Rumor Roundup: 2/5

By Douglas Bonjour
Jets Staff Writer
February 5th, 2009
Ravens LB Ray Lewis at the Pro Bowl was talking about Gang Green today.
Ravens LB Ray Lewis at the Pro Bowl was talking about Gang Green today.
Could it be possible that a reunion between new Jets coach Rex Ryan and Ravens' LB Ray Lewis could be in the future? Well, according to Lewis, who is in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl, that scenario could be "attractive".

"Attractive" was the word he used when being inteviewed by the NFL Network today. Whether this is actually realistic is yet unknown. Lewis, will be a free agent as the Ravens may use the franchise tag on Lewis' teammate linebacker Terrell Suggs. But before Jets fans get too excited, sources have said that Lewis would like to finish his career in Baltimore and if the Ravens' offer isn't a low ball, he'll come back. Also keep in mind that the Jets salary cap situation is not good at present, especially with Brett Favre's $13MM 2009 salary looming if he decides to return.

Brian Schottenheimer will return for his fourth season as the Jets offensive coordinator, but will quarterback Brett Favre be joining him? Schottenheimer said yesterday that he would "welcome the opportunity to coach Brett again," but added that he has not spoken with Favre this offseason.

For now, Schottenheimer said he plans to meet with the offensive staff which features new hires in wide receivers coach Henry Ellard and running backs coach Anthony Lynn and begin to shape an "identity" which gives the team the "best chance to win."

"We're going to focus on what we do well, what can we improve and what do we truly want the product on the field to look like," Schottenheimer said.

Last season Favre did not practice with the Jets until Aug. 7, forcing the coaching staff to condense the playbook and adjust the offense's approach in a matter of weeks. Schottenheimer explained that the transition created a flurry of added work and stress, but in the sharing of ideas, Favre was cooperative.

"We started and went back to the early installation and said, 'What are you comfortable with? What do you like? What have you run?" Schottenheimer said. "Brett at no point ever [said] 'hey, I only want to run this, or I only want to do this, or I only want to call that.' It really was give and take," he said.

While Schottenheimer agreed that the Jets hit their groove in early November as they raced out to a division-best 8-3 record, four losses in their final five games left them on the outside of the playoff picture. He explained that the Jets' success might have "dried up a little bit" once opposing defenses familiarized themselves with the team's simplified playbook but he insisted that lack of execution ultimately started the team's tailspin.

Scottenheimer said that some of Favre's mistakes were due to "bad reads and bad decisions," but he also took some of the blame by suggesting the team suffered from "design flaws" in the offense.

As the Jets prepare for next season, they continue to wait on Favre, who has not made his future intentions clear. On Sunday, Sports Illustrated's Peter King reported that Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum met with Favre and told the quarterback to not "rush" his decision and that he can take "months" if necessary. Shortly thereafter a Jets spokesman reportedly refuted the report.

Favre has two years left on a three-year contract which will pay him $13 million in 2009. The Jets are reportedly $10 million over the cap and they can save the money Favre is due if he is either released or chooses to retire.

The Jets have quarterbacks Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge on the roster, but they have a total of eight career starts among them. Schottenheimer delivered positive reviews on Clemens and Ratliff yesterday.

"I think both of those guys have some upside. I love the fact that they have been in the system and that does help because they can kind of read your mind. You can spend more time coaching them on fundamentals and things that might help them reach a new level in terms of footwork and accuracy because you donít have to spend quite as much time teaching a system to those guys,Ē he said.

Ryan "Knows the Sting" of Missing the Job

When it comes to the disappointment of being passed over for a head coaching position, Rex Ryan has been in Schottenheimer's shoes before. After Brian Billick was fired as head coach of the Ravens prior to the 2008 season, the Ravens set out on a lengthy search which included Ryan. Ryan had spent nine seasons as a defensive assistant with the Ravens and helped mold a defense that perenially served as one of the NFL's best. To Ryan's disappointment, the Ravens reached out to Eagles special teams coach John Harbaugh as Billick's successor, and Ryan remained defensive coordinator.

Ryan explained that he felt "betrayed" by Ravens' ownership, but he settled his emotions and surveyed the situation. To his credit he believed he better prepared himself to become a head coach. Ryan finally received that opportunity with the Jets.

Schottenheimer, who was a finalist for the Jets coaching position, described being passed over as "very disappointing." For weeks speculation circuled that Schottenheimer would ask to be released from his contract with the Jets if he was not named the head coach, but he ultimately felt that he was in "best place." Schottenheimer received some help from Ryan in making his decision.

"I feel very good about the product that we put out on the field," Schottenheimer said. "I like the fact that we have things in place here. Once Rex and I got a chance to visit, he shed some light on how he dealt with it. That was really helpful. I really respect and appreciate that Rex took the time to vist with me about his disappointment the year before in Baltimore."

Clowney's Potential Could be Deep for Jets

Last season, wide receiver David Clowney's breakout potential was cut short by a broken collarbone suffered during the preseason. Clowney played in just two games and caught just one pass for 26 yards. Now that Clowney is healthy, Schottenheimer envisiones him as the deep speed threat that the offense sorely lacked in 2008.

"David is a guy that when you are at practice and, even if you are not watching him, you feel his speed. You know when he is around because he is so fast and I think that is a great attribute for any player," Schottenheimer said.

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