New York Jets: Joe Namath

Jets' biggest key to success

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
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Joe Namath won Super Bowl III 45 years ago, but he remains the most recognizable name and face in New York Jets history -- a testament to his star power and a commentary on the quarterback position. Nearly a half-century later, they're still looking for the next Namath, a true franchise quarterback who can elevate the franchise to a championship level.

Smith
That is the biggest key to the Jets' success over the next three seasons. The current hope is Geno Smith, who may or may not be the answer. He's 8-8 as a starter and shows intriguing arm talent and mobility, but he has yet to prove that he can be a consistent winner in the league. The Jets expect (hope?) him to take a giant step in 2014, surrounding him with better talent than last year. A lot is riding on Smith, because if he flat lines or regresses, they will be back to square one, looking to draft Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston or another young gun next spring -- along with a handful of other quarterback-needy teams.

Everything is set up for Smith to succeed, right down to the Jets' salary-cap plan. With only $1.9 million in quarterback money committed to 2015, a big reason why they have a ton of cap room in future years, they have the flexibility to give him a mega-contract in 2016. If it's justified, of course. That would complete general manager John Idzik's grand rebuilding plan. He already has a good, young defense with a handful of potential stars, and there are a few skill-position players that make you think the offense can improve. The missing piece is the quarterback.

Call it a curse. The Jets thought they had their franchise quarterback a decade ago, but Chad Pennington's career was ruined by shoulder injuries. After one year of Brett Favre, a move that showed their desperation, they drafted Mark Sanchez. He was anointed as the new golden boy, but his career veered off the rails after two promising seasons. That brought them to Smith, who carries the torch for the quarterback-starved franchise.

Jets notes: QB job should be 'open'

June, 1, 2014
Jun 1
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Thoughts and observations on the New York Jets:

1. Another QB question to ponder: With everyone engaged in a semantic debate on whether the Jets' quarterback competition is open or closed (let's call it semi-closed), let me pose this question: Why not make it a truly open competition and bill it as such?

Yes, Geno Smith showed promise at the end of last season, but he doesn't have enough pelts on the wall to be granted front-runner status. True, Michael Vick arrived in town with baggage (age, durability and turnover concerns), but his body of work warrants a 50-50 shot at the starting job. Not only would an open competition eliminate confusion, but it would create a "best-man-wins" scenario.

The Jets are traveling down a slippery slope by tilting it in Smith's favor, because there's a good possibility Vick will outplay him in the preseason. Then what? Everybody knows the expression, "You can't have your cake and eat it, too." It applies to the Jets' quarterback situation. In their case, you can't have your competition and have a predetermined favorite, especially when the other guy might be better. You're just asking for trouble.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
AP Photo/Julio CortezMichael Vick has proven to have the respect of his Jets teammates during offseason workouts.
2. Low-budget signings: The Jets didn't exactly break the bank with their undrafted free agents. Teams were allocated to spend up to $80,362 in signing bonuses, but the Jets doled out only $4,000, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Defensive end Anthony Grady ($2,500) and fullback Chad Young ($1,500) were the only UDFAs to receive a signing bonus; the other five got zilch. The size of the bonus often indicates the quality of the player. When multiple teams are bidding, top UDFAs have been known to land more than $10,000. Two years ago, nose tackle Damon Harrison received a $7,000 bonus from the Jets. Because of their unusually large draft class (12), the Jets placed less emphasis on the UDFA market. Basically, it was an afterthought.

3. Rex tweaks Tim: Ryan took a veiled shot at Tim Tebow the other day. Trying to defend Eric Decker against the perception that he's a Peyton Manning creation, Ryan reminded us that Decker caught touchdown passes from Tebow in 2011. "I think that's pretty impressive," Ryan said, thinking it was eight scoring catches (it was actually four). The inference was clear: If Decker scored with the scatter-armed Tebow, he can score with anyone. Ryan neglected to mention that Decker had no receptions and two drops in five targets when he and Tebow faced the Jets in that same season.

4. Where's the depth?: Right guard Willie Colon (arthroscopic knee surgery) is expected to return before training camp, so there's no reason for the Jets to panic, but the injury casts a harsh light on their offensive line depth. Their nine backups have played a combined total of 14 regular-season snaps -- all by center/guard Caleb Schlauderaff. That's a bit troubling, no? Considering Colon's durability issues (four surgeries in the last four years), the front office should sign some veteran insurance. Never thought I'd say this, but ... where's Vladimir Ducasse when you need him?

4a. New kind of surgery: Loved this tweet from one of my followers, @MisterRoberts, who refers to Colon's surgery as a "Colon-oscopy." Brilliant.

5. From enemies to comrades: Four months ago, Decker and Breno Giacomini played on opposite sides of one of the most lopsided Super Bowls in history. Giacomini's Seattle Seahawks embarrassed Decker's Broncos, 43-8. Now they're teammates. I asked Giacomini if they've talked about the game. A little trash talking, perhaps? He said there was a brief lunch-room conversation. Giacomini said he asked Decker about the first play of the game, the errant shotgun snap that resulted in a safety. Decker chalked it up to the noise generated by the pro-Seattle crowd at MetLife Stadium. And that was the end of the conversation. Touchy subject, obviously.

"I didn't want to say anything else to him," Giacomini said. "That's behind us, we're teammates now. Hopefully, we can reach it again -- together -- and win another one."

6. The Fridge, Part II?: You have to love Sheldon Richardson's candor and sense of humor. Asked if he hopes to continue in his role as a goal-line running back, Richardson said, "It was a fun experience. Hopefully, they call my number again." He quickly added, "Hopefully not, because it means the offense is doing what they're supposed to do."

There's some truth in his humor; this was a problem area last season. Richardson (two) and Geno Smith (six) combined for eight of the 12 rushing touchdowns. For all his power, Chris Ivory scored only one touchdown on six attempts on goal-to-go runs from the 5-yard line or closer, per ESPN Stats. That's not Chris Johnson's forte, either. He received only one such carry last season (a 3-yard touchdown). Be ready, Sheldon.

7. Respect for elders: Ryan has been around football for his entire life, which means he has seen and heard just about everything. One day recently, though, he heard something from the offensive huddle that struck him as unusual. Vick told one of the young fullbacks to run a certain pass route and the player (Ryan wouldn't identify him) responded with, "Yes, sir." They have only two fullbacks, so it was either Tommy Bohanon or Chad Young. Said Ryan: "I don’t know if I’ve heard that in a long time with a teammate talking to another teammate. [Vick] certainly has that kind of respect in the locker room."

8. Pinocchio Island: Did anyone check to see if Darrelle Revis' nose was growing when he spoke glowingly the other day about Bill Belichick and the Patriot Way? Once upon a time, Revis called Belichick a "jerk." Yes, free agency makes for strange bedfellows.

9. Broadway Joe to Hollywood Joe: A movie on the life of Joe Namath is in the early stages of development. James Mangold, who directed the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line," already is on board as the director, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Here's hoping they get Ann-Margret to play herself.

10. The Mo, the better: Kudos to Muhammad Wilkerson, who will present five student-athletes from New Jersey and Long Island with $1,000 college scholarships. Wilkerson, giving back to his local roots, grew up in Linden, N.J. He's making the donations through his T.E.A.M 96 Foundation.

11. Futbol and football: Portugal's national soccer team, led by global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, will train at the Jets' facility from Tuesday through June 9 in preparation for the World Cup. The team's stay in the area will be capped by a June 10 exhibition against Ireland at MetLife Stadium. Paulo Bento, the Portugal coach, already has visited the Jets' facility in Florham, N.J., declaring "the pitches are very good." With the World Cup approaching, I wonder if Bento still has open competition for each starting job.
Thoughts and observations on the New York Jets (better late than never):

1. No, Johnny, no: Johnny Manziel never was a consideration for the Jets with the 18th pick. Never. Their target was safety Calvin Pryor. When the Baltimore Ravens selected lineback C.J. Mosley at 17, the Jets' draft room "erupted," general manager John Idzik said in a radio interview. They were ecstatic because they thought the Ravens might take Pryor. Unlike the Dallas Cowboys, the Jets didn't have a Manziel discussion when they were on the clock. They simply didn't buy into Johnny Football, according to a person familiar with the team's thinking. No doubt, there were non-football reasons as well. Idzik wasn't going to buy a ticket to that circus, no way. The Jets are happy with Pryor. They believe he's smart enough to quarterback the secondary as a rookie. Rex Ryan always talks up his rookies, but he's particularly smitten with Pryor.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
AP Photo/Michael PerezIf Michael Vick is the better choice at starter, will the Jets really stand behind quarterback Geno Smith?
2. Pettine's Law: Can't help but think that Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine is cracking down on the media access to Manziel because of what he learned from witnessing the Tim Tebow debacle in 2012. Pettine was the Jets' defensive coordinator that year, and he saw first-hand how the Jets let Tebow mania get out of control. It was a "How-not-to-manage-a- phenomenon" clinic. I'm not saying I agree with everything Pettine is doing, but he has seen the other approach and he apparently wants to stay as far away from that as possible.

2a. Johnny's everywhere: My local butcher always likes to talk football -- usually Jets -- when I stop in. On Sunday morning, I expected a question about the Jets' draft or Geno Smith vs. Michael Vick. Instead, he greeted me with this question: "How do you think Johnny Manziel will do in Cleveland?" That tells you everything you need to know about the impact of Johnny Football.

3. A keg of dynamite? Joe Namath is right: Vick is better than Smith -- right now. It's indisputable, which is why the Jets have a potentially volatile quarterback situation. If the same perception exists in late August, and they go ahead and name Smith the starter anyway (they clearly want him to be the guy), it will send a bad message and could create issues in the locker room. In theory, the best player should play, right? You'd like to think the decision-makers will put ego aside -- i.e. Idzik and his investment in Smith -- and start the quarterback that gives them the best chance to win. You have to figure a tie goes to Smith, but what if Vick is a notch better than Smith? Idzik and Ryan dodged The Decision last year because Mark Sanchez got hurt, giving Smith the job by default. This year, they might actually have to pick one.

4. Ryan supports DC: Ryan offered strong public support of defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman. Some might question it from a public-relations standpoint -- Ryan gave legs to the story with his second-day, unsolicited defense of Thurman's character -- but he was sticking up for a friend. Ryan is fiercely loyal to his assistants, especially Thurman. Blind loyalty can be a slippery slope -- Ryan admitted he doesn't know the particulars of the case -- but his strong reaction is one of the reasons why he's so popular among his players. He has the back of those around him.

Other than the accuser's friend, no one has come forward to corroborate their version of the events -- that Thurman slapped a 28-year-old woman in the face at a restaurant bar. Meanwhile, a handful of witnesses have spoken to various media outlets, refuting the allegations. Bottom line: No charges by the Morristown, N.J., police department and no further investigation.

5. Tajh is a quarterback: Ryan made it clear he has no intention of using sixth-round pick Tajh Boyd in any other role except quarterback. "Right now, it's 100 percent quarterback," he said. Ryan didn't rule out the possibility of expanding his role in the future, maximizing his athleticism, but it's not on the frontburner. It's a moot point this season because, even if Boyd makes the 53-man roster, he'll never be active as long as Smith and Vick are healthy. The Jets are following the Geno script with Boyd, converting a shotgun college quarterback into a pro-style passer. They won't clutter his mind by giving him a gimmick role.

5a. Humble QB: Boyd may never play a down for the Jets, but it's hard not to like his attitude. Boyd, who set 57 Clemson and ACC records, said it dawned on him the other day as he was reading his playbook, "You're just a small fish in a big pond." Love it.

6. Seeing double: It's too bad the Jets don't play the New Orleans Saints again this year, because there could be a great photo op. Naturally, you'd have the Ryan brothers, Rex and Rob, the Saints' defensive coordinator. You also could have the Dixon twins, Brandon and Brian. The Jets drafted Brandon, a cornerback in the sixth round, from Northwest Missouri State. The Saints signed Brian as an undrafted free agent. He, too, played corner at Northwest Missouri State. This is the first time in their lives they're not playing in the same secondary.

7. The stable grows: Picking up Daryl Richardson on waivers was a good, no-risk move. He has talent, evidenced by a promising rookie year in 2012. The question is whether he's healthy. Richardson battled toe turf last season for the St. Louis Rams, causing him to miss the final eight games. He became expendable when the Rams drafted Tre Mason in the third round. The Jets have a crowded backfield, but Richardson could challenge for the third or fourth spot, jeopardizing Mike Goodson's place. Richardson already has a comfort level in the AFC East; he averaged 5.9 yards per carry against the division in 2012.

8. Like Mike: Boyd already has talked about how he grew up admiring Vick; he's not the only draft pick in that boat. Wide receiver Jalen Saunders was a quarterback in high school -- a left-handed quarterback and a dual threat, same as Vick. Just the other day, Saunders got a chance to meet him in the locker room. "It was great to meet somebody you idolized growing up," Saunders said. No, he didn't share his childhood secret with Vick. Said the rookie: "I wouldn't tell him that. We're both grown men now."

9. Welcome back, E. Smitty: After sitting out last season, former Jets safety Eric Smith is back with the team -- as a coaching intern. As a player, Smith was an overachiever who relied on his smarts. He was always one of the sharpest guys in the room, and now he'll get a chance to apply himself as a coach. "I think he's the smartest coach we've got," Ryan said. "I think he's got a chance to be a great one."

10. 'Mayhem' says goodbye: Former Buffalo Bills first-round bust Aaron Maybin, who played with the Jets in 2010 and 2011, announced his retirement last week at the age of 26. He had a strange run with the Jets. He was a sparkplug in 2011, recording six sacks. The following year, he was utterly ineffective and was fired in the middle of the season. His nickname was "Microphone" because his booming voice traveled across the locker room when he gave interviews. His football career never panned out, but Maybin has a promising career as an artist.
Four more days until the New York Jets are on the clock ...

1. The target list: It's impossible to predict the Jets' pick at No. 18 because so many things could happen in front of them, but I'm going to narrow the options and rank them based on interviews with scouts and talent evaluators. This is my ranking based on what I think the Jets should do, weighing their needs and the best players likely to be available:

a. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: Coach Rex Ryan needs a man-to-man corner, and he's the best in the draft.

b. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: A football player. Not the flashiest, but he can play Ryan's scheme.

c. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: Picture a young Antonio Cromartie -- tremendous talent, but he's a finesse player.

d. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: A fast, all-around receiver with return ability. Strong character.

e. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: Speed is the offseason theme on offense, and Cooks is a blur.

f. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: Has a high ceiling, but he doesn't block and there are questions about his attitude.

g. Marqise Lee, WR, USC: Coming off a mediocre year and lacks that extra gear.

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesDespite a shaky rookie year, the Jets have been quick to praise QB Geno Smith this offseason.
2. Double talk: The Jets are engaging in a ridiculous game of semantics with regard to the quarterback position. They refuse to say Geno Smith is the starter, but they talk about him as if he's the starter. They say Michael Vick is here to "push" Smith, adding they don't want to do anything to impede his progress. Sure sounds like a starter to me, except they're afraid to use the "S" word because it's not allowed in Idzik World. Ironically, the only person who uses it is Vick, who reiterated Saturday in an interview with NJ.com what he said on the day he signed in March: Smith is the starter. This may sound like a small thing, but it sends a mixed message, blurring the lines in a quarterback competition (are we allowed to call it that?) that could turn into a controversy.

3. Ulterior motives: The Jets have hosted at least three quarterbacks on pre-draft visits -- Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Savage and Logan Thomas -- fueling speculation they could be in the market. Yes, they could be, but there's another reason for the interest: Gathering information for future use. Like every team, the Jets keep a dossier on each prospect. Some day, they may have to face Garappolo in a game, at which time they can refer to their notes on him. The New England Patriots are known for this practice.

"All those reports and the work that's done going into the draft, we look at that as the start of his library, and you will definitely tap into that as he progresses through his pro career," GM John Idzik said.

4. The Dirty Dozen: If the Jets wind up picking 12 players, it'll be their largest draft class since 1998 -- another 12-pick year. Quantity doesn't always ensure quality, as that '98 draft proved. Only one of the 12 players ended up starting in the NFL -- OT Jason Fabini (fourth round). The Jets were hurt by not having a first-round pick (sent to the Patriots as part of the Bill Parcells compensation package), but it still ranks as one of the worst drafts in team history. And there were a lot of smart people in the draft room -- Parcells, personnel director Dick Haley and three future GMs, Mike Tannenbaum, Scott Pioli and Trent Baalke. Like people always say, the draft is a crapshoot. The Jets still reached the AFC Championship Game, in large part, because they assembled one of the best free-agent classes in history -- Curtis Martin, Vinny Testaverde, Kevin Mawae and Bryan Cox.

5. Gang of New Yorkers: New York isn't known as a football hotbed, but there are four intriguing defensive-line prospects from the area. The top guy is Staten Island's Dominique Easley (Florida), a first-round talent coming off his second ACL surgery. He held a late pro day and impressed scouts to the point where he could sneak into the second or third round. Other locals are Flushing's Jay Bromley (Syracuse), the Bronx's Caraun Reid (Princeton) and Nyack's Terrence Fede (Marist).

6. The truth hurts: Former Jets great Joe Klecko was on the money with his assessment of OLB Quinton Coples, whom he said "looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane." Coples has tested the patience of the coaches from the day he arrived, giving inconsistent effort. The talent is obvious, which explains the frustration level in the organization. He finished last season on an upswing (3.5 sacks in the last five games), so maybe he turned a corner. As for Klecko's comments about Muhammad Wilkerson, suggesting he doesn't give maximum effort on every play, I haven't heard anyone around the team question his motor.

7. Goodson soap opera: Coming off an ACL injury, and facing charges for gun possession, Mike Goodson's future with the team is murky. Remember, he still faces the possibility of another suspension; this time it would be for violating the league's personal-conduct policy. Idzik said they've approached this offseason with the idea that Goodson will be on the team. "We assume that Mike is a Jet," Idzik said. "We've always made that assumption." He has another court date, May 19. If they draft a running back, it could be curtains for Goodson.

8. Scouting shake-up: Last year's draft was widely considered a success, yet some of the unsung people who contributed -- a handful of area scouts -- were replaced. This will be Idzik's first draft with his scouting staff in place. For the record, the new scouts: Chris Prescott (Virginia to Louisiana), David Hinson (Midwest), Dave Boller (West) and Rick Courtright (national combine scout). Former player Aaron Glenn, who worked in pro personnel in 2012, became an area scout for the first time, working Texas to North Dakota.

9. Numbers game: Vick should be changing his number again in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

10. Richard the Reclusive: The last time an Alabama quarterback was drafted in the first round was ... you have to go back, back, back to Richard Todd in 1976 -- sixth overall by the Jets. The 38-year drought is "kind of sad," according to Todd, who is hoping AJ McCarron will end the slump (he won't). Todd doesn't do many interviews, so it was interesting to read his comments last week on his initial experience with the Jets.

"I was kind of thrown to the wolves when I was drafted," Todd told Alabama.com. "I thought I'd back up Joe (Namath) for two or three years and it took about two or three games, and I was kind of thrown into it. We threw the ball about six times a game my senior year (in the wishbone), so it was totally different.''

Two words, Richard: A.J. Duhe.

Namath questions Goodson signing

May, 29, 2013
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Hall of Famer Joe Namath, sharply critical in recent years of the New York Jets' previous management team, took aim Wednesday at new general manager John Idzik, questioning the wisdom of signing troubled running back Mike Goodson.

"I hope [Goodson] changes for the better, but if you check on people's history, you might be a little more careful with who you're bringing in," Namath said in a phone interview.

Goodson's legal issues began long before his recent arrest on drug and weapons charges. A report by ESPNNewYork.com last Friday revealed a history of trouble involving women and money -- paternity and child-support suits by three women in a nine-month span, a $56,000 bill at a jewelry store that wasn't paid, two eviction notices and unpaid car payments.

Namath said he read the report. He was disappointed in the Jets' decision to sign Goodson because he believes there's some carryover between off-the-field behavior and on-the-field performance.

"I'm just saying, you have to be smart," he said. "You have to use your mind out on the football field. I mean, there is a mental side of the game that you have to be responsible for and own up to. It's the same way with life. If you're not showing that kind of responsibility reasonably consistently, you're lucky if you can get a job."

Reminded that Goodson received a $1 million signing bonus as part of his three-year, $6.9 million contract, Namath laughed.

"Maybe they're related somehow, Idzik and Goodson," he joked. "What the hell?"

Idzik's first two free-agent signings haven't panned out. The other was QB David Garrard, who recently announced his retirement because of a pre-existing knee condition. He lasted less than two months.

"Yeah, that's food for thought. It does cause some concerns, there's no doubt about that," said Namath, alluding to Idzik's judgment.

Namath also took issue with Idzik's silence on the matter; he hasn't publicly addressed the Goodson arrest. The Jets released a statement, saying they won't comment until the legal process runs its course. Meanwhile, Goodson has returned to practice as he awaits his next court date, a pretrial hearing June 12.

"The fans are crying out, we want to know," said Namath, adding, "It should be a two-way street. You expect the players to answer every question they get, but what about the people that are running the show? Shouldn't they have to answer to the fans, too, and let us know something reasonable?"

Goodson, on the advice of his attorney, won't speak to reporters Thursday after the team's OTA practice, according to the Jets. Coach Rex Ryan, however, is scheduled to address the media.

"Oh, I'm sure you'll get a good answer there," Namath said, sarcastically.

Ryan declined to comment last week on Goodson's arrest, calling it a pending legal matter. But that was before Goodson's previous troubles were reported.

Namath is in New York for a couple of days to promote the Pro Football Hall of Fame's "Future 50" project, a $27 million expansion and renovation on the 50th anniversary of the Hall. In fact, Namath will be in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday for the reopening ceremony. In an interview with ESPNNewYork.com, he addressed other Jets-related topics, namely the Mark Sanchez-Geno Smith quarterback competition.

"I expect Mark to be the opening-day starter because of the four years he has under his belt," said Namath, who believes Sanchez has the ability for a turnaround. "I would expect him to be mentally ahead of the rookie coming in. Now, if the rookie comes in, and Geno outperforms Mark from now until opening day, you have to go with the guy that has convinced teammates and the coaches he's giving you the best chance to win."

The Jets may have run out of patience with Sanchez, and some believe the decision-makers want Smith to win the job.

"The decision-makers have scared me the last couple of years," said Namath, adding: "[Last season] was scary. You wonder who the heck is making these kind of decisions. You have to start with Woody Johnson and ownership and the people he believes in and trusts. It's downright scary."

Johnson dismantled the front office, but he retained Ryan. Namath isn't a fan of Ryan's coaching style, but he believes it's premature to refer to him as Dead Coach Walking.

"What is this lame-duck business?" Namath asked. "If that team wins, how can you get rid of him? If he gets those guys to make the playoffs somehow, how can you change coaches? If they're making good progress, of course you keep him."

Namath says Sanchez will rebound

May, 22, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- We know where Joe Namath stands on the Jets' quarterback competition. He's a Mark Sanchez guy.

"I know Sanchez is going to play better," the Jets' legend told reporters Wednesday night at the United Way's annual Gridiron Gala in Manhattan. "He went through some major distractions last season. ... I promise you, you'll see a different guy."

Namath has been a Sanchez supporter since his rookie year, and he readily acknowledges, "I'm pulling for him. ... I know he can do better than he's done. And we saw him lead a team to two AFC Championship Games, right? I also know what it's like not to necessarily have the weapons you'd like to have, not to necessarily have the time you'd like to accomplish."

As for rookie Geno Smith, Namath called him a "sensational athlete." Namath said he watched a lot of Smith's games at West Virginia, and was impressed, but he doesn't believe the Jets needed to draft a quarterback.

"No, I don't think they needed a quarterback," he said. "They needed the other positions filled, possibly the offensive line. They got some defensive line. The safeties are still questionable. The outside linebackers are still questionable."

Namath: Rex isn't going to last

April, 25, 2013
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Joe Namath believes the Rex Ryan era is coming to an end.

"I don't think Rex is going to be back next year," Namath said on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN 98.7 FM on Thursday afternoon.

Namath, the most famous quarterback in Jets history, is perplexed as to why the Jets brought back Ryan for this season with a depleted roster. The Jets are devoid of talent, and with a new general manager in the fold, they could have chosen to start over. Instead, they stuck with Ryan, who has two years left on his deal but has missed the playoffs the last two years.

"I can't figure it out either. Really," Namath said about why Ryan was retained with a weak roster to work with. "Honest to goodness I don't want to get negative here, I want to be positive, but I can't fathom the decisions that have been made. I don't understand these things the last couple of seasons. Hopefully Mr. Idzik gets things going and gets some fresh talent in here, but there are a lot of problems."

One of the reasons the Jets roster is lacking talent is due to the recent trade of All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, as the Jets traded him to the Buccaneers for two draft picks, including the 13th overall pick in Thursday's draft. Namath understood the reasoning but hated to see Revis leave.

"I'm sorry to a see a player of that caliber leave. I gather it had to be done to make sense with the numbers game and everything else," Namath said. "But as a fan I sure don't like it. I'm just sorry we got in that position."

By trading Revis, and gaining an extra first-round pick, the Jets will have the opportunity to bring in two highly ranked players to start the rebuilding process. He's holding out faith that new general manager John Idzik will deliver.

"With John Idzik in there, hopefully he can make the right choices," Namath said. "I know he's getting the input from basically the same people that gave the input to [former GM] Mike Tannenbaum. I don't know what went wrong with the choices we've had. There haven't been any outstanding choices of late, I don't know. You got to get some good picks this year and hope the guys on the roster, given the chance to play, the younger players, just improve."

Even if the Jets draft well Thursday, they still have to resolve their issues at quarterback, as Mark Sanchez is coming off the worst year of his career. Namath believes Sanchez would fare better if he moved on to another team, but he's curious to see how Sanchez plays in new offensive coordinator Mornhinweg's system. He also said that having Tim Tebow around has not helped.

"I think he took a step back [last year] because not only of the players around him, or the lack of players around him, but with the Tim Tebow situation," Namath said. "I don't care how much Mark had said in the past that his focus is not broken, his confidence isn't shattered, it obviously had a negative effect on him no doubt."

Namath: Tebow couldn't be Jets' No. 1

September, 11, 2012
9/11/12
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Namath/TebowGetty ImagesJoe Namath doesn't think Tim Tebow could step in as the starter if Mark Sanchez got hurt.
Joe Namath was quick to praise Tim Tebow for his work ethic and sincerity.

But if Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez ever were to get injured, Namath doesn’t think Tebow could step in and become the New York Jets’ No. 1.

“God forbid something happens to Sanchez. See, this is where I’m confused. I don’t think the second guy really is Tebow,” Namath told ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday night.

Asked why he believes third-stringer Greg McElroy would be a better fit to take the majority of snaps if Sanchez got hurt, Namath said, “Because you’re not gonna win consistently with the Wildcat offense unless Tim passes a lot better, maybe a little quicker.”

Tebow carried five times for 11 yards in Sunday’s 48-28 Week 1 blowout victory over the Buffalo Bills but did not attempt a pass. For his career, the 25-year-old has a 47.3 percent completion mark.

“I don’t think he can consistently play the quarterback position as we know it as opposed to the Wildcat without improving his passing accuracy,” Namath said of Tebow. “You’ve got to be more accurate than that today, and Tim’s got a big motion. He’s working on it, and he can improve it. So that remains to be seen.”

So far, Namath does believe Tebow has been a “plus” for the Jets.

“Because of the guy he is, because of the aura he has around him. His work ethic. His sincerity,” Namath said. “You want him as a teammate on your side. You want to find a place to use him. But teams have seen Tim play before -- last year -- they have to prepare to defend against a certain kind of offense if he’s on the field. It takes up their time. He’s a weapon just being there, let alone getting on the field to help.”

As for Sanchez, who completed 19 of 27 passes for 266 yards, three touchdowns and one interception Sunday, Namath said, “I thought he got out of the box in brilliant fashion, wonderful fashion.

“I know Sanchez can work long term, and I know that there’s a spot for Tebow in the other kind of offense. These teams have to spend time preparing for it.”

Namath said he was surprised with how well the Jets looked in their season opener.

“They looked so good, I have to admit I was somewhat surprised, because looking at the preseason -- and believe me, I know that preseasons are to get things ironed out,” Namath said.

“I wasn’t surprised at our defense, except for the second half, but you know when you get a lead, you kind of back off, at least they did, and [coach] Rex [Ryan] is not happy about it. So maybe they’ll play a little different next time. But the offensive line really did a great job. Austin Howard playing against [Mario] Williams, I was really surprised at that.

“Somebody said that game is not a big deal. Excuse me, every game is a big deal, because at the end of the season, it’s better to be 9-7 and make the playoffs, so every loss is against you and it was a great start to the season no doubt.”

Namath later spoke to fans at a dinner in Manhattan honoring him for becoming the host of the new Joe Namath Hour on Mondays from 6 to 7 p.m. ET during "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 98.7.

Namath has been critical of Tebow since he was traded to New York in what Namath called a “publicity stunt.”

Namath: Tebow Time? Jets just need to win

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
12:36
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There's only one way Joe Namath sees the acquisition of Tim Tebow paying dividends.

"I've got to wonder myself how this is going to work out," Namath said on a conference call Thursday. "I cannot see it as a positive unless the Jets win and win and win and win."

Namath still has questions about how the Jets' quarterback situation will play out this season as the team heads into its first game against Buffalo on Sunday. The former Jets quarterback will host the new "Joe Namath Hour" within "The Michael Kay Show" on Mondays at 6 p.m. on ESPN New York 98.7 FM.

"How it's going to play out remains to be seen. It's all guesswork," Namath said. "If they execute properly on the field, it could play out to be an advantage. Otherwise it's going to be kind of chaotic if things don't go well. And things aren't always going to go well."

Namath, the lone quarterback to lead the Jets to a Super Bowl, reiterated how he's "not keen" on the Tebow trade. He said in the past he didn't agree with the move, saying the team was trying to grab headlines and calling it a publicity stunt. Three days before the opener, he feels the same way.

"[Tebow was acquired] to try to get some of those headlines, to help us fans keep interested in, to get the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and every football fan interested in, what the Jets were doing as opposed to as other teams in the NFL and especially the Giants," Namath said of the move.

The 69-year-old commended starter Mark Sanchez for how he's handled himself over the past few months as he's had to answer questions about his backup quarterback. Namath said he would not have approved had the Jets brought in a quarterback like Tebow during his time with the team.

"I don't think I would have been happy about it," Namath said. "I really never felt that kind of challenge. I always had the challenge within myself to make the team first."

Coming off last year's rough season, the Jets have a critical campaign upcoming. They'll try to run a new offense and get their defense back to the level head coach Rex Ryan wants. Namath is expecting the team to win nine to 10 games, which he doesn't envision being enough to win the division but will give the team a chance at returning to the playoffs.

While he's excited to see the season get under way and he has faith in the defense, Namath does have some questions about the offense and the linebackers.

"Any time a team has a defense that has the potential that the Jets have, and I say potential because I'm a little concerned with [Bryan] Thomas, I'm a little concerned with [Calvin] Pace, and over the years have they slowed down a little bit; I want to see the speed they show," Namath said. "It looks like the Jets' defense can really help carry the team more than the offense. You can win with a top defense and an efficient offense. I'm not sure about the depth already at the safety or the quarterback position for the Jets."

Woody can't get enough Tebow

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
10:34
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It's a good thing Woody Johnson isn't calling the plays on offense. His "publicity stunt," as Joe Namath puts it -- Tim Tebow -- would get the ball a whole lot.

The Jets' owner, in an appearance on CNBC from the Republican National Convention Wednesday night in Tampa, was questioned about his team's offensive struggles in the preseason. Asked if he'd like to see "more Tebow or less Tebow," Johnson said: "I think you can never have too much Tebow."

I'm sure that'll cause a few eye rolls in the Jets' locker room. Johnson went on to say: "But I think it's more than just that. It's getting all the players ... the offensive line and everything coordinated so you can establish a good running attack ... and also have our receivers healthy and ready to participate and contribute to the effort. It's a lot of timing and teamwork that we need."

A few weeks ago in Cortland, Johnson said he was surprised by the "enormity" of the Tebow coverage. That's hard to believe, considering he allowed ESPN to camp out in Cortland. Meanwhile, Namath continues to bash his former team, once again questioning the motivation behind the Tebow trade.

"I'm concerned with how the Jets are trying to build a team and win a championship," Namath said Wednesday on Sirius XM Radio. "They seem more interested in the headlines."

Owner mum on Darrelle's contract

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
9:21
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Maintaining the organization's non-confrontational stance regarding Darrelle Revis' contract situation, Jets owner Woody Johnson sidestepped questions Wednesday night, refusing to say if they're willing to renegotiate the star cornerback's deal.

"I expect Revis to be playing for us in 2012," Johnson told reporters at MetLife Stadium, where he was honored by Daytop New Jersey, a substance-abuse treatment center for teens and young adults.

Revis, 26, hinted as recently as last week that he might not report to training camp. He has two years, $13.5 million remaining on the four-year, $46 million contract he signed after an acrimonious holdout during the 2010 preseason.

The contract is frontloaded, with Revis making $32.5 million in 2010 and 2011. Although he hasn't complained publicly, he'd like to maintain that annual average over a long-term deal that allows him to finish his career with the Jets.

Team officials have steered away from making any comments that might inflame the situation. Johnson said it's team policy not to comment on contracts, although Johnson was quite outspoken during the holdout two years ago.

"Darrelle Revis is a very important part of the New York Jets," Johnson said Wednesday night. "We drafted him, so we know exactly how good he is. We respect his talent. He's an integral part of the team. He's been great at all our practices, respected by teammates."

Asked if he's concerned about a holdout, Johnson said, "I don't get concerned before I have to be concerned."

The sticking point could be a promise the Jets may or may not have made to Revis during the last negotiation, which amounted to a one-year extension on his rookie deal. At the time, both sides described it as a "Band-Aid" contract, agreeing to work toward a long-term extension at some point.

Revis evidently believes that time is now. The Jets, from all indications, have no intention of renegotiating before next year. His current deal includes a clause to dissuade him from holding out. If he's a no-show in training camp, it triggers a three-year extension for a total of only $9 million.

Johnson wouldn't say if he's surprised to be answering contract-related questions less than two years after the holdout.

"I really always anticipate the best, so I don't really look for problems," he said. "We're trying to build a whole team. We have a lot of things we have to put together to build a winning team, not just one player, albeit an important player. We have 53 players, 53 people that are going to make the team, and everybody's got a different situation. We've got to make it all work."

Johnson also addressed why the Jets declined an opportunity to appear on HBO's "Hard Knocks." He felt the timing wasn't right, plus "we just did it (in 2010). We didn't want to be piggish about it." The gig eventually went to the Dolphins.

There have been rumors of lagging ticket sales, but Johnson insisted that isn't an issue.

"I don't want to be Joe Namath, but I guarantee we'll be sold out," he said.

Johnson, speaking publicly for the first time since the start of OTAs, didn't have much to say about Tim Tebow's impact on the team.

"It's really the locker room that decides what impact he's had," the owner said.

Namath gets bad vibes from Jets owner

May, 15, 2012
5/15/12
9:26
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The most celebrated player in Jets history is perhaps the most celebrated critic of the team. Joe Namath doesn't pull any punches, not since he started his radio spot two years on ESPN New York 98.7 -- and it has frayed his relationship with the Jets, especially owner Woody Johnson.

Namath admitted as much Tuesday night at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, where he joined other former and current Jets and Giants at the United Way Gridiron Gala.

"It’s rough, you know," the legendary QB said of his relationship with the Jets. "None of us like to be critiqued, criticized in a negative way. It gets bent sometimes. I don’t like the feeling, the vibes I get back whenever I cross Woody's path. Rex (Ryan) and I have been getting along well when we bump into each other, but I know there’s some underlying sensitivity there the Jets have."

BRANDON AMONG HONOREES: Jets RG Brandon Moore was honored at the 19th annual gala. Moore and Giants RG Chris Snee received the Hometown Hero award to recognize their service to the community. Giants Hall-of-Fame LB Harry Carson was honored for his lifetime achievement.

ON THE BLOCK: TE Dustin Keller, who also attended the event, said Tony Sparano's system includes a larger variety of blocking calls than the previous system. That, he believes, will solve some pass-protection issues ... OT Vladimir Ducasse said he's been working exclusively at right tackle in early drills. Ducasse, a two-year disappointment, acknowledged "this is a big year for me." He didn't make any bold declarations about overtaking incumbent Wayne Hunter, saying only that his "ultimate goal" is to start.

Namath: Sanchez better than Tebow

May, 15, 2012
5/15/12
9:13
PM ET

Al Pereira/Getty ImagesMark Sanchez earned Joe Namath's endorsement over Tim Tebow on Tuesday.
Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow? In Joe Namath’s opinion, it’s a no-brainer. The legendary New York Jets quarterback said Sanchez is the superior QB.

"There’s no doubt about it, at this point certainly," Namath said Tuesday at the United Way Gridiron Gala in Manhattan. "And Mark’s going to get better. He’s only going into his fourth year. Golly, I remember a team that won a championship with a quarterback in his fourth year. I hope that happens again."

He was referring to himself, although younger New York fans might think of Eli Manning.

The Jets set themselves up for a potential quarterback controversy as soon as they acquired Tebow from the Denver Broncos. At the time of the trade, in late March, Namath ripped his former team, calling it a "publicity stunt."

Namath changed his position, saying he can see the positives Tebow will bring to the team. He said Tony Sparano’s background in the Wildcat is the key to making it a successful package within the structure of the Jets’ offense. (Interesting side note: Namath also criticized the Jets when they hired Sparano.)

“I think it can work," said Namath, adding, “They’ve got some things up their sleeves to put on some other guys. We’ll see. It’s interesting, isn’t it?"

Asked how he’d feel if he were in Sanchez’s position, Namath said without hesitation, “I’d be tickled to death. Are you kidding? Mark knows he’s the better quarterback and bring on the competition."

Namath has always been a Sanchez supporter, but he wondered how the Jets’ incumbent will handle the pressure and intense scrutiny that will inevitably occur.

"That’s going to be sensitive," Namath admitted. "That’s going to be tough. We’ll wait and see what’s happening, of course. When things aren’t going well, we’re a little bit touchy. It’s easy to get upset with some things. Some things can get on your nerves. As a quarterback, I’d like to take every snap in practice I could get. It remains to be seen how they share the snaps in practice come regular-season time."

That is one of many compelling questions surrounding the Sanchez-Tebow dynamic. Tebow’s playing time and his specific role -- other than being listed as the No. 2 quarterback -- haven’t been defined by the team.

Namath, an outspoken critic of his former team in recent years, tried to put a positive spin on the current quarterback situation, yet he made one remark that will raise some eyebrows.

"Only four teams have used (the Wildcat) in professional football, and they were all because they didn’t have a quarterback," he said.

Hardly a ringing endorsement of Sanchez or Tebow, but Namath explained he likes the Wildcat for the Jets because of Sparano’s knowledge and the problems it will cause for opponents to prepare for.

"At any rate, Tebow is a positive," Namath said. "Any way you add him to the organization, he’s a positive."

Namath: 'Mark has to be angry about this'

March, 26, 2012
3/26/12
7:28
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Mark Sanchez didn’t express any anger or frustration over the Tim Tebow trade during a conference call with the media on Monday afternoon.

But the always outspoken Joe Namath thinks that the New York Jets' No. 1 quarterback has to be upset privately.

Otherwise, there’s something wrong.

“Mark’s [has to] be angry about this,” Namath said during an interview on ESPN New York 1050’s “The Michael Kay Show. “ And if he’s not, that’s strange. I [have to] believe that’s strange [if he’s not angry] and this is not gonna pan out well.

“You have two fine gentlemen, but only one position, and the key is winning. Believe me, if you’re not winning, you talk about a divided locker room, a divided section of the stadium, it’s [going to] be awful.

“They have got to win, otherwise this is [going to] be a real mess. And you’re talking about an 8-8 team that hasn’t helped itself yet improving the personnel they need to improve on.”

Namath says if something similar had happened to him, he would’ve “scoffed at it” given his confidence in himself. The former Jets quarterback figures Sanchez feels the same way.

But Namath doesn’t understand why the Jets would send a mixed message to Sanchez -- especially with his fourth season under center probably being the most important one of his career. The Jets explored adding Peyton Manning before giving Sanchez a contract extension.

Then they went out and acquired Tebow. The only other significant move they’ve made in the offseason so far is the addition of safety Laron Landry.

“He feels better about his quarterbacking than [in] the past two years, and then you turn around and bring this situation to him?” Namath said of Sanchez, who established career-highs in passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage in 2011. “I think it was not a good move, and I don’t believe it’s going to work out.

“I think Sanchez is developing as a quarterback in pretty darn good fashion, and it’s the rest of the team that they need to pay attention to. There’s some flaws on offense and defense that need to be taken care of.”

Namath also wondered how Sanchez can fully develop and become better in practice if they’re concentrating so much on honing their read-option, “Wildcat” offense.

“It just does not work. Sanchez is the quarterback and I’m just as frustrated as any Jets fan or Sanchez fan with this move,” Namath said. “But I like Tebow. We all like Tebow. He’s a fine young man.

“But as a professional quarterback running the professional offense, he needs a lot of improvement to run the type of offense that can win a championship.

As for this whole gimmick offense?

“There’s not a good team with a decent quarterback in the league that runs this offense,” said Namath, pointing out that the Jets implemented the Wildcat during Sanchez’s first two years in the NFL. “I hope that we get a clear answer on why the Jets made this move. I know they say it’s a football move, but they’re on very thin ice in a lot of areas.”

Namath doubts Tebow could stay healthy while taking the physical pounding he’ll have to endure long-term against professional defensive players.

The league has implemented rules to protect quarterbacks, “so you wanna tell me your quarterback is safe enough to run that type of option offense and expect him to last the season?”

And while Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano both lost to Tebow during the regular season, opposing defenses adjusted toward the end of the year, and the Denver Broncos won just one of their last five games -- upsetting a Pittsburgh Steelers team that came out flat, Namath pointed out.

“A quarterback needs to throw the football,” he said.

Tebow completed just 46.5 percent of his passes last season. In 23 regular season games, he’s completed only 47.3 percent of his throws, and has also been criticized for his elongated throwing motion, with many pundits saying he doesn’t have what it takes to be a successful quarterback in the NFL.

Tebow had a massive press conference Monday a little after noon. He downplayed a possible quarterback controversy with Sanchez.

“I think we'll have a great relationship and, hopefully, we'll thrive together,” Tebow said.

Namath on Peyton: Jets aren't worthy

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
6:26
PM ET
Joe Namath doesn't think his old team has a realistic chance of signing Peyton Manning. Is it the money? The climate? The offensive scheme? No, Namath suggested the Jets are too dysfunctional to attract a player like Manning -- another biting opinion from the iconic player who isn't shy about dogging his beloved team.

"The Jets have to get things together on their own turf before someone with his background would be interested in coming,” Namath told Bloomberg News in a telephone interview from his Florida home.

It's funny. Former Dolphins great Dan Marino, whose former team is considered one of the frontrunners to land Manning, has been praising Manning to reporters in South Florida, fueling speculation that he's trying to recruit him. Marino even tweeted the free-agent QB, congratulating him on his wonderful run in Indianapolis.

What do the Jets get from Namath? A "Beware" sign.

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