New York Jets: Nick Mangold

Jets' not-so-old gang is dwindling

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
You've heard this a thousand times: The NFL stands for Not For Long, and that theory certainly applies to the 2010 New York Jets.

With Antonio Cromartie's release Sunday, only 11 players remain from the team that lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game (we're including free agents). That total is sure to shrink in the coming days. By the time we reach Week 1, it could be only seven holdovers.

A look at the Gang of 11:

Not going anywhere:

D'Brickashaw Ferguson, left tackle

Nick Mangold, center

David Harris, linebacker

Jeff Cumberland, tight end

Nick Folk, kicker (franchise tag)

Tanner Purdum, long snapper

Kyle Wilson, cornerback

Free agents:

Calvin Pace, linebacker

Vladimir Ducasse, guard/tackle

Likely cap casualties:

Mark Sanchez, quarterback

Santonio Holmes, wide receiver

New York Jets cap breakdown: Offense

February, 15, 2014
Feb 15
A closer look at the New York Jets' salary cap, position by position on offense:

Offensive line:

Total cap charge: $23.5 million

Percentage of total cap: 18.2

Players under contract: 10

Highest cap charge: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, $11.7 million

Our take: They have two big-money players, Ferguson and Nick Mangold ($7.2 million), and it'll be three, assuming they re-sign free agent Austin Howard. That means they will take a low-cost approach at guard.

Wide receiver:

Total cap charge: $16.4 million

Percentage of total cap: 12.6

Players under contract: 9

Highest cap charge: Santonio Holmes, $10.75 million

Our take: The total charge for the position will be cut in half when they release Holmes -- an $8.25 million savings in 2014. That money will go immediately toward buying a new receiver in free agency.


Total cap charge: $14.74 million

Percentage of total cap: 11.3

Players under contract: 3

Highest cap charge: Mark Sanchez, $13.1 million

Our take: The Jets will save $8.3 million, assuming Sanchez is released in the coming weeks. They will get hit with $4.8 million in dead money, the remnants of his 2012 contract extension. Without a huge quarterback salary choking their cap, the Jets have a wonderful opportunity to build the rest of their team.

Running back:

Total cap charge: $6.4 million

Percentage of total cap: 5.0

Players under contract: 5

Highest cap charge: Mike Goodson, $2.0 million

Our take: Goodson's roster spot could be in jeopardy, considering his off-the-field troubles and a $650,000 roster bonus. ... The Jets got plenty of bang for the buck at the position last season, considering the relatively modest salaries.

Tight end:

Total cap charge: $1.41 million

Percentage of total cap: 1.0 percent

Players under contract: 3

Highest cap charge: Chris Pantale and Zach Sudfeld, $495,000 apiece.

Our take: Obviously, this position looks a lot different without Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow, both of whom are free agents. It's safe to say the Jets will make tight end a priority in the offseason.

Roster evaluation: Players rankings, 1 to 5

February, 8, 2014
Feb 8
Finally, the top five players on the New York Jets' roster.

As a reminder, the rankings are based on 2013 performance, positional value, potential and contractual/salary-cap status. As you can see, three of the top five are players with less than four years experience, which, of course, bodes well for the team's future.

We'll start at No. 5. Here you go:

5. Damon Harrison, nose tackle, (cap charge: $572,000): The former undrafted free agent has emerged as one of the best run-stuffing interior linemen in the league. Yes, the league. According to Pro Football Focus, a stats-based web site, "Big Snacks" was the fifth-rated 3-4 nose tackle. He's one of the big reasons why the Jets' run defense improved so much. Opponents rushed for only 3.0 yards per carry when he was in the game, as opposed to 3.4 when he was on the sideline. Harrison, grossly underpaid, changed agents, hiring the heavyweight CAA firm -- an indication he could be looking for a new deal.

4. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, left tackle, (cap charge: $11.7 million): Ferguson didn't have a vintage year (eight sacks allowed, according to PFF), but he's still a top-12 left tackle. He's still only 30 years old, plays one of the most important positions on the field and never gets hurt. Incredibly, he has missed only one snap in his entire career. He's one of the highest-paid left tackles, but he's durable and reliable, protecting the all-important blind side.

3. Nick Mangold, center, (cap charge: $7.2 million): Some people feel Mangold slipped a bit last season, especially as a run-blocker, but I didn't see it. The Jets finished sixth in rushing, and they averaged 5.11 per carry on runs up the middle, fourth in the league, according to NFL stats. Mangold allowed no sacks, according to PFF. While it's true he rarely comes up anymore in the "best-center-in-the-league" conversation, Mangold, who made the Pro Bowl as an alternate, still is a top-tier player. His guidance was invaluable for rookie quarterback Geno Smith.

2. Sheldon Richardson, defensive tackle, (cap charge: $2.3 million): Every team longs to have a player like Richardson, the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He's a big, athletic, versatile and relentless defensive lineman. He's already a terrific run defender, demonstrating the ability to play behind the line of scrimmage. His production as a pass-rusher tailed off in the second half of the season (he finished with only 3.5 sacks), an aspect of his game that needs improvement. As long as he stays hungry, Richardson has many Pro Bowls in his future.

1. Muhammad Wilkerson, defensive end, (cap charge: $2.2 million): He completes the "Sons of Anarchy" presence in the top 5. Pound for pound, he's the best player on the team, a holdover from the Mike Tannenbaum regime. Wilkerson has improved each season, and many believe he still hasn't reached his ceiling. He wanted to become a better pass-rusher last season, and he did, leading the team with a career-high 10.5 sacks. Due to make $1.2 million in '14, Wilkerson has outperformed his rookie contract, but his rights belong to the Jets for two more years, assuming they exercise a 2015 option.


6. David Harris, linebacker

7. Geno Smith, quarterback

8. Dee Milliner, cornerback

9. Jeremy Kerley, wide receiver

10. Quinton Coples, outside linebacker

11. Antonio Cromartie, cornerback

12. Austin Howard, right tackle

13. Chris Ivory, running back

14. Demario Davis, linebacker

15. Brian Winters, left guard

16. Dawan Landry, safety

17. Calvin Pace, outside linebacker

18. Bilal Powell, running back

19. Jeff Cumberland, tight end

20. Santonio Holmes, wide receiver

21. Mark Sanchez, quarterback

22. Antonio Allen, safety

23. Nick Folk, placekicker

24. Willie Colon, right guard

25. Stephen Hill, wide receiver

Cromartie, Mangold drafted by Team Rice

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
In case you missed it (hopefully, you had better things to do), the Pro Bowl "draft" was conducted Wednesday night in Hawaii. As you know, in a desperate effort to maintain a game no one cares about, the NFL changed the format, eliminating AFC vs. NFC and instituting a fantasy-style draft.


Antonio Cromartie and Nick Mangold landed on the same team for Sunday's Pro Bowl in Hawaii -- Team Rice, in case you're wondering. Offensive linemen weren't part of the actual draft, so Mangold was spared a lengthy stay in the green room, which wasn't a room at all. It was an outdoor tent on the grounds of a swanky resort.

As it turned out, Cromartie lasted until the 11th round, four rounds after former teammate Darrelle Revis was picked. At least Cromartie maintained a sense of humor, tweeting, "All I know is 4 Corners have gone n front of me right now. Feels like 06 draft all over again. Dieon (sic) n Jerry Rice r on something lol."


In a far more interesting development Wednesday, former Jets offensive-line coach Dave DeGuglielmo was hired by the New England Patriots to replace Dante Scarnecchia, who is retiring after 30 years with the franchise. DeGuglielmo was fired by the Jets after one season, 2012.

"Guge," as they call him, actually did a decent job as a coach, but his abrasive personality chafed people in the organization. He also created an adversarial relationship with the media; he spoke with reporters only three times, I think.

He made headlines when he professed his belief in embattled right tackle Wayne Hunter, declaring before the season that "until they ship him out of this building or until they shoot me dead in my office, that son-of-a-gun is going to be the starting right tackle."

Hunter was traded before the season. There was no bloodshed in Guge's office.

In training camp, Guge threatened to spit tobacco juice on reporters if they didn't take a step back during a crowded interview session. During the season, he engaged in a combative session with reporters, once again creating a headline. He basically accused the front office of forcing the coaches to play Matt Slauson and Vladimir Ducasse in a platoon at left guard, making it clear he wasn't happy with the arrangement.

DeGuglielmo sat out the 2013 season and was hired a week ago by Maryland, but he bailed when Bill Belichick came calling. Guge is a Boston native, so he probably views it as a dream job.

Memo to reporters in Boston: Check on Hunter's availability and watch your shoes if Guge is chewing tobacco during an interview.

Wilkerson vows to make Pro Bowl next year

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
Muhammad Wilkerson is going to the Pro Bowl ... next year. He firmly believes that.

"I think I should be in the Pro Bowl, but I'm going to use it as motivation for next year," the New York Jets defensive end said Tuesday on WFAN's "Joe and Evan" show. "I definitely know I'll be there for sure next year, in the Pro Bowl playing next year, for sure."

Wilkerson delivered a Pro Bowl-caliber season, a career year, but he was flat-out snubbed. The only Jets playing in the game are center Nick Mangold and cornerback Antonio Cromartie, both injury replacements.

Even though he has yet to make a Pro Bowl, Wilkerson is in line for a new contract. He has only one year remaining on his rookie deal, and the Jets are likely to extend him before the 2014 season begins. Wilkerson said he hasn't heard anything from general manager John Idzik.

"No, not at all," Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson also offered his opinion on the Geno Smith plane fracas. Admitting he doesn't know the whole story, he said, "That was just a little miscommunication I'm pretty sure on his behalf, on his part. It's something minor. He's just a rookie, he's going to go through those things. But I'm pretty sure he's going to learn from that and move on from it, because I know he's a better man than that."

Cromartie scores a trip to Pro Bowl

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who admitted last week that he had "one of the worst seasons of my career," is headed to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. That pretty much says everything about the Pro Bowl and the process of selecting players.

Cromartie, a second alternate, will replace the injured Aqib Talib of the New England Patriots, it was announced Monday.

The New York Jets will have two players in the game, Cromartie and center Nick Mangold, another injury replacement. It's farcical that defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, arguably the best player on the team, will be sitting at home.

Cromartie is a likely salary-cap casualty.

Mangold gets Pro Bowl call

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
The New York Jets will be represented in Hawaii at the Pro Bowl, after all.

Center Nick Mangold, the first alternate at his position, was invited Sunday night to replace Max Unger of the Seattle Seahawks. Obviously, Unger will be preoccupied, as he will be preparing for Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.

This will be Mangold's fifth appearance in the Pro Bowl.

Analyzing key (read: large) cap numbers

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
The league year begins in two months (March 11, to be exact), so teams have plenty of time to get their salary-cap house in order. In past years, the New York Jets had to slash salary to get under the cap, but not this year.

Right now, the Jets are projected to be about $20 million under the cap. The preliminary projection for the cap is $126.3 million and the Jets have $106 million committed to it, according to By the time they get done dumping overpaid veterans, they could have close to $40 million in space.

Here's a look at some of the Jets' key cap figures for 2014:

Antonio Cromartie, cornerback, $14.98 million:

Cromartie is entering the final year of a four-year, $32 million contract. In retrospect, it was a sound investment by the Jets, one of the better big deals doled out by former general manager Mike Tannenbaum. That said, there's virtually no way Cromartie will play 2014 under the existing contract. It calls for a $5 million roster bonus in March, and the Jets don't want to pay that much for a 30-year-old corner (almost) who recently acknowledged he may need hip surgery. He'd account for 12 percent of the team's cap under the current deal.

Cromartie says he wants to retire with the Jets. To stick around for '14, he can agree to significantly reduce the $9.5 million he's due to make in total compensation. If not, he probably will be released with the chance to return. Free agency would allow him to shop around and establish his market value, weighing it against the Jets' interest in bringing him back. Despite a sub-par season, Cromartie still is a good No. 2 corner and the Jets don't have anyone on the roster capable of starting opposite Dee Milliner. It makes sense for both sides to find a compromise and strike a new deal. If they cut him, they'd save $9.5 million in cap room, but a good chunk of that would go toward signing his replacement.

Mark Sanchez, quarterback, $13.1 million

Sanchez still has three years left on his contract, thanks to the ill-advised extension he received in March 2012, but there is no security remaining in the deal -- meaning no guaranteed money. As a result, they can release their former franchise quarterback without wrecking the cap. They'd get hit with a $4.8 million charge in "dead" money, but the overall savings would be $8.3 million. That probably will be the end result, and it will happen before a $2 million roster bonus is due in March.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how the two sides get to that point. Conceivably, the Jets could throw Sanchez a lifeline -- after all, they need an experienced quarterback to play behind or compete with Geno Smith -- but they'd want him to take a massive, pride-crushing pay cut. Sanchez says he wants to stay with the Jets, but at what price? He probably could land a one-year deal in the $3 million neighborhood on the open market, assuming his surgically repaired throwing shoulder checks out.

D'Brickashaw Ferguson, left tackle, $11.7 million

He's not going anywhere. In fact, it would cost them more not to have Ferguson on the roster than to have him -- a $13 million hit in "dead" money. After restructuring a couple of times, he's probably un-cuttable until 2016, the next-to-last year of the contract. Fortunately for the Jets, Ferguson still is a productive, if not elite player.

Santonio Holmes, wide receiver, $10.75 million

The guaranteed money from the ridiculous five-year, $45 million contract he signed in 2011 has disappeared, meaning Holmes soon will disappear as well. Holmes took a $3 million pay cut last offseason, and he said he'd be willing to take another (how magnanimous), but he probably won't get that chance.

The Jets will save $8.25 million in cap space by dumping him before a $1 million roster bonus is due in March, and they won't let that opportunity pass by. Based on the past two seasons (43 receptions, 17 games missed), Holmes is a $1 million-to-$2 million-a-year receiver.

Nick Mangold, center, $7.2 million

This is a large cap charge for a center, but it's managable. Mangold remains a Pro Bowl-caliber player, so there's no reason to think about his ouster. But the contract may have to be addressed next year, when the cap number balloons to $10.4 million. He's signed through 2017.

David Harris, linebacker, $7.0 million

He'd be in trouble if he had the same cap number as 2013 ($13 million), but his charge drops to a managable $7 million, the final year of a four-year, $36 million contract. The Jets overpaid for Harris -- he's not an elite linebacker -- but he bounced back after a disappointing 2012, justifying the final year of the deal. He still has tremendous value to the defense; in fact, he missed only two snaps in 2013.

Pro Bowl selections: New York Jets

December, 27, 2013
A few takeaways on Friday night's Pro Bowl announcement:

Who's In: No one. No players were selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in the Rex Ryan era.

1. It's a personnel problem, not a coaching problem: This underscores what we've known all season: The Jets don't have enough talent, and yet Ryan could pay the price with his job. This was a resounding message from the rest of the league. What made this is a real kick in the stomach was that Darrelle Revis -- remember him? -- was selected to the Pro Bowl as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

2. Mo wuz robbed: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (career-high 10.5 sacks) was the Jets' best candidate and deserved to make it. Six defensive ends were selected: Greg Hardy (Carolina Panthers), Cameron Jordan (New Orleans Saints), Robert Quinn (St. Louis Rams), Cameron Wake (Miami Dolphins), J.J. Watt (Houston Texans) and Mario Williams (Buffalo Bills). Wake and Williams? Wake (8.5 sacks) is having an off year; Williams has 13 sacks, but he's an accumulator, not a truly dominant player. Wilkerson probably was hurt by a late-season dip in his sack production. He was named a first alternate, small consolation.

3. Other alternates: Center Nick Mangold was named a first alternate, and cornerback Antonio Cromartie a second alternate. How Cromartie made alternate status is beyond comprehension. If he gets to play in the game, he should have to pay for his own flight. Kicker Nick Folk got no recognition whatsoever, which is too bad. He's having a career season, but his timing stinks because this has been a great year for kickers. Justin Tucker (Baltimore Ravens) and Nick Prater (Denver Broncos) were deservedly named to the two kicking spots.

4. A look at the AFC East: The New England Patriots and Dolphins placed four players apiece in the Pro Bowl. The Bills had three.

Click here for the complete Pro Bowl roster.

Green Day: Jets' Pro Bowl possibilities

December, 25, 2013
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Pro Bowl rosters will be announced Friday. The format has changed, meaning the teams will be chosen without regard to conference affiliation. The New York Jets' top candidates are:

1. Muhammad Wilkerson, defensive end

Stats: Leads the team with a career-high 10.5 sacks.

Analysis: Wilkerson felt he deserved to make it last season, but he still lacked name recognition. That shouldn't be an issue this time, as his national profile has grown. He's the best player on the team and he deserves the Pro Bowl, but there's no guarantee because defensive end is a deep position. In reality, Wilkerson plays as much tackle as he does end, making it harder to accumulate gaudy stats, but he's listed as an end.

2. Nick Folk, kicker

Stats: Tied for second in field-goal percentage (93.9), having made 31 of 33.

Analysis: You could make an argument that Folk is the Jets' MVP even though Wilkerson won the award. He has been money from Week 1, his only misses coming from 48 yards (heavy wind) and 49 (hit the upright). The problem is that several kickers also are having career years, namely Justin Tucker of Baltimore and Matt Prater of Denver.

3. Calvin Pace, outside linebacker

Stats: A career-high 10 sacks.

Analysis: This has been a renaissance year for Pace, 33, who spent a few months on the NFL scrap heap last offseason after being dumped by the Jets. He's no longer an every-down player, but the slightly reduced role has helped his stamina. He plays the "Sam" outside-linebacker position in the defense, as opposed to the rush linebacker, so he doesn't get as many pass-rushing opportunities as Quinton Coples. But he has made the most of his chances.

4. Sheldon Richardson, defensive tackle

Stats: 3.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss.

Analysis: He won't make it as a rookie, but Richardson set a nice foundation. He's one of the leading candidates for NFL defensive rookie of the year. His sack production has tailed off, but he's still excellent against the run. And, oh yeah, he can run with the ball, too.

5. Nick Mangold, center

Stats: Anchors the league's sixth-ranked rushing offense.

Analysis: It's not often a four-time Pro Bowl selection flies under the radar, but that has been the case with Mangold. Flanked by a rookie left guard and a rookie quarterback, Mangold has provided leadership and stability for an offense in transition. The Jets average 5.16 yards per attempt on runs up the middle, second-best in the league, according to the NFL.

6. Austin Howard, right tackle

Stats: Only two sacks allowed, tied for the league lead among right tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.

Analysis: Howard, in his second year as a starter, is one of the most improved players on the team. Good timing, too, because he will be an unrestricted free agent. When the Jets need yards on the ground, they run behind Howard. They have 82 rushes behind right tackle, the second-highest total in the league, per the NFL.

7. David Harris, inside linebacker

Stats: A team-high 86 solo tackles (according to coaches' tape).

Analysis: The Jets are ranked third in run defense, and that doesn't happen unless the "Mike" linebacker is having a good year. Harris dropped weight last offseason, improving his quickness and pass-coverage ability. He has seven tackles for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble.

Practice report: Cromartie runs

November, 29, 2013
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- With Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace fresh off a 127-yard performance, the health of Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie is in sharp focus.

He didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday with a hip injury, but Cromartie was on the field Friday in a uniform and helmet. He was able to run as he went through positional drills with the defensive backs. He didn't appear too hampered by the recurring hip injury that has bothered him all season.

When team drills began however, Cromartie moved over to the stationary bike.

Jets coach Rex Ryan has said Cromartie's availability for the Miami game could be a game-time decision.

Safety Antonio Allen was missing from the portion of practice that reporters are allowed to watch. Allen has not been on the injury report this week.

Nick Mangold (wrist) was limited both days and appeared to take snaps at center Friday. Caleb Schlauderaff had been doing that earlier in the week. Mangold said Wednesday that he would play and said the wrist injury is just cumulative wear and tear.

Punter Ryan Quigley also spent time on the stationary bike, but to be fair, it was a pretty cold day and the Jets practiced outside. Jeremy Kerley (elbow) was out there with the wide receivers. The wide receiver has been limited all week after missing the last two games.

Injury report: Mangold should play

November, 27, 2013
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- As Thanksgiving Day approaches, Jets fans can give thanks that center Nick Mangold's wrist injury doesn't appear to be serious.

Mangold said his wrist injury was the result of "wear and tear," and that it might take him out of practice but not of a game.

"I think those guys get beat up all the time," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "I don't know the extent. He was limited today but we expect him to play."

Mangold said going forward he might have a lighter load in practice so that his wrist can get the rest it needs, guaranteeing backup center Caleb Schlauderaff a spot on the team for the rest of another reason.


Did not practice: CB Antonio Cromartie (hip).

Limited: WR Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring), RB Chris Ivory (ankle), WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow), C Nick Mangold (wrist), LB Garrett McIntyre (knee), TE Kellen Winslow (knee).

Full: G Willie Colon (calf), DT Kenrick Ellis (back), WR Stephen Hill (knee), CB Dee Milliner (wrist), WR Greg Salas (finger), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (wrist).


Out: T Jonathan Martin (illness).

Did not practice: S Chris Clemons (knee, hamstring), CB Dimitri Patterson (groin), RB Daniel Thomas (ankle).

Limited: C Sam Brenner (knee), WR Rishard Matthews (back), CB Jamar Taylor (hamstring).

Full: LB Koa Misi (knee), WR Marlon Moore (hamstring), DT Jared Odrick (knee), RB Marcus Thigpen (wrist), S Jimmy Wilson (abdomen).

Two-minute Drill: Nick Mangold

October, 19, 2013
Our weekly Q&A -- an offbeat conversation with a player -- is with New York Jets center Nick Mangold. He's a four-time Pro Bowler and the veteran leader of the offense:

You've worked with an interesting collection of quarterbacks over the years -- Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, Brett Favre, Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. Give me a quick sentence on each guy, starting with Chad.

Mangold: One of the smartest guys I've ever been around. Taught me a lot about how to look at defenses. Kellen, we came in together [in the 2006 draft], so it was neat playing with him. Favre is a legend. I watched him growing up. To be able to play with him was really cool. Mark, coming in, was my first experience with a rookie, so I learned a lot of total offense. Geno, my second time around with a rookie. I have a lot more experience to fall back on.

Some day, you'll be able to tell some great stories. You worked with quarterbacks at both sides of the spectrum. Favre was 39 when he was here. Now you're with a rookie.

Mangold: Yeah, Geno is 22 [actually 23]. I mean, Geno was born in the '90s. I have to deal with that.

Favorite Favre memory:

Mangold: The second day he was in there, Eric [Mangini] had the penalty lap. We committed a penalty and we both had to run. The crowd [at training camp] was cheering as we were running around -- cheering for a penalty, which is kind of funny. That was my first real interaction with Brett. We talked the whole time. I was like, 'Hey, I'm Nick, nice to meet you.' I think we were a YouTube sensation before we even got into the locker room.

You've developed a strong interest in wine over the years. Tell us how that got started:

Mangold: My wife and I always had wine with dinner. It was one of those things where we saw everyone else do it, so we should probably do it, too. The first time we went out to Napa, we went to Vineyard 29. It's in St. Helena, set on the west side of 29. We sat there and the lady, Holly, gave us a bottle and she had to run off. She said, 'Here,, enjoy the bottle. Here's some crackers, some wine, I have to go.' She let us sit on their deck, overlooking the valley. We had the wine. A month later, we ordered some stuff from her and it came in. We opened up a bottle and I was taken straight back to sitting on her deck, with the sun setting. From that moment on, I was sucked in.

Offensive linemen are known as grunts or "Hogs," but you're a sophisticated wine lover. Do you think you're shattering the stereotype of linemen?

Mangold: I never thought of it image-wise. The wine just tastes really good, so I'll go with it.

Your sister, Holley, is famous in her own right. She was a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic weightlifting team and is currently appearing on the TV show, "The Biggest Loser." You must be proud of her.

Mangold: It's amazing, what she's been able to do. Think about it: She represented our country in the Olympics. That's an amazing feat. I couldn't be prouder. Now she's on TV, doing "The Biggest Loser." We taped it the other night, but I haven't had a chance to see it yet. It's kind of neat to me. I always liked that show; now I have a vested interest.

Sunday notes: Jets follow Big Blueprint

September, 29, 2013
Week 4 notes on the New York Jets:

1. Green with envy: The Giants won their last two Super Bowls, in large part, because of a franchise quarterback and a dominant defensive line. Clearly, that defensive line is eroding before our eyes. For a change, the best D-line in town belongs to the Jets, whose front three/four is emerging as a premier unit. I'm not saying they'll be playing a home game next February, but it's hard not to be optimistic about the early returns.

[+] EnlargeMuhammad Wilkerson
William Perlman/The Star-Ledger/USA TODAY SportsWith the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets have one of the better defensive lines in the NFL.
"They've got one of the best defensive lines in the NFL," said ESPN analyst Damien Woody, a former Jet. "You don't think the Giants would trade for the Jets' defensive line? The Giants would kill for the Jets' defensive line right now."

The Jets' front should be good because they picked a lineman in each of the past three first rounds -- Muhammad Wilkerson (2011), Quinton Coples (2012) and Sheldon Richardson (2013). Because of salary-cap restrictions, it's rare for a team to invest that much into one position group. Finances eventually could cause the break up of the group, so enjoy it while you can. Damon Harrison, undrafted in 2012, is the low-cost guy of the bunch.

You probably won't see another eight-sack performance anytime soon, but the front's ability to generate pressure seems to have affected Rex Ryan's play calling. This season was supposed to mark the return of Blitzing Rex, but check out the numbers: The Jets have used five or more rushers on only 34.9 percent of the pass plays, the league average, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

2. Naming rights: It's premature to bestow a nickname on the defensive line, but Twitter follower @travisppisani raises an interesting quirk: The line is led by the three "sons" -- WilkerSON, HarriSON and RichardSON. I'll take that a step further. How 'bout "My Three Sons" as a potential nickname? I guess Ryan would be Fred MacMurray, right? I haven't figured out how to get Coples in there, but give me time. That linebacker/line hybrid position is a challenge.

3. Premature celebration: Richardson said he's motivated by people who questioned his ability to play the run. He's doing well, and not shy about sharing his feelings.

"I've been playing the run most definitely exceptionally well," he said. "I made sure I'm sound in that because of my knocks coming into the NFL, which I didn't understand."

Based on overall performance, Richardson is the seventh-rated 3-4 end in the league, according to ProFootballFocus. His grade would be higher if he tackled Fred Jackson last Sunday instead of celebration before the whistle -- "a rookie mistake," he said. "Won't happen again." By the way, the man he replaced, Mike Devito (Kansas City Chiefs), is fourth in the ratings.

4. The Buc stops in 2014: Unless rookie QB Mike Glennon is some sort of savior, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) appear headed to a top-10 draft pick -- or maybe higher. Naturally, the Jets will be second-guessed for not demanding the Bucs' 2014 first-round pick in the Darrelle Revis trade.

Before the trade, there were reports saying the Bucs were offering the '14 choice, not their '13 first rounder -- and the Jets were balking. It would be a second-guess on my part if I criticized the outcome because I wrote at the time that the smart play would be take the immediate and known quantity -- the Bucs' No.1 this year (13th overall). They did, using it to select Richardson, who looks like the real deal.

Remember, the Jets will get the Bucs' third rounder as part of the deal, meaning they will have at least three picks in the top 70 if the Bucs continue to tank.

5. Bay Watch: A divorce between the Bucs and demoted QB Josh Freeman seems inevitable. Who could've imagined that Mark Sanchez and Freeman -- the second and third-drafted quarterbacks in 2009, respectively -- would be on the outs after five years? They both showed real positive strides in 2010. Of the 11 quarterbacks drafted in '09, only one still has a starting job -- the Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford, chosen No. 1 overall.

Freeman will be a free agent after the season. Sanchez is signed through 2016, but likely will be traded or released.

6. Nick the Quick: The Jets return to the scene of their 2012 lowpoint -- Nashville, where they committed five turnovers and were eliminated from playoff contention last Week 15 with a 14-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans. I asked C Nick Mangold what he remembered most about that night, and he replied without hesitation: "I short-armed that snap at the end." They had a chance to pull out a victory in the final minute, but Sanchez failed to handle a low, but catchable shotgun snap from Mangold. The Titans recovered.

Mangold has appeared in roughly 7,000 plays in his career and, by his count, he has botched only three snaps -- one in 2006 (Chad Pennington at quarterback), last December in Nashville and last week (a premature snap to Geno Smith).

"You don't forget them," he said. "I know all of them, biblically."

7. Evil twins: The Jets should be wary of Titans CB Jason McCourty. He and his twin brother, New England Patriots S Devin McCourty, have turned into Jets killers over the last two seasons.

In Week 2, Devin recovered a fumble and returned it 44 yards. In two meetings last season, Devin scored on a 104-yard kickoff return and, in the Butt Fumble Game, he forced a fumble on a kickoff return -- and the fumble was returned for a touchdown. Jason upheld the family tradition by recording two interceptions in last December's game in Nashville.

The McCourty brothers grew up in Nyack, N.Y., and both attended Rutgers. Maybe this is some sort of payback after being ignored in the '09 draft by one of their local teams.

8. Perspective, please: The Buffalo Bills are a dangerous team in one respect, and one respect only: The Jets usually play so well against the Bills that it creates a false sense of confidence about the team, internally and externally. It happened early last season, and it could be happening now, coming off last week's win. The same people who predicted a 4-12 season are now talking about playoff possibilities. It's a long season, folks. Relax.

9. Johnny on the spot: One thing I've noticed about GM John Idzik: He likes to be near the action -- or maybe I should say the "competition." It was apparent in training camp, where he was on the practice field, lurking near positional drills. In last Sunday's win, he was on the Jets' sideline in the fourth quarter, behind the bench. In fact, there was a TV shot of him, congratulating Santonio Holmes after his game-winning touchdown. I'd like to say Idzik is a Jerry Jones wannabe, but that wouldn't be accurate. Idzik isn't exactly a spotlight guy.

10. The wild, wild East: Things are moving pretty fast in the AFC East -- literally. The Bills average one play every 29.3 seconds (first in the NFL), followed by the New England Patriots (36.9, seventh), Miami Dolphins (37.2, ninth) and Jets (37.7, 11th), according to ESPN Stats. Who knew?

Finally, Rex, too, shall pass

September, 25, 2013
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Welcome to the modern age of pro football, Rex Ryan. You’re late to the party, but maybe not too late.

The same coach who once preached from the ground-and-pound bible … who insulated his first rookie quarterback in a protective cocoon … who never considered a punt a bad thing …

That guy is gone, as gone as his bravado and prodigious waistline.

Ryan, in his fifth season as the New York Jets coach, has gone from an old-school, defensive-minded coach to a pragmatist who realized it was time to adapt his philosophy to the current trend -- or least that’s the message he’s sent through three games.

Instead of putting Geno Smith in bubble wrap, which is what he did with Mark Sanchez in 2009, Ryan has allowed Marty Mornhinweg to operate an aggressive, pass-oriented attack. Smith is tied with Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers for the NFL lead with nine completions on attempts of more than 20 yards in the air.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
Al Pereira/New York Jets via Getty ImagesRex Ryan has changed his offensive approach and gotten behind the arm of Geno Smith.
Ground-and-pound is so Jurassic. The league now is all about the passing craze.

“I give him credit for evolving as a coach,” said ESPN analyst Damien Woody, a member of the ’09 team that rushed a staggering 607 times. “Rex realized you can’t win with 3 yards and a cloud of dust. If you want to win a championship, you have to do it through the air.”

Ryan came to the realization before the Jets drafted Smith and before he hired Mornhinweg to replace Tony Sparano, a one-year bust who had no background in passing offense. As soon as last season ended, Ryan announced his intention to play an aggressive style of offense that would mirror his approach on defense.

Ryan and Mornhinweg are Oscar and Felix in terms of football background, but Ryan -- perhaps out of self-preservation -- seems willing to take a walk on the wild side. Mornhinweg likes to pass. Ryan likes to win. Hence, the marriage.

What we’ve seen so far is a dramatically different approach than in 2009. That season, Sanchez averaged only 24 attempts per game. He exceeded 34 only once. Smith is averaging 34 passes, and we’re not talking about a lot of dinking and dunking, either.

“That’s why they brought me in here, because of my ability to throw the ball downfield and be accurate with it,” Smith said.

There are four reasons Ryan has loosened up:

1. The game has changed. As Woody noted, it’s hard to win these days with a ground-oriented attack. You can’t win consistently by scores of 17-14 and 21-17.

2. Mornhinweg operates a West Coast system, one predicated on short passing, but his DNA includes a gene not inherent in most Bill Walsh disciples: the gunslinger gene. He’s not afraid to throw deep.

3. Smith arrived with a lot more experience than Sanchez, who started only 16 games in college. Smith started 39 games at West Virginia. Clearly, there’s more trust in Smith than there was in Sanchez, whose only requirement was to manage the game.

4. The current Jets don’t have Thomas Jones, Leon Washington and Shonn Greene in the backfield, the way they did in ’09. That team, with a dominant offensive line, was built to bludgeon opponents with the ground game.

Center Nick Mangold, a holdover from ’09, believes the difference lies in the coordinators -- Mornhinweg versus Brian Schottenheimer. There might be some truth to that, but the coordinator takes his marching orders from Ryan.

Mangold likes the new way of doing things.

“You love scoring points,” he said. “It gives you an opportunity at all times to keep your foot on the gas. It’s exciting. It’s fun to be part of.”

This will help Smith in the long run because it will allow him to develop as a passer. This season is all about Smith, finding out if he’s The Guy. They could probably lower the interception total by being more cautious with him, but you can live with the mistakes (most of the time) if he averages 11 yards per attempt, as he did last week, and the defense continues to keep teams out of the end zone.

“I’d rather have Geno’s mistakes than hold him back and not see him develop,” said Woody, who believes the ultra-conservative approach with Sanchez might have stunted his growth.

Not every game will turn out as well as last week's did, but it’s the correct approach. Ryan is backing up what he vowed to do.

Welcome to the 21st century, Coach.