NFL Nation: Greg McElroy

CINCINNATI -- Former Cincinnati Bengals backup Greg McElroy chimed in Thursday night on the controversy surrounding fifth-round quarterback AJ McCarron when he spoke honestly and openly about his former college teammate's place in the NFL, and the rumors that character flaws contributed to his draft slide.

Speaking to at an Alabama football spring tour event in Nashville, McElroy, a former Alabama quarterback and new analyst for ESPN's SEC Network, said he felt bad for McCarron in the wake of rumors that helped spoil the 23-year-old's draft weekend. McElroy added, however, that he felt McCarron also needed to take ownership of the overall situation.

"I feel like he needs to stop making excuses to a certain extent," McElroy said. "But, I think AJ, he's going to go to a place, a good situation, a really good organization, and all of those things will be water under the bridge and he'll be able to prove himself worth of wherever it is he was picked by his play. And that's all that matters at this point."

McCarron was drafted 164th overall last Saturday. When OTAs begin in Cincinnati in two weeks, he's expected to be the No. 3 quarterback on the roster behind starter Andy Dalton and veteran backup Jason Campbell.

Two days after McCarron was drafted, the Bengals released backup Josh Johnson, completing their quarterbacks purge. Earlier this month, fellow backup Zac Robinson was cut after spending all of last season on the physically unable to perform list. McElroy, who was the team's practice squad quarterback, retired earlier this offseason, ending his three-year career.

"I feel bad. I do," McElroy said about McCarron and the weekend rumors that his pre-draft behavior "rubbed teams the wrong way." "Everything he's said has been taken out of context, certainly. But I think people are also looking for him to say something, and I don't necessarily think that's fair. But I also think he created that by putting undue expectations on himself in the actual draft situation."

McCarron admitted earlier this week to telling team executives he thought he was better than some of the mid-round projections he had been receiving.

"I guess when teams met with me, they wanted me to say I'll be a third-round guy and a mediocre quarterback," McCarron said Wednesday. "Maybe I was too honest or something. I'm an honest person and say what I feel. That's how I feel about my play. If that turns a team off, then at the end of the day, to me, they didn't really want you. I was myself."

[+] EnlargeAJ McCarron
Phil Ellsworth/ESPN ImagesAJ McCarron needs to get past draft-weekend rumors about his character and take ownership of his situation with the Bengals, his former Alabama teammate Greg McElroy said.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter was among those who reported last Saturday that some team executives weren't impressed by McCarron following pre-draft meetings with him. NFL Network reported that some were bugged by how cocky they felt McCarron came off.

"He was critical of other people," Schefter also said.

McCarron admitted Wednesday to being hurt by the chatter about him. He and fellow Bengal and Alabama product Wallace Gilberry felt there was a misread of his confidence.

"A lot of people will confuse confidence with cockiness," Gilberry said. "With where he's been, I know where he's from and I know how he grew up. I know him. And it's like I told him, 'Everybody's not going to like you and this world isn't for everybody to like you. The ones that respect you, respect them. And the ones that don't, you show them why they should.'"

McCarron must have taken that advice to heart.

"Hopefully at the end of the day I'll get the last laugh," McCarron said.

McElroy, who beat McCarron for Alabama's starting quarterback job McCarron's redshirt freshman season, shares the rookie's optimism.

"He does have a fiery personality. He has a chip on his shoulder. All of those things are accurate," McElroy said. "And I think AJ is a great kid. I think that right now, he just needed the draft to be settled and maybe not say as much as he did, but that's all been said and done now. Now he'll be able to go forward and speak through his play and he'll do a great job of that."
CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals practice squad quarterback Greg McElroy announced his retirement on Twitter on Friday.

A third-year NFL player, he spent 2011 and 2012 with the New York Jets.

In his tweet, McElroy, 25, thanked coach Marvin Lewis and owner Mike Brown and his family for giving him the opportunity to play in Cincinnati.

"The fans make this decision especially difficult, as you have provided so much joy throughout my career," the tweet continued. "Playing in the NFL was my lifelong dream; therefore, I must also thank the New York Jets for providing me with my original opportunity."

McElroy was drafted by the Jets in the seventh round in 2011. He appeared in two games for them in 2012, the second of which he lost to San Diego. For his career, McElroy was 19-for-31 passing for 214 yards and one touchdown and one interception.

Signed to a futures contract in Cincinnati at the end of last season, the former Alabama standout had been expected to give the Bengals another quarterback to get work in during training camp behind backups Josh Johnson and Zac Robinson. When nine-year veteran Jason Campbell was signed Thursday, the Bengals became that much deeper at the position. Campbell will now slip into the No. 2 quarterback spot behind starter Andy Dalton.

Countdown to combine: Bengals QBs

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
With the NFL combine this week, through Friday we're taking a look at positions of need and who the Cincinnati Bengals might be looking at during the combine at those positions.

Position of need: Quarterback

Ah, yes. Quarterback. Is there a position of "need" that creates more buzz among the Bengals' fan base than this one? Even though there is at least one more truly pressing need on the roster, this one will end up drawing the most attention, especially if the Bengals keep open the possibility of wanting to bring in another backup for the inconsistent Andy Dalton. Again, rehashing points made earlier this week when looking at Cincinnati's pre-combine situations at running back, offensive line and defensive line, there are relatively few major draft concerns for the team this offseason. This draft is about depth and shoring up the players behind a mostly returning starting core. Still, that doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile to look at a solid young signal-caller, especially since this draft seems ripe with second-tier, middle-round talent.

At best, the Bengals might look to the third round to take a quarterback. If that is the case, as long as the best available player at that time happens to be a quarterback, don't be surprised if they decide to make that move. What would drafting a quarterback mean for the Bengals' current reserves? It likely would mean one of them would have to go. Josh Johnson and Zac Robinson are currently on the club's 53-man roster. Neither has done much, nor had the opportunities to inspire confidence in their abilities in the event something happened to Dalton. Greg McElroy finished the 2013 season on the practice squad, giving the Bengals another potential option at the position. Depending on who he might be, a new quarterback could leap-frog all three or potentially force at least one to get cut.

Three players the Bengals might be targeting (all three are expected to attend the combine)

Aaron Murray (QB), Georgia: If the Bengals realize in early May that they want to draft a quarterback, and if they by some strange twist in the cosmos were to give me a vote on which player they should select, I would implore them to give Murray serious consideration. Before an ACL tear sidelined him at the end of the 2013 season, he had been getting attention as a possible early-round pick. Toughness, an ability to play through injuries and leadership are some of the traits he's most known for exhibiting. At 6-foot, he is a shorter quarterback. But short or not, he is a Georgia Bulldog, and the Bengals' love affair with players from that school is quite apparent with the high rate of Georgia players who have been drafted by Marvin Lewis' staff over the years. It could help that one of Murray's first receivers at Georgia, A.J. Green, is Cincinnati's top pass-catching threat.

David Fales (QB), San Jose State: Like Murray, Fales' toughness has been noted, as well as his ability to pass both on the run and stationary in intermediate ranges. If the Bengals under new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson maintain the heavy emphasis on the short-to-intermediate passing game that his predecessor, Jay Gruden, had, then Fales could make for a good fit. From a size standpoint -- he's just under 6-foot-2 and weighs 220 pounds -- Fales compares to Dalton. Fales impressed all week at the Senior Bowl. During the game, he went 6-for-7 for 104 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the South team's win.

Tom Savage (QB), Pittsburgh: While Murray and Fales could be gone in the third or fourth rounds, Savage could end up being a late-round pick. If the Bengals decide to shore up other concerns through the first five rounds, Savage could be an intriguing possibility if they were to wait until late in the draft to select quarterback. On a conference call earlier this week, NFL Network's Mike Mayock called Savage a "wild card" who "nobody talks about." Similar to Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas, Savage, at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, is a bigger-bodied quarterback who possesses a relatively strong arm. Thicker quarterbacks like that don't much match the Bengals' post-Carson Palmer approach, but he still could be one to watch late.
Thoughts and observations on the New York Jets:

1. The Re-X factor: The top storyline for the second half of the season, which begins Sunday, will be the future of head coach Rex Ryan. Owner Woody Johnson and general manager John Idzik have to make a decision: Extend his contract or fire him. Naturally, the No. 1 factor will be the team's record, but there's another factor that should (and will) loom large in the evaluation -- the development of rookie quarterback Geno Smith.

If Smith makes strides and finishes with his arrow pointing up, it would be a huge boost for Ryan and his coaching staff. It would mean he's developing under Marty Mornhinweg & Co., and what sense would it make to start over next year with a new staff? My sense is that a 7-9 record, with an ascending Smith, would be good enough to earn Ryan another year. Statistically, Smith's second quarter was slightly better than the first, but he'll need more than baby steps over the final eight games to nail down the job for 2014. If he regresses, it won't bode well for Ryan.

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesWill the Jets use another early draft pick to select a QB if rookie Geno Smith continues to struggle the rest of the season?
"If I put on my GM hat, I would tie Rex, Marty and Geno together," said ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, one of the smart people around football. "The Marty-Geno mix is really good, and I think Marty is good for Rex. The Jets' ceiling, if they acquire more talent, is higher because of Marty's aggressive approach. I wouldn't want to start over with a new guy next year. They should maintain continuity. They're wildly inconsistent, but it looks better and has a better feel than last year. It's a better product."

I agree. But Smith needs to keep going in the right direction.

2. Quarterbacking 101: Dilfer said Smith is operating an offensive system more complex than what the Jets used in Mark Sanchez's rookie year in 2009. In '09, they scaled it back to help Sanchez. It was heavy play-action and they moved the pocket, halving the field and cutting down his reads. With Smith, "It's pure dropback, with complex read progressions," Dilfer said. "Marty is throwing a lot of good stuff at him. It's baptism by fire. Talking to great coaches and great quarterbacks, and knowing my own experience, that's the best way to get the best out of a young quarterback. It speeds them up to the graduate level."

I get it, but I think there should be times when Mornhinweg dials it back a little to help Smith through rough patches.

3. Where the Hill is Stephen? Second-year WR Stephen Hill has become an afterthought in the Jets' offense, raising questions about him. Consider the last five games: 23 targets and only 10 receptions, including five when the team was in an obvious catch-up/passing mode. Save for two big games against the Buffalo Bills, Hill has been a disappointment in his first two seasons. In fact, one-third of his career yardage total (and three of his four TDs) has come in the two Buffalo games.

I asked Mornhinweg about Hill's lack of production, and all he said was, "That's my responsibility. I have to do a better job there." Meaning? "Get him the ball a little bit."

Here's the part that stings the Jets: They drafted Hill in the second round (43rd overall) after trading up, passing up WR Alshon Jeffery, who has become a solid receiver with the Chicago Bears. Jeffery has 57 catches, 928 yards and five touchdowns in two seasons; Hill has 44, 592 and four. The Jets knew Hill would be a project when they drafted him, but it has to be troubling that a receiver off the street -- David Nelson -- has produced better numbers over the past month.

4. Re-visiting Revis Island: Some in the media (including me) have fallen into the trap of trying to imagine the Jets' defense if they had kept CB Darrelle Revis, perhaps conveniently forgetting that he's coming back from major knee surgery. He's still not the Revis of old, and he admitted it the other day on his weekly radio spot in Tampa. Revis, explaining why the Buccaneers haven't used him in the press-man style that made him famous, said his surgically repaired knee has been the main factor.

“Earlier in the year, I didn’t have the explosion to play press; the receiver would just run the [vertical] 9-route on me and I didn’t have the stamina to do that play in and play out, especially playing press," Revis said.

If he were with the Jets, this would be a significant issue, considering their system is predicated on man-to-man coverage.

5. Ivory's payback: Chris Ivory downplayed Sunday's matchup against the New Orleans Saints, his former team, but I suspect he will be highly motivated to prove a point. Back in training camp, Ivory admitted to me that his three-year run in New Orleans was difficult at times because of their crowded backfield.

"I never felt lost, but I didn't like the situation at times," Ivory said. "At the same time, you have to understand there are phases you have to go through, being undrafted. They had guys they drafted, guys they had confidence in. Me, just coming in, I had to build their confidence and it took a little more time."

The Jets traded a fourth-round pick for Ivory, one of only six player trades last offseason involving a fourth-round pick or higher, according to ESPN's John Clayton. The Jets had two of the six -- the Ivory and Revis trades.

6. Revolving door: Because of injuries, it has been difficult to build continuity on offense. In fact, the Jets have used 28 different players, tied with the Bucs for most in the league.

7. Go wide, young man: The Jets aren't known as a perimeter running team, but maybe they should think about it more often. When they run around left end, they average 6.78 yards per carry, the fifth-best mark in the league, according to NFL stats. When they go right end, it's 5.59 yards. Imagine if they had a real perimeter threat.

8. McElroy's intel: Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report spent a week with Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who allowed behind-the-scenes access as he prepared for last week's game against the Jets. The story reveals that former Jets QB Greg McElroy, a member of the Bengals' practice squad, was a big help. McElroy typed up a tip sheet and gave it to QB Andy Dalton. Gruden also picked his brain on the Jets in a meeting.

"His insight is very helpful," Gruden told Pompei in the middle of the week. "He has a pulse on their defense, what hurts them."

I'd say the Bengals hurt them, all right.

9. Good news/bad news: The Jets are one of only 11 teams since 2001 to have a minus-12 turnover margin or worse through eight games. That's bad. Of those 11 teams, they're the only one to have a .500 record. That's good. It indicates what they could be if Smith stops giving it away.

10. Feeling old: The first time I saw Nick Toon was Nov. 27, 1992, the day his dad, Al, retired from the NFL at the too-young age of 29. Nick was only 4, but he was at the news conference, and I remember seeing him afterward in the parking lot at the Jets' old Hofstra training facility. He hopped into a mini-van, and the family drove off. It always struck me that Al's wife, Jane, was behind the wheel. Al, still suffering from post-concussion syndrome, wasn't fit to drive. Now, Nick is a grown-up wide receiver, and he'll be playing Sunday for the Saints at MetLife Stadium. I'll be in the press box, wondering how 21 years flew by in a minute.
Four days ago, Greg McElroy was biding his time, trying to avoid getting in the middle of the circus that was once the New York Jets' quarterback controversy. Now he finds himself in Cincinnati, where there is anything but drama behind center.

As they added to their practice squad Wednesday, the Bengals signed McElroy to bolster their depth at quarterback. He won't be part of the official 53-man roster, but will be another body to work out at the position. Andy Dalton and Josh Johnson are the only signal-callers Cincinnati is officially taking into the regular season. The Bengals are one of 13 teams to employ the two-quarterback model.

Still, coach Marvin Lewis is optimistic that if needed, McElroy can contribute.

"The thing that I see is a guy that played with a great pocket presence," Lewis said. "As advertised, he moved out of the pocket and ran when he needed to. He was smart enough to get down when he needed to get down. Probably a couple of good traits for a quarterback."

The Jets announced earlier Wednesday that they were going with Geno Smith at quarterback over the injured Mark Sanchez.

A seventh-round selection in the 2011 draft, McElroy spent the last two seasons as a reserve for the Jets. This preseason, he was 11-for-19 passing for 145 yards and a touchdown. He didn't throw an interception.

In two regular-season games last year, McElroy went 19-of-31 passing for 231 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. The former Alabama standout's worst game of the two came two days before Christmas, when he and the Jets lost 27-17 to the Chargers in his only career start. That day, he completed 58.3 percent of his 24 passes and had a 65.5 quarterback rating.

"Other than the roof kind of caving in on him when they played the Chargers up there, he played pretty well," Lewis said.

Lewis believes McElroy, the quarterback who led Alabama to its 2009 national championship, will take advantage of this chance.

"He has an opportunity now to learn our offensive system here, and some way, one way or the other, he’s got the skills to play in the NFL," Lewis said. "That’s what we’re looking for is some guy that could come on that way."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- This is a make or break season for Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

Either he proves he can be a consistent starter who could develop into a franchise quarterback or the Jaguars will give up on the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder and look for a quarterback in the draft.

The Jaguars took Gabbert with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 draft, believing he would become a quarterback that could lead the franchise to a Super Bowl. He obviously hasn’t developed the way the team had hoped, and entering his third season he has completed just 53.8 percent of his passes for 3,876 yards and 21 touchdowns with 17 interceptions.

His inconsistency -- in his 24 starts he has completed at least half of his passes 16 times (and also a 17th game in which was injured went 2-for-2) but has also had seven games in which he completed less than 50 percent of his passes -- looks even worse when compared to the other 11 quarterbacks who were drafted in 2011.

[+] EnlargeBlaine Gabbert
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesBlaine Gabbert is just 5-19 as the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
More importantly, his record as a starter is 5-19 (.208). That's the worst record among the 12 quarterbacks taken in the 2011 NFL draft. Six, including Gabbert, were taken in the first two rounds and those are the players against which he should be measured, so here’s a breakdown:

Cam Newton (No. 1 overall by Carolina): Newton had a fantastic first season, setting rookie records for passing yards (4,051) and rushing yards by a quarterback (706). Those numbers lasted only a season, though, as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III broke them last season. Newton is 13-19 as a starter after going 6-10 as a rookie and 7-9 last season. Career stats: 590-1,002-29, 7,920 yards, 40 TDs; 1,447 yards, 22 TDs rushing.

Jake Locker (No. 8 overall by Tennessee): Locker played in five games as a rookie but won the starting job entering last season. He missed five games and parts of two others because of two shoulder separations and led the Titans to a 4-7 record in the 11 games which he started. He completed 56.4 percent of his passes for 2,176 yards and 10 touchdowns with 11 interceptions in 2012. Career stats: 211-380-11, 2,718, 14 TDs.

Christian Ponder (No. 12 overall by Minnesota): He started the final 10 games of his rookie season (going 2-8) but helped lead the Vikings to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth last season, though, he missed the playoff game with a deep triceps bruise. This, too, is a make-or-break season for Ponder. Career stats: 458-774-25, 4,788 yards, 31 TDs.

Andy Dalton (second round, No. 35 overall by Cincinnati): Dalton is by far the most successful quarterback of the group, having started every game the past two seasons and leading the Bengals to a 19-13 record and two playoff berths. Each season has ended with playoff losses to Houston, but it was the first time since 1981-82 the franchise has made back-to-back playoff appearances. Career stats: 629-1,044-29, 7,067 yards, 47 TDs.

Colin Kaepernick (second round, No. 36 overall by San Francisco): Kaepernick was a relative unknown until he replaced Alex Smith (concussion) in Week 10. He led the 49ers to a 5-2 record to close the regular season and playoff victories over Green Bay and Atlanta to reach the Super Bowl. He threw for 798 yards and four TDs and rushed for 264 yards and three TDs in the postseason. Career stats: 139-223-3, 1,849 yards, 10 TDs.

Here's a look at the other six:

Ryan Mallett (third round, No. 74 overall by New England): He has played in four games in two seasons in mop-up duty in relief of Tom Brady. He was the subject of trade rumors early in the preseason but remains with the Patriots. Career stats: 1-4-1, 17 yards.

Ricky Stanzi (fifth round, No. 135 overall): Spent two seasons with the Chiefs until being cut last week. He is now with the Jaguars as the No. 3 quarterback behind Gabbert and Chad Henne. He has never appeared in a game.

T.J. Yates (fifth round, No. 152 overall by Houston): He started the last five games of the regular season and two playoff games in 2011 when Matt Schaub was out with a Lisfranc injury. He led the Texans to a 3-4 record in those games, which included a 31-10 victory over Cincinnati in a wild-card game that was the first playoff victory in franchise history. Career stats: 86-144-4, 987 yards, 3 TDs.

Nathan Enderle (fifth round, No. 160 overall): He spent the 2011 season with the Bears but was waived after the season. He went to training camp with the Jaguars and spent time with Tennessee in the offseason. He signed with San Diego on July 31 and was among the Chargers cut last week. He has never appeared in a game.

Tyrod Taylor (sixth round, No. 180 overall): He has played in 10 games in relief of Joe Flacco. Career stats: 18-30-1, 197 yards.

Greg McElroy (seventh round, No. 208 overall): The former Alabama standout started one game for the New York Jets last season, going 14-for-24 for 185 yards with one interception in a 27-17 loss to San Diego. He was released earlier this week. Career numbers: 19-31-1, 214 yards, 1 TD.

A wild ride: Nine QBs in 18 months

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This can only happen to the Jets.

New York Jets cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
Most significant move: It wasn't a surprise, but the New York Jets waived Greg McElroy, their only quarterback not named Mark Sanchez who has started a game in the NFL. Granted, McElroy has only one career start, but the move is significant because it underscores the lack of experience at the position. If Sanchez (shoulder) doesn't dress for the season opener, it leaves the position to Geno Smith, Matt Simms and Graham Harrell, who have a combined total of four career pass attempts -- all by Harrell. The former Packers backup made the final cut despite having spent only three days with the Jets. McElroy was waived with an injury, so he wouldn't have been ready for Week 1 anyway. Still, this is a precarious situation to say the least.

Not much depth on offense: Aside from quarterback, the Jets are perilously thin at a few spots. They have only five receivers, one of whom (Santonio Holmes) is a question mark because of his surgically repaired foot. The group includes a rookie free agent, Ryan Spadola. They also don't have an experienced backup at tackle. Jason Smith was supposed to be that guy, but he was atrocious in the final preseason game. Vladimir Ducasse can play some tackle, but that's not his best spot. Rookie OT Oday Aboushi (fifth-round pick) isn't ready to play. They have low numbers in the backfield -- only four backs, although Mike Goodson will be eligible to return from his suspension in Week 5.

What's ahead: The Jets need help on offense. You can't go into a season with Aboushi as your No. 3 tackle, so look for them to address this over the next 24 hours. Anybody up for a Wayne Hunter reunion? The wide receiver situation is interesting. Right now, the Jets have only three healthy and experienced receivers. They're either confident Holmes will return for the opener or they have plans to add a veteran. The quarterback situation bears watching, too. If Sanchez is sidelined a few weeks, it might behoove New York to import an experienced backup. A couple of former Marty Mornhinweg-ites are available -- Vince Young and Trent Edwards.

Jets cuts: QB Greg McElroy (injured), RB Mossis Madu (injured), WR Michael Campbell, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, WR Ben Obomanu, WR Zach Rogers, TE Chris Pantale, C Erik Cook, OT J.B. Shugarts, OT Jason Smith, DL Junior Aumavae, DL Lanier Coleman, DL Tevita Finau, DL Antonio Garay, LB Troy Davis, LB JoJo Dickson, LB Jacquies Smith, DB Royce Adams, DB Mike Edwards, DB Rontez Miles, PK Dan Carpenter.

Placed on reserve/suspended: RB Mike Goodson.
Add another chair to the Jets' quarterback room.

The Jets have agreed to terms with former Packers backup Graham Harrell, FoxSports reported early Wednesday morning. Harrell, released last Saturday by the Packers, will report Wednesday to the Jets, the report said.

This means the Jets have five quarterbacks on the roster, back where they were in the spring. It probably means Greg McElroy, out the past two games with knee and ankle injuries, isn't healthy enough to play Thursday night against the Eagles. McElroy, the No. 3 quarterback for two years, could be on the bubble. The Jets also don't know if Mark Sanchez (shoulder) will be ready for opening day.

Rex Ryan refused to reveal his QB plans for Thursday night, let alone Week 1. Barring a change, Matt Simms is expected to start against the Eagles. Sanchez is out and Geno Smith probably won't play.

Harrell, who served as Aaron Rodgers' backup for three seasons, lost his job to Vince Young. He has only 32 regular-season snaps on his record, but Harrell has been prolific in the preseason -- 208 career attempts. He's familiar with the West Coast offense, which should help his transition.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets should be flagged 5 yards for delay of name.

A coy Rex Ryan refused Tuesday to announce his starting quarterback for Thursday night's preseason finale against the Eagles, claiming, "We're not ready to tell you that. There's a lot that goes into that."

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesRex Ryan is keeping his starting quarterback for the fourth and final preseason game a secret.
Wait, there's more: Ryan said there's "a possibility" he may not reveal his opening-day starter until game day, Sept. 8, against the Bucs.

From all indications, Matt Simms -- battling Greg McElroy for the No. 3 job -- will start Thursday night. Mark Sanchez (shoulder) has been ruled out and rookie Geno Smith is expected to get the night off. Smith could use the work, but the injury risk is a factor because he might have to start Week 1 if Sanchez isn't ready.

Ryan, usually tightlipped this season, declined to discuss the pros and cons of using Smith, who has played a total of only four quarters in the preseason.

"I'm not going to get into the downsides or the upsides or whatever," Ryan said. "I think, as a team, we'll look at where we are as a team and make those decisions then."

It's highly unusual for a team to withhold its quarterback choice for the final preseason game. What competitive advantage is there to gain? Eagles coach Chip Kelly, for instance, announced that backup Nick Foles will start. The Jets are being ridiculously paranoid. Unless there's a trade in the works that would affect the quarterback depth chart, there's no reason to hold off until Thursday.

Ryan has dragged out the so-called quarterback competition long enough, but he won't acknowledge the obvious, that Sanchez is No. 1. Maybe they think the stall tactic will have some sort of profound impact on the Bucs' preparation for the opener.

For Thursday night, the Jets may have only one quarterback -- Simms. McElroy, hampered by knee and ankle injuries, practiced Tuesday, but he's not a lock to play. Ryan he's hopeful that McElroy, injured the opener, can return. If not, it'll be the Simms show -- and he's put on a good one in the preseason. He's 11-for-15 for 193 yards and a touchdown, a 137.5 passer rating.
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Observations from the press box after the New York Jets' 26-17 loss to the Detroit Lions in the preseason opener:

1. A Rex-storm: I think people are getting carried away with Rex Ryan's admission that he missed plays on offense -- including a lot of Geno Smith -- because he was too busy with the defense on the sideline. Granted, it was highly unusual for a head coach to admit such a thing; most coaches would've talked around it by saying, "I need to watch the tape." But let's remember one thing: It was a preseason game. If it had been the regular season, yes, he'd deserve criticism.

Presumably, Ryan is using the preseason to fix a defense that has seven new starters. When the real games start, he'll be in head-coach mode, managing the entire game -- at least he'd better be. He took a heavy-handed approach with the defense in 2009 and 2010, and that didn't stop the Jets from making the playoffs, did it?

2. MartyBall: It serves no purpose to question play calling in the preseason -- coaches are in an experimental mode -- but it's worth noting that the Jets called 42 pass plays and only 16 runs against the Lions. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is known as a pass-happy coach, a style that usually doesn't marry well with defensive-minded head coaches. Just saying.

[+] EnlargeJeff Cumberland
AP Photo/Scott BoehmJeff Cumberland scored in the first quarter. Last season, the Jets' offense didn't produce a TD until the fourth preseason game.
3. Off the Mark: I watched Mark Sanchez's pick-6 over and over, and I still can't believe he made that throw. Rookie fullback Tommy Bohanon has to do a better job of leaking out of the backfield, but he was on his knees -- knocked over by ex-Jet C.J. Mosley -- when Sanchez lobbed the pass. Sanchez, backpedaling in the face of pressure, panicked.

But let's give credit where it's due: On the 26-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland, Sanchez made a fantastic read. He recognized 3-by-2 coverage on the weak side, knowing the Lions had no deep help on the strong side, where Cumberland ran a seam route. Sanchez showed nice anticipation, releasing the ball a split-second before Cumberland broke away from the linebacker. As I noted Friday night, Sanchez has moved into the lead for the starting job.

4. The new Geno: Rookie QB Geno Smith played almost exclusively in the shotgun at West Virginia, so there was some question as to how he'd respond to playing under center in a traditional offense. There were no noticeable hiccups in the game. In fact, he was 3-for-3 for 27 yards under center and 3-for-4 for 20 yards from shotgun.

5. Rough debut: RG Willie Colon was a solid player for many years with the Steelers, but he got off to a shaky start in his Jets debut. He was called for two penalties, and that's noteworthy because he was the Steelers' most penalized offensive player last season -- 12 penalties. That's a crazy amount for an interior lineman. Colon also allowed the pressure that caused Smith to have a pass batted at the line.

6. Uh-oh, Oday: I think OT Oday Aboushi, a fifth-round pick from Virginia, is on the roster bubble. Aboushi got beat by rookie DE Devin Taylor on a strip sack of Greg McElroy, and he also was flagged for two penalties (one declined). The Jets are looking for a backup swing tackle. Aboushi is a candidate for the job, but so is J.B. Shugarts, a first-year player from Ohio State. Shugarts played 36 snaps in the game, more than any offensive lineman.

7. Big Mac under attack: You have to admire McElroy's moxie, but, man, he takes a lot of hits. He was sacked three times and absorbed what appeared to be a helmet-to-helmet hit on one play -- it wasn't called. McElroy said he was fine after the game, but he also said he was fine after last December's beatdown inflicted by the Chargers, and that turned out to be a concusssion. Either way, it looks like he has locked up the No. 3 job. He made nice improv play on his 9-yard touchdown pass to Zach Rogers.

8. J.J. is dy-no-mite: The coaches went into the game buzzing about former Eagles S Jaiquawn Jarrett, eager to see him in a game setting after impressive work on the practice field and in the classroom. He responded nicely and has leap frogged Antonio Allen on the depth chart, according to Ryan. Jarrett was a second-round pick in 2011, so you know the physical talent is there.

9. Silver-lining playbook: Looking for a positive from the game? The Jets scored two offensive touchdowns. A year ago, they didn't score one until the fourth preseason game -- and that came from the third-team offense.

10. Calling all runners: The Jets lost RB John Griffin (broken leg) for the season, testing their backfield depth, but they expect Chris Ivory (hamstring) and Joe McKnight (head) to practice Sunday. For Ivory, it would his first full practice of camp.

Rapid Reaction: Lions 26, Jets 17

August, 9, 2013

DETROIT -- The New York Jets opened the preseason Friday night with a 26-17 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Despite a killer interception, Mark Sanchez won the night over Geno Smith in the ballyhooed quarterback competition. Smith left in the third quarter after rolling his ankle. It doesn't appear serious, but he can't afford to miss any practice time.

What it means: As it stands now, Sanchez will be the opening-day starter. He gave as many points to the Lions as he produced for the Jets -- 7-7 -- but he showed greater command than Smith, who delivered a non-descript performance in his NFL debut. Smith is doomed if he misses any practice time; it's almost impossible for a rookie to play catch-up in training camp.

Sanchez's night: It was the worst possible start for Sanchez, who threw a pick-six on the Jets' first series. Under pressure on a screen pass, he didn't put enough air under the pass and it was intercepted by rookie defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who returned it 14 yards for a touchdown. Sanchez has a maddening tendency to turn a safe pass into a calamity. In fact, he almost had another screen intercepted.

To Sanchez's credit, he responded to the disastrous start, finishing 10-for-13 for 125 yards with a 26-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Jeff Cumberland. It culminated a seven-play, 80-yard drive, much of which came in the hurry-up. It was typical Sanchez -- some good, some ugly. Some things don't change.

Geno's night: Unlike Sanchez, Smithi didn't make any horrible mistakes, but he also didn't bring any spark to the offense. The former West Virginia star, who got two series behind the starting offensive line, generated only one first down on his first three drives -- a 15-yard pass to Clyde Gates on his first play. Simply put, Smith didn't look ready to take over the team. He finished 6-for-7 for 47 yards. Smith came out on the first series of the third quarter, when he turned his right ankle on an open-field scramble.

Greg McElroy came in and did a nice job against the Lions' third-stringers, going 11-for-19 for 145 yards and an 11-yard TD pass to Zach Rogers.

Big-play tight ends: Dustin Keller is gone, but Cumberland and Kellen Winslow displayed playmaking ability. Winslow made a nice catch-and-run for 24 yards. Cumberland scored his touchdown on a deep seam, showing his ability to get vertical. It's too soon to say the Jets have two weapons at tight end, but it was a good start.

Another injured running back: John Griffin was carted off with a lower-leg injury. It didn't look good. Already down Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson and Joe McKnight, the Jets can't afford another injury in the backfield. Ivory (hamstring) is expected to return Sunday.

New-look defense: The Jets opened with seven new starters in the post-Darrelle Revis era. All things considered, the defense held up fairly well. Most of the starters played most of the first half, an unusually long stint for the first game, and allowed 10 points. Cornerback Darrin Walls, an early substitution for starter Antonio Cromartie, got beat on a 15-yard scoring pass. One player who jumped out was nose tackle Kenrick Ellis, who deflected a pass and held the point of attack. Safety Dawan Landry got beat once in coverage. Keep in mind that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played only two series.

The rookies: It was a so-so debut for top pick Dee Milliner, who started at corner in the base defense. He didn't have to cover all-world receiver Calvin Johnson -- Cromartie drew that assignment -- so that made life easier for Milliner. He had a nice pass break-up in the end zone, but he missed an open-field tackle and allowed a 27-yard reception. Milliner gets some slack, though, because he missed a lot of time and has to be rusty. It was a relatively quiet night for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.

The Q report: Former first-round pick Quinton Coples, making the transition to outside linebacker, flashed good and bad on his first two plays. He deflected a pass on an outside rush, but he failed to set the edge on an outside run by Reggie Bush. Coples didn't move well in space. This will be an interesting position change.

What's ahead: The Jets return to Cortland for four days of practice. They break camp Thursday and return to Florham Park, where they will prepare for next Saturday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After a long holiday weekend, the final week of organized team activities begins for most teams on Tuesday. It’s only May, but the pressure is certainly on New York Jets embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez.

It’s important for Sanchez to finish strong in the final week of OTAs. He had a three-interception performance in practice last week that raised some eyebrows. An anonymous Jets teammate also told that “80 or 90” percent of the locker room thinks Sanchez is out of chances and it’s time to hand over the job to someone else. These are all signs that New York’s incumbent is losing momentum in the four-way quarterback competition.

The biggest issue for Sanchez is he hasn’t been able to separate himself from the likes of rookie Geno Smith and backups Greg McElroy and Matt Simms. Sanchez has a huge advantage over his competition in playing time and experience. He is supposed to look much better than his unproven competitors this time of year, but that hasn’t been the case.

If Sanchez cannot create separation now, the more likely it is for New York’s coaching staff to go in another direction in September. If Sanchez and Smith are on equal footing, why wouldn’t the Jets start anew and give their rookie second-round pick a chance? We already know what kind of quarterback Sanchez is entering his fifth season. His struggles in OTAs and camps would provide more reason for the Jets to turn the page.

If Sanchez is truly "The Sanchize," as Jets coach Rex Ryan often calls him, it is time to show why he's the incumbent. Staying within the pack of inexperienced quarterbacks is not good enough for a player who has 62 career starts and once led the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Games.

The only Jets practice open to the media this week will be on Thursday. So we won't get a peek at how Sanchez is progressing this week until then.

Jets are backbiting already?

May, 23, 2013
Cue the circus music and get out the clown suits. The zany New York Jets are at it again.

This time, the annual backbiting is occurring earlier than usual.

One anonymous Jets player told Mike Freeman of that “80 to 90 percent” of the locker room does not want quarterback Mark Sanchez under center. That's a strong statement, especially considering Sanchez is in a four-way quarterback competition.

"Everyone on the team likes Mark personally,” the Jets player said. “But there's a general feeling among some of the players that maybe it's time to give someone else a chance."

Anonymous backbiting in the media has been prevalent the past two seasons in New York, despite attempts by head coach Rex Ryan to control the locker room. This cannot make Sanchez feel too good. It also probably didn’t help that Sanchez had an awful practice on Wednesday.

Sanchez threw three interceptions in team drills when players were in shorts and there was no contact. That’s not a good sign for a quarterback trying to inspire confidence in his teammates and the coaching staff. The other options are rookie quarterback Geno Smith, Greg McElroy or Matt Simms.

However, just as big as the quarterback issue is New York's locker-room issue. Jets first-year general manager John Idzik came to New York to try to clean up the mess left behind by former general manager Mike Tannenbaum. It remains a work in progress.
New York Jets Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath usually doesn't have many good things to say about his former team. So any time "Broadway Joe" offers a compliment to Gang Green, it becomes noteworthy.

Surprisingly, Namath offered praise this week for embattled Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is a major target in New York. Sanchez led the NFL in turnovers the past two years and briefly lost his starting job late last season. Now, Sanchez is in a four-way competition in New York with fellow quarterbacks Geno Smith, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms. Many Jets fans want the team to hand the ball over to Smith, this year's second-round pick, in order to start a new era.

But Namath says pump the brakes on a quarterback change, because Sanchez is due for a good season.

“I know Sanchez is going to play better,” Namath said, according to the Associated Press. “He went through some major distractions last year. Now matter how much you say, ‘Oh, that doesn’t bother me, that’s not a focus breaker.’ I promise you you’ll see a different guy.”

Namath is referring to the immense distraction of Tim Tebow, who was recently released by the Jets. Sanchez did not respond well to “Tebowmania.” In fact, Sanchez regressed significantly last year.

It’s clear that Sanchez is not the long-term solution in New York, but Namath believes he’s the answer in 2013. Sanchez will make $8.25 million guaranteed this season and most likely will be released from his expensive contract after this season.

“As far as Sanchez goes, even if he’s not with the Jets, he’s going to play as long as he wants to,” Namath said of Sanchez's future. “He’s that good. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll be in the NFL.”