Archive for January, 2009

Jets Retain Sutton, Add Four Assistants

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Jets head coach Rex Ryan announced the team hired wide receivers coach Henry Ellard, running backs coach Anthony Lynn, assistant secondary coach Doug Plank and secondary coach Dennis Thurman. Ryan also announced that former defensive coordinator Bob Sutton will be retained as senior defensive assistant/linebackers.

Sutton served as the Jets’ defensive coordinator the last two seasons, but former Ravens linebackers coach Mike Pettine will assume his duties. Under Sutton, the Jets’ defense ranked 16th in the NFL last year.

Ellard spent the last eight seasons with the Rams as their wide receivers coach. Ellard also coached at his alma mater, Fresno State, in 2000. Ellard, who was drafted by the Rams in the second-round of the 1983 NFL draft, recorded 814 receptions for 13,777 yards and 65 touchdowns over his 16-year career. He is currently tied with former Jets wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson for 19th on the all-time receiving list.

Lynn spent the last six seasons as running backs coach with the Browns (2007-2008), Cowboys (2005-2006) and Jaguars (2003-2004). Lynn became his coaching career with the Broncos in 2000, where he served as an offensive assistant and assistant special teams coach. Lynn spent seven years as a running back (1993-1999), winning two Super Bowl rings with the Broncos (1997-1998).

Plank served as a coaching assistant with the Falcons last season. From 2005-2008, he served as head coach of the Arena Football League’s Georgia Force, where he compiled a 47-25 record. Plank was named the AFL Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2007. After appearing in three Rose Bowls with Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes in the 1970s, he was drafted by the Bears in the 12th round of the 1975 NFL Draft. Interestingly enough, Buddy Ryan’s signature “46 Defense” was named after Plank’s No. 46 jersey. Buddy Ryan is of course the father of Rex.

Thurman spent the last six seasons alongside Ryan, where he served as the Ravens’ secondary coach. From2002-2007, the Ravens led the NFL with 126 interceptions and 18 interception returns for touchdowns. Thurman began his coaching career in 1988 with the Phoenix Cardinals, where he served as the team’s defensive backs coach for two seasons. From 1993-2000, Thurman served as the defensive backs coach at his alma mater USC. Thurman was an two-time All-American safety at USC (1974-1977) before playing nine seasons in the NFL with the Cowboys and Cardinals. He had 36 career interceptions.

Will Warner Be Playing Elsewhere in 2009?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

In carrying the Cardinals to the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance, quarterback Kurt Warner has enjoyed a renaissance in the desert. Now in his 11th season, Warner tossed for 4,583 yards (2nd in NFL) and 30 touchdowns (2nd in NFL) during the regular season and his rocket arm has not showed signs of fatigue in Arizona’s three playoff wins.

Warner heard his detractors following his shortened stint with the Giants back in 2004; many of whom suggested his glory years were behind him. He took a pounding from opposing defenses as he was sacked 39 times and was replaced nine games into the season by rookie Eli Manning. However, instead of retiring with a Super Bowl ring already on his finger, Warner decided to hang around the league. He joined the Cardinals prior to the 2005 season and the rest as you now know, is history.

Following Sunday’s Super Bowl, Warner will face another career decision. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent and the Cardinals will already have their own set of roster decisions. Warner will be 38 heading into next season and the Cardinals will still have former first-round pick Matt Leinart waiting for his opportunity. Warner has finally helped the Cardinals become relevant in shedding their infamous history, but will the franchise be willing to dish out millions to retain their leader?

The Cardinals historically have not been a franchise willing to throw money around and they already will have Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin clamoring for a new contract. Warner has not publicly approached thoughts on next season but it would difficult to envision him leaving the NFL after his great season.

If Warner chooses to test the free agent waters, potential suitors will certainly be calling. The Chicago Sun Times reported today that Warner’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, says his client will explore an otherwise weak quarterback market.

Warner would easily become one of  the hot commodities in the free agent market and it certainly would not hurt for the Jets to give him a call. If Brett Favre chooses to retire, the Jets will be left with the unproven trio of Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge on their roster. Neither of the three appear to capable of becoming a full-time starter and the team’s potential options in free agency will likely be thin.

The Jets are currently $10 million over the cap, but that figure could easily change depending on Favre’s future and mutiple roster cuts. Aside from Warner, the most experienced quarterback in free agency could be Kerry Collins, but it would not be surprising to see him re-sign with Tennessee now that he has been promised the starting job. David Carr and Byron Leftwich would be younger, cheaper options, but both have been mired in inconsistency since being drafted in the first round. Both signal callers have displayed potential, but are they much of an upgrade over Clemens?

The Jets could also go the trade route and ask the Browns about Derek Anderson, but he could be costly. Even though Anderson struggled this season and was eventually benched in favor of Brady Quinn, he is still one year removed from a trip to the Pro Bowl.

There’s also of course Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel, but the Lions have a better chance of playing in next year’s Super Bowl than Cassel does of hitting the open market for the rival Jets to gobble him up.

After shelling out $160 million in contracts last season, the Jets are built to win now and they can only do so with a proven quarterback. Head coach Rex Ryan can tinker with the defense as much as he desires, but unless the Jets defense turns into the 1985 Bears or the 2000 Ravens, winning deep into January is unlikely. Warner would give the Jets a proven threat at the game’s most important position and he could also serve as a mentor for the team’s young quarterbacks. His presence would certainly fill seats at the Meadowlands and he likely would not be tossing nine interceptions in the most crucial strech of the season.

Warner could make every team’s decision simple by re-signing with the Cardinals or he could create a frenzy. Nonetheless, if the Jets wish to possess a rocket-armed quarterback not named Favre, they should turn toward Warner.

Quarterback Market Could be Barren for Gang Green

Monday, January 26th, 2009

After Jets head coach Rex Ryan is complete with his tinkering of his coaching staff, the Jets will look to build upon their talented roster. The most glaring need for the Jets could be at quaterback, where Brett Favre may opt to remain in his Mississippi home rather than return for his 19th season. The Jets are believed to be $10 million over the salary cap, but that figure could drastically change depending on Favre’s future. He is scheduled to make $13 million next season, which will come off the books if he decides to retire.

If Favre is unwilling to return to the Jets to regain his starting role,  one desirable option for the team is to allow Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff compete for the starting job in training camp alongside an experienced, yet reasonable cost veteran. One name that could surface in discussion is impending free agent quarterback Kerry Collins. After tossing ten interceptions with just one touchdown in his first two seasons with the Titans (ten games), Collins enjoyed a renaissance in 2008. He replaced the injured Vince Young in Week One and threw 12 touchdown passes in leading the Titans to an NFL-best 13-3 record.

Collins’ strong arm and leadership would be attractive qualities for the Jets, but Titans head coach Jeff Fisher reportedly promised Collins the starting job if he were to re-sign. The free agent market for quarterbacks is already thin and Fisher’s decision could leave the closet bare for the Jets.

Collins recently said that he would call it quits on his 14-year career if he was not rewarded the starting job.

Aside from Collins, once-promising quarteracks such as Byron Leftwich and David Carr could lead the position in the free agent market. Those names certainly will leave opposing defenses salivating next season.

Jets Sign 12 to Reserve/Future Contracts

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum announced the signing of 12 players to reserve/future contracts today…

DE Kareem Brown, RB Jehuu Caulcrick, DE Kenwin Cummings, OL Stanley Daniels, WR Marcus Henry, RB Noah Herron, RB Marcus Mason, DE Ropati Pitoitua, WR Paul Raymond, LB Brandon Renkart, DT Brian Schafering and WR Huey Whittaker. 

Brown, Caulcrick, Cummings, Daniels, Henry, Renkart and Schafering were on the Jets’ practice squad at the conclusion of the regular season, while Pitoitua ended the season on the Injured Reserve/Practice squad list.

Jets Rounding Out Coaching Staff

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Shortly after offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer agreed to remain with the Jets, the team announced two more additions to head coach Rex Ryan’s staff. The Jets announced the hiring of defensive quality control coach Jim O’Neil and defensive assistant Jeff Weeks. 

O’Neil (Towson University, 2001), spent the last three seasons as a recruiting coordinator and safeties coach at Eastern Michigan University. Prior to that stint, he was the defensive coordinator, defensive backs coach and punt return coach at his alma mater, Towson. O’Neil played football at Central Bucks West High School in Pennslyvania, where Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was an assistant coach. O’Neil later was a three-year starter at defensive end at Towson. 

Weeks (Northwest Oklahoma State, 1986) served as a defensive assistant on the Oakland Raiders staff last season. A 22-year coaching veteran, Weeks coached with Ryan at Moorehead State (1990-1991) and at Oklahoma (1988). He also previously coached at Texas A+M Kingsville (2005-2006), Southeastern Oklahoma State (2004), Trinity Valley CC (2000-2003), Fort Scott CC (1999), Glendale CC (1997), and Phoenix CC (1996). Weeks was a roommate and teammate of Rex and Rob Ryan at Southwest Oklahoma State before transferring and graduating from Northwest Oklahoma State. He was an all-state football player at College High School in Oklahoma.

Jets Confirm Ryan Hiring

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Unless Rex Ryan pulls a page out of Bill Belichick’s book and decides to scribble his intentions to resign at his own news conference, Ryan will be the Jets’ head coach in 2009. Owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum confirmed the hiring today in a team statement and announced that Ryan will be introduced during a 10 a.m. press conference on Wednesday.

Ryan’s contract with the Jets is believed to be for four years and between $11-12 million.

“I’d like to thank Woody Johnson and Mike Tannenbaum for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Ryan said in a team statement. “It’s been a dream of mine to become a head coach in the NFL. Coming here to the New York Jets, where my father once coached and was part of the Super Bowl III staff, is fantastic. I look around at the facilities and the people they have in place and see a first-class organization. I’m just proud to be part of it.”

Johnson on the Ryan hiring:

“Rex is revered by his players and respected by his peers around the NFL for his innovative schemes. There is no doubt in my mind that Rex has the expertise and instincts to build on the foundation that we have in place and take this franchise to the ranks of the NFL’s elite. He will bring an agressive, physical brand of football that will captivate our fans and ignite their passion. I appreciate Mike Tannenbaum and all those involved for the time and energy invested during this search. Thanks to their efforts, we got the right man for the job.”

Tannenbaum on the Ryan hiring:

“During our search, we were looking for a great football mind and a passionate leader. Rex is a coach with an established track record who is universally respected by players and coaches for his skills as a communicator and his creativity.

The Search is Over

Monday, January 19th, 2009

The Jets’ search for Eric’s Mangini’s replacement spanned three weeks, but the wait is over. The Jets have agreed to terms with former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to become the 15th coach in franchise history.

The deal is reportedly four years for $12 million.

Ryan is expected to be formally introduced Wednesday at a press conference.

The Ravens are Now Eliminated…

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Update: 12:08 a.m.

The Jets will offer their vacant head coaching position to Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, ESPN’s Chris Mortenson is reporting. A formal announcement is expected tomorrow and a press conference is likely to occur Wednesday.

The Jets began their drive to grab Ryan by contacting their other candidates and notifying them of the direction they were heading, Mortenson reports.

Ryan’s first step toward assembling his staff during the next week will be to gauge the intentions of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Various reports have suggested that Schottenheimer would ask to be released from his contract if was not named as Eric Mangini’s replacement.

Original: 10:00 p.m.

Meaning the Jets head coaching search could be coming to a finality. Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan has clearly emerged as the frontrunner to replace Eric Mangini and an offer from the Jets could come as early as tomorrow.

The Jets did not offer former Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo a contract after interviewing with the team twice, so there is a strong indication that Ryan has been atop the Jets’ wish list all along.

Coaching searches include their share of memorable twists, so nothing is for certain at this point, but Ryan to the Jets seems like a good bet.

Spagnuolo to Rams Likely Means Rex for Jets

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo could not lead the Giants’ defense to a Super Bowl repeat, but he’s sacked his first head coaching job. Spagnuolo has agreed in principle to be the next St. Louis Rams head coach, NFL Network’s Adam Schefter is reporting.

According to Schefter, Spagnuolo has signed a four-year, $11.5 million contract.

The Spagnuolo hire also leads to a stronger indication that the Jets will hire Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to be their next head coach. Spagnuolo interviewed with the Jets twice and was a leading candidate to replace Eric Mangini earlier this month.

If the Ravens lose to the Steelers tomorrow, the Jets are free to hire Ryan, but a Ravens win would mean the Jets must wait until after the Feb. 1 Super Bowl.

Schwartz Eyes Schottenheimer

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Brian Schottenheimer might not grab the Jets’ head coaching job, but will he remain as the team’s offensive coordinator?

ESPN’s Chris Mortenson is reporting that newly hired Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has Schottenheimer and Broncos quarterbacks coach Jim Bates at the top of his list of potential offensive coordinators.

Schottenheimer has one year remaining on his contact with the Jets, but Mortenson reports that Schottenheimer “might ask out of his contract” if he is not hired as the team’s head coach.