Archive for January, 2013

Recent Hires Speak to Rex’s Desire of ‘Attack-Style’ Offense

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

NEW COACHING MOVE ALLUDES TO ‘WILDCAT’ STAYING PUT — AND, PERHAPS, EXPANDING IN 2013.

If at first you don’t succeed — try, try again.

The old phrase can be taken in two ways to describe the Jets signing of quarterbacks coach David Lee; 1. after losing out Lee to the Buffalo Bills last year, the Jets made sure to land Lee in their efforts to revamp their offensive unit and 2. while their version of the ‘Wildcat’ offense was mostly tame in 2012, they are not willing to get off the horse just yet.

After all, the read-option/Wildcat/dual-threat quarterback is where the future of football is heading (if it hasn’t already arrived).

That’s where Lee comes in. Many assumed the hiring of Tony Sparano as the team’s offensive coordinator meant the arrival of the Wildcat offense, which his 2008 Miami Dolphins team debuted to the NFL. We know that Sparano wasn’t the mastermind of the formation. He may have had very little to do with it. It was a combination of Lee, then the quarterbacks coach, and offensive coordinator Dan Henning.

It was Lee who brought the ‘Wildcat’ formation with him to Miami from Arkansas — where he was the team’s offensive coordinator and implemented the then-unusual formation with running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. He would go on to win the Sporting News’ 2008 award as “Innovator of the Year” for his ingenuity.

And what does all this mean for the Jets? The ‘Wildcat” wrinkle may very well ripple to the Pistol package as Rex Ryan continues to show his exploration of new, dynamic offenses. The days of “ground and pound” are over. He said it himself. He wants an attack-style offense — one that brings an unpredictability factor to the table.

“I want a physical, aggressive attack-style football team whether it’s offense [or] defense and all that, unpredictable in all three phases. That’s what I want,” Ryan said in January 8th end of the season press conference.

It was in that presser where he made a not-so-subtle allusion to what style he had in mind.

“My first year when I came in here I talked about having an all-weather offense, not a ground and pound. That year of the ground-and-pound mentality fit our football team. I want to be more of an attack-style team whether it’s running the pistol or running different types of offenses. That’s what I’m looking to do. As hard as we are to attack defensively, I want to be the same way on offense. – Rex Ryan 1.8.13″

He would go on to reiterate how he wants to work with minds who share a similar mentality, whether it’s in the front office or on offense. Cue general manager John Idzik, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and Lee.

Rex Ryan pointed out he wanted minds who shared his same "attack-style" mentality. He got them. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Idzik could pursue former Seattle quarterback Tavaris Jackson — a dual-threat quarterback with limited prior success in the NFL. While in Seattle, Idzik was a supporter of Jackson, who spent this past season as a backup with the Buffalo Bills — with Lee – and would fit into the their slim price range. He also had a hand in the construction of the same Seahawks  team who deployed  a similar read-option/wildcat formation with rookie quarterback Russel Wilson and reached the second round of the NFC playoffs.

Mornhinweg, a quarterback guru known for his offensive play-calling ability (another thing Ryan was looking for), finished in the top ten of total offense in five of the seven seasons he called plays for the Philadelphia Eagles. His quarterbacks for the majority of that time were Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick — two players whose dual-threat attributes thrived in his West Coast-Spread hybrid offense.

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“The style of play, it’s hard not to respect. You have to love that from an old school football background, we both have that.  I think you appreciate the way he goes about business. They take care of the football, they create turnovers on defense, and they run the football, and they stop the run. They play great special teams,”  Rex Ryan 9.27 on similarities between the Jets/himself & the San Francisco 49ers/Jim Harbaugh.

Many [myself included]  saw the  comparison Ryan talked about prior to their Week 4 matchup  – where the 49ers unveiled Colin Kaepernick and shut out the Jets at home 34-0. Both teams were then-built as a defensive-minded team that played a ball control offense with a read-option wrinkle. That’s where the similarities end however. (Which is ironic, considering Ryan devoted nearly 1,000 words to praise the 49ers.)

“When you look at [the 49ers] and see how multiple they are with their personnel groupings and formations, and shifts and motions, and all that type of stuff, you have to be on top of it,” Ryan said back on September 28th.

The Jets were not.

The transformation of the 49ers, who were a stout 7-1 with ball-control QB Alex Smith (leading the NFL in completion percentage at 70.2) at the helm, happened when then back-up/read-option specialist Kaerpernick was named the starter. It was a ballsy move, one that many clamored Ryan to do with his own read-option backup, Tim Tebow.

That, of course, never assimilated as the Jets finished the season 6-10 ranking 30th in the league in total offense with a quarterback carousel that featured two almost equally inept quarterbacks in Mark Sanchez and Greg McElroy and not the read-option quarterback, Tebow.

The Niners’ offense, on the other hand, turned from averaging 23.6 points per game to 28.5 with Kaerpernick [earning a 76.79 QBR in that span] running the read-option offense for head coach Jim Harbaugh all the way to New Orleans for a berth in the Super Bowl — scoring 30+ points in four games including the playoffs.

Now with this being Ryan’s “fresh start” as Jets head coach — having been given new life by owner Woody Johnson — he’s set to right his wrongs and “implement his will” on this team with a renewed conviction; highlighted by the most recent additions to a team that’s in search of a new identity.

The Jets have attempted to pass less than half the time in three seasons with 48.4% of the plays ran in that time devoted to the pass. In three of the four years Ryan has been the head coach, the Jets have been in the bottom six of pass rate.

Expect all of those facts to change under Mornhinweg. Employing a pass-first, West Coast offensive scheme, the Eagles have continually ranked among the NFL’s most pass-heavy offenses. Philadelphia ranked inside the top 10 in pass percentage in three of the past four years with Mornhinweg calling the plays.

Ryan may not have done many things right over the past two seasons, his subpar 14-18 record shows that, however he has also shown a readiness to not only acknowledge  his mistakes but to right them. The recent moves made by the Jets dictate that.

BREAKING: Jets close to deal with GM Gamble

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

After an early Saturday morning interview with the Jets, Gamble has cancelled his meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars to focus more on the Jets GM position.

It looks like the Jets are willing to gamble on Tom Gamble as their new general manager.

Brian Bassett of SNY’s the Jets Blog confirmed a report from Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio that the Jets indeed want to hire the 49ers Director of Player Personnel to replace Mike Tannenbaum.

Woody Johnson's hiring of Jed Hughes to find his new GM -- and keeping the decision out of his hands -- may be the smartest move of the early offseason. (JetsInsider.com Photo.)

In the report Bassett cites a source with knowledge of Jets contracts that says the potential deal is in the $2-3 million per year for three or four year ballpark. Gamble has been labeled by many as the favorite for the job since the search began.

Gamble, perhaps, gives Rex Ryan the best opportunity to keep his job. Historically in this type of situation the head coach has a short term mentality with keeping his job at the top of his priorities while the newly appointed general manager is asked to think long term. Given Gambles’ structuring of the 49ers — a team with a very similar identity to the Jets, except they executed it better — it may be an easy transition for Ryan to grow accustomed to. There is also the personal history from the days where their fathers worked together for the Eagles in Philadelphia.

While Tom Heckert removed his name from the GM discussion Saturday citing concerns about the team’s salary cap, Marc Ross — the Giants director of college scouting — still has his interview planned for Monday. Ross was given permission by Giants GM Jerry Reese to interview with the Jets and he appears to be the minority candidate up for discussion.

A decision may not come for days, however, as front office head hunter Jed Hughes — being paid by the hour — has an invested interest to keep things open. It is also important to note that the Jets have not fulfilled the Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation opportunities.

Be sure to check-in to JetsInsider.com for all the latest updates on the Jets GM search plus all other offseason happenings!