Archive for April, 2009

Tanny Continues to Wheel and Deal

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Update II: The details of the Jets-Lions trade are in…In return for shipping the 65th overall pick to the Jets, the Lions receive the 76th (third-round), 115h (fourth-round) and 228th (seventh-round) overall picks.

Dealing up certainly seems like a king’s ransom and now the Jets are left with just one pick  (193rd overall) today. With several holes to fill on offense, the move seems quite puzzling to me. The Jets must really, really, really like Greene.

Update: Tannenbaum and Company got off to another quick start today, as they acquired the Lions’ third-round pick (65th overall). The Jets had several holes on offense to fill, specifically at tight end and wide receiver. Instead, Gang Green selected Iowa running back Shonn Greene. The selection drew a smattering of boos from the remaining diehards at the Radio City Music Hall.  

Original: Welcome to Day Two (Rounds 3-7) of the NFL draft. Yesterday the Jets grabbed a potential franchise quarterback by trading up to fifth overall and selecting USC’s Mark Sanchez, but now the high-profile names are off the board.

General manager Mike Tannenbaum took some criticism at the end of last season for trading for quarterback Brett Favre and then dumping Chad Pennington, but he pulled off a steal yesterday. Tannenbaum not only was able to keep next year’s first-round pick, he was able to keep some picks today. The Jets have four picks today (76th, 115th, 193rd, 228).

The Jets Select…

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

The Jets have their new face of the franchise. Gang Green traded with the Browns to move up to fifth overall and selected USC’s Mark Sanchez. For their quarterback of the future, the Jets traded away this year’s first-round pick (17th overall), second-round pick (52nd overall), defensive end Kenyon Coleman, quarterback Brett Ratliff and safety Abram Elam.

It surely looks as though the Jets made a steal of a deal with their former head coach, Eric Mangini. Coleman was an underperforming starter on the defensive line and both Elam and Ratliff figured to be backups this season.

Sanchez only made 16 career starts in his two seasons at USC, but he should step in and be the Jets’ starter from Day One.

Greetings from Florham Park

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Greetings from Florham Park, N.J. We’ve seen three teams already come off the clock, with Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford heading to the Lions, Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith to the Rams and LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson to the Chiefs.

The Seahawks are now on the clock. If the Seahawks choose either Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry or Texas Tech reciever Michael Crabtree, it will be interesting to see where USC’s Mark Sanchez drops. New Browns head coach Eric Mangini and company could bring Sanchez to the ‘Dogpound,’ which could create a tricke-down effect.

Selecting Sanchez would leave the Browns invested heavily in three quarterbacks (Sanchez, Anderson, Quinn). The Browns would likely have to trade either Anderson or Quinn. Will the Jets come calling?

Questions, Questions and More for Gang Green

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Well it’s finally here…almost. We’ve hit the eve of the NFL draft and the Jets have a New York-sized boat of questions to answer tomorrow. Does general manager Mike Tannenbaum decide to sit tight at 17th overall and fill the Jets’ recieving void with Maryland speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey or Florida’s Percy Harvin? Does he choose to beef up the team’s paper-thin tight end corps and select Oklahoma State’s Brandon Pettigrew? Does he again decide to pull the plug on Kellen Clemens’ opportunity and grab Southern California’s Mark Sanchez or Kansas State’s Josh Freeman, or spin a deal for Jason Campbell or Brady Quinn? Does he surprise everyone and continue to build upon Rex Ryan’s revamped defense? No matter what direction the Jets choose, Ryan’s first draft day figures to be filled with drama.

The most appealing move for the Jets would be to deal for Sanchez, but that opportunity will be contingent on him slipping to eighth overall (Jaguars). Sanchez would instantly give owner Woody Johnson a face to market for the team’s new stadium in 2010, yet the cost could be too heavy for the team to handle. The Jets only have six draft picks and trading into the top ten would cost them atleast two of those.

Sanchez’s performance in last year’s Rose Bowl against a dominant Penn State defense (28-35, 413 yards, four TD) is hard to ignore, however that was just one of his 16 career starts. That is not exactly a thick track record for a quarterback looking to become the face of the franchise. The discussion, of course, could turn into a moot point for the Jets if Sanchez is selected before the Jaguars’ slot or if the Redskins deliver a sweeter trade offer.

The Jets’ desire for a quarterback is certainly understandable because they currently have the most unproven tandem in the league. Clemens started just eight games in 2007 and struggled behind a pourous offensive line (five TD, ten INT) and Ratliff has never taken a snap during a regular season game. However, Gang Green’s interest in Sanchez continues to beg the question…when do the Jets finally commit to Clemens? Their romance with other quarterbacks began last August when they shipped draft picks to the Packers for Brett Favre and then continued last month when Jay Cutler begged his way out of Denver.

Clemens ran with his opportunity and performed admirably at last week’s voluntary minicamp. He’s preparing as if he will lead the Jets next season and has been in midst of praise from Ryan, who’s hoping to build a run-based offense. Will he get that chance? The clouds will likely clear tomorrow.

The Jets could grab a cap casualty later this offseason (Marc Bulger?) but Clemens opportunity will likely depend on the Jets’ pickings tomorrow. If Sanchez or Freeman is available, will the Jets come calling? Gang Green’s war room is already filled will questions and the answers are soon to pour out.

Passing on Cutler the Right Move

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

When Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff learned that the Broncos had traded the face of their franchise, quarterback Jay Cutler, to the Bears, both Jets quarterbacks must have taken a huge sigh of relief. At this point last season, Clemens was thrust into a open quarterback competition with Chad Pennington but the opportunity to become a full-time starter ended on the eve of the Jets’ preseason opener. General manager Mike Tannenbaum pulled the trigger on a blockbuster trade with the Packers for Brett Favre and Clemens was once again handed the clipboard. Clemens had only eight starts under his belt (2-6 record) and had tossed twice as many interceptions (ten) as touchdowns (five), yet he had still shown flashes that he could lead the team’s sputtering offense.

Tannenbaum could have easily closed the door on Clemens’ future with the Jets had he been able to orchestrate his second blockbuster trade for a star quarterback in as many years, but the Bears beat him to the punch. The Jets could still draft a young quarterback in April’s NFL draft (Josh Freeman?) or sign an underacheiving veteran (Byron Leftwich? JP Losman?) but the road appears open for Clemens and Ratliff to take over as the starter. While a deal for Cutler would have landed the Jets a franchise quarterback and possibly the strongest arm in the league, sometimes the best deals are those you don’t make.

There is no doubt that Cutler is more talented than Clemens and Ratliff, but there’s more to being a quarterback than just throwing touchdown passes. Quarterbacks are supposed to be leaders in the locker room and Cutler’s recent antics with the Broncos portrayed him as a whiny diva. Several Jets took offense to Cutler’s repeated trash talking in a 34-17 loss to the Broncos last November and bringing that fiery attitude into the locker room could have been trouble from the start.

“A lot of guys don’t like that,” cornerback Darrelle Revis said yesterday of Cutler’s trash talking. “If he would come here, I think [teammates] would question him a lot about that.”

Cutler didn’t exactly receive a ringing endorsement within the Jets’ locker room, as most players, including wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, sounded eager about giving Clemens and Ratliff a chance to start.

“I have a bunch of confidence in those guys. I’ve been watching them work since they have been here. Those guys have been preparing like starters. Definitely, playing behind Brett [Favre] you know you are not going to get a chance to play at all,” Cotchery said. “[Favre] played I don’t know how many consecutive games, but those guys still prepared like they had a chance to play and you can respect that.”

Cutler would certainly make some friends at Florham Park, N.J. after tossing towndown passes and leading the Jets to victories, but his me-first attitude would grow old after losses. Quarterbacks have to become leaders, especially in New York, where the spotlight would be centered on Cutler every week.

While Cutler is still just 25 years old and has both a 4,000 yard passing season and a Pro-Bowl appearance on his resume, the Broncos’ asking price was enormous. The Broncos cannot be blamed for asking the moon for a franchise quarterback who has yet to reach his prime, but bringing aboard Cutler’s whiny attitude was too much of a risk. The Bears shipped their first (18th overall) and third round picks in this year’s draft, their first round pick in next year’s draft, plus quarterback Kyle Orton. The Jets could have surrendered their 2009 first round pick (17th overall) but there were rumblings that Denver also asked for cornerback Darrelle Revis or linebacker David Harris. Quarterbacks with Cutler’s abilities come around very sparingly, but defense helps win championships. Head coach Rex Ryan envisioned building a dominant, ball-hawking defense from the moment he accepted the job in January and dealing either Revis or Harris would have set the Jets back. Revis has already developed into one of the league’s true shutdown corners, which are almost as difficult to find as a polished quarterback.

Cutler could very well lead the Bears to the playoffs in the weak NFC North next season, but would it deal a black eye on Tannenbaum’s regime? It will likely depend on the play at the quarterback position next year for the Jets. Clemens could prove to be a capable starter or the same signal-caller who was fairly inaccurate during his opening audition in 2007. Ratliff could prove that his strong preseason last year was a true portrayal of his abilities, or he could show that his league-leading passer rating (122.5) was simply a matter of feasting on second-string defenses. Either way, it’s time to find out.

The Jets may still target Freeman at 17th overall in April’s draft, but it’s now important to keep an eye on the Broncos, who hold both the and 12th and 18th overall picks. The Broncos obviously would not have been in play for a quarterback had they kept Cutler, but with Orton and Chris Simms on their depth chart, their plans have likely changed. With the extra draft picks acquired, they could jump the Jets and trade up for either Southern California’s Mark Sanchez or Freeman.

Clemens and Ratliff will likely keep an eye on the proceedings, but barring a late surprise, they remain the Jets’ top options. Surely all good things come to those who wait.