Monday, March 30, 2009

Jets Pre-Season Schedule

Just heard from a league source that the Jets pre-season schedule will be as follows:

Week 1 (Date TBA somewhere around August 13th) - Home vs. St. Louis Rams
Week 2 - Monday night, August 24th - Away at Baltimore Ravens
Week 3 - Saturday, August 29th - Away at New York Giants (the annual Battle of New York)
Week 4 - Thursday, September 3 - Home vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Obviously week 2 will be a whole lot of fun with Rex & Co. facing his former guys in Baltimore.

Of course, we still have to figure out where training camp is going to be and from the fans I'm hearing from, nobody is happy about the team going upstate. They feel that the team already alienated people by leaving its fan base behind in Long Island and to not give everyone a peek at the brand new jewel that the Jets now call home, doesn't make sense to anyone.

I have to agree. While I understand what Ryan is trying to do in the way of building team camaraderie (and the Jets won't be the first team to hold camp hours away from their facility), with cell phones and the Internet, distractions from family and friends won't be all that far away. And, regardless of where camp is held, players always have curfews so they can't galivant around at will.

What would be nice, in my opinion, is if they split the difference, and took the show on the road for part of the training camp period but then figured out how to hold the rest of it either in Florham Park or back at Hofstra.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

News and Notes From the Locker Room

Just got out of the locker room after our first off-season player access. As an aside, this access was never provided under Eric Mangini, so it was a refreshing turn of events.

The off-season program started last week and every player has been here with the exception of Thomas Jones who is unhappy about his contract.

I was able to not only connect with some of the old veterans (D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Brad Smith, Kris Jenkins, Darrelle Revis, Kerry Rhodes, and on and on), but with many of the new guys, all of whom seem beyond happy to be with the Jets.

Bart Scott, who we had spoken to several weeks ago on the phone, has already become a go-to guy for the media. And for very good reason. Incredibly friendly, funny and easy-going, as well as a really good talker. I can tell you it will be a fun season with him.

Scott discussed the focus right now, which is mostly to build team chemistry. He also talked about how he has become a "translator" for the other guys on the defense, since he's one of the only players who knows Rex Ryan's system inside and out. As a matter of fact, Scott joked that he knows the system better than some of the coaches.

I was also able to speak with Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland, two more really personable guys. Sheppard who left the Eagles under less-than-pleasant circumstances, seems really excited and told me that he's looking forward to "re-establishing his role."

After spending his first three years in Indianapolis, Strickland spent a year with the Eagles (where he played with Sheppard) and then the last three in San Francisco. A native of San Francisco, Strickland grew up one block from Candlestick Park so it was a great stint for him there.

However, New York holds its own draw for him, Strickland's girlfriend, a New York City native is about to take the bar here so things are falling into place all the way around.

We have another session in a little while. I'll get back to you then.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some Input on the Quarterback Situation

Had an interesting conversation with an offensive coach from another NFL team the other day. While a lot of people are clamoring for the Jets to bring in Jay Cutler, this coach thought this is not such a cut-and-dried situation.

On the one hand, there is no arguing that Cutler is very talented quarterback. Some people have referred to him as a young Brett Favre. This coach felt that while that might be a bit of an overstatement, there are some similarities. Both have a propensity to throw a whole lot of interceptions, but can then kick it into gear for five or six plays a game and pull off a rescue. But, as this coach also pointed out, the year Favre's Packers won the Super Bowl, the defense was phenomenal - they allowed so few touchdowns that the offense's job was made exponentially easier.

Cutler has a good amount of experience under his belt at this point and is still approaching what should be the peak of his career. So, if the Jets do get him, he could probably serve as their starter for several years. He's got the arm, and the smarts.

On the flip side, what we've seen of his behavior during the whole drama with Denver is apparently an accurate window into his personality. As this coach said, "He's a bit of a jackass." Does a team want to deal with that? Well, if he can put wins on the board, absolutely. Although, that kind of personality can take a toll.

Rich Cimini discussed Rex Ryan's comments about this today in his Daily News blog and if you take them at face value, Ryan is perfectly happy with Clemens or Ratliff. Ultimately this will be GM Mike Tannenbaum's decision - and of course Denver's, and their new coach, Josh McDaniels was quoted as saying that Cutler is his quarterback.

I know Jets fans are not thrilled with the idea of either Clemens or Ratliff so we'll have to see how this plays out.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jets Make Offer to Rolle

As I reported earlier this evening for Sirius, Samari Rolle spent the day at the Jets facility in Florham Park, New Jersey and the Jets now have an offer on the table for the former Baltimore Ravens cornerback.

The two sides are negotiating and it is expected that a deal will take a couple of days but I would expect this to be completed sooner than later.

Rolle was scheduled to make $4.1 million in 2009 with the Ravens. He will certainly not be getting that kind of money with the Jets.

I'll let you know when I hear final word.

This should do it for the Jets in the secondary. After retaining Abram Elam earlier this week (who was a restricted free agent) by matching a $1.5 million offer from the Cleveland Browns, I would think activity we won't see any more acquisitions to this unit. Although we certainly might see a pickup in the later rounds of the upcoming Draft.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Samari Rolle Coming for a Visit

Lest you were worried, I did not disappear, just got a little sidetracked with life. However, I'm back in action. Just heard from one of my sources that Samari Rolle, who was released by the...drumroll please....Baltimore Ravens, will visit with the Jets tomorrow.

Rolle, a cornerback, started his career back in 1998 with the Tennessee Titans - when they were Tennessee Oilers.

This is a Lito Sheppard-type player. Lots of previous success that has waned in the past couple of years as he's battled some injuries. At 32 his best years are most likely behind him but he would create another veteran presence in the locker room and since he knows Rex Ryan's system, he'd be another asset in getting that to fall into place more quickly.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jets Sign Larry Izzo

The Jets just announced that they have signed Larry Izzo. Izzo has been with the Patriots for the past eight years and with the Dolphins for two years prior to that where he worked with current Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff.

Izzo, a linebacker, has perennially been the best or one of the best special teamers in the league and has been voted to the Pro Bowl three times. At age 34, this move is not as great as it might have been a few years ago, but Izzo always brings a lot to the table.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Anybody Want to Talk About the Offense?

Let me be the first to point out that, at this juncture, I appear to have been wrong in my prediction that the Jets would go after a free agent quarterback. A fact I find perplexing, but management didn't ask for my input.

I do know that Jets fans are up in arms (pun not intended but I liked it once I saw it) about the situation. Nobody that I've spoken to or heard from is completely convinced that Clemens or Ratliff is the man for the job.

My friend Arthur is a big proponent of Brett Ratliff, others focus on Clemens's arm strength. When I interject Erik Ainge into the conversation I get "Who? Oh, yeah, Danny Ainge's nephew" and we move on. To be fair, Ainge was on the practice squad and then on IR for a chunk of the season so we know little to nothing about what he can do yet.

The question remains as to whether Clemens got a fair shot in 2007. It was an abysmal season, featuring an unbelievably ineffective offensive line. With a hugely upgraded group up front, that might make a significant difference in Clemens's game.

As for the upcoming Draft, Cimini reported a few days ago that the Jets had worked out Matt Sanchez so clearly they're doing their due diligence, however it turns out.

Then there's the wide receiver question. Laveranues Coles has gone to Cincinnati, where he, Carson Palmer and Ocho Cinco are a trio that I'm intrigued to watch.

Now the Jets need a replacement. Tory Holt anyone? Holt has requested his release from the Rams and while he's no longer the 23-year-old phenom, he's still pretty darn good and I think he'd make a great addition to this receiving corps.

If the Rams release him, the Jets may actually have an edge because New York's new wide receivers coach, Henry Ellard, was Holt's position coach in St. Louis for the past eight seasons.

By the way, for some reason there are also lots of people clamoring for a new running back. Thomas Jones and Leon Washington anyone? I realize they need a third and they will probably pick somebody up in the Draft or as a rookie free agent. But for now, you're not getting any new marquee players at that position.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

GreenRewind Podcast

I did a really fun podcast with Marty Shupak on If you want to listen:

Leonhard Conference Call

Spoke to Jim Leonhard via an introductory conference call with reporters today. His addition should be the last major piece of the puzzle - at least on defense.

I asked Leonhard what exactly had transpired yesterday. As I wrote in a previous post, Leonard and the Jets were close to a deal and then at the 11th hour, the Broncos jumped in. Apparently, Denver presented him with a very large offer, which made everybody stop and take a minute to think things over one more time. Ultimately he chose the Jets.

"We decided regardless of the money situation the Jets were the place to be."

He confirmed that by signing with the Jets he left money on the table, but felt that being in New York with Rex Ryan was his best move.

While Ryan and Co. did not show up in his driveway at 12:01am on Friday, like they did with Scott, they did call Leonhard about 45 minutes later expressing their interest in bringing him to the Jets.

This former walk-on at Wisconsin who signed with Buffalo as an undrafted rookie free agent has the underdog role down pat. However, this last move certainly elevates his status.

I spoke with a coach who is familiar with Leonhard and who told me, "The guy is a warrior. All he does is make plays."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Leonhard Deal (Finally) Done; Notes from Sheppard

Jim Leonhard is a Jet. According to Adam Schefter, the Jets gave him a three-year deal. If I get specifics I'll pass them on.

Meantime, got off the conference call with Lito Sheppard a while ago. He gave a lot of very standard answers to most questions - he's excited, looking forward to being a part of the organization, etc. Almost like interviewing a player under Erici Mangini's regime.

He does genuinely appear to be happy to be out of Philadelphia and start fresh in New York. This is a former Pro Bowler with seven years of experience so I think that his interview ability aside, he will make an immediate impact on the field.

Leonhard Deal on Hold

Just heard from one of my sources that the Jim Leonhard deal is on hold. The Jets had a verbal commitment from him but the Denver Broncos are apparently playing serious hardball. I'll keep you posted.

Lito Sheppard Conference Call

The Jets have scheduled a conference call with Lito Sheppard for noon today. I'll be on it and will bring you any interesting highlights.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Scott Speaks

After the weather caused the cancellation of Bart Scott's introductory press conference we had a telephone conference instead, which just finished.

Scott sounded very relaxed and excited to be with the Jets. He gave long, indepth and thoughtful answers to every question he was asked.

He stated openly that playing for Rex Ryan was key in his reason for signing. Although he admited that he initially wanted to stay in Baltimore, the Ravens's hesitation in signing him to another contract prior to the start of free agency seemed to seal the deal for him once Ryan, Pettine and Thurman ended up in his driveway Thursday night.

He also gave quite an endorsement of Ryan. This is clearly a coach whose players love playing for him.

"We played last year to get Rex a head coaching job," Scott said.

Scott also continued on the "violent" theme that we've been hearing from Ryan and others who've worked and played for him. That seems to be the one description they like to tag this defense with. While football is a violent game, this new group seems to embrace it the word with glee. Scott himself is known as "The Mad Backer" a moniker bestowed on him by Terrell Suggs for his propensity to treat every opponent as a sworn enemy and to always find the action - and that includes every scuffle or fight available.

An undrafted free agent out of the University of Southern Illinois, Scott is one of those players who always plays as though he has something to prove. And he appeared to humbled by his new status.

"This is one of the most flattering things in my career. I'm still in awe of it," he said.

Scott also expressed his love for New York and how excited he is to be moving here. He discussed how he already spends as much time as he can here and so the idea of playing and living here was extremely appealing - in fact his wife was already packing before his contract was signed.

Scott also clarified that the delay in getting his contract signed had nothing to do with any bidding war - his agent, Harold Lewis was in St. Louis in the middle of another deal, and that was what delayed the finalization of everything with Scott.

I'm looking forward to meeting Scott in person and I'm sure I'll have a lot more to talk about him here as time goes on.

Elam Gets Low Tender Offer

Just heard from a league source that the Jets have made a low tender offer to Abram Elam who is a restricted free agent. This is interesting because I had heard some early reports that they were going to try hard to keep him. Apparently, however, they have limited funds allocated for safetys after the huge contract they gave Kerry Rhodes last year.

With nothing new on Jim Leonhard at the moment, and with Eric Smith and Elam still in the mix, it remains to be seen how things will shake out at that position.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Leonhard Status Quo. Scott Press Conference Rescheduled

Received an advisory from the Jets that Bart Scott's introductory press conference which was set for tomorrow at the Jets facility will be rescheduled due to the oncoming blizzard. My thanks to them for that. (The rescheduling, not the blizzard.)

The team has also said they will not be issuing any more official announcements regarding free agency tonight.

I've heard nothing new regarding Jim Leonhard, although the Matt Bowen at the is reporting that he's left New York without a deal. I'm continuing to stay in touch with my sources so if I hear anything concrete, I'll pass it on.

Leonhard Update - Jets, Eagles and Broncos all interested. Offer on the table from the Eagles.

Safety Jim Leonhard, a free agent who has been with the Baltimore Ravens is in New York, but getting interest from not only the Jets, but the Denver Broncos and the Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, a league source tells me that there is an offer on the table from the Eagles.

It is believed Leonhard's first choice is the Jets so he can be reunited with Rex Ryan, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and secondary coach Dennis Thurman, all of whom he played for in Baltimore.