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Jets hatch plan to prevent defense from getting nickel-and-dimed

A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1.Tweaking the D: The Jets were a top-10 defense last season in the major statistical categories, but one area that needs work is their sub defense -- the nickel and dime packages. Everybody knows how important they are in today's game. With so many spread offenses, it's common for defenses to use their nickel personnel for at least 50 percent of the snaps.

Interestingly, the Jets used their nickel and dime packages for only 440 snaps (43 percent), good for 21st in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They didn't perform particularly well with five or six defensive backs on the field, finishing 21st in yards per play (6.19), 19th in yards per rush (5.29) and 15th in yards per pass attempt (7.06).

Perhaps that factored into some of their draft-day decisions. First-round pick Darron Lee, known as a blitz-and-cover linebacker, will play immediately in the nickel. Third-round pick Jordan Jenkins could start out as a pass-rushing specialist and fourth-round cornerback Juston Burris will have a chance to work his way into playing time. If nothing else, the Jets will have more speed on the field for those crucial second-and-long and third-and-long plays.

2. Diamonds in the rough: College free agency isn't about big money, as most undrafted rookies receive modest signing bonuses, but it's always interesting to track the money because it often tells us which players were deemed "priority" free agents. Thirteen of the Jets' 14 additions received signing bonuses, but only three exceeded $10,000 in guaranteed money -- wide receiver/kick returner Jalin Marshall ($12,500), safety Doug Middleton ($15,000) and defensive end Lawrence Thomas ($15,000). Marshall is a player to watch, especially with the Jets' issues in the return game.

3. Double agents: At the NFL owners meetings in March, I happened upon a strange sight one day while walking a near-empty hallway in the posh Boca Raton hotel that hosted the event: I spotted Jets owner Woody Johnson chatting with one of Darrelle Revis' agents, Neil Schwartz. I should've taken a cell-phone picture of the former bargaining-table foes, but I blew my chance. It would've been priceless.

Schwartz and his partner, Jonathan Feinsod, have clashed several times with Jets management over the years, so much so that the two agents became part of the discourse on the team. That's why it was newsworthy the other day when it was revealed that Revis had terminated his relationship with his longtime agents. It was a surprise, to be sure.

We might never know the real reason for the split, but you have to think it wasn't financially driven. Pit bulls at the bargaining table, Schwartz and Feinsod maximized Revis' earning power with creative contracts, a couple of holdouts and a well-orchestrated trade. Evidently, something didn't sit well with Revis, who last year fired a childhood friend who served as his business manager.

Schwartz and Feinsod can take solace in knowing they still will collect their commission on his current contract. It'll be weird not having them affiliated with Revis, but we'll always have the Roscoe Diner.

4. The three wise men: The Jets have to be one of the most seasoned teams in the league when it comes to interior defense. The three men in the middle -- inside linebackers David Harris and Erin Henderson, plus nose tackle Steve McLendon -- have a combined 22 seasons of experience. The downside is you always worry about a lack of speed when you're dealing with older players. Henderson and McLendon replaced younger players, Demario Davis and Damon Harrison, respectively.

Harris likes his new middle men. On Henderson: "He played better and better as the season went on. You go back and watch and the last game of the season, he played phenomenal. It all came together for him. We're all looking for great things from him this year."

On McLendon: "[Harrison] was a hell of a player for us. He pretty much averaged 70 tackles a season playing nose tackle, and that's unheard of. Now Steve is here. He comes from a similar system in Pittsburgh. He knows a lot of our verbiage already. I talk to him almost every day. ... He's athletic, he's as strong as an ox and he's a veteran, so he knows how to approach it."

5. A Brady hunch: You have to admire Eric Decker's confidence, saying Tom Brady's probable suspension will open the door for the Jets in the AFC East. Some might say he's too confident, considering their starting quarterback is ... well, floating in free-agent limbo. Decker did say he expects Ryan Fitzpatrick to be the opening-day quarterback, so maybe he was basing his prediction on that.

6. Tight end or dead end? The Jets' tight ends combined for only eight catches in 2015, one of the least productive seasons in recent history for the position. Are they predicting a bounce-back year? Well, not exactly. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said he's taking a wait-and-see approach.

"We're going to get the football to the guys who need to get the football and help us win games," he said.

It's one of the things you have to like about Gailey: He refuses to put his offense in a box; he adjusts on the fly.

7. A Tebow Tome: Tim Tebow has a new book due to be released in October. It's called "Shaken," and it deals with the highs and lows of his NFL career. I can't wait to see how he addresses his ill-fated season with the Jets. Some people in the organization think he was a selfish player who wanted to bail on the team at the end of the year.

8. Ear plugs could be an option: The neighborhood around Harris' locker has changed. Gone is the retired D'Brickashaw Ferguson, quiet and always mature beyond his years. New in that part of the locker room are Sheldon Richardson and Rontez Miles, both young and brash. "I guess I have to be the old, wise [leader]," Harris cracked.