Sunday notes: The Wayne Hunter gamble

May, 6, 2012
5/06/12
5:00
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Notes and observations on the Jets and the NFL:

1. IN TONY WE TRUST: The Jets are taking an enormous gamble, opting to stand pat at the right-tackle position. If Vladimir Ducasse doesn't step up, they'll go with the embattled Wayne Hunter, much to the chagrin of Jets fans. Suddenly, we're starting to hear stuff from Rex Ryan about Tony Sparano's system, how it will suit Hunter better than the previous system. In a radio interview last week, Ryan said Hunter was "isolated, one-on-one, for the majority of the time (last season) and I don’t know how many tackles hold up down after down that way." Two thoughts: If Sparano's system can protect suspect right tackles, how come Marco Columbo was a turnstile for the Dolphins? Didn't Ryan always praise Bill Callahan as the best OL coach in the league?

2. SLIM PICKINGS: One well-respected scout told me there were only two legitimate defensive ends in the draft -- Quinton Coples (Jets, 16th pick) and Chandler Jones (Patriots, 21st). The scout said highly-publicized 'tweeners Melvin Ingram (18th, Chargers) and Courtney Upshaw (35th, Ravens) were too short and too short-armed to be effecive pass rushers, and that they were overvalued because of the paucity of true DEs. Obviously, the Jets felt the same way.



3. LUCKY BREAK: Contrary to a report, the Jets had no interest in taking West Virginia DE/OLB Bruce Irvin with the 16th pick -- so they claim. You'd like to believe them because, despite tremendous speed-rushing ability, Irvin is a bit of a head case. An opposing scout, pulling information from his team's report on Irvin, said the player refused an opportunity to become a full-time starter (he started six games last season). According to the scout, Irvin basically told his coach, "I don't want to start, I just want to rush the passer." The Seahawks took him with the 15th pick. Said the scout: "Pete Carroll may have done the Jets a favor."

4. BOY AMONG MEN: Coples discovered at an early age what it's like to play against the big boys. He attended Hargrave Military School in Chatham, Va., and played on their post-graduate football team -- at the age of 17. "He was playing against 21-year-old men," said Hargrave coach Troy Davis, who served as Coples' defensive coordinator. "He grew up real fast and it fueled his confidence." Coples and current teammate Muhammad Wilkerson were the starting DEs for Hargrave in 2007, but they didn't go undefeated. They lost to the University of Tennessee jayvee team.

5. NEW-AGE JETS: Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, discussing why the Jets placed an emphasis on speed in the draft, made an interesting point. To build a defense in today's pass-happy NFL, he said, "You have to work backward," starting with your third-down package. In other words, get pass rushers and coverage people. It makes perfect sense, except for this quirky stat: Opponents threw against the Jets a lot less last season than 2010. The percentage of pass plays was 54.6, down from 58.3.

6. MORE MAYHEM: OLB Aaron Maybin said he's up to 240, having gained eight pounds in the offseason. He'd like to put on a few more pounds, with the hope of increasing his role on defense. He'd like to find a niche in the base package. The Jets could use him because they're awfully thin at OLB.

7. FREE-AGENT SIGNING OF THE YEAR: Kudos to Greg Schiano and the Bucs for signing former Rutgers DL Eric LeGrand. They did it right, even distributing a press release that included his college stats. How can that not put a lump in your throat?

8. SPYGATE: Former Jets coach Eric Mangini, now an ESPN analyst, said on the air last week that he regrets blowing the whistle on the Patriots for their illegal videotaping in 2007. "If there's a decision I could take back, it's easily that decision," he said. "Never in a million years I wanted it to go this way." It ruined his relationship with Bill Belichick. If that hadn't occurred, he'd probably be the Patriots' defensive coordinator.

9. BOUNTY GATE: I think NFL commissioner Roger Goodell came down too hard on Jonathan Vilma. He penalized the soldier as harshly as the generals.

10. SNL REVIEW: I'm sorry, but Eli Manning is just not funny.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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