Archive for April, 2011

Wilkerson, Taylor visit Jets today

Monday, April 11th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — This week marks the start of collegiate players being allowed to visit NFL teams and the Jets have a huge pair of prospects visiting the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Monday, according to NewYorkJets.com. Temple defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson and Baylor’s Phil Taylor both are projected as mid-to-low first-round picks.

"Trader" Mike Tannenbaum will now be playing host to a variety of potential collegiate prospects starting Monday. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

As per NFL rules, each team is allowed 30 visits from collegiate players. The exception is if the player is within the team’s metropolitan area. In addition to Taylor and Wilkerson (who isn’t apart of the 30 players being from Linden, NJ), the Jets will welcome safeties Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple Univeristy, Fort Hamilton HS – Brooklyn, NY) and Joe Lefeged (Rutgers University, Germantown, MD).

Jarrett is a legitimate option for the Jets third-round selection (94th overall). A four-year starter for the Owls, Jarrett is a big reason for their turnaround from going 1-11 in his freshman year in 2007. At 6-foot 200 pounds, he has good size to go with a good speed (4.62 40 time) for the free safety position. He’s a good hitter for his size and does a good job of wrapping after contact and driving legs forward. Has experience blitzing from five to ten yards deep and appears to be a versatile defensive back, could play multiple positions in the NFL; has enough speed and quickness to cover slot receivers and is tall enough to cover tight ends down the middle of the field in man coverage. Also plays the run very well while being extremely active in run defense. Jaiquawn Jarrett Temple Owls Highlights

Lefeged’s size and speed make him a viable option at 94 as well. However it is his special teams abilities — mostly on kickoff returns — that may make him a bit more appetizing for the Jets. With both Antonio Cromartie and Brad Smith being restricted free agents, G.M. Mike Tannenbaum might have the tough decision of letting some of the big names go. With a 4.42 40 time and the ability to cover tights ends and slot receivers well in man coverage, Lefeged may provide the versatility Rex Ryan loves in his players. His inconsistency, particularly in helping stuff the run, is what might keep him out of a Jets uniform. Joe Lefeged NFL Combine Highlights

In addition the aforementioned players, a trio of out-of-state offensive linemen will be visiting the Jets as well: Ray Dominguez, OL, Arkansas, Brandon Fusco, C, Slippery Rock, and Jah Reid, T, Central Florida.

Analyzing the great head coaching debate

Friday, April 8th, 2011

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — A recent article on ESPN debated the top 10 NFL head coaches, and the Jets’ Rex Ryan cracked the list at number seven. Not a bad feat considering the state of the Jets recent head coaches (see Mangini, Eric; Edwards, Herman; Groh, Al). However, his New York counter-part was ranked slightly higher at the number six spot. By now we’ve all seen or heard about this article, but after some careful deliberation about the possible slight by the ESPN writers I can’t help but disagree with them.

The NFL, more than ever, is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league and outside of a select few, I can’t think of anyone who has done a better job over the last two years than Ryan. He has taken his Jets, once unheralded and without respect, to back-to-back AFC Championship games. And he’s been able to do all this winning on the road, in January, against the top teams in the conference.

Rex Ryan has a lot to smile for since signing on with the Jets: 10 road victories, 4 playoff victories, 2 AFC Championship appearances, & 1 major turnaround in Jets' culture. (JetsInsider.com photo).

The obvious slight against Ryan is his unimpressive regular season record (18-14 over two seasons), however in this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, Ryan has played in meaningful games while Coughlin was left pondering how to take that next step for the following season. Coughlin has produced a Super Bowl victory within the last five years, but every year outside of that has been lackluster. But before I dive any further in on this topic, I would like to point out who I believe are the top ten coaches in the NFL as of right now:

  1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots (ESPN’s #1)
  2. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers (#2)
  3. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints (#5)
  4. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles (#3)
  5. Rex Ryan, New York Jets (#7)
  6. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers (#4)
  7. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens (#10)
  8. Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons (#9)
  9. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (#6)
  10. Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans (unranked)

The formula that I based my decision on goes a little something like this: Playoff Appearances + Playoff Victories + Super Bowl Victories x Culture of team inherited + the ability to turn said culture around + tenure/.5 (the recent success of first or second year head coaches with their teams have caused me to not put as much into tenure, although longevity is definitely something to admire with the current state of the NFL) . Not exactly the scientific method, but it’s a start.

Yes, Ryan is the only head coach in the top six without a Super Bowl ring –  even without a Super Bowl appearance to his name. That, however, is outweighed by how quickly he was able to turn a disenfranchised Jets’ culture into one that now expects to win. With a boisterous, slightly braggadocios personality, Ryan’s team has adopted that complexion faster than any other team I’ve seen circa the 2001 Patriots.  The team that wasn’t supposed to produce so much so soon took the mantra “fake it until you make it” and ran with it. With a still-developing quarterback, almost an entirely re-vamped team, and a new scheme the Jets stopped taking losing as a result and people took notice. Name me another head coach to have that type of immediate impact and I’ll show you a guy who’s had a lot of  success in his following years. This, more than anything, is what I believe separates the good coaches from the great ones.

Ryan has capitalized on the opportunities given to him (see the final two games of the 2009 season) and never apologized for them. Instead, he has used them as stepping stones to further quiet any skeptics who say he didn’t belong. Since obtaining the Jets head coaching position, Ryan has racked up 10 road victories and four more in the playoffs. Those numbers are only bettered by Peyton’s 12 regular season road wins and one playoff road win (in the Super Bowl) and McCarthy’s eight road victories and four road playoff wins. Belichick has 8 road wins to zero playoff wins in that two-year span. Tomlin has 10 road victories and has won 2 playoff games (at home) while Coughlin has seven road wins and zero playoff appearances to show for it.

Getting back to the debate within New York, Ryan vs. Coughlin, there really is no comparison. Like I said, Coughlin has the bling on his ring finger to boast that he is worthy of a higher ranking, but what has he done for New York recently? Well, he’s guided his team to two ugly late season collapses to miss the playoffs, with the last one nearly costing him his job. What made the 2007 Giants so special is that they hit their stride towards the end of the season, not come out of the gates firing like in ‘08 and ‘09. Contrary to Ryan, Coughlin’s personality has never been his strong point. In fact, he was told to lighten up to reporters and players and lift some of his strict rules (remember his ridiculous fines for being early to team meetings?).

“I favored coaches that walked into tough situations, won relatively quickly and then sustained the improvement over more than one season,” Mike Sando said in a statement issued through an NFC West blog spokesman.

I’m in agreement with Sando here. The problem for Ryan is that the only improvement he can make is obtaining a Super Bowl ring, something that has plagued the Jets since Broadway Joe. However given his popularity amongst his players and players around the league, convincing top-notch players to come to New York and play for Ryan should not be an issue. So I see the ceiling only rising for Ryan and his band of braggarts in the coming seasons.

While many, myself included, believe Ryan was slightly by his number seven selection in the great heading coaching debate, somehow I think Ryan and his players will prove that, at the end of the day, it is only that…a debate. And luckily for them debates aren’t played on the gridiron.