Sunday, June 24, 2012
Notes: 'Buffalo' nickel offense is gone
By Rich Cimini
Notes and observations on the Jets and the NFL:
1. DEAD MEN WALKING. LaDainian Tomlinson's retirement shines a light on the poorly-constructed mess that was the Jets' offense last season. Tomlinson and WR Derrick Mason have retired and WR Plaxico Burress is out of football, begging for a job. Mind you, they accounted for three-fifths of the '11 personnel package (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) -- a traditional nickel package that actually was the Jets' base offense for the first month (until Mason was exiled). That group of players was so old it should've been called a Buffalo nickel. It's no wonder Mark Sanchez didn't have a lot of open receivers. They ran 472 plays with 3+ WRs on the field, averaging only 5.1 yards per play, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only six teams were worse. Tomlinson, Burress and Mason will be replaced by Joe McKnight, Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley, respectively. They don't have much experience, but at least they won't be running in quicksand.
2. DOESN'T ADD UP: Tell me if something is amiss here: The Jets put three players on the Forbes magazine list of the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world (Darrelle Revis, Sanchez and D'Brickashaw Ferguson), but only one (Revis) made the NFL Network's list of the top 100 players. Sorry, I'm not counting Tim Tebow (No. 95 on the list) because the ranking was based on last season.
3. REVIS BUCKS. Here's a little contractual factoid that you know is running through Revis' mind: For 2012 and 2013, he will be the second highest-paid defensive back on the team. That's right, CB Antonio Cromartie is due to make more over the two seasons -- $16.5 million to Revis' $13.5 million. In fact, there are four other players due to make more than Revis -- LB David Harris, Sanchez, Ferguson and WR Santonio Holmes. That seems a bit out of whack, considering Revis is one of the top players in the league. Of course, the Jets would counter by saying he made $25 million last season alone.
4. PLAX'S PROBLEM: Getting back to Burress for a second ... Appearing on ESPN's "First Take" the other day, he basically took the credit for the Jets' turnaround in the red zone: "Before I went to the Jets, the year before they were last in the red zone. Last time I checked, last season we were No. 1." Burress scored seven red-zone touchdowns; only five receivers had more than that. Obviously, the rest of the league isn't impressed. I wonder if his value is suffering because of the perception of the team and its locker-room problems.
5. BIG MAN, BIG OPINIONS. Former Jets NT Kris Jenkins is a good listen (or good watch) because he's not afraid to speak his mind. In a radio interview last week, he had an interesting take on the Tebow phenomenon. "He won on a lot of late drives where you are dealing with altitude and defenses are tired, and then he's making the magic happen," he said. "Now he's at sea level. Everyone can keep up with you." I checked the numbers: Three of his five fourth-quarter comeback wins last season came on the road, and he was a better passer on the road than home -- 88.4 to 61.0. Even though the numbers don't necessarily back Jenkins' theory, I still think there's some validity to it. The Jets certainly could relate; they got Tebowed in the Mile High City.
6. TIGHTEN YOUR BELTS: The salary cap reportedly will remain relatively flat over the next few years -- $121 million in 2013, $122 million in 2014, $125 million in 2015 and $130 million in 2016. Some teams are going to feel the pinch, including the Jets.
7. LORD HAVE PERCY: Lots of speculation (wishing?) about the Jets' possible interest in Vikings WR Percy Harvin, who requested a trade. First of all, the Vikings aren't going to trade one of their best players. If they did put him on the block, I could see the Jets making a call (they loved him in the 2009 draft), but I don't think anything would come of it. After drafting Hill in the second round, it makes no sense to make another wide receiver investment. They want to be a run-oriented team. If they brought in another starting-caliber receiver, they could fall into the same trap as they did last year.
8. BOUNTY GATE: I'm no lawyer, but the NFL's bounty evidence seems pretty compelling to me.
9. VINTAGE CHAD: Hilarious quote the other day from Dolphins WR Chad Ochocinco, who said he already has developed "Brokeback Mountain chemistry" with the rest of his new teammates. Maybe the Jets should get themselves some of that.
10. VACATION: This will be my last Sunday notes column for three weeks -- time for a little pre-camp R & R -- but make sure you stay locked into the Jets blog on ESPNNewYork.com. It will be updated daily.