New York Jets: Breno Giacomini

Out-of-control Jets refuse to be bullied

August, 17, 2014
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CINCINNATI -- Rex Ryan didn't rip his team for its sloppy, penalty-laden performance, which included seven personal fouls. Just the oppposite, actually.

"The main thing is our guys are protecting each other," he said after the New York Jets' 25-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals Saturday night at Paul Brown Stadium. "Sometimes we have to look at [the penalties] and, did we cross the line a little bit? We'll look at it and address it. We want to be as physical a football team as we can possibly be within the confines of the rules. But we're not here to take anything from anybody. If a teammate's at risk, we're not going to take that."

Colon
Colon
Giacomini
The offensive line created most of the havoc. Right tackle Breno Giacomini had two personal fouls, as did guard Brian Winters, who surprisingly was replaced in the starting lineup by Oday Aboushi. (Winters had a total of three penalties). Guard Willie Colon added one personal foul. Even mild-mannered receiver Stephen Hill got into the action, earning one personal foul.

All told, the Jets were flagged 12 times for 133 yards. The Bengals were penalized 11 times for 92 yards. Ah, yes, preseason football.

Colon and Giacomini were the tone setters. First came a first-quarter interception by Terence Newman, who was down by contact after being tagged by wide receiver David Nelson. Giacomini apparently didn't hear the whistle because he tried to tackle Newman. In a nanosecond, Colon was on the scene, shoving Newman. Colon lost his helmet.

And so it began.

"I reacted like I felt I needed to," Colon said.

Ryan must have whipped his team into a frenzy because it was frothing. The Jets were humiliated by the Bengals last October, 49-9, and some players -- if you can believe it -- talked about payback. Sheldon Richardson said last week they "owe them one."

"We were fired up going into this game," Colon said. "Last time we stepped into this stadium, we got our butts handed to us. We got embarrassed the last time here -- no ifs, ands or buts. When we looked at that tape, that wasn't the Jets we want to be. They're a playoff team and we're trying to take that next step. We still have miles to walk, we understand that, but the preseason is a time to build that."

You can also fall into bad habits. The Jets suffered from penalty issues last season (hence, the penalty push-ups in practice), and now they were out of control in a preseason game. But there were no apologies from Ryan or his players. They're trying to build an attitude. They better hope they're not starting a trend.

It's a good thing the two teams didn't have joint practices, as had been discussed.

Training camp preview: Offensive line

July, 17, 2014
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Breaking down the New York Jets' roster, unit by unit, in preparation for training camp, July 23:

Projected starters: D'Brickashaw Ferguson (LT), Brian Winters (LG), Nick Mangold (C), Willie Colon (RG), Breno Giacomini (RT).

Projected reserves: Oday Aboushi, Ben Ijalana, Dalton Freeman, Dakota Dozier.

Notables on the bubble: Caleb Schlauderaff, William Campbell.

Player to watch: Giacomini. The Jets took a calculated risk in free agency, letting a young, ascending right tackle (Austin Howard) walk out the door and replacing him with the unheralded Giacomini. It wasn't a small contract, either, as Giacomini signed a four-year deal for $18 million, including $7 million in guarantees. He and Howard are comparable players, although the Jets expect Giacomini to contribute more in the running game than Howard did. He comes from a run-oriented offense, the Seattle Seahawks, but Giacomini must make the transition from a zone-based blocking scheme to a gap scheme.

Top storyline: The guards. Colon underwent two surgeries in the offseason (biceps, knee), opening the door for Aboushi to get first-team work in organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp. Drafted as a tackle, Aboushi settled in at left guard, pushing Winters to right guard, where he's never played before. Colon is expected for training camp, so what we have here, folks, is an old-fashioned competition, with three players vying for two spots. Can't you just see John Idzik smiling? This could shake out a few different ways, but the prediction is they'll start the way they ended in 2013 -- Winters left, Colon right. But that won't be etched in granite.

Wild card: Aboushi. The former fifth-round pick, coming off a red-shirt rookie year (inactive 16 games), has a chance to crack the lineup. After struggling in pass protection at tackle (he was one of the players who missed a block on the Mark Sanchez injury), Aboushi was moved to guard in the spring. It's not an easy transition, as Winters proved last season. If Aboushi can succeed, it'll give the Jets more youth and athleticism at the position.

By the numbers: This may surprise some people, but the Jets finished third in pass protection, based on the percentage of plays in which the offense controlled the line of scrimmage on pass plays -- 52.7 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Information. This isn't commensurate with their high sack total (47), an indication that other factors outweighed the pass blocking -- mainly inexperience at quarterback and the inability of the receivers to get open on a consistent basis.

Jets players select funniest moments

July, 10, 2014
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Taking a break from X's and O's and related topics, we decided to lighten the mood by asking several players on the New York Jets to desribe the funniest moment of their career -- high school, college or pro. Here's what we found:

Alex Green: "I was in high school and I got tackled, but the guy tackled me from behind, and pulled my pants down. But it was wet and I was soaked, so when I got up [they] were still down. I couldn’t get them up. I was trying to pull them up for like two minutes, had to call a timeout and run to the sideline. It was one of the most embarrassing moments, and it was on camera, too. My mom recorded it and everything."

Bilal Powell: "In 2010 [at Louisville], I was actually running out for a route and tripped over my own shoestrings and the other sideline, the whole sideline was laughing at me. I was digging, and I just ate the dirt, everything."

Sheldon Richardson: "Come on, man, it's when I missed that tackle against Buffalo -- the only big run they had probably all season. [He stopped and celebrated, thinking the runner was stopped behind the line.] Hilarious. I mean, we won the game and they didn't score on that drive. When we watched it on film, we were laughing."

Jeremy Kerley (formerly of TCU): "We were playing against UNLV in college and we were up pretty good, and this guy on defense, he wasn’t even worried abut the game. He was just like, ‘Where can I get a mix tape from in Texas? I heard your music is pretty good,’ the whole rest of the game. It was funny. He was really worried about a mix tape."

Breno Giacomini (formerly of Louisville): "In college, when I was a tight end, I fell going in motion ... twice. At the time it wasn't funny, but when you go back and watch it, it's pretty funny, especially me being so big and goofy. It just looked really funny on film. I think that's when my offensive line career began. I was a blocking tight end, so I didn't have to move a lot."

D'Brickashaw Ferguson: "Recently, it was when I got my shoe caught in someone's helmet and the ref was tugging. He had the helmet and I had the shoe, and we were tugging. It was a play against the Patriots. It was some DB. I was going out on a screen. I don't know how it happened, but I had my heel in his helmet. I had to take my shoe off. It was kind of funny."

-- Jane McManus contributed

Jets players select most memorable game

June, 30, 2014
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Taking a break from serious football topics, we decided to lighten the mood by asking several players on the New York Jets to name the most memorable game of their career -- high school, college or pro. Here's what we found:

Breno Giacomini (formerly of the Seattle Seahawks): "It has to be the Super Bowl. There was a huge hype about the game, with Peyton Manning being so good and the respect we had for Denver itself. We had two weeks to prepare for them, and the battle we had to go through to get to them, San Francisco, was tough. Plus, it was the first (championship) for the city of Seattle. There's a lot to it, but overall, Peyton Manning being so good, facing our defense. It was awesome."

Sheldon Richardson: "When we beat the Patriots last year. I didn't do anything major, it was just the fact that we won and beat the Patriots at home. It was a close game, a tough fight for everybody on both sides of the ball. It was just a fun game. Right now, that's my most memorable."

D'Brickashaw Ferguson: "It's a tie between college (Virginia) and the NFL -- my first game in each. It was Colorado State and the Tennessee Titans. I don't remember the outcome -- I think we won -- but it was my first NFL start. In college, it was my first time playing Division I football. Those are proud milestones, having an opportunity to compete at those levels. In fact, I think we lost the Colorado State game."

Dimitri Patterson: "It's when I started my first game on 'Monday Night Football,' when I was on Philadelphia (in 2010). That stands out the most out of all the games because Washington was the first team I was with coming out of college. They cut me. I was able to start against them and had two interceptions, one for a touchdown. I played well. That was really the year when I showed people I could actually play in this league at corner, so that games stands out the most to me, just because of the history I had with Washington and being able to start my first 'Monday Night Football' game and play well on a national stage."

Jeremy Kerley, a former high-school quarterback: "State championship my senior year in high school (Hutto, Texas). We played Tatum High School. It was the first time my school went to State -- ever -- so it was a pretty big deal. We traveled pretty good, we had everybody there. ... We were winning most of the game, but with 17-something seconds left -- I think we were down, 38-34 -- I had the ball on the 20-something yard line. We had the ball. Sack, lost the game."

-- Jane McManus contributed

Jets notes: Rex's endless pursuit of B&B

June, 15, 2014
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A few thoughts on the New York Jets as we head into the final week of the offseason:

1. Song remains the same: Rex Ryan's remarks the other day about the New England Patriots (in response to Calvin Pryor's "hate" quote) triggered a memory. Ryan's comments -- "[Pryor] knows who the enemy is" -- came almost five years to the day in which he uttered his famous line: "I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick's rings." The takeaway: Five years later, not much has changed.

No one knows how the rest of the Ryan era will play out, but it's quite possible he could be remembered one day as a good coach who failed to rise above also-ran status because he was in the same division as the winningest coach-quarterback combination in history. Ryan hasn't been able to conquer Belichick and Tom Brady. No one has, as the Patriots have won the AFC East every year since Ryan took over the Jets in 2009 -- and a whole bunch of years before that. The same thing happened to the New York Knicks in the 1990s; they had some terrific teams, but couldn't get past Michael Jordan.

The Jets have been respectable under Ryan (42-38), the eighth-best record in the AFC over that span, but the Patriots are a league-best 61-19. The Jets finished four games behind the Patriots last season, and there's no reason to think they will overtake their longtime nemesis this season. With Brady expected to play a few more years, Ryan could be playing catch-up for the rest of the Brady-Belichick era -- if he lasts that long. Lousy timing for Ryan? Yeah, you could say that, but he also knew what he was signing up for in '09.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
AP Photo/Julie JacobsonRex Ryan took some heat this past week after skipping the Jets' final OTA session in favor of taking his team on a bowling excursion.
2. Misplaced criticism: Ryan's decision to cancel the final OTA practice in favor of a trip to a bowling alley fueled some mild backlash on social media. Actually, it's not unusual for a coach to skip the last day. Belichick, of all people, canceled his final OTA practices in 2012 and 2013. He also took the Patriots to the movies late last season. The criticism of Ryan is off base. It's June, for crying out loud! It's not like he took the team to Dave & Buster's on the eve of a big game. Oh, wait ...

3. A delivery of Flowers?: Despite all the happy talk from the Jets about their cornerback situation, I think they should explore the possibility of signing Brandon Flowers, who was released Friday by the Kansas City Chiefs. The question is, will they? As of Saturday morning, they hadn't reached out to Flowers, according to a league source. Then again, John Idzik isn't a hurry-up kind of general manager, so you never know. In the end, I'd be surprised if the Jets show serious interest despite a need (in my opinion) at the position.

Despite a Pro Bowl appearance, Flowers is coming off a disappointing season in which he was demoted to nickelback. He was rated 87th out of 110 cornerbacks last season, according to ProFootballFocus. That he struggled under former Jets defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, whose system is similar to that of Ryan's, is worth noting. We also know Idzik is reluctant to spend significant money for another team's trash. But we're also talking about a 28-year-old player with a substantial body of work, someone who could benefit by a change of scenery. If they paid $3 million for the injury-prone Dimitri Patterson, why not make a run at Flowers, who would be an upgrade? They have about $21 million in cap room.

4. Goodson's future: Flowers may have sealed his fate by not attending OTA practices, which are voluntary (wink, wink). The Jets' Mike Goodson did the same, prompting some fans to wonder why the Jets haven't cut ties with the troubled running back. Goodson's situation is complicated by his legal problems and perhaps personal issues. Remember, he was slapped with a four-game suspension last year for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. I find it hard to believe he'd deliberately stay from the team, jeopardizing his roster spot, unless there's an extenuating circumstance. His agent hasn't returned calls or emails seeking comment, and the Jets have been tight-lipped, except Ryan saying he hasn't heard from Goodson. Ryan said he expects Goodson to attend next week's mandatory minicamp.

5. New kid on the block: Right tackle Breno Giacomini has spent his entire career on zone-blocking teams -- the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, his most recent team. The Jets run a mix of zone and gap blocking schemes, which will require a transition for Giacomini. Before signing him as a free agent, the Jets studied tape of how he fared against common opponents, and they came away convinced he could adapt to the specific style they use against certain teams.

6. Big Mike: To improve his oft-questioned durability, quarterback Michael Vick added four pounds of "solid muscle," he told The Daily Press of Newport News, Virginia, his hometown. He told the newspaper he felt great throughout OTAs, proudly noting he scored a rushing touchdown last week.

"Still can move," Vick said. "Doesn't seem like any of my skills have diminished. … I still feel like I can play at a high level. That may be tested at some point this season, and I look forward to it."

Vick described himself as a "trendsetter," saying the mobile quarterbacks of today are continuing the style he brought to the league more than a decade ago. He added: "I was kind of the originator. That's something I can take to the grave."

7. Sheldon wants 'Mo money for Wilkerson: Muhammad Wilkerson is taking a low-key approach to his looming contract negotiations, refusing to make public demands. Teammate Sheldon Richardson is doing the talking for him, telling the New York Post, "Hopefully, they do the right thing and pay the man." Oh, they will. The question is when. After exercising a fifth-year option, the Jets have Wilkerson under contract through 2015, so there's no sense of urgency.

Richardson has a personal stake in the matter because in two years, he'll be in the same boat as Wilkerson. If the Jets renegotiate with Wilkerson before his fourth season, it'll set a precedent for Richardson and other former first-round picks.

8. Picture of the week: Here's soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo receiving a throwing lesson from wide receiver David Nelson. No Tebow jokes allowed.

9. The anti-Rex: Can there be two coaches more dissimilar than Ryan and Jurgen Klinsmann? Klinsmann says it's not possible for his team -- the United States -- to win the World Cup. Ryan goes into every game telling his team they will win -- and I honestly think he believes it. Call me traditional, but I like Ryan's approach. Klinsmann might be right, but no one wants to hear that jive. It's a good thing we didn't have a guy like him coaching the 1980 U.S. hockey team.

10. Farewell to a champion: The NFL lost a legend Friday night with the passing of former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll, who won four Super Bowls. Two Noll disciples became important figures in Jets history -- the late Bud Carson and retired personnel director Dick Haley. Carson, the Jets' defensive coordinator from 1985-88, ran the defense for Noll during the iconic Steel Curtain era. Haley, who worked for the Jets from 1991-2002, was one of the architects of the great Steeler drafts in the 1970s.

Jets notes: QB job should be 'open'

June, 1, 2014
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Thoughts and observations on the New York Jets:

1. Another QB question to ponder: With everyone engaged in a semantic debate on whether the Jets' quarterback competition is open or closed (let's call it semi-closed), let me pose this question: Why not make it a truly open competition and bill it as such?

Yes, Geno Smith showed promise at the end of last season, but he doesn't have enough pelts on the wall to be granted front-runner status. True, Michael Vick arrived in town with baggage (age, durability and turnover concerns), but his body of work warrants a 50-50 shot at the starting job. Not only would an open competition eliminate confusion, but it would create a "best-man-wins" scenario.

The Jets are traveling down a slippery slope by tilting it in Smith's favor, because there's a good possibility Vick will outplay him in the preseason. Then what? Everybody knows the expression, "You can't have your cake and eat it, too." It applies to the Jets' quarterback situation. In their case, you can't have your competition and have a predetermined favorite, especially when the other guy might be better. You're just asking for trouble.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
AP Photo/Julio CortezMichael Vick has proven to have the respect of his Jets teammates during offseason workouts.
2. Low-budget signings: The Jets didn't exactly break the bank with their undrafted free agents. Teams were allocated to spend up to $80,362 in signing bonuses, but the Jets doled out only $4,000, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Defensive end Anthony Grady ($2,500) and fullback Chad Young ($1,500) were the only UDFAs to receive a signing bonus; the other five got zilch. The size of the bonus often indicates the quality of the player. When multiple teams are bidding, top UDFAs have been known to land more than $10,000. Two years ago, nose tackle Damon Harrison received a $7,000 bonus from the Jets. Because of their unusually large draft class (12), the Jets placed less emphasis on the UDFA market. Basically, it was an afterthought.

3. Rex tweaks Tim: Ryan took a veiled shot at Tim Tebow the other day. Trying to defend Eric Decker against the perception that he's a Peyton Manning creation, Ryan reminded us that Decker caught touchdown passes from Tebow in 2011. "I think that's pretty impressive," Ryan said, thinking it was eight scoring catches (it was actually four). The inference was clear: If Decker scored with the scatter-armed Tebow, he can score with anyone. Ryan neglected to mention that Decker had no receptions and two drops in five targets when he and Tebow faced the Jets in that same season.

4. Where's the depth?: Right guard Willie Colon (arthroscopic knee surgery) is expected to return before training camp, so there's no reason for the Jets to panic, but the injury casts a harsh light on their offensive line depth. Their nine backups have played a combined total of 14 regular-season snaps -- all by center/guard Caleb Schlauderaff. That's a bit troubling, no? Considering Colon's durability issues (four surgeries in the last four years), the front office should sign some veteran insurance. Never thought I'd say this, but ... where's Vladimir Ducasse when you need him?

4a. New kind of surgery: Loved this tweet from one of my followers, @MisterRoberts, who refers to Colon's surgery as a "Colon-oscopy." Brilliant.

5. From enemies to comrades: Four months ago, Decker and Breno Giacomini played on opposite sides of one of the most lopsided Super Bowls in history. Giacomini's Seattle Seahawks embarrassed Decker's Broncos, 43-8. Now they're teammates. I asked Giacomini if they've talked about the game. A little trash talking, perhaps? He said there was a brief lunch-room conversation. Giacomini said he asked Decker about the first play of the game, the errant shotgun snap that resulted in a safety. Decker chalked it up to the noise generated by the pro-Seattle crowd at MetLife Stadium. And that was the end of the conversation. Touchy subject, obviously.

"I didn't want to say anything else to him," Giacomini said. "That's behind us, we're teammates now. Hopefully, we can reach it again -- together -- and win another one."

6. The Fridge, Part II?: You have to love Sheldon Richardson's candor and sense of humor. Asked if he hopes to continue in his role as a goal-line running back, Richardson said, "It was a fun experience. Hopefully, they call my number again." He quickly added, "Hopefully not, because it means the offense is doing what they're supposed to do."

There's some truth in his humor; this was a problem area last season. Richardson (two) and Geno Smith (six) combined for eight of the 12 rushing touchdowns. For all his power, Chris Ivory scored only one touchdown on six attempts on goal-to-go runs from the 5-yard line or closer, per ESPN Stats. That's not Chris Johnson's forte, either. He received only one such carry last season (a 3-yard touchdown). Be ready, Sheldon.

7. Respect for elders: Ryan has been around football for his entire life, which means he has seen and heard just about everything. One day recently, though, he heard something from the offensive huddle that struck him as unusual. Vick told one of the young fullbacks to run a certain pass route and the player (Ryan wouldn't identify him) responded with, "Yes, sir." They have only two fullbacks, so it was either Tommy Bohanon or Chad Young. Said Ryan: "I don’t know if I’ve heard that in a long time with a teammate talking to another teammate. [Vick] certainly has that kind of respect in the locker room."

8. Pinocchio Island: Did anyone check to see if Darrelle Revis' nose was growing when he spoke glowingly the other day about Bill Belichick and the Patriot Way? Once upon a time, Revis called Belichick a "jerk." Yes, free agency makes for strange bedfellows.

9. Broadway Joe to Hollywood Joe: A movie on the life of Joe Namath is in the early stages of development. James Mangold, who directed the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line," already is on board as the director, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Here's hoping they get Ann-Margret to play herself.

10. The Mo, the better: Kudos to Muhammad Wilkerson, who will present five student-athletes from New Jersey and Long Island with $1,000 college scholarships. Wilkerson, giving back to his local roots, grew up in Linden, N.J. He's making the donations through his T.E.A.M 96 Foundation.

11. Futbol and football: Portugal's national soccer team, led by global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, will train at the Jets' facility from Tuesday through June 9 in preparation for the World Cup. The team's stay in the area will be capped by a June 10 exhibition against Ireland at MetLife Stadium. Paulo Bento, the Portugal coach, already has visited the Jets' facility in Florham, N.J., declaring "the pitches are very good." With the World Cup approaching, I wonder if Bento still has open competition for each starting job.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Breno Giacomini is the only New York Jet who got to hang out with President Barack Obama this week.

Giacomini
Giacomini spent Wednesday in Washington, D.C., with his former teammates from the Seattle Seahawks, as the reigning Super Bowl champions were honored at the White House.

“It was cool to go and see those other guys again for a little bit and tour a little bit of the White House,” Giacomini said Thursday. “And then meeting the President -- that was really the biggest highlight there.”

It was back to work on Thursday for Giacomini, the Jets’ new starting right tackle, who signed a four-year, $18 million contract ($7 million guaranteed) back in March. When Austin Howard jumped to the Oakland Raiders, the Jets moved very quickly to bring in Giacomini, who started 33 games for Seattle the past three years.

He missed seven regular-seasons games last season due to a knee injury, but returned for the Seahawks’ postseason run, capped off by winning Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.

At that time, the thought of possibly playing for the Jets wasn’t on his mind. “I knew they had a really good right tackle here,” Giacomini said. “But once [Howard] made his decision, it opened up. I think it’s a good fit. We’ll find out.”

Jets general manager John Idzik was very familiar with Giacomini from his days in the Seattle front office. Giacomini said their relationship played a role in his decision, as did location -- he’s a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and wanted to be closer to his family.

He was looking for something else, too.

“The defense here is really good,” Giacomini said. “I wanted to go to a place with a good defense, ‘cause it starts with defense.”

The Jets’ D isn’t quite as good as the Seahawks', but it was ranked 11th in yards allowed last season (10 spots behind top-ranked Seattle). And Giacomini sees another link between the Jets and Seahawks, too.

“This locker room is fairly young,” the 28-year-old tackle said. “And you can tell because of all the energy in this locker room. Right away in the mornings, you can just tell -- nobody’s really moping around, it’s just energy in here. That’s another thing I found very similar.”

Now he’s hoping for similar results.

Jets offseason wrap-up

May, 23, 2014
May 23
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» NFC Wrap: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South » Grades

With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the New York Jets' offseason moves:

Best move: The Jets doled out $7 million a year for Eric Decker, but he's an upgrade over the previous No. 1 receiver, Santonio Holmes, a diminished diva whose sour attitude won't be missed. Decker is a 6-foot-3 target whose catching radius will help Geno Smith, who struggled last season with his accuracy. No doubt Decker benefited from having the Broncos' Peyton Manning as his quarterback the past two seasons, but he's still a quality player who can help in a variety of ways. For instance: Decker had seven red zone touchdown catches last season, only one fewer than the Jets produced as a team.

[+] EnlargeDimitri Patterson
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeThe Jets hope Dimitri Patterson can fill the void created when Antonio Cromartie departed.
Riskiest move: They're counting on journeyman Dimitri Patterson, signed from the Dolphins, to replace Antonio Cromartie at cornerback -- a big gamble. Patterson, 31, has missed 33 of his past 48 games, so the Jets are taking quite a leap by thinking he will stay healthy. What's more, he's best suited for the slot, not one of the outside positions. General manager John Idzik mismanaged the cornerback market. Knowing the importance of corners in Rex Ryan's man-to-man system, Idzik should've made a stronger commitment to the position. He flirted with some big names but wound up with Patterson, who will be playing for his sixth team in 10 years. To exacerbate the issue, Idzik waited until the third round before drafting a corner.

Most surprising move: The Jets bill themselves as a young, ascending team, yet they allowed one of their ascending players to walk out the door -- right tackle Austin Howard, who signed with the Raiders. The Jets found him on the scrap heap, invested three years of development and watched him become an above-average player with upside. And then he was gone. Howard's replacement, Breno Giacomini, formerly of the Seahawks, is a comparable player -- and cheaper. Statistically, he's a better run-blocker than Howard but is not quite as adept in pass protection. Here's the big difference, though: Howard, 27, is two years younger than Giacomini, meaning he would've been a better fit in the long-term plan.

John the Deliberate: Overall, Idzik had a solid offseason, adding several new pieces on offense (let's not forget about running back Chris Johnson and quarterback Michael Vick) -- but the second-year GM didn't spend as much money as he could've. After dumping Holmes' and Mark Sanchez's contracts, the Jets were among the league leaders in cap space, but Idzik was relatively conservative in free agency, relying on a 12-player draft haul to upgrade the roster. Unlike some GMs, who overpay for second-rate talent, he refuses to deviate from his long-term plan. It's the right approach for a franchise previously obsessed with quick-fix moves, but it's not foolproof. The cornerback situation will come back to bite him.

Jets draft preview: Offensive line

May, 2, 2014
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This is the fifth installment in a position-by-position analysis of the New York Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Offensive line

Current personnel: D'Brickashaw Ferguson (signed through 2017), Nick Mangold (2017), Breno Giacomini (2017), Willie Colon (2014), Brian Winters (2016), Ben Ijalana (2014), Caleb Schlauderaff (2014), Oday Aboushi (2016), William Campbell (2016), Jacolby Ashworth (2015), Dalton Freeman (2016), Patrick Ford (2016).

Projected starters: Ferguson, Winters, Mangold, Colon, Giacomini.

Newcomers: Giacomini (Seattle Seahawks).

Departures: Vladimir Ducasse (free agent/Minnesota Vikings), Austin Howard (free agent/Oakland Raiders).

Highest cap charge: Ferguson, $11.7 million

Scouting report: The offensive line got a bad rap last season because the Jets allowed more sacks (47) than all but five team. But that stat is misleading because they played with a rookie quarterback who frequently held the ball too long and receivers who couldn't get open. In fact, the Jets were No. 3 in the pass-protection rankings, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Their pass-protection rate was 52.7, which is defined by the percentage of plays in which the offense controlled the line of scrimmage on pass plays. In addition, 24 percent of their sacks were deemed "coverage" sacks, 11th in the league -- an illustration of the receivers' inability to gain separation. The only new starter is Giacomini, who may be more physical than Howard but could be a downgrade in pass protection. We'll see. Right guard is a concern because of Colon's durability issues. Obviously, they need a better year out of Winters, who struggled as a rookie.

Last OL drafted: Tackle/guard Aboushi (fifth round) and guard Campbell (sixth) were "future" picks in last year's draft, as they basically redshirted as rookies.

Potential targets: This draft should tell us how much they believe in Aboushi and Campbell as heir apparents. If the Jets see upside with them, they shouldn't have to pick a lineman until the later rounds, if then. They haven't been linked to any of the top prospects, but they're showing interest in several late-round possibilities -- guard Ryan Groy (Wisconsin), guard/tackle Dakota Dozier (Furman), tackle Matt Feiler (Bloomsburg), center Gabe Ikard (Oklahoma) and center James Stone (Tennessee). Last year was a big-body draft. This year, the big fellas aren't a priority.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 4.

Still not time to tear down O-line

April, 16, 2014
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The New York Jets used to have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Now they need serious help, according to an article by Pro Football Focus Insider.

Bush
Ferguson
The Jets are listed among five teams with "positional frailties" that should be addressed with high draft picks. In their case, it's the line. According to PFF:
"On the surface, this may seem a strange selection given that both D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold are still on board and the team replaced departed right tackle Austin Howard with Super Bowl winner Breno Giacomini.

"However, we are now close to the nadir of a group that was as recently as 2010 the best in football. Things started to go downhill with the departure of the remarkably underrated Damien Woody (who in a fairer world would at least be discussed as a Hall of Fame candidate) and this was exacerbated further by the loss of Brandon Moore and the decline of Mangold and Ferguson. It's just as well Chris Ivory is a tough runner (he ranked tied for third in yards after contact per attempt in 2013, with 3.0) because he got very little help from his linemen this past season: not a single one graded green as a run-blocker."

Mangold
My thoughts? I'd be surprised -- no, stunned -- if the Jets used a first- or second-day draft pick on a lineman. Ferguson and Mangold, both 30, may not be what they once were, but they're still in the top third of the league at their respective positions. Ferguson's cap numbers are so high that he can't be released without serious cap ramifications until 2016. For Mangold, who has less contractual security than Ferguson, that time occurs next year. But I still don't think it's time to start looking for their replacements; they're still two of the better players on the team.

The Jets gave Giacomini a $7 million guarantee, so they expect him to be around for at least a couple of years. At left guard, they suffered through Brian Winters' rookie growing pains, but they remain high on his future. If they were to draft a lineman, it likely would be a right guard. Willie Colon is back on a one-year contract, but there's no heir apparent -- unless you count William Campbell, a former defensive lineman who didn't get close to the field last season as a rookie. Campbell and tackle Oday Aboushi were the "future" picks in John Idzik's first draft. Evidently, they're still down-the-road prospects.

But do you want to know the biggest reason why the Jets won't use a high pick on a lineman?

Too many other pressing needs.

Sunday notes: Jets playing 'Moneyball'

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30
5:00
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Thoughts and observations on the New York Jets:

1. Penny pinchers: For those not happy with John Idzik's conservative approach to free agency... well, you may not want to read this. It will raise your ire to a new level.

[+] EnlargeIdzik
AP Photo/Bill KostrounJets GM John Idzik has a new style this offseason: less spending, more scouting.
Right now, the Jets have the lowest cash payroll in the NFL -- $86.1 million, according to overthecap.com. We're not talking cap dollars, we're talking actual cash spending for 2014. They're $50 million under the top-spending team, the Baltimore Ravens. The paltry number makes the Jets seem like the New York Mets of the NFL.

In 14 months, Idzik has systematically dumped many of the highest salaries. Their once-top-heavy cap has thinned to the point where only three players have cap charges of at least $7 million -- D'Brickashaw Ferguson ($11.7 million), Nick Mangold ($7.2 million) and David Harris ($7 million). It's telling that the fourth- and fifth-highest cap numbers belong to players no longer on the roster -- Antonio Cromartie ($5.5 million) and Mark Sanchez ($4.8 million).

The Jets flirted with several big-name free agents (Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), but missed out, in part, because they failed to show them the money. (Pardon the Jerry Maguire-ism.) What conclusions can be drawn? Either the Jets are cheap or Idzik is budgeting for the future. It's probably more of the latter. Know this: Starting this year, teams are required to spend at least 89 percent of the cap in cash over a four-year period. It looks like the Jets will have some catching up to do in future years.

2. DeSean update: Unless they pull a 180, the Jets won't be a factor in the DeSean Jackson sweepstakes -- a smart move. He's not a fit for them. They held internal discussions on Jackson, with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg giving his blessing. Mornhinweg, who coached him with the Philadelphia Eagles, told people in the organization that Jackson -- known for his bad-boy reputation -- wouldn't be a problem in the locker room. That apparently wasn't enough to sway Idzik, who reportedly hadn't reached out to Jackson's agent as of Saturday. Jackson is scheduled to visit Monday with the Washington Redskins. The Oakland Raiders might be interested as well.

3. On the road again: Idzik has popped up at a number of the high-profile pro days, most recently the Johnny Manziel extravaganza at Texas A&M. He's taking more scouting trips than he did last offseason, when he was new on the job and felt obligated to work from the office as he familiarized himself with the operation and the staff.

4. For Pete's sake: I caught up with Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at the league meetings and asked for a scouting report on right tackle Breno Giacomini, who left the Super Bowl champions to sign with the Jets. Carroll: "Great competitor. Really fierce. A really smart player. Tough. Great finisher. Physical. He's legit. We hated losing Breno. We would've liked to (have kept him), but we couldn't do it. We had no intention of wanting to lose him, but he's one of the guys we had to transition out of the organization. He's worth it (for the Jets). He got paid well and he deserves it."

Translation: We liked him, but not at four years, $18 million.

5. Cro is for the birds: With All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson locking down one side of the field, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians expects opponents to attack former Jet Antonio Cromartie -- and he's just fine with that.

"I love the fact that there's going to be a lot of balls thrown at him, because I didn't throw that many when I was playing against him," Arians said at the league meetings, expressing confidence in Cromartie's coverage ability.

He'll rue that statement if Cromartie doesn't cover better than he did last season.

6. Sleeper with speed: It was overshadowed by the Jackson news and the Sanchez signing, but the Jets picked up an interesting player Friday -- cornerback Jeremy Reeves. After a four-year career at Iowa State, where he intercepted five passes (two returned for touchdowns), Reeves was eligible for the 2013 draft. But he tore a pectoral muscle, missed his pro day, wasn't drafted and wasn't signed by anyone. After working out on his own for a year, he participated in Iowa State's pro day last week and burned the 40 in 4.29 seconds, according to school officials.

He's only 5-7, 167 pounds (picture Darren Sproles at corner), but that kind of speed -- even if not totally accurate -- turns heads. The Jets have a good feel for Reeves because Jeff Bauer, the director of college scouting, is an Iowa State alum, plugged into the Iowa scene.

7. Flying with the Eagles: Former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (it feels weird typing that) made a good point in his introductory news conference in Philadelphia: He believes he could thrive in Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense because of past success in the hurry-up. Sanchez was at his best in two-minute situations, when he didn't have to read the entire field and was required to make quick decisions. So maybe there's hope for him in Philly. On the other hand, his career record against NFC teams isn't sterling -- 10 touchdown passes, 21 interceptions.

8. Reality star: Eric Decker's reality show -- "Eric and Jessie: Game On" -- kicks off its second season Sunday night. (Jessie is his wife, a country-music singer, in case you didn't know.) I asked Rex Ryan if he's worried the show could become a distraction for his new wide receiver. He laughed, but his answer was no. Ryan said the show never came up in conversation with Decker prior to him signing.

9. More teams, wealthier coaches: Ryan is in favor of expanding the playoff field. "Absolutely," he said. "When you look at the fact that bonuses are probably tied into it, absolutely." He laughed, but he wasn't joking. In his new contract extension, Ryan can trigger incentive bonuses for 2016 with playoff wins.

10. Changing times: The Jets have 12 draft picks. In Ryan's first three seasons (2009 to 2011), with Mike Tannenbaum as the GM, they had a total of 13.
Many happenings around the New York Jets:

1. Waiting on DeSean: If the Jets want wide receiver DeSean Jackson, they have the resources to be a major player. They have the need, the cap space (more than $30 million) and the right recruiter (Michael Vick). The question is, do they have the desire?

[+] EnlargeDeSean Jackson
Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesDo the positives outweigh the negatives for a marriage between the Jets and receiver DeSean Jackson?
The sense I get from talking to league sources is the Jets have a measured interest in Jackson, which will intensify if he's released by the Philadelphia Eagles -- a distinct possibility if no one is willing to trade for his contract. He has three years, $30 million remaining on the deal. He reportedly is unwilling to renegotiate his deal, which makes a trade less likely. Jackson may not be motivated to re-work the deal because he knows it will force his release, allowing him to reunite with Vick. It's possible that Vick picked the Jets, knowing his former teammate wouldn't be far behind. Could this all be part of John Idzik's master plan?

Frankly, I think it would be out of character for Idzik. Jackson is a problem child, the ultimate risk-reward gambit. The mere fact Chip Kelly is holding a fire sale for his best receiver should tell you something about how badly he wants to rid himself of Jackson. This is Santonio Holmes revisited. The talent makes the player oh-so-tempting, but is he worth the aggravation? Even if Jackson's market dries up and he accepts a team-friendly deal, he'd be complaining next offseason about wanting a new contract. He's a headache waiting to happen, but the Jets appear willing to stock up on aspirin.

2. The Marty factor: Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg knows Jackson better than anyone in the Jets' building, having coached him in Philly, but I wonder about that relationship. In May, 2010, Jackson told the Sporting News, "Our offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, said some things, trying to question my toughness" -- a reference to a 2009 game in which he sat out with a head injury. "I was like, 'Coach, I just got a concussion. This (is) my brain. If it's something else -- my shoulder, whatever -- I'm going to play.'" Based on the quote, it doesn't sound like they're the best of buds.

By the way, Jackson suffered two concussions in 2009 and 2010, including a severe concussion that resulted in memory loss -- another factor the Jets should consider.

3. 3-21: So on the two-year anniversary of the Tim Tebow trade, Mark Sanchez gets cut, Greg McElroy announces his retirement and Vick joins the team. That has to be cosmos, right?

4. Polarizing player: Opinions on the Vick signing are sharply divided among fans and media, which isn't a surprise. I happen to think it's a good deal, but I spoke to one longtime front-office executive who believes Vick, 33, is washed up.

"The Jets already have a guy like him ," said the executive, referring to Geno Smith. "If you bring Vick in, you're not thinking. It makes no sense. He's a good kid. He's more mature, he's not a distraction and the players respect him, but he doesn't bring anything to the table anymore -- nothing. He can't win with his legs anymore, he has to win with his head. His arm is good enough, but unfortunately, the arm isn't connected to the head."

An AFC personnel scout said of the Vick-for-Sanchez move: "I don't know what to think, to be honest. You swap one out for the other. There's still no long-term solution."

5. Penalty pals, revisited: Based on their track records, the Willie Colon-Breno Giacomini tandem on the right side of the offensive line will produce a lot of penalty flags. Colon was penalized a team-high 12 times for 82 yards last season. Giacomini, playing for the Seattle Seahawks, was flagged six times for 39 yards -- in only nine games, mind you. (In addition, he had two holding calls in the postseason.) In 2011 and 2012, he combined for 21 penalties for 172 yards. Unless they change their ways, Colon and Giacomini will invite comparisons to the original Penalty Pals, Jeff Criswell and Dave Cadigan, circa 1993.

6. Keeping their own: Penalties notwithstanding, the Jets made a good move to re-sign Colon, who received a one-year, $2 million contract. Only $500,000 is guaranteed; he can also earn $1 million in base salary, plus another $500,000 in roster bonuses if he plays every game. They gave a similar deal to linebacker Calvin Pace, who can make $2.625 million in the first year of a two-year, $5 million contract.

All told, the Jets retained seven free agents for a combined total of only $5.255 million in guarantees -- Pace, Colon, Nick Folk, Jeff Cumberland, Ellis Lankster, Darrin Walls and Leger Douzable. That's what you call bargain shopping.

7. John the Rigid: The biggest criticism of Idzik, according to some agents and league insiders, is that he shows little or no flexibility in negotiations. He assigns a monetary value to a player and refuses to adjust, they say. That style may help in certain situations, but there are times when you have to examine the big picture and ask yourself, "Do we really want to lose this player over X amount of money?" Idzik's conservative approach probably cost him cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who signed with the New York Giants. So now they have a gaping hole at the position. Barring a trade, or a veteran unexpectedly shaking free, the Jets will have to rely on the draft.

8. Bad things come in threes: In a span of 12 days, Idzik jettisoned three of the cornerstone players from the last playoff team, cutting Sanchez, Holmes and Antonio Cromartie. That's a stunning player dump, considering they're all 30 or under. The downside is the amount of "dead" money on the cap. The three players are counting $12.78 million, nearly 10 percent of the entire salary cap.

9. Small-school sleeper: Remember this name -- Terrence Fede. The former Marist defensive end is trying to become the first player in his school's history to be drafted. The 6-foot-3, 276 pounder was a stud pass rusher as the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., school, recording 30.5 career sacks. He has an impressive burst on the edge. He performed for scouts recently at the University of Buffalo pro day, clocking a 4.79 in the 40. All 32 teams were in attendance, including Jets scout Cole Hufnagel. Even if he's not drafted, Fede will be a priority free agent.

10. The Jets' new dogma: Everybody knows about Vick's sordid history with dog fighting, a crime that resulted in him spending nearly two years in a federal prison. Well, here's something interesting and ironic: One of his new receivers is a dog lover. Eric Decker has a foundation called "Decker's Dogs," which provides service dogs to returning military vets with disabilities. Decker and his wife, Jessica, raise money to help train rescued dogs. They believe rescued dogs have the same success rate as dogs bred for service.

Free-agency review: Jets

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
9:00
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Decker
Most significant signing: Obviously, it's wide receiver Eric Decker (five years, $36.25 million), the biggest veteran acquisition of the John Idzik era. The Jets identified him as the No. 1 receiver on the market, and they made it happen. Decker becomes the top receiver on the team (did you see their receivers last season?), but he's not a true No. 1. His 2013 numbers (87 catches, 1,288 yards) were inflated because he played in the most prolific passing offense in history, with Peyton Manning at quarterback. Unless he's paired with a difference-maker on the other side, Decker won't approach those numbers with the Jets. He's a complementary player; he won't force opponents to alter their game plan.

Howard
Most significant loss: They had hoped to lock up right tackle Austin Howard before free agency, but talks stalled, he hit the market and signed immediately with the Oakland Raiders (five years, $30 million). Howard is the kind of guy you want in your program, a former bottom-of-the-roster player who worked his way into a starting role, demonstrating real potential. But Idzik, with a replacement already lined up, refused to budge on Howard's demands. That replacement turned out to be Breno Giacomini, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks. He's a proficient right tackle and they got him for $18 million over four years, saving money in the swap. But he's not better than Howard. At best, it's a wash.

Biggest surprise: After cutting high-priced vets Antonio Cromartie and Santonio Holmes, giving them nearly $40 million in cap space, the Jets figured to be aggressive players in free agency. But it hasn't worked out that way, as Idzik has reinforced his reputation as a deliberate -- some might say stubborn -- shopper. He re-signed a few complementary starters, namely linebacker Calvin Pace, tight end Jeff Cumberland and kicker Nick Folk, but he hasn't addressed needs at cornerback, quarterback and receiver. Bargain hunting is fine, but you don't want to be too cautious. Clearly, Idzik is refusing to deviate from his long-term plan.

What's next? They have to find a replacement for Cromartie before the draft. It could be Cromartie, who wants to return. They may have no other choice because the current free-agent market for corners is thin, to say the least. Rex Ryan needs cornerback depth to play his defense, which is predicated on man-to-man coverage, and his general manager isn't making it easy on him. They also have needs at quarterback, wide receiver (yes, another one) and tight end, among other positions. At this point, there's not much left in free agency.

Contract breakdown: Breno Giacomini

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
6:10
PM ET
Right tackle Breno Giacomini's contract with the New York Jets is four years, $18 million, including $7 million in guarantees, according to ESPN data.

Giacomini
Looking at it purely from an apples-to-apples perspective, the Jets made out nicely in the Giacomini-for-Austin Howard swap. Gone: A 27-year-old tackle with 32 career starts. His replacement: A 28-year-old tackle with 33 career starts. The dollar-for-dollar comparison, at least for 2014, is significantly different. Howard's cap charge with the Oakland Raiders is $8 million; Giacomini's charge is $2.625 million -- a huge savings for the Jets.

The question is, did they upgrade the position? They're comparable players, according to one AFC personnel executive. Howard had supporters within the Jets' organization, but general manager John Idzik made the call on this one. He spent three seasons with Giacomini in Seattle (2010-12), so he knows the player. If Giacomini flops, it's on Idzik.

One interesting note: Howard has $7.9 million in fully guaranteed money (at the time of signing), not a whole lot more than Giacomini. Clearly, the Jets saw little or no difference between the players. You want to keep players like Howard in your program -- relatively young and ascending -- but Idzik obviously has a comfort level with Giacomini.

A breakdown of the contract:

2014

Cap charge: $2.625 million

Signing bonus: $2.5 million

Roster bonus: $1.0 million (fifth day of league year)

Base salary: $1.0 million (full guaranteed)

2015

Cap charge: $5.125 million

Base salary: $4.5 million ($2.5 million guaranteed)

2016

Cap charge: $5.125 million

Base salary: $4.5 million

2017

Cap charge: $5.125 million

Base salary: $4.5 million

Giacomini wants Patriots fans to kick rocks

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
4:15
PM ET
It didn't take long for right tackle Breno Giacomini to jump into the New York Jets-New England Patriots rivalry, which is bubbling this week because of Darrelle Revis.

Giacomini
Giacomini, who signed a free-agent contract Wednesday, grew up outside Boston and admitted Friday he grew up a Patriots fan -- a Drew Bledsoe fan, in particular. He was asked on a media conference call if there will be special emotions when he faces them twice in the upcoming season.

"It’ll defintely be fun after we win that game," he said. "I’ll tell my friends and family that are all Patriots fans to go kick some rocks after we win."

Giacomini signed a four-year, $18 million contract to replace Austin Howard, who bolted for the Oakland Raiders. Giacomini said his relationship with general manager John Idzik was one of the main reasons he signed. Giacomini came from the Seattle Seahawks, Idzik's previous team. Idzik was in charge of contracts for the Seahawks, and there was a lot of paperwork with Giacomini because he bounced up and down between the practice squad and the 53-man roster in 2010. That's how they got to know each other.

Some scouts say Giacomini is a better pass protector than Howard, but a notch below him as a run-blocker.

"I like to play pretty physical," Giacomini said. "I know that's the mentality they have there. I'm just going to try to play my role and get better every single play. I'm going to try to play with a little bit of nastiness I have in me. I'd play like an offensive lineman should play."

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