AFC East: John Idzik

Say this for Muhammad Wilkerson: He's consistent when it comes to discussing his future with the New York Jets. He's sticking with the "Jet-for-life" stance, which probably sends shivers through the fan base because Darrelle Revis used to say the same thing -- and look what happened to him.

"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 told the New York Post on Thursday. “I’m from the area (Linden, N.J.), I’m a local guy, so I would love to be here and finish my career here.”

[+] EnlargeMuhammad Wilkerson
William Perlman/The Star-Ledger/USA TODAY SportsWith the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets have one of the better defensive lines in the NFL.
Back in October, Wilkerson gave the same response, almost verbatim, in an interview with ESPNNewYork.com. Like we said, he's consistent. Some might say he's hurting his leverage by professing his devotion to the Jets, but that's not the case at all. It's actually a smart approach from a public-relations standpoint because it shifts the focus to the Jets, who, in terms of public perception, bear the onus of making him a Jet for life.

So what are the chances of them locking up their best player to a long-term extension before the start of the season? Let's examine the situation:

Wilkerson is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, due to make $1.2 million. By May 3, the Jets are expected to exercise a fifth-year option that will set his 2015 salary somewhere in the $5 million to $6 million range. (For players drafted from 11th through 32nd in 2011, the fifth-year salary is the average of the 25 highest-paid players at the position, excluding the top three.)

In essence, the Jets are under no sense of urgency to renegotiate Wilkerson's deal because they will have him under contract for two more years. Actually, you might say three years because they can slap him with the franchise tag in 2016. Do the math, and it comes out to three years for about $19.8 million, based on the current franchise-tag amount for a defensive end. For the Jets, that's a heck of a bargain for one of the top, young defensive players in the league.

The only motivation for the Jets to re-work his contract this year is if he accepts a team-friendly deal. Wilkerson's only leverage is to stage a holdout, but he reiterated in his interview with the New York Post that he has no intention of going that route. (Unlike his Jet-for-life comment, his recent no-holdout statements have weakened his bargaining power.) He'd be taking a risk by playing for $1.2 million because the fifth-year option isn't fully guaranteed until the fifth day of the 2015 league year. It's partially guaranteed (for injury only) as soon as the team picks up the option. General manager John Idzik hasn't revealed his plans, but it's a no-brainer.

Even though Wilkerson is operating under a different set of rules (the current collective bargaining agreement went into effect in 2011), his situation is similar to the Revis drama of 2010. Entering his fourth season, Revis refused to play for $1 million, staging a long and nasty holdout.

Wilkerson reiterated that he won't pull a Revis.

“I’m not holding out," he told the Post. "My agent is talking with Idzik, and that’s all I can say. I have nothing to do with that. I’m just going to let him take care of that. That’s his job. I’m just here to play ball."

The Jets should do the right thing and take care of Wilkerson before his contract becomes an issue, taking advantage of their significant cap space, but it's a bottom-line business. Teams are rarely motivated to make their players happy unless they get something out of it as well.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Before visiting with the New York Giants, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie spent time at the New York Jets' facility, meeting with team officials. Giants coach Tom Coughlin wasn't worried about losing the free-agent cornerback to his local rival.

Rodgers-Cromartie
"It seemed as if he was going to continue to visit until he found what he wanted," Coughlin said Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings.

Rodgers-Cromartie found it with the Giants, who gave him a five-year, $35 million contract that includes $13.98 million guaranteed. Putting the money aside for a moment, the Giants believe they landed the talented corner by providing two important elements: A specific plan for him on defense and stablity.

This will be DRC's third team in three years, and he wants to settle down with one team, according to Coughlin. The Jets didn't provide that opportunity, reportedly offering what amounted to a one-year contract for about $6 million.

"To be honest with you, he was looking for a place to sink his roots and become a guy who represented a team and stayed there, and worked his way through some things," Coughlin said. "He wanted to be part of something instead of one year here, one year there. ...He jumped on that. He wanted to be a guy who’s associated with a team and be recognized."

Rodgers-Cromartie is a talented, but inconsistent player. He played well last season for the Denver Broncos, but he was a disappointment in the two previous seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Coughlin said the Giants' coaches studied him closely, formulating a plan to maximize his strengths. He wouldn't divulge the plan.

"We have a young man that really wants to be coached," he said. "We studied and we saw some areas we can help him in, and we were very specific about how that would happen. He was very open and receptive to it. We did a good job of it. Our coaches worked their tails off. They spent a lot of time on it, a lot of time."

And the Jets still have a gaping hole at cornerback, with general manager John Idzik taking heat for failing to address a need.
So now we have another trade rumor that is sure to tantalize Jets Nation: The Philadelphia Eagles are reportedly listening to offers for wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who posted career numbers last season.

Are the New York Jets interested? Should they be interested?

Jackson
First of all, it's amusing to hear that a team isn't actively shopping a player, but willing to field offers. The Jets weren't actively shopping Darrelle Revis last year, and look at how that turned out. The Jackson-Jets possibility has traction because his former Eagles coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, is now the Jets' coordinator and because the Jets still need a game-breaker at wide receiver. Eric Decker helps, but they need more firepower.

While you can never say "never" in the NFL, it would be a surprise if the Jets make a strong push for Jackson. Such a move would run counter to the John Idzik-ian way. Jackson's ability can't be denied (he caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards last season) and he's only 27, but there are economic and character issues that don't seem to match the general manager's philosophy.

The contract is huge. Jackson is due to make $30.5 million over the final three years of his contract, including $10.5 million this season. The money is non-guaranteed, but it would be a $10.5 million cap hit. Do the Jets want to take on another big contract at receiver after doling out $15 million guaranteed for Decker?

Jackson is straight out of the Santonio Holmes diva school. He argues with coaches, complains about his contract and does stuff to annoy the people around him. Why else would Chip Kelly, an offensive guru, want to trade a top weapon in the prime of his career? The Jets removed the wart that was Holmes, so do they really want go there again? Obviously, Mornhinweg's input would be vital. If he absolutely believes Jackson would behave and be a team guy, it would be worth a call to the Eagles to start some dialogue. If there is any hesitation, stay away.

One thing to remember: This could be the best wide receiver draft in history, and there is a good chance the Jets can acquire an impact player with the 18th pick. They could get Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, whom many say is a Jackson-type player.

If the Jets were a little further along in their development, meaning a legitimate contender, I could see Idzik making the splashy move for Jackson. You might have noticed, but Idzik is a slow builder, thinking long term over quick fix. It might not make the fans happy, but it's quite obvious that he doesn't care what the fans or media think.
Another quiet day for the New York Jets, but ...

Rodgers-Cromartie
1. Is Ro-Cro on the way?: Finally remembering that it takes two cornerbacks to play defense, the Jets scheduled a visit with free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a cousin of the man he could replace, Antonio Cromartie. The Jets like to keep it in the family when finding replacements in the secondary. A year ago, they signed Dawan Landry to take the spot of his younger brother, LaRon. DRC was slated to arrive Friday. He reportedly also will visit with the New York Giants. If the Jets keep missing out on corners, they might have to bring Aaron Glenn out of retirement. He's already on the payroll as a scout.

2. Patriots getting bigger, better: The New England Patriots did it again, signing their second physical, press-corner in a span of 24 hours. This time, it was Brandon Browner, who is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. On Thursday, it was Darrelle Revis. Maybe you've heard of him. The Jets' top divisional rival is copying the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, acquiring nice-sized, man-to-man corners that can disrupt wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. The Jets added a big receiver, Eric Decker (6-3), but the knock on him is that he struggles against physical corners. Clearly, the Jets have to keep up with the Joneses -- or, in this case, the Belichicks. They need a dynamic weapon on offense to offset the Patriots' improving pass defense.

3. A tight (end) budget: Brandon Pettigrew, on the Jets' radar, ended up re-signing with the Detroit Lions -- four years, $16 million, including $8 million guaranteed. That's crazy money for a 45-catch, 450-yard tight end. The Jets were right to bail out of that situation. Coincidentally, GM John Idzik was in Lubbock, Texas, attending the Texas Tech pro day. He was there to scout pass-catching tight end Jace Amaro, who reportedly ran a 4.68 in the 40. Amaro is projected as a late first-, early-second round pick.
Right tackle Breno Giacomini's contract with the New York Jets is four years, $18 million, including $7 million in guarantees, according to ESPN data.

Giacomini
Looking at it purely from an apples-to-apples perspective, the Jets made out nicely in the Giacomini-for-Austin Howard swap. Gone: A 27-year-old tackle with 32 career starts. His replacement: A 28-year-old tackle with 33 career starts. The dollar-for-dollar comparison, at least for 2014, is significantly different. Howard's cap charge with the Oakland Raiders is $8 million; Giacomini's charge is $2.625 million -- a huge savings for the Jets.

The question is, did they upgrade the position? They're comparable players, according to one AFC personnel executive. Howard had supporters within the Jets' organization, but general manager John Idzik made the call on this one. He spent three seasons with Giacomini in Seattle (2010-12), so he knows the player. If Giacomini flops, it's on Idzik.

One interesting note: Howard has $7.9 million in fully guaranteed money (at the time of signing), not a whole lot more than Giacomini. Clearly, the Jets saw little or no different between the players. You want to keep players like Howard in your program -- relatively young and ascending -- but Idzik obviously has a comfort level with Giacomini.

A breakdown of the contract:

2014

Cap charge: $2.625 million

Signing bonus: $2.5 million

Roster bonus: $1.0 million (fifth day of league year)

Base salary: $1.0 million (full guaranteed)

2015

Cap charge: $5.125 million

Base salary: $4.5 million ($2.5 million guaranteed)

2016

Cap charge: $5.125 million

Base salary: $4.5 million

2017

Cap charge: $5.125 million

Base salary: $4.5 million
The New York Jets took a hit on the first day of free agency, losing right tackle Austin Howard to the Oakland Raiders. They landed him with a five-year, $30 million contract, including $15 million in guarantees, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported.

Howard
The entire Howard negotiation provided a glimpse into general manager John Idzik's approach and his reputation as a tough negotiator. He placed a specific value on Howard, a two-year starter, and refused to budge. In the end, he decided not to match Oakland's $6 million-a-year offer, a steep price for a player of Howard's ilk.

There "wasn't a big difference" between the Jets' offer and Howard's asking price, a source said Tuesday night. "It wouldn't have been a stretch for them, but Idzik drew a line in the sand." Talks broke off Tuesday afternoon and Howard got on a plane to the West Coast, becoming an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. Howard has a comfort level with Raiders offensive line coach Tony Sparano, formerly the Jets' coordinator, and that played a role in his decision.

So what does this mean for the Jets? Well, it means they have to replace the right side of their line -- and that's never a good thing.

Guard Willie Colon is a free agent and not likely to return. A possible replacement for Howard will arrive Wednesday for free-agent visit -- Breno Giacomini, who spent the last three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. He started nine games in 2013, missing seven with a knee injury. Giacomini, originally a fifth-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2008, has 33 career starts. Idzik, a former Seattle executive, likes him a lot. Giacomini, 28, is a serviceable player, but he doesn't have Howard's upside.

The Jets also made an inquiry about right tackle Zach Strief, whom many believe was the New Orleans Saints' best lineman last season. Evidently, the Jets aren't giving strong consideration to any in-house options. Howard's backup last season was Oday Aboushi, who didn't dress for a single game in what amounted to a redshirt rookie year.

Idzik will get ripped, no doubt, for losing an ascending player like Howard. Let's see how he fills the void before drawing any conclusions.
The New York Jets displayed a show of force Thursday at Clemson's pro day, with Rex Ryan, general manager John Idzik and senior director of college scouting Terry Bradway showing up to watch several NFL prospects perform for scouts and personnel types.

Watkins
The star attraction was Sammy Watkins, widely regarded as the top wide receiver in the draft and a likely top-10 pick. He stood on his 40 time from the scouting combine (4.43 seconds), but looked smooth catching the football, according to news accounts.

Watkins is Ryan's second-favorite receiver at Clemson. As many of you know, Ryan's son, Seth, is a receiver for the Tigers. The Jets' coach told the Associated Press that he would like to add a receiver (what a revelation!) and that he likes Watkins a whole lot.

"But there's no way he'll be there" when the Jets pick, Ryan said. He's right; there's no chance he'll fall to them at No. 18.

Clemson has another intriguing wide receiver, Martavis Bryant, who is 6-foot-5 and projects as a third-round possibility, according to some. The Jets' contingent also got a good look at quarterback Tajh Boyd, a late-round projection.

About 60 NFL types were in attendance, but Ryan and the Detroit Lions' Jim Caldwell were the only head coaches, according to AP.

The New York Jets are rooting for cornerback Darrelle Revis to remain with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

When the Jets dealt Revis to the Bucs last April, they received a first-round pick (13th overall) and a conditional fourth-round choice that improves to a third-rounder if Revis is on the Bucs' roster for the third day of the 2014 league year -- March 13.

General manager John Idzik probably thought that was a gimme when he made the trade, but now there's speculation that Revis could be traded again. CBS Sports reported that the Bucs were approached at the scouting combine by teams inquiring about his availability. If the Bucs decide to move Revis, their motivation is to get it done by March 13, allowing them to retain their third-round pick.

It's not that hard to trade Revis because he signed a six-year, $96 million contract last year that included no guarantees, meaning no cap hit for the Bucs if they cut or trade him. New coach Lovie Smith is installing a Tampa-2 system -- not a good move for Revis' elite man-to-man skills -- another factor that has people wondering about a trade.

I thought the Bucs made a bad trade last year for Revis, who was coming off major knee surgery, and now it looks really bad. If they do ship him out, they wouldn't get the 13th pick (or anything close) in return. Maybe the Bucs realize what the Jets knew last year: Revis is a terrific player, but he's not worth a $16 million cap charge.

Could Revis return to the Jets? That's funny. Even if they cut Antonio Cromartie, I can't see them turning to Revis unless he gives them a huge discount -- and we all know that's not happening. The Jets are committed to Dee Milliner, and I have a feeling things will work out with Cromartie. Why would they want to go back to the bargaining table with a player who called their general manager a liar last spring? Why would Revis want to go back?

If the Bucs decide to trade him (a big "if" at this point), they'd look like idiots to send him back to the Jets, probably receiving 75 cents on the dollar. But they could impact the Jets by dealing him in the AFC East -- like, say, the New England Patriots, whose best corner, Aqib Talib, is set to become a free agent.
INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the questions that has emerged in the wake of the Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal is whether it will have an impact on locker rooms across the NFL, perhaps causing teams to become more vigilante. In terms of the New York Jets, the answer is no.

"Obviously, to us, work place environment is very important," general manager John Idzik said at the scouting combine. "That’s how you nurture a true team concept, true togetherness, so that’s always been a part of what we do. I think (the Miami situation) just added a little bit more national attention to that aspect of what clubs do, but it hasn’t really changed our attention to it."

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, who somehow survived the fallout, has been heavily criticized for claiming he didn't know the fraternity-house behavior was happening in his locker room. How could a coach, responsible for creating and monitoring the work-place enviroment, not know?

Well, Rex Ryan offered some insight in that respect. At the end of the 2011 season, Ryan admitted he "lost the pulse" of his locker room, which was torn by dissension. The biggest clash occurred between Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes, the focal point of the dysfunction. Who can forget that infamous moment in Miami, when Holmes fought with teammates in the huddle and was benched?

Two years later, Ryan empathized with Philbin, relating it to his own situation.

"Even though I think I'd have as good a pulse as any coach in this league on his locker room, even in that case, I thought a problem was resolved and obviously it wasn’t," Ryan said. "Those things can happen."

Ryan said he's not worried about bullying in his locker room.

"I believe our locker room is strong," he said. "I don’t know all the particulars in (the Dolphins') situation, but … You don’t have to like all your teammates, but you have to respect everybody. That’s the way our locker room is handled."

Sanchez will be ready, but for whom?

February, 20, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Mark Sanchez is progressing well with his shoulder rehab and has resumed throwing, according to New York Jets officials. But they clammed up when asked if Sanchez will be doing his throwing for the Jets in 2014.

The former starter is expected to be a salary-cap casualty in the coming weeks, and neither Rex Ryan nor general manager John Idzik said anything Thursday that indicated otherwise. They wanted no part of a Sanchez discussion, with Ryan refusing to give a basic overview of the quarterback position.

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty ImagesThe Jets owe Mark Sanchez a $2 million roster bonus if he's still on the team March 25.
"I prefer not to," Ryan told reporters at the NFL scouting combine. "We’ll just say this: Let's talk about where Geno [Smith] left off."

And he proceeded to praise Smith for his strong finish. It's not hard to read between the lines here, folks.

Sanchez has a $13.1 million cap charge in 2014, including a $2 million roster bonus due March 25, and there's no way he will be on the roster at that number. The only question is whether the Jets will try to retain him by offering to restructure his contract -- i.e. a massive pay cut. If the Jets were to take that route, they'd probably offer Sanchez an incentive-laden deal with base pay in the $2 million-to-$3 million range for the coming season, according to a longtime personnel executive. His current base pay is $9 million.

It's quite possible the Jets will simply cut bait, making no effort to keep him. It's also possible that Sanchez would reject a pay cut, forcing his release by March 25. His agents are expected to meet with Idzik here at the combine.

Ryan gave his stock answer, saying he'd "absolutely" like to have Sanchez back. He says that about every player whose status is uncertain. Idzik declined to comment. Quite frankly, his non-answers were eerily reminiscent to those from last year's combine, when he dodged questions about trade rumors involving Darrelle Revis. Of course, we all know how that turned out.

"We tend to let things play out," Idzik said of Sanchez's situation. "We still have some time there. We know he’ll be ready (for the season). We’ll just let that take its course."

Economics aside, the big factor is Sanchez's surgically repaired throwing shoulder. He's four months into what was initially projected as a four- to five-month process. Both Idzik and Ryan praised Sanchez's diligent approach, repeating the sound bites they used last February for Revis and his knee rehab.

"His whole focus -- and I know he’s doing a great job of this – is rehabbing, getting that shoulder back to where he’s throwing right now," Ryan said of Sanchez. "I know he’s doing whatever he can to get back."

Added Idzik: "We’re assuming Mark is going to be fine with his shoulder."

Of course, the Jets are best served by giving a glowing medical report. They need to enhance Sanchez's market value, assuming they try to trade him. Good luck with that.

League observers expect the Jets to replace Sanchez with another veteran, possibly Michael Vick, a free agent. Smith is the odds-on favorite to start, although Idzik continued to spew his semantic approach to the quarterback situation, refusing to name Smith the starter.

"We don't anoint starters in February, and we don't anoint them in March," Idzik said.

There will be another quarterback competition, because everything is competition in Idzik's world -- just don't expect Sanchez to be part of it. They won't acknowledge it publicly, but the Jets want no part of the egg-on-face possibility of Sanchez beating out Smith in training camp. Idzik said Sanchez still can be a starter in the league, but he measured his words carefully.

"We know Mark Sanchez," Idzik said. "He’s been a productive player in this league, a productive starter in this league. We know how he works, we know how he’s going to put everything into his rehab. We know how he’s going to be ambitious in his career. What would lead you to believe he wouldn’t (be a starter again)? That’s who Mark is. He’s competitor and he’s done it before."

And he hopes to do it again, but probably not with the Jets.

Wake-up call: Combine, Day 2

February, 20, 2014
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On the schedule for Thursday in Indianapolis:

Local media: New York Jets coach Rex Ryan (2:45 p.m.) and general manager John Idzik (3 p.m.) are scheduled for news conferences. The hot topics will be the futures of Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie; the draft and free agency; and the organization's first public comment on former Missouri DE Michael Sam. The New York Giants' media availability begins Friday.

Combine schedule: Placekickers, special teamers, offensive linemen and tight ends will undergo medical exams, measurements and team interviews. They also will be available to the media. ... Quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs arrive in town. They will have a medical pre-exam, X-rays, orientation and team interviews.

Players of interest: The Jets (18th overall pick) and Giants (12th) both have a need at tight end, so North Carolina's Eric Ebron -- the consensus top player at the position -- will be a focal point among the New York reporters. Ebron has the ability to light up the combine -- on and off the field. He's confident and entertaining, once bragging that his speed should be "illegal." He will be asked about his weight in light of a recent report that he put on extra pounds in an effort to become a better blocker. ... The Giants need help at offensive tackle, so Thursday's media session will offer a chance to meet first-round possibilities, namely Michigan's Taylor Lewan. We know how the Giants love those Big 10 linemen.

How the Jets handle trash talking

January, 29, 2014
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Thanks to Richard Sherman's big mouth, trash talking is one of the front-and-center issues at Super Bowl XLVIII. The New York Jets happen to be well-versed on this subject. Who can forget Bart Scott's "Can't Wait!" rant after the Jets' stunning upset of the New England Patriots in the 2010 AFC divisional playoffs?

Scott's heat-of-the-moment reaction, in an on-field interview with ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, is worthy of the trash-talking Hall of Fame. It's worth a replay:

Scott: "To all the non-believers! To all the non-believers, especially you, Tom Jackson. Way to have our back, Keyshawn [Johnson]. Anybody can be beat!"

Paolantonio: "So how did that just feel?"

Scott: "It felt great. Poetic justice. We know we were a much better team than we came up and represented ourselves [on Dec. 7, a 45-3 loss]. We were pissed off. We were ready to come back and show what type of defense, what type of team this was, what type of character we had. We take a lot of slack. People gave us no chance, like we barely made the playoffs. We're a good football team."

Paolantonio: "It looks like this team played with anger all day. Why, Bart?"

Scott: "For all you non-believers, disrespect us, talk crap about the defense. We're the third-best defense in the league. All we hear about is their defense [the Patriots]. They can't stop a nosebleed, 25th in the league and we're the ones that get disrespected."

Paolantonio: "Congratulations. See you in Pittsburgh."

Scott: "Can't wait!"

Times have changed. Once known for their loose lips, the Jets have toned it down, including the bombastic Rex Ryan. The culture is different because general manager John Idzik, hired last January, frowns upon trash talking. There's a sense of paranoia, as people in the organization -- players and non-players -- are afraid to speak their mind. They still have some in-game trash talkers, most notably guard Willie Colon, and they still have a few players that provide juicy quotes to the media (namely defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson), but it's not the way it used to be.

On a scale of red (not allowed), yellow (within reason) and green (go for it), Ryan's approach has changed from green to a red/yellow combo.
John IdzikRon Antonelli/Getty ImagesJets GM John Idzik will be at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, rooting for his former employer.
The New York Jets have gone 45 straight years without a Super Bowl, and now the big game has landed in their backyard. It might seem like the classic so-close-yet-so-far story -- a tease -- but Super Bowl XLVIII actually provides hope for the Jets.

In an era of wide-open passing attacks that produce video-game numbers, the Seattle Seahawks are a championship team built on old-fashioned tenets -- strong defense and a physical running. No matter how much other people try to change the game, the Seahawks refuse to eliminate the blue from their collar.

Basically, they're an upscale version of the Jets -- and that's not a knock on the Jets. No, it's validation that they're not too cool for old school.

"I wouldn't call us Seattle East, but there are parallels," Jets general manager John Idzik, a former Seahawks executive, said Monday in a phone interview.

He provided a few.

"Physically, they're a fast, athletic defense," Idzik said of the NFC champions. "Sounds familiar, doesn't it? They play a physical brand of football on both sides of the ball, and that comes from being strong up front. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? It sounds a little bit like us. There are definitely some similarities."

So true.

The Seahawks have a player-friendly coach, Pete Carroll, who made his bones on the defensive side of the ball. The Jets have Rex Ryan, the East Coast version of Carroll.

The Seahawks play an aggressive, man-to-man defense. So do the Jets.

The Seahawks pound the rock with Marshawn Lynch -- aka Beast Mode. The Jets have Chris Ivory, whose punishing running style mirrors that of Lynch.

The Seahawks found their franchise quarterback, former third-rounder Russell Wilson, after the first round of the draft. Idzik took the same approach in his first draft, picking Geno Smith in the second round. Smith isn't close to Wilson yet, and his development ultimately could determine if the Jets reach the Seahawks' level.

But don't forget, the Jets are only one year into the Idzik program. The Seahawks have been building for four years under the leadership of Carroll and general manager John Schneider, Idzik's former colleagues.

"You could see this coming," Idzik said of the Seahawks' journey to the Super Bowl. "Nothing in this league is a given, but to see it come to fruition is kind of cool."

Idzik spent five years in the Seahawks' front office, mostly managing the salary cap and handling contract negotiations. He was a holdover from the Mike Holmgren regime, but he quickly became a fan of the Carroll-Schneider philosophy.

Idzik expressed his admiration for the Seahawk Way, calling his old organization "a conglomeration of great people. This totally isn't a surprise. They're very good at what they do." He went on and on about the Seahawks, but he kept striking the same chord.

He emphasized the "synergy" between the front office, the coaching staff and the personnel department, a same-vision relationship that he believes has enabled the Seahawks to find some of their best players in the later rounds of the draft.

We mentioned Wilson, but there's also cornerback Richard Sherman, fifth round. Safety Kam Chancellor, fifth round. They also found talent in the trade market (Lynch) and free agency.

Idzik said the Seahawks have a "clear profile" of the characteristics they covet in players, some of whom he described as "plug-and-play" and others that "needed time on the runway." People forget the Seahawks went 7-9 in each of Carroll's first two seasons, finally clicking in 2012.

"The tenets of what we're doing here strike some similarities to what has happened in Seattle," said Idzik, who will attend Sunday's game and will be rooting for his old team.

Idzik delivered a strong first draft, netting five starters, and now we'll get a chance to see how he operates in free agency with actual money to spend. The Jets should be more than $30 million under the salary cap, giving them the flexibility they didn't have last offseason.

As for that Seattle synergy that Idzik described, it's hard to quantify, but it certainly appears that he and Ryan have a solid relationship. Idzik extended Ryan's contract, revamped the front office last offseason and tweaked the scouting staff. In theory, his people are in place. Now all they need is more players.

Idzik said he's not copy-catting the Seahawks' blueprint, but there's no doubt he's trying to incorporate Seattle's best into the Jets.

What about his former team's chances Sunday?

"Now," Idzik said, "I'd like to see them finish it off."
The first Senior Bowl I covered was 1990. The New York Jets had a new general manager, Dick Steinberg, and they owned the second pick in the draft, so they were a hot story, as we say in the biz.

Late in the game, I pulled up a chair next to Steinberg in the press box and asked him about a few players, namely running back Blair Thomas. The former Penn State star ran all over the place and would be named the game's MVP.

"My grandmother could tell you he was the best player on the field," Steinberg told me.

Granny needed a new set of binoculars. Steinberg, too. The Jets picked Thomas and ... well, you know the rest of the story. It didn't have a happy ending.

I'm not covering this year's Senior Bowl (3 p.m. Saturday) in Mobile, Ala., but it's always interesting to track prospects on TV. You never know, they could end up being drafted by the Jets. Here are some players to watch, based on the Jets' draft needs:

OFFENSE

Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback, Eastern Illinois -- He was the talk of Mobile all week, impressing with his arm and sound throwing mechanics. The 6-foot-2 signal-caller put up huge numbers in college, but he has to prove he can do it against top competition. The Jets have three quarterbacks under contract, but we know GM John Idzik isn't shy about adding competition.

Tajh Boyd, quarterback, Clemson -- The Jets' scouts interviewed Boyd, according to the New York Post. Rex Ryan is familiar with Boyd because his son, Seth, is a walk-on receiver at Clemson. He has some accuracy issues, but he went 32-8 as a starter.

Jordan Matthews, wide receiver, Vanderbilt -- The Jets need wide receivers, and he's a potential second-rounder, so that makes Matthews a must-watch. He has great size (6-foot-3, 209 pounds) and he caught 112 passes for 1,477 yards last season.

Morgan Moses, tackle, Virginia -- The Jets will be in the market for a right tackle if they lose Austin Howard in free agency, and we all know how they love Virginia tackles. (See D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Oday Aboushi.) Moses is the 29th-rated prospect in the draft, according to Scouts, Inc. He was a right tackle before moving to the left side last season.

Josh Huff, wide receiver, Oregon -- He's considered a late-round prospect at this point, but scouts were buzzing about his deep speed in practice. He caught 62 passes for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

DEFENSE

Trent Murphy, outside linebacker, Stanford -- Whether or not they re-sign Calvin Pace, the Jets need an edge rusher with speed. Murphy, projected as a second-rounder, racked up 14 sacks last season for a very good Cardinal defense. There are questions about his burst, so this will be a chance to prove the scouts wrong.

Dee Ford, defensive end, Auburn -- At 6-foot-2, 243 pounds, Ford projects to outside linebacker in the Jets' system. He's an explosive edge rusher who could go in the middle rounds.

Jerry Attaochu, outside linebacker, Georgia Tech -- No projection here; he played the position in college, recording 12 sacks last season. Some feel he's the best edge rusher in the Senior Bowl, but he looks like a mid-round prospect at this point.

Jaylen Watkins, cornerback, Florida -- Ryan loves him some man-to-man corners, and Watkins might be the best in this game. The Jets could have a big need, depending on how the Antonio Cromartie situation plays out.

Dez Southward, safety, Wisconson -- He's a versatile safety who can play in the box or in pass coverage. Southward looks like a late-round prospect at this point, but we know Ryan doesn't like investing high picks in safeties.
The first Senior Bowl I covered was 1990. The New York Jets had a new general manager, Dick Steinberg, and they owned the second pick in the draft, so they were a hot story, as we say in the biz.

Late in the game, I pulled up a chair next to Steinberg in the press box and asked him about a few players, namely running back Blair Thomas. The former Penn State star ran all over the place and would be named the game's MVP.

"My grandmother could tell you he was the best player on the field," Steinberg told me.

Granny needed a new set of binoculars. Steinberg, too. The Jets picked Thomas and ... well, you know the rest of the story. It didn't have a happy ending.

I'm not covering this year's Senior Bowl (3 p.m. Saturday) in Mobile, Ala., but it's always interesting to track prospects on TV. You never know, they could end up being drafted by the Jets. Here are some players to watch, based on the Jets' draft needs:

OFFENSE

Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback, Eastern Illinois -- He was the talk of Mobile all week, impressing with his arm and sound throwing mechanics. The 6-foot-2 signal-caller put up huge numbers in college, but he has to prove he can do it against top competition. The Jets have three quarterbacks under contract, but we know GM John Idzik isn't shy about adding competition.

Tajh Boyd, quarterback, Clemson -- The Jets' scouts interviewed Boyd, according to the New York Post. Rex Ryan is familiar with Boyd because his son, Seth, is a walk-on receiver at Clemson. He has some accuracy issues, but he went 32-8 as a starter.

Jordan Matthews, wide receiver, Vanderbilt -- The Jets need wide receivers, and he's a potential second-rounder, so that makes Matthews a must-watch. He has great size (6-foot-3, 209 pounds) and he caught 112 passes for 1,477 yards last season.

Morgan Moses, tackle, Virginia -- The Jets will be in the market for a right tackle if they lose Austin Howard in free agency, and we all know how they love Virginia tackles. (See D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Oday Aboushi.) Moses is the 29th-rated prospect in the draft, according to Scouts, Inc. He was a right tackle before moving to the left side last season.

Josh Huff, wide receiver, Oregon -- He's considered a late-round prospect at this point, but scouts were buzzing about his deep speed in practice. He caught 62 passes for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

DEFENSE

Trent Murphy, outside linebacker, Stanford -- Whether or not they re-sign Calvin Pace, the Jets need an edge rusher with speed. Murphy, projected as a second-rounder, racked up 14 sacks last season for a very good Cardinal defense. There are questions about his burst, so this will be a chance to prove the scouts wrong.

Dee Ford, defensive end, Auburn -- At 6-foot-2, 243 pounds, Ford projects to outside linebacker in the Jets' system. He's an explosive edge rusher who could go in the middle rounds.

Jerry Attaochu, outside linebacker, Georgia Tech -- No projection here; he played the position in college, recording 12 sacks last season. Some feel he's the best edge rusher in the Senior Bowl, but he looks like a mid-round prospect at this point.

Jaylen Watkins, cornerback, Florida -- Ryan loves him some man-to-man corners, and Watkins might be the best in this game. The Jets could have a big need, depending on how the Antonio Cromartie situation plays out.

Dez Southward, safety, Wisconson -- He's a versatile safety who can play in the box or in pass coverage. Southward looks like a late-round prospect at this point, but we know Ryan doesn't like investing high picks in safeties.

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