New York Jets: D'Brickashaw Ferguson

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.

Training camp preview: Offensive line

July, 17, 2014
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.

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

Jets players select most memorable game

June, 30, 2014
Taking a break from serious football topics, we decided to lighten the mood by asking several players on the New York Jets to name the most memorable game of their career -- high school, college or pro. Here's what we found:

Breno Giacomini (formerly of the Seattle Seahawks): "It has to be the Super Bowl. There was a huge hype about the game, with Peyton Manning being so good and the respect we had for Denver itself. We had two weeks to prepare for them, and the battle we had to go through to get to them, San Francisco, was tough. Plus, it was the first (championship) for the city of Seattle. There's a lot to it, but overall, Peyton Manning being so good, facing our defense. It was awesome."

Sheldon Richardson: "When we beat the Patriots last year. I didn't do anything major, it was just the fact that we won and beat the Patriots at home. It was a close game, a tough fight for everybody on both sides of the ball. It was just a fun game. Right now, that's my most memorable."

D'Brickashaw Ferguson: "It's a tie between college (Virginia) and the NFL -- my first game in each. It was Colorado State and the Tennessee Titans. I don't remember the outcome -- I think we won -- but it was my first NFL start. In college, it was my first time playing Division I football. Those are proud milestones, having an opportunity to compete at those levels. In fact, I think we lost the Colorado State game."

Dimitri Patterson: "It's when I started my first game on 'Monday Night Football,' when I was on Philadelphia (in 2010). That stands out the most out of all the games because Washington was the first team I was with coming out of college. They cut me. I was able to start against them and had two interceptions, one for a touchdown. I played well. That was really the year when I showed people I could actually play in this league at corner, so that games stands out the most to me, just because of the history I had with Washington and being able to start my first 'Monday Night Football' game and play well on a national stage."

Jeremy Kerley, a former high-school quarterback: "State championship my senior year in high school (Hutto, Texas). We played Tatum High School. It was the first time my school went to State -- ever -- so it was a pretty big deal. We traveled pretty good, we had everybody there. ... We were winning most of the game, but with 17-something seconds left -- I think we were down, 38-34 -- I had the ball on the 20-something yard line. We had the ball. Sack, lost the game."

-- Jane McManus contributed

Imagine if the Jets had Vernon Davis

June, 9, 2014
One of the fascinating aspects of the NFL draft is that each one produces a lifetime of what-if scenarios. No one knows this better than the New York Jets, whose history is filled with stars that got away. They passed on Dan Marino, Warren Sapp, Emmitt Smith ... and the list goes on. Well, here's another what-might-have-been:

Vernon Davis.

Former Jets coach Eric Mangini, speaking to the Hartford Courant during the run-up to his annual youth football camp last weekend in the Hartford, Connecticut area, said the Jets almost grabbed the freakishly talented tight end in the 2006 draft. Their interest in Davis was reported at the time, but it wasn't thought to be serious. Apparently, they were dead serious about Davis.

"When I was with the Jets, I really loved Vernon in the draft," Mangini said. "We were pretty close to drafting him in New York. It's funny how that kind of comes full circle."

Mangini is the new tight ends coach for the San Francisco 49ers, so he gets to work with Davis on a daily basis. It would've been fun to see Davis with the Jets -- they haven't had a weapon like him in a long time -- but you can't criticize them for not drafting him. Picking fourth in '06, they selected D'Brickashaw Ferguson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who has missed only one play in his entire career. Ferguson isn't as good at his position as Davis is at tight end, but he solidified the crucial left-tackle spot for the Jets.

In other words, this wasn't like picking Kyle Brady instead of Sapp. But, hey, on a slow day in June, it's interesting to ponder what might have been.

Comparing Tebow and Manziel: While on the subject of former Jets coaches, ex-defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was asked over the weekend to compare his Tim Tebow experience (2012) with the current Johnny Manziel phenomenon. Believe it or not, the Cleveland Browns' coach said the Manziel hype is more manageable than it was for Tebow.

"The circumstances are different," Pettine told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Tebow was an established NFL player, he wasn't coming in as a rookie, unproven. It's a little easier for us with Manziel because he understands he earned Johnny Football as a college player and nobody understands it more than him. It's like, 'Listen, I don't want to be named starter coming out of the draft.'

"People criticize us for referring to him as a backup. That's what he is. It would have been a disservice to the other 80-some players in the locker room and it would have been a service to him carrying that burden of 'What have you done to deserve this?' We all want him to be successful but there is a process that has to occur and he has to go through it."

Presumably, Pettine won't have clandenstine, training-camp practices featuring Manziel-specific plays.

Jets draft preview: Offensive line

May, 2, 2014
This is the fifth installment in a position-by-position analysis of the New York Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Offensive line

Current personnel: D'Brickashaw Ferguson (signed through 2017), Nick Mangold (2017), Breno Giacomini (2017), Willie Colon (2014), Brian Winters (2016), Ben Ijalana (2014), Caleb Schlauderaff (2014), Oday Aboushi (2016), William Campbell (2016), Jacolby Ashworth (2015), Dalton Freeman (2016), Patrick Ford (2016).

Projected starters: Ferguson, Winters, Mangold, Colon, Giacomini.

Newcomers: Giacomini (Seattle Seahawks).

Departures: Vladimir Ducasse (free agent/Minnesota Vikings), Austin Howard (free agent/Oakland Raiders).

Highest cap charge: Ferguson, $11.7 million

Scouting report: The offensive line got a bad rap last season because the Jets allowed more sacks (47) than all but five team. But that stat is misleading because they played with a rookie quarterback who frequently held the ball too long and receivers who couldn't get open. In fact, the Jets were No. 3 in the pass-protection rankings, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Their pass-protection rate was 52.7, which is defined by the percentage of plays in which the offense controlled the line of scrimmage on pass plays. In addition, 24 percent of their sacks were deemed "coverage" sacks, 11th in the league -- an illustration of the receivers' inability to gain separation. The only new starter is Giacomini, who may be more physical than Howard but could be a downgrade in pass protection. We'll see. Right guard is a concern because of Colon's durability issues. Obviously, they need a better year out of Winters, who struggled as a rookie.

Last OL drafted: Tackle/guard Aboushi (fifth round) and guard Campbell (sixth) were "future" picks in last year's draft, as they basically redshirted as rookies.

Potential targets: This draft should tell us how much they believe in Aboushi and Campbell as heir apparents. If the Jets see upside with them, they shouldn't have to pick a lineman until the later rounds, if then. They haven't been linked to any of the top prospects, but they're showing interest in several late-round possibilities -- guard Ryan Groy (Wisconsin), guard/tackle Dakota Dozier (Furman), tackle Matt Feiler (Bloomsburg), center Gabe Ikard (Oklahoma) and center James Stone (Tennessee). Last year was a big-body draft. This year, the big fellas aren't a priority.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 4.

Still not time to tear down O-line

April, 16, 2014
The New York Jets used to have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Now they need serious help, according to an article by Pro Football Focus Insider.

The Jets are listed among five teams with "positional frailties" that should be addressed with high draft picks. In their case, it's the line. According to PFF:
"On the surface, this may seem a strange selection given that both D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold are still on board and the team replaced departed right tackle Austin Howard with Super Bowl winner Breno Giacomini.

"However, we are now close to the nadir of a group that was as recently as 2010 the best in football. Things started to go downhill with the departure of the remarkably underrated Damien Woody (who in a fairer world would at least be discussed as a Hall of Fame candidate) and this was exacerbated further by the loss of Brandon Moore and the decline of Mangold and Ferguson. It's just as well Chris Ivory is a tough runner (he ranked tied for third in yards after contact per attempt in 2013, with 3.0) because he got very little help from his linemen this past season: not a single one graded green as a run-blocker."

My thoughts? I'd be surprised -- no, stunned -- if the Jets used a first- or second-day draft pick on a lineman. Ferguson and Mangold, both 30, may not be what they once were, but they're still in the top third of the league at their respective positions. Ferguson's cap numbers are so high that he can't be released without serious cap ramifications until 2016. For Mangold, who has less contractual security than Ferguson, that time occurs next year. But I still don't think it's time to start looking for their replacements; they're still two of the better players on the team.

The Jets gave Giacomini a $7 million guarantee, so they expect him to be around for at least a couple of years. At left guard, they suffered through Brian Winters' rookie growing pains, but they remain high on his future. If they were to draft a lineman, it likely would be a right guard. Willie Colon is back on a one-year contract, but there's no heir apparent -- unless you count William Campbell, a former defensive lineman who didn't get close to the field last season as a rookie. Campbell and tackle Oday Aboushi were the "future" picks in John Idzik's first draft. Evidently, they're still down-the-road prospects.

But do you want to know the biggest reason why the Jets won't use a high pick on a lineman?

Too many other pressing needs.

Sunday notes: Jets playing 'Moneyball'

March, 30, 2014
Thoughts and observations on the New York Jets:

1. Penny pinchers: For those not happy with John Idzik's conservative approach to free agency... well, you may not want to read this. It will raise your ire to a new level.

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AP Photo/Bill KostrounJets GM John Idzik has a new style this offseason: less spending, more scouting.
Right now, the Jets have the lowest cash payroll in the NFL -- $86.1 million, according to We're not talking cap dollars, we're talking actual cash spending for 2014. They're $50 million under the top-spending team, the Baltimore Ravens. The paltry number makes the Jets seem like the New York Mets of the NFL.

In 14 months, Idzik has systematically dumped many of the highest salaries. Their once-top-heavy cap has thinned to the point where only three players have cap charges of at least $7 million -- D'Brickashaw Ferguson ($11.7 million), Nick Mangold ($7.2 million) and David Harris ($7 million). It's telling that the fourth- and fifth-highest cap numbers belong to players no longer on the roster -- Antonio Cromartie ($5.5 million) and Mark Sanchez ($4.8 million).

The Jets flirted with several big-name free agents (Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), but missed out, in part, because they failed to show them the money. (Pardon the Jerry Maguire-ism.) What conclusions can be drawn? Either the Jets are cheap or Idzik is budgeting for the future. It's probably more of the latter. Know this: Starting this year, teams are required to spend at least 89 percent of the cap in cash over a four-year period. It looks like the Jets will have some catching up to do in future years.

2. DeSean update: Unless they pull a 180, the Jets won't be a factor in the DeSean Jackson sweepstakes -- a smart move. He's not a fit for them. They held internal discussions on Jackson, with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg giving his blessing. Mornhinweg, who coached him with the Philadelphia Eagles, told people in the organization that Jackson -- known for his bad-boy reputation -- wouldn't be a problem in the locker room. That apparently wasn't enough to sway Idzik, who reportedly hadn't reached out to Jackson's agent as of Saturday. Jackson is scheduled to visit Monday with the Washington Redskins. The Oakland Raiders might be interested as well.

3. On the road again: Idzik has popped up at a number of the high-profile pro days, most recently the Johnny Manziel extravaganza at Texas A&M. He's taking more scouting trips than he did last offseason, when he was new on the job and felt obligated to work from the office as he familiarized himself with the operation and the staff.

4. For Pete's sake: I caught up with Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at the league meetings and asked for a scouting report on right tackle Breno Giacomini, who left the Super Bowl champions to sign with the Jets. Carroll: "Great competitor. Really fierce. A really smart player. Tough. Great finisher. Physical. He's legit. We hated losing Breno. We would've liked to (have kept him), but we couldn't do it. We had no intention of wanting to lose him, but he's one of the guys we had to transition out of the organization. He's worth it (for the Jets). He got paid well and he deserves it."

Translation: We liked him, but not at four years, $18 million.

5. Cro is for the birds: With All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson locking down one side of the field, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians expects opponents to attack former Jet Antonio Cromartie -- and he's just fine with that.

"I love the fact that there's going to be a lot of balls thrown at him, because I didn't throw that many when I was playing against him," Arians said at the league meetings, expressing confidence in Cromartie's coverage ability.

He'll rue that statement if Cromartie doesn't cover better than he did last season.

6. Sleeper with speed: It was overshadowed by the Jackson news and the Sanchez signing, but the Jets picked up an interesting player Friday -- cornerback Jeremy Reeves. After a four-year career at Iowa State, where he intercepted five passes (two returned for touchdowns), Reeves was eligible for the 2013 draft. But he tore a pectoral muscle, missed his pro day, wasn't drafted and wasn't signed by anyone. After working out on his own for a year, he participated in Iowa State's pro day last week and burned the 40 in 4.29 seconds, according to school officials.

He's only 5-7, 167 pounds (picture Darren Sproles at corner), but that kind of speed -- even if not totally accurate -- turns heads. The Jets have a good feel for Reeves because Jeff Bauer, the director of college scouting, is an Iowa State alum, plugged into the Iowa scene.

7. Flying with the Eagles: Former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (it feels weird typing that) made a good point in his introductory news conference in Philadelphia: He believes he could thrive in Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense because of past success in the hurry-up. Sanchez was at his best in two-minute situations, when he didn't have to read the entire field and was required to make quick decisions. So maybe there's hope for him in Philly. On the other hand, his career record against NFC teams isn't sterling -- 10 touchdown passes, 21 interceptions.

8. Reality star: Eric Decker's reality show -- "Eric and Jessie: Game On" -- kicks off its second season Sunday night. (Jessie is his wife, a country-music singer, in case you didn't know.) I asked Rex Ryan if he's worried the show could become a distraction for his new wide receiver. He laughed, but his answer was no. Ryan said the show never came up in conversation with Decker prior to him signing.

9. More teams, wealthier coaches: Ryan is in favor of expanding the playoff field. "Absolutely," he said. "When you look at the fact that bonuses are probably tied into it, absolutely." He laughed, but he wasn't joking. In his new contract extension, Ryan can trigger incentive bonuses for 2016 with playoff wins.

10. Changing times: The Jets have 12 draft picks. In Ryan's first three seasons (2009 to 2011), with Mike Tannenbaum as the GM, they had a total of 13.

What we learned on Day 1

July, 25, 2013

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A few thoughts from the press box on the opening of training camp:

1. Handwriting on the wall?: Not to be a Danny Downer or anything, but if you believe in reading tea leaves it's hard not to be concerned about the offense. Santonio Holmes isn't close to returning (I hear he could miss the entire preseason, maybe more), Mike Goodson didn't report to camp for an undisclosed reason and Joe McKnight flunked his conditioning test. Mind you, this is an offense that may struggle under ideal conditions. This could be a rough deal, no matter who the quarterback is.

2. Land of opportunity: It was a theme throughout the offseason, and it will be a theme in training camp -- competition. Every job, Rex Ryan said, is up for grabs. Well, not every job. He quickly noted that D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, David Harris and Antonio Cromartie don't have to sweat it. He forgot Muhammad Wilkerson, but Ryan made his point. And it will be a good thing, this competition thing. Nothing drives a team more than knowing that everything has to be earned. My sense is, the Jets became complacent the last two years. That shouldn't be a problem anymore.

3. Enough chatter: For three months, Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith have been asked the same questions: Do you expect to win the starting job? Are you confident? Yada, yada, yada. I got the feeling Thursday they're both weary of it. Can't say I blame them too much. Both quarterbacks have talked a good game, especially Sanchez, but now it's time to perform. The first practice is Friday. This is the fun part; we get to see everything with our own eyes -- unless, of course, Tony Sparano shows up out of nowhere and tries to block our view (see last summer's clandestine Wildcat practice).

Revis impact: Brick restructures deal

April, 26, 2013
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets created $5.1 million in additional salary-cap space by restructuring the contract of LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, a source confirmed. They needed the extra cap room because of the Darrelle Revis trade and the cap acceleration. The money saved by re-working Ferguson's contract will provide enough room to sign their two first-round picks, Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson.

It was a simple restructuring, as Ferguson still will earn the $8 million he was scheduled to make this season. He converted $6.41 million of his $7.25 million base salary into signing bonus, pro-rating it over the five remaining years of his contract. His base will now be $840,000. He also will earn a $750,000 workout bonus, which was part of the previous contract.

Ferguson's cap number was lowered from $10.7 million to $5.6 million. He became the third veteran to restructure this offseason, joining CB Antonio Cromartie and WR Santonio Holmes, who took a $3 million pay cut.

The Jets got hit with $4 million in extra cap charges by trading Revis to the Bucs. He was due to count $9 million, but it ballooned to $13 million with the acceleration. Soon after they traded Revis, the Jets approached Ferguson, who also re-worked his contract last offseason.

Yahoo! Sports first reported the Ferguson deal.

Jets draft preview: Offensive line

April, 19, 2013
This is the fifth installment in a position-by-position analysis of the New York Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Offensive line

Depth chart: Center -- Nick Mangold, Caleb Schlauderaff; Tackle -- D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Austin Howard, Dennis Landolt, D.J. Young; Guard -- Willie Colon, Vladimir Ducasse.

Departures: LG Matt Slauson (Bears), RG Brandon Moore (unsigned), Jason Smith (Saints).

Total salary-cap charge (positional rank): $25.38 million (rank, first).

Scouting report: The glory days of '09 are long gone; this is a unit in transition. There's a solid foundation with Ferguson, Mangold and Howard, but there will be two new guards. Slauson left in free agency and Moore isn't far behind him. The Jets are searching for more competition at guard, shopping in the veteran-minimum aisle -- i.e. stop-gap players. They took a chance on Colon, an above-average player when healthy -- but he has been ravaged by injuries in recent years with the Steelers.

Right now, Colon and Ducasse are the starters. How's that grab you? Ducasse, a former second-round pick, was given an opportunity to start in each of his first three seasons -- and he failed every time. What makes them believe this year will be different? Howard had his share of hiccups in his first season as a starter, but he displayed enough potential to warrant a one-year, $2 million contract, the amount of his RFA tender. He was the 11th-rated right tackle in the league, according to

The last time: G Robert Griffin was drafted last year in the sixth round, but he didn't make the team in training camp.

Potential targets: No team has picked a guard in the top 10 since 1997. Will the Jets buck the trend? There are two candidates -- Chance Warmack (Alabama) and Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina). Both play left guard and both are considered future Pro Bowlers. Warmack is the better power player, Cooper the better athlete, capable of dominating in a zone-blocking scheme. There's little risk with either player, but the question is: Is there enough value in the guard position to warrant a top-10 pick? If GM John Idzik is in a play-it-safe mode in his first draft, it could be a guard. There's some thought that the Jets prefer Cooper over Warmack. They also could find a quality guard in the second round, either Brian Winters (Kent State) or Larry Warford (Kentucky). At tackle, the Jets visited with New Yorker Oday Aboushi (Virginia), a mid-round prospect.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): Guard -- 10; tackle -- 5; center -- 1.

Analyzing the O: Help needed everywhere

April, 15, 2013

The numbers resemble a zip code: 0, 9, 7, 7, 9. In reality, they represent the Jets' point total in five games last season.

In an era of wide-open passing attacks and high-scoring shootouts, the Jets trotted out a sorry offense that was reminiscent of the Rich Kotite daze. Rex Ryan took some responsibility, claiming he failed to establish an offensive identity, but the problem went beyond that.

[+] EnlargeNick Mangold
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireNick Mangold is one of the few players the Jets can count on offensively.
It's a talent issue. The Jets need playmakers and they need a quarterback who can galvanize his supporting cast. They're lacking in so many areas that it's easier to list their "haves" as opposed to their "needs." They have a left tackle, D'Brickashaw Ferguson. They have a center, Nick Mangold. Every other position has a question attached to it, creating almost an expansion-team feel.

The Jets averaged only 4.6 yards per play, next-to-last in the league. Statistically, it was one of the 10 worst offensive performances in the NFL over the last five years.

As usual, it starts with the quarterback. Mark Sanchez is part of the problem, no longer deemed part of the solution. Thing is, it's not a quick-fix situation. Sanchez's burdensome contract, coupled with a weak quarterback class, puts new GM John Idzik in a quandary: Does he commit to a new quarterback of the future by drafting one of the top prospects from the dinged-up Class of '13 or does he wait until next year and ride out the storm with the Sanchez-David Garrard-Greg McElroy troika?

Knowing Idzik, an executive in Seattle last year when the Seahawks found Russell Wilson in the third round, he'll probably wait. One thing could change that: If he feels strongly enough about one of the quarterbacks in the draft and can convince owner Woody Johnson to eat most of Sanchez's $8.25 million guarantee (the likely precursor to any trade), then maybe Idzik can start a new era at the position.

Geno Smith (West Virginia) could be available with the ninth pick, but we're not talking about a sure thing in the Andrew Luck-Robert Griffin III category. You want to be sure when you're picking a quarterback that high. The Jets like Ryan Nassib (Syracuse), but he probably will be picked somewhere between No. 9 and No. 39, their second-round choice.

The Jets should focus on upgrading the skill-position talent. Even though their top three receivers return, they still need a home-run threat for Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense. The top receivers are Tavon Austin (West Virginia) and Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee). The Jets' wideouts generated only 575 yards-after-the-catch, fourth-worst among receiving corps, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They need a pass-catching tight end to replace Dustin Keller and they could use a between-the-tackles runner to replace Shonn Greene.

Rome wasn't built in a day and the Jets' depleted offense can't be rebuilt in one draft.

Positional analysis: Offensive line

February, 8, 2013
This is part five in a nine-part analysis of the Jets -- a position-by-position breakdown as we head toward the scouting combine and free agency:


2012 depth chart: D'Brickashaw Ferguson (starter), Matt Slauson (starter), Nick Mangold (starter), Brandon Moore (starter), Austin Howard (starter), Jason Smith, Vladimir Ducasse, Caleb Schlauderaff.

Overview: Opinions are all over the map. According to, the Jets' line ranked No. 3 in the league last season. Of course, if the line was so good, how did it surrender 11 sacks against the Chargers? Why did OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo get fired? Here's the truth: In 2012, the Jets' line wasn't as good as it used to be in 2009 and 2010, but it wasn't as bad as some portrayed it. They have a solid foundation, with Ferguson and Mangold. The organization is high on Howard, who, despite ups and downs in his first year as a starter, looks to be a keeper.

Free agents: Moore, Slauson, Howard (restricted).

2013 personnel preview: Howard will be back, but there's little chance of Moore and Slauson returning. It wouldn't be a total shock if they're both gone. The Jets won't pay big money for guards, so budget will dictate which direction they go. They groomed Ducasse last season to replace Slauson at left guard -- Ducasse played in 272 offensive snaps (25 percent) -- so you have to think he's the favorite. Ducasse isn't on scholarship anymore because his biggest ally, former GM Mike Tannenbaum, is gone. Moore, who will be 33, would be good on a short-term deal, but he likely will have suitors willing to offer more. There could be a stud guard waiting for them with the No. 9 overall pick -- Chance Warmack (Alabama). But it would be nuts to pick a guard that high.

Salary-cap situation: Ferguson ($10.7 million) and Mangold ($9.1 million) have huge cap numbers, so they could be asked to do simple restructurings. Ferguson did it a year ago, so it's Mangold's turn. He's also due a $3 million roster bonus in the coming weeks. They need to clear some room for Howard, who will command at least a second-round tender ($2 million).

Surprise: O-line ranks third in NFL

January, 28, 2013
Even the most devout Jets fan might find this hard to believe, but the Jets fielded one of the premier offensive lines in 2012, according to the stats-based website

According to PFF, the Jets' line finished third out of 32 teams in its statistical analysis, behind only the 49ers and Patriots. The Jets ranked seventh in pass blocking, third in run blocking and third in penalties, per PFF.

Somewhere, Dave DeGuglielmo is smiling. Well, maybe not smiling, but muttering under his breath, "I told you so." The offensive-line coach, who made his utter disdain for the media quite clear in his three (count 'em, three) group interviews over the course of the season, was sensitive to the criticism heaped upon his unit. Ironically, he railed against stats-based websites for having no clue as to how to grade linemen.

Well, now one of those websites is patting him on the back, basically exonerating the line for the offense's problems. DeGuglielmo's reaction? Don't know; we'll have to wait for the next hurricane. (Inside joke.) The kicker here is that his job is hanging by a thread, with a chance he might not be retained.

Anyhoo, here's PFF's analysis of the Jets' line:

Stud: There were plenty of contenders here, but given some of the guys he kept in check, credit to D'Brickashaw Ferguson (+23.5) for a fine year.

Dud: The run blocking of Matt Slauson (+2.5) left a lot to be desired.

Summary: Everybody wants to poke fun at the Jets, and for some reason the offensive line got caught in the crossfire. It wasn't quite its dominant self in the early weeks of the season, but they finishing playing as well as any team. Nick Mangold and Brandon Moore played angry, while Austin Howard found his feet as an NFL tackle. Still, a line can only do so much to put skill players in position to do good things, and in that regard the Jets are sorely lacking.

Jets give up 11 sacks in loss to Bolts

December, 23, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Only the replacement players were this bad.

The Jets tied a team record by allowing 11 sacks in Sunday's 27-17 loss to the Chargers, the most yielded since a group of replacement players took the field on Oct. 4, 1987, against the Cowboys.

[+] EnlargeKendall Reyes and Greg McElroy
Rich Kane/Icon SMIKendall Reyes picked up 3.5 of the Chargers' 11 sacks of Greg McElroy.
The Jets, regarded as one of the NFL's top offensive lines, had allowed 35 sacks entering the game.

"This wasn't our day," left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson said. "We didn't play and execute in a manner that we were capable of. But it's our job to make sure that doesn't happen."

A combination of porous blocking and quarterback Greg McElroy holding the ball too long made it a long day for the passing game. From the first drive, San Diego brought the heat, forcing McElroy out of the pocket on the second play of the game and then chasing him down for a sack on the third. San Diego entered the game with just 27 sacks, ranked in the bottom half of the league.

Ferguson, along with center Nick Mangold, both talked of having to see the tape to break down where things went wrong. They said the Chargers did a good job bringing different twists that were difficult to pick up, that shouldn't lead to 11 sacks against the Jets' veteran line.

"They had 11 quarterback sacks," Jets coach Rex Ryan said in disgust to open his news conference. "That was great on their part and ridiculous on ours."

As much as the Jets' offensive line struggled, McElroy, making his first career start, admittedly held the ball too long. The second-year pro has the ability to stretch plays with his feet and relied a little too much on that, as he tried to keep plays alive instead of throwing the ball away. He did, however, avoid several sacks by managing to get just past the line of scrimmage.

"He's a tough guy," Mangold said. "He took some hits, which is disappointing, but he kept getting back up, which is a good thing. I think he'll be a good player."

When asked after the game if the Jets were caught off gaurd, by anything San Diego did, an exasperated Ferguson repeated, "I don't know."

"They're a good defense and they had a good plan, but it's our job as offensive linemen to provide protection and we definitely need to do that a little more," Ferguson said. "[I] didn't get a chance to look at the tape specifically, but I just know that it wasn't enough."

"I'm going home," guard Brandon Moore said. "I really don't have any thoughts."

For as bad as things were for the Jets' line on Sunday, they have nowhere to go but up against the Bills in the finale.

"I can promise and guarantee you won't see 11 sacks next week," receiver Braylon Edwards said.