- Rich Cimini, ESPN New York Jets reporter
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Cranking it up for the 25th time, another year on the New York Jets:
1. What might have been: If the Bucs didn't come along and agree to surrender two draft picks (including a first-rounder) for Darrelle Revis, the Jets still would own the Revis Island property today as they open the season against the Bucs. No other teams expressed a serious interest in Revis. Unless the Jets decided to stage a fire sale, which would've been embarrassing, they'd have a disgruntled star coming off major surgery, demanding $16 million a year. They would've had to set up another big top to accommodate the circus.
Imagine if Revis still were on the team: They wouldn't have cornerback Dee Milliner. With only one first-round pick, the Jets probably would've picked defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson instead of Milliner at No. 9. Without a $13 million cap hit because of the trade, they would've had more flexibility to sign free agents. On the downside, the Revis contract saga would be been an ongoing distraction, entering the final year of his contract. There would be trade rumors and mudslinging. And they still wouldn't be a serious contender, even with the best cornerback in the NFL (when healthy).
The Texans and linebacker Brian Cushing proved this week that mutual respect can overcome a potentially difficult negotiation. Cushing, entering the final year of his deal after an ACL tear, signed a six-year, $56 million extension. That was never going to happen with the Jets and Revis, who would've played out his deal and left the Jets with bupkis -- just a lousy compensatory pick. The Jets made the right move, thanks to a leap of faith by the Bucs, but they'd better hope it doesn't backfire today.
2. Ready Rex: Rex Ryan is getting dumped on by some folks lately, but I'm here to provide something positive. Ryan is 3-1 in season openers, having outscored opponents, 99-59, in the three victories. The lone defeat came in 2010 to the Ravens, 10-9. One of Ryan's strengths is getting his team ready out of training camp. He bases his practice philosophy on some old Bill Walsh principles, avoiding fatigue and dead legs. He's doing something right because, as he likes to say, the proof is in the pudding.
3. Laughing at his own expense: I mentioned to tight end Kellen Winslow that he graded out as the second-most efficient blocker on the Jets' offense in the preseason, according to the stats-based website ProFootballFocus.com. He laughed. He laughed really hard. He called over to fellow tight end Konrad Reuland and shared the info with him. Reuland laughed, too. Winslow knows who he is, and he knows he's not a great blocker. "Second highest? Oh, (bleep), no," he said. "But I appreciate the love."
4. Son of Idzik: What do rookies Tommy Bohanon and Ryan Spadola have in common? They were the biggest out-of-nowhere stories of the summer, Bohanon winning a starting job as a seventh-round pick and Spadola making the team as an undrafted free agent. They have something else in common: They were teammates with Brad Idzik, son of GM John Idzik. Idzik played his freshman year at Lehigh, where he met Spadola, before transferring to Wake Forest, which produced Bohanon. No doubt, he shared some intel with his dad. Brad might have a future in scouting. In the meantime, if Geno Smith doesn't work out, he might want to consider transferring to a school with a quarterback prospect.
5. Slim fast: Recognizing he needed to be quicker in pass coverage, linebacker David Harris did more running in the offseason and adopted a low-carb, high-protein diet. He reported to training camp at 240 pounds (down from 248) with the lowest body-fat percentage of his career. (He declined to share that number.) He had no interceptions and only three pass break-ups last season, and he wasn't happy with those numbers. Harris could be tested immediately, as Bucs running back Doug Martin is a threat out of the backfield.
"That's the first thing you noticed when he came back for OTAs -- his physical appearance," defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said of Harris. "He came back with more of an attitude and a purpose with his work, that he was going to get back to being the player we expect him to be."
6. Keep 'em guessing: The Jets took an interesting approach on defense in the preseason. In Game 3, against the Giants, they played the entire game with their base package. "Go ask them if it was confusing to them," Thurman said of the Giants. "I think it was." In Game 4, against the Eagles, they went the whole way with a three-safety look. The reason behind it was two-fold: Give future opponents something to think about and practice personnel groupings that will figure prominently in their weekly game plans. Ryan hinted recently they could stay with base personnel even when opponents go to three receivers.
7a. Broadway Brady: Quarterback Brady Quinn, who was released Saturday in an anticipated salary-cap move, is expected to re-sign Monday. He has a huge ally in quarterbacks coach David Lee, who actually started lobbying for Quinn more than a year ago. When Lee interviewed for a coaching position after the 2011 season, he spoke effusively of Quinn during his meeting with Jets officials, saying he'd be the ideal backup to Mark Sanchez, a source said. Lee worked with Quinn and the Manning brothers during the 2011 lockout, later remarking that Quinn had a stronger arm than Peyton and Eli. As it turned out, Lee didn't get the Jets' gig until a year later and the Jets ended up with a backup named Tebow.
7b. Been there, done that: Quinn knew exactly how Geno Smith felt during the draft, when he slipped out of the first round. In 2007, Quinn was that guy, falling all the way to the Browns at No. 22. At least Quinn didn't fire his agent.
"A lot of people make such a big deal out of it," Quinn told me. "It's not like you're losing money; you never had the money in the first place. It has nothing to do with you as a player. It's not anything you've done wrong, it's not your fault. It's just circumstances."
8. Foot in mouth: Woody Johnson owes Sanchez an apology for his insensitive remark about how the quarterback should've protected himself from that runaway train named Marvin Austin. Say what you want about Sanchez and his penchant for turnovers, but you can't question his physical toughness. He missed only one game in his first four seasons due to injury. I think Johnson wants to be rid of Sanchez, but guess what? Unless Smith lights it up, Sanchez still is the best quarterback on the roster.
9. Big Chill: Antonio Cromartie said he hasn't spoken to Revis since the trade. Does anybody find that odd? They played the same position and were teammates for three years. Yeah, it's odd.
10. A moooot point: I caught up with some Jets old timers recently at a practice. I asked them to share their thoughts on the team's prospects for 2013, and one response still resonates. From Richard Caster, a tight end/wide receiver from 1970 to 1977: "I don't think they're good enough to contend seriously, but I'm ever hopeful. Like Weeb Ewbank used to say, 'I've seen sicker cows get well.'"
Cranking it up for the 25th time, another year on the New York Jets:1. What might have been: If the Bucs didn't come along and agree to surrender two draft picks (including a first-rounder) for Darrelle Revis, the Jets still would own the Revis Island property today as they open the season against the Bucs.