New York Jets: Brady Quinn

Geno SmithGrant Halverson/Getty ImagesGeno Smith expects "big things" from himself in 2014, and the Jets will need that to be successful.
Geno Smith heard Michael Vick's name more than a few times last season in the New York Jets' offensive meeting room. Occasionally, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg used Vick as an example when explaining to his quarterbacks how he wanted a particular play to be run.

The name-dropping was understandable. After all, there was history between Mornhinweg and Vick. Smith soaked it up, taking copious notes as he navigated a winding rookie season.

This season, the real Vick, not the ghost, will be sitting alongside Smith in the meeting room. That can be a good thing -- Smith can learn straight from the source -- or a bad thing if he becomes unnerved by Vick's presence. If Smith is bothered by the situation, he's not letting on. He sounds like a proven veteran, not a second-year quarterback who endured one of the worst statistical seasons in recent times.

"I don't want to make any statements or put anything out there, but once the season comes, I mean, I expect big things," Smith told ESPN.com in a recent interview. "I believe fully in myself. I have the utmost confidence in myself. I know I have the ability to play in this league."

There are doubters, to be sure, but Smith's conviction was steeled by his encouraging finish last season. His teammates and coaches saw it in the offseason, with the decisiveness he showed in the huddle in spring practices and the self-confidence he demonstrated in the locker room. That was one of the biggest takeaways from the offseason: the New Geno.

It has to be a new Geno if the Jets hope to snap their three-year playoff drought. Right now, the Jets have eight-win talent, but that modest number jumps to double digits if Smith improves as much as they believe he can.

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith, Michael Vick
Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY SportsWill Michael Vick's presence be a good thing or a bad thing for Geno Smith?
"We're not playing yet -- we're not in the stadium yet, people aren't in the stands -- but Geno is a strongly improved player at this point," quarterbacks coach David Lee said.

Thousands of words will be written and spoken this summer about Eric Decker and Chris Johnson, the Jets' marquee additions, but 2014 is all about Smith, whom the Jets expect to be their season-opening starter.

They say he's stronger and faster. As part of his offseason regimen, Smith trained with a speed parachute, proudly texting photos of himself to Lee.

They say his footwork now comes naturally. A year ago, he was so unfamiliar with the Jets' offense that he counted steps in his head.

They say his command of Mornhinweg's system has improved to the point where he's self-sufficient. As a rookie, Smith leaned heavily on center Nick Mangold, who did more hand-holding than a lovestruck teenager.

"It's gotten away from me telling him exactly what to do," Mangold said. "Now it's more of a two-way discussion."

They say Smith is more of a leader than last year. Let's be clear: He's not a fiery, in-your-face kind of quarterback, but there are indications that he wants to make it his team.

In March, when he learned of the Decker signing on ESPN's Bottom Line, Smith immediately texted general manager John Idzik, asking for Decker's number. He reached out to his newest receiver, welcoming him to the team, discussing places to live in New Jersey and asking Decker about his favorite pass routes.

Smith tried to do that with every newcomer, even draft picks, taking ownership in the team. A year ago, he kept to himself, trying to fit in.

"I didn't want to come in as that guy who thinks he knows it all," Smith said. "I feel like I had to earn my stripes, and I feel like I've done that to a certain extent.

"But I'm still learning, still growing. I still listen to the vets, but it's a different level of leadership from me. Last year, I was a vocal guy when I needed to be, but it wasn't as much as I'm going to show this year."

Smith threw 21 interceptions, and that was a source of frustration for coaches and players alike, but they maintained their support because they respected his work ethic and mental toughness. No matter how bad it got, he refused to fold.

"He went through everything a rookie quarterback could go through," guard Willie Colon said. "Now he's like, 'All right, it's time for me to step up.' He's embracing the challenge. We all know Geno is feisty. He's strong-minded. He has the ability to fight. We believe in him."

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsAs a rookie, Geno Smith passed for 3,046 yards with 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
Former Jets quarterback Brady Quinn, a member of the team for the first half of the season, marveled at Smith's resilience. He pointed to the early-season win over the Atlanta Falcons, when Smith rallied the Jets in the final two minutes on a Monday night stage -- one week after an absolute stinker against the Tennessee Titans.

"Every time Geno felt challenged, whether it was in the press or by anyone else, he usually responded and played a great game," Quinn said. "I think he had five come-from-behind wins. Those are powerful statements."

Quinn came away impressed with Smith, who he believes has "a ton of arm talent." Unfortunately, there wasn't much talent around that arm, resulting in one of the worst offenses in the league. That should change with Johnson in the backfield and Decker on the perimeter.

It's all there for Smith in Year 2, but there still are plenty of critics. In a recent ESPN.com poll of 25 personnel executives and coaches, he was rated the worst starting quarterback in the league.

Do the Jets know something that no one else does? Maybe they do. Mornhinweg and Lee are widely respected offensive minds, so their opinions carry weight. Their jobs, along with that of Rex Ryan, could be riding on Smith. If he backslides or fails to show improvement, it'll be a costly setback for the organization.

Smith's biggest challenge is reading defenses, according to people who have studied him on tape. He was a one-read quarterback at West Virginia, so it was a difficult transition to Mornhinweg's version of the West Coast offense, which is predicated on multiple reads and exact timing.

There were long stretches last season in which Smith showed questionable instincts for the position, making poor decision after poor decision. The Jets expect that to get better with experience.

The new variable for Smith is the Vick factor. This is a different ballgame for Smith, who didn't have to worry last season about losing his job. Even though Vick claims he will embrace the mentor role, he's a direct threat to Smith. One or two bad games, and the masses will be screaming for a change.

You could certainly argue that Vick, 34, is better than Smith and deserves a fair shot at the starting job, but the powers-that-be have decided to stack the competition in Smith's favor, making it his job to lose. They won't hand it to him. He'll have to earn it, staving off a player he grew up admiring. It's a fascinating dynamic, especially with the Mornhinweg factor. Smith is battling his role model for a role.

"I don't feel any pressure at all," Smith said. "Maybe, in the outside world, people might think that way. If I do hit a rough patch, I fully expect Mike to pick me up. If it was the other way around, I'd do the same for him because that's the way we are. We're friends and we're teammates."

They're close. Soon, we'll find out if it's too close for comfort.

Sunday notes: Two-faced Tom Brady

October, 20, 2013
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Following Rex Ryan's advice, I skipped household chores -- but not the Sunday notes:

1. Hate to say it: Guard Willie Colon has been chirping about his hatred for the New England Patriots since the beginning to the season. Tom Brady took a pass when asked to comment on Colon’s latest “I-hate-them” remark, saying, “Not much fazes me with Jets-Patriots at this point, or Yankees-Red Sox.”

Brady took the high road, but let us not forget that Mr. Squeaky Clean used the ‘H’ word long before Colon. In August 2010, he was asked if he was watching the HBO series “Hard Knocks,” which featured the Jets that summer.

“Honestly, I haven’t turned it on. I hate the Jets, so I refuse to support that show," Brady said. "I’m sure it’s great TV. I’m glad people are liking it. But that’s just something that I have no interest in watching. I’d love to say a lot of mean things, but I’d rather not do that, either.”

Sure, easy to say when you’re not playing them that week.

Cromartie
2. Contract push: You have to admire Antonio Cromartie for his brutally honest self-evaluation, admitting he’s not playing close to a Pro Bowl level. If he doesn’t pick up his play, it could make for an interesting decision in the offseason.

Cromartie has a $14.98 million cap charge in 2014, the final year of his contract. He renegotiated his deal last March, pushing some money into ’14. That’s a big number to carry, especially with a $5 million roster bonus due in March. I can’t see Cromartie taking a pay cut, so they’d have to extend the deal or part ways.

3. QB carousel set to spin again: The Jets have to make a decision by Monday on David Garrard, whose two-game roster exemption will expire. It’s hard to imagine them keeping four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, so they’ll either say goodbye to Garrard or release Brady Quinn. I understand the value in having an experienced mentor for Geno Smith, but the decision should be based on this: Who would they rather have in the game, Quinn or Garrard? I’d take Quinn. If they value Garrard’s intangibles that much, the Jets should make him a coach.

4. Try the combo platter: The Jets have used 122 unique lineups on offense, the fourth-highest total in the league. That’s a high number, considering they’ve had relative stability on the line. Some of it's due to injuries at receiver and tight end, but most of it can be attributed to Marty Mornhinweg’s penchant for using so many different personnel packages.

5. A craving for brownies: The addition of KR Josh Cribbs means the Jets have three former members of the 2008 Cleveland Browns; the others are Quinn and TE Kellen Winslow. They also had Braylon Edwards as recently as training camp. Previously, they had Brodney Pool. That’s a lot of players from a 4-12 team.

Smith
6. The good, the bad, the ugly: Here are two statistics that illustrates Smith’s season: His combined total of interceptions (13) and sacks (21) is the highest in the league, one greater than Eli Manning (33). But at the same time, Smith has demonstrated the ability to hurt defenses with his long passes. He has a 50 percent completion rate on throws of at least 20 yards, tied for third best in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

7. Solace for Salas: Eyebrows were raised when the Jets signed an injured wide receiver, Greg Salas, from the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad. Ryan said they knew about the knee ailment, which he called a two-week injury. The Jets liked Salas because of his strong preseason -- seven catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. They were able to pry him away when the Eagles opted to promote B.J. Cunningham over Salas last Monday. The Jets are stuck with him for three weeks. By rule, a player is guaranteed three weekly checks when he leaves a practice squad to sign on another team’s 53-man roster.

8. What a business: Former Stony Brook (N.Y.) star Miguel Maysonet, added last week to the practice squad, already has experienced the cut-throat side to the NFL. Nearly 10 months after signing his first contract, the running back already has been cut by four different teams -- Eagles, Browns, Indianapolis Colts (practice squad) and San Diego Chargers (practice squad). He’d like to last at least 10 days with the Jets because he didn’t make it past seven in his last two stops.

“I had no idea it would be like this at all, being cut left and right, moving around,” he said. “It kind of sucks, but it’s also humbled me in a way. It’s hard to start all over every single time. Things don’t come easy, but if you love the game, you have to work through it. I’m still chasing the dream."

9. Let's talk sex -- or not: I spoke to two players who stated emphatically that Ryan wasn’t referring to abstinence when he delivered his “rest-the-legs, no-household-chores” speech. But it still made for a comical, after-hours scene in the press room, Ryan trying to clarify the situation with reporters.

10. St. Peyton: The big story in the NFL is Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis, where he was, still is and always will be an iconic figure. During his heyday with the Colts, he reportedly dined with friends after every home game in a private room at the city’s famed St. Elmo’s Steakhouse. But it wasn’t always red-carpet treatment. A few hours after a Jets-Colts game (I’m guessing it was 1998, his rookie year), I saw Manning and some family members peering into the window of a TGI Fridays to see if it still was serving. The streets were desolate, except for the Mannings and a few hungry New York sports writers. He has come a long way. The sports writers, not so much.

Sunday notes: Santonio Holmes 'is a pain'

October, 6, 2013
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A few Week 5 notes before heading to Atlanta for the bright lights of ESPN's "Monday Night Football":

1. Tone's Time almost over: Back in 2010, when Rex Ryan heard there was a chance to trade for Santonio Holmes, he literally ran up the stairs to Mike Tannenbaum's office and told him to make the deal. I'm sure there have been times over the past three years when Ryan wishes he never made that crazy dash. Holmes is "a pain in the ass," as more than one person in the organization has told me over the years. There are two kinds of PIAs in sports: The kind you tolerate because of their ability to impact games and the kind you dump because the headache isn't worth the pay off. Holmes belongs to the latter group.

His latest foot-in-mouth comment ("I can't throw it to myself and catch it. Otherwise, I would") made splashy headlines. It was a dumb thing to say even though I don't think he meant it as a malicious attack against QB Geno Smith. Maybe I'm jaded because I expect one or two brushfires a year from Holmes. In three-plus seasons, he has created more controversies than 100-yard receiving days (four). His on-the-field production, more than his mouth, is the real issue.

Smith is completing only 44 percent of his passes to Holmes, 60 percent to everybody else, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Three of Smith's eight interceptions have come on targets to Holmes. Maybe he's still hampered by his surgically repaired foot. It's hard to say because you can't get a straight answer. Now he's saying he was 100 percent from Week 1. Clearly, he's not an elite receiver, but he's in the third year of an elite contract -- five years, $45 million.

Landing that deal was one of the greatest stick-ups in recent history. The late and shortened free-agency period in 2011, due to the lockout, gave him tremendous leverage. The Jets paid dearly. The guaranteed money in the deal dries up in 2014. That's when the Jets will say goodbye and good riddance. If you're a diva receiver, you'd better be a dominant diva receiver. Holmes isn't.

2. Goodson not out of woods: RB Mike Goodson served his time for Roger Goodell, a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, but the drug and weapons charges from his May arrest still are pending. His case was sent to a Morris County (N.J.) grand jury in June, and the outcome is expected to be known "imminently," according to a source. An indictment could be handed down within a couple of weeks.

3. Costly lack of discipline: If the Jets keep racking up player fines at their current pace, owner Woody Johnson will have to cut a big check to the league office. According to the NFL's safety policy, a team is required to remit $50,000 to the league if the fine total reaches $105,000, counting the preseason. If it hits $157,000, the team has to pay another $25,000 and must match any subsequent fines for the remainder of the season.

Some fines don't become public, but this is what we've been able to compile on the Jets: Muhammad Wilkerson ($15,785), Quinton Coples ($7,875), Willie Colon ($34,125), D'Brickashaw Ferguson ($15,000), Dawan Landry ($21,000) and Matt Simms ($7,875). That's a total of $101,660.

Keep in mind, the totals can vary because the players have an opportunity to appeal. Fines can be upheld, partially upheld or rescinded. Nevertheless, after only four games, the Jets appear headed toward a stiff penalty. Unlike Ryan, Goodell doesn't accept push-ups as punishment.

4. Draft drought: Wonder why the offense is shy on playmakers? The last skill-position player drafted by the Jets to make a Pro Bowl was FB Richie Anderson. He was drafted in 1993 and made his only Pro Bowl in 2000. There you go. You can bet it'll be a focus for GM John Idzik in next spring's draft.

5. The Brady bunch: On Friday, Ryan was asked if he has considered making "Brady" the No. 2 quarterback, ahead of Matt Simms, because of his veteran presence. Ryan's response: "Tom or Quinn? Tom would be active." Funny line.

Quite frankly, I'm surprised Brady Quinn hasn't overtaken Simms for the No. 2 spot, based simply on his experience. But it's apparent from listening to Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg they have a relatively strong belief in Simms. Strong enough to play him if Smith continues to struggle? I'm on record as saying they have to ride it out with Smith, but that doesn't mean they can't give Simms some mop-up work or a chance in the second half of a game if Smith lays another egg. Never rule it out.

6. An ordinary Joe: Are the Jets down on Joe McKnight or what? The Jets are ranked 31st in kickoff-return average and 32nd in field position (average start of drive), and yet McKnight remains unemployed. They've also had issues at running back -- and McKnight remains unemployed. His well-documented problems in training camp irked the organization more than we'll ever know.

7. The Fab Five: Rookie LG Brian Winters, expected to start Monday night for Vladimir Ducasse, will become the fifth 2013 draft pick to claim a starting job. I'm not sure if CB Dee Milliner (injured) still is a starter, per se, because it's hard to figure out what's happening at right corner, but let's roll with the "five" figure. The last Jets draft to produce five starters was 2000 -- Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, Chad Pennington, Anthony Becht and Laveranues Coles. And none of them were full-time starters as rookies.

8. Chief of security: Running backs coach Anthony Lynn worked with Geno Smith all week to help with his ball-security issues. Lynn is the Jets' resident expert, and with good reason. Since 2009, when Lynn arrived, the Jets have lost only 13 fumbles on rushing attempts. That ranks 18th in the league, but that standing is deceiving because they've rushed more times over that span than any team in the league -- 2,203 attempts, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That breaks down to one lost fumble every 169 attempts. If Lynn can't fix Smith, no one can.

9. Welcome to the league, kid: All this talk about rookie quarterbacks prompted me to ask Quinn if he could recall his first game as a rookie with the Cleveland Browns (2007). Because of an injury to starter Derek Anderson, he was thrown into a game against the San Francisco 49ers. It was Dec. 30, and he recalled his feet felt like cement. His first drive ended at the 49ers' 6-yard line after back-to-back drops in the end zone. The receivers that dropped the passes? Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards.

10. A career with only one regret: Former DL Marty Lyons will be inducted into the Jets' Ring of Honor on Oct. 13 -- a well-deserved honor for a class act. The other day, Lyons was emotional as he reflected on his career and post-career accomplishments in the community. He harbors only one regret -- Dec. 7, 1987, the night he inadvertently ended the career of Miami Dolphins C Dwight Stephenson, a friend and former college teammate at Alabama. Stephenson, who would become a Hall of Famer, wrecked his knee when he was blocked by Lyons on a fumble return. It wasn't a low block by Lyons, but it occurred away from the play -- and that caused a furor. In some respects, it has haunted Lyons.

"You look back on your career -- college and the NFL -- and you say to yourself, 'If I could have one play back ...' That would be the play I'd want back. I didn't feel like it was a cheap shot, I just wish the result was different. ... Every now and then, you go back to Miami or Alabama, and it flares its head. Some people never let me forget that, but I also have to tell those people, 'I didn't forget it.' I don't need them to remind me. I live with it every single day."

Lyons said he cleared his conscience when he discussed it with Stephenson, who assured him it wasn't a dirty hit. The game leaves scars, not all of them physical.

The Mornhin After: Focusing on three areas

October, 5, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg revealed on Friday that the Jets' offense had a meeting after last weekend's loss to Tennessee and keyed in three areas where the team needs to improve: turnovers, penalties and sacks.

"We had a little 'put it on the table' meeting when the players got back in," Mornhinweg said. "And these things have to change for us to be any good at all and to get to where we want to be and to be a good offensive football team."

Later he joked that he hoped no one had taped the meeting, but added that he thinks players got the message. Mornhinweg was clear that the responsibility for fixing those problems rested with him.

Simms vs. Quinn: Quarterback Brady Quinn was brought in but has yet to be active for a game, and Mornhinweg was asked if Quinn could replace inexperienced Matt Simms at the No. 2 spot. Mornhinweg shut down that line of questioning.

"That’s been well thought out, all those things," Mornhinweg said. "Matt has earned this thing. Matt has a lot of respect and confidence from his teammates and from the staff. He’s sort of earned that now."

Who are you? After four games teams usually have a sense of where they are heading and what their identity is, but between a rookie quarterback in Geno Smith and an offense that’s been reshuffled because of injuries, the Jets aren’t there yet.

"Now we’re a quarter of the way through the season, usually at a quarter of the way through, it might take another game or two, you sort of know where you’re at," Mornhinweg said. "I’m not sure we do yet."

Private screening: The coordinator was asked if he had trouble with screen plays against the Titans.

“Yes, [I] may never call another screen for the rest of my career,” Mornhinweg said.

We will see if he holds to that when the Jets head to Atlanta for their game Monday night.

Rex: Matt Simms not a threat to Geno

September, 19, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Hold the Matt Simms speculation.

Rex Ryan downplayed an ESPN report that suggested Simms, the New York Jets' No. 2 quarterback, has some support within the organization and could replace Geno Smith at some point if the rookie continues to struggle.

"Well, I think there are a lot of guys that like Simms, I don't think there's any doubt, but to say as our starting quarterback? I don't see that," Ryan said Thursday. "Again, I'm obviously saying that that couldn't happen, but we see Geno as our starting quarteback now, and that's how we see it. We like Matt -- or Phil, if you want."

Simms was terrific in the preseason, earning a roster spot, but he played exclusively with the backups. He has no regular-season experience. He was the No. 2 quarterback for the first two weeks, ahead of veteran Brady Quinn, who arrived at the end of the preseason.

Smith, coming off a three-interception loss, will face his first pressure point Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. The Smith-led offense has produced only two touchdowns in 28 possessions, with many of those drives undermined by Smith turnovers (five) and sacks (nine).

"We'll go through some ups and downs," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "He's seeing things for the first time. That will continue to happen until he gets some experience. This experience for him is invaluable in the long run."

Mornhinweg said Smith has done "a fine job with the exception of really maybe a few more than a handful of plays." A few more than a handful? That's a significant amount, considering they've played only two games.

The Jets could reduce some burden on Smith by running the ball more often. Their pass-run ratio is 63-37 -- hardly a surprise for the pass-happy Mornhinweg, but a radical departure for Ryan, who once espoused a Ground & Pound philosophy.

Mornhinweg clamed "this is more than I've ever run the ball as far as attempts," noting a third-and-7 run in last week's game.

"I haven't done that in I can't remember," he said, laughing and slapping the table for effect.

Sunday notes: All rookies not created equal

September, 15, 2013
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A Sunday without Jets football doesn't mean a Sunday without notes:

1. Double standard: In Idzik World, every player is in a week-to-week competition. (Note: See QB Geno Smith.) Okay, we get it, but how does he explain this? Despite missing the entire offseason because of shoulder surgery, and showing up a few days late to training camp because of his contract, rookie CB Dee Milliner (No. 9 overall pick) was elevated to a starting role after three days of practice. He replaced veteran Kyle Wilson, a serviceable player. He also got the job ahead of veteran Darrin Walls, who was praised by Rex Ryan for his play in camp. Milliner was hardly stellar, but he remained a starter even though he missed two preseason games, playing in only 84 defensive snaps.

Milliner
Clearly, he wasn't ready. Milliner was uneven in the opener, allowing a touchdown pass, and he struggled so much against the Patriots that he was benched at halftime. He may have busted the coverage on the Patriots' only touchdown, and he was saved by replay on what appeared to be another touchdown. Frankly, I'm surprised Ryan responded with a quick hook (not usually his style), but good for him. It teaches accountability. The day after the game, he wouldn't commit to Milliner as a starter for next week, letting the rookie twist in the wind. Maybe Ryan realizes they erred in anointing Milliner so quickly. It was very un-Idzik-like.

2. Positive signs: The Jets may not win a lot of games, but they will be competitive. With good defense and a solid running game, they can overachieve as long as they get game-manager performances out of the quarterback position. All Smith had to do was throw two interceptions, not three, and they might have upset the Patriots.

3. Johnny Scout: Idzik was in College Station, Texas, Saturday to check out the Texas A&M-Alabama game, according to the New York Daily News. A lot of talent and big names in that game, starting with Johnny Football. But maybe Idzik was there to scout more than Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron & Co. Could it be that he also had his eye on Alabama coach Nick Saban?

4. What's up with Brick?: This has been an uncharacteristic start for LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson. He already has two penalties (only three in 2012) and he has allowed one sack and seven quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus. A year ago, he surrendered two sacks and 19 hurries. But the most atypical moment was his ejection for throwing a punch during the end-of-game melee in Foxborough. It was stunning because Ferguson is one of the most even-tempered players I've ever met. His outburst, clearly born of frustration, reminded me of Shaun Ellis flinging his helmet in the final seconds of a home loss to the Patriots in 2008. Sometimes you just can't take it anymore.

5. Another stunner: I'm trying to figure out which was more shocking, Ferguson throwing a punch or LG Vladimir Ducasse pancaking DT Vince Wilfork on Bilal Powell's touchdown run? I'll say this for Ducasse: He played a nice game against one of the best interior lineman in the league.

6. Hidden gems: Interesting note about the Jets' starting lineup. They have almost as many former seventh-round picks and undrafted free agents (six) as former first-round picks (eight). The undrafted group consists of RT Austin Howard, TE Jeff Cumberland, NT Damon Harrison and LB Garrett McIntyre, and the seventh-rounders are S Antonio Allen and FB Tommy Bohanon. That's a tribute to former GM Mike Tannenbaum and his staff. At the same time, it could be a knock because it didn't do better with first-round picks.

7. Mark of class: Mark Sanchez has displayed an occasional lack of maturity over the years, most recently with the embarrassing half-naked home video that made the Internet in July, but he has handled ShoulderGate with total professionalism. He has every right to question the organization for its missteps along the way, but he's taking the high road, saying all the right things.

8. Welcome to Mark's world: Patriots QB Tom Brady got a taste of what it was like for Sanchez last season, throwing to a bunch of backups and no names. One of the best quarterbacks in history was held to Tebow-esque numbers, proving that even the great ones need help. But there was one thing Brady didn't do that Sanchez did 26 times last season -- he didn't commit a turnover.

9. Colorful solution: Look, we all know the Jets' receiving corps has drop issues, dating to last spring, but you can't say they've been avoiding the matter. Receivers coach Sanjay Lal created a practice drill to help with concentration. He painted the tips of footballs with different colors, and the receiver is required to shout out the color as soon as he identifies it. Maybe they should try to sneak some paint brushes into the huddle on game day.

10. Pee-Week rivals: C Nick Mangold and QB Brady Quinn go back a long way. They played against each other in the fifth grade, when Quinn's travel team in Columbus, Ohio, made the 70-mile trek to Dayton to take on Mangold's team. Quinn said his team was so loaded that it had to leave the Columbus area to find worthy opponents. It found one in Mangold & Co., a team that also included Packers LB A.J. Hawk. Quinn lost. Twenty years later, their lockers are side by side. Kind of cool, huh?

Simms is No. 2 QB again; Amendola out

September, 12, 2013
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New York Jets decided once again to dress Matt Simms ahead of veteran Brady Quinn as the No. 2 quarterback.

Quinn was inactive for Thursday night's game against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. He has been with the Jets for two weeks, save for his 48-hour period in free-agent limbo last weekend, but the Jets evidently feel more comfortable with Simms as the No. 2 (for now) even though he has no NFL experience.

With wide receiver/punt returner Jeremy Kerley sidelined with a concussion, the Jets activated wide receiver Ben Obomanu, who re-signed Tuesday. Obomanu will be the fifth receiver.

No surprises among the Jets' inactives: quarterback Mark Sanchez, guard Will Campbell, tackle Ben Ijalana, tackle Oday Aboushi and linebacker Quinton Coples.

For the Patriots, the news (if you can call it that) is that wide receiver Danny Amendola (groin) is inactive. That was expected, as he was listed as doubtful. Their other inactives are running back Brandon Bolden, tight end Zach Sudfeld, linebacker Steve Beauharnais, guard Will Svitek, tight end Rob Gronkowski and defensive tackle Chris Jones.

Analysis: Sanchez's days in NY appear over

September, 12, 2013
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Takeaways on the news that New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has a labral tear in his throwing shoulder and likely will have surgery at some point, as reported by ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen:

1. Turn out the lights: Sanchez's once-promising career with the Jets is effectively over. Even if he doesn't opt for immediate surgery, he'd be a candidate for injured reserve. He probably would have been released after the season anyway, but the injury all but cements it. He's signed through 2016, thanks to the three-year contract extension he received in March 2012; however, there's no guaranteed money left in the deal. New York can cut or trade him after the season with a minimal impact on the salary cap. He's due to count $13.1 million against the 2014 cap, but the Jets can reduce that figure by $8.3 million by unloading him before June 1. He's due to receive a $2 million roster bonus next offseason -- $2 million he'll never see.

2. Shaky QB situation: Now we know why the Jets signed journeyman Brady Quinn. Even though they called it a day-to-day issue, the Jets absolutely knew Sanchez had suffered a significant injury. The organization's credibility takes a hit here. In terms of the actual impact on the team, the Jets will play the season with rookie Geno Smith, Matt Simms and Quinn. They have a combined total of five career wins as starting quarterbacks. Clearly, the Jets are building for the future, not 2013. They're committed to Smith for the season. Even if Sanchez returns, he'll ride the bench.

3. What a shame: The organization should be embarrassed by the way it has treated Sanchez in recent weeks. Coach Rex Ryan made the irresponsible decision to insert Sanchez in the fourth quarter of a preseason game -- behind a bunch of scrubs on the offensive line. At that point, Sanchez was to be the opening-day starter. Ryan tried to rationalize the decision, saying he wanted to beat the Giants -- lame. To make it worse, owner Woody Johnson suggested recently that Sanchez should have protected himself on the play during which he was injured, intimating that the signal-caller was partially to blame. That's not how you treat players, especially a quarterback you're paying $8.25 million this season.

4. Star-crossed career: Early in his career, Sanchez had it all. He was known as "Sanchize," a handsome young quarterback in New York with a bright future. He won four postseason games in his first two years, and there were more big wins on the way. The Jets' 30-year search for the next Joe Namath appeared to be over, but the good times faded quickly. The front office did a poor job of maintaining Sanchez's supporting cast, and his performance in 2011 and 2012 regressed significantly. The low point came last Thanksgiving, with the infamous "Butt Fumble." As Mortensen reported, Sanchez conceivably could try to rehabilitate the injury in hopes of returning this season, but for what? At this point, he needs to think of his career, not the franchise that will surely discard him after the season.

Sunday notes: Imagine if Jets kept Revis

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
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Derrelle RevisMarc Serota/Getty ImagesHad the Jets decided to keep Darrelle Revis, his expiring contract would have been an ongoing distraction.
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.

[+] EnlargeDavid Harris
William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY SportsLinebacker David Harris has worked on shedding weight and is reportedly down to 240 pounds.
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.'"

Brady Quinn could be cut (temporarily)

September, 6, 2013
9/06/13
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets have four quarterbacks on the roster, but it could be three very soon.

Quinn
With Geno Smith and Matt Simms slated to be the No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively, the Jets might release recently signed Brady Quinn before 4 p.m. Saturday and re-sign him Monday. They're not planning to dress three quarterbacks for the game. Rex Ryan acknowledged, "Normally, I don't like doing that." In this case, it would save them money. As a vested veteran, Quinn's $715,000 salary would be guaranteed if he's on the roster at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Presumably, the Jets would re-sign Quinn on Monday. With Mark Sanchez (shoulder) banged up, Quinn would provide veteran insurance, as neither Smith nor Simms has played in an NFL game. Scary thought for the opener, isn't it? When Sanchez is healthy -- he's expected to miss a few weeks -- they can decide at that point how they want to proceed.

For now, it's a big risk, going into the opener with two neophytes as quarterback. Even though Quinn has been around for less than a week, he at least has six years of NFL experience. But Ryan said he's comfortable with Simms, who had a terrific preseason.

"I think he's earned the respect of his teammates and everybody else," Ryan said Friday. "When he was here initially, he was probably a camp arm. But we gave him an opportunity to compete for the third job and, quite honestly, he won it. Would he have been the favorite heading into that? I'm not so sure you could say that. He earned his spot on this roster."

Simms named Jets' backup QB for Sunday

September, 4, 2013
9/04/13
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New York Jets coach Rex Ryan announced Wednesday that Matt Simms is the team's backup quarterback for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay, ahead of recently signed veteran Brady Quinn.

Simms
The Jets have clearly been impressed with Simms as the Jets kept him over Greg McElroy, who started a game last season. With Mark Sanchez out this week with his right shoulder injury, Simms will be the backup to Geno Smith. Simms, the son of former Giants legend Phil Simms, has yet to throw a pass in the NFL.

In other depth-chart news, Antonio Allen will start alongside Dawan Landry at safety, while Vladimir Ducasse will be the starting left guard. Allen, a 2012 seventh-round pick out of South Carolina, beat out Jaiquawn Jarrett and Josh Bush to earn the starting spot.

"Coming out of college this was one of my goals," Allen said. "I didn't get drafted as high as I wanted to but I knew by my second year I wanted to be starting in this defense."

Allen said he immersed himself in learning the team's scheme, and made sure he performed when he was on the field during the preseason. With the Jets losing both of their starting safeties in the offseason, he knew there was a grand opportunity and he was able to seize it.

"It's a great accomplishment," Allen said. "Happy I did everything I wanted to do this offseason, this camp. Just excited to get out there and play with the guys."

Ducasse, the team's second-round pick in 2010, has been a disappointment thus far in his career as he's been a backup player. This will be his first chance at extended playing time, although it's expected that rookie Brian Winters will eventually take over.

A wild ride: Nine QBs in 18 months

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
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Does the Jets' quarterback situation make your head spin? Welcome to the club.

The last 18 months have been like a ride on the Coney Island Cyclone. We're talking about nine quarterbacks, three free-agent signings, three cuts, two trades, one draft pick, one retirement and one contract extension. Pop a dramamine, and relive the madness:

UNDER GM MIKE TANNENBAUM

March 12, 2012: The Jets profess their faith in Mark Sanchez, rewarding a mediocre season with a three-year contract extension -- a total package of five years, $58 million.

March 16: They sign former Lions backup Drew Stanton to serve as Sanchez's primary backup, giving him a $500,000 signing bonus.

March 22: Stunning the NFL, the Jets trade for Tim Tebow and name him the No. 2 backup. Hello, quarterback controversy. Stanton immediately requests his release.

March 24: Stanton is traded to the Colts. He makes a half-million bucks for a week of doing nothing.

2012 season: Pick a day, any day. Dysfunction reigns throughout the season.

UNDER GM JOHN IDZIK

March 12, 2013: On the one-year anniversary of their commitment to Sanchez, the Jets sign veteran David Garrard to compete with Sanchez for the starting job. Team officials are blown away by his workout, downplaying (or ignoring) his chronic knee condition. Privately, they say he has a good chance to win the job.

April 27: They draft Geno Smith in the second round, changing the landscape of the position. Idzik, with a straight face, calls it an open competition with six QBs -- Smith, Sanchez, Tebow, Garrard, Greg McElroy and neophyte Matt Simms.

April 30: After showing up for two weeks of off-season workouts, Tebow finally gets his release -- a foregone conclusion.

May 15: Unable to make it through a month of OTAs, Garrard announces his retirement, citing chronic knee pain -- an unexpected snag in Idzik's grand plan.

Aug. 9: Smith sprains an ankle in his first preseason game. Another snag.

Aug. 24: Sanchez suffers a significant shoulder injury because of Rex Ryan's controversial decision to play him in the fourth quarter behind the second-team line -- yet another snag in the plan. This time, it's a $715,000 mistake. Read on.

Aug. 28: The Jets sign Packers castoff Graham Harrell, giving them five quarterbacks. The depth chart is growing at a time when most teams are cutting down.

Aug. 31: McElroy is waived with an injury. Simms, their best quarterback in the preseason, makes the 53-man roster.

Sept. 1: The Jets quietly fly the well-traveled Brady Quinn into town for a workout.

Sept. 2: With Sanchez expected to miss a few weeks, the Jets sign Quinn to a one-year deal, probably for the $715,000 veteran minimum. Harrell is released. Quinn is expected to open the season as the No. 2 quarterback, essentially filling Tebow's role. That's interesting because Quinn wasn't good enough to beat out Tebow in 2011 with the Broncos.

This can only happen to the Jets.

Greg McElroy finally free to go

September, 2, 2013
9/02/13
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- For the second time in three days, quarterback Greg McElroy was released by the New York Jets. This time, he's really gone.

The Jets waived McElroy from their injured-reserve list after negotiating an injury settlement, meaning McElroy is free to sign with another team. That team appears to be the Bengals, who reportedly want him for their practice squad.

This was all about a technicality and a formality. On Saturday, the Jets waived him with an injury. Once he cleared waivers, his rights reverted to the Jets' injured reserve list. Evidently, the negotiation of an injury settlement was only a formality, as McElroy already was en route to Cincinnati.

McElroy missed the past three preseason games with a sprained knee, aggravating it in practice a few days before the preseason finale. It's not believed to be a severe injury.

The ever-changing depth chart at quarterback looks like this:

1. Geno Smith
2. Mark Sanchez (injured)
3. Brady Quinn
4. Matt Simms

Practice report: Quinn arrives, Sanchez sits

September, 2, 2013
9/02/13
1:55
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets' always-fascinating quarterback carousel was spinning at full speed Monday.

Newly signed Brady Quinn, who worked out for the team in the morning, participated in practice, wearing No. 9. As Quinn went through the paces with his new team, embattled incumbent Mark Sanchez was off in the distance, riding a stationary bike. Sanchez is out with a bruised joint in his throwing shoulder and is not expected to be ready for the season opener.

Coach Rex Ryan is scheduled to address the media after practice. It's unknown whether he will announce the starting quarterback, although it's clear that rookie Geno Smith will be the choice.

In other practice news, cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie (hip) and Dee Milliner (calf) worked with the trainers during the 30-minute window open to the media. The early sense is that both will be ready for the Bucs, although there's still some question about Milliner.

Nose tackle Kenrick Ellis (back), who missed the last three preseason games, also didn't participate in the early portion of practice. His status for the opener is up in the air. It looks as if Damon Harrison could get the start.

Potential free-agent targets

March, 7, 2013
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The Jets don't have much cap room, so you won't see any household names on this list. They'll be bargain-shopping. Here's a look at players who might be on their wish list, with positional grades (scale of 100) and rankings by Scouts, Inc.

QB Brady Quinn, Chiefs: The Quinn-to-the-Jets speculation started a week ago. He has never come close to living up to expectations, but he has a relationship with new QBs coach David Lee. He'd come cheaply. Grade: 53. Rank 13.

QB Matt Moore, Dolphins: He's trying to cash in on a respectable performance in 2011, which says a lot about the state of the quarterback market. If Moore wants to start again, his best chance is with the Jets. The going rate for QBs of his ilk is about $3 million a year. Are the Jets willing to spend that much? Grade: 66. Rank: 2.

[+] EnlargeFelix Jones
Zumapress/Icon SMIFelix Jones has rushed for 2,728 yards during his five-year, injury-plagued career.
G Jake Scott, Eagles: He's starting to get up in years (almost 32), but he knows Marty Mornhinweg's system and could be a stop-gap starter for a year or two if Brandon Moore and/or Matt Slauson leave. Grade: 70. Rank: 4.

RB Felix Jones, Cowboys: Like Quinn, Jones is another first-round underachiever, but he's still young (almost 26) and runs well. David Lee coached him at Arkansas, so there's familiarity. Grade: 75. Rank: 7.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi, Browns: He has only 114 receptions in four years, but he has the body type and skill set for the West Coast system. New TEs coach Steve Hagen knows him well from Cleveland.

TE Anthony Fasano, Dolphins: He won't threaten the safeties, but he would bring a blocking element back to the tight-end position. He's a New Jersey native. Lee knows him from his Miami days. Grade: 72. Rank: 8.

S Jim Leonhard, Broncos: It's a long shot, but we know how Rex Ryan feels about him. Grade: 59. Rank: 33.

S Glover Quin, Texans: He's a solid, physical safety who could replace LaRon Landry, a free agent. Quin is considered one of the top sleepers. Grade: 76. Rank: 7.

OLB Connor Barwin, Texans: This might be a stretch because of the financials, but Ryan absolutely loved him coming out of college a few years ago. He had 11.5 sacks two years ago, but fell way off in 2012. Grade: 79. Rank: 7.

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