New York Jets: Philadelphia Eagles

For a change, no pressure on Sanchez

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
A few takeways on former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez signing with the Philadelphia Eagles:

1. Money matters: In the Jets-Eagles quarterback swap, the Jets ended up paying almost twice as much for Vick (one year, $4 million) as the Eagles did for Sanchez (one year, $2.25 million). Sanchez can earn another $1.75 million in playing-time incentives, but he'd have to play 90 percent of the offensive snaps to bring his total to $4 million. It amounts to a massive pay cut for Sanchez, who was to make $11.5 million this season under his Jets' contract -- none of which he will receive. The NFL can be a cruel business. If the Jets hadn't signed Vick, they likely would have tried to re-work Sanchez's deal, offering something similar to what he got in Philly.

2. Stress-free environment: At this point in free agency, Sanchez didn't have many attractive options, but this move makes sense. After five years in the New York crucible, he goes to a non-pressure situation, backing up Nick Foles. He can continue to rehab his surgically repaired throwing shoulder, learn Chip Kelly's system and work himself back into form -- just in case he needs to play. Being around an offensive guru such as Kelly can only help Sanchez, who could benefit from fresh coaching techniques. It could get his career turned around after two disappointing seasons.

3. Quarterback controversy? No, not really, but Sanchez absolutely believes he still can start in the NFL. Foles won the job last season with a brilliant performance (a 119.2 passer rating), but he has only 16 career starts and has missed time due to injuries in three of the past four seasons. In other words, it's not like Sanchez is playing behind Tom Brady. Even if he rides the bench for a year, Sanchez can rehabilitate his battered image and look for a starting gig elsewhere in 2015. If he gets on the field, he'll be surrounded by top skill-position talent, something he didn't have with the Jets.

4. No homecoming: The Jets don't have the NFC East on their 2014 schedule, but they always play the Eagles in the preseason finale. As a backup, Sanchez figures to see significant action. Unfortunately, it's at Lincoln Financial Field, not MetLife Stadium. That would have been really interesting.

NFL meetings: Takeaways on the Jets

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
After two days at the NFL owners' meetings at a swanky resort hotel in Orlando (picture a lot of palm trees, giant fountains and stretch limos), I offer a few thoughts and observations:

1. Woody likes DeSean: Even though the New York Jets tried to downplay Woody Johnson's surprisingly candid remarks about the team's interest in DeSean Jackson, I came away with the sense that the owner is very intrigued by the Philadelphia Eagles' wide receiver. Behind the scenes, Johnson spoke highly of Jackson, who reportedly is on the trading block. Could this be Johnson's new Tebow crush?

2. Broken record: I think "sustainable success" has replaced "competition" as John Idzik's new mantra. Heard it more than a few times during interviews and casual conversations. My impression is that fans already are tired of it.

3. Geno vs. Mike: I find it interesting that, unlike a year ago, team officials were reluctant to use the phrase "open competition" to describe the current quarterback situation with Geno Smith and Michael Vick. You heard a lot of, "Geno will be hard to beat out" and "Mike will help Geno." Two fascinating dynamics here: The organization (mainly Idzik) wants Smith to be the opening-day starter. Most football people would agree that Vick, if healthy, is a better quarterback than Smith. It should make for a compelling summer.

4. The Idzik 12: The organization was holding out hope for a third-round compensatory pick, but it was delighted to receive a fourth rounder and three sixth-round choices. With 12 draft choices, the Jets were downright giddy, imagining the possibilities on May 8-10.

5. Corner concern: Rex Ryan downplayed his concern with the current state of the cornerback position, insisting he can make it work. Give the man an Oscar; you bet he's worried about the position. I found it interesting that, amid all the damage control, Kyle Wilson's name rarely came up. That may not be a good omen for Wilson, a former first-round pick.

6. Bargain shopping: Now that the first wave of free agency is over, look for the Jets to jump into the secondary market -- meaning short-term contracts for second- and third-tier players.

7. Goodbye, Sanchize: Ryan seemed genuinely disappointed that things didn't work out with Mark Sanchez. Sanchez was Ryan's first draft pick, back in 2009, and there was a time when it seemed like a no-brainer that he'd be the starting quarterback for at least a decade.

8. Loss of an icon: Owners and league officials often give scripted answers to questions from the media, but there was a genuine outpouring of emotion when it was announced that Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson had died at the age of 95. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, in an interview with the Buffalo News, teared up as he spoke about Wilson.

Sanchez arrives in Philly to complete deal

March, 26, 2014
Mar 26
Former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez moved one step closer to becoming a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, arriving Wednesday night in Philadelphia to wrap up a contract, according to a league source.

Before the deal is complete, the Eagles will examine Sanchez's surgically repaired throwing shoulder. Assuming his shoulder checks out, the two sides will move quickly toward a contract. Everything fell into place Monday, when ESPN Senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen reported that Sanchez would sign with the Eagles.

UPDATE: The Eagles have confirmed that Sanchez has signed a one-year contract.

Sanchez, who was released last Friday by the Jets, will become a backup to Eagles starter Nick Foles. Sanchez is said to be about 80 percent healthy, but he's making good progress and should be ready for late-spring practices.

Pete Carroll says Sanchez needs fresh start

March, 26, 2014
Mar 26
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Mark Sanchez needed to get away from New York. At the same time, he didn't want to leave.

So says Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who coached Sanchez at USC.

"It's time for Mark to get going again and get off to a new start," Carroll said Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings.

Sanchez is expected to re-boot his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, as ESPN Senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen has reported. That move likely will occur in the coming days, as long as Sanchez's surgically repaired throwing shoulder checks out medically.

Carroll said it's a bittersweet time for Sanchez, who badly wanted to continue his career with the New York Jets, who released him last week after five seasons.

"It's difficult because he really wanted that to happen [in New York] and he did everything he could to help the team as much as possible," Carroll said. "So there's frustration for Mark, I would think -- I know. But I think he's ready for the next challenge."

Sanchez has regressed since 2010, but he's still a starting-caliber quarterback, according to his old coach.

"I can't imagine him not being a starter," Carroll said.

That won't happen with the Eagles, who have anointed Nick Foles as their starter. But Chip Kelly told reporters that he's always looking to bolster his depth chart. He also has the unproven Matt Barkley, another USC alum.

"There are a lot of positive qualities about [Sanchez]," Kelly said.

Chip Kelly on Vick: 'Tremendous arm skill'

March, 26, 2014
Mar 26
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Michael Vick generated plenty of buzz Wednesday at the NFL owners' meetings -- positive buzz.

Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, addressing reporters at the NFC coaches' breakfast, said the 33-year-old quarterback still has the physical skills to be a winning quarterback. Later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell commended Vick for changing his life in the aftermath of the dog-fighting scandal.

Vick signed a one-year contract last week with the New York Jets, who say he will compete with Geno Smith for the starting job.

"I still think he’s got a lot of football left in him,” said Kelly, who coached Vick last season. “He’s got tremendous arm skill. I don’t know too many guys in the league that have the arm that Mike does. There’s still days in practice in December when he rips a couple and you’re just like, ‘Whoa.’ He can throw the football. He still has the ability.”

Vick was Kelly's choice last season as the Eagles' Week 1 starter, but he got hurt and eventually lost his job to Nick Foles, who played brilliantly. That's the biggest question about Vick, his ability to stay healthy. He takes chances outside the pocket, trying to utilize his once-remarkable speed.

“He’s probably not as fast as when he first came into the league,” Kelly said. “But when he first came into the league, he was the fastest guy to ever play the position. A slower version of Michael is a lot faster than maybe every other quarterback in the league, with the exception of one or two."

Before signing Vick, who spent nearly two years in a federal prison for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson consulted with Goodell. The commissioner has developed a rapport over the years with Vick, whom he reinstated in 2009.

"I think Michael is a young man who made a tragic mistake," Goodell told a news conference at the conclusions of the meetings. "He paid a very heavy price for it, but I’ve seen him in everything he’s done exceed expectations. He has worked very hard to be a positive force in a lot of different areas, and that’s something I admire about him.

"When we went through the process of reviewing [his return to the NFL], whether he had demonstrated he would do things the right way and be a positive force, he has. I’m proud of the work that he’s done.”

Jackson could spoil Geno-Vick chemistry

March, 25, 2014
Mar 25
DeSean JacksonKim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Imagine this scenario:

It's Week 3, and Geno Smith is struggling at quarterback. The New York Jets' revamped passing attack isn't clicking, and the inevitable clamor for Michael Vick is getting louder. Moody wide receiver DeSean Jackson isn't happy because he's not getting enough balls, and he goes public with his preference for Vick, a close friend from their years with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Match, meet Kerosene.


As they mull the possibility of pursuing Jackson, whom the Eagles reportedly are willing to trade, the Jets need to take a hard look at the big picture, studying the potential impact on team chemistry. He comes with a "buyer beware" label because he can be a pain in the rear end. The Jets already have a potentially volatile quarterback situation, and the last thing they need is a devisive influence threatening to blow up a locker room that finally is healed after the dysfunction of 2011.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
Alex Trautwig/Getty ImagesNew Jets quarterback Michael Vick has a history with DeSean Jackson.
The Jets should stay away from Jackson. Far away.

When the Jets signed Vick last week, the popular theory was that his presence would lead to a reunion with Jackson -- especially if he's released, allowing him to sign with any team. In a different time, in a different place, yeah, you'd want a Vick-Jackson tandem. But the Jets aren't ready to abandon Smith; actually, they'd love for him to be their opening day starter, elevating his game as Vick -- the seasoned mentor -- watches with pride.

It's a delicate dynamic, one that won't succeed unless all parties are all-in. Vick says he's willing to help Smith's development, but let's not be naive: He wants to start. He made that clear Tuesday, telling SportsNet New York: "I feel like I'm a legitimate starting quarterback in this league." It's a complicated arrangement, but complicated can work. It won't work if the No. 1 receiver forms an alliance with Vick -- a potential danger floated by more than one league insider Tuesday at the NFL meetings.

Yes, the Jets have interest in Jackson, as owner Woody Johnson told the world, but the interest might not be as great as everyone thinks. General manager John Idzik is trying to create a positive, winning culture, and Jackson doesn't seem like his kind of player. Idzik wouldn't respond directly to questions about Jackson, but speaking in general terms, he acknowledged there's inherent risk when acquiring a player with character issues.

"It's not easy," he said. "We're in the human business. You lean on people who have had exposure to those guys."

In this case, that would be offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who coached Jackson for four years in Philadelphia. Mornhinweg knows all about Jackson -- how he acts in the classroom, how he accepts criticism, how he responds to teammates. Even if Mornhinweg gives his blessing, it still would be a gamble.

[+] EnlargeMarty Mornhinweg
Al Pereira/New York Jets/Getty ImagesMarty Mornhinweg coached DeSean Jackson for four years in Philadelphia.
The Jets just rid themselves of a diva, Santonio Holmes, who gave Mark Sanchez plenty of agita over the years. Desperate for a receiver in 2010, they surrendered a fifth-round pick for Holmes. It was a short-term steal, but they got suckered, giving Holmes a five-year, $45 million contract in 2011. Idzik wasn't around for that decision, or the locker-room turmoil that ensued, but he's heard the stories.

Do the Jets really want to go there again?

Jackson is a terrific talent, but he has a reputation for being a petulant, me-first player. He argued with a coach on the sideline last season. He was benched for a game in 2011 for missing a meeting. He staged a training-camp holdout in 2011. He complained about his contract after last season, knowing he still had three years and $30 million remaining on his deal. Sounds like Darrelle Revis.

So now the Eagles are looking to move him. Ask yourself this: Why would Chip Kelly want to unload a 27-year-old receiver coming off a 1,300-yard season? Could it be a personality clash with Kelly? Maybe, but Jackson also had problems under Andy Reid.

Desperation causes smart teams to do dumb things. The Jets aren't as desperate after signing Eric Decker, but they're still in the very needy category. Jackson would thrill, but he'd eventually become a headache.

Vick doesn't think so, saying Jackson would benefit from a change of scenery.

"I think sometimes it takes a change in your life to understand really what needs to happen, and the course that needs to be set," he told SNY. "Maybe it's time for a change for DeSean to help him understand the maturation process of his young NFL life and his personal life."

Maybe Vick could mentor Jackson, just like he's hoping to aid Smith. But what happens in a year, when his contract expires and he's gone? The Jets would have Jackson, but not his better half.

The smart play would be to address the wide receiver need through the draft. Scouts are calling this the best receiver draft in history, and the Jets own 12 picks. Idzik wants to build through the draft. Every GM says that, but there aren't many that have the willpower to resist the temptation of a quick fix with an ugly downside.