AFC East: New York Jets

Three takeaways from Rex Ryan after listening to his comments Wednesday night on the New York Jets' 2014 schedule:

1. He likes the home cooking in September -- three games at MetLife Stadium. The last time they had three home games in September was 1998.

2. He challenged his team to improve on the road. Ryan mentioned their 2-6 record last season, pointing out that three of the final four games are away from home. "Clearly, we have to make big strides in how we play on the road," he said.

3. Ryan didn't sound thrilled that, for the second straight year, they have a short week to prepare for a road trip to the New England Patriots. Not only is it a quick turnaround, but they have to play the defending AFC champion Denver Broncos the previous week.

"Obviously that’s a huge challenge," he said. "It’s another year where we go on the road on a Thursday night to play New England, [which] isn’t ideal. But again, we’ll be up for it. It is a challenge. You’re facing the two best teams in the AFC last year, who played in the [AFC] Championship Game, back-to-back. ... But, we’ll have a lot of football to play up until that and hopefully we’re hitting our stride when we play those two teams."

New York Jets schedule analysis

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
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NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Predictions

Breakdown: Rex Ryan must have done something to upset the folks in the league's scheduling department. Ryan's beloved defense, which struggled against the pass last season, will face five of the NFL's top six passing offenses from 2013 in rapid succession, Weeks 2 to 6. And that doesn't include the New England Patriots, which finished 10th. It's a Murderer's Row of quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. The challenge wouldn't be as daunting if the Jets had made significant improvements in the secondary, but all they've done is replace Antonio Cromartie with journeyman Dimitri Patterson. It might be a good idea to draft a cornerback or two. A year ago, the Jets allowed 3,947 passing yards, the most since 1986. Assuming they seek help in the draft, they will be trying to rebuild part of the secondary, but it'll be tough to accomplish that on the fly, especially with no breathers over the first half of the season. On the bright side, they get to open against the Oakland Raiders.

Complaint department: For the second straight year, the Jets' road game against the Patriots is on a Thursday night -- a tough turnaround under the best of circumstances. That the Jets face the Denver Broncos the previous Sunday makes it an extraordinarily difficult back-to-back. They go from Manning to Brady, two of the all-time greats, in a span of four days, conjuring up memories of when they beat Manning and Brady in the 2010 playoffs. But at least they had a full week to prepare for Brady and New England that year. Ryan, speaking to reporters Wednesday night, didn't sound thrilled. "It isn’t ideal, but, hey, we’ll be up for it," he said. The Jets got hammered in similar fashion in 2011, when they lost to the Patriots at home and played four days later in Denver, falling to Tim Tebow in the final seconds. We'll know a lot about the Jets by Week 7, that's for sure. Their trip to Foxborough, of course, will be spiced by the showdown with former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.

On the bright side: The good news is the Jets play three of their first four games at home, increasing their chances of getting off to a good start. Historically, they're a fast-starting team under Ryan, whose September record is 11-6, far and away his best month. The downside is that three of the last four games are on the road, and that's not a good thing. The Jets were a pitiful 2-6 on the road last season, with many of those blowout losses. This year, they close at the Minnesota Vikings, at the Tennessee Titans and at the Miami Dolphins. This marks the third time in four years they've finished in Miami. The Vikings will be outdoors in 2014, so that could be a frigid day. If the Jets don't play better as a road team, they will have no shot at the playoffs.

Strength of schedule: 9th, .520 | Vegas over/under : 6.5

Jets Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, Oakland, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.
Week 3: Monday, Sept. 22, Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 28, Detroit, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, at San Diego, 4:25 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, Denver, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Thursday, Oct. 16, at New England, 8:25 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9, Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Monday, Dec. 1, Miami, 8:30 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, at Tennessee, 4:05 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, New England, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, at Miami, 1 p.m.
One of the most intriguing quarterbacks in the draft -- Jimmy Garoppolo -- is visiting Wednesday with the New York Jets, according to a league source.

The Jets bolstered the quarterback position by signing Michael Vick to a one-year contract, but they're obviously doing their homework for the draft. Garoppolo, who broke Tony Romo's school records at Eastern Illinois, is interesting because he's considered a top-40 pick. If he doesn't sneak into the bottom of the first round, he could very well be picked at the top of the second by a team such as the Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 39). The Jets own the 49th pick.

The Jets also have met this week with Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, although he's regarded as a mid-round prospect.

Could the Jets select a quarterback one year after taking Geno Smith with the 39th overall choice? It would be a surprise if they grab a quarterback in the top three rounds, but never say never. We're talking about a general manager, John Idzik, who belonged to the Seattle Seahawks when they drafted Russell Wilson in the third round even though they had signed Matt Flynn to a significant free-agent contract.
Sophomore jinx? Not in Sheldon Richardson's world.

On the first day of the New York Jets' offseason program, the outspoken second-year defensive tackle declared, "I feel like you haven't seen the best Sheldon Richardson can play."

Richardson
Mind you, Richardson was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, although he didn't make a lot of impact plays -- only 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble. On offense, he scored two rushing touchdowns. Nevertheless, he understands that he needs to produce more game-changing plays on defense.

“Causing more turnovers on defense,” he said, explaining his second-year goal. “I had a lot of plays around the ball last year, but I felt like I could’ve made a lot more turnovers than what I did. We all felt that way, though.”

Asked if he sees himself as more than a 3.5-sack defensive tackle, Richardson responded with his favorite expression.

"Most deeeefinitely," he said, holding the 'e' longer for emphasis. "Most definitely. That’s not even close to what I have, as far as standards for myself.”

Stand and deliver: Reiterating what he said last month at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Fla., Rex Ryan dropped the "D" word.

"Like I said, it’s time to deliver. We need to deliver," he said. "I'm not going to get into the specifics about what we're delivering, but I know what our fans expect and they're going to get everything we have." He said the Jets have a "great nucleus," adding that he expects to build on the foundation that was set last year.

Dee's time: This is a huge offseason for cornerback Dee Milliner. First of all, as a second-year player, it's his first full offseason in the NFL. It also will be a healthy offseason, something that wasn't the case last year. A pre-draft shoulder surgery caused him to miss the two minicamps and spring practice sessions, putting him way behind. It showed, as Milliner struggled through most of the season. This year, he's being counted on to be the No. 1 corner.

“I think that’s important, that he has a good offseason," Ryan said. "Obviously, he really couldn’t train his body the way you would want to, almost for the entire season. I think it’ll be big for him, just to get confidence, to make sure that he’s physically well. I think that’ll really help. It would help any player, but I think in his case, being here for the [OTAs], for all that kind of stuff will be great.”
As far as Rex Ryan is concerned, it's 2009 all over again.

He can only hope.

Johnson
On Monday, Ryan referenced 2009 when discussing his vision for the New York Jets' backfield, which now includes Chris Johnson. With Johnson, Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell and, possibly, Mike Goodson, the Jets have an "unbelievable amount of depth" at tailback, according to Ryan. He said it reminds him of '09, the heyday of the Ground-and-Pound era, when they began the season with Thomas Jones, Leon Washington and Shonn Greene.

Ryan refused to be pinned down in terms of his plans for Johnson, insisting his role has yet to be determined. This much appears certain: Johnson won't get 18 carries per game, his career average. Coming off arthroscopic surgery, and approaching his 29th birthday, the former Tennessee Titans star figures to be a complementary back.

"Nothing was ever promised that, 'You’re going to get X amount of carries,'" Ryan claimed. "We're going to have to compete for roles. No role has been determiened for anybody on this football team."

Johnson's surgically repaired knee (torn meniscus) could go a long way toward determining his workload. He has some arthritis in his right knee, according to an ESPN report, but it obviously didn't cause him to flunk the team's physical. Ryan said Johnson will be among several players limited in the offseason program.

Another player is Goodson, whose roster spot could be in jeopardy. Ryan said he hopes to have Goodson, but he didn't sound confident. Aside from the knee injury, he's dealing with pending legal charges (and a possible suspension) stemming from his arrest last May.

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Goodson
"If Goodson comes back, we’ll see what he can provide," said Ryan, adding: "I don’t anticipate anything in the near future that he’ll be able to do, but we’ll see how he progresses."

Goodson was supposed to be the breakaway back last season, but that never materialized. Now it falls to Johnson, who ran a sub-4.3 time in the 40 when he came out of college in 2008. Some of Johnson's new teammates sounded excited about having him.

"He's a highlight reel waiting to happen," defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said.

Quarterback Geno Smith said "the first thing that comes to mind is speed and home-run hitter. I don't know how many times he's broken runs for 50, 60 yards, but it seems like he does almost every week. He brings another explosive dimension into our running-back room."

Johnson doesn't break as many long runs as he used to, but anything is an improvement for the Jets.
Nearly four months removed from the feel-good finish to their 8-8 season, the New York Jets return to work Monday for the official start of the offseason -- a nine-week program that gradually increases in intensity and culminates with a mandatory minicamp, June 17-19.

The offseason program is voluntary (wink, wink), although many players are required to attend to collect workout bonuses. The Jets' top storylines:

Smith
Vick
Vick
1. A new locker room culture: The Jets dumped three high-profile players, Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie, all of whom wielded considerable influence in the locker room (for better or worse). The team will experience a natural change in leadership as the new players are integrated. The most compelling dynamic will be the Geno Smith-Michael Vick relationship and how it impacts the team. Smith won the team's respect last season with his resilience; Vick will command it as soon as he walks in the door.

2. The quarterback competition: It will take four months to decide Smith vs. Vick, but you can bet every pass, every action and every word uttered by them and their teammates will be micr0-analyzed by the media. Practices (OTAs) don't start until May 27, so prepare for five weeks of rhetoric, followed by pass-by-pass analysis on Twitter. Hey, it's New York and we love a good quarterback controversy. The pre-camp favorite? All things being equal, Smith gets the job, but Vick has a lot going for him and could outplay Smith in the preseason. Presumably, the Jets won't botch the competition this time, allowing them to -- you know -- actually declare a winner.

3. Sophs under the microscope: The offseason program always is important for second-year players because ... well, it's their first full offseason in the NFL. For cornerback Dee Milliner and guard Brian Winters, it's doubly important. Milliner was forced to sit out last year's workouts because he was recovering from pre-draft shoulder surgery, putting him behind everybody -- and it showed. For Winters, who played tackle in college, this will be his first offseason to train as a guard, where he struggled for most of his rookie season.

4. Learning MartyBall: It's a new-look offense, with possibly four new starters -- Vick, running back Chris Johnson, wide receiver Eric Decker and right tackle Breno Giacomini. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg set a foundation last season in Year 1 of his system, but he may have to circle back because there are so many new pieces -- and that number will grow after the draft. Vick's familiarity with Mornhinweg's offense will help a lot because it means every quarterback in the room knows the system, an important springboard in any offseason.

5. Blissfully quiet: A year ago, the Jets and Darrelle Revis' camp were locked in a dispute over whether the star cornerback had to work out with the team to collect bonus money. It didn't last long, as Revis was sent packing. There are no such distractions this year -- yet.

Jets Twitter Mailbag

April, 19, 2014
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It's the weekly Jets Mailbag and since Rich Cimini is out of the office this weekend, I'll be tackling your questions.

If Muhammad Wilkerson ever felt underappreciated, his accountant can now set him straight. Jets general manager John Idzik doesn't look like such a thrifty after laying out $6,969,000 for a fifth-year option on the defensive end for 2015. Wilkerson, who has played three full seasons, is now under contract for two more years, decreasing the urgency to give him an expensive, long-term extension.

Wilkerson
It's quite a raise for Wilkerson, who will make $1,212,500 this season according to the NFLPA. Wilkerson was drafted by the Jets with the 30th overall pick in 2011 and has been impressing his coaches ever since.

As negotiations took place this month, Wilkerson was upfront about his desire to stay in New York.

"I told [the front office] at the end of the year last year that I want to be a Jet -- a Jet for life,” Wilkerson said to the New York Post. “I’m from [Linden, N.J.], I’m a local guy, so I would love to be here and finish my career here.”

It doesn’t always work in a player’s financial favor to say he wants to stay with his team, but in this case it appears to have worked. Wilkerson started with a base salary of $375,000 his rookie year, and went to $687,500 before landing at $1 million last season. His option is for nearly seven times that amount, a significant raise.

Last season, Wilkerson had 10.5 sacks. With recent rookie Sheldon Richardson also on the defensive line, the Jets could have a bright future with the group.
In his first full day as a member of the Jets, running back Chris Johnson gave some insight into the competition for quarterback. Apparently, it's a fair fight.

Vick
Vick
Smith
Johnson told Michael Kay and Don La Greca on ESPN New York 98.7 that the Jets plan to have Geno Smith and Michael Vick compete for the starting job during the team's training camp in Cortland, N.Y. Any idea who has the inside track?

"They didn't give me no indication," Johnson said. "They said those two will battle it out in camp and may the best man win."

Rex Ryan said earlier in the year that Vick, signed as a free agent this offseason from the Eagles, would be able to compete with incumbent Smith for the starting job. Smith had the job as a rookie last season after Mark Sanchez sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in a preseason game.

Smith threw 12 touchdowns and had 21 interceptions last season, showing signs of potential but not enough to be the next assumed franchise quarterback. Having two almost-good-enough quarterbacks on the roster apparently wasn't in the long-term plan, so Vick was brought in and Sanchez was cut.

Vick's arrival has already sparked protest from animal rights group, who worked up a petition to try to bar Vick from training camp. Vick served less than two years in prison on charges stemming from dog-fighting.

That aside, Vick holds more experience as a starter and made it clear in March that he was there to compete for the starting role.

"Well, anywhere I go, or any team, I'm always going to compete for the No. 1 spot," Vick said. "And I will encourage any other quarterback behind me or in front of me to always compete for their job, for the No. 1 spot. That's how champions are made."
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Everybody thought LaDainian Tomlinson was ready for a rocking chair at the age of 30. He was a diminished player for the San Diego Chargers in 2009, finishing the season with a hard-to-watch game against the New York Jets in the playoffs -- 12 carries, 24 yards.

The future Hall of Famer was fired by his forever team, and the Jets, of all teams, gave him a job, gambling the once great runner could reinvent himself. They looked past his pedestrian '09 numbers, determining that heart was a better barometer than his 3.3 yards per carry. They were right; he was terrific in 2010.

"This," Tomlinson said at the time, "has refreshed me, being here."

Four years later, the Jets are once again trying to catch an old lightning-back in a bottle. This time his name is Chris Johnson, and there's every reason to believe he can give them a season like Tomlinson did.

The Jets get Johnson at 28, a little younger than Tomlinson upon his arrival, but the narrative is the same: a fading star coming off his worst season.

Johnson staggered to the finish last season, looking more like CJ1K than the old CJ2K. He barely cracked he 1,000-yard plateau, managing a pedestrian 3.9 yards per rush. The Tennessee Titans decided -- and rightly so -- it made no sense to pay him an $8 million wage for 2014.

[+] EnlargeChris Johnson
AP Photo/Mark ZaleskiChris Johnson cracked the 1,000-yard rushing mark in 2013 despite playing the majority of the season with a knee injury.
Clearly, the Jets aren't getting the Johnson of 2009, when he blew away the league by rushing for 2,006 yards with his sub-4.3 speed, but they should have a highly motivated back who will get an opportunity to duplicate what Tomlinson did in 2010.

That year, Tomlinson rushed for a team-high 914 yards on just 219 carries and caught 52 passes, three shy of the team leader. He was supposed to be Shonn Greene's backup, but Tomlinson was so impressive that he won the starting job and became an integral part of a team that came within one game of the Super Bowl.

Nothing jars a world-class athlete more than being told he's not good enough, that it's time to pack up and leave. Tomlinson used that as his fuel until his body finally broke down in 2011. The Jets are hoping for a similarly inspired Johnson, who's already talking about redemption.

"I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me, to give me motivation, to keep me hungry and to keep a chip on my shoulder and prove the naysayers wrong," he said Thursday on a conference call with the media.

You'll be disappointed if you expect a 1,500-yard season out of Johnson, but he's better than what he showed last year. He played 13 games on a torn meniscus, running behind a suspect offensive line for a team that didn't have its starting quarterback for half the season -- hardly ideal conditions for a running back.

"Chris Johnson isn't a bell cow anymore," a longtime NFL personnel executive said. "I don't know where his heart is -- there are some things underneath his hood that I don't like -- but for the right price, yeah, I think it's a good move."

The Jets paid a top-of-the-market price -- two years, $8 million -- but the cost is reasonable. Chances are, they will take a less-is-more approach with Johnson, hoping a time-share with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell will preserve the remaining tread on Johnson's tires and improve his efficiency. That, of course, is based on the presumption that one of those tires isn't on the verge of a blowout.

Johnson disputed an ESPN report that said there's arthritis in his surgically repaired right knee, insisting he'll be fine. This bears watching, because the fire in his belly will burn out quickly if there's pain in his knee. If he's healthy, he'll be a plus for the offense.

"If a bad year is 1,100 yards, I'll take that all day," said ESPN analyst and former Jets tackle Damien Woody, alluding to Johnson's 1,077 last year.

Woody played for the Jets when Tomlinson arrived in 2010. At first, he wondered if Tomlinson was out of gas, but those concerns were allayed as soon as he saw the old running back on the field, doing his thing. Woody believes Johnson will respond the same way.

"The situations are really similar," Woody said. "You have two really good backs that were jettisoned from teams they had a lot of success with, dealing with the perception they're washed up. That, obviously, puts a chip on your shoulder."

The Jets have become a second-chance/last-chance stop for running backs. Before Tomlinson, there was Thomas Jones, who was outstanding before the salary-cap police decided it was time to go. A year ago, they traded for Ivory, who teased the New Orleans Saints for years.

As Woody noted, Jets coach Rex Ryan has way of reaching older players, coaxing them to give whatever they have left. Now he has Johnson, who still can be a productive runner -- as long as his wheels are as strong as his will.

Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Jets 

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
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Their greatest needs are wide receiver and cornerback. They also could use a tight end, if the right one is available. In other words, the New York Jets could go in a few different directions with their first-round pick.

The question is, what happens if the premium players at those positions are gone? The Jets have to prepare for that scenario because it could very well happen. It does in ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's latest mock draft Insider.


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Source: Sidney Rice visits Jets

April, 16, 2014
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Injury-plagued wide receiver Sidney Rice, cut by the Seattle Seahawks after the season, visited with the New York Jets on Wednesday, a league source confirmed.

The Jets already have signed two receivers, Eric Decker and Jacoby Ford, but they still want to build depth. Rice, 27, was once regarded as a rising star, but he has missed 15 of the past 48 games due to knee injuries and concussions. In fact, he tore an ACL last October, causing him to miss the remainder of the season. He reportedly was cleared only recently to return to football activities.

The 6-foot-4 Rice would be an inexpensive acquisition for the Jets, probably a one-year contract for close to the minimum salary. General manager John Idzik is a former Seahawks executive and was partly responsible for signing Rice to a five-year, $41 million contract in 2011. Rice parlayed his one big year (1,312 receiving yards for the Minnesota Vikings in 2010) into the big score.

Rice has 243 catches for 3,592 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Johnson
A few thoughts on former Tennessee Titans star Chris Johnson agreeing to a contract with the New York Jets:

1. Adds swagger on offense: Critics of this move can use a lot of numbers to illustrate Johnson's decline in recent years, but that would be overlooking the obvious: Johnson brings street cred to an offense devoid of stars and playmakers. Say what you want about his slippage, but the man knows how to score -- with 58 career touchdowns. The Jets, 29th in scoring last season, need guys who don't require a GPS to find the end zone. They have too many that do.

Ivory
2. Projected role: The Jets intend to use Johnson in tandem with Chris Ivory. Presumably Johnson is on board with the plan or else he wouldn't have signed, but you wonder how he'll feel during the season. Remember, he voiced his displeasure last season when the Titans signed former Jet Shonn Greene, robbing him of carries. Johnson, who turns 29 in September, has to understand he's no longer a workhorse-type back. His days of averaging 290 carries per year are over -- or should be. Ivory and Johnson will complement each other nicely. Ivory is a tackle-breaking power back, Johnson the speed back with home run ability. Johnson no longer is the CJ2K of 2009, when he rushed for 2,006 yards, but he still has enough speed (assuming his surgically repaired knee is OK) to threaten the perimeter and stretch defenses. It also creates another wrinkle for the Wildcat package.

3. The new Shady: When he was the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg had a dual threat in LeSean McCoy who was (and still is) dangerous out of the backfield in the passing game. Johnson brings that type of element to the offense. He's not as elusive in space as McCoy, but he's a threat because of his straight-line speed. Johnson made 42 catches on 51 targets last season, averaging 9.3 yards after the catch -- fifth-best in the league. For what it's worth, he has 272 career receptions, more than any other player on the team. With Johnson leaking out of the backfield, opponents will have to think twice before sending extra pressure.

4. The new Ground & Pound: Since Rex Ryan took over in 2009, the Jets have rushed for nearly 11,000 yards, the third-highest total in the league, and they've done it without a true burner in the backfield. They have been a grind-it-out running game, but Johnson brings a different dimension. He makes defenses pay attention even though he falls into the all-or-nothing category. He has been tackled for a loss or no gain on 410 rushes since he entered the NFL in 2008, the most during that time. But he also has gained at least 10 yards on 200 rushes since then, second to only Adrian Peterson. The problem is that unless the Jets add another threat on the perimeter, they will continue to see a steady dose of eight-man fronts.

Smith
5. Commentary on the QBs: The rest of the league might be pass happy, but this move reinforces the Jets' belief in running the ball. They believe a strong ground game gives second-year quarterback Geno Smith the best chance to succeed. It wasn't a coincidence that Smith's late-season rally happened when the rushing attack perked up. Johnson will benefit, too, having two quarterbacks -- Smith and Michael Vick -- with good mobility. It will create creases in the defense.

Still not time to tear down O-line

April, 16, 2014
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The New York Jets used to have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Now they need serious help, according to an article by Pro Football Focus Insider.

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The Jets are listed among five teams with "positional frailties" that should be addressed with high draft picks. In their case, it's the line. According to PFF:
"On the surface, this may seem a strange selection given that both D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold are still on board and the team replaced departed right tackle Austin Howard with Super Bowl winner Breno Giacomini.

"However, we are now close to the nadir of a group that was as recently as 2010 the best in football. Things started to go downhill with the departure of the remarkably underrated Damien Woody (who in a fairer world would at least be discussed as a Hall of Fame candidate) and this was exacerbated further by the loss of Brandon Moore and the decline of Mangold and Ferguson. It's just as well Chris Ivory is a tough runner (he ranked tied for third in yards after contact per attempt in 2013, with 3.0) because he got very little help from his linemen this past season: not a single one graded green as a run-blocker."
Mangold
My thoughts? I'd be surprised -- no, stunned -- if the Jets used a first- or second-day draft pick on a lineman. Ferguson and Mangold, both 30, may not be what they once were, but they're still in the top third of the league at their respective positions. Ferguson's cap numbers are so high that he can't be released without serious cap ramifications until 2016. Mangold also has high cap charges, but he has less security than Ferguson and could conceivably be cut next year. But I still don't think it's time to start looking for their replacements.

The Jets gave Giacomini a $7 million guarantee, so they expect him to be around for at least a couple of years. At left guard, they suffered through Brian Winters' rookie growing pains, but they remain high on his future. If they were to draft a lineman, it likely would be a right guard. Willie Colon is back on a one-year contract, but there's no heir apparent -- unless you count William Campbell, a former defensive lineman who didn't get close to the field last season as a rookie. Campbell and tackle Oday Aboushi were the "future" picks in John Idzik's first draft. Evidently, they're still down-the-road prospects.

But do you want to know the biggest reason why the Jets won't use a high pick on a lineman?

Too many other pressing needs.

Jets hope to lock up Chris Johnson

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
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It comes as no surprise that free-agent running back Chris Johnson is visiting Tuesday with the New York Jets. They never lost interest in him even though his first week on the open market was eerily quiet. Despite a down season in 2013, the Jets still believe he's a quality back, capable of recapturing some of his past form with better offensive line play than he had with the Tennessee Titans.

The timing of the visit (and possible signing) makes sense. The Jets open their offseason program Monday, and Rex Ryan prefers to have his veteran players under the same roof for as much of the program as possible. Johnson probably would be limited because he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in January, but his presence would be good for team chemistry and would allow him to start learning the offense. Teams also like to tie up loose ends in free agency before shifting into total draft mode next week. A similar situation unfolded last year. After maintaining contact for a few weeks, the Jets signed free-agent safety Dawan Landry a week before the offseason program.

Don't think money has nothing to do with this. Johnson has generated little interest as a free agent, causing his value to drop. No other team has been identified as having serious interest. No doubt that factored into general manager John Idzik's thinking from the outset. The Jets should be able to lock up Johnson with a team-friendly deal, and they hope to get it done quickly.

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