AFC East: Chansi Stuckey

Rapid Reaction: Jets 26, Browns 20

November, 14, 2010
CLEVELAND -- The New York Jets scored another wild victory, scoring in the final seconds of sudden death to beat the Cleveland Browns 26-20.

What it means: The Jets amazingly won -- again -- and are in command of the AFC East at 7-2. They are a few fortunate plays away from being winless in their past four games, having magically beaten the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions also.

Hero: Mark Sanchez was Houdini, escaping a couple of near-certain sacks late in the game to keep plays -- and the game -- alive. He connected with Santonio Holmes on a 37-yard catch-and-run to win a game that deserved to end in a tie.

Goat I: This is a rare case where the winning team has a goat. Jets kicker Nick Folk missed three field goals, including a 24-yarder in the third quarter and a 47-yarder in overtime.

Goat II: Former Jets receiver Chansi Stuckey converted a crucial third down in overtime with a 14-yard reception, but Jets cornerback Drew Coleman stripped him, and cornerback Antonio Cromartie recovered on the Jets' 36-yard line.

Defense rises up (temporarily): After a raggedy 30 minutes, Rex Ryan's defense came alive in the second half. A foot injury to Browns receiver Josh Cribbs and dominant time of possession for the Jets' offense helped. But the Jets sacked Colt McCoy twice and held Peyton Hillis to 22 yards. Hillis ran 10 times for 60 yards and a touchdown in the first half. The Jets allowed one first down and forced two three-and-outs on Cleveland's first three series.

And then: On the Browns' fourth series of the second half, they gave up the tying touchdown. McCoy looked like Brian Sipe circa 1980 in moving the Browns 59 yards on 10 plays in 1:58. McCoy connected on three consecutive passes to finish the drive. Benjamin Watson made a sensational catch for 21 yards on a third-and-10 play, and one snap later Evan Moore made an even better one for 18 yards against Darrelle Revis. McCoy tossed to Mohamed Massaquoi for the 3-yard touchdown.

Braylon's battle: In what he called his "personal war" with Cleveland, Edwards had four catches and 59 yards. He also was called for holding to erase a 25-yard Brad Smith run.

That empty feeling: The Jets kept the ball for the first 10:04 of the third quarter yet failed to inflate their lead. Folk missed a 24-yard field goal, clanking the right upright.

Sanchez scare: The Browns sacked Sanchez on third down with 1:24 left in the third quarter. He limped off the field and had his right leg checked out for several minutes on the sideline trainer's table. Backup quarterback Mark Brunell warmed up, but Sanchez returned for the next series.

What's next: The Houston Texans drop by the Meadowlands to play the Jets on Sunday.

Mangini ready to face some friendly ghosts

November, 11, 2010
Eric ManginiJason Miller/US PresswireA week after beating one former employer, Eric Mangini sets his sights on another in the N.Y. Jets.
BEREA, Ohio -- Like a proud father flipping through a photo album of his children, Eric Mangini leaned forward in his office chair to display the New York Jets' offensive and defensive depth charts to a visitor seated across from his desk.

Mangini pointed at player after player after player after player. These were the guys he once coached. As he rattled them off, he tacked the phrase "was with me" after each name. Mangini articulated the names with an emphasis that reflected their importance to him.

"You go right on down the list," Mangini said from his spacious office that overlooks the Cleveland Browns' practice fields. "It's a core group of guys, and you know so much about these guys. You've had so many shared experiences with them, and now you're playing against them."

Mangini is in between games against his previous employers, referring to these two weeks as his personal version of the film "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past."

He gleefully embarrassed the New England Patriots last week and will coach against the Jets for the first time since joining the Browns on Sunday.

Mangini unwillingly departed the Jets 22 months ago. They fired him after a 9-7 season that began with a promising 8-3 start and Super Bowl chatter but disintegrated along with Brett Favre's right arm.

An outsider might assume the games create similar feelings for Mangini. They don't.

Mangini has faced his former mentor, Bill Belichick, several times. They've exchanged many frigid handshakes. Mangini, a former defensive assistant ruled a turncoat for joining the Jets, has a long history with the Patriots. The subsequent Spygate scandal drove the wedge deeper.

Still, the Patriots and Belichick are in his coaching DNA. Mangini is from them, of them.

"Being with Bill as long as I was there," Mangini said, leaning back in his leather chair and eating purple grapes from a cup, "you understand things change and parts change there each week, but philosophically it doesn't change."

His three years with the Jets were more of an association. Unlike his time with the Patriots, though, he had ownership of the Jets' roster. Those were his guys, and many of them remain on Rex Ryan's squad.

"Those are guys that I was instrumental in bringing in and developing and coaching and teaching," Mangini said.

"I told those guys when I left -- I got to address the team -- and I said 'Look, fellas, we were close here, and we made mistakes. There's a new head coach coming in here, and you guys have worked too hard to fight that guy and set yourself back. Embrace that guy and allow him the opportunity to achieve things we could have achieved.'"

Mangini didn't know at the time the Jets would hire Ryan, a gregarious figure who made the transition easier for the players. Most of them quickly embraced Ryan on his own merits, but the fact that he was a stark contrast to Mangini's austerity helped.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliEric Mangini's successor, Rex Ryan, took the Jets to within one game of the Super Bowl in his first year in New York.
The Mangini-Jets breakup has worked out for the Jets. They made the playoffs last year -- with the same 9-7 record that got Mangini fired -- and are considered among the NFL's top few teams, a Super Bowl contender.

It must be noted Mangini played a significant role in giving Ryan a roster to work with. Still, Mangini insisted he's not bitter about his exit. He has acknowledged the concept of the fall guy, and one was necessary. He remains close friends with Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

"It's cool to see them doing as well as they're doing," Mangini said.

Mangini claimed that what's happening in Cleveland has made this week's preparations for the Jets less emotional for him.

Mangini barely survived his first season with the Browns. They went 5-11 but won their last four games. The Browns hired Mike Holmgren to oversee football operations. Holmgren stripped Mangini of some duties, but the product seems to be improving.

The Browns are 3-5 and enter Sunday's game against the Jets with back-to-back victories over the New Orleans Saints and Patriots.

"This has been pretty satisfying," Mangini said. "Getting the job was great because it meant somebody recognized the great work we did in New York. We had a tough last year, but we developed. This year, we're competitive and we're making more steps. It's starting to pay off to some degree."

Mangini's disparate feelings for the Jets and Patriots are evident in his personnel moves.

He and Tannenbaum have made notable trades.

The Browns sent Braylon Edwards to the Jets last year for receiver Chansi Stuckey, linebacker Jason Trusnik and two draft picks. The Jets were able to get quarterback Mark Sanchez through a blockbuster draft-day trade that sent quarterback Brett Ratliff, defensive end Kenyon Coleman, safety Abram Elam and two picks to the Browns for the fifth overall selection.

Mangini, whether with the Jets or Browns, never made a trade with Belichick.

That fractured relationship is unlikely to heal.

"I appreciate what he did for me," Mangini said. "He was a huge part of my life. We were very close friends for a long time. When things started to go south, it sucked.

"Whether it'll ever get to that stage where we're close friends again, I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. But at no point will I ever stop appreciating what he's done. I feel I know who the guy is as a person, and hopefully at some point the friendship will resume."

That's why the Jets and Patriots are different for Mangini.

But he wants to beat them just the same.

How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch

November, 10, 2010
This is my usual weekly installment of "Stock Watch." On Wednesday afternoon, will run a team-by-team "Midseason Stock Report" that reviews the first eight games and looks ahead to the second half of the season.


1. Patriots' run defense: Browns running back Peyton Hillis left cleat marks all over the Patriots on Sunday. He rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Colt McCoy and receiver Chansi Stuckey also ran for touchdowns. Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork is one of the NFL's great run-stuffers, but the Patriots rank 21st defending the ground.

2. Chad Henne, Dolphins quarterback: In an ugly loss to the Ravens, Henne threw three interceptions and no touchdown passes. The Dolphins were forced to kick a field goal after Henne misfired badly on a point-blank toss to tight end Anthony Fasano in the end zone on third-and-goal. Over the past three games, Henne has one touchdown and five interceptions.

3. Bills' pass defense: The Bills had a glorious opportunity to make plays against a mistake-prone offense. The Bears lead the NFL in sacks allowed. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw four interceptions his previous game. The Bills recorded zero sacks, just one quarterback hit and zero interceptions in a 22-19 loss.

[+] EnlargeDarrelle Revis
AP Photo/Carlos OsorioDarrelle Revis was on top of his game Sunday against the Lions.

1. Darrelle Revis, Jets cornerback: His contract squabble and subsequent hamstring injury kicked open the door for criticism. Revis clearly wasn't healthy enough when he returned in Week 5. But he looked superb in limiting star receiver Calvin Johnson to one catch for 13 yards.

2. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins running back: It's not his fault the Dolphins stopped giving him the ball. On the first two snaps Sunday in Baltimore, he rushed for 12 yards and 14 yards. He polished off the opening drive with a 12-yard touchdown run. Brown had six carries for 45 yards on the series. He ran once more in the first half, twice in the second half.

3. Nick Folk, Jets kicker: He had a costly miss in the Week 8 shutout loss to the Packers, but he was perfect in Sunday's rollicking comeback victory in Detroit. Folk sent the game into overtime with a 36-yard field goal as the fourth-quarter clock struck 0:00. He added a 30-yard field goal in sudden death.

Jets at Browns filled with juicy plots

November, 9, 2010
A matchup that might not look too special at first glance of the Week 10 schedule contains a few appealing storylines.

The New York Jets will visit the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Browns head coach Eric Mangini, coming off a rousing victory over mentor Bill Belichick, will face his previous team for the first time since it fired him.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan will match wits with his twin brother, Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

And there will be all sorts of former Browns (Braylon Edwards, Brodney Pool) and former Jets (Chansi Stuckey, Kenyon Coleman, Abram Elam, et al) playing their old teams. The Jets drafted quarterback Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall pick acquired from the Browns in a blockbuster trade.

In the span of three days, New York Times reporter Greg Bishop produced two must-read features about the trash-talking Ryan twins and a reinvented Mangini.

From the Ryan story:
Both brothers speak in expletives as much as in English. Both have mountainous midsections. Both are considered brilliant defensive strategists, a notion sometimes overshadowed by their bluster and brutal honesty. Even their sentences sound the same.

Rob, with an expletive removed: "When Rex won the Super Bowl, I was jacked. I was talking so much mess. It was awesome."

Rex, with an expletive removed: "When Rob won the Super Bowl, I was surrounded by St. Louis fans, talking mess the whole game. When Brady led them down the field, it was awesome."

From the Mangini story
The night the [2008] regular season ended, Mangini watched television on his couch, preparing for exit interviews, compiling an off-season checklist. General Manager Mike Tannenbaum called at 11:40 p.m., charged with the unpleasant task of firing one of his best friends.

Mangini kept returning to one thought: He had compromised, sold out [for signing off on Brett Favre].

"I get that someone had to pay," Mangini said. "And it was me."

In the meantime, fans of both clubs are excited about their young quarterbacks. The Browns could've drafted Sanchez if they wanted, but they had Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson at the time. Both are gone, but this year the Browns selected Colt McCoy, who has won head-to-head meetings against Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

'07 draft class nearly purged from AFC East

October, 15, 2010
After they dumped quarterback Trent Edwards and traded running back Marshawn Lynch in consecutive weeks, a lone member of the Buffalo Bills' 2007 draft class remained on the roster.

Just three years later, one keeper is a lousy return.

But consider how the rest of AFC East drafted in 2007.

Only six of 30 AFC East draftees from 2007 still are with the team that drafted them: two New York Jets, two Miami Dolphins, one New England Patriot and one Bill. (See chart below.)

[+] EnlargeDavid Harris
Anthony J. Causi/Icon SMIThe Jets traded second-, third- and sixth-round choices to move up and select David Harris.
The Jets were most effective. They drafted just four players. Their first two have been stars, and the last pick helped them acquire a standout receiver. They traded up to select star cornerback Darrelle Revis 14th overall and top inside linebacker David Harris 47th. Seventh-round pick Chansi Stuckey was sent to the Cleveland Browns in the trade that landed receiver Braylon Edwards.

The Patriots were the least efficient on nine picks, but they had only two selections inside the first four rounds. Their lone keeper was Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather in the first round.

The Dolphins made 10 selections in what was the final draft class for general manager Randy Mueller and the only one for rookie head coach Cam Cameron. They famously misfired on ninth overall pick Ted Ginn, who was traded for a fifth-round pick this offseason, and second-round quarterback John Beck. Still around are defensive tackle Paul Soliai and punter Brandon Fields.

The last man standing from Buffalo's seven-man 2007 draft class is second-round linebacker Paul Posluszny.

So that's a 20 percent retention rate for the AFC East on all draftees and a 40 percent rate for those selected in the top three rounds.

With help from ESPN researcher Keith Hawkins and the Elias Sports Bureau, I wanted to find out how those percentages compared leaguewide.

Poorly, it turns out.

Of the 225 players chosen in other divisions that year, 100 have remained with the teams that drafted them. That's 44.4 percent overall, more than twice the AFC East rate.

When narrowing the field to players taken within the first three rounds, 89 prospects were absorbed into other divisions, and 54 have stuck, a success rate of 60.7 percent.

A few notes turned up by the research:
  • The Dolphins are the only team that has gotten rid of their top four picks.
  • Twenty-six teams have parted ways with at least one of their picks from the first three rounds.
  • Of the 19 teams that had at least one pick in each of the first three rounds, only the Pittsburgh Steelers retained all of them (Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, Matt Spaeth).

Sparano would like Favre to be a memory

August, 3, 2010
Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has gotten singed his share of times by Brett Favre.

But Sparano is not necessarily buying Tuesday's hot rumor that Brett Favre will retire.

"Well, I'll believe it when the season starts and he's on that couch somewhere out there," Sparano said "All I know is we're going to Minnesota in Week 2. So I hope he's ... We'll see."

Sparano spent five years as a Dallas Cowboys assistant, crossing paths with Favre several times. Favre's season with the New York Jets coincided with Sparano's rookie year with the Dolphins.

"Facing him with the Jets, facing him in Dallas, facing him in a lot of places I've been," Sparano said, "there were times where with Brett you kind of felt like it was seven-on-seven out there and nobody was on the other side.

"The throws he made, some of the plays he made ... I remember in Dallas, us having him in the grasp a few different times. He spun out one time, spun around, kind of had him again. We thought he was down. Next thing you know he flips this thing up and he makes a big play on us.

"Then we see this thing down here [at Sun Life Stadium] in the first game that I coached [for the Dolphins], in my first at bat, and this thing goes up in the air and ends up coming down into somebody's hands."

The last play Sparano referenced came in his head-coaching debut, Favre's first game for the Jets in 2008.

Jets kicker Mike Nugent was sidelined with a leg injury, forcing the Jets to go for it on fourth-and-13 from the Dolphins' 22-yard line in the second quarter. Favre escaped what appeared to be a certain sack and threw a high, arcing desperation lob toward the end zone. Chansi Stuckey came down with the ball just inside the goal line for a touchdown. The Jets went on to win 20-14.

The Dolphins went on to win the AFC East, clinching it with a victory over the Jets in the regular-season finale. But prior to that, when the Dolphins were clawing their way toward the finish line, I asked Sparano if he still thought about Favre's play.

"That wakes me up some nights when I'm trying to sleep," Sparano admitted.

Players acutely aware of 'Madden' scores

June, 8, 2010
Every time I write an item about ratings for the "Madden" video game, I receive responses from readers who just don't understand the phenomenon.

"Madden" has become an NFL institution. Back in the day, athletes used to know they made it when they saw themselves on a trading card and would compare them over the years. Now they eagerly await their video-game ratings.

On Monday's edition of "NFL Live," host Suzy Kolber asked studio analysts Tedy Bruschi and Eric Allen how much "Madden" scores matter among the players.

Allen mentioned he played on teams that gave out championship belts.

"It was a big deal to win the Madden challenge at the end of training camp," Allen said.

Bruschi said Madden carried "a lot of weight, especially the younger [players]" with the New England Patriots.

"I remember plenty of locker-room conversations where guys are talking about their speed ratings, their strength ratings," Bruschi said.

"But I'll tell you what's most important: Your awareness rating. If you've got a 60 or a 65 awareness, you need to get yourself in the film room because even Madden sees it."

EA Sports, maker of the "Madden" franchise, is leaking ratings for teams, star players and top rookies here and there, but a complete list of individual player scores hasn't been released. "Madden NFL 11" comes out in August.

Since Bruschi brought it up, here are some of the notable AFC East veterans (rookies and players who haven't seen much action are skewed much lower) who had weak awareness ratings in "Madden NFL 10" last year.

AFC East mailbag on your e-doorstep

May, 8, 2010
Jared in Ann Arbor, Mich., unsurprisingly took exception to me listing Mark Sanchez ahead of Michigan alum Chad Henne in a ranking of AFC East quarterbacks. Jared asked me to consider which quarterback would fare better if we flipped supporting casts, claiming Sanchez had a better offense.

Henne versus Sanchez is a fun debate because they're the AFC East's top young franchise quarterbacks, but there's so much we don't know about them yet. Each is entering his second season as the starter, was inconsistent last year and showed tantalizing promise at times.

This year will give us a better idea of how good Sanchez and Henne can be, but all we have for the next few months is speculation.

Jared's suggestion is that Sanchez's receiving corps and offensive line were superior than what Henne had with the Dolphins. I agree the Jets had a better O-line. But Henne had more versatile options out of the backfield, and his receivers weren't that much worse. Sanchez started the season 3-1 -- the lone loss against the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome -- before Braylon Edwards arrived.

Even more important to me was how they finished. The composure Sanchez showed in the playoffs was impressive, regardless of how many times he was asked to throw. Skeptics like to note that down the homestretch he predominantly handed off and merely was a game manager in those victories. Isn't that how Bob Griese got into the Hall of Fame?

In defense of Henne over the final weeks, Dolfans mention he was without Ronnie Brown. That's true, but with the playoffs on the line, he was the quarterback when the Dolphins didn't come through.

Henne might turn out to be twice the quarterback as Sanchez is, but for now I have to give the nod to the guy who has won a couple playoff games already and had a 92.7 postseason passer rating.

Kevin in Modesto, Calif., was curious if the Bills would be interested in unrestricted free agent center Kevin Mawae.

Mawae still has a little left to give despite being 39 years old. But I don't see him fitting into the Bills' rebuilding plans. They're making long-range roster moves. Mawae would be a short-timer, the type of player who would be attractive to a contending team with a sudden need at center. To bring in a guy like Mawae might do the Bills' locker room some good, but I can't see him fitting into the master plan.

Bill in Wellesley, Mass., was curious about the Patriots situation at tight end and whether Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are the answers.

Between the two of them, I would bet the Patriots have addressed that position for years to come. They both present uncertainties though. Gronkowski already has undergone serious lumbar spine surgery, and back injuries for a rugged player such as him could be problematic. There have been multiple reports of Hernandez's marijuana problems at Florida. But each has upside. Gronkowski was considered the best all-around tight end in the draft pool, while Hernandez was considered the best receiver. Those two, plus veteran Alge Crumpler, comprise a group with an excellent outlook.

Michael in Tulsa, Okla., and Wood in Elkridge, Md., saw an item I wrote about the Dolphins using less Wildcat now that they have Brandon Marshall and wanted to play devil's advocate.

I theorized the Dolphins would be less likely to run the Wildcat because it would render their greatest weapon, Marshall, moot for those plays. They’re going to want teams to fear Henne-to-Marshall hookups on every snap.

But Michael and Wood shared the same thought: Use Marshall as the motion back instead of Ricky Williams.

"The reason I suggest Marshall doing this is because he is the hardest receiver to tackle," Michael submitted. "He plays wide receiver like a running back."

While that's an intriguing thought and Marshall has rushed seven times for 39 yards, I highly doubt the Dolphins would allow defenses to regularly gang tackle a receiver they signed to a four-year, $47.5 million contract extension.

Hans in San Francisco and Tasso from Oceanside, Calif., were among the many who wrote in to correct a mistake I made in Thursday's feature on Bills rookie Ed Wang.

In it, I erroneously referred to Yao Ming as the NBA's first Chinese player. In fact, it was Wang Zhixhi, who debuted with the Dallas Mavericks two seasons before Ming established himself as a star for the Houston Rockets.

So much Jets change has been in the air

April, 12, 2010
In the span of six measly months, the New York Jets' top three receivers went from this:

1. Jerricho Cotchery

2. Chansi Stuckey

3. David Clowney

To this:

1a. Braylon Edwards

1b. Santonio Holmes

3. Cotchery

What an upgrade. The Jets continued their metamorphosis Sunday night, sending a fifth-round draft choice to the Pittsburgh Steelers for Holmes.

In a short time, the Jets went from wondering how their passing game would cope without Laveranues Coles to boasting a crew that features three 1,100-yard receivers.

Go back a year and the Jets' passing game was even more dubious. Brett Favre was gone. Some believed Brett Ratliff had a shot at the job.

Among the receivers, Cotchery had with the highest pedigree. He was a fourth-round draft pick. Stuckey was a seventh-rounder. Clowney was a waiver-wire pickup.

Now the Jets have a pair of first-rounders with some hardware. Edwards, the third overall selection in 2005, is a Pro Bowler. Holmes, the 25th pick in 2006, was the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII.

Cotchery is the oldest of the three. He'll turn 28 in June.

Think second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez might be excited about throwing a little more this year?

Sanchez also has tight end Dustin Keller, another first-rounder. The backfield options are LaDainian Tomlinson and Leon Washington, two fellows who can catch.

The Jets had the NFL's top rushing attack last year. Their 37.9 carries per game were 5.1 attempts more than the second team and about 10 more than the league average.

At the league owners meetings last month in Orlando, Fla., Jets coach Rex Ryan said, "We might not run it as much as we did last year, but we’ll be pretty close."

When you consider the talent the Jets continue to assemble, that's getting increasingly harder to believe.

How the Browns built the Jets -- and vice versa

October, 7, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

If you're a New York Jets fan and would like to express your gratitude, mail your thank-you notes to:

 The Jets traded up with the Browns in this year's draft to select Mark Sanchez at No. 5.
Cleveland Browns
Attention: Eric Mangini
76 Lou Groza Blvd.
Berea, Ohio 44017

The New York Jets pulled off another trade with their former head coach's new team. The Browns have a general manager, George Kokinis, but Mangini most certainly was involved to a high degree in trading receiver Braylon Edwards to the Jets on Wednesday morning.

This, of course, isn't the first time the Jets and Browns brokered a major deal. The Jets made a five-for-one deal to acquire Cleveland's fifth overall draft pick for the purposes of selecting Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez.

So the Jets have acquired the third overall pick from the 2005 draft and the fifth overall pick from this year. And what, really, have they parted with?

Cleveland, clearly in a rebuilding mode, is collecting draft picks for the future. New York is tweaking their roster to win this year.

What the Jets have gotten from dealing with the Browns
  • Mark Sanchez, quarterback: The Sanchise won the job in training camp and, despite some rookie mistakes, has the Jets 3-1 and tied for first place in the AFC East.
  • Braylon Edwards, receiver: He had off-the-field problems and was erratic in the Browns' offense, but he's the big-play receiver the Jets were lacking.
What the Browns have gotten from dealing with the Jets
  • Brett Ratliff, quarterback: He's third on the depth chart behind Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn.
  • Chansi Stuckey, receiver: Stuckey was the Jets' No. 2 receiver, but didn't seize the job out of camp as much as he was a better option than David Clowney.
  • Jason Trusnik, linebacker: A depth player and special-teamer, he was undrafted out of Division III Ohio Northern and has an injury history.
  • Abram Elam, safety: Elam starts for the Browns but would have been a backup for the Jets behind Kerry Rhodes and Jim Leonhard.
  • Kenyon Coleman, defensive end: Coleman starts for the Browns.
  • 17th overall draft pick (Sanchez trade): The Browns turned another trade, giving the pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who took quarterback Josh Freeman, for picks Nos. 19 and 191. The Browns then dealt No. 19 to the Philadelphia Eagles for Nos. 21 and 195.

    The Browns drafted starting center Alex Mack at No. 19, cornerback Coye Francies at No. 191 and running back James Davis at No. 195. Francies is a backup, while Davis is on injured reserve after a promising preseason.
  • 52nd overall draft pick (Sanchez trade): The Browns kept the pick and selected defensive end David Veikune, who now is a backup inside linebacker.
  • Two undisclosed draft picks (Edwards trade).

How Braylon Edwards completes Jets' offense

October, 7, 2009
The New York Jets went into 2009 with one of the NFL's best offensive lines, two Pro Bowlers in their backfield, a dangerous tight end and a potential star at quarterback.

The only missing element was the big-play receiver.

The Jets finally snagged him Wednesday morning, swinging a deal with the Cleveland Browns to acquire Braylon Edwards for receiver Chansi Stuckey, special-teamer Jason Trusnik and two undisclosed picks.

I phoned Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson to ask what he thought adding Edwards would do for the Jets' offense. Williamson was amazed by the trade.

"That offense is now complete," Williamson said, "and for the long haul, too."
Rex Brown/Getty Images
The addition of Braylon Edwards fills a void in the Jets' offense.

The addition of Edwards will impact every facet of the Jets' offense. You think coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is smiling?

Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez now has a go-to guy when he needs to stretch the field or for jump balls in the end zone. He puts Jerricho Cotchery in a more natural No. 2 receiver role. He backs off the safeties to give tight end Dustin Keller more room to get open. With fewer defenders near the line of scrimmage, running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington will get some space, too.

"That was the one hole in this offense," Williamson said. "That was the best way they could go out to fill it."

We don't yet know what draft picks the Jets will part with, but even if one of them was their first-round pick for next year, Williamson thinks the Jets won this trade hands down.

Given the Jets' promising 3-1 start, they probably won't be drafting in the top 10 next spring.

"If they were to use a first-round pick on a receiver -- let's say it's No. 25 overall -- it wouldn't be an elite prospect," Williamson pointed out. "It would be a B-type guy, not an A-type guy. And rookie receivers don't do well. It usually takes them a while.

"Now you get the guy immediately. You're a contender. The defense is there. The running game should be there. The peripheral receiving options look really strong between Cotchery and Washington and Keller. That's a lot to throw at people, and I think Sanchez can digest it all and make his progression even smoother."

Edwards, however, has been erratic. He had a monster 2007 campaign: 80 receptions for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns.

But for the past couple of years he has been plagued by dropped passes and off-the-field incorrigibility that made Browns fans shake their heads in disgust.

Elias Sports Bureau counted 14 drops for Edwards last year with 55 catches, an outlandish drops-to-receptions ratio of 1 to 4.

"Coming off that 2007 season, I was about ready to anoint him," Williamson said. "He has it in him. He needs to cut down on the drops. He needs to be more consistent. There's no doubt about that.

"But his supporting cast hasn't helped him. There's not many guys out there you look at physically and producing in this league I would say 'He can be No. 1,' but Braylon's one of them. From that regard, it's a tremendous move.

"The Jets are a contender. It's early enough in the year that it might take him a month to get acclimated, but so what? You have him for the stretch run. You have him for the playoffs, where he's clicking with everybody."

Jets finally land their deep threat in Edwards

October, 7, 2009
The New York Jets finally acquired the big-play receiver they've been trying to locate for months.
Paul Jasienski/Getty Images
The Jets hope Braylon Edwards is able to enhance their vertical passing attack.

In a blockbuster move that further solidifies the Jets as a contender and Mike Tannenbaum as the most daring general manager in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns have unloaded problematic wideout Braylon Edwards for No. 2 Jets receiver Chansi Stuckey, linebacker and special-teamer Jason Trusnik and two undisclosed draft choices.

Mark Sanchez now has the deep threat the Jets had been trying to obtain for him. Jerricho Cotchery will make a fine second option, an upgrade over what Stuckey offered.

The Browns have had enough of Edwards' act. He has been a problem off the field and could be facing league disciplinary action after a recent alleged altercation outside a Cleveland nightclub.

Edwards has been accused of punching an associate of NBA superstar LeBron James, Cleveland's reigning monarch. We've since discovered Edwards had a brewing off-field rivalry with James, and the alleged assault was "this town isn't big enough for the both of us" move.

New York is plenty big enough, especially with Plaxico Burress behind bars.

I'm only half-joking when I wonder out loud if Cleveland mayor Frank G. Jackson or Ohio governor Ted Strickland ordered Browns coach Eric Mangini to get rid of Edwards once and for all.
"I've never crossed paths with Braylon before, but it seems like there is a little jealously going on with Braylon and me and my friends," James told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "I have no idea why. I've never said anything to Braylon at all. For him to do that I think is very childish. My friend is 130 pounds. Seriously, it is like hitting one of my kids or something like that. It doesn't make sense, but the right people will take care of it."

The Plain Dealer noted the police report listed the man Edwards punched is 5-foot-7 and 135 pounds. Edwards is listed at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds.
"It is unfortunate that some guys don't understand that," James said. "You are a role model to kids, and you should carry yourself that way on and off the field."

But from a football standpoint, Jets fans should be thrilled.

They didn't give up much with Stuckey, a reliable No. 2 receiver who has 11 receptions for 120 yards and one touchdown through four games.

Edwards hasn't been too involved in the Browns' struggling offense, but his abilities are beyond his number so far: 10 receptions for 139 yards and zero touchdowns. Two years ago, he caught 80 passes for 1,289 yards and 16

Jets' secondary shorthanded for Titans

September, 27, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

A couple of interesting notes on the New York Jets' inactives for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans at the Meadowlands.

As expected cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland are both out. Dwight Lowery will start for Sheppard at right cornerback, while Drew Coleman will handle the nickel back duties.

We'll see if the lack of two regular defensive backs will temper the Jets' defensive aggression against veteran quarterback Kerry Collins.

Receiver David Clowney has been dropped from the game roster even though he wasn't on the injury report Friday. That's bad news for a one-time candidate to be the No. 2 target after Jerricho Cotchery.

There's no doubt that's Chansi Stuckey's job. Clowney didn't have a catch and was targeted once through the first two games.

Erik Ainge regains his status as the third quarterback after Kevin O'Connell had the ceremonial captaincy versus his old team.

Tennessee Titans
New York Jets
  • Quarterback Erik Ainge (third)
  • Quarterback Kevin O’Connell
  • Guard Matt Slauson
  • Receiver David Clowney
  • Defensive end Ropati Pitoitua
  • Linebacker Jamaal Westerman
  • Cornerback Lito Sheppard
  • Cornerback Donald Strickland

Sanchez's debut by the numbers

September, 13, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

Matt Lyon of the ESPN Stats & Information squad charted every play from the New York Jets' 24-7 victory over the Houston Texans and came up with some interesting nuggets about Mark Sanchez's NFL debut.

How composed was Sanchez? To look at his third-down numbers, you would think he was Joe Montana.

On third downs, Sanchez completed 12 of 15 passes for 191 yards, a touchdown and a 141.0 passer rating.

On every other down, he was a combined 6 of 16 for 81 yards, one interception and a 28.4 passer rating

Here's another eye-opener: When Sanchez faced five or more defensive backs, he completed 10 of 14 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.

Sanchez was unsuccessful when trying to throw to the left side of the field. He was 6 of 16 for 90 yards and threw his interception outside the numbers. When Sanchez went over the middle or to his right, he completed 12 of 15 passes for 182 yards and his touchdown to Chansi Stuckey.

Wrap-up: Jets 24, Texans 7

September, 13, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

I'm not sure which to be more impressed by: the New York Jets' defense or the performance of rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez in a 24-7 victory over the Houston Texans in Reliant Stadium.

There are two major reasons to be upbeat right now if you're a Jets fan. Exhilarating first impressions will do that.

Sanchez won in his NFL debut and became the first to do so on the road since Chris Weinke eight years ago.

Sanchez completed 18 of 31 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown. He was in command. He converted several big third downs throughout the game.

Rookie head coach Rex Ryan, meanwhile, unleashed his defense with dramatic results.

The Jets were lights out. They manhandled the Texans, making a respectable offense look pedestrian. The Texans have become a trendy pick to reach the playoffs and have weapons like Andre Johnson and Steve Slaton. But they were rendered mute by the swarming Jets' defense.

The Jets forced two turnovers, sacked Matt Schaub twice, held Slaton to 17 yards rushing, held Johnson to 35 yards receiving and got off the field quickly enough that the Jets had the ball for 38:30.

Ryan's defense pitched a shutout. Houston's points came off a Sanchez interception late in the game.

But the reason I'm going to say the Jets' defense was more remarkable than Sanchez is that they were playing without defensive end Shaun Ellis and outside linebacker Calvin Pace, who both were serving suspensions.

How much do they mean to the defense?

Ellis and Pace combined last year for 133 tackles, 15 sacks, 18 tackles for losses, 21 quarterback hits, seven forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns.

And the Jets still dominated.