New York Jets: Jeremy Kerley

Training camp preview: Wide receiver

July, 16, 2014
Breaking down the New York Jets' roster, unit by unit, in preparation for training camp, July 23:

Position: Wide receiver

Projected starters: Eric Decker, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley (slot).

Projected reserves: David Nelson, Jalen Saunders, Jacoby Ford, Shaq Evans.

Notables on the bubble: Clyde Gates, Greg Salas, Quincy Enunwa (sixth-round pick).

Player to watch: Hill. It seems like he's in this category every year, doesn't it? In this context, it's not a positive. This is Year 3 for the talented, but inconsistent Hill, which means it's time to earn his scholarship. He showed positive signs in the spring, and he'll probably have a solid training camp. The problem is maintaining it into the season. The former second-round pick tends to fade when the pads go on, resulting in a Mr. August reputation. It's all there for him. He could win a starting job with a strong camp or he could play his way out of a roster spot if he regresses.

Top storyline: The receiving corps is better than last season, but how much better? Decker replaces Santonio Holmes as the No. 1 receiver, giving the Jets a dependable, low-maintenance player from a winning program. He isn't the flashiest guy around, but he'll be there for Geno Smith and he won't drive the coaches crazy with moodiness. The question with Decker is whether he's a legitimate No. 1 receiver, but we won't know that until the regular season. For now, the challenge is to find a running mate for him. The Jets are hoping one of the others -- Hill, Kerley, Nelson or maybe a rookie -- can separate from the pack and nail down the No. 2 job.

Training camp will be a success if ... : The Jets aren't entering the season with all their eggs in the Hill basket, as they've done the previous two years. If they're not, it means at least one of the other receivers had a terrific camp, minimizing their reliance on the inconsistent Hill.

Wild card: Ford. As a rookie with the Oakland Raiders in 2010, he looked like a budding star, averaging nearly 19 yards per catch and scoring on three kickoff returns. But he faded away, in part, because of injuries. If healthy, Ford is an absolute burner, the kind of player that can change field position in the blink of an eye. Question is, will the Jets get the 2010 Ford or the '13 version?

By the numbers: The Jets need receivers that can make plays with the ball in their hands. The team finished 30th last season in yards after the catch (1,356), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Jets players select funniest moments

July, 10, 2014
Taking a break from X's and O's and related topics, we decided to lighten the mood by asking several players on the New York Jets to desribe the funniest moment of their career -- high school, college or pro. Here's what we found:

Alex Green: "I was in high school and I got tackled, but the guy tackled me from behind, and pulled my pants down. But it was wet and I was soaked, so when I got up [they] were still down. I couldn’t get them up. I was trying to pull them up for like two minutes, had to call a timeout and run to the sideline. It was one of the most embarrassing moments, and it was on camera, too. My mom recorded it and everything."

Bilal Powell: "In 2010 [at Louisville], I was actually running out for a route and tripped over my own shoestrings and the other sideline, the whole sideline was laughing at me. I was digging, and I just ate the dirt, everything."

Sheldon Richardson: "Come on, man, it's when I missed that tackle against Buffalo -- the only big run they had probably all season. [He stopped and celebrated, thinking the runner was stopped behind the line.] Hilarious. I mean, we won the game and they didn't score on that drive. When we watched it on film, we were laughing."

Jeremy Kerley (formerly of TCU): "We were playing against UNLV in college and we were up pretty good, and this guy on defense, he wasn’t even worried abut the game. He was just like, ‘Where can I get a mix tape from in Texas? I heard your music is pretty good,’ the whole rest of the game. It was funny. He was really worried about a mix tape."

Breno Giacomini (formerly of Louisville): "In college, when I was a tight end, I fell going in motion ... twice. At the time it wasn't funny, but when you go back and watch it, it's pretty funny, especially me being so big and goofy. It just looked really funny on film. I think that's when my offensive line career began. I was a blocking tight end, so I didn't have to move a lot."

D'Brickashaw Ferguson: "Recently, it was when I got my shoe caught in someone's helmet and the ref was tugging. He had the helmet and I had the shoe, and we were tugging. It was a play against the Patriots. It was some DB. I was going out on a screen. I don't know how it happened, but I had my heel in his helmet. I had to take my shoe off. It was kind of funny."

-- Jane McManus contributed

Twitter mailbag: Is Colon injury a concern?

May, 31, 2014
Plenty of great questions this week. A sampling:

Sunday notes: An inside look at Jets' draft

May, 11, 2014
Thoughts and observations on the New York Jets' most prolific draft in 16 years:

1. Cheaper by the dozen: The history books will show that the Jets and San Francisco 49ers tied for the most selections -- 12. In terms of volume, this was the Jets' biggest haul since 1998, when Bill Parcells was running the show and drafted 12 players. They'd better hope this one turns out better than '98, which produced only one quality player -- tackle Jason Fabini.

2. Balanced attack: The Jets selected six players on offense, six on defense. So everybody in the building is happy.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
AP Photo/Bill Kostroun"I think we have a lot of excellent football players here, and I know our organization's excited about these players," said Rex Ryan about the Jets' draft.
3. Needy Jets: They always talk about taking the proverbial "best player available," but this smacks of a "need" draft. Basically, the Jets devoted half the draft to their two biggest needs, picking three defensive backs (two corners and one safety) and three wide receivers. The last time they took three receivers was 1990, when they drafted Reggie Rembert (traded before the opener), Terance Mathis and Dale Dawkins.

4. Enough speed? The prevailing thought going into the draft was they needed to pick a burner at wide receiver, a home run threat to play opposite Eric Decker. It's still an issue, as they passed on the high-profile prospects. Who are the starting receivers? Decker and ... Jeremy Kerley? He's better in the slot. Stephen Hill? Come on. The Jets are hoping one (or more) of their three receiver picks can develop into that kind of player. Jalen Saunders (fourth round) is small and shifty. Shaq Evans (fourth) had five touchdown catches of 54-plus yards in his career. Quincy Enunwa (sixth) set a Nebraska single-season record with 12 touchdowns, including a 99-yarder in the Gator Bowl. So we'll see.

5. John the deliberate: There were 27 trades during the draft, but the Jets were one of only seven teams that didn't get involved. General manager John Idzik took a passive approach, letting the draft come to him, as they like to say. That's unfortunate, because the Jets -- armed with eight tradable picks at the outset -- wasted an opportunity to jump up and grab players they really liked. You're not going to have 12 rookies on your opening-day roster, so why not use some of the picks to improve your draft position? Instead of attacking, they played a read-and-react style. I wonder if everyone in the draft room was comfortable with that strategy.

6. Mission impossible: We live in a world of instant analysis, so draft experts and folks like me are required to assign grades as soon as the draft is complete. In most cases, it's a pointless exercise. For the record, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Jets a B, same grade as last year. The Jets received generally favorable reviews from the so-called gurus, yet it's interesting to note that only two picks (Calvin Pryor and Jace Amaro) appeared in the pre-draft top-100 lists of Kiper, Todd McShay, Mike Mayock and Scouts Inc. As a matter of fact, eight of their picks were ranked 200 or lower on the Scouts Inc. list. Hmm.

7. Rex the restrained: Rex Ryan, who famously gloated last season that the 2013 draft was an "A-plus" for the Jets, refrained from making any over-the-top declarations -- well, kind of. "To say it's an A-plus now, I’m not going to do that," he said. "But I think give us the season, let that thing run out, then I’ll be more than happy to. But I wouldn't be surprised if it's an A-plus again because I think we have a lot of excellent football players here, and I know our organization’s excited about these players." Last year's draft produced five starters; that won't happen this year.

8. Coach Mac attack: The happiest guy in the building might have been new special teams coach Thomas McGaughey. Except for quarterback Tajh Boyd, the draft is filled with prime candidates for special teams. That should help improve the overall athleticism on a unit that showed signs of decay last season. The most dynamic addition is Saunders, who scored on two punt returns last season and averaged 15.4 yards.

9. I.K. is OK: I never thought defensive Michael Sam was a serious possibility for the Jets because, at 6-foot-2, 261 pounds, he's not an ideal scheme fit in Ryan's base 3-4. But in the sixth round, the Jets drafted defensive end I.K. Enemkpali, who is 6-1, 261 pounds. Not only is Enemkpali slower than Sam, based on their reported 40-yard dash times, but his level of competition in college doesn't match that of Sam -- Louisiana Tech and Missouri, respectively.

"I don’t know that we’ll get into guys that we would have considered and comparing them against ours," said Idzik, when asked why he took Enemkpali over Sam. "Obviously, we felt very good about I.K. and he has a chance to fit a role here, come in and compete." The Jets did Sam a favor by not picking him. The media attention in New York would've been crazy, a major distraction for him and the team. Sam landed in the ideal place. Kudos to the St. Louis Rams.

10. Character issues: At least three of the 12 picks were arrested in college. Enemkpali was arrested in the spring of 2011, and charged with disturbing the peace and battery of a police officer. He received a school suspension. In March 2012, Amaro was arrested on felony credit card fraud; the charges were eventually dropped. In December 2012, Saunders was arrested for marijuana possession. The charge was dropped when a teammate took responsibility.

11. Two firsts: Enemkpali became the first player from Louisiana Tech drafted by the Jets. Ditto for cornerback Brandon Dixon, from NW Missouri State.

12. Different strokes, different folks: Under Idzik, the Jets have drafted 19 players in two years. His predecessor, Mike Tannenbaum, selected 21 players in his last four drafts.

13. Matty Iced: If I'm Matt Simms, I'm feeling a bit concerned about my job security. Ryan made it quite clear he was the driving force behind the Boyd selection.

14. The Black Holes: I found it interesting the Jets used their first two picks on positions in which they haven't had much drafting success -- safety and tight end. The last drafted tight end to make the Pro Bowl was Mickey Shuler (1978, third round) and the last safety was Erik McMillan (1988, third round).

15. Quote of the draft: From Ryan's post-draft news conference: "Did we get everybody we wanted? As far as you guys know, we did."

Jets draft preview: Special teams

May, 3, 2014
This is the sixth installment in a position-by-position analysis of the New York Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Special teams.

Current personnel: PK Nick Folk (signed through 2017), P Ryan Quigley (2005), LS Tanner Purdum (2014), KR Jacoby Ford (2014), PR Jeremy Kerley (2014), PR Kyle Wilson (2014), KR Clyde Gates (2014).

Newcomers: Ford (Oakland Raiders).

Departures: KR Josh Cribbs (free agent), KR Antonio Cromartie (cut/Arizona Cardinals), KR Darius Reynaud (free agent).

Top salary-cap charge: Folk, $3.6 million.

Scouting report: It's a mixed bag. The Jets were happy to retain Folk, who signed a four-year, $12 million contract, but there are concerns for new special-teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey. The once-formidable unit needs an upgrade in a few areas, a sentiment shared by former STC Mike Westhoff, who criticized the talent level at the end of last season. "The personnel is limited -- and I'm being kind," he said.

Coverage and return units are populated by players in the bottom third of the roster, and the bottom third has eroded over the years. This offseason, they lost their third-leading tackler, Isaiah Trufant (Cleveland Browns), who served as a gunner and played 233 snaps on special teams. They finished in the middle of the pack (17th) in overall performance, according to a formula used by ESPN Stats & Information, but it should be higher. The addition of Ford, who scored on three kickoffs in 2010 for the Raiders, should bring some sizzle -- if he's healthy. McGaughey said he'd like to import competition for Ford. He also said his No. 1 objective is to improve the punt coverage.

Potential targets: The Jets need more run-and-hit athletes. With 12 draft picks, including nine in Rounds 4-7, they have plenty of ammo. By the time they get done drafting and signing college free agents, they'll be stocked up on receivers, tight ends, linebackers and defensive backs. Remember these names: Kadron Boone and James Wright, former LSU receivers. They won't be drafted, but they were two of McGaughey's top special-teamers at LSU. The draft's top returners are Dri Archer (Kent State) and De'Anthony Thomas (Oregon), both running backs. They're small, but fast. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU) also has exciting return ability.

Need rating (scale 1 to 10): 6.

Jets draft preview: Wide receiver

April, 29, 2014
This is the second installment in a position-by-position analysis of the New York Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Wide receiver

Current personnel: Eric Decker (signed through 2018), Jeremy Kerley (2014), Stephen Hill (2015), David Nelson (2014), Jacoby Ford (2014), Clyde Gates (2014), Greg Salas (2014), Saalim Hakim (2015), Michael Campbell (2014), Dwight Jones (2016).

Projected starters: Decker, Kerley.

Newcomers: Decker, Ford.

Departures: Santonio Holmes (cut), Josh Cribbs (free agent).

Top salary-cap charge: Decker, $4 million.

Scouting report: We could provide a stream of negative statistics, underscoring the bleak state of the position, but that would be piling on at this point. Well, OK, just one: Kerley's 43 catches were the fewest by the Jets' leading receiver since 1979. They partially addressed the need in free agency, giving Decker a $7 million-a-year contract, but they don't have a reliable speed receiver on the perimeter. Hill was supposed to be that guy, but he hasn't put it together for a variety of reasons. They're in big trouble if they don't add a dynamic playmaker. Another factor to consider is the long-term outlook. Decker and Hill are the only veterans under contract in 2015, so building depth has to be a priority. It would be a shock if they don't draft at least two receivers.

Last WRs drafted: The Jets picked Hill (second round) and Jordan White (seventh) in 2012.

Potential targets: Assuming they stay put in the first round, the player to watch with the 18th pick is Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU), an all-around talent whose stock is creeping up. He has the skill set to catch passes on all three levels of the defense and he returns kicks. The Jets love his game and his character. Brandin Cooks (Oregon State) and Marqise Lee (USC) are possibilities, too. Cooks is the fastest of the three (he blazed the 40 in 4.33 seconds at the combine), but he's a shade under 5-10. Some scouts see him as a slot receiver. Lee is a fluid athlete, but he's coming off a pedestrian year filled with drops. He'd be a slight reach at 18. Because of the depth at the position, the Jets could find a quality receiver in the second or third round. Cody Latimer (Indiana) and Paul Richardson (Colorado) are nice-sized receivers that fit in a West Coast system. John Brown (Pittsburg State) is a late-round possibility.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 10.

How Decker could impact draft strategy

March, 13, 2014
So the New York Jets' wide-receiver situation has improved over the past 24 hours, with the addition of Eric Decker. Now you have Decker, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill and David Nelson as your top four guys. You have basketball size with Nelson (6-foot-5), Hill (6-4) and Decker (6-3). The Jets could add another veteran in free agency, perhaps James Jones (6-1).

Does this preclude them from drafting a receiver in the first round? Not at all. They absolutely could select a "speed" player to complement all the big bodies. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. certainly could see them going in that direction. He believes they still need a No. 1 receiver because he doesn't see Decker thriving in that role.

"I think Decker is a good No. 2 receiver," Kiper said Thursday in a media conference call. "If you’re asking more than that, maybe you’re expecting too much. He was in the perfect scenario certainly in Denver with Peyton [Manning] last year, when you think about what he was able to do numbers-wise. When he was at Minnesota, I had a second-, third-round grade on him when he came out. I liked him coming out of Minnesota as a 2, not a 1.

"If you get a guy like Marqise Lee or you get a guy like Odell Beckham Jr. (at No. 18), or if you get a guy like Brandin Cooks at that point, you’re still getting a guy who could be very viable with Decker," Kiper continued. "They still could take a wide receiver. If they didn’t, you have to look at a versatile linebacker, you certainly could look at a tight end if [Eric] Ebron slid down there. There’s going to be an attractive receiver still there. What they have to decide is, is Decker enough or do they want to get an Odell Beckham Jr. or a Brandin Cooks or Marqise Lee because all three of those players -- at least two of those -- I think still could be there when the Jets pick."

We still have two months to debate it.

Free-agent profile: WR Emmanuel Sanders

March, 4, 2014
From now until March 11, the start of the league year, we'll profile potential free agents that figure to be on the New York Jets' radar:

Player: Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers

Position: Wide receiver

2013 stats: 67 receptions for 740 yards and six touchdowns -- all career highs. He averaged only 11.0 yards per catch, a career low. He played in 796 offensive snaps (75.7 percent).

2013 salary: $2.5 million.

Sign him up: The New England Patriots thought enough of Sanders last year to sign him to an offer sheet. They would've surrendered a third-round pick, but the Steelers decided to match the one-year, $2.5 million offer. Sanders responded with his best year, which included a long touchdown reception against the Jets -- a play in which he torched Antonio Cromartie. He had only two drops last season out of 112 targets, per ESPN Stats & Info -- one of the lowest drop percentages in the league. Obviously, the Jets need help at the position. Sanders is an ascending player (he turns 27 on March 17), although some believe he's already close to his ceiling.

Reasons to stay away: Sanders might have been a fit for the Patriots, who like smallish, slot receiver types, but the Jets already have a Sanders-like player in Jeremy Kerley. Sanders is steady, but his stats -- everything from yards after catch to catch percentage -- were no better than the league averages last season. He'd upgrade the receiving corps from a depth perspective, but for at least $5 million a year (the going rate for a wideout of his ilk), you expect better than average.

Mayock: Jets could pick multiple receivers

February, 18, 2014
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock conducted a pre-combine conference call Tuesday with reporters. A few takeaways from a New York Jets perspective:

1. Mayock called this "the deepest and best draft class I've seen in probably 10 years," especially at the wide receiver position. That's good news for the receiver-needy Jets. Mayock said there's so much talent in the draft that a general manager told him that having a top-20 pick this year is equivalent to a top-10 choice last year. The Jets pick 18th.

2. Assessing the Jets' receiving situation, Mayock said, "They need some talent out there." He said he wouldn't be surprised if the Jets picked multiple receivers in the draft. That, of course, could hinge on how they attack free agency. He believes the Jets could have a shot at one of the top three wideouts at 18, most likely USC's Marqise Lee or Texas A&M's Mike Evans. Clemson's Sammy Watkins will be "long gone."

3. Lee and Evans are totally different in terms of body types and skill sets. Lee can play inside, outside and return kicks. At 6-5, Evans is a massive target on the outside. Mayock mentioned how the Jets already have Jeremy Kerley in the slot and Stephen Hill on the outside, adding that Santonio Holmes (an expected cap casualty) is "at the end of his career." Mayock added, "I just think you pick less about X's and O's there; it's which guy is the best football player. My perspective is, you can't go wrong with either Marqise Lee or Mike Evans." He also mentioned Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin, in the Evans mold at 6-5, as a possible consideration.

4. Mayock is high on North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, so much so that he wouldn't be surprised if Ebron is a top-10 pick. The Jets need a pass-catching tight end like Ebron. Based on Mayock's evaluation, it doesn't sound like he'll slip to 18.

5. It took more than a half-hour into the session with reporters, but Mayock was finally asked about Missouri's Michael Sam, the first openly gay prospect in NFL history. Sam's sexual orientation never was mentioned; Mayock kept it strictly about football, giving Sam a lukewarm evaluation.

"He’s a tweener," Mayock said. "That's why people have trouble with the evaluation. ... I saw him on tape and again at the Senior Bowl. What I saw was a natural edge rush guy. He's much better going forward than backward. He’s got a little bit of explosion off the edge, but he doesn’t have the length (at 6-1 5/8, 255 pounds). He’s got linebacker size, but he’s got the physical skill set of a defensive end. He’s a tough fit. What I see is a situational pass-rusher, not an every-down player, and a core special teamer."

Mayock expects Sam to be picked anywhere from the third to fifth round.

6. Mayock raved about Notre Dame's Zack Martin and his versatility, his ability to play guard and tackle. It would be a stunner if the Jets went in that direction at 18, but it's something to file away, considering guard Willie Colon and tackle Austin Howard are headed to free agency.

Examining team needs: Wide receiver

February, 10, 2014
The New York Jets' wide-receiver situation calls to mind the popular car-insurance commercial, the one where a guy is told he can save 15 percent in 15 minutes. He responds, "Everybody knows that."

Well, it's the same deal with the Jets at receiver: Everybody knows they need help, lots of help. It's their No. 1 priority in the offseason. Consider: A total of 94 players produced more receptions last season than the Jets' leading receiver, Jeremy Kerley, who had 43 catches. Get the picture?

The Jets will go into free agency next month with a depth chart that includes No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 receivers, but no clear-cut No. 1 and No. 2. Their most accomplished wideout, Santonio Holmes, is a likely salary-cap casualty. The wideout with the most long-term potential, Stephen Hill, has disappointed. Quarterback Geno Smith will have no chance to improve unless the front office surrounds him with some playmakers.

Projected off-season plan: Look for the Jets to make at least two significant acquisitions -- one in free agency, one via the draft.

Free agency: The Jets should be able to find a solid No. 2. Two players jump out as possibilities -- Golden Tate (Seattle Seahawks) and Jeremy Maclin (Philadelphia Eagles). GM John Idzik is familiar with Tate from his years in Seattle and the same can be said for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and Maclin.

Tate and Maclin are only 25, still early enough in their prime years to warrant a big contract. Maclin's familiarity with Mornhinweg's offense makes him a natural fit, but there's risk because Maclin is coming off ACL surgery. Idzik has shown he's willing to gamble on medical risks, but those were modest contracts. Maclin will be costly despite his 2013 injury. A one-year, prove-it contract won't be enough to pry him away from the Eagles. Eric Decker (Denver Broncos) will be a hot ticket, but buyer beware: His gaudy numbers are due, in large part, to Peyton Manning. Nevertheless, he'll get paid like a No. 1 receiver, figuring to land a deal for at least $9 million per year. The Jets would be wise to stay out of that neighborhood, focusing on a $5 million-to-$7 million-a-year receiver that can grow alongside the wideout they pick in the draft. The Seahawks' Sidney Rice, a possible salary-cap casualty, could be a possibility.

Draft: Six to nine receivers could go in the first round, according to ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. The Jets (18th) are sitting in the middle of the round, staring at the likelihood of getting the fourth- or fifth-best wideout. Forget about Sammy Watkins (Clemson); he'll be long gone. Mike Evans (Texas A&M) and Marqise Lee (USC) figure to go somewhere in the 13-to-18 range. Remember, the Jets could move up four or five spots by trading their extra third-rounder, putting them in position to take a top wideout. Idzik won't force a "need" pick, so it's possible they could wait until Round 2. Signing a good receiver in free agency will allow them the luxury of waiting, if necessary.

Roster evaluation: Player rankings, 6 to 10

February, 7, 2014
At this stage of our rankings, we're talking about two different kinds of players -- young, building-block players and indespensable veterans. Here you go, Nos. six to 10:

6. David Harris, middle linebacker, (cap charge: $7 million): He calls the defensive signals and rarely comes off the field. Harris played well last season after a disappointing 2012, showing a marked improvement in pass coverage. He's not an elite linebacker in the NaVorro Bowman category, but he's a VIP in the Jets' world. Harris is headed into a contract year.

7. Geno Smith, quarterback, (cap charge: $1.1 million): This is based largely on positional value and potential. The Jets have a young, developing quarterback who won eight games as a rookie and, barring something unforeseen, he will be the starter again in 2014. It's too soon to say he's the real deal, but his arrow is pointed up -- and that counts for something.

8. Dee Milliner, cornerback, (cap charge: $2.9 million): He was the ninth overall pick in the 2013 draft, a lofty position that carries a lot of weight. The Jets believe Milliner, who struggled much of the year, turned the corner (no pun intended) in the final month. If he continues on that trajectory, he'll be a No. 1-caliber corner in 2014.

9. Jeremy Kerley, wide receiver, (cap charge: $1.4 million): Facts are facts: The Jets were 0-4 without Kerley, 8-4 with him. Statisically, their passing attack was more effective when he was on the field -- .6 yards per pass attempt better, to be exact. Not bad for a diminutive slot receiver.

10. Quinton Coples, outside linebacker, ($2.4 million): If you polled players on the team, asking them which player has the most potential, Coples would come up most often. With him, it comes down to want-to. He has only 10 sacks in two years, but the total should increase at a faster rate now that he's had a year to learn the "rush" linebacker position.


11. Antonio Cromartie, cornerback

12. Austin Howard, right tackle

13. Chris Ivory, running back

14. Demario Davis, linebacker

15. Brian Winters, left guard

16. Dawan Landry, safety

17. Calvin Pace, outside linebacker

18. Bilal Powell, running back

19. Jeff Cumberland, tight end

20. Santonio Holmes, wide receiver

21. Mark Sanchez, quarterback

22. Antonio Allen, safety

23. Nick Folk, placekicker

24. Willie Colon, right guard

25. Stephen Hill, wide receiver

Sunday notes: A spy in the house?

January, 19, 2014
Championship notes (hopefully) for a championship Sunday:

1. Knock, knock. Who's there? Bill. Bill Belichick: The New England Patriots' coach is one win away from his sixth Super Bowl and a full week of access to the New York Jets' facility in Florham Park, N.J. The prospect of the SpyGate kingpin roaming the halls has to be unnerving for Jets fans -- and maybe the organization, too.


Which scenario would be worse?


Discuss (Total votes: 4,716)

The AFC team in Super Bowl XLVIII will practice at the Jets' facility, the NFC team at the Giants' place. That's the set-up. The trepidation is understandable, considering Belichick once got into a heap of trouble for illegally videotaping the Jets' signals during a game, but I wouldn't get too concerned. The facility will remain fairly secure. According to the league:
  • Coaches don't share coaches' offices. So, no, Belichick wouldn't have the chance to put his feet up on Rex Ryan's desk.
  • Teams usually hold meetings at their hotel, where meeting space is set up by the league. Both teams are staying in Jersey City.
  • Teams usually eat at the team hotel, so they won't get to sample the impressive fare at the Jets' cafeteria.
  • Equipment is loaded into the locker room and kept there for the duration. Depending on the type of practice, the players will get dressed in the locker room. You can bet the Jets' staff will inspect it beforehand, removing any type of intelligence (i.e. game plans or iPads) left behind from the season.
  • Most host teams will have their staff off during the times the Super Bowl participant is at the facility, so there's no chance for the staff to see the AFC team's staff or players. Too bad; a Ryan-Tom Brady encounter at the water cooler would've been priceless.
  • The visiting team will be protected from potential espionage as well. Windows of any office with a view of the practice field will be taped over.

Chances are, Belichick, whose disdain for his former team is well documented, would feel more uncomfortable than his hosts. In the field house, he'd practice beneath giant murals of members of the Jets' Ring of Honor, including the one that got away from the Patriots -- Curtis Martin. Around the building, he'd see "Play Like a Jet" references on the walls, probably making him queasy. In short, it's probably the last place in the world he'd want to prepare for a Super Bowl.

2. Thoughts on the Rex-tension: Before Ryan finalized his contract extension, there were some people who thought he'd take a chance and coach out his current deal, becoming a free agent in 2015. That's tough to do, of course. When someone puts $4 million on the table, it's hard to walk away. He reportedly is due to make $3.3 million in 2014 (under his previous contract) and, from what I understand, he'll get a small raise for 2015 -- figuring close to $4 million guaranteed. Some people say he didn't get as much security as he coveted -- 2016 is a quasi-option year -- but I think he did OK for a coach who has missed the playoffs for three straight years.

3. Bottom line on Rex: Because it's technically a "multi-year" extension, the contract will create the perception that Ryan is safe beyond 2014. Yeah, it might quiet some of the speculation, but here's the reality: He's back to where he was before the 2013 season. As someone who knows Ryan told me, "If he bombs, he's gone."

4. Merit raises: RB Bilal Powell and WR Jeremy Kerley, heading into the final year of their rookie contracts, each received a $744,000 bump for 2014, thanks to salary escalators, according to It brings their salary up to $1.389 million in '14. To earn an escalator, a player (drafted in Rounds 3 through 7) must play in at least 35 percent of the snaps in two of his first three seasons or 35 percent of the total snaps over the three-year period.

5. The Simms spotlight: Backup QB Matt Simms has a link to two of the "Final Four" quarterbacks -- and, no, I'm not referring to the fact that his famous dad will be broadcasting the Patriots-Broncos AFC championship. In 2010, Simms attended the Manning passing academy in Louisiana, hosted by Peyton Manning, Eli and their father, Archie. It's a four-day event for high school and college quarterbacks. One of Simms' fellow campers was Colin Kaepernick. In a skills competition, Simms finished second, ahead of Kaepernick and some kid named Andrew Luck. Yeah, Simms always could sling it, and now he's starting to mature as a player. The Jets recognize it, signing him before the season ended to a one-year, $495,000 contract (the second-year minimum).

By the way, Taylor Potts of Texas Tech (who?) beat out Simms in the skills competition.

6. Not 'The Man': After Friday's incident, I guess Geno Smith shouldn't expect to land one of those cool headphones commercials, a la Kaepernick.

7. So long, Sammy: Waiting in line at a restaurant the other night, a Jets fan asked me, "Can we get Sammy Watkins?" The draft still is more than three months away, but fans already have developed an affinity for Clemson's stud wide receiver, who would address a huge need for the Jets. Could Watkins fall to 18th? No way. An NFC scout, whose team picks in the top 15, said Watkins wouldn't get past them.

"He ain't gonna be there," said the scout, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "Tell John Idzik, unless he trades up, he won't get him. He's a great kid, he works hard and he has some of the quickest hands you'll ever see. This kid has an unbelievable talent. He can fly and he has courage."

8. If not Watkins, then ...: There will be other wide receiver options for the Jets at 18. Marqise Lee (USC) could be there. A longtime scout told me, "I like him. Big-play ability. I could see the Jets taking two receivers in this draft and signing one in free agency." Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State) is a rising talent. Said the NFC scout: "He's got first-round talent. Before this year, every time I saw him, he was dropping easy ones, but he's matured and improved. He's running routes better and it seems like he's finally figured it out."

9. Dreaming of Johnny Football: Unless Johnny Manziel pulls an embarrassing stunt before the draft (thrown off a plane?), he won't fall to the Jets at 18. Some mock drafts project him going No. 1 overall to the Houston Texans. Our NFC scout said of Manziel, "He has unbelievable instincts. He's got eyes in the back of his head. He can run and throw and win games. But he's kind of small. He looks like a peanut. Durability could be a big issue, but that [kid] can play." It would be a major upset if he lasts beyond the top 8.

10. Losing games and viewers: TV ratings are soaring for the NFL, but the Jets are one of 10 teams whose local ratings have declined for two straight years, according to the Sports Business Daily. Their two-year drop is 19 percent, the second highest in the league. Only the Oakland Raiders (22 percent) suffered a bigger fall off. By the way, the New York Giants weren't far behind at minus-15 percent.

Final playing-time breakdown: WR

January, 3, 2014
Continuing our final analysis of 2013 playing time:

Offensive snaps: 1,051

Wide Receiver:

Stephen Hill -- 594 snaps/57 percent

David Nelson -- 568 snaps/54 percent

Jeremy Kerley -- 567 snaps/54 percent

Santonio Holmes -- 500 snaps/48 percent

Greg Salas -- 156 snaps/15 percent

Clyde Gates -- 133 snaps/13 percent

Ben Obomanu -- 41 snaps/4 percent

Josh Cribbs -- 30 snaps/3 percent

Ryan Spadola -- 27 snaps/3 percent

Michael Campbell -- 24 snaps/2 percent

Saalim Hakim -- 9 snaps/0.9 percent

Analysis: No position was affected more by injuries than wide receiver. Sanjay Lal's receiver room must have felt like a bus station, with near-constant coming and going. Eleven receivers played at least one snap. The top three wideouts -- Holmes, Hill and Kerley -- all missed time due to injuries. ... You knew this was going to be a tough year for Holmes, coming off a serious foot injury that hampered his ability to train in the offseason. That probably was the cause of his torn hamstring, which cost him five games. In case you're wondering, Holmes made $15,000 per snap, based on his $7.5 million salary. ... Hill finished the season on injured reserve for the second year in a row. ... Nelson, picked up off the street in Week 5, saved the unit from falling into total disarray. He led the group in playing time over the second half of the season.

Practice Report: All aboard

December, 20, 2013
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets practiced indoors for the third straight day as the team prepares to face the Cleveland Browns at 1 p.m. Sunday. The day should be warm and perhaps rainy, but ultimately it’s a meaningless game in terms of playoff implications.

All the Jets were available and appeared to practice with the team during the portion of practice open to the media. Jeremy Kerley said his elbow almost feels back to normal, no one appeared to be taking a pitch-count day, and none of the wide receivers were on the bike.

Now if they just had something to play for.

Film review: No Mojo for Mo Wilkerson

December, 10, 2013
One last look at the New York Jets' 37-27 win over the Oakland Raiders:

This was an unusually quiet game for DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who was credited with only two tackles. He wasn't disruptive in the pass rush, appearing at times as if he were less than 100 percent. You can't help but wonder if his wrist injury is affecting his ability to shed blockers.

Wilkerson showed up on the injury report two weeks ago, meaning he probably hurt it against the Baltimore Ravens -- his last impact performance. He has been limited in practice, but he continues to downplay the injury, insisting it's no big deal. But could it be a coincidence that the Jets' run defense has slipped since Wilkerson hurt his wrist? The Jets have allowed 275 rushing yards in the last two games.

It's almost unfair to pick on Wilkerson because he's such a good player, undoubtedly the team MVP. That, of course, is why we take notice when he's not his usual dominant self.

Other takeaways after breaking down the tape:

1. Glitches for Geno: Rookie QB Geno Smith, perhaps playing for his job, took some nice strides in this game. No doubt, it was a winning performance. But, for the sake of evaluation, we can't ignore the entire picture. He got away with some poor throws. There were two near-interceptions and a blown touchdown opportunity on the first drive, when he missed TE Kellen Winslow in the end zone. Winslow beat a linebacker in man-to-man coverage, but the pass was thrown over the wrong shoulder.

[+] EnlargeJets
AP Photo/Bill KostrounJeremy Kerley bailed Geno Smith out on a touchdown pass against the Raiders.
Smith's 25-yard touchdown to Jeremy Kerley was off the mark as well, underthrown, but Kerley bailed him out with a terrific "jump-ball" effort in the end zone. You can get away with questionable throws against a bad team like the Raiders -- "Bad News Bears," as Charles Woodson said -- but Smith won't have the same success against the Carolina Panthers if he doesn't sharpen up.

2. A run of beauty: Chris Ivory's 15-yard touchdown was one of the best plays of the season. In a span of 15 yards, he broke five tackles, demonstrating an impressive combination of power and agility. Let me break it down by missed tackles:

A. Ivory, cutting back on a misdirection run, slipped an arm tackle by DE Lamarr Houston at the 15.

B. Ivory plowed through S Charles Woodson, who squared up with him at the 13.

C. Showing quick feet, Ivory used a stutter-step move to get around S Brandian Ross at the 11.

D. Ivory confronted LB Sio Moore, who earlier was flattened and dazed by an Ivory block while rushing the passer. That unpleasant encounter may have stuck in Moore's head because, instead of throwing his full weight into Ivory, he avoided a head-on collision by lowering only one shoulder and trying to rip out the ball. It didn't work.

E. Ivory spun out of Moore's tackle attempt and rammed into CB Tracy Porter at the 3. Ivory drove him back and into the end zone for the touchdown. It was the best 15-yard run in a long, long time.

3. Making Sparano look good: Former Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, the Raiders' offensive-line coach, must have been giddy after Marcel Reece's 63-yard touchdown run. It was vintage Sparano, a power run with the right guard pulling. The Raiders blocked it beautifully.

Rex Ryan used a "46" front (think '85 Chicago Bears), meaning eight in the box and linemen over the center and two guards. In theory, it should've been the ideal front to stop a power running play. Ryan didn't name names, but he said the 3-technique lined up a bit wide (it looked like Wilkerson), allowing a double team. Reece had a huge hole. NT Damon Harrison missed a tackle at the point of attack, and that was all she wrote. Reece, unusually fast for a fullback, split S Dawan Landry and CB Antonio Cromartie and was gone.

4. The other lousy defensive play: Eight minutes after Reece's touchdown, the Jets suffered another breakdown, when Cromartie and S Ed Reed collided while defending a slant route. This was a weird play because the Raiders had two receivers in the same area, TE Jeron Mastrud and WR Rod Streater. It looked like QB Matt McGloin was throwing for Mastrud, covered by DB Kyle Wilson.

Reed came flying downhill, looking for his second interception. He ran into Cromartie, who was on Streater. Somehow, the ball got through Mastrud and the collision, finding Streater, who ran 48 yards for the touchdown. You can call it a fluke play, but it also showed a lack of familiarity between Reed and Cromartie.

5. Dee-licious: Embattled rookie CB Dee Milliner played perhaps his best game of the season. He was targeted three times and didn't allow a single completion. Interesingly, the Raiders seemed to be picking on Cromartie, who was targeted seven times. He allowed four completions for 97 yards, including a touchdown.

6. Solid pass pro: The Jets did a nice job of handling the Raiders' blitz. They came into the game as one of the heaviest blitzing teams in the league, and they didn't disappoint. Unofficially, they sent five or more rushers on 23 of 29 dropbacks. Smith was sacked only once (Ivory missed a block in blitz-pick up), although he was hit six times.

For the most part, Smith kept his poise, completing 12 of 21 for 132 yards, one interception and one sack against added pressure.

7. Odds and ends: Two of Smith's best completions (30 and 16 yards) came with three tight ends on the field. On the 30-yarder to Winslow, Smith rolled to the right after a heavy run-action to the left. The entire offensive line pulled left, but the Raiders didn't bite on the fake, leaving the five linemen standing by themselves on the opposite side of the field. Kind of funny on the all-22 tape. ... Rookie LG Brian Winters struggled with his run blocking, allowing two tackles behind the line for minus-8 yards. ... Santonio Holmes should've made that catch in the end zone. ... Credit LB Quinton Coples with some outside pressure on Reed's interception. ... Blocks of the day: As I mentioned earlier, Ivory crushed Moore on a blitz. Later, on a well-executed screen pass, RG Willie Colon blew up DT Vance Walker with an open-field block. Ryan highlighted both plays in his "Play Like a Jet" film session Monday.