Sunday, September 30, 2012
Sunday notes: Wildcat or pussy cat?
By Rich Cimini
Quick thoughts on the Jets and the NFL as we continue in Week 4:
1. Tiny Tim: Most of the Wildcat-related attention has focused on frequency: Are the Jets using it too much or too little? Forget about frequency; let's examine its effectiveness. So far, the Wildcat has been a bust. In 25 plays with Tim Tebow on the field, the Jets have averaged 3.1 yards per play, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In 167 plays without him, they've averaged 5.4.
The Jets will tell you Tebow's impact goes beyond the raw numbers -- i.e. the whole preparation-time-for-opponents argument -- but they aren't paying $2 million to the Broncos for "hidden" yardage. They expect production. Tebow himself is averaging 5.4 yards per rush, but it should be higher. He made bad reads on at least two read-option plays, according to a source, ruining potential big plays. As far as throwing, it's clear they don't trust him; he has no pass attempts.
Sunday's games against the 49ers should tell us a lot about how the Jets really feel about the Tebow package. The 49ers have allowed a league-high 70 yards on QB scrambles, including a 23-yard TD run last week by the Vikings' Christian Ponder. Take away the scramble yardage, and the 49ers are allowing only 3.0 yards per rush. This is a matchup that screams for more Tebow. If he's a non-factor again, it'll raise red flags.
2. Tannenbaum Island. The loss of Darrelle Revis puts the spotlight on CB Kyle Wilson -- and, by extension, GM Mike Tannenbaum, who picked Wilson in the first round of the 2010 draft. Elevating a former No. 1 pick into the lineup should be considered a luxury, but Wilson has been up and down in his career. The coaches are convinced he's ready for the promotion, but if he's not, it'll reflect poorly on the GM.
Without Revis, this is the time when their recent high draft picks should be taking over -- Wilson, Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis and Quinton Coples. The Jets have invested enough resources on defense to survive the loss of one player, but you wonder if this group -- with the possible exception of Wilkerson -- is ready to pick up the slack.
3. Magic Mike: Let's be fair with Tannenbaum. You have to credit him for the LaRon Landry signing. He's having a Pro Bowl-caliber year, with 21 tackles, one interception (for a TD) and one forced fumble.
4. Darrelle's future: Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan, responding to an ESPNNewYork.com story and other speculation on Revis' future, told Newsday the organization intends to sign the All-Pro corner to a long-term contract. He becomes a free agent after the 2013 season. Of course they want to re-sign him, but here's the bottom line: The knee injury clouds the situation and, if he's not signed by this time next year, the Jets will have to entertain the thought of trading him before the 2013 trading deadline. I'm not saying they will deal him, but they have to consider it because they could lose him with no compensation after '13. Remember, they can't use the franchise tag.
5. More Revis fallout: If I had $50 for every time I heard a player or coach use the phrase "step up" -- as in, other guys have to step up -- I'd have enough money to buy a piece of the team from Woody Johnson.
6. More Revis fallout II: One personnel executive told me that Revis is the only blue-chip talent on the Jets' defense. The executive ranked the remaining players this way, in order: LB David Harris, S LaRon Landry, OLB Calvin Pace, CB Antonio Cromartie and Wilkerson.
7. Sour taste: It's been a few days since the NFL settled with the game officials, but I still can't believe the league let it go on that long, let the integrity of the game be compromised to save a few bucks. It wasn't Roger Goodell's finest hour, to say the least. The furor will die down, of course, because the games always make people forget, even after they get ripped off. (We're so gullible.) But if the Packers-Seahawks debacle looms large at the end of the season -- if it costs the Packers a playoff spot -- it'll blow up again.
Interesting note from The New York Times, which reported that Woody Johnson was one of the owners that didn't want to settle by caving to public pressure. Maybe that explains why Ryan, knowing how his boss felt, held his tongue every time he was asked about the replacement refs.
8. The "Roger-and-Out" Bowl: The Packers (1-2) and Saints (0-3), two perennial contenders that can claim they were screwed by Roger Goodell, face each other Sunday in Green Bay. The loser will have a hard time making the playoffs, especially if it's the BountyGate Saints. The two teams already have more combined losses than they did for the entire 2011 season. Who'da thunk it?
9. Nobody beats the Whiz: Which team has the league's best record since Week 12 of last season? Surprise, it's the Cardinals at 8-1, per ESPN Stats. Ken Whisenhunt, a former Jets player and assistant coach, has always been among the most under-rated coaches in the league.
10. Passing craze. The Texans (3-0) are the only team that has passed on less than 50 percent of its plays, according to ESPN Stats. Memo to Jets: Fix the run defense. They host Houston next Monday night.