Archive for March, 2011

With Jenkins out the door who will step in?

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — At this point in his career Kris Jenkins’ only goal is to get back in the NFL with a new contract and, more than likely, a new team. Kristian Dyer of the New York Metro reported yesterday that Jenkins has been working out with personal trainers and plans on meeting up with brother and Green Bay Packer Cullen Jenkins in Florida to continue his rehabilitation process.

Jenkins, who suffered two brutal injuries to his left knee in the past two years which caused him to miss 29 games over that span, was cut by the New York Jets earlier this off-season. He was entering the fourth year of a contract worth $30.25 million. A favorite in locker room and out in the stands, Jenkins received personal messages from teammates as well as team management, who all expressed their hope for a new deal.

With the odds of a comeback by Kris Jenkins being low, the Jets may need to address NT in the draft. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

“After it all happened, I had a great conversation with Rex, Mike [Tannenbaum] and even Woody [Johnson] called me,” Jenkins said of the Jets head coach, general manager and owner. “I was surprised, because I didn’t know that Woody saw me as one of ‘those’ guys on the team. He talked with me honestly and said that he’d be in touch to see where things go down the road. It was a nice way to end things.” If you are into sports betting, you would have to think that the odds of Jenkins actually making a Jets comeback based on his history is probably low.

With the air cleared of the speculation surrounding the return of Jenkins, the only question that remains is who will fill his mammoth role as the run-stuffing nose tackle? In the earlier JetsInsider.com’s segment Meet the Prospects, we profiled Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor as a possibly player Tannenbaum and the Jets might be interested in. While Taylor’s frame (6-4, 334) is ideal for Ryan’s prototypical 3-4 nose tackle, his potential outweighs his production.

Additionally, the Jets have a greater need for an edge rusher than an inside run-stopper. I had their wish list as the following: 1. Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia 2. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA 3. Cameron Heyward, OLB/DE, OSU 4. Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor 5. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA. The need for a 5-technique player is that dire.

However, should Trader Mike decide that the importance of a stout presence to anchor the defensive front outweighs the need for an edge-rusher, there are a few options he could toy with. As we all know, Tannenbaum is not afraid to trade picks and players to advance in the draft and pluck the player he desires. Having said that, the league has come out and said that the 2012, 2013 and 2014 draft picks are all eligible to be traded this year, despite the possibility of not having future drafts. So while the Jets have a lot of players to re-sign, Tannenbaum still has the luxury to trade future picks if necessary. And to take any of the players mentioned below, it just might be necessary.

  1. Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois – Quick enough to beat lesser linemen off the snap at three-tech, uses his hands to free himself from block when there is enough space to do so. Gets his man on skates or pushes through a block (or double) to the quarterback to get pressure. Also strong and quick enough to play on the nose in obvious passing situations. Stout defender who plays with a strong base. Penetrates into the backfield with quickness. Lines up at three and five-technique spots. Corey Liuget Highlights vs. OSU
  2. Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple - Overwhelms college tackles with size and strength, then chases down quarterbacks with his length and nimble feet .Agile five-technique who lines up on either side of the formation. Patient and keeps his eyes in the backfield to contain; very solid in his outside assignment. Comes off outside path or double teams inside to spin/shed, catching back running through the hole. Muhammad Wilkerson Highlights

And if the Jets decide to package their 3rd-round pick with some other sort of compensation to get into the second round, which would be ideal as the need for an edge-rusher is that important, they might be happy selecting this guy.

  1. Allen Bailey, DT, Miami – Enough speed to challenge the offensive tackle’s outside shoulder. Flashes some counter moves, including a swim technique. Has good upper- and lower-body strength to hold up at the point of attack against the run. Good stack and shed defender capable of disengaging from blocks quickly due to good hand strength and lateral agility. His versatility allows him to have played linebacker, defensive end, and defensive tackle for the Hurricanes. Allen Bailey vs. Wake Forest

Clearly, the loss of Jenkins leaves a glaring hole for the Jets to fulfill before the 2011 season commences. Luckily for them, this year’s draft is chock-full of potential replacements.

Meet the Prospects: Akeem Ayers

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — As we enter the fifth and, unfortunately, final installment of the Official JetsInsider.com’s “Meet the Prospects” segment, those with a keen eye may be noticing a trend with these player profiles. Yes, if you indeed have that keen eye I mentioned, all the potential picks to be plucked with the Jets 30th overall selection are defensive players. As if there would be any other option for a Rex Ryan coached team. The interesting part is, however, that under Ryan the Jets have held a top-3 defensive ranking the last two reasons. But piggy-backing on the well-noted remarks by ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, perhaps the Jets defense is more “smoke and mirrors” than defensive player dominance. After all, the Jets did only send one player (Darrelle Revis) to the Pro Bowl in 2010.

But with an aging defense and an upcoming offense that is primed to gel in 2011, G.M. Mike Tannenbaum, or Trader Mike as he’s been affectionately nicknamed by the Gang Green faithful, and the rest of his staff see defense as the cornerstone of a Super Bowl-caliber team. And while safety is a rising issue with the uncertainty regarding Jim Leonhard, OLB/DE continues to be a power position for Ryan’s aggressive defense. Having already featured two potential OLB/DE, I will end this segment that I have grown quite fond of with yet another one. Akeem Ayers, teammate of already-featured Rahim Moore from UCLA, built a name for himself as a potential mid-to-late first round selection after posting a superb 2009 season, but like Moore, he saw a decrease in production in 2010. Add in a less-than-stellar showing at Indianapolis in the NFL Combine (which doesn’t prove everything, just ask Vernon Gholston) and there is even greater importance hanging on his March 29th Pro Day.

Akeem Ayers, OLB/DE, UCLA:

  • CLASS STANDING: Junior
  • HEIGHT: 6-4
  • WEIGHT: 255
  • NFL COMPARISON: Mike Vrabel, Kansas City Chiefs

Collegiate Career: Akeem Ayers 2010 Highlights UCLA

  • 2010 — Season captain; Started all 12 games; Fourth on the team with 68 tackles, first (tied) with 4.0 sacks, second with 10.0 tackles for loss and second (tied) with two interceptions; Earned second-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation; One of five Butkus Award finalists (he finished third in voting); Third-team Associated Press All-American; First-team All-Pac-10 selection; Named defensive co-winner of UCLA’s Henry R. “Red” Sanders for Most Valuable Player.
  • 2009 — Started all 13 games at strongside linebacker; Second on the team with 6.0 sacks (T-10th in Pac-10) and 14.5 tackles for loss (5th in Pac-10); Named honorable mention All-Pac-10; First-team Sophomore All-America selection by CollegeFootballNews.com; Tied a UCLA season record with two touchdowns on interceptions and scored three defensive touchdowns in all (one fumble return); Led the team with four forced fumbles (T-3rd in Pac-10); In his final four games of the season, Ayers made 30 tackles, including 4.0 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions (returned one for a touchdown) and returned a fumble for a touchdown.
  • 2008 — Appeared in 12 games with three starts at strongside linebacker (BYU, Oregon, Oregon St.); Named to Rivals.com Pac-10 All-Freshman team; Earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 from the league’s coaches; Was the defensive co-winner of UCLA’s John Boncheff, Jr. Memorial Award for Rookie of the Year; Tied for 19th in the Pac-10 in sacks per game (0.3).
  • 2007 — Redshirted his true freshmen year.

Bryan Thomas will be fighting for his job next season, as the Jets are eyeing an edge-rusher to bolster an already dominant defense. (JetsInsider.com Photo.)

Strengths:

  • Versatility – He can line up at an end spot just to mix things up or attack the quarterback from his usual outside linebacker position. With his instincts, Ayers is even versatile enough to play in the middle of the linebacker corps.
  • Has a nose for the ball carrier like a bloodhound. Always around the ball, alert and tracks down the ball extremely well.
  • Not just a pass-rusher. His instincts and ability to read the quarterback in coverage allows him to take chances and make a play on the ball. Aside from his sub-par 40 time, his game speed allows him to line up opposite slot receivers and drop back in zone coverage.

Weaknesses:

  • Tends to throws his body at the ball carrier instead of driving through them causing a few missed tackles in the process.
  • Has shown problems shedding blockers with frequency. That’s fixable, however, as his frame could easily add 15-20 pounds — making it easier to shed blockers in the NFL.
  • Has been known to take himself out of plays because of his speed, leading to an over pursuit on the ball carrier.

Why the Jets?:

  • If there is something Ryan loves in a defensive players, it’s versatility. What helped the Jets defeat the Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs last year was masking schemes; blitzing while showing coverage and dropping back when showing blitz. Ayers has the ability to do both, whether it be on the line, on the edge or from the inside.
  • He’s a turnover over machine. Watch his highlights (posted above) and you’ll see for yourself. The Jets are desperate for a player who can create a timely turnover, which was an issue of concern last year. Whether its forcing fumbles or intercepting passes, Ayers can get it done.

In his own words:

  • “My strength is rushing the passer. I’m like a bull on the field…I never give up.”
  • “As a linebacker, I have to be able to keep up with the running back coming out of the backfield. That’s something I’ve working on at UCLA.”

Meet the Prospects: Justin Houston

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — The fourth installment of the Official JetsInsider.com’s “Meet the Prospects” Week features Georgia Bulldog junior outside linebacker Justin Houston. As already reported, the Jets are actively pursuing defensive pass-rusher, whether it be a defensive end or an outside linebacker. We’ve already featured Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward, who predominantly played the defensive line for the Buckeyes. Houston has sky-rocketed up the NFL Draft big board after following a promising 2009 season (7.5 sacks/15 TFL/ 16 QB Pressures) with a monster 2010 season (10 sacks/18.5 TFL/44 QB Pressures) . Unlike Phil Taylor (who we featured yesterday) and Heyward, who still reminds me way too much of Vernon Gholston, Houston has production to match his potential. And, if I may add, he is also my personal favorite OLB/DE in this draft.

Posting such a phenomenal junior season in what is the unquestioned toughest conference in college football has made him one of more sought-after prospects in this year’s draft. The rivaled New England Patriots, also in the running for an outside linebacker/defensive end, have Houston high on their wish list as well. Truth be told, any team — even one who is set at the OLB/DE position –  would love Houston’s relentless motor and his knack for getting to the quarterback.

Justin Houston, OLB/DE, Georgia:

  • CLASS STANDING: Junior
  • HEIGHT: 6-3
  • WEIGHT: 258
  • BENCH PRESS (225 lb.): 30
  • NFL COMPARISON: Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens

Collegiate Career: Justin Houston 2010 Highlights UGA

  • 2010 — Started all 13 games recording 67 tackles including a team-leading 18.5 for loss and 10.0 sacks to go along with 44 quarterback pressures, two pass break ups, an INT, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Named a FWAA All-America selection, a Walter Camp All-America Second Team selection and a Pro Football Weekly All-America selection. Named a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Butkus Award and a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award. Named All-SEC First Team by Associated Press SEC Coaches, Phil Steele and Rivals.com; Also selected to SouthernPigskin All-SEC Team. Chosen as team’s Most Valuable Defensive Player. Awarded CFPW 2010 National Linebacker Trophy. Named preseason All-SEC first team by Phil Steele and second team by SEC Media and Athlon Sports. In the SEC, ranked second in sacks per game (0.77) and tackles for loss per game (1.42). Named SEC Defensive Player of the Week & CFPA Honorable Mention DL of the Week after he had five tackles, three for a loss, including two sacks and a pass break-up at Kentucky. Named to Phil Steele’s 2010 Midseason All-America First Team. Earned CFPA Honorable Mention DL of the Week recognition after recording five tackles, 2.5 for a loss including 1.5 sacks, vs. Tennessee.
  • 2009 — Appeared in 10 games with 10 starts making 39 tackles featuring a team-leading 15.0 for loss including 7.5 sacks while adding 18 quarterback pressures. Led SEC in TFL per game (1.5) and ranked second in sacks per game (0.75). Named All-SEC Second Team by Associated Press, SEC Coaches and Phil Steele.  Named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week (9/28) after he made four tackles, two for a loss including a sack, vs. Arizona State. Named to Athletic Director’s Honor Roll for summer semester. Named Most Improved Defensive End at conclusion of spring drills.
  • 2008 — Appeared in 13 games making one start recording 19 tackles including 2.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hurries.
  • 2007 — Redshirted.

Calvin Pace was rated by ProFootballFocus.com in a recent study as one of the worst pass rushing OLB/DE in the NFL. Justin Houston may just take some pressure off of him. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Strengths:

  • Has experience playing outside linebacker and defensive end. Fairly good instincts verses the run. Does a good job at locating ball carriers after disengaging blockers. Is discipline in his run fits.
  • Has the strength to get underneath linemen’s pads and walk them back into the quarterback. Displays good lower body strength which allows him to anchor against the run.
  • A dynamic edge rusher that is multifaceted. He can use his speed to bend the corner or his strength to bull rush linemen and collapse the pocket. Gets off the ball extremely well with an explosive first step. Motor runs hot when rushing the passer. Has the closing speed to chase down mobile quarterbacks.
  • The definition of a hybrid player as he saw his production go sky-high after switching from defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker for the Bulldogs.

Weaknesses:

  • Is susceptible to delays and draws, because he gets too far upfield.
  • Against the pass, his instincts are below average. Often displays a one track mind when rushing the passer, which causes him to fail at recognizing screen plays. Also lacks awareness in underneath coverage.
  • Will sometimes give up on plays that are not ran to his side. Will also jog around while in pursuit of balls carriers that have reached the second level and beyond.
  • Struggles on occasion to break down in space against shiftier ball carriers.

Why the Jets?:

  • If you’ve gotten this far and still can’t see why Rex Ryan would love this guy on his team, then maybe you need to re-evaluate your fanhood to the Jets.
  • As mentioned above, Houston reminds scouts and analysts alike of Terrell Suggs, a former player for Ryan while he was coaching the Ravens’ defense. Place him next to Bart Scott and David Harris and that linebacking core may very well be second to none.
  • In a report released last week by ProFootballFocus.com regarding pass rushing productivity, the Jets current starting OLB, Calvin Pace, ranked among the bottom ten defensive end/outside linebackers in all of football. Needless to say, they need to get some pressure on the outside edge while also getting younger in the front seven. Houston answers both of those questions.

Meet the Prospects: Phil Taylor

Monday, March 21st, 2011


FLORHAM PARK, NJ — After a weekend where nearly everyone’s bracket has been busted, and by everyone’s I mean mine, (C’mon Louisville, Syracuse, Pitt, and my upset special Belmont!) it’s time to get back to what I know best. Getting back to the official JetsInsider.com’s “Meet the Prospects” segment, it’s time to get to know the player draft experts peg as the next New York Jet: Baylor University NT Phil Taylor.

At 334 pounds, Taylor definitely fills the rather gaping void left by the oft-injured Kris Jenkins. And while news has circulated that both the Jets and Jenkins want to get a deal done, if only for a veteran’s minimum one-year deal, G.M. Mike Tannenbaum has to keep all his options open. Drafting Taylor at the 30th spot will not only cross off one his off-season needs, but also provide an anchor to the defensive line for years to come. So without further adieu, let’s get to know this massive man.

Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor University:

  • CLASS STANDING: Senior
  • HEIGHT: 6-4
  • WEIGHT: 334
  • NFL PLAYER COMPARISON: Casey Hampton, Pittsburgh Steelers

Collegiate Career: Phil Taylor Highlights vs. OK State

  • 2010 — Started at nose guard in all 13 games; All-Big 12 honoree as senior; Earned second-team All-Big 12 honors (league coaches, AP, Columbia Tribune, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Kansas City Star, Phil Steele, Rivals.com, San Antonio Express-News, Waco Tribune-Herald); Named to ESPN.com All-Big 12 Bowl team;  One of eight Bears to start all 13 games; Totaled 62 tackles (35 solo), seven for loss including two sacks, three QB hurries, two pass breakups and one forced fumble; 62 tackles most by BU interior lineman since 2002.
  • 2009 — Played all 12 games and started nine at defensive tackle as junior in first season at Baylor; Earned first Baylor letter; Totaled 25 tackles (2.5 for loss), an assisted sack, five QB hurries, two blocked kicks and one interception on season; Made more than half (13) of season’s tackles (25) in first three games; Made big splash in Baylor debut in season-opening win at Wake Forest, had four tackles (two solo) including one for loss and made career-first interception; Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of Year selection by media.
  • 2008 — Transferred to Baylor from Penn State in September 2008, sat out season in compliance with NCAA Division I transfer policy but practiced with team; Redshirted to retain eligibility; Selected to spring 2009 Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
  • 2006 & 2007 — Played freshman (2006) and sophomore (2007) seasons at Penn State; Member of defensive line in 2007 that ranked seventh nationally in rushing defense (93.8 ypg), allowed only three runs of longer than 18 yards in 449 attempts and held opposition to nine rushing touchdowns in 13 games.

While DT Sione Pouha put together a nice season replacing the oft-injured Kris Jenkins, drafting Baylor NT Phil Taylor could be a top priority for the Jets come draft day. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Strengths:

  • Massive frame (6-4, 344) is ideal for a running-plugging, double-team-needed 3-4 Nose Tackle.
  • Changes directions quickly to beat one-on-one pass blocks. Has the rare size and strength to hold his ground versus double-team run blocks.
  • Displays the athleticism to come down the line and make tackles on inside runs, but has superior strength to push offensive linemen into quarterback to disrupt timing of throws.

Weaknesses:

  • He’s raw. Has more potential than production.
  • Has conditioning issues; tends to wear down in games and does not play with good effort on every snap. Which may make him strictly a player on first and second downs until he can disprove his conditioning rumor.
  • Off-the-field issues, which got him dismissed from Penn State. Charged with a misdemeanor of aggravated assault after beating up a student at a fraternity dance at the school’s student union. The charges were later dropped.

Why the Jets?:

  • With the uncertainty surrounding the future of Jenkins with the Jets, Rex Ryan only has 32-year-old Sione Pouha to plug up the middle. While Pouha put together a nice season for Ryan, he’s not a player that teams have to game plan against.
  • Nose tackle is one of the important positions of Ryan’s aggressive 3-4 defense. He was a big reason the Ravens drafted Haloti Ngata, who has emerged as one of the premier nose tackles in the league. His constant praise of Ngata and the Patriots’ Vince Wilfork shows his desire to have a premier nose tackle of his own. And Taylor has that potential.
  • The Jets have a history of bringing in players with the 0ff-the-field issues (see Cromartie, Antonio; Edwards, Braylon; Holmes, Santonio). With strong veteran leadership in the locker room and a head coach that has the respect of all his players, Taylor would fall right in line.

In his own words:

  • “[The accusation that I'm not a 4-down player] was [from] me last year trying to get my weight down [from 360 lbs.]. This year I’m working better with the weight off of me. With the weight off I’m conditioned a little better, can move around more and don’t get as tired on the field.”
  • “It was a life-changing experience, an eye-opener,” he once said. “I had no idea how good we have it … It made me humble myself to work harder.” – on his mission trip with teammates to Kenya.

Meet the Prospects: Cameron Heyward

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Moving on in the Jets Insider’s “Meet the Prospects” week, we have Ohio State’s senior DE/OLB Cameron Heyward. Heralded as a beastly defensive end who’s freakish abilities could be greatly utilized in an aggressive 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker, he played every position on the defensive line for the Buckeyes. Projected as a potential top-15 pick, his stock has slid due to an injury to his elbow in Ohio State’s victory in this year’s Sugar Bowl. The son of the late NFL running back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament which required Tommy John surgery — a procedure usually reserved for baseball pitchers — on January 12, which forced him to miss the NFL Combine last month. We will all get a better read on Heyward once he performs for the scouts on his Pro Day on March 30th.

A four-year starter for the Buckeyes, Heyward enjoyed a breakout 2009 junior season only to struggle in 2010, recording only four sacks. Physically he has all the tools to be a defensive monster. However, I can’t help but be reminded of the 2008 draft where the Jets selected another Ohio State defensive end sixth overall who wowed scouts with his physical prowess. I’m referring to non-other than the original sack master, Vernon Gholston. Now I know it’s not fair to typecast Heyward in the same class Gholston, but certainly I’m not the only one who saw a little bit of Gholston when Heyward’s name started to be mentioned with the Jets. But before I officially judge this book by another cover, let’s take a look at the scouting report on Heyward.

Cameron Heyward, DE/OLB, Ohio State:

  • Class Standing: Senior
  • Height: 6-5
  • Weight: 288
  • Hometown: Suwanee, GA

Collegiate Career: Cameron Heyward Highlights vs. Oregon (Rose Bowl)

  • 2010 – A senior captain, Heyward started all 13 games at defensive end; recorded 48 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks; had an interception and a fumble recovery; earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from both the coaches and the media.
  • 2009 – He had 10 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks for the Rose Bowl champs; Elected to the second team all-Big Ten, Lombardi Award nominee Jack Stephenson Award (outstanding defensive lineman) from Ohio State coaches; Big Ten player of week: Penn State, defensive player of week: Penn State, Attack Force award: USC, Toledo; Top Ten Tenacious five times, third-year letter winner.
  • 2008 – As a sophomore was a rotating starter along the defensive front who is equally comfortable at tackle or end. Recorded 36 tackles, three sacks for season, second-year letterman; Attack Force award: Penn State, Michigan; Jack Tatum big hit: Penn State.
  • 2007 – Became a starter along the defensive line as a true freshman; Freshman All-America (Sporting News, Rivals, Scout), freshman all-Big Ten (Sporting News); 30 tackles, 9 TFL, 2.5 sacks on the season; Attack Force award: Penn State, Jack Tatum hit of week: Michigan State, Penn State; team’s outstanding first-year player on defense, first-year letterman.

Calvin Pace, along with Bryan Thomas and Shaun Ellis, could be the perfect mentors for a young, charismatic Heyward. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Strengths:

  • Versatility: In 2010, he played every position on Ohio State’s defensive line depending upon the situation. He can play the defensive end position in both the 4-3 and 3-4 and can move inside to play defensive tackle in the 4-3 scheme. But his innate ability to get to the quarterback makes him an ideal NFL DE/OLB.
  • Given his size, he has a good athletic frame. He is fast, has good balance and does a good job controlling his body. He has the strength to anchor against the run and eat up offensive lineman’s blocks.
  • Experience: A four-year starter in the competitive Big Ten, Heyward has seen it all; from O-Line double-teams to RB/FB blocking schemes.

Weaknesses:

  • Technique: He needs to continue to develop different and effective pass rush moves. He won’t be able to get away with just straight rushing the passer against the advanced linemen in the NFL.
  • Needs to remain focused on the fact that he needs to play the run.  He has a tendency to pin his ears back and go after the quarterback.  This is a concern because he sometimes takes himself out of certain running plays.
  • Recovery Process: It’s going to be interesting to see how he responds to rehabbing following Tommy John surgery, the first major injury of his career. Given the untimely timing of the injury, he may suffer for a lack of coverage having missed the NFL Combine last month.

Why the Jets?:

  • Along with nose tackle and cornerback, the pass rush position is extremely pivotal in the success of Ryan’s defense. With the subtractions of dead weight (Gholston) and aging players (Jason Taylor), the Jets are paper-thin at the DE/OLB position. Calvin Pace and Shaun Ellis could mentor the young Heyward and mold him into a premier player for the Jets.
  • They need an infusion of youth on the defensive front seven. The average age of the front seven is 30.5 with the elder statesmen, Shaun Ellis and Bryan Thomas, getting in over 10 seasons in league.
  • Although the Jets ended the 2010 season ranked eighth in the league with 40 sacks, they lacked pressure when needed most. The majority of those sacks came in bunches against inferior teams. They need to be able to get to the Mannings, Bradys and Roethlisberger’s of the league.

In his own words:

  • “I’m not asking anybody to give me a second look just because my dad was Ironhead. But they all know I have a big head like him.”
  • “I want to leave a legacy of my own. I don’t want to live in his shadow. But he was a great player. He’s always in my heart and I appreciate everything he’s done. … But I want to do everything on my own.” – on his late father Craig “Ironhead” Heyward.

Meet the Prospects: Rahim Moore

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Alright Jets fan, I feel your pain. Fresh off back-to-back AFC Championship games and looking to build on that in 2011, the Jets, and the rest of the league, are left to wait and see if there will be football come fall time. But fear not Gang Green faithful, amidst all the depressing coverage surround the country’s most popular sport, there is something we can all look forward to: the NFL Draft.

Yes, there has been rumors of the NFLPA advising the top prospects to not attend the annual celebration at Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall, but it is still a spectacle and will shine some light on a what has turned in to a rather dark situation, even if it’s a little bit.

But, I digress. With the draft only a month away the Jets Insider will be delivering you profiles on the possible players general manager Mike Tannenbaum has targeted.  The Jets own the 30th overall pick in the first round, and it is widely speculated that Tannenbaum will pluck a defensive player in that spot, much to the delight of head coach Rex Ryan.

UCLA safety Rahim Moore has been thrown around as a potential player to fit into Ryan’s aggressive defense. Here’s the insider report Moore, who is regarded as the top player in a weak safety position:

RAHIM MOORE, S, UCLA:

  • Class Standing: Junior
  • Height: 5-11
  • Weight: 202
  • 40-yard dash: 4.53

Collegiate Career: Rahim Moore 2010 Highlights UCLA

  • 2010 – A captain, Moore started all 12 games while being name a first-team All-America by The Sporting News. The third-team Associated Press All-American was third on the team in tackles (77) and 17th (tied) in the Pac-10 (6.4 avg.). He was also one of 10 Thorpe Award semifinalist while being just one of just three All-Pac-10 first-team performers to repeat from 2009.
  • 2009 - Started all 13 games at free safety for the Bruins on his way to leading the nation in interceptions with 10. Received plenty of accolades for his performance on the field:  first-team All-America by scout.com, second-team by Walter Camp Foundation, AP, Rivals.com and SI.com, third-team All-America pick by The Sporting News and Phil Steele, first-team All-Pac-10 selection by league’s coaches, named Pac-10 Defensive MVP by The Sporting News and first-team all-league, named co-defensive winner of UCLA’s Henry R. ‘Red’ Sanders Award for Most Valuable Player, received high honorable mention for Thorpe Award. His total of 10 interceptions ranked No. 2 (Carlton Gray – 11 in 1991) on school single-season list. No player in the Football Bowl Subdivision had made 10 interceptions in a season since 2003.
  • 2008 – Started in all 12 games at free safety ranking fourth on squad with 60 tackles. He tied for 11th in Pac-10 in interceptions (0.25) and tied for team lead with three. Named to Rivals.com All-Pac-10 Freshman team, CollegeFootballNews.com honorable mention Freshman All-American, Pac-10 honorable mention honors from coaches, defensive co-winner of UCLA’s John Boncheff, Jr. Memorial Award for Rookie of the Year. Became the first true freshman to start a season-opener on offense or defense since Matt Ware (CB) in 2001.

UCLA S Rahim Moore can be a great contingency plan if safety Jim Leonhard (left) is unable to compete at the level he was capable of before breaking his tibia. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Strengths:

  • Superb Athlete with loose hips to turn and run with receivers coupled with quick footwork in coverage.
  • Absolute ballhawk: great coverage instincts, awareness and anticipation.
  • Good closing speed on plays in front of him.
  • Can handle man-to-man coverage against running backs and tight ends.

Weaknesses:

  • At 5-11, 202 pounds, Moore is a little undersized.
  • Lacks elite speed deep, as evidenced by his poor 40 times (4.53 and 4.61).
  • Poor recovery speed downfield in man coverage.
  • Not a great tackler
  • Offers little help in return game.

Why the Jets?:

  • His playmaking abilities could be maximized in Ryan’s aggressive Cover 1 schemes, allowing him to sit back deep in coverage and follow the quarterback’s eyes.
  • The Jets are especially hurting at the safety position. Jim Leonhard’s status is uncertain following the injury he sustained during Week 13 last season. And Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo are nice complimentary players, but are also free agents.
  • Ryan coached arguably the best safety in the game, Ed Reed; a player that Moore considers to be his idol and someone who he has modeled his game after.

In his own words:

  • “If a team drafts me, they won’t have to worry about the safety position for the next 10-12 years. I believe I’m special, and I mean that in the most humble way. I’m going to get in early. I’m going to leave late. I’m going to put in the same amount of hours, maybe more as the coaching staff.”
  • “That is one of the smartest men I’ve ever talked to in my life. In a 45-minute conversation I learned so much. When I first got on the phone with him I almost started crying. That’s how much I love the guy. I respect what he does, the hard work and dedication.” – on Ed Reed.

Jets take on NFL Lockout

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Certainly there has been an overload of coverage surrounding the on-going saga between the NFL’s owners and the union, but how does the lockout affect clubs on a team-by team basis?

The Jets are one of the few teams who are in a good position, given the current circumstances, to continue to be a top-tier team in 2011…if, that is, there’s a 2011 season.

Jets owner Woody Johnson's message to fans: "The goal for the Jets will not change -- we are committed to bringing you a championship." (JetsInsider.com Photo).

The Jets have something that’s a rarity in the current NFL: continuity. Rex Ryan and the entire coaching staff (sans Sal Alosi, of course) are returning for the 2011 season. The groundwork for offensive and defensive schemes have already been laid–two seasons ago, in fact — and the Jets don’t have to worry about the added pains of incorporating a new system. And despite their 15 expiring contracts, the Jets have a very good chance at retaining the majority of their core free agents.

“They’ll probably get most of their [free agents] back, and they already have a good nucleus,” one general manager told ESPNNewYork.com. “They shouldn’t miss a beat compared to other teams. I think they’re in a good position.”

The Jets high-profile free agents, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Antonio Cromartie, definitely remain a top priority. But if the draft happens before the free agency process begins, (which is the case as of this moment) then many second-tier free agents (Brad Smith, Brodney Pool and Eric Smith) may suffer, likely forcing those players to re-sign with their current teams at a lesser price.

While general manager Mike Tannebaum continues to plot out his off-season course in pencil, other Jets personnel like owner Woody Johnson and player representative Brandon Moore continue to clash on the details regarding a new collective bargaining agreement.

Johnson issued this statement to Jets fans after the announcement of the decertification and lockout:

“It may take longer than we all had hoped, but New York Jets fans should know that a deal will get done and I remain confident that there will be NFL football in 2011. Although I was very disappointed that the union chose legal maneuvering over negotiating, I am convinced that our differences can be resolved at the bargaining table. We care deeply about our players and will continue to work towards an agreement that is fair and reasonable for everyone – the fans, the players and the teams. The goal for the Jets will not change – we are committed to bringing you a championship.”

Moore took offense over the accusations that the union was too preoccupied with the thoughts of litigation to get anything done through mediation. “We wanted to do a deal as far back as 2009. To question our desire to get a deal done, and that we wanted to take it to the courts … why would we want to do that? We were happy with deal, they opted out.”

He added that “decertification was the only tool we had. We know for sure the league was prepared to lock us out because of the TV contract they negotiated. That’s a fact; they were already planning for a lockout.”

With the league currently in a lockout, the Jets have reduced the salaries of Tannebaum, Rex Ryan and the rest of the coaching staff by 25 percent, with non-contract employees forced to have one unpaid week per month. The money lost will all be recouped, however, if the new deal were to be struck before the start of the season.

Additionally the lockout affects the off-season conditioning programs implemented by teams, which usually begin around mid-March. Due to the lockout, the Jets’ players have been barred from using any of the team’s facilities. The door has been left open, however, for players to train at their own facilities on their own time.

Last season Mark Sanchez invited out his receivers to the “Jets West” for a passing camp near his California home. Sanchez has talked about doing the same this year. Also Darrelle Revis has invited out his fellow defensive backs to train with him at facilities in Arizona.

The problem that arises with these private training camps, the players are not protected if they were to be injured. And for impending free agents such as Holmes, Edwards, B. Smith, Cromartie, Pool, E.Smith and Drew Coleman the thought of a possible injury hurting their chances at a new contract may scare them away from participation.

Dumbing Down the NFL Lockout

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Maybe it’s just me, but there is certainly a ton of information out there about the prior negotiations and current labor dispute regarding the NFL owners and DeMaurice Smith and the NFL Player’s Union. With all that’s out there, it has been difficult to wrap my head around everything that has been going on in the discussions between the two, and hopefully I’m not the only one who feels this way.

As Friday night turned to Saturday morning, the NFL released a statement announcing that after tireless efforts at re-negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with the union an NFL lockout is amongst us.

The lockout comes as a response to the union’s decertification, stating that they are no longer in the business of representing players — at least until a new CBA deal gets done. Decertifying allows players to individually take their chances in court under the anti-trust laws.

While the NFL and the NFLPA continue to point fingers, the fans -- like the Jets "Fireman Ed" Anzalone -- are the one who are really hurting from the current lockout. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Such prominent faces of the NFL like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, along with 10 other players, have already filed a class-action claim in federal court in Minneapolis, MN against the owners. The anti-trust case that will forever be referred to as Brady et al vs. National Football League et al will go after the league’s policies regarding the draft, salary cap and free agency restrictions — particularly franchise player tags.

Following the path of the Sherman Act, — a federal anti-trust statute from 1890 that limits monopolies and restrictions on commerce — the players are seeking triple the amount of damages they’ve acquired. That means the players will be asking for compensation in the area of hundreds of millions of dollars.

It could take a month for there to be a ruling on the union’s injunction request, and anti-trust judgments should take longer.

Depending on what happens in court — a Minnesota judge has held jurisdiction over NFL labor matters since the early 1990s — the 2011 season could be threatened.

So while fans are left in limbo awaiting to hear what will happen to the nation’s favorite sport (sorry MLB), the union and the league continue to fire subtle jabs through the media at each other.

In a statement issued from the NFL announcing the official start of a lockout, the league called the union’s decertification a “sham” and that “the litigation maneuver is built on the indisputably false premise that the NFLPA has stopped being a union and will merely delay the process of reaching an agreement.”

After the NFL’s chief labor negotiator, Jeff Pash, insinuated that Smith and the union weren’t as committed to bargaining as the league was, Smith fired back a statement of his own:

“I understand that there’s probably some things that Jeff Pash has to say. But this is the truth: We know that as early as March of 2009, from the discovery in the television case, that the National Football League engaged in a strategy to get $4 billion of television money – to lock out our fans, lock out our players – even if the games weren’t played.

“When I get ready to leave, I will leave each and every one of you in the media with what we call the decision tree, because this is exactly a document from the National Football League, that talks about how they were going go about securing television money, and I quote, ‘for cash during a lockout.’ So, with all due respect, when someone wants to stand up and say that he questions or doubts one party’s commitment to the negotiation process, all I would ask is for all of you … stick to the facts.”

Last week Judge David S. Doty ruled that the NFL violated the collective bargaining agreement with its players by renegotiating $4.078 billion in television rights fees for team owners to tap during a lockout even if no games are played in 2011.

Despite the negative media attention towards the NFL and its owners, it was the union who walked away from a deal that met many of the players’ wants and needs. According to that statement the NFL released the latest proposal’s details included:

  • Reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7.
  • Ensuring no compensation reduction for veterans.
  • Implementing new year-round health & safety rules (reduction in off-season programs of five weeks [from 14 to 9] and OTAs [from 14 to 10], and significant reduction in the amount of contact in practice).
  • Keeping the 16-game regular season, 4-game postseason format for at least two years; Any changes would require approval from league and union.
  • Establishing a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million from the owners over the next two years.

Yes, the negotiations have been messy and well-publicized but progress was made before the recent burning of bridges. After having half the month of March in extensions of negotiations, both sides were reportedly off by $185 million on how much owners should get up from each season for certain operating expense before splitting up the rest of the revenues with players. That’s a far less amount than the $1 billion difference that separated the two sides earlier in discussions.

A recent poll by ProFootballTalk.com asked fans to place blame on who is responsible for the lockout and 27,000 have said that the player’s are too blame, barely. Just over 38% say the players are to blame, while 24.8% blame the owners and 36.7% blame both. So while the league and the union continue to bicker like a divorced couple fighting over frequent flier miles, the fans are the ones who are truly hurting from this dispute, like a child overhearing their parents argument.

Jets top WR discuss re-signing with team

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Jets free agent wide receiver Braylon Edwards told reporters waiting outside a courtroom in Manhattan that he wants to stay with the Jets in 2011 on Monday afternoon.

The All-Pro receiver was in court to get his September 21 drunken-driving case thrown out. Edwards’ attorney, Peter J. Frankel, filed a motion to suppress the field sobriety test from his DUI arrest. Frankel said that Edwards is well aware of the implications involving this case, especially with his impending free agency in limbo with the current state of the NFL labor negotiations. His arrest in September violated his probation, which he received for an altercation in a Cleveland nightclub involving former Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James and his entourage. Edwards is due back in court on May 16.

Jets WR Braylon Edwards & Santonio Holmes spoke briefly on their desire to play for the New York Jets in 2011. (JetsInsider.com Photo.)

“He understands that it’s a very important time in his life and he wants to get through this the best way he can,” Frankel said. “He’s doing all the right things.”

After his appearance Edwards reiterated that, if given the opportunity, he would love to come back to the team, concluding with; “And, one more time, I love being a Jet.” Edwards did confirm that he has spoken with general manager Mike Tannebaum and head coach Rex Ryan, but only from a checking-in standpoint.

“Just catching up moreso, wasn’t anything about football,” Edwards said. “The interest is there on their side. The interest is there on my side we just got to put it together and see what happens.”

In 2010 Edwards posted his best season since his breakout All-Pro 2007 season with the Browns (80 rec, 1248 yards, 16 TDs), tallying 53 receptions for 904 yards and seven touchdowns. During the Jets playoff run to their second-straight AFC Championship game, Edwards played a pivotal role in their road wins over Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. Since his fallout with the law, Edwards has also emerged as a leader to the Jets.

Edwards’ receiving counterpart, Santonio Holmes also quickly discussed his future with the team in a recent video shot for Soletron on Facebook, in which Holmes’ confidently references his eventual return with the Jets.

“Trust me, as soon as I sign back with the Jets, everything will be taken care of,” Holmes said.

Holmes was an intricate part in the evolution and maturation of second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez, and in conjunction, an intricate part of the team staying in playoff contention throughout the regular season. After sitting out the first four games due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy, Holmes aided in four comeback victories occurring from Week 6 at Denver to Week 11 against Houston. His big-time play-making abilities when it counted most made it easy for the Jets to place the highest tender (first and third round) on the fifth-year Ohio State product.

For the season he posted 52 receptions for 746 yards and six touchdowns.

The tandem of Edwards and Holmes, coupled with Jerricho Cotchery and free-agent-t0-be Brad Smith, gave the Jets one of the most dynamic receiving corps in the NFL. Add another year to Sanchez’s maturation and thoughts of an explosive 2011 offense leave Jets fans’ mouths salivating.

Jets offer deal to NT Jenkins, talk with S Sanders

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Amidst all the haze of uncertainty surrounding the NFL, the Jets — as well a few other teams –  are continuing in their off-season plans in preparation for the 2011 season. After parting ways with nose tackle Kris Jenkins on Monday, the Jets have offered an one-year deal with their injury-proned run stopper, according to Kristian Dyer of the New York Metro. The deal is reportedly worth $2.5 million and is heavily laced with incentives. A ten-year veteran, Jenkins missed the entire 2010 season after going down with a knee injury in the first quarter of the first game of the season. It was the same injury (torn ACL) to the same knee that made him miss the second half of last season as well, just 11 months apart. Jenkins is entering the fourth year of a five-year deal and would have made $6.4 million in 2011.

The loss and uncertain return of Jim Leonhard has the Jets keeping their options open at free safety. They met with Bob Sanders on Wednesday. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

General Manager Mike Tannenbaum told reporters that they still want to see what Jenkins can do in a Rex Ryan defense. “We haven’t made a decision. It would be very intriguing to see what he can do over a 16-week season and play under Rex. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet, but we will take a long look at his situation.”

On Monday, Jenkins was one of four players the Jets cut. In addition, they also parted ways in outside linebackers Jason Taylor and Vernon Gholston as well as right tackle Damien Woody. It is rumored that if Taylor would return in 2011 to play football, he’d prefer it to be with Rex Ryan and the Jets.

“I told Rex Wednesday, if I’m going to play, I want to play with the Jets. I had a fantastic time up there. If they’ll have me, I think I would enjoy doing it again,” Taylor said.

But the Jets and Tannenbaum haven’t just been attending to the players on their current roster, they also have reached out to former Defensive Player of the Year, safety Bob Sanders. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday morning that free-agent safety Bob Sanders will visit the Jets. The former Indianapolis Colts  star previously met with the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars. Sanders has played only nine games the past three seasons, Sanders could be explosive to opposing offense’s in Ryan’s swarming defensive schemes. Much like Jenkins, Sanders missed the entire 2010 season after tearing his biceps on the Colt’s first defensive series.

Sanders could dispel Jim Leonhard of his free safety duties, after he broke his tibia in a freak collision with Patrick Turner during practice before their Week 13 match-up with the New England Patriots. The loss of Leonhard was easy to see, as the Jets struggled to fill his missing void. When healthy, Sanders is considered to be the type of playmaker Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed is.