Sunday, March 24, 2013
Sunday notes: Jets warming to Geno Smith
By Rich Cimini
A look at the Jets and the rest of the NFL:
1. Broadway Geno: It was widely reported March 14 that Jets senior personnel executive Terry Bradway attended the West Virginia pro day, headlined by QB Geno Smith. Turns out that Bradway was accompanied by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. The Jets' contingent had some private time with Smith, and they came away very impressed. The Jets have warmed to Smith since last month's scouting combine, where he didn't blow away people with his interviews. Some feel that may have been caused by fatigue (the combine can be a grind), but he certainly redeemed himself in the eyes of the Jets.
Do they like him enough to pick him ninth overall (if he lasts that long)? I honestly don't know. My sense is the Jets will ride out 2013 with their current cast of quarterbacks (plus maybe another veteran) and look for their quarterback of the future next year. But it would make for some interesting draft-room conversation if Smith slips to the Jets.
2. Revis watch: I don't agree with the notion the Jets should accept only 2014 trade compensation for Darrelle Revis. There's no certainty with future draft picks. What if the Bucs reach the divisional playoffs? Then you're looking at the 24th pick (at best), too low for a player of Revis' caliber. GM John Idzik should absolutely demand the Bucs' first-round pick this year (13th overall), which reportedly is the sticking point in trade talks. With a trade of this magnitude, the Jets need certainty, not projection. Idzik should ask for this year's No. 1 and next year's No. 2 from the Bucs. That would be a fair compromise. People who know Idzik say he won't buckle to media pressure.
3. Moneyball: I spoke to a salary-cap expert who questioned Idzik's decisions to let veterans such as S LaRon Landry and TE Dustin Keller walk out the door without so much as an offer. Despite the criticism of Mike Tannenbaum's cap management, the Jets began the free agency period with roughly $18 million in room after cutting players and re-working deals. It was enough cap space, the expert said, to make competitive offers.
The expert also said: If Idzik was concerned about jamming up the 2013 cap for a player like Landry, who received the biggest contract among the Jets' defections (four years, $24 million from the Colts), he could've structured the deal to include a chunk of the guaranteed money in 2014. In other words, there were creative ways to get it done. Obviously, Idzik didn't feel the players were worth the trouble. He made value judgments; it wasn't because he was handcuffed by the perceived failings of the previous administration, per our salary-cap man.
4. The root of Rex's switch: Remember all the talk last offseason from Rex Ryan, who claimed he was ready to step away from the defense in an effort to monitor the pulse of all aspects of the organization? Well, forget it. Ryan is returning to "my roots," reclaiming the play calling responsibilities on defense. Don't buy any of the spin; this is all about one thing -- self-preservation. If Ryan goes down, he wants to go down swinging, controlling the area he knows best.
5. Say, what?: When the Jets trade Revis to the Bucs a few days before the April 25 draft, I wonder if Ryan will finally admit the Jets were actively shopping the star cornerback.
6. Jonesing for a draft slide: Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones, linked to the Jets at No. 9 in many mock drafts, hurt his stock with a poor pro day. He ran anywhere from a 4.90 to a 4.92, disappointing for a 6-foot-3, 243-pound linebacker. One scout told me the workout was "absolutely shocking." Jones is an enigma -- highly productive in college (led the nation in sacks), but "as mediocre as you can get, athletically," the scout said. On the other hand, there's the Terrell Suggs story -- a prolific pass rusher in college who tested poorly leading into the 2003 draft. Ryan was a member of the Ravens' staff that chose Suggs with the 10th overall pick, and he has managed quite nicely in the NFL. In Jones' case, he also has a medical question -- spinal stenosis.
7. Little Big Man: If I'm the Jets, I'm thinking of West Virginia WR Tavon Austin with the ninth pick. He's an absolute blur, an electric playmaker who'd be perfect for the Jets' moribund offense. At 5-foot-8, 173 pounds, he has Jeremy Kerley size, but Austin is in a different league than Kerley. He produced 1,289 receiving yards and 643 rushing yards last season for the Mountaineers. He'd be the Jets' version of Percy Harvin. Austin posted the second-best 40 time at the combine (4.34). Here's how one scout described Austin's 40: "He ran by me so fast that I was like, 'Holy ----!'" The Jets could use a "Holy ----!" guy on their team.
8. What the ?!?: At last week's meetings, the NFL voted to eliminate the tuck rule. From now on, if a quarterback loses the ball while attempting to bring it back to his body, it's a fumble, not an incomplete pass. The mere discussion of the rule, of course, brought back memories of the 2001 AFC divisional playoff between the Patriots and Raiders. I was fortunate enough to have covered that classic game. I remember a small contingent of Raiders front-office officials leaping from their seats in the press box, screaming and high-fiving when they recovered Tom Brady's fumble -- or so they thought. There's no cheering in the press box, and those Oakland guys made absolute boobs of themselves. The postscript: They sat in silence, seemingly comatose, when the officials invoked the tuck rule.
9. Manti-ster of the Midway: There's some speculation that the Bears could select Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o with the 20th pick in the first round. My opinion: Don't do it. In addition to living down his imaginary girlfriend, Te'o would have to battle the ghost of Brian Urlacher. That's too many invisible things for one person to handle.
10. Smoke in your eyes: Bruce Arians talking up Drew Stanton as the potential starting quarterback for the Cards reminds me of 2009, when the Jets were raving about Kellen Clemens and Erik Ainge -- a classic smokescreen. There's no way Stanton is their opening-day starter. Bet on it. They'll draft a quarterback, just like the Jets drafted Mark Sanchez in 2009.