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Fatsquerelli's Observations On Jets

The Sisko

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Hope this hasn't been posted already. Sounds like we might be able to throw on them at will. If that turns out to be true, it could be a loooong opening night for J-E-T-S fans.

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Five observations on the 2003 New York Jets gleaned from training camp practices on July 21:

John Abraham had 10 sacks last season for the Jets.

1. It might not yet conjure up comparisons to the old New York Sack Exchange but, even minus suspended starting tackle Josh Evans, the Jets defensive line has the look of a very good unit. The instigator for havoc could well be first-rounder Dewayne Robertson, who, in his first couple practices, appeared to be well worth the investment New York made to move up in the first round and grab him with the fourth overall pick. Playing the "three technique" position, Robertson on the opening day of camp flashed all the attributes the scouts talked about before the draft: power, quickness, the ability to get into the backfield and disrupt the offensive flow. He wasn't supposed to start immediately but, with the loss of Evans, the former University of Kentucky star ran with the first unit all day and drew a ton of attention. His fellow tackle, Jason Ferguson, is solid enough on the nose, a good player against the run, and the two should make a nice complementary tandem. Right end John Abraham is a two-time Pro Bowl performer, the man who fuels the pass rush, and strong-side end Shaun Ellis is coming off the best season of his three-year career. After bouncing around between tackle and end his first couple years, Ellis finally settled into one position in 2002, was in better shape than he had been previously, and far more motivated. He's playing the run better and will provide occasional pressure. Abraham is a consistent double-digit sack guy who figures to benefit from the fact Robertson will be mashing people in the middle. If end Bryan Thomas continues to progress the way he did in the spring, New York will have a good rotation on the outside. A disappointment in '02, when he was a surprise first-round selection, Thomas is more mature and has paid more attention to his diet. The one caveat on the line is the depth at tackle. Veteran Chester McGlockton, signed as a stopgap after Evans was suspended, is still weeks away from being able to regularly contribute. McGlockton weighed in at 374 pounds, with 22 percent body fat, and is definitely a gamble. In sum, though, the line certainly looks to be one of the strengths of the team.

2. As good as the Jets appear to be upfront, at first glance, they might be dubious in the "back end" of their defense. And a tad on the pedestrian side, speed-wise, as well. The linebackers average 31.3 years of age and nine seasons of NFL experience. Coming off a hip problem, Mo Lewis doesn't run as well as he used to, Marvin Jones is entering his 11th season, and Sam Cowart was hardly the difference-maker in 2002 that coaches expected him to be. General manager Terry Bradway has begun to address the situation, and used a second-round pick on Michigan 'backer Victor Hobson, but the turnaround at the position can't happen overnight. The cornerbacks, likewise, appear worrisome. In starters Donnie Abraham and Aaron Beasley, and "nickel" guy Ray Mickens, there just isn't a lot of speed. Mickens and Beasley currently are listed as co-starters, but the former is better suited to his longtime "nickel" role. The lack of speed extends to strong safety Sam Garnes, always a good hitter but never particularly fluid, as well. One guy to watch is second-year free safety Jon McGraw, a second-round pick in 2002, who replaces the much-torched Damien Robinson. The former Kansas State star certainly passes the "eyeball" test. The guy just looks like a player, so much so that his teammates have nicknamed him "The Natural." McGraw seems quick enough to cover people in the slot, appears aware, has good range. The only question, and one we couldn't answer on Monday since the Jets weren't in full pads, is how physical McGraw might be. There is some feeling, talking to scouts from other teams, that he might not be a sure tackler. He's an intriguing young player, though, and has to be an upgrade over Robinson.

3. For years, Mike Westhoff has been regarded as one of the league's premier special teams coaches, and deservedly so. But the veteran kicking game mentor might need to bring all his expertise to bear in 2003 to cobble together a representative unit. The Jets lost kicker John Hall and kickoff return specialist Chad Morton, both to Washington in free agency, and they released punter Matt Turk. Word throughout the spring was that there is concern over the placement game and, at least on Monday, those worries seemed to be justifiable. Ten-year veteran Doug Brien has converted 80.3 percent of his career field goal attempts, but his confidence is rumored to be down after he was released by Minnesota last season when he missed a pair of extra points in Week 2 against Buffalo. The two other kickers in camp, much-traveled kickoff specialist Danny Kight and Arena League star Clay Rush, have never attempted a field goal in a regular-season NFL game. There's a reason, one can conclude, that Kight has been around for four years and never so much as lined up for a placement try. Brien probably has an edge over the competition, just on experience alone, but this looks like a decidedly unsettled area. New York did sign longtime punter Dan Stryzinski, still one of the league's best positional practitioners, but he will have to quickly become accustomed to the tricky winds at Giants Stadium. The 13-year veteran forces lots of fair catches, all but eliminates the opponent's return game when he really is hitting 'em high, and is adept at angling the ball to the sideline. The only drawback with Stryzinski is that he won't often punt a team out of trouble when it is backed up into the shadows of its own end zone. Santana Moss will handle punt returns and should be an explosive presence in that role but, while he has averaged 16.0 yards in two years, he has just 31 runbacks. And given his propensity for injury, and his small frame, durability is a concern. It's replacing the coveted Morton, though, that will be Westhoff's most trying challenge. New York led the NFL in 2002 in average starting drive following a kickoff, nearly the 32-yard line, and most of that was attributable to Morton's 26.0-yard average. Little wonder the Jets tried to retain Morton, a legitimate difference maker, and a guy who scored two touchdowns last season. The top candidate to replace him is former Miami return man Albert Johnson. His career average is an impressive 27.5 yards, but he's had just a dozen returns and his knees are enough of a concern that he sat out the second day of practice in camp. If you're looking for a longshot, try tiny running back Ian Smart, an undrafted free agent who will be given a shot on kickoff returns. The former C.W. Post star scored 95 touchdowns in his college career and, no matter the level of competition, that's a lot of times to get into the end zone. Still, between the kickoff return and placement games, the Jets have justifiable worries.

4. On the subject of the mercurial Moss, the team's first-round choice in 2001, and to this point in his young career a bit of a disappointment: It was curious Monday to hear head coach Herm Edwards insist, when pressed about Moss' distinct lack of production at receiver (32 catches in two seasons) and nagging injuries, that the Jets used the 16th pick in the 2001 draft to take the former Miami star as a punt returner. You get punt returners, guys like Tim Dwight, in the fourth round. Somewhere in the team's Weeb Ewbank Hall complex, the New York personnel officials had to be squirming when Edwards made that claim. Equally strange is the plan to use Moss only about 20-25 snaps a game, apparently an attempt to maximize his playmaking skills, and reduce the potential for injury. This is not, folks, an offense blessed with speed. It might be prudent of Edwards to suggest that, if Moss gets just six or seven "touches" a game, he will be productive. Prudent and likely correct. But the passing game, with Edwards mandating an increase in verticality, lacks speed. And Moss isn't going to scare any opposition cornerbacks standing on the sideline and biding time. This is the season when Moss has to stay healthy and step up. But even a few Jets staffers fear that he simply isn't physically strong enough to get through an entire 16-game schedule injury-free.

5. A lot of people watching the Jets' first day of practices remarked that the club has the distinct look of an 8-8 team. Hey, there are a lot of teams that look like that. It may well be the case that the Jets, who probably backslid from a talent standpoint over the offseason, will be just mediocre playing in the NFL's most balanced division. But the coaching staff here, starting with Edwards, is top-notch. And in an NFL that has become a coach's league, that counts for something. Edwards is a terrific motivator and he wears his emotions on his sleeve at times. But he elicits near-unwavering support and respect from players and that element can't be underestimated. It certainly doesn't hurt to have veteran staffers like Westhoff, Rubin Carter (defensive line), Jimmy Raye (assistant head coach), Ted Cottrell (defensive coordinator) and Paul Hackett (offensive coordinator), among others, around. You don't have to read too hard between the lines to realize there are some instances when Edwards and Hackett aren't always on the same page. That's just human nature and, while the head coach certainly wants to put some fingerprint on the offensive philosophy (like throwing the ball up the field more), there is a very solid working relationship on this staff.

For brevity's sake I didn't include it, but there's another interesting article over there regarding Edward's desire to throw deep more.It appears Pennington's lack of armstrength will limit that though.

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In today's NFL the difference between 9-7 or 10-6 and 7-9 is the play of a few guys. The Jets lost a few guys in the offseason.

And while none of the players was Jerry Rice in his prime all were solid contributors, Coles a bit more than that.

The Jets division WILL be more competitive this season and I expect that the Bills will be better.

In one sense the Jets were fortunate last year because Miami had a lot of problems with the health of the qbs while Pennington had a career year.

We will see what he does this year to build on 2002.

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I've read it already on a Jet site, what's your point? Pastabelly percieves the Jets to be an 8-8 team, so do all the other "experts", nothing new from any other preciction I've read in the past 2 months.

Vegas likes our odds and so do I :cheers:

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that's okay, I don't remember the Redskins being an odds on favorite any of the years they won the Super Bowl in the past. In more recent history were the '99 Rams, '00 Ravens or '01 Patriots high in the preseason oddsmaking? :evil:

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Let's just get this 8-8 prediction out of the way. The Jets were 9-7 last year, they lost some starters and replaced them with lesser talent, thus they're an 8-8 team. Easy enough, right? Unfortunately for journalists, their predictions consistently get turned on their heads precisely because player talent in a vacuum isn't a great indicator of success.

You don't have to leave the AFCE to see that. The Dolphins had a more talented team than the Jets last year and they easily ran out to 9-5 behind a dominant D. But they lacked 3 qualities the Jets displayed: coaching, leadership and heart. That's exactly why they lost the 2 most important games of the season while the Jets won their 2 most important games. But the limb on which a journalist stands is much sturdier when he can waive a depth chart in your face, rather than waive his hands talking about intangibles which prove year-in-year-out to be equally as important. I understand that.

But having gotten that out of the way, I think Pastabelly is pretty amazing. I know people give him a lot of sh!t, especially when they think he slights their team. But when you consider that he does this for 32 teams, he really compiles a tremendous amount of information and injects some pretty accurate insight and nuance that the majority of national writers miss. When you combine that with the fact that he's also the most prolific NFL writer on all topics, covering every single story and grasping the salary cap better than most journalists, you've got to give him his props.

All rabid NFL fans think these journalists suck, and many of them do. But Pastabelly stands out. For those that question his talent evaluation, he is a member of the Selection Committee of the Hall of Fame, so somebody somewhere thinks he knows what he's talking about. Speaking of which, the senile Dr. Z and pompous Peter King, can't carry Lenny's jock (nice image there). Sometimes I'd like to see him not play opinions so close to the vest, but all in all, I gotta give props to the Belly.


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Honestly, I think the Jets have one of the best young QB's in the league who could probably will them to a few wins that they shouldn't have won. That being said, their back 7 looks a little shaky and may cause Chad to have to throw for 300 a game for them to win. Also, playing in the hardest division in football will present a great task. We'll see if they're up to the challenge. Everything is just pure speculation at this point, G-d when will the season start?

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Originally posted by glorydays

Simply put we had field position problems last year and by snatching those key players off their roster, they are now faced with that glaring issue.

You're right that is simply put.

Santana Moss is the best PR in the league and Mike Westhoff is the best STs coach in the league. If together they constitute the Jets most "glaring issue," I'll take it. I've got my concerns about the Jets, but field position isn't one of them.

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I am launching a football information website next month and I will break down all 32 teams - among other things. Each week during the season I will make 5 selections as best bets. This is my team breakdown for the Jets:

2002 Record: 9-7 (1st in AFC East)

Key Stats: Total Offense (22nd), Scoring (15th), Red Zone TD % (4th), Points Allowed (14th), Pass Rush (27th), TD/Pass Att Def (4th), Comp % allowed (31st), Rush Def (27th), Special Teams Ranking (3rd)

Key Additions: WR Curtis Conway, G Tom Nutten, K Doug Brien, DB Tyrone Carter

Key Subtractions: FB Richie Anderson, WR Lavernues Coles, OG Randy Thomas, DE Steve White, LB James Darling, FS Damien Robinson, K John Hall, P Matt Turk

2002 Review

For the second year in a row, the Jets seemed to win with smoke and mirrors. After a slow start, New York simply found ways to win. They often defeated teams with extraordinary special teams, timely offense, and opportunistic defense. Whenever there was a play that needed to be made, it got made. QB Chad Pennington took over a struggling 1-3 team and led them to an 8-4 finish. In only his first year as a starter he compiled the highest QB rating in the league – 104.2. He completed a remarkable 68.9 percent of his passes including 22 TDs against just 6 picks. He reminded many of a young Joe Montana. The running game was hit or miss, mostly due to Curtis Martin’s nagging injuries. The offensive line was stellar and WR Lavernaues Coles was voted team MVP by Coach Herman Edwards following a breakout season. Edwards seemed to push all the right buttons for the second year in a row. Early on, he found himself defending many of the team philosophies and a few of its coaches – most notably OC Paul Hackett. The New York media was ruthless and many fans called for his dismissal. All it took was a change under center to make Hackett go from goat to hero. However, the real star of the coaching staff was Mike Westhoff who got incredible production from a special teams unit that single-handedly won games in 2002.


It was a whole different ball game last season when Pennington took over. The young QB utilized the short passing game that Hackett stresses and did a great job of spreading the ball around. His rare sense of timing and pocket presence improved the offensive line play. The Jets run a pure West Coast offense and rarely wing it down the field. That’s a good thing because the one thing Pennington has going against him is arm strength. There’s no better friend to a young QB than a good running game and Pennington certainly has that in RB Curtis Martin. Martin was a little gimpy last season and only managed 1,094 yards but look for him to rebound nicely after a more extensive offseason training program. RB Lamont Jordan is a very talented backup. The Jets suffered a tough loss when the very dependable FB Richie Anderson went to play for his old coach in Dallas. He will be replaced by Jerald Sowell or BJ Askew. Also, leaving for greener pastures was WR Lavernaues Coles. His big play ability often kept defenses honest so the field will get a little smaller without him. New York is counting on free agent Curtis Conway and holdovers Wayne Crebet and Santana Moss to get the job done. Conway has been injury prone and temperamental so expect Crebet to see more action. Moss looks like the second coming of Desmond Howard – a nice return man who is too small and not tough enough to make a difference on offense. TE Anthony Becht needs to start earning his money or Chris Baker will gladly slide into his spot. The offensive line has been one of the best in football the past few years thanks to moves made by the previous administration. GM Terry Bradway needs some of his free agents and draft picks to step up or this unit could fall off big time. The Jets lost a Pro Bowl-caliber guard in Randy Thomas and replaced him with a serviceable veteran in Tom Nutten. He will line up next to either last year’s LT Jason Fabini or 3rd year man Kareem McKenzie. The Jets feel their line will function better if they flop tackles and the hope is that last year’s pleasant surprise at RT can be this year’s surprise at LT. C Kevin Mawae was stellar once again and may be the top pivot man in the league. He might be the best free agent the Jets have ever signed. LG will see JP Machado and old man Dave Szott battle for the spot. Depth is unproven as the Jets have been healthy here.


The backbone of the cover 2 defense is the line and the Jets have simply not gotten it done here two years running. Despite pretty good talent, the boys up front allowed 4.6 yards per rush and generated only 24 sacks. They need to get those numbers to read 4.0 and 40 to get this defense to the next level. Pro Bowl End John Abraham notched 10 sacks and should see that number increase with the top defensive playmaker in the draft next lined up next to him – DT Dewayne Robertson. Robertson is like a bowling ball with butcher’s knives and this tandem should wreak havoc for years to come. At the other End, Shaun Ellis seemed to finally settle in after 2 years of disappointment and should continue to get better. The Jets were dealt a severe blow when their best inside pass rusher – DT Josh Evans was suspended for drugs for a 3rd time. It could result in a lifetime ban so stay tuned. DT Jason Ferguson is ok but the Jets will depend heavily on the rookie inside. Don’t expect Robertson to disappoint – he’s as good as advertised. The Linebackers looked old and slow and it was surprising that none were replaced. WLB Sam Cowart led the team in tackles but took a pay cut just to stay on board. Cowart was a Ray Lewis-type playmaker in Buffalo but hasn’t gotten over his torn Achilles. SLB Mo Lewis is 34 going on 45 and will probably be replaced by 2nd rounder Victor Hobson. Hobson did a better job over the tight end than any LB in college football and could be a difference-maker. MLB Marvin Jones is a perennial tease – the Dan Wilkenson of the LB position. The DBs were anything but sticky allowing defenses to complete 65.2 percent of their passes. To compare, Tampa allowed only 50.8 % completed. Still, Edwards believes that corners Donnie Abraham, Aaron Beasley, and Ray Mickens will improve with another year in the system. The team probably made the right call passing on the corners who were available in free agency considering most were vastly overpaid. SS Sam Garnes is a nice run suffer but a little shaky in coverage. As a result, the Jets need a FS with great range. Former FS Damien Robinson simply didn’t have it and now is employed by the Seahawks. The Jets hope second year man Jon McGraw can win the job and improve the play of the entire secondary. McGraw has ideal measurables but needs to do a better job of getting it all to add up when the bullets start flying.

Special Teams

Mike Westhoff earned his money with the play of this unit last season. However, the Jets lost both kickers, their kick returner, and one of their best cover guys – James Darling. Needless to say, he has his work cut out for him. Doug Brien will replace K John Hall after a nightmarish season with the Vikings that saw him miss two extra points (in the dome) in one game. P Dan Stryzinski was next to last in the league but the Jets wasted no time in adding the former Chief following Matt Turk’s departure. Santana Moss should be dynamite on punt returns but it remains to be seen if he can pick up where Morton left off on kickoffs. If not, Lamont Jordan will probably get the call.

Bottom Line

It takes a special type of coach to win in New York and the Jets most certainly have one in Herman Edwards. The Jets have been counted out 2 seasons in a row and somehow Edwards has gotten them up off the canvas and into the playoffs – 2 years in a row. After a brutal free agency that saw them take hit after hit on offense and special teams, people are once again counting Herm and the boys out. How soon they forget. Can Edwards rally the troops once again and get the parts to add up to more than their sum? Not unless his defense joins the ranks of the elite. Jet fans will be asking far too much for Pennington to exceed or even match last year’s dream season. Coaches had an entire offseason to dissect his game and it will get tougher for the man under center before it gets easier. X’s and O’s aside, the field will be smaller without Coles and the Jets will have a longer way to go with the presumed drop off in field position. It all adds up to a tough season for the Jet faithful. The good news: you’ll finish ahead of Miami. The bad news: you’ll finish behind Buffalo and New England. How does 8-8 taste?

Flow and other Jet fans, I would be interested to hear your opinion on the above...

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DD - great news on your new site - good luck with that. If you do as complete and thorough a job as you did with your Jets summary, you'll be off to a great start.

As for my comments, I of course disagree with a few of your opinions, but the literary license is all yours. ;)

Factually, here are a couple of things I noticed:

1. Szott is entrenched as the starter at LG -- Machado is strictly a backup and an outside shot to get cut (unlikely). At RG, early word is Nutten is battling 2nd year G, Jonathan Goodwin (from that strong Wolverine OL that saw Hutchinson and Backus go back-to-back in the 1st round).

2. Brien is the likely starter at K, but he's got some pressure from Danny Kight who has a stronger leg but is less accurate.

3. Neither Moss nor Jordan will likely get KR duty - Moss needs to stay healthy and Jordan is used for blocking on KR. Return duties will go to either Albert Johnson (from the Dolphins), or UDFAs Ian Smart or Chad Brinker - all share Morton's short, compact frame and waterbug moves. Johnson is currently the frontrunner, but it's still up in the air.

4. Throw in the McGlockton pickup at DT. He'll rotate into the nose tackle spot with Ferguson - while Robertson will play the 3-technique. Youngsters Reed and Harper provide depth and some speculate that Evans (also 3-technique) may return by Week 9, though his suspension is indefinite.

I'll take another look at it later, but that's what stood out fact-wise. Good luck again.


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After reading that report, I'm even more excited about the Skins chances of wooping the Jets. I foresee a lot of mismatches with those slow linebackers. Imagine one of those 30+ year-olds trying to match up with Trung coming out of the backfield.

That d-line will probably be pretty good, especially with Robertson in the middle and could be hard to run against. But SS will probably use some receiver screens to quickly get the ball to the outside away from those d-linemen and force the linebackers to close and make open field tackles. If Ramsey has time we could see some big plays b/c our fast receivers will give that d-backfield trouble.

I like it.

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You've touched on what I think is a key advantage we are going to have against the Jets. You saw the same advantage exploited by the Bucs against the Eagles in the playoffs. Slow backers can be matched up in situations that favor the offense tremendously. The Jets don't have incredibly fast players in that spot. With the speed we have, especially in the backfield with Trung and Morton if he's used there much, will put a great deal of pressure on the Jets linebackers in the passing game.

Our matchups offensively against their defense certainly are in a very big way to our favor if Ramsey isn't a choking dog. Their matchups offensively don't favor them as much unless they return to success as a running team, something they were among the least able teams in football a year ago. But, even then, we are at least built as a strong defensive front against the run which should balance that. In a passing contest, if we play it right, we have advantages on the outside that are unmistakable.

The matchups in the opener certainly favor us if Ramsey is even mildly what he showed at times to be last year. The tipping factor in favor of the Jets could be whether Pennington is able to repeat what he did last year. The Jets edged themselves to a 9-7 record with better talent last year and the best QB play in the league. If Pennington continues that way, the Jets are going to be a dangerous team every week. If he falls off a little that could seriously challenge them. But, he's obviously a huge advantage for them entering the game. One big enough that if Ramsey fails all the other matchup advantages we have don't mean squat.

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