New York Jets: Vladimir Ducasse

Jets notes: QB job should be 'open'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Futbol and football: Portugal's national soccer team, led by global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, will train at the Jets' facility from Tuesday through June 9 in preparation for the World Cup. The team's stay in the area will be capped by a June 10 exhibition against Ireland at MetLife Stadium. Paulo Bento, the Portugal coach, already has visited the Jets' facility in Florham, N.J., declaring "the pitches are very good." With the World Cup approaching, I wonder if Bento still has open competition for each starting job.

Jets draft preview: Offensive line

May, 2, 2014
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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.

Long list of injuries at MetLife

August, 25, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Aside from Mark Sanchez, several players were injured in Saturday night's 24-21 overtime win over the Giants. The Jets provided no updates, but here's the list:

• CB Antonio Cromartie -- Left in the first quarter with a hip injury. Didn't return. Replaced by Darrin Walls.

• LG Vladimir Ducasse: Left in the first quarter with a possible ankle injury. Didn't return. Replaced by rookie Brian Winters.

• WR Clyde Gates: Left in the first half with an undisclosed injury. Didn't return.

• DT Sheldon Richardson: Suffered an undisclosed injury late in the second quarter and was taken to the locker room. Didn't return to the game.

• RB Joe McKnight: He was dressed for the game, but didn't play. After missing time with a head injury, which McKnight called a concussion, he was expected to play.

Practice report: Another good day for Geno

August, 22, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Because of rain, the Jets went indoors Thursday for their final training camp practice. And it was another good day for QB Geno Smith, who took the majority of the reps and received praise from quarterbacks coach David Lee.

"Today was by far the quickest and the best he's looked," said Lee, referring to Smith's fundamentals -- specifically, his footwork.

Our unofficial practice stats are misleading because this was a late-in-the-week session, meaning it was game plan-specific without the usual camp intensity. There also was a heavy emphasis on goal line, which explains the inflated touchdown totals.

Smith was 5-for-6 with five touchdowns and one drop. Mark Sanchez was sharp as well, going 4-for-4 with one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown.

The rookie practiced the entire week with the first team and will start Saturday night against the Giants. Sanchez also will see time in the game.

SUMMER OF VLAD: It took four years, but former second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse has a legitimate chance to win a starting job at left guard. He continued to practice with the starters and will start against the Giants, Rex Ryan announced. The reason is twofold: The coaches believe he's earned a shot based on his play. Also, Stephen Peterman, who started the first two games, was moved to center, backing up Nick Mangold.

WINTERS READY FOR SUMMER: Third-round LG Brian Winters, hampered by an ankle injury for most of camp, made it through the week and is expected to make his preseason debut. It was thought that he'd compete immediately for a starting job, but he fell behind because of the injury. He'll work with the second-team line, along with LT J.B. Shugarts, C Stephen Peterman, RG Caleb Schlauderaff and RT Oday Aboushi.

HERE'S CHRIS: Based on practice reps, look for an increased role this week from RB Chris Ivory, who carried only six times for 13 yards last week in his debut.

ATTENDANCE REPORT: WR Braylon Edwards (leg), CB Dee Milliner (calf), NT Kenrick Ellis (back) and CB Ellis Lankster (undisclosed) didn't practice. Edwards, apparently hurt against the Jaguars, hasn't practiced all week and is unlikely to play Saturday night. ... CB Antonio Cromartie sat out team drills with what he called a leg cramp. He was replaced by Darrin Walls.

ODDS AND ENDS: Rookie WR Ryan Spadola had a drop, but he's very much in the team's plans. OC Marty Mornhinweg called him an "outstanding prospect." ... DE Leger Douzable got some first-team reps and could see extended action this week.

Take 5: Jets vets on the bubble

June, 26, 2013
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Vladimir DucasseSteven Bisig/USA TODAY SportsVladimir Ducasse's Jets scholarship is over. Can he finally make an impact in 2013?
Continuing our "Take 5" series, we look at which veteran players will be fighting for jobs in training camp. It will be an intense camp, as GM John Idzik has been singing the "competition" song from the moment he arrived. Here's our list of those whose jobs are the most tenuous:

1. G/T Vladimir Ducasse: This is a make-or-break year for the former second-round pick. His biggest ally, former GM Mike Tannenbaum, is gone, meaning his scholarship has expired. Ducasse played every position except center during the offseason, helping his chances. But with three draft picks and improved depth, he'll actually have to earn his spot.

2. QB Greg McElroy: Former seventh-round picks don't get to hang around forever. This will be McElroy's third year, and he's battling Matt Simms for the No. 3 job -- if there is a No. 3 job. QBs coach David Lee has been trying to get him to take more chances, throwing downfield instead of opting for check-downs.

3. WR Clyde Gates: Rex Ryan keeps telling everyone that Gates is one of the fastest players in the league. He might be right, but even when he's healthy (which hasn't been often), Gates doesn't play to his speed. He's here because former OC Tony Sparano liked him from their days in Miami. Now Sparano is in Oakland. By the end of August, they could be reunited.

4. TE Konrad Reuland: The arrival of Kellen Winslow Jr. could jeopardize Reuland's spot on the roster. They're basically the same type of player -- pass-catching tight ends. Reuland's fate could be tied to Winslow's health; a chronic knee condition makes it 50-50 that the former Pro Bowler lasts through training camp.

5. RB Bilal Powell: The Jets acquired two backs in the offseason, Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson, an indication they don't view Powell as a long-term answer. The same could be said of Joe McKnight, but he has value as a kickoff returner. Powell has to find a niche. His value increases if Goodson is suspended for his recent arrest.

Ducasse looks to catch on with Jets

May, 16, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Vladimir Ducasse has one season left before he will be Vernon Gholstoned by the new Jets management.

“It's pretty much a year for me to do what they drafted me to do,” Ducasse said.

Ducasse and coach Rex Ryan, one of the few holdovers from the group that drafted him in 2010, have discussed that this is the year for him to make an impact. Ducasse said Ryan is excited to see what he can do this year.

Gholston, the Jets' most recent example of an ineffective high pick, was jettisoned after three seasons, and never caught on with another team.

“I’m not looking at it like I was a second-rounder,” Ducasse said. “That was three years ago.”

The thing is, Ducasse has never won a position battle, although he did end up splitting reps last season with Matt Slauson though few thought Ducasse earned the part. That seemed to be confirmed late in the season. Then-offensive line coach Dave Gugleilmo said he was instructed to rotate Ducasse in at left guard against his better judgement, a “directive from high above me.”

It’s not going to get any easier this season. The Jets signed veteran offensive linemen Willie Colon and Stephen Peterman, and drafted Oday Aboushi, Will Campbell and Tommy Bohanon.

The writing has to be on the wall for Ducasse.

Jets draft preview: Offensive line

April, 19, 2013
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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 ProFootballFocus.com.

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.

Positional analysis: Offensive line

February, 8, 2013
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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:

OFFENSIVE LINE

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 ProFootballFocus.com, 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).

Quarterly playing-time report: Offense

December, 8, 2012
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We're at the three-quarter mark of the season, so here's a breakdown of the offensive snap counts for the third quarter of the season, games nine to 12 (based on 264 snaps):

QUARTERBACK
Mark Sanchez -- 221 snaps/84 percent
Greg McElroy --32 snaps/12 percent
Tim Tebow -- 11 snaps/4 percent

Analysis: Stunning. Who could've imagined that McElroy would have more playing time than Tebow? All told, Tebow has played only 66 snaps on offense.

RUNNING BACK
Shonn Greene -- 130 snaps/49 percent
Bilal Powell -- 108 snaps/41 percent
Lex Hilliard -- 88 snaps/33 percent
Joe McKnight -- 14 snaps/5 percent
Kahlil Bell -- 3 snaps/1 percent

Analysis: They've shifted to a committee approach in recent weeks, creating more opportunities for Powell. Greene's days as the "bell cow" (Rex Ryan's term) appear over.

WIDE RECEIVER
Stephen Hill -- 150 snaps/57 percent
Jeremy Kerley -- 140 snaps/53 percent
Chaz Schilens -- 131 snaps/50 percent
Clyde Gates -- 73 snaps/39 percent
Antonio Cromartie -- 8 snaps/3 percent
Jordan White -- 1 snap/1 percent

Analysis: Well, look at the bright side: Hill is getting a lot of on-the-job training. That will serve him well in the future. For now, his lack of experience hurts the team.

TIGHT END
Dustin Keller -- 176 snaps/67 percent
Jeff Cumberland -- 135 snaps/51 percent
Konrad Reuland -- 75 snaps/28 percent
Jason Smith -- 57 snaps/22 percent

Analysis: Cumberland has received a ton of playing time, although he doesn't have much production to show for it. Keller, hampered by injuries, wishes he could take a mulligan (not Matthew Mulligan).

OFFENSIVE LINE
D'Brickashaw Ferguson -- 264 snaps/100 percent
Austin Howard -- 264 snaps/100 percent
Nick Mangold -- 264 snaps/100 percent
Brandon Moore -- 253 snaps/96 percent
Matt Slauson -- 220 snaps/83 percent
Vladimir Ducasse -- 55 snaps/21 percent

Analysis: The Jets have been really lucky here in terms of injuries. The left-guard platoon has made recent headlines (here's to you, coach Guges), but it's not like Ducasse is seeing a whole lot of time.

Question the D? Go ahead, Rex dares you

September, 17, 2012
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- One of the characteristics of a Rex Ryan-coached defense is that it doesn't take long to get humming in the regular season. Look at the points-allowed total after two games from 2009 to 2011 -- 16, 24 and 27, respectively.

This season: 55.

Cause for concern?

"Hey, bet against us, that's all I'm saying," Ryan said Monday, defiantly. "Bet against us and we'll see where it ends up. I know where it's going to end up. I tell you every year, it's the same thing."

He's right about that. Ryan always predicts a top-five finish in total defense, and the Jets haven't finished outside the top five in his three seasons.

That said, this defense still is a work in progress. In Week 1, the Jets allowed a league-high 195 rushing yards to the Bills. On Sunday, they stopped the run, but got torched by Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who passed for 275 yards and two TDs -- without star CB Darrelle Revis (concussion).

"You have to give credit to Pittsburgh, but if you're trying to be a great team, you can only be tipping your hat to so many teams," LB Aaron Maybin said. "You've got to find a way to be the better team. That's the point we're at right now. We know we're a talented team -- we've always felt that way -- but we have to prove it."

LOOKING BACK: After reviewing the tape of Sunday's 27-10 loss, Ryan reiterated his postgame theme, saying the game was decided on third down. The Jets went 4-for-12, the Steelers 8-for-15 ... Two positives from Ryan's perspective: The offense had no turnovers and the pass protection was "efficient." The Jets allowed two sacks in 29 dropbacks, and the second sack was a game-ending, garbage-time sack ... Obviously, the perimeter passing game was non-existent, as Mark Sanchez completed only six passes to wide receivers. Why didn't he throw to his backs? He didn't complete any passes to the running backs. Ryan defended Sanchez's decision making, saying there was only one play in which he felt Sanchez should've thrown to the check-down option.

HURRY UP AND LEAVE: Curious sequence at the end of the first half. The Jets got the ball at their 31, with 57 seconds remaining and two timeouts at their disposal. There was more than enough time to drive for a score, but Ryan and coordinator Tony Sparano decided to eat it. They ran two plays and headed to the locker room, down 13-10.

Ryan said they would've taken a more aggressive approach if they had popped the first run. Ultimately, they decided to play conservatively because they were getting the ball to start the second half. You can't help but wonder if the bad memory from the 2010 AFC Championship Game -- a strip sack returned for a TD -- factored into Ryan's decision.

ODDS AND ENDS: Rookie DE Quinton Coples played only 24 percent of the snaps (16 of 63 plays). Against one of the league's biggest offensive lines, Ryan wanted bigger bodies up front. That's why DT Mike DeVito got more playing time ... Is there another left-guard competition? No, it appears that Vladimir Ducasse will continue to spell Matt Slauson. Ryan said Ducasse has "earned the right" to play ... Ryan exonerated CB Antonio Cromartie for surrendering a 37-yard TD pass to Mike Wallace. He said Cromartie had good coverage, but misplayed the ball in the air. Seriously.

Analyzing the Hunter-Smith trade

August, 27, 2012
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Some quick takeaways on the Wayne Hunter-for-Jason Smith trade with the Rams:

1. This amounts to a swap of disappointments. The only difference is, Smith, 26, is five years younger than Hunter, which means he at least has a chance to get better. Both players are due guaranteed money for 2012, so a trade was the only way their respective teams could get rid of them.

2. In a span of four days, Hunter went from starting right tackle to left out. It was a bad personnel move by the Jets, re-signing him to a four-year, $14 million contract last summer, but at least GM Mike Tannenbaum had the guts to admit it. The question is, did he wait too long?

3. Basically, the Jets traded a $2.45 million backup for a $4 million backup. This makes no sense from a roster-economics standpoint -- unless they expect Smith to start at some point this season. Hunter is under contract through 2014, but Smith will almost certainly be a free agent after the season. When he restructured his contract last April, taking a massive pay cut, he put in a voidable for 2013. In other words, he'll be a goner. Unless Tannenbaum has something up his sleeve with regard to reworking the deal, a $4 million salary is too much for a one-year backup.

4. It'll be interesting to see how Smith's $4 million plays in the locker room. Just recently, the Jets forced starting LG Matt Slauson to take a $258,000 pay cut, lowering his salary to $1.1 million. RG Brandon Moore, one of the most respected players on the team, would be making less than Smith at $2.75 million. Awk-ward.

5. Hunter is a classy, hard-working guy, but he had to go. It got too nasty with the fans, evidenced by the ugly incident Sunday night by the Jets' bench. The fans were riding Hunter and he had to be restrained by teammate Vladimir Ducasse, according to a team source. Hunter will like it better in St. Louis, where he'll play for a familiar face, former Jets O.C. Brian Schottenheimer.

6. The Jets think Smith can be another Aaron Maybin -- a top draft pick who went bust with his first team and benefited from a change of scenery. Smith has physical talent; after all, he was the second overall pick in 2009. The Jets now have the second, fifth (Mark Sanchez) and 11th (Maybin) picks from the '09 draft. Too bad they can't work a deal for the 13th pick, LB Brian Orakpo.

7. The Jets said last Thursday that Hunter wouldn't be traded, so the perception is they were misleading. They wanted to keep him, a source said, but the Rams called and things changed. Of course, if they really believed in Hunter, the Jets could've said, "Thanks, but no thanks." And now I'm hearing the Jets actually called a team out west before the Rams called them.

In-depth look at Howard's performance

August, 27, 2012
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Some final observations on Sunday night's 17-12 loss to the Panthers:

Austin Howard, starting for the demoted Wayne Hunter, allayed the organization's concerns at right tackle. By my evaluation, after studying the video, Howard didn't allow any QB pressures while playing with the starting unit -- a total of 21 drop-backs. Here's a breakdown of how he fared in different pass-protection situations:

Isolated vs. pass rusher -- 13 plays. On nine of the plays, Howard blocked DE Charles Johnson, the Panthers' best pass rusher. He was on an island, left alone versus a guy making $76 million over six years. Howard held his own, showing nice lateral quickness on Johnson's outside rushes. Johnson had a knee scope in the offseason and he said recently he's still not 100 percent, so maybe that was a factor.

'Chipping' help vs. pass rusher -- Four plays. On the Jets' first play, Howard got big-time help from FB John Conner, who blasted Johnson while leaking out on a pass route. It was like the Jets were trying to send a message, telling the Panthers they weren't going to allow them to do what the Giants did to Wayne Hunter the previous week. NBC's Cris Collinsworth, on the game telecast, picked up on that immediately. Conner chipped Howard's man on three other occasions.

Double team vs. pass rusher -- One play. They used Howard in tandem with RG Brandon Moore to block DE Antwan Applewhite.

"I thought Austin Howard had a nice game for us," Rex Ryan said. Moore added, "I didn't hear the coaches yelling at him, so he must have done pretty good."

BAD GAME MANAGEMENT: I have no idea why the Jets chose to eat the ball at the end of the first half. With 1:11 on the clock, they got the ball at their 25, with three timeouts remaining. This was a perfect chance to work on their hurry-up offense, but they ran Shonn Greene around left end and threw a nothing pass to Greene, content to take a 10-9 deficit into halftime.

Obviously, the score didn't matter, but they wasted a good teaching opportunity. The previous week, they got a two-minute chance against the Giants, but they went three-and-out. So, yes, they could've used the work.

"It was kind of an iffy situation," said Ryan, explaining the decision. He said they didn't feel the urgency in that situation because they knew the starters would begin the second half. Nevertheless, it didn't show a lot of confidence in the players.

TINY TIM: Backup QB Tim Tebow has provided an occasional spark, but his preseason passing numbers are about as ugly as ugly gets -- 13-for-34 (38 percent), 151 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and seven sacks. Tebow won't play in the final preseason game, so those numbers aren't getting any better.

"It was kind of good news, bad news," Ryan said. "At times, Tim looked terrific, (he) absolutely did. He did energize the crowd ... I don’t know how many quarterbacks can stand back there and get away from the rush (and) buy time like he was able to do. I was impressed with it, and there was one ball, he threw it so hard, I was just glad it never hit a cheerleader, to be honest with you."

BOTTLE THIS: For one fleeting moment, the Jets' offense was flawless in its execution. It came on Shonn Greene's 18-yard run. The play was well-blocked, with C Nick Mangold delivering a hook block on NT Sione Fua. RG Vladimir Ducasse finished off Fua, pancaking him. LG Matt Slauson and LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson executed a combo block on rookie DT Nate Chandler. Wayne Hunter, in as an extra blocker, neutralized DE Greg Hardy. Greene picked the perfect hole and hit it for 18. Now if they can do that more consistently ...

Practice report: Mixed bag on offense

August, 20, 2012
8/20/12
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Done with Cortland, the Jets practiced Monday for the first time at their year-round facility, a 2½-hour session marked by dropped passes, sacks and almost-big plays. The practice was closed to the public.

QB Mark Sanchez, rebounding from his pick-six moment in Saturday night's loss to the Giants, completed nine of 16 passes, with two sacks. He almost hit rookie WR Stephen Hill on a deep pass, but Hill, who beat CB Darrelle Revis, got turned around and dropped it.

Backup QB Tim Tebow (6-for-10) couldn't catch a break. He had two drops (rookie WR Jordan White and TE Dedrick Epps) and his pass protection was shaky -- shades of Saturday night. He was sacked five times, including back-to-back plays in the red zone. The practice ended with Tebow completing a ball to Epps, who was tackled at the 1.

So fitting for a team that has yet to find the end zone.

RIGHT-TACKLE SHUFFLE: Not surprisingly, Austin Howard received a handful of reps at right tackle, spelling embattled starter Wayne Hunter. But it wasn't enough to make you think that Howard is on the verge of overtaking Hunter. ... G Vladimir Ducasse also got some work with the starting unit, taking a few turns from RG Brandon Moore and LG Matt Slauson.

NEW FULLBACK: LB Nick Bellore wore a white (offense) jersey and spent the entire practice with the running backs. With John Conner the only true fullback on the roster, the Jets are exploring other options. It looked weird, seeing a No. 54 (Bellore's number) running pass routes.

GROUND AND POUND: It's hard to get an accurate read on the running game when it's not full contact, but there were several long runs. Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight all had nice runs, taking advantage of creases in the defense. This is one area where the offense seems to be taking baby steps.

INJURY REPORT: WR Santonio Holmes (ribs), WR Jeremy Kerley (hamstring), WR Chaz Schilens and LB Ricky Sapp (ankle) didn't take part in team drills. Holmes returned to positional drills, running routes and catching passes with the receivers -- a small, but encouraging step. It appears unlikely he will play Sunday night, but he hasn't been ruled out yet.

BIG-SACK ATTACK: LBs Calvin Pace, Garrett McIntyre, Josh Mauga and Demario Davis were among those who recorded sacks. LB Aaron Maybin had some nice pressure at times.

Breaking down the pass-pro woes

August, 19, 2012
8/19/12
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In two games, the Jets' pass protection has been abysmal. Check out these numbers: In 56 drop-backs, they've allowed 12 sacks. The starting unit has surrendered five sacks in 20 drop-backs. At that rate, Mark Sanchez will be a regular in the ER.

After breaking down the tape from Saturday night's horror show, the thing that jumped out was that all three sacks allowed by the first-team offense came on four-man rushes. The Giants didn't trick it up. It was their vanilla versus the Jets' vanilla, and we all know who had the best ice cream. You'd like to think that O.C. Tony Sparano would've made adjustments in a regular-season game, providing help with a tight end and/or running back.

The weak link was RT Wayne Hunter, who allowed 2.5 sacks -- and it would've been 3.5 if it weren't for a Giants neutral-zone infraction that had nothing to do with the play. Truth be told, there might have been another sack; Hunter stumbled while blocking Justin Tuck, but Tuck got tangled up with him and couldn't make a play.

Analyzing the sacks:

1. Jason Pierre-Paul beats Hunter. This was a basic four-man rush vs. a five-man protection. Hunter will get the blame for the sack, as JPP tossed him aside and dropped Sanchez, but LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson also played a role. He got beat by Osi Umenyiora on an outside rush, forcing Sanchez to step up and into JPP.

2. Tuck/Umenyiora beat Hunter/Ferguson. Once again, the Jets' five-man protection got beat by a four-man rush. Once again, Hunter got beat to the outside, this time by Tuck. Ferguson did a good job on Umenyiora, but Umenyiora changed direction and cleaned up from behind when he saw Sanchez step up in the pocket. Sanchez should get some blame because he held the ball too long (the play took 4.8 seconds). On the plus side, Sanchez protected the ball with two hands as he navigated the traffic. He didn't do that consistently last season.

PENALTY: Tuck beats Hunter. He beat Hunter, but the Jets caught a break because the sack was nullified by offsides on Umenyiora. The Jets went to an empty look for the first time, and their five-man protection didn't hold up.

3. Pierre-Paul beats Hunter. This was pretty simple: Hunter got bull-rushed by JPP. It was a four-man rush against a five-man protection.

4. Adewale Ojomo beats Austin Howard. This happened at the start of the fourth quarter, when both teams had their backups in the game. Howard, playing left tackle, actually got called for holding as he tried to fight off Ojomo, but Ojomo beat him anyway. QB Tim Tebow didn't help matters by holding the ball too long.

5. Will Hill beats air. This was one of the few times the Giants actually blitzed. Hill was unblocked on a backside blitz and he dropped Tebow, his former college teammate, from the blindside. Tebow was visibly frustrated, perhaps with RB Joe McKnight, who leaked out of the backfield on a pass route instead of picking up Hill.

6. Matt Broha beats Robert Griffin. The rookie right tackle couldn't handle Broha's speed. The undersized rookie end beat him with an outside rush.

7. Ojomo beats the interior. The Giants rushed six, with Ojomo coming on an inside stunt. He was unblocked, knifing between C Caleb Schlauderaff and RG Matt Kroul.

Hey, look at the bright side: Vlad Ducasse didn't get mentioned once in this post-mortem.

Rex report: WR corps is M.A.S.H unit

August, 16, 2012
8/16/12
3:13
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Add a new injury to the Jets' already banged-up receiving corps: Rookie Jordan White developed knee swelling and might not play Saturday night against the Giants.

"I was feeling good about him and then his knee swells up," Rex Ryan said Thursday in his final Cortland news conference. "That group over there is a M.A.S.H unit, there's no doubt about that."

To recap: Santonio Holmes (rib), Jeremy Kerley (hamstring) and Chaz Schilens (ankle) are out, leaving Patrick Turner, rookie Stephen Hill and Dexter Jackson as their top receivers.

Yikes.

Other notes from Ryan:

HAPPY WITH TIM: Ryan said he's happy with Tim Tebow's progress despite an awful practice on Thursday. He said Tebow completed about 60 to 65 percent of his passes in camp, an improvement from the spring OTAs and minicamp.

"I think Tim's doing a good job as a personal protector (on the punt team), and with the quarterback stuff we have him doing and some Wildcat things," Ryan said. "I think Tim's doing well."

STILL SMARTS: The Jets will face the Giants for the first time since their Christmas Eve debacle, a crushing loss that included a 99-yard touchdown reception by Victor Cruz. The Week 16 loss basically ended the Jets' season.

"There are a lot of things you'd like to erase in your memory, but that unfortunately will stay in there," Ryan said. "That one stung, no question about it."

HURTS SO BAD: The biggest question surrounding the team as they break camp is its health. Ryan said "it's frustrating for everyone. ... We have to get guys healthy." Injuries aren't bad unless you get hit at one position, and that has happened to the Jets -- wide receiver.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Ryan said the starters will play the first half, listing RG Brandon Moore as an exception. Look for Vladimir Ducasse to replace him in the second quarter.

"He's as tough as a mule," Ryan said of Moore, "but sometimes you want to back those guys down a bit and just be smart." Ryan said the rest has nothing to do with Moore's double-hip surgeries from last season.

The Jets used a vanilla game plan in last week's opener; don't expect it to be much different. "Maybe vanilla ice cream and some sprinkles on it," he said.

JEFF, WHO?: Ryan declined to comment on the team's interest in former Florida RB Jeff Demps: "I really don't want to talk about him. I know Mike Tannenbaum is on top of any available player."

WORDS OF WISDOM: When practice was over, Ryan gathered the team for several minutes on the field. Did he deliver a fiery, end-of-camp speech? Did he issue a stern warning, making sure they stay out of trouble upon leaving the structured enviroment of training camp? Nah, it was nothing like that. He simply reviwed logistical matters -- dorm check-out, travel, packing equipment.

"I'm sorry, I don't have anything good," he said, laughing.

Players and coaches are scheduled to leave Friday night. They were scheduled to stay Thursday night for the annual rookie show.

FAREWELL, CORTLAND: Ryan thanked the school, the city and the people of Cortland for hosting them for the third time in four years. The Jets are under contract to return next summer.

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