RG III and the Jets: Not the craziest idea

November, 27, 2014
Nov 27
The drum beat is faint now, but it will grow progressively louder in the coming weeks and months:


The New York Jets will be looking for a quarterback in the offseason, maybe two, and it appears that Robert Griffin III -- benched this week by the Washington Redskins -- will be available. Let's be clear: Several dominos have to fall before RG III-to-the-Jets can be considered anything more than fantasy-football chatter -- mainly, we don't know who will be calling the shots for the Jets -- but he could fit the profile for their 2015 plan.

Griffin has only one year remaining on his contract (an affordable $3.3 million guaranteed), assuming the Redskins don't exercise the fifth-year option in the spring. For the Jets, it would be a Percy Harvin-like trade: Not much downside in terms of financial risk -- essentially, a one-year audition.

Obviously, a lot would hinge on the Redskins' asking price. They surrendered three first-round picks for Griffin in the 2012 draft, but his value has gone down, down, down amid questions about his attitude, his mechanics and his surgically repaired knee. Chances are, they would have to settle for pennies on the dollar, maybe a middle-round conditional pick that would increase if he meets certain performance levels.

All bets are off for the Jets if they take Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston or another quarterback with a high draft pick. They would have a new franchise quarterback, and there would be no point in trading for somebody else's tarnished franchise quarterback. Griffin-to-the-Jets only makes sense if they pick a quarterback in the later rounds or don't draft one at all, bringing back Geno Smith to compete for the starting job or, more likely, be a backup.

Obviously, Griffin has accumulated a lot of baggage since his sensational rookie season, raising questions about whether he will ever fulfill his potential. He's a system quarterback, and we have no idea what type of system the Jets will be running next season. So, yes, this is a considerable projection on our part, but it's worth investigating if you are the Jets. They will be starting over at quarterback, so what is there to lose?

A look at other veterans that figure to be available in the offseason:

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams: The former No. 1 overall pick, coming off back-to-back knee surgeries, is a likely salary-cap casualty. He has a $16.6 million cap charge in 2015, the final year of his rookie contract. The Rams can clear close to $13 million by dumping him. Bradford didn't play well when he was healthy, so there would be considerable risk. At best, he would be a one-year stop gap.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: He signed a seven-year extension at the end of last season (through 2020), but it's not a cap-crushing contract if the Bears decide to part ways with Cutler. There is a $15.5 million guarantee in 2015, but no guaranteed money beyond that. Cutler can sling it with anyone, but he's a turnover-prone quarterback with a prima-donna attitude -- and that wouldn't play well in New York.

Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns: Credit him for overcoming two phenomenons -- Johnny Football and the Browns' history of losing. Hoyer, one of the main reasons for the Browns' resurgence, will be the top free agent on the market. He probably wouldn't be a fit for the Jets. He's a complementary player -- read: game-manager -- who will command big bucks for the long term.

Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns: Johnny Football in the Big Apple? He would blow up the Internet and social media. He would sell tickets for Woody Johnson, that's for sure, but the deficiencies in his game, coupled with what the Browns would ask in a trade, wouldn't justify the risk-reward. They invested a first-round pick in Manziel, so they won't give him away for nothing.

Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: He's under contract for 2015 (no guaranteed money), but he could be the odd-man out if the Bucs pick Mariota or Winston. The Jets were interested in McCown last offseason before signing Michael Vick. He wouldn't be a bad hold-the-fort guy.

Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles: Ha, ha.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Everybody is focusing on the perceived disconnect between Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik, but what about Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg?

This was an odd-couple marriage from Day 1, the Ground & Pound head coach hiring a play caller known for his pass-happy ways. The difference in philosophy wasn't an issue last season because the New York Jets, for the most part, maintained their run-first approach, finishing on an upbeat note at 8-8.

It has been a different story this season. Not only have they lost their identity, but the Jets are just plain lost on offense.

Now Ryan wants to get back to their roots, running the football. He acknowledged they abandoned the run in certain games this season, particularly in Monday night's 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

"I know one thing ... we know we need to run the football," Ryan said Wednesday. "For our team to have success, we need to run the football. Maybe other teams can throw it 50 times a game. That is not the blueprint for us."

A not-so-subtle message to Mornhinweg, perhaps?

Ryan is right on. Unfortunately for him, it's too late to change the complexion of the season and save his job. Maybe it's pointless to bring it up at this point, but it underscores how the organization isn't always on the same page.

On Monday night, the Bills dared the Jets to run by playing a Cover-2 look on defense -- two deep safeties. It was a wrinkle by the Bills, who usually employ a single safety in the deep middle. Facing a lighter-than-usual box, the Jets should've pounded the rock. Instead, their run-pass ratio in the first half was 10 to 18. In the second half, they came out throwing and took a costly sack, forcing a punt from deep in their own territory. And you know how that turned out -- it was blocked and recovered for a touchdown. It was 24-3. Game over.

In retrospect, Ryan admitted, "Yeah, we should have run more. I think when you look at it, it's easy to say now because what would have been the end result? It's surely going to be better than how it ended up, so I can see it that way."

Ryan explained the pass-minded approach, noting how they almost burned the Bills with a deep ball in the final seconds of the first half. That, of course, was the failed connection between Michael Vick and a wide-open Eric Decker, who broke free because of a busted coverage. That tricked the Jets into thinking they could throw on them.

This much seems certain: The Jets will try to establish their running game Monday night against the Miami Dolphins. It's a virtual mandate from Ryan.

"We want to run the ball," he said. "One thing we know we can do, we can run it against anybody."

Capisce, Marty?
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Wayne Chrebet played on a few bad teams during his career with the New York Jets. In his first two seasons, 1995 and 1996, they finished 3-13 and 1-15. So, yeah, he can empathize with the current team.

"It's tough for them," said Chrebet, who will be inducted into the Jets' Ring of Honor Monday night at MetLife Stadium. "I see the look on their faces on the sideline and I read their quotes in the paper. The best advice I have is just to go out there and still find a way to have fun and take pride in it.

"It's real easy to get distracted and look forward to the offseason when you're mathematically eliminated more than halfway through the season," he continued. "I've been there. These guys are playing for their contracts [and] playing for their jobs. I feel for them, but they're not a 1-15, 3-13 kind of team. This team's got more talent. They're better. It's just unfortunate injuries and some tough games and they haven't pulled them out. It's tough, but hopefully they finish the year strong."

Chrebet, one of the most popular players in team history, visited the Jets' facility Wednesday to meet with the team and talk to reporters about the Ring of Honor. He and the late owner Leon Hess will be honored at halftime against the Miami Dolphins.

"Hopefully I can get through the speech on the field," he said. "I'll be emotional. [It's] definitely a big honor to be recognized with some of the players, like Joe Namath and [Don] Maynard and guys I grew up watching, [Joe] Klecko and [Mark] Gastineau, and Freeman [McNeil] and Wesley [Walker] and Al Toon. Obviously, the person closest to me was Curtis [Martin]. We went to a lot of battles together. We laughed, we cried, we bled together. To be next to him, in any group, is an honor and I'm extremely humbled to be in that group."

Chrebet, 41, who retired prematurely after the 2005 season because of multiple concussions, said he has "good days, bad days, more good than bad lately." Brain trauma is a hot-button issue in the NFL. Chrebet said he has no regrets and that he's looking forward to coaching his three boys in football.

"Am I concerned about the future and what I read about?" he asked. "Me and my wife talk about it and just make the best of it. We go on with our life. I've got three great kids, a great wife, a great family and the damage is done. It is what it is. If something happens down the road, so be it, but as of right now we don't think about the possibilities of future impairments. I played the way I wanted to play, even after I had the injuries, and I wouldn't change that because if I did I wouldn't be respected and appreciated the way I am now. I think if I would have changed the way I played, I don't think I would have that kind of a following, I guess you could say."

The NFL Live crew make their picks for Miami at the New York Jets.

QB change a 'raw deal' for Michael Vick

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan broke the news to Michael Vick and Geno Smith in separate conversations around 7 a.m. ET. A few minutes later, the New York Jets announced the quarterback change via Twitter.

The word started to spread among the players as they gathered for the morning meeting, where Ryan informed the team.

The prevailing reaction: Shock.

[+] EnlargeJets
AP Photo/Paul SancyaA shocked sampling of Jets players thought Michael Vick, not Geno Smith (7), would see them through to the end of the season.
Based on a small sampling of players, the sense is that Vick still should be the starting quarterback, not Smith.

"He got a raw deal," said one player, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "This isn't right."

Smith's credibility took a hit in his last start, Week 8, when he buried the Jets with three consecutive interceptions. It became clear after that performance the team's confidence level in him had declined. Some didn't like the way he responded to the benching, feeling he used a minor shoulder injury as an excuse to sit out the following week -- a form of sulking, if you will. He didn't help his popularity by missing a team meeting prior to the Week 5 loss in San Diego.

It'll be fascinating to see how the Jets respond to Smith when they face the Miami Dolphins on Monday night at MetLife Stadium. Smith will need a fast start to regain the trust of his teammates. He did well in Monday night's loss to the Buffalo Bills, but that was mop-up duty. The Dolphins are good enough on defense to turn it into another blowout loss for the Jets.

"Yeah, I was surprised by [the change], but at the same time, I don't have any honest words about how I feel about it," guard Willie Colon said.

Asked why he was surprised, Colon said, "I don't know I just didn't see it. ... I just didn't see us flip flopping. I just figured Vick was going to ride us out" of the season.

Vick played poorly against the Bills, but his teammates were willing to give him a pass because the pass protection was awful. Vick didn't help matters, making a few poor decisions that could've easily resulted in multiple interceptions. At least two potential interceptions were dropped.

Nevertheless, Vick is a popular guy in the locker room. The players respect his track record.

"I was a little bit surprised," running back Chris Johnson said.

Eric Decker offered little reaction.

"Keep on trucking," the wide receiver said. "It's a coach's decision. They feel that's best suited to us and, at this point, we're going to move forward."

Decker acknowledged the quarterback shuffling -- two changes in four games -- could have a negative impact on the chemistry between the receivers and the quarterback.

"It makes it a little more difficult because you're trying to build a rapport with a quarterback, and it takes time, it takes repetition," he said. "Obviously we're trying to speed up the process."

Smith's leadership will be under the spotlight as he attempts to solidify his position and prove to the front office he can be the quarterback of the future. He claimed he's "a leader in every single walk of life, not just on the football field." He knows what he has to do.

"The ball security is definitely at the forefront of it because it's been kind of my biggest problem, my Achilles' heel," Smith said.

Kind of? He has nine turnovers in eight starts this season, 37 in 25 career games.

Wilkerson (toe) expected out Monday

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The problems continue to mount for the New York Jets, who expect to be without injured defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson when they face the Miami Dolphins on Monday night.

Wilkerson injured a toe in Monday night's 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills and was in a walking boot Wednesday as the Jets (2-9) began preparations for the Dolphins.

It's not a fracture, according to coach Rex Ryan, who described the injury as similar to turf toe.

"It doesn't look good for Big Mo," Ryan said. "If you're in a boot, that doesn't look good for this week. But, hopefully, we'll get him back as soon as we can."

The early indications are that Wilkerson could miss at least a week or two.

Wilkerson, a first-round pick in 2011, has never missed a game. He's arguably the Jets' top defensive player, a second-team All-Pro in 2013. He leads the team with 4.5 sacks.

Ryan said the worst case of turf toe belonged to former Baltimore Ravens star tackle Jonathan Ogden, a Hall of Famer who was forced to retire after the 2007 season.

"I'm not saying Mo has to retire," Ryan said, laughing. "Oh, my goodness, we don't want that. That's not happening."

Quinton Coples, a hybrid linebacker/lineman, is expected to replace Wilkerson at defensive end.

(Read full post)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The folks at FireJohnIdzik.com have a new target -- New York Jets owner Woody Johnson.

The website, which recently collected money from disgruntled fans to buy billboard space near MetLife Stadium, announced Monday on Twitter its plans to amend the message on the existing billboard. Instead of simply demanding Idzik's ouster, it's calling for Johnson to fire his general manager or sell the team.

The billboard was supposed to go up Tuesday on Route 3 East, not far from the stadium.

Johnson, who purchased the Jets for $630 million in 2000, isn't selling. He also isn't talking, and there's plenty to talk about. Johnson last spoke to the media on Oct. 2, but a lot has transpired since. The Jets are 2-9, coming off an embarrassing blowout against the Buffalo Bills. Coach Rex Ryan is a virtual goner, and the fan base is screaming for Idzik to be fired as well.

Johnson isn't expected to address the media until after the season.

Mo Wilkerson, Jace Amaro not at practice

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- In non-quarterbacks news, the New York Jets practiced Wednesday without two key players, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and tight end Jace Amaro.

Wilkerson is battling a toe injury that could cause him to miss a game for the first time in his four-year career. The Jets haven't disclosed the nature of the injury, but he "doesn't look great," Rex Ryan said Tuesday. The coach was holding out hope that his best defensive player can play Monday night against the Miami Dolphins.

Amaro also wasn't spotted at practice during the 30-minute window open to the media. The rookie suffered a head injury Monday night and is undergoing the mandatory concussion protocol.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, whose back tightened up late in the loss to the Buffalo Bills, sat out for a portion of the early practice.

AFC East standings show how far Jets have fallen

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26

ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cimini says it's one thing to look up at the Patriots, but quite another when the Bills and Dolphins also pass you by. That is the reality for the last-place Jets.
A few quick thoughts on the New York Jets' decision to start Geno Smith at quarterback, not Michael Vick:

1. This has John Idzik's fingerprints all over it. On Tuesday, the feeling around the Jets was that Rex Ryan was planning to keep Vick in the starting lineup. But late Tuesday night, it was decided they will return Smith to his former job after three games on the bench. No doubt, Ryan will present this as an "organizational decision," as he always does, but this smacks of the head coach being overruled by his GM.

Geno Smith
AP Photo/Seth WenigGeno Smith, who was benched after an awful performance in Week 8, is once again the starter in New York.
2. You can rip the process, but it's hard to criticize the choice. The Jets (2-9) are mathematically eliminated, so it's all about the future. Even Ryan admitted that Tuesday, telling reporters he's planning to increase the roles of some young players -- in backup roles, he clarified. He said it wouldn't be anything as dramatic as changing a starting job. So much for that.

3. This looks like Smith's last chance to prove to the organization that he has a future. He went 1-7 this season as the starter before an awful performance in Week 8 landed him on the bench. The fact that he's back in the lineup is no shock -- you knew Idzik wanted to give Smith another audition, so to speak -- but it's surprising that it is coming now. If Smith happens to play well (does anybody really think that will happen with this offense?), it could create a false sense of hope. The Jets got sucked into that late last season, when Smith made some strides in meaningless games.

4. It'll be interesting to see how this plays in the locker room. The sense from the players is they liked Vick as the starter. They respect his experience and, of course, ability to make plays outside the pocket. There was a palpable loss of confidence in Smith after his brutal Week 8 start against the Buffalo Bills. This decision probably will be met with some grumbling in the locker room. Then again, does it matter at this point? The Jets are toast, and so is Ryan.

5. This move is not Ryan-like. One thing about him is that he doesn't have a quick hook. Maybe it's one of his faults. He stayed with Mark Sanchez too long and he did the same with Smith, who should've been benched after missing a team meeting and playing poorly in a Week 4 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Vick gets yanked after one bad start.

6. It never changes with the Jets. This quarterback circus triggers memories of 2012, when it was the Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy fiasco. Unfortunately for Ryan, this will be one of his legacies: dysfunction at the quarterback position.

Jets to start QB Geno Smith

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- In a move that stunned the locker room, the New York Jets have decided to return to Geno Smith as their starting quarterback, sending Michael Vick to the bench after only three starts.

There's a belief within the organization that general manager John Idzik insisted on Smith, overruling his coach, but Rex Ryan said Wednesday that wasn't the case.

"It was 100 percent our decision," said Ryan, adding that "the best thing for this team right now is to play Geno Smith."

Asked whether Idzik talked him out of starting Vick, Ryan said, "One hundred percent, no, he did not."

The team made the announcement shortly after 7 a.m. ET on Wednesday, minutes after Ryan informed the two quarterbacks in separate conversations. The change created a buzz in the morning meetings, as some players were taken aback by the decision.

"I just didn't see us flip-flopping," guard Willie Colon said. "I just figured Vick was going to ride us out."

Other players echoed Colon's sentiment. Vick is popular in the Jets' locker room, which lost confidence in Smith after his three-interception stinker in Week 8 -- the game that got him benched.

Heading toward one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the Jets (2-9) evidently want to take a last look at Smith to see whether he can be their quarterback of the future. His return will happen on a national stage, a Monday night home game against the Miami Dolphins.

"I look at it definitely as an opportunity once again, almost like a second chance for me," said Smith, who believes he benefited from his time on the sideline. "When I go out there, I'm definitely going to be playing like everything is on the line, because it is."

Vick, 34, was in remarkably good spirits, claiming he's "cool" with the demotion. He was 1-2 as the starter, committing only one turnover, but he played poorly in Monday night's 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills

(Read full post)

Jets playing-time breakdown: Week 12

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
An examination of the snap counts from the New York Jets’ 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills:

OFFENSE (Based on 58 snaps)

Quarterback -- Michael Vick 36, Geno Smith 22.

Running back -- Chris Johnson 32, Chris Ivory 25, John Conner 5.

Wide receiver -- Eric Decker 45, Jeremy Kerley 43, Percy Harvin 41, T.J. Graham 17, Greg Salas 11.

Tight end -- Jeff Cumberland 47, Jace Amaro 16, Zach Sudfeld 8.

Offensive line -- D'Brickashaw Ferguson 58, Oday Aboushi 58, Nick Mangold 58, Willie Colon 58, Breno Giacomini 58.

Offensive analysis: After sitting for two full games, Smith was pressed into action because of Vick’s awful night. ... Bilal Powell took ill about two hours before kickoff, pushing Johnson into the third-down role. That explains his unusually high snap count. Maybe Powell was the lucky one; he avoided this mess. ... Amaro suffered a head injury. Instead of using Zach Sudfeld as the No. 2 tight end, coordinator Marty Mornhinweg spread the field, going with three- and four-receiver packages. The lack of pass protection left the quarterback exposed.

DEFENSE (Based on 66 snaps)

Line -- Leger Douzable 43, Sheldon Richardson 38, Damon Harrison 32, T.J. Barnes 29, Muhammad Wilkerson 28, Kenrick Ellis 21.

Linebacker -- David Harris 66, Demario Davis 66, Quinton Coples 51, Calvin Pace 51, Jason Babin 14, Trevor Reilly 10, Antwan Barnes 1.

Secondary -- Darrin Walls 63, Dawan Landry 57, Marcus Williams 49, Jaiquawn Jarrett 43, Antonio Allen 23, Kyle Wilson 16, Phillip Adams 15, Calvin Pryor 13.

Defensive analysis: It was secondary by committee. Rex Ryan emptied the bench, rotating at one cornerback spot and one safety spot. Bench players Allen, Adams and Pryor each saw a chunk of playing time. Basically, this approach is known as quantity over quality. Ryan said there isn't much separation between the players, so why not play them all? ... Who could've guessed that Walls, returning from a two-game calf injury, would have the most playing time? ... Landry, who sat for only 10 snaps in the first 10 games, was out for nine -- rather stunning. This trend could continue, as Ryan indicated he's planning to give more playing time to younger players. ... Pryor got back into the rotation after one week in "timeout." ... Wilkerson (toe) and Richardson (back) were limited by injuries. ... T.J. Barnes, who played only 25 snaps in the first 10 games, eclipsed his season total in one night. It also was a season-high snap total for Ellis.
One of the toughest parts of Rex Ryan's job is damage control. The coach of the New York Jets has to watch what he says, knowing one slip of the tongue could be perceived as an insult to his players and his boss, general manager John Idzik.

It leads to some rather outlandish statements. For instance:

"I think we have a lot of talent on this football team," Ryan said Tuesday, still hurting from a 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills. "We might not be as talented or as deep as other teams in certain areas, but I think we have more than enough talent to be competitive and to, obviously, have a better record than we do."

The Jets have a lot on the team. They have a lot of good people. They have a lot of players with college degrees. They have a lot of community-minded players. But they don't have a lot of talent. If Ryan truly believes they do, he's basically calling himself out for being a lousy coach. Make no mistake, he doesn't consider himself a lousy coach.

He disagreed with Sheldon Richardson's postgame claim that the players have let Ryan down. The second-year defensive tackle was emotional, almost in tears after the horrible loss. This was another touchy topic that was broached to Ryan.

"No, I don’t agree with that. We let each other down," he said. "I think that’s the over-riding thing, and we let our fans down, we let the people that traveled to the game, our Jet fans and stuff like that down as well. We feel terrible about it. There is no doubt. (We get) very emotional about it. We all do because it is painful. I think the bigger you are, the bigger competitor you are, it’s painful. There is no question. We never wanted to play that way."

It was a gloomy day-after for the embattled coach. There have been many of those. Ryan said "it was such a poor performance that it's hard to watch." He understands why people might think his team quit in the game, but he claimed that wasn't the case.

He knows the deal. He has five games left in a 2-9 season, and then he'll probably be fired.

"We have to get better in a hurry," Ryan said. "We’re running out of tomorrows."