prepare for the draft. Von Miller, the No. 2 overall selection of the Denver Broncos in 2011 who racked up 11.5 sacks in year one, and Ingram have been working out together in California.
“Me and him, we just try to compete against each other every day,” Ingram said. “Obviously he was the Defensive Rookie of the Year, so I just try to pattern my game after him because I feel like he’s had a lot of success in the NFL.”
Last season Ingram did it all for South Carolina, leading the team with 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He contributed in the scoring department, too, with three touchdowns and also picked off a pair of passes. His 21.5 career sacks are fourth in school annals.
A former high school point guard, Ingram believes he’ll help lead a pro defense.
“They’re going to get a hard worker, a passionate player of football, a leader, vocal and leading by example,” he said.
Tags: Courtney Upshaw, Crimson Tide, Indianapolis, Melvin Ingram, NFL Combine, Nick Saban, Quinton Coples, Rex Ryan, Todd McShay
Posted in Eric Allen | 83 Comments »
Nick Toon is running the 40-yard dash and jumping in the vertical here in Indianapolis today, but the Wisconsin wideout will wait to showcase more of his skills at the Badgers’ pro day on March 7. The son of one of the greatest receivers in Jets history — Al Toon — could be an early-round selection in April’s draft.
“I think first and foremost as a receiver, you want to have good hands. I have great hands and your job as a receiver is to catch the ball. I think I do a great job of that,” Nick told a group of reporters on Saturday at the NFL Combine. “The other thing is I think I’m a complete player, polished in a lot of aspects of the game. Obviously no one is a perfect player, but right now I don’t think I have any glaring weaknesses. I try to work and continue to improve all of the skills that are part of being a receiver and I’ll never stop trying to get better.”
An All-Big Ten second-team selection by the conference’s coaches, Toon is coming off a 64-catch, 10-TD campaign. Those numbers rank third and second respectively in Wisconsin annals and he capped off a wonderful college career with a nine-catch, 104-yard effort against Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
“My potential still definitely is not reached. I still think I have a long way to go,” he said. “By no means have I reached my full potential and I’ll continue to get better as a player.”
Toon broke out his sophomore campaign in 2009, hauling in 54 receptions for 805 yards. He battled through injuries in 2010 but still managed to finish second on the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. The 6’2”, 220-pounder did not participate at the Senior Bowl after breaking scar tissue in his left foot, which previously had a stress fracture.
“Obviously the goal is always to be healthy and I struggled with injuries a little bit my last two seasons,” Toon said. “But it’s part of the game. You have to take it for what it’s worth, learn from it, get healthy and move forward. It’s just an obstacle and there will always be obstacles in this game, whether it’s an injury or a dropped pass as a receiver or a blown assignment. Mistakes happen. Nobody’s perfect and you learn from them, try not to have too many of them and move forward.”
Just a youngster when his father retired, Nick doesn’t have many memories of Al’s playing days in New York. He recalled going on the field after his dad’s final game as a pro as well as visiting the Jets’ former practice facility, Weeb Ewbank Hall, in Hempstead on Long Island.
“I remember hanging out at the facility, playing around on the practice field and in the locker room and stuff,” he said.
Al Toon, who played for the Green & White from 1985-92 and was inducted into the Jets Ring of Honor last year, ranks third in franchise history in receptions (517), fourth in receiving yardage (6,605) and tied for eighth in TD receptions (31).
With Plaxico Burress scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent when the league year commences on March 13, the Jets appear to have an opening at the No. 2 position. They can opt to fill the void either in free agency or the draft, and the son of one of the franchise’s legends is confident he can help an NFL club.
“First and foremost you have to catch the ball. That’s your job as a receiver,” said Nick. “I feel I’m an above-average route runner. You have to be good blocker, a playmaker. There are a lot of things that go into being a successful receiver. Those are just a few of the things I think I do well, but I really do well with everything that’s required to be a receiver.”
We had an opportunity to speak with Nick Toon this weekend and we’ll air that exclusive 1-on-1 later this week.
Tags: Al Toon, Indianapolis, NFL Combine, Nick Toon, Plaxico Burress, Wisconsin
Posted in Eric Allen | 32 Comments »
The Jets are in the market for a quarterback, albeit most likely for one they hope doesn’t take too many snaps. There will be a backup vacancy when the league year commences on March 13 as Mark Brunell is an unrestricted free agent, but the NFL’s game of QB dominoes could have an impact on the Jets’ 2012 draft.
As we sit here in Indianapolis with the draft still a couple of months away, most pundits believe the Colts will use their No. 1 overall selection on Stanford’s Andrew Luck.
“I think Luck has more credentials, fewer questions about him, than any quarterback since John Elway,” Brian Billick, the NFL Network analyst and former Ravens head coach, said this morning. “Now it has to come together, but I think this guy is the real deal. … His arm strength is plenty. He is going to mature — he is going to grow still in that arm strength.“
Luck, who soon may call Lucas Oil Stadium his home, wants to continue to improve as he makes his transition to the next level.
“I think for me, it’s sort of quickening everything up in terms of release,” Billick said of Luck. “Those extra milliseconds count, especially in the NFL — guys are so much faster, stronger and bigger. Then making sure my drops are rhythmic, quick every time, and being consistent in that area.”
The Rams are scheduled to pick after the Colts, but most people believe St. Louis is going to attempt to trade out of its No. 2 slot. Brian Schottenheimer, the new Rams offensive coordinator and former Jets OC, already has a talented young signalcaller in place with Sam Bradford, and the Rams have lots of needs.
Many quarterback-hungry teams will are taking a long look at Robert Griffin III. Griffin measured in at 6’2⅜”, so height is not an issue. The Heisman Trophy winner was eager to start interviews with teams and ease any fears that his success at Baylor was based largely on Art Briles’ system.
“It’s not the traditional spread where it’s shotgun all the time, although we are in shotgun a lot. So were Tom Brady and Eli Manning in the Super Bowl, but that’s not the point,” RG III said. “It’s not a simple offense. I’m not going to try to make it seem difficult, but I will explain it to them whether its progressions, protections and what I’m doing out there. It’s not as simple as everybody makes it seem.”
“This is the best throwing athlete I’ve seen come out in a while,” said Billick of Griffin. “Far better than Michael Vick, in my opinion, far better than Cam Newton. I’m very intrigued. This guy has a pure throwing action for an athletic quarterback and he clearly has the intelligence to transition.”
Perhaps no person to play the position has ever been more cerebral than Peyton Manning, but there are no clear answers on his situation. Manning is still a Colt as of this weekend, but he will be highly coveted on the free agent market if he’s released and he checks out medically.
The Jets, who own the No. 16 overall selection, could be helped by the rise of a third quarterback and that player might be Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill. While Luck and Griffin III seem like sure bets for top-five selections, QB-needy teams could make a play to jump up and get Tannehill before the Green & White select or could place calls to GM Mike Tannenbaum to get to the Jets’ 16th spot.
Tannehill is a fascinating story himself, considering he led the Aggies in receptions his first two seasons as a receiver before switching back to quarterback and passing for 5,450 yards and 42 touchdowns.
“I’ve always thought of myself as a quarterback, so I was frustrated by it yet blessed to have the opportunity to be able to play another position,” Tannehill said Friday. “Not a lot of people get to contribute in another way to help their team and it was exciting for me to be able to do that. I learned a lot about the game, got a lot of experience. Even if it wasn’t at the quarterback position, I did get experience playing football and seeing the game out there. I learned a lot from it and fortunately I was able to get back to where I wanted to be, under center.”
The quarterback landscape will become more clear after free agency comes and goes. QB Matt Flynn stands to get a lot of money from someone and his offensive coordinator in Green Bay, Joe Philbin, is the new Dolphins head coach. The Jets aren’t really in the passing derby at the moment, but the game of QB dominoes will have some kind of impact on every team in the league.
Live Chat: Discuss Free Agency/Draft on Tuesday
Once we conclude the weekend here in Indy, we’ll make our return trip to Florham Park. With so much going on in the football world, newyorkjets.com editor-in-chief Randy Lange and I are going to host a live video chat on Tuesday. You can start getting your questions and comments in now.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Brian Billick, Indianapolis, Joe Philbin, Lucas Oil Stadium, Matt Ryan, NFL Combine, Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill
Posted in Eric Allen | 34 Comments »
This February afternoon is almost over in the middle of America and the Jets — along with each of the 31 other NFL clubs — are engrossed in their draft preparations at the NFL Combine workouts.
“It’s just the next step in the process,” GM Mike Tannenbaum told me inside Lucas Oil Stadium. “Our area scouts and [senior personnel executive] Terry Bradway and [VP of college scouting] Joey Clinkscales do a great job in the fall, and we’re just kind of adding to that now. We saw them down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, we get to see them work out here, and the interviews are really important. It’s just the next step in the process.”
While many of the Jets coaches and scouts are here at Lucas Oil during daylight hours, the team personnel move down the street to an Indianapolis hotel and interview selected prospects at night. Each team is permitted to interview 60 players over the course of the combine and each session has a 15-minute time limit.
What are the Jets looking for from the prospects?
“A lot of their football acumen — some of them really separate themselves quite a bit,” Mr. T. said. “You know which guys have a better feel for their responsibilities than others and our coaches do a great job. We’re looking forward to that getting started in a couple of hours here.”
Tannenbaum and the Jets don’t rehearse their interview approach. They listen first and then see where the interview goes from there.
“It just develops as a guy comes in there, but we have the position coach leading the discussion,” he said. “We’re sitting there observing them and seeing how they answer the questions.”
A loyal boss, Tannenbaum has a scouting staff that he both trusts and respects. Area scouts have mined the country since the final selection of the 2011 draft symbolized both a conclusion and a beginning.
“They’re tireless workers, the Matt Bazirgans of the world, the Jeff Bauers, the Jay Mandolesis. They’re great, they care, they work hard,” Mr. T. said. “Joe Bommarito, Jim Cochran, Mike Davis — they all do great jobs. We’re lucky they’re here and they have such passion. Sometimes they have to watch our games listening to the radio or on the Internet, but the wins and losses mean as much to them as anyone.”
Inside a stadium suite today, the stopwatches were out and pens and papers scribbled in notebooks. There wasn’t much conversation as the Jets observed drills that will be weighted, but the gametape never lies.
“Those are interesting and they’re great for comparison purposes, but at the end of the day it’s how do they play football,” Tannenbaum said of drills such as the 40-yard dash, benchpress and shuttle run. “Rex is a natural evaluator. His input has been great. He really works at it — he watches a lot of tape. Again this is important, but it’s just another step in the process.”
During Thursday’s meeting with the media, Tannenbaum reiterated his belief that Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes will be able to thrive as teammates once again. Barring something unforeseen, the Jets starting QB and No. 1 wideout will remain unchanged on the depth chart.
“The fact that they’ve played well as Jets together under this coaching staff gives me every reason to believe that an issue that came up last year is very solvable,” he said.
Tannenbaum’s core belief is he’ll look under every rock every day to get better. The Jets are in need of safety help with both Jim Leonhard and Brodney Pool set to become unrestricted free agents on March 13, but there are multiple ways of addressing voids.
“I look at any position as a big continuum,” the GM said. “We’ll look at potential trades, potential signings in free agency, the draft, claiming guys on Labor Day.”
Tannenbaum chose not to make public if he would consider a franchise tag for NT Sione Pouha, but he would like the veteran lineman to remain with the Green & White in 2012.
“Within reason we’re going to do everything we can to keep him,” he said.
This spring’s labor harmony means a return to free agency preceding the draft. The Jets currently own choices in every round and should be in position to obtain one or more compensatory selections, but trading up is always an option for Tannenbaum.
“I do believe in quality over quantity,” he said. “That’s just based on a lot of research and what’s a replaceable part and what the odds are of success in every round.”
The search to get better is a never-ending for Tannenbaum and his crew.
Tags: Indianapolis, Jay Mandolesi, Jeff Bauer, Jim Cochran, Joe Bommarito, Lucas Oil Stadium, Mark Sanchez, Matt Bazirgan, Mike Davis, Mike Tannenbaum, NFL Combine, Santonio Holmes, Sione Pouha
Posted in Eric Allen | 50 Comments »
For this year’s opening remarks at the NFL Combine, Jets head coach Rex Ryan offered a mea culpa.
“I know what everybody’s thinking — the infamous Super Bowl guarantee was here,” Ryan said of his remarks to the assembled media at the start of last year’s combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. “in all seriousness, looking back, it was a huge mistake to make that guarantee.
“At the time, we were coming off two [AFC] championship games and I really thought it would be a thing that would actually motivate our team, to talk about the Super Bowl, to focus on the Super Bowl. But in hindsight, I think it put undue pressure on our team … and we really lost focus on what we do best. So, you know, it was obviously a big mistake.
“I go back and look at it. It obviously contributed to the season we had. Realistically, it was something I’ve been thinking about a great deal. Obviously we had a terrible season. And I’ll take full responsibility for it. And I think part of it, that guarantee really contributed to that.”
That being said, Ryan still has confidence in the Jets that in a few months will return to start work collectively on the 2012 season, and confidence in general manager Mike Tannenbaum’s team and his staff to bring in new Jets who will also contribute to a strong Green & White rebound.
“First off, no promises. There’s not going to be any promises. But I will say we’re going to have a team that I think’s going to have the potential to do great things,” he said. ‘I look at our team and we’ve got a great owner, a great staff, a great organization. More importantly, we’ve got a great group of players and I think we can accomplish anything we set out to do.”
One of the foremost topics on many fans’ minds is how QB Mark Sanchez and WR Santonio Holmes are getting along and how he’s so sure they can fix any differences that may have existed late in last year’s stumble to the 8-8 finish.
“Those two guys, they have a lot in common,” Ryan said. “They’re both competitive guys. They’ve had success in this league. Santonio had the catch, of all time maybe in the Super Bowl. Maybe Sanchez hasn’t quite had the success Santonio’s had obviously, being a Super Bowl champion, but he’s had some success.
“Their first year together, they did a lot of great things. In fact, I think they contributed to winning four games in the closing minutes. It’s not like they haven’t been successful before with each other. … I really think there’s enough in common right there that they’ll fix it.”
Ryan was asked about another phase of the offense’s comeback plans with new coordinator Tony Sparano and a set of new offensive coaches that have come in with him. He said he always admired Sparano, the Dolphins head coach from 2009 until late this past season, but wasn’t sure why.
“Then as I thought about it, you know what? That guy thinks he’s as tough as I am,” Ryan laughed. “That’s something I really admire about him. I schedule at least an hour a day with him. We’ll sit and talk football. He’s putting in our offense and things like that. And I figure if he can teach it to me, he can teach it to any of these guys. … It’s been a great experience so far.”
Ryan was also asked about the comments that rookie QB Greg McElroy made to an Alabama radio station critical of the Jets’ locker room makeup and said he was a little angry about them.
“But the thing that maybe makes us different than other teams is that we are truly a transparent organization, so you’re going to know a lot about the New York Jets in the great times but you’re also going to learn a lot about us in the not-so-good times,” the coach said.
“I don’t think it was the way maybe it’s portrayed out there that we had a huge problem. No question we had some problems with some individuals. But we’re going to fix it. And I know I’m the guy for the job and we’ve got the right players and we will get it fixed.”
Tags: Indianapolis, Lucas Oil Stadium, Mark Sanchez, NFL Combine, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes
Posted in Randy Lange | 42 Comments »