Has Woody Johnson been hanging out with Redskins owner Dan Snyder lately? (Jets Insider.com Photo)
So last week I was flipping through the channels and happened upon the old musical, Annie. Itís not a very good movie, but thatís beside the point.
The point is, following a week of furious free agent activities I feel like I can identify with Orphan Annie. I suspect you feel the same, and if I may paraphrase the little darling on behalf of Jet fans far and wide Ö we love you, Woody Warbucks!
The Jets have successfully used free agency to address nearly all of their most glaring needs and it looks like weíre back in the game. This also sets up quite nicely for next months NFL draft, allowing the Jets to honor their value board within reason as opposed to reaching for needs, but more on that later.
At last count the Jets have secured the nose tackle we so desperately needed when they traded for the massive former All-Pro from Carolina, Kris Jenkins, and before you had time to catch your breath Jenkins was being joined by perennial All-Pro Offensive Guard, Alan Faneca. Just as you weíre busy doing the Irish Jig over Jenkins and Faneca, in came another former All-Pro offensive lineman, Damien Woody, and before you could resume the dance in came edge rusher Calvin Pace as well.
Following a brief respite the Jets signed All-Pro fullback Tony Richardson. Richardson made his bones leading blocking for the likes of Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson and last yearís rookie sensation, Adrian Peterson, where once again Tony was named to the Pro Bowl at fullback. Following another short breather the Jets signed former Dolphins running back, Jesse Chatman, who started and did a respectable job for Miami in 2007 following a season ending injury to Ronnie Brown. The 225 Pound Chatman once played under Brian Schottenheimer in San Diego where he backed up LaDainian Tomlinson, so I would imagine Schottenheimer gave this addition the proverbial thumbs up. The Jets then rolled the dice on Tennessee Titans former first round pick, Andre Woolfolk, for what amounts to a low risk contract on the cheap. Finally the Jets reportedly had tight-end, Ben Utecht, in for a visit on Monday. It is believed they will make an offer for the 26 Year old restricted free agent, at which point the Colts will have a right to match the offer or allow him to fly the coup with no compensation, such is the status of his restriction.
Okay, did you get all that? (Whew!). I may have the exact order of these signings mixed up, but if I do can you blame me? Itís not as if we Jet fans are accustomed to such a frenzy of off-season activity, certainly not of the blue-chip variety. In recent years the Jets have specialized in JAG and HTFG, better know as Just Another Guy and Hold The Fort Guys, phrases popularized by Bill Parcells and with which we have become all too familiar. Anthony Clement and Adrian Clarke would in many ways qualify as JAG and HTFG, so as you can see, you can often times attach another set of initials to these types of players Ö MDTGS, as in, Man Do These Guys Stink!
Indeed. In fact, so bad were Clement and Clarke; so dangerous to the life and limps of our Quarterbacks and running backs; so unbelievably atrocious it becomes impossible to find the words to fully depict the level of their MDTGSness; so completely inept that each was immediately released upon the signings of Faneca and Woody. This is staggering when you consider that both were starters for the Jets and neither was being paid handsomely. You would assume that one, if not both, would be kept on for depth, would you not? Not if you saw them play. It should surprise no-one that the Jets do not want these two characters within a million miles of Hofstra!
But back to the players weíve already signed. Iíve noticed the naysayers in the press, the usual suspects, have wasted no time in searching for the dark cloud, like the Jets spent too much money, this guy was overpaid, that guy was overpaid, the Jets are trying to buy a championship, blah blah blah.
These are like the guys who just canít stand to see anyone have a good time. Have you ever known someone like that? It could be sunny and 80 degrees outside with a nice cool breeze and not a hint of humidity, not a cloud in the sky, and these guys would assure you a storm is coming.
Oh they like to act all superior, like theyíre only doing you a favor, just trying to inject a dose of reality into your delusions of grandeur, but donít buy it, they donít know how these free agent acquisitions will workout for the Jets any more than you or me, they just think itís cool to be contrarian, especially contrary to the peasant class (that would be us), so if we choose to highlight the positives, feel good about these moves, it is their divine mission to infer we are idiots and proceed to explain why Faneca replacing Clarke, Woody replacing Clement, the 350+ Pound Jenkins replacing the smaller D-Rob at the nose (the same D-Rob, I might add, whom they spent two years calling a terrible fit at nose tackle precisely because he is too small), or the addition of Calvin Pace is not really worth getting excited about.
This brings me to the most important point as I see it. At the end of the day this is not really about money so much as itís about upgrading your talent at the positions that were most in need of an upgrade.
The Jets simply could not endure another season of D-Rob being pushed around at the nose, enter Kris Jenkins.
Thomas Jones and Leon Washington could no longer be asked to function behind an offensive line that was woefully inadequate at opening holes for the Running Backs, enter Faneca and Woody. The Quarterbacks could no longer be asked to entrust their health to the care of Adrien Clarke and Anthony Clement.
Lastly, the Jets had to import someone who can make life in the pocket even mildly uncomfortable for Tom Brady and his Quarterback brethren. You simply cannot compete in todayís NFL minus any semblance of a real pass-rush, and frankly I didnít see anyone out there on the free agent market who could fit that bill in this scheme better than Calvin Pace, and I think itís fairly obvious Bill Parcells felt likewise seeing as the tuna also made a B-line for this player the moment free agency commenced.
Point being, to what extent these moves will prove successful I donít know, I donít know if they will prove mildly successful or wildly successful, but I know these moves can already be termed a success because the upgrades are crystal clear, to deny that would be foolish, not cynical but foolish, fore the Jets have basically replaced JAGís, HTFGís and bad fits for their schemes with mostly former All-Pros and much better fits for their schemes, while in other cases the Jets simply added depth where depth was most needed. This also allows us to enter the draft with no glaring needs, no sense of desperation in regards to this position or that position. Tangini are now free to honor their value board within reason and that increases the likelihood we may hit a homerun or two in the draft, starting with the number six overall pick.
On that note, Iíll leave you with my 36 selection mock draft as of today, for whatever itís worth and no doubt subject to change.
01. DOLPHINS - Chris Long, DE/OLB, Virginia
02. RAMS - Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
03. FALCONS Ė Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
04. RAIDERS - Glenn Dorsey, DT, Louisiana State
05. CHIEFS - Jake Long, OT, Michigan
06. NY JETS - Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
07. PATRIOTS - Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois
08. RAVENS - Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
09. BENGALS - Sedrick Ellis, DT, Southern Cal
10. SAINTS - Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
11. BILLS - Dominique Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
12. BRONCOS - Keith Rivers, OLB, Southern Cal
13. PANTHERS Ė Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
14. BEARS - Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
15. LIONS - Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
16. CARDINALS - Quentin Groves, DE/OLB, Auburn
17. VIKINGS - Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
18. TEXANS - Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
19. EAGLES - Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
20. BUCCANEERS - Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware
21. REDSKINS - Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
22. COWBOYS - Dan Conner, ILB, Penn State
23. STEELERS - Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
24. TITANS - Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
25. SEAHAWKS - Branden Albert, OG, Virginia
26. JAGUARS Ė Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
27. CHARGERS - Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College
28. COWBOYS - Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
29. 49ERS - Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State
30. PACKERS - Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
31. GIANTS - Sam Baker, OT, Southern Cal
32. DOLPHINS - Carl Nicks, OT, Nebraska
33. RAMS - DeSean Jackson, WR, California
34. RAIDERS - James Hardy, WR, Indiana
35. CHIEFS - Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
36. NY JETS Ė Ahtyba Rubin, NT, Iowa State
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