New York Jets: John Idzik

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The New York Jets' meandering search to replace cornerback Antonio Cromartie included flirtations with Vontae Davis (a rejection) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who had the audacity to take an offer from the New York Giants. Despite some pro-Darrelle Revis sentiment in the organization, the Jets decided not to pursue Revis 2.0. In the end, they made Dimitri Patterson their Big Free-Agent Cornerback.

The response from Jets Nation?

A collective groan.

Patterson
Who?

Patterson understands the sentiment, but he has a message for the skeptics: I'm just as good as the big names.

"Fans like high profiles. I don't have a high profile, but my film is legit," he said during a break at training camp. "When the season comes, I'll show everyone why I've been in the league so long.

"Vontae and all those guys, they were first-round picks," Patterson continued. "That's all cool, but as far as ability and responsibility, are they asked to do more than I've been asked to do over nine years? No. Have they been more productive on the perimeter? No, that's not the case at all. My tape shows that it's just a matter of me coming out and showing fans, 'Hey, let me show you.'"

The Jets have an interesting pair of cornerbacks. Dee Milliner thinks he's the best in the NFL (child, please) and Patterson, with his sixth team in 10 years, believe he was one of the biggest steals in free agency. The Jets signed him for one year, $3 million. If they turn out to be right, they will have their best cornerback tandem since 2011, when it was Revis and Cromartie.

Patterson said he has no intention of tainting the Jets' reputation at corner.

"There's a lot of scrutiny at this position because you had Revis and Cromartie," he said. "They were consistently competitive, year-in, year-out, with those guys at corner, so there's a standard that has been set. That's what the fans are accustomed to, so it's only natural to be concerned. My message to them is, don't be concerned."

Patterson is one confident dude for someone who hasn't played much in recent years due to injuries. In fact, he's missed 32 games the last three seasons (the last two with the Miami Dolphins), but he believes in his ability and he believes he's an ideal fit in the Jets' man-to-man scheme.

"Jets fans aren't familiar with me -- they don't have game tape -- so they have to trust that John Idzik and Rex (Ryan) did their due diligence, researching me," Patterson said. "If my résumé said, 'Cover-2, zone corner,' I wouldn't be here."

To get a complete evaluation of Patterson, the Jets had to study his pre-2012 tape. They see a savvy corner with elite ball skills and versatility, capable of playing outside or in the slot. Opposing scouts say he's much better in the slot, that it might be a stretch to play him on the perimeter.

"The guy understands the game and he understands the big picture, and you don't find a lot of guys like that," secondary coach Tim McDonald said.

Ryan said they didn't sign Patterson because he was the last man standing in the free-agent pool, claiming he was on their radar from the outset. Idzik probably didn't want to spend money on a big name, so he took the cheaper route -- a one-year stop gap and a draft pick (Dexter McDougle in the third round). It's risky, considering all the top quarterbacks they face in the first two months of the season. If the Jets get torched, oh, boy, the decision makers will get criticized.

Don't worry, Patterson said.

"I'll show the fans," he said.

Jets wake-up call: Day 3

July, 26, 2014
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The New York Jets are on the field at 10 a.m. ET Saturday for their first practice in pads. The first two days were in "shells," as were the offseason practices and minicamp. Finally, we get to see some real football -- or, at least, close to the real thing.

A few things to watch for:

No Pryor restraint: The Jets drafted safety Calvin Pryor in the first round to be an "enforcer" (Rex Ryan's word) in the secondary. With the pads on, he should be able to display the physical style that prompted the nickname "Louisville Slugger" in college. Of course, he has to be careful, because the last thing the Jets need is Pryor taking out one of their receivers. Play nice, gents, you're all on the same team.

Goal-line stand: The first day of pads could mean a live, goal-line drill -- always a highlight of camp. I've seen a few in my day, but one of the most memorable occurred in 2009, in Cortland, when big Kris Jenkins dominated the drill at defensive tackle. That was something to behold.

Eye on the QBs: General manager John Idzik, trying to downplay the perception that Geno Smith is the presumed starter because he received 75 percent of the first-team reps in the first two practices, said the rep distribution will fluctuate throughout camp. We'll be counting, to be sure. It'll also be interesting to see if Smith can make it through practice without a turnover. He threw an interception Friday, and the last thing you want to see is him going consecutive days with interceptions.

Green team: None of the rookie wide receivers has really jumped out. In fact, one of them -- Quincy Enunwa (hip) -- already is injured.
Rex Ryan showed his new boss last season that, even when speaking softly, he still carried a big enough stick to squeeze eight wins out of a team with modest talent. The New York Jets' coach received a well-deserved contract extension.

Now, with the Jets reporting to training camp Wednesday in Cortland, New York, for Year 2 of the Ryan-John Idzik era, we start to learn a lot more about the other half of the leadership tandem, the quiet man who prefers to stay out of the spotlight.

This is Idzik's time.

[+] EnlargeMilliner
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesDee Milliner is one of John Idzik's draft picks that needs to produce for the Jets.
It's impossible to evaluate a general manager after one season, especially in a rebuilding situation, but the landscape changes after two drafts and two rounds of free agency. In the NFL, that’s enough time to get a team from the 6-10 mess that Idzik inherited into the playoffs.

Idzik's predecessors, Terry Bradway in 2001 and Mike Tannenbaum in 2006, reached the postseason in their first seasons as GMs. Go back further, and you will remember that Bill Parcells made it to the AFC Championship Game in his second year as the GM/coach.

Even though Idzik is operating on a long-term plan, evidenced by his emphasis on the draft and his deliberate approach in free agency, an 0-for-2 start wouldn't look good on his résumé. He shouldn't be on the New York Mets' Sandy Alderson timeline, meaning he has to move faster than a glacier. It's just the way of the NFL.

Idzik has been around long enough to put his stamp on the team. He signed, re-signed and drafted most of the projected starters. In fact, only seven starters can be considered true holdovers from the previous administration: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Muhammad Wilkerson, David Harris, Damon Harrison, Quinton Coples and Demario Davis.

It's easy to notice they're the best guys on the team, Tannenbaum guys. Idzik needs to get some of his guys on that list. He already has Sheldon Richardson. By the end of the season, the list of top homegrowns should also include Geno Smith, Dee Milliner and Calvin Pryor. If Smith and Milliner are missing, the Jets will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season, which won’t bode well for Ryan's job security.

Idzik has the Jets pointed in the right direction, and the strides they made last season can't be dismissed. But let's be honest: They overachieved. They were one of the softest 8-8 teams in history, and you can look it up. Their point differential was minus-97, the largest since the 1970 merger for any team with at least eight wins.

The talent base should be improved this season, especially with the additions of Eric Decker and Chris Johnson. Decker was Idzik's one big splurge in free agency, his one Tannenbaum-like move. Johnson and Michael Vick will be one-and-done players, worthwhile Band-Aids who won't ruin the master plan if they fizzle. The offseason proved, once again, that Idzik won't deviate from his script no matter how much salary-cap room he has at his disposal. For the record, there's about $22 million as of today.

Idzik is doing it the right way, avoiding the temptation of the quick fix. That will pay off in the long run, but there will be problems along the way. For instance: Failing to sign a top cornerback in free agency was a mistake that could be exposed early in the season, when they face several elite quarterbacks. The cornerback issue will be exacerbated if Milliner fails to develop as hoped.

The Jets believe Milliner, drafted ninth overall, will be a special player, basing much of their opinion on his strong finish. The same theory can be applied to the quarterback situation with Smith. They're placing a lot of weight on those last four games, and that can be dangerous when you consider the competition. They beat three also-rans, three teams with mediocre (at best) quarterbacks: the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins.

Now, after seven months of positive mojo, the Jets can prove it wasn't a mirage. If Idzik's investments mirror the stock market, they'll be a playoff team. If it goes the other way, he'll hear the criticism, good and loud. The honeymoon is over. This is Idzik's time.

While we were on vacation ...

July, 21, 2014
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The three-week respite is over, and it's time to get back to football. Before we look ahead to Wednesday, when the New York Jets report to training camp in Cortland, New York, let's take a look back at what I missed over the last three weeks.

No news is good news: It was uneventful for the Jets, which, of course, is every coach's dream for the slow time before camp. There were no arrests and no off-the-field injuries (none that have come to light, anyway.) Nowadays, you can't take this stuff for granted. The Buffalo Bills (season-ending knee injury to LB Kiko Alonso) and the Baltimore Ravens (multiple arrests), for example, were in the headlines for the wrong reasons, creating problems and distractions. For Rex Ryan, it was blissfully quiet.

Smith
Happy talk: The optimism is flowing like Gatorade, which is what you'd expect in July. In recent interviews, Geno Smith said the Jets are capable of a Super Bowl run and Ryan all but predicted a postseason berth. Love the confidence (shades of the old Rex), but I think we need to tap the brakes just a bit, especially with the Super Bowl talk. The Jets are headed in the right direction, and they should be thinking playoffs after an 8-8 season (it's the next step, right?), but let's keep it real. They're still looking up at the New England Patriots and at least a handful of other teams in the AFC.

Andre the Jet?: I find it interesting that, whenever a star player becomes available (or might become available), there's a mad rush to see if the Jets are interested. The recent rumor involved Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, who is unhappy and may want out. First of all, I'd be surprised if the Texans trade him. If they decide to put him on the block, the Jets won't be interested -- at least that's the current feeling in the organization. Remember, John Idzik is the general manager, not Mike Tannenbaum, who was a big-name hunter. The Jets don't do business that way anymore. Idzik signed two free-agent receivers and drafted three others, so he's in no rush to junk his handiwork by trading for a 33-year-old receiver making $10 million a year.

Ah, memories: In case you missed it, ESPN.com conducted a fan survery during the break, determining the most memorable play for every team. By an overwhelming margin, the fans (not media) voted the Butt Fumble the Jets' most memorable play. In an NCAA-style bracket, the Butt Fumble lost in the first round to the Patriots' top play, the "Tuck Rule" game. Once again, the fans voted. But that's ancient history now. A new season is upon us, a time to create new memories and erase painful ones from the past.

Training camp preview: Offensive line

July, 17, 2014
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Breaking down the New York Jets' roster, unit by unit, in preparation for training camp, July 23:

Projected starters: D'Brickashaw Ferguson (LT), Brian Winters (LG), Nick Mangold (C), Willie Colon (RG), Breno Giacomini (RT).

Projected reserves: Oday Aboushi, Ben Ijalana, Dalton Freeman, Dakota Dozier.

Notables on the bubble: Caleb Schlauderaff, William Campbell.

Player to watch: Giacomini. The Jets took a calculated risk in free agency, letting a young, ascending right tackle (Austin Howard) walk out the door and replacing him with the unheralded Giacomini. It wasn't a small contract, either, as Giacomini signed a four-year deal for $18 million, including $7 million in guarantees. He and Howard are comparable players, although the Jets expect Giacomini to contribute more in the running game than Howard did. He comes from a run-oriented offense, the Seattle Seahawks, but Giacomini must make the transition from a zone-based blocking scheme to a gap scheme.

Top storyline: The guards. Colon underwent two surgeries in the offseason (biceps, knee), opening the door for Aboushi to get first-team work in organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp. Drafted as a tackle, Aboushi settled in at left guard, pushing Winters to right guard, where he's never played before. Colon is expected for training camp, so what we have here, folks, is an old-fashioned competition, with three players vying for two spots. Can't you just see John Idzik smiling? This could shake out a few different ways, but the prediction is they'll start the way they ended in 2013 -- Winters left, Colon right. But that won't be etched in granite.

Wild card: Aboushi. The former fifth-round pick, coming off a red-shirt rookie year (inactive 16 games), has a chance to crack the lineup. After struggling in pass protection at tackle (he was one of the players who missed a block on the Mark Sanchez injury), Aboushi was moved to guard in the spring. It's not an easy transition, as Winters proved last season. If Aboushi can succeed, it'll give the Jets more youth and athleticism at the position.

By the numbers: This may surprise some people, but the Jets finished third in pass protection, based on the percentage of plays in which the offense controlled the line of scrimmage on pass plays -- 52.7 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Information. This isn't commensurate with their high sack total (47), an indication that other factors outweighed the pass blocking -- mainly inexperience at quarterback and the inability of the receivers to get open on a consistent basis.

Training camp preview: Quarterback

July, 13, 2014
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Breaking down the New York Jets' roster, unit by unit, in preparation for training camp, which starts July 23.

Position: quarterback

Smith
Projected starter: Geno Smith.

Projected reserves: Michael Vick, Tajh Boyd.

Notable on the bubble: Matt Simms.

Player to watch: Obviously, it's Smith. He'll be under a daily microscope, with everyone -- coaches, media, fans -- looking to see if he has improved as much as the Jets said he has throughout the spring. He'll get about 70 to 75 percent of the first-team reps in practice, which means two things: The coaches are planning to structure training camp in a way that will allow Smith to claim the starting job if he performs at a competent level. But instead of giving him the typical share of starter reps (roughly 90 percent), they're hedging their bet, trying to get Vick ready in case Smith flops. It's a delicate balancing act, but there shouldn't be any issues as long as Smith doesn't blow it.

Top storyline: The Smith-Vick dynamic will be a fascinating watch. Smith has a great deal of respect for Vick, certainly more than he had for Mark Sanchez, but he also knows Vick represents a legitimate threat to his job. Vick already is popular among his new teammates, and his candid style will make him a media favorite as well. How will young Geno handle that?

Training camp will be a success if ... Reporters aren't asking Rex Ryan before the final preseason game why he hasn't named a starting quarterback. If they are, it means the Jets are waffling. Worse, it could mean there's an injury to consider (shades of last summer). The best-case scenario, from the team's perspective, is that Smith plays so well that the announcement is anticlimactic. If that's the case, Ryan could reveal his choice before the third game. Technically, Smith hasn't been named anything even though he has 16 starts on his résumé.

Wild card: General manager John Idzik. We know how he feels about competition. We also know how that backfired last preseason -- i.e., Sanchez's pointless injury. Idzik should have a minimal role in the quarterback decision, leaving it up to the coaches.

By the numbers: Smith has to do a better job under a heavy pass rush. When pressured, he completed only 28.7 percent of his passes (27-for-94) with one touchdown, five interceptions and a 28.5 passer rating, which ranked 38th in the league, per ESPN Stats & Information.

Jets' biggest key to success

July, 10, 2014
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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.

The Goodson debacle: Everyone looks bad

June, 19, 2014
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mike Goodson's brief and sordid run with the New York Jets finally is over, a 15-month period in which his scorecard included one arrest, one drug suspension, one knee surgery and only two games played. It was bad from the beginning, a failed marriage that produced no winners.

Goodson blew a nice contract and a wonderful opportunity with the Jets, squandering a special talent. He runs very fast with a football in his hands, a gift that took him from Texas A&M to the Carolina Panthers to the Oakland Raiders to the Jets. He made a lot of bad decisions along the way, mostly involving women and money, but his employers looked the other way because of his potential on the field. Eventually, they all came to the same realization: He's not worth the aggravation. It's hard to imagine him landing another job in the NFL. Heck, he could end up in prison if the gun-possession charge sticks.

But this story transcends football; we're talking about a human being with off-the-field issues, serious enough to cause genuine concern among his former teammates. They fear that the demons that took control of his life last year have brought him down again. Goodson was so drunk at the time of his arrest last May that he was found incoherent and covered in vomit in the passenger seat of a vehicle stopped in the middle of a highway, police said. There was marijuana in his pocket and a loaded gun in the glove compartment, according to reports. He was excused from training camp to undergo counseling, and he ended up with a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

As bad as it looked, the Jets stuck by him. A week after the arrest, owner Woody Johnson said he wanted to give Goodson a fair shake, quoting the famous line from "Superman": "We’re trying to win games and do the right thing. Truth, justice and the American way."

There was more to it than that, of course. Ego, pride and stubbornness also were involved. Goodson was one of John Idzik's first signings. They gave him a $1 million signing bonus, thinking he could be the playmaker they lacked in the backfield. They wanted to make it work even when it was broken. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there was altruism in play as well. But, ultimately, they're in the winning business, not the life-saving business. In the end, they come away looking bad. Either they didn't perform a thorough background check or they ignored the red flags, as his previous teams did.

Maybe the Jets can take something positive out of this; maybe it will cause them to re-examine their scouting process, taking a harder look at players with character issues.

On Wednesday, the Jets finally released Goodson. He had to go; it would've sent a bad message if they had an AWOL player on the roster. Idzik refused to admit it was a mistake to sign Goodson. He said they performed due diligence but also said it's impossible to truly know a player until he's in your program. Let's be real. It was a mistake. Admit it. Learn from it. Move on. At least it wasn't a cap-crippling financial blunder.

Goodson comes off looking like the bad guy because he got fired, but the Jets were no saints, either. They let him play last season despite the pending charges, with Idzik saying as recently as seven weeks ago that he expected Goodson to be on the 2014 roster. Then he went MIA, skipping the voluntary workouts. That bothered the Jets, particularly because they wanted to monitor his knee rehab. His days were numbered. When he failed to show for the mandatory minicamp, a violation of his contract ... well, that was their chance to cut him with protection from being forced to pay an injury settlement.

The cynic's moral to the story: It's OK if you get arrested, just don't blow off a mandatory minicamp.

Ryan doesn't rule out Brandon Flowers

June, 17, 2014
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The speculation started as soon as Brandon Flowers was released last Friday by the Kansas City Chiefs: Could the New York Jets make a play for the Pro Bowl cornerback?

What say you, Rex Ryan?

"I'm happy with what we have, but I'm not going to shut the door on any player that we think could possibly help our football team," Ryan said Tuesday at the Jets' mandatory minicamp. "We'll certainly look at it, for sure."

It should be pointed out that Ryan gives the same response for every free agent, so don't assume it means the Jets will be sending a contract proposal to Flowers anytime soon. As of Tuesday afternoon, they still hadn't reached out to Flowers, according to a source.

Yes, the Jets have the cap room (about $22 million) and, yes, there is a perceived need at cornerback. But general manager John Idzik has done a lot of repair work on the cornerback position in the offseason, signing free agent Dimitri Patterson and drafting Dexter McDougle in the third round, and he probably wants to evaluate his handiwork before rushing out to sign a veteran.

On Day 1 of minicamp, the Jets' new-look secondary was whole for the first time. Cornerback Dee Milliner returned after sitting out a few practices with hamstring tightness. McDougle, who missed much of the offseason as he recovered from a college shoulder surgery, impressed in his second practice since being cleared for contact. The starting secondary looked like this:

Milliner and Patterson at corner, with rookie Calvin Pryor and Antonio Allen at safety. Kyle Wilson was in the slot. McDougle worked with the second-team defense, along with corner Darrin Walls and safeties Dewan Landry and Jaiquawn Jarrett.

"He's all business on the field," Ryan said of McDougle. "I think you saw a little bit of why we're so excited about him and optimistic about him. He is physical. He's able to press and able to get both hands on you in press. He'll compete, and I think those are things we're looking to see, and I think we saw today. All of us saw it."

W2W4: Jets mandatory minicamp

June, 16, 2014
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The New York Jets open a three-day, mandatory minicamp Tuesday, the final phase of their offseason program. Their next time on the field will be July 24, the first training-camp practice in Cortland, New York.

A few of the top minicamp storylines:

1. Geno's exclamation point: Geno Smith can cap a positive offseason with a strong performance over the next three days. Rex Ryan loves the way the Smith-Michael Vick dynamic is working out, with Smith benefitting from Vick's presence and experience. Of course, it's only June. The landscape changes in training camp, when the scrutiny (and pressure) become more intense.

2. Kiddie corps: Fourth-round pick Shaq Evans returns to the team after missing organized team activities due to school obligations. Obviously, he's behind his fellow rookie receivers, fourth rounder Jalen Saunders and sixth rounder Quincy Enunwa. Evans has the most complete skill set of the three (scouts say he plays faster than his 40 time), so it'll be nice to get an extended look at him. The rookies are being hit with a lot of new material from the playbook, so there will be plenty of hiccups. Wide receiver is the quintissential John Idzik position because of the intense competition; so many roles and jobs are up in the air.

3. Mystery man: Troubled running back Mike Goodson, who skipped the voluntary portion of the offseason, is expected to attend, according to Ryan. According to the CBA, any player that skips the mandatory minicamp is subject to nearly $70,000 in fines. A cryptic Ryan said last week he hadn't heard from Goodson, who still faces a gun-possession charge stemming from his arrest last May. Goodson is eight months removed from major knee surgery, so he probably won't be cleared until training camp -- if he's still on the team.

4. Revamped secondary: There have been rumors about the Jets pursuing former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers, but don't hold your breath, folks. Idzik prefers young, homegrown players that don't eat up a lot of cap space. It's possible that four of the top six defensive backs this season will be first-, second- and third-year players -- Dee Milliner, Antonio Allen, Calvin Pryor and Dexter McDougle. Maybe, if the kids stink it up in minicamp, he'll consider Flowers, but it probably would take an injury to projected starter Dimitri Patterson. Curious to see if Pryor and Allen continue to take first-team reps in minicamp, with Dawan Landry backing up.

Jets notes: Rex's endless pursuit of B&B

June, 15, 2014
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A few thoughts on the New York Jets as we head into the final week of the offseason:

1. Song remains the same: Rex Ryan's remarks the other day about the New England Patriots (in response to Calvin Pryor's "hate" quote) triggered a memory. Ryan's comments -- "[Pryor] knows who the enemy is" -- came almost five years to the day in which he uttered his famous line: "I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick's rings." The takeaway: Five years later, not much has changed.

No one knows how the rest of the Ryan era will play out, but it's quite possible he could be remembered one day as a good coach who failed to rise above also-ran status because he was in the same division as the winningest coach-quarterback combination in history. Ryan hasn't been able to conquer Belichick and Tom Brady. No one has, as the Patriots have won the AFC East every year since Ryan took over the Jets in 2009 -- and a whole bunch of years before that. The same thing happened to the New York Knicks in the 1990s; they had some terrific teams, but couldn't get past Michael Jordan.

The Jets have been respectable under Ryan (42-38), the eighth-best record in the AFC over that span, but the Patriots are a league-best 61-19. The Jets finished four games behind the Patriots last season, and there's no reason to think they will overtake their longtime nemesis this season. With Brady expected to play a few more years, Ryan could be playing catch-up for the rest of the Brady-Belichick era -- if he lasts that long. Lousy timing for Ryan? Yeah, you could say that, but he also knew what he was signing up for in '09.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
AP Photo/Julie JacobsonRex Ryan took some heat this past week after skipping the Jets' final OTA session in favor of taking his team on a bowling excursion.
2. Misplaced criticism: Ryan's decision to cancel the final OTA practice in favor of a trip to a bowling alley fueled some mild backlash on social media. Actually, it's not unusual for a coach to skip the last day. Belichick, of all people, canceled his final OTA practices in 2012 and 2013. He also took the Patriots to the movies late last season. The criticism of Ryan is off base. It's June, for crying out loud! It's not like he took the team to Dave & Buster's on the eve of a big game. Oh, wait ...

3. A delivery of Flowers?: Despite all the happy talk from the Jets about their cornerback situation, I think they should explore the possibility of signing Brandon Flowers, who was released Friday by the Kansas City Chiefs. The question is, will they? As of Saturday morning, they hadn't reached out to Flowers, according to a league source. Then again, John Idzik isn't a hurry-up kind of general manager, so you never know. In the end, I'd be surprised if the Jets show serious interest despite a need (in my opinion) at the position.

Despite a Pro Bowl appearance, Flowers is coming off a disappointing season in which he was demoted to nickelback. He was rated 87th out of 110 cornerbacks last season, according to ProFootballFocus. That he struggled under former Jets defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, whose system is similar to that of Ryan's, is worth noting. We also know Idzik is reluctant to spend significant money for another team's trash. But we're also talking about a 28-year-old player with a substantial body of work, someone who could benefit by a change of scenery. If they paid $3 million for the injury-prone Dimitri Patterson, why not make a run at Flowers, who would be an upgrade? They have about $21 million in cap room.

4. Goodson's future: Flowers may have sealed his fate by not attending OTA practices, which are voluntary (wink, wink). The Jets' Mike Goodson did the same, prompting some fans to wonder why the Jets haven't cut ties with the troubled running back. Goodson's situation is complicated by his legal problems and perhaps personal issues. Remember, he was slapped with a four-game suspension last year for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. I find it hard to believe he'd deliberately stay from the team, jeopardizing his roster spot, unless there's an extenuating circumstance. His agent hasn't returned calls or emails seeking comment, and the Jets have been tight-lipped, except Ryan saying he hasn't heard from Goodson. Ryan said he expects Goodson to attend next week's mandatory minicamp.

5. New kid on the block: Right tackle Breno Giacomini has spent his entire career on zone-blocking teams -- the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, his most recent team. The Jets run a mix of zone and gap blocking schemes, which will require a transition for Giacomini. Before signing him as a free agent, the Jets studied tape of how he fared against common opponents, and they came away convinced he could adapt to the specific style they use against certain teams.

6. Big Mike: To improve his oft-questioned durability, quarterback Michael Vick added four pounds of "solid muscle," he told The Daily Press of Newport News, Virginia, his hometown. He told the newspaper he felt great throughout OTAs, proudly noting he scored a rushing touchdown last week.

"Still can move," Vick said. "Doesn't seem like any of my skills have diminished. … I still feel like I can play at a high level. That may be tested at some point this season, and I look forward to it."

Vick described himself as a "trendsetter," saying the mobile quarterbacks of today are continuing the style he brought to the league more than a decade ago. He added: "I was kind of the originator. That's something I can take to the grave."

7. Sheldon wants 'Mo money for Wilkerson: Muhammad Wilkerson is taking a low-key approach to his looming contract negotiations, refusing to make public demands. Teammate Sheldon Richardson is doing the talking for him, telling the New York Post, "Hopefully, they do the right thing and pay the man." Oh, they will. The question is when. After exercising a fifth-year option, the Jets have Wilkerson under contract through 2015, so there's no sense of urgency.

Richardson has a personal stake in the matter because in two years, he'll be in the same boat as Wilkerson. If the Jets renegotiate with Wilkerson before his fourth season, it'll set a precedent for Richardson and other former first-round picks.

8. Picture of the week: Here's soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo receiving a throwing lesson from wide receiver David Nelson. No Tebow jokes allowed.

9. The anti-Rex: Can there be two coaches more dissimilar than Ryan and Jurgen Klinsmann? Klinsmann says it's not possible for his team -- the United States -- to win the World Cup. Ryan goes into every game telling his team they will win -- and I honestly think he believes it. Call me traditional, but I like Ryan's approach. Klinsmann might be right, but no one wants to hear that jive. It's a good thing we didn't have a guy like him coaching the 1980 U.S. hockey team.

10. Farewell to a champion: The NFL lost a legend Friday night with the passing of former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll, who won four Super Bowls. Two Noll disciples became important figures in Jets history -- the late Bud Carson and retired personnel director Dick Haley. Carson, the Jets' defensive coordinator from 1985-88, ran the defense for Noll during the iconic Steel Curtain era. Haley, who worked for the Jets from 1991-2002, was one of the architects of the great Steeler drafts in the 1970s.

Twitter mailbag: Any ex-Patriot gems?

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14
9:00
AM ET
Plenty to discuss as the New York Jets prepare to wrap up the offseason with next week's mandatory minicamp:

@RichCimini: You're referring, of course, to cornerback Ras-I Dowling, tight end Zach Sudfeld and outside linebacker Jermaine Cunningham. Dowling and Cunningham are both former second-round picks of the New England Patriots, so we're talking about players with some degree of talent. On the other hand, Bill Belichick is a smart coach, not in the habit of dumping useful players. Dowling has impressed the coaches this offseason, working his way up to the second-team defense. I wouldn't say he's a lock to make the team, but his chances are better than 50-50. Cunningham has received some reps with the first-team nickel package. If he can rush the passer, he'll make the team -- but it remains a big if. I'd say Sudfeld has the best shot, based on the lack of numbers at tight end. Jeff Cumberland and Jace Amaro are locks, but Sudfeld -- who has intriguing receiving skills -- probably will stick as the No. 3. @RichCimini: I think the running backs will be Chris Johnson, Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory, with Tommy Bohanon at fullback. I'd like to put Daryl Richardson on the team, but he's a wild card, still recovering from last year's turf toe injury. I don't see Mike Goodson in the picture. At wide receiver, I see Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Jalen Saunders, David Nelson and Jacoby Ford. You're right, it's crowded and there will be some tough decisions. Truth be told, I think Decker and Kerley are the only true locks. Saunders and Ford are helped by their kick-returning ability. We know that John Idzik likes to protect his draft picks, so you know Shaq Evans will be in the conversation. If Evans impresses in camp, a veteran like Nelson could be in jeopardy. @RichCimini: As I've noted a couple of times, I think they need to sign a veteran for insurance. None of the backups have experience -- unless you count Caleb Schlauderaff, who has played only 14 regular-season snaps. Right now, their top backups are Oday Aboushi, Ben Ijalana and William Campbell -- a.k.a. the Idzik Redshirts from 2013. Rex Ryan is talking up Aboushi, and that's fine, but there's no substitute for experience. They a grizzled vet who can play multiple spots, someone like Wade Smith, formerly of the Houston Texans. @RichCimini: Interesting question. I did some research, and here's what I found: In 2012, the Jets blitzed on 34.3 percent of the dropbacks (11th in the league), according to ESPN Stats & Information. Last season, it dropped to 29.6 percent (22nd). I find it very hard to believe that Ryan will dial it back even further; that's not in his DNA. I could see definitely see him cranking up the pressure in an attempt to reduce the burden on the back end. One thing about "pups," as you call them: They usually can run faster than the old dogs, which, in theory, should help them in man-to-man coverage. So, no, I don't see Ryan dialing it down. @RichCimini: I realize this has nothing to do with football, but I like questions like this because they give the fans an off-the-field appreciation for the players. I've covered a lot of genuinely nice guys over the years (too many to list), but I'll try to narrow it down to a few: Curtis Martin, Dennis Byrd, Brandon Moore, Kyle Clifton, Marty Lyons, Pat Leahy, Jerricho Cotchery, Vinny Testaverde, Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito, Damien Woody, Lonnie Young, Kyle Brady ... and I could go on. A locker room filled with these guys would be awesome for a beat writer. When I'm in a bad mood, maybe I'll name my all-nasty team. 

Jets notes: McDougle makes debut

June, 11, 2014
Jun 11
2:55
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Notes and observations from Wednesday's OTA practice:

1. He-e-e-e-re's Dex: Third-round pick Dexter McDougle, who missed the final nine games of his senior year due to major shoulder surgery, made his practice debut for the New York Jets. After three weeks of wearing a red (non-contact) jersey, the rookie cornerback wore green with the rest of his defensive teammates and impressed Rex Ryan so much that the coach called him out in front of the team afterward. McDougle worked with the second-team nickel package and didn't seem tentative at all. This, of course, is good news for the Jets' revamped cornerback position.

[+] EnlargeEric Decker
AP Photo/Julio CortezThe Jets will be counting on receiver Eric Decker to produce in the red zone this season.
2. Rex comes clean: The Jets received mild criticism for taking McDougle in the third round, considering the time he missed at Maryland. Ryan admitted he, too, thought it was a risky pick, but others in the organization -- mainly defensive coordinat0r Dennis Thurman -- "eased my doubts" about McDougle. Ryan said Thurman, after watching McDougle on tape for the first time, came up to him and said, "I've got the guy right here." Ryan said they graded McDougle as one of the top "character" players in the draft. Assuming he has no setbacks, he will be able to participate in next week's minicamp.

3. Changing of the guards: 'Tis the time of year to experiment. With Willie Colon (arthroscopic knee surgery) sidelined for the remainder of the offseason, the Jets have been rotating players at right guard. On Wednesday, it was Brian Winters' turn. He traded places with Oday Aboushi, who moved to Winters' spot at left guard. No, this doesn't mean Colon is in danger of losing his starting job. Ryan acknowledged that Colon, who is expected to return for training camp, is a likely starter, but not necessarily at right guard. Interesting. Moving the players around in June creates competition and flexibility that could help in training camp.

4. Geno and Vick: There was a concentration on the two-minute offense and the red zone in practice. Both Geno Smith and Michael Vick looked sharp in the red zone, each quarterback completing four of five passes in team drills. Smith got most of the work with the starters. His best moment came when he stepped up in the pocket and found wide receiver Eric Decker in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Decker dominated in the red zone, one of the reasons why the Jets are paying him $7 million a year. Vick displayed his old form, scrambling for a touchdown. He also made a nice scoring pass to rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders.

5. Two-minute hiccups: Smith wasn't nearly as crisp in the hurry-up situation. He started off with a deep ball to Decker, but the drive stalled as he misfired on three of his last four passes. First-round pick Calvin Pryor came on a safety blitz to disrupt Smith on one play.

6. Rex on the QB competition/non-competition: Not surprisingly, Ryan spoke glowingly on the Smith-Vick battle -- even though it's not really a battle, if you ask Vick. "Both guys are sharp," Ryan said. "They're pushing themselves and pushing each other. That's exactly what we wanted to have happen. ... I've been really impressed with it."

7. Attendance report: Players that didn't participate in the voluntary practice included wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (personal), running back Mike Goodson (undisclosed), running back Chris Johnson (knee), running back Daryl Richardson (toe), wide receiver Jacoby Ford (undisclosed), Colon (knee), rookie wide receiver Shaq Evans (school obligation) and linebacker Antwan Barnes (knee). Ryan said he expects Goodson to show up for next week's mandatory minicamp. As expected, Johnson -- six months removed from knee surgery -- isn't expected to do much, if anything, in the minicamp. Ford will be full speed by next week.

8. Dee's cranky hammy: Cornerback Dee Milliner, who sat out last week's open practice, participated on a limited basis. Officially, the team is calling it hamstring "tightness," not a pulled hamstring. Got that? Ryan said they kept him out for precautionary reasons.

9. Odds and ends: Pryor continued to work with the starters. It was Pryor and Antonio Allen at safety, with Dawan Landry practicing with the second team. Landry already knows the defense; the plan is to let Pryor and Allen get as many reps as possible. ... The Jets are continuing their penalty/push-up tradition. When a penalty is committed, the entire team drops for 10 push ups. General manager John Idzik was among the non-players that did pushups. ... Matt Simms, battling rookie Tajh Boyd for the No. 3 quarterback job, threw an interception. ... Rookie tight end Jace Amaro, coming off a three-drop day last week, had another drop but looked much better catching the ball.

Chris Johnson: Let's get Andre Johnson

May, 27, 2014
May 27
10:15
PM ET
Running back Chris Johnson sent New York Jets fans into a Twitter frenzy Tuesday night, tweeting that the Jets should trade for disgruntled Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson.



A Johnson & Johnson attack for the Jets? Catchy. For obvious reasons, owner Woody Johnson probably likes the sound of it, but this is strictly fantasy football chatter at this point.

It's highly unlikely the Texans would trade Johnson, their best offensive weapon and arguably the most accomplished player in franchise history. As promised, he skipped a voluntary practice Tuesday, intensifying the speculation about his future in Houston. Johnson, reportedly unhappy with the direction of the team, recently wondered if he's still a fit.

The Jets spent big money to sign Eric Decker, but they could still use another quality wideout -- and they don't come much better than Johnson. Despite a terrible quarterback situation, he caught 109 passes for 1,407 yards last season. Johnson is a pro's pro and would help the Jets on many levels.

But keep dreaming, Jets fans.

The cold reality is that Johnson turns 33 in July and he's still owed $33.5 million over the next three seasons -- a huge number even for the Jets, who have about $23 million in cap room. For cap purposes, it makes no sense for the Texans to trade Johnson. Also remember that new coach Bill O'Brien is a Bill Belichick disciple, which means he probably won't be eager to accommodate the selfish desire of one player if it hurts the team. And a trade would hurt the Texans because there's no way they'd get fair-market value in return for the effective, but aging, receiver. If they did decide to move him, it would make sense to send him out of the AFC.

Wednesday's Jets practice is open to the media, which means Johnson can expect a lot of questions about his tweet. It also wouldn't be a surprise if he receives a message from John Idzik, who may tell Johnson to leave the GMing to him. After all, Johnson's job is to accumulate yards, not players.
Your questions, my answers on the New York Jets:

 

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