Monday, December 31, 2007

The Future of the Jets

A while back, I wrote a column about the Jets. It said that the Jets were presumptuous in last year's draft by trading up and only getting 4 players.

And to that I hold. I said it then, and I will repeat it now; the Jets aren't very talented.

Their coaching is sound (the Pittsburgh game-plan was genius). They have some talent. But all around, they have few, if any, dominators, game-changers, players the other coach has to work around and worry about.

Truly, name one guy on their roster opposing coaches wet their pants over? TE is an abyss, QB is a question mark, no one on their D-line frightens anyone. All in all, that spells, at best, mediocrity.

The good news is the Jets are way under the cap and should have a good draft selection. I already wrote how I felt the Jets shouldn't have traded up for fewer picks in the draft, however, the two players they targeted happened to be the two best players on their defense come season's end. So we know they can evaluate talent. That fact and the large salary cap make for an interesting off-season.

So here's a gameplan for the Jets off-season. It's not what they are gonna do; just what they should do.

1. Cut Chad
I know, I know. How do you cut the poster boy of the franchise and such a good guy? Yeah, it sucks. But frankly, his salary cap hit is substantial and he's done as a starting QB. Chad disagrees; he feels he's still a starter somewhere and wants the opportunity. I say, do him the favor and let him try, someplace else. I hope Chad goes somewhere and proves me wrong. But I don't think so.

2. Kill Justin McCareins.
Not because there would be significant salary cap benefits. (There would be.) Just because it would make me happy.

3. Help the O-Line
Test the free agent market here. Don't break the bank, and see if there are good fits. One of the best fits, I feel, is Alan Faneca. A stud at left guard, Faneca is determined not to go back to the Steelers, and is probably slated to go to his old coaches in Arizona (who could use the help on the offensive line). That said, he would fit ever so nicely in between Ferguson and Mangold. Left guard has been a typhoon-sized disaster and Faneca would be a oh-so-snug fit. Also a disaster—perhaps not quite a typhoon—has been the right tackle. The Jets' running game has gotten no push (indeed, the best run in the game against the Chiefs was when Leon Washington ran completely against the failed blocking of the Jets and created on his own), and Jets quarterbacks have been sacked 53 times (while only getting 29 sacks—another point I'll take on shortly). Look at Max Starks (like Faneca, a Steeler) and see if he could fit. Jordan Gross of the Panthers is another option, though word is Carolina wants to keep him. One thing for sure, the Jets cannot go into 2008 with Anthony Clement and (Yo!) Adrien Clarke manning the LG and RT positions.

4. Trade Jonathan Vilma and Dewayne Robertson
I wanted to do this last year. But now it's an absolute must. These guys, while gamers, just do not fit the system. Last year the trade I would have tried for was to Washington. Now New Orleans seems like a fit. The Saints need help up the middle; Young and Villerrel and their starting DTs and Simenaeu is their MLB. Not exactly the Steel Curtain, see if the could be convinced to trade draft picks for two guys, who have proven to be extremely effective in a 4-3 attack defense. Another option is Detroit, who were also bad against the run, could use some help up the middle and run the 4-3 attack defense.

5. Try for Asante Samuel
Having Darelle Revis and Samuel would be a daunting CB tandem for any opposing team to face. It would also push Barrett, Poteat or Dyson to nickel and dime corners or to be cut and not covering Randy Moss or Reggie Wayne. And most of all, it would weaken the Patriots.

6. Not Briggs, Suggs.
A lot of Jet fans on the web have us trying for Lance Briggs, but I disagree. The Jets defense truly needs a pass rusher; someone opposing teams have to account for every play. A Demarcus Ware type threat. If the Jets don't feel they could get an immediate impact player in the draft, I would look into Baltimore Ravens OLB Suggs. While Briggs is a demon OLB, he is not a natural pass rusher, as evidenced by his 5.5 sacks for his entire career. Suggs, in admittedly a down 2007, has 5 sacks. Again, don't break the bank for him. But sniff around. At DT, sniff around Isaac Sopoaga of the SF 49ers to possibly play some NT. A lot of people like the Titans' Haynesworth as an option for NT. A headcase in the past, the Jets could look into him and see if he's reformed. Not likely, though but do the diligence.

7. The draft.
Unlike almost every mock draft on the web, I don't have the Jets taking Darren McFadden. In fact, I kinda think it's the height of stupidity. Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are not one of the galaxy of problems the Jets have. Sure Adrian Peterson, whom McFadden is often compared to, had a nice first year, but credit the Vikings offensive line for some of that. The Jets offensive line is nowhere near as good as the Vikings' and if Peterson had been a Jet, his year would not have looked as good.
No, The Jets need help all over the defense and at OL and TE. James Laurinitis, a LB from Ohio St. could take over for Eric Barton who doesn't fit the Jets' system and give the Jets a fantastic ILB combo of Harris and Laurinitis. Calias Campbell, a raw but huge and athletic DE from Miami could be gotten with a trade down. Also, with a trade down the Jets could take Jeff Otah from Pittsburgh or Gosder Cherilus from BC to shore up their RT problems.

8. The big one
OK, I've steadfastly avoided theQB problem because, frankly, I'm undecided. What I've seen of Clemens has left me truly unimpressed. But does that mean we blow him up and start over? Or do we give him more time? After much debate—with myself—I've decided on option 3. Which is bringing someone in to camp and letting Clemens compete with them. Possibly J.P. Losman, whom Buffalo seems to want to dump. Or Rex Grossman, who is leaving Chicago under police escort. To admit the truth this option does leave me feeling a bit queasy. In my core, I feel that Clemens just isn't the guy. He isn't accurate—often throwing behind receivers—and doesn't seem to generate the plays needed to move the yardsticks. That said, I think it might be unfair to judge a guy with a handful of games under his belt, especially with a crap offensive line protecting him. So, getting competition for him for camp seems like the least worst option the Jets have at this time.

So, it seems like the Jets will be busy this offseason. Last year, the Jets didn't do what I felt they should and look what happened...although I did like the Thomas Jones move...hre's hoping they read my blog and do what I tell them.


Pete S said...

You know your Jets. Consider this move...

Go to McNabb's agent and express interest. I know McNabb has been injury prone, but they don't want him in Philly anymore - which is a great sign because the Philly fans are "overly emotional." McNabb would be an ideal fit for several reasons.

He can move. The knee is a question mark but it has been healing, as evidenced by McNabb's performance during the last few games. A developing offensive line, which is what the Jets have, needs a mobile QB to develop confidence and cohesiveness. It also allows them to focus a little more on run blocking. Pennington's arm strength was an issue, but he is not exactly good at buying time with his legs either. That's why he dinks and dunks down the field, and we know that doesn't lead to points.

McNabb has a freakin cannon. Tell me Coles wouldn't mind being able to run 50 yard fly patterns with an opportunity to jump for a well thrown bomb. McNabb has not been very consistent with completion percentage over his career, but he can launch the ball. The Jets need to "stretch the field" and McNabb can do it.

McNabb is undervalued at this point. It is true that Vilma should go somewhere else, and he could be a good fit with the Eagles. While a 5 time pro bowler won't come cheap over the next few years, the Jets might be able to put together a package the Eagles could live with involving Vilma and Robertson. The Jets should not include several picks, though - especially the first 2 rounds of next year's draft.

McNabb still has some star power. To Paul's point, The Jets are innocuous - nobody's afraid of anyone except the man with the headset, because that is all there is to fear. McNabb would bring a swagger, not to mention a skill set that defenses have to prepare for every week. Granted, he's no gazelle anymore, but most people agree that it takes a whole season just to get back to a semblance of what a player was before reconstructive knee surgery. The sub par year is over...grab McNabb now.

Pete S said...

I just saw Howie Long's kid tear up Texas Tech. Pardon the cliche, but that kid's motor is always running. Chris Long would be a great fit for the Jets. You know they're looking at him, cause they have a penchant for drafting players out of UVA. Power, speed, and passion. P-Cat is right - never mind McFadden. The Jets should take Chris Long if he's available.

Nikolas said...

I disagree with your rational with regard to the QB position (Chad) and Vilma.
First I do not understand why people want to suck Chad when this guy has proven that behind a decent (not great) OL can take the team deep into the playoffs. If he could do it with a weak injured arm he can definitely do it with a weak healthy one.Last year, behind an average line he was effective and a real leader. On the other side, if you are going to cut him off because of the salary cap, what is his replacement? None? I do not think that Clemens has shown enough to support such a move.
When the Jets FO let Pete Kendall go to the Redskins many people argued that if his replacement was not as good Chad would be running for his life. In August I happened to be one of those people, and this is what happened. So lets not blame Chad for this years mess. Mangini and Tennenbaum are the only ones responsible.
Look at teams with no good QBs how they have suffered for years!!!!
I think that if the Jets let Chad walk they will commit the ultimate error.The Cap should not be the determining factor!
With regard to Vilma (if he is healthy) he is too talented to betraded for 2nd or 3rd round picks.This seems to me just foolish. If his play is supported by a trio of Harris, Suggs, Gholston the Jets LB line will become the missing "fear" factor that you argue as misssing from this Jets team.

Cecilio's Scribe said...

Agree on pretty much all fronts. the area for debate with this team is not where we have holes/needs (b/c there are too many to count), but, rather, how many to focus on.

o-line must be consideration #1. d-line a close second. also am in line with the "no d. mcfadden" school of thinking. great player. not our need right now.

If we're making a laundry list, i also think we need a big play receiver. i love coles and cotchery for what they are...hard-working, go over the middle consisent guys. we need a field position-changer type.

not sure how i feel abotu QB, either. any way you slice it, the discussion is pretty depressing.

ahhh, to be a jets fan.

P-Cat said...

Hey Pete,

I agree, if Chris Long is there at no. 6, we take him. I just don't think he'd be there.

Hey Nikolas,

I love Chad and think he is a great short passer, accurate and smart. But watching defenses play him this year, I am sadly convinced there is no way he can play in the league. He can't throw a five yard out without opposing CBs jumping the route. I wish it weren't the case, but it is. you have to at least keep the opposing defense honest and Chad can't do that. Also, it isn't a cap question, it's letting him go somewhere he can compete, because I believe he's done here.

As for Vilma, if you think he can take on guards on runs up the middle then, you are right. But I've seen him get smothered on up-the-middle runs and feel we need a bigger, take-on-block-and-shed ILB rather than a quicker Vilma type.

Thanks for the comments, guys.

P-Cat said...

Hey Cecilio's Scribe,

First off, love the name. Second of all, yesssss, being a Jet fan is always depressing. I agree, both the OL and DL are the keys. The QB situation is scary. Getting a McNabb is an option, but I would rather not mortgage draft picks on a band-aid. So right now, we can focus on getting Faneca or Starks and pray that Clemens turns into a Derek Anderson-type miracle overnight.

Anonymous said...

Good post. Agree completely re Pennington. Faneca not so much (not that he's not a good player, just that he's not young, will be overpriced and will quite likely end up in AZ), and I doubt that BALT or TEN will let Suggs or Haynesworth, respectively, get onto the market. Samuel seems like kind of a system guy to me, and the secondary is not the place the Jets need to focus on, anyway.

In order of priority:
1) OL. The Jets had gaping holes on the line for the first time in many years, and there don't seem to be any in-house replacements in sight. This, to me, was the single biggest problem for the team this season. They have to spend free agent $ here, and likely draft one or two guys as well (though I can't see spending the first rounder).
2) Front Seven: With the exception of Harris, there's not a single stud on the unit. Ellis is an average player at this point, Vilma simply seems to be unable to fit into the 3-4, and the rest of them are flotsam and jetsam. Above all, they need a big, clog-the-middle guy. Here's where the first rounder comes in; they could also look for help in FA.
3) WR: Need an up-and-comer, either a true speed guy or a big, tough WR, and perhaps both. You don't spend a premium pick on WRs; you find a guy in the 3rd or 4th round. Plus, if Coles is healthy, they won't really need a rookie WR to contribute next year.

I think that you've got to see what you've got in Clemens, so I don't see drafting a QB - I'd be more interested in bringing in a vet with potential (say, Losman) who might thrive in a new environment. There will be no better available backup than Chad Pennington. (Love him, too, but his arm, alas, is no longer NFL caliber.)

They're fine at RB, could use an H-Back type, and I guess it wouldn't be a bad thing to throw a late-round CB into the mix in the secondary.

Bottom line, with a couple of astute moves and some breaks - which they didn't have this year - the Jets could be right back in playoff contention.