Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The team issued the following statement from GM Mike Tannenbaum:
"Brett requested his release some time ago. He has not indicated any desire to return to football and he remains retired. We wish him the best."
They also issued the following statement from Favre:
"Bus [Cook - Favre's agent] and Mike [Tannenbaum] have been talking about this for a while. Nothing has changed. At this time I am retired and have no intention of returning to football."
So, there you have it. I could make this longer by opining some, but I have way too much Mark Sanchez info flying around in my head at this point for that. Time to stay focused on the future. The Brett Favre era is officially over.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
The Jets have said they've been targeting him for a while so it would then make sense that they would do everything they could to nail it down as soon as they could.
The team also just released a statement from GM Mike Tannenbaum addressing the Plaxico Burress rumors:
Consistent with our normal approach of performing our due diligence, we contacted Drew Rosenhaus several days ago prior to the draft to inquire about Plaxico’s pending legal situation. However, we have had no discussions with Drew about Plaxico since that time.
That said, those opportunities will come only if performs on the field.
The Jets finished up the Draft by selecting guard Matt Slauson with their sixth-round pick. Slauson already has a Jets connection - his head coach when he arrived at the University of Nebraska was Bill Callahan, currently the Jets' assistant head coach and offensive line coach.
I just got off the phone with one of the Jets defensive players who said to me, "These guys all sound pretty good, but who's going to catch the ball?
- Photo from NFL.com
The Jets traded their 3rd, 4th and 7th round picks this year to get New Jersey native Shonn Greene from the University of Iowa. With the fifth pick already in the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles (part of the Lito Shepperd trade), all that's left for the Jets today is a sixth-rounder.
You have to wonder if the team sees him as creating a solid threesome at running back, or if it's a message to Thomas Jones who has been boycotting all of the team's voluntary activities thus far, as a protest and attempt to renegotiate his contract.
And as happy as everyone - team and fans both - seem to be with Sanchez and Greene, the team still needs a tight end and wide receiver. The players I've been speaking to over the past couple of days are all wondering what's happening there. Look for a possible veteran trade before this thing wraps up, and lots of rookie free agent signings once it does.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
(Fun fact - Sanchez and Kellen Clemens have the same agent.)
I have to say, I think this was a win-win. The Jets got a quarterback they obviously felt they had to have, without giving up anything that will strongly impact them and the Browns got guys they can make use of right away.
Now the team has to focus on rounds three through seven tomorrow and try to fill some of the needs that are still outstanding, namely tight end and wide receiver.
The Jets have the 12th pick in the third round, which is the one they got from the Saints for the Vilma trade. They then pick 15th in the fourth, have no fifth round selection, are at number 20 in the sixth and finally at 19 in the seventh.
Only two tight ends were taken today - Brandon Pettigrew by the Lions and Richard Quinn by the Broncos - which seems to back up what I've been hearing that the tight end pool is thin and no one wanted to pay big money for any of these guys. One way or the other, the Jets must get another tight end onto their roster.
The fun starts again at 10am.
We'll see if that jives with what management decides to do.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
It is looking more and more likely that the team could be going for a quarterback, and the majority of the talk is about Matt Sanchez. However, there are still all sorts of possible permutations being floated by many media outlets, including a possible trade for Jason Campbell or Brady Quinn. Now, why the Jets would want Jason Campbell who hasn't shown anything dramatically better than what they already have is, to me, a question.
It would seem extremely remote that you will see a defensive player taken by the Jets on day one. What I don't think is out of the question, if they don't go for a quarterback, is for them to try to grab Brandon Pettigrew, the tight end from Oklahoma State. In addition to being a solid receiver he's considered a strong blocker, which is what the Jets need from a tight end to complement Dustin Keller.
What about receiver you ask. Well, maybe the first round, but more likely the second or third.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I think if the Jets don't go for Sanchez (or Josh Freeman) they will make a play for a wide receiver. Nothing to do at this point except wait it out.
A few news and notes from last week's mini-camp:
I finally got to meet special teams ace Larry Izzo. For years he was considered the best special teams player in the league and played his first few years for Jets Special Teams Coordinator Mike Westhoff when they were both in Miami. For the last eight seasons he's been with the Patriots.
Izzo wasn't around a lot during the three weeks of off-season training because his wife just gave birth to their first baby back in Texas. It is a boy named Boston. Izzo should be a great addition to what is already a pretty solid unit.
Left Tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson liked the mini-camp and the fact that having a new defense gave the offense a lot of opportunities to see and adjust to new looks. He described his group as a "cohesive unit" and because they're all returning they can just focus on the playbook, not on learning to work with any new personnel.
Safety Eric Smith said it's now "fun to go to work." He and the other defensive players were glad to have some time to translate the new defense they've been learning on paper onto the field. The main difference with Rex Ryan's defense is that if players sees an adjustment on the offense, they make an adjustment, not a complete play change, as was the case in the previous system.
Wallace Wright and Kenwin Cummings both seem OK after their crash. I'm told that Wright has only a knee contusion.
Monday, April 20, 2009
However, the team has also decided to hold a few practices on their home turf. On Wednesday, August 12th they will have what they call "Family Night" back at Hofstra, which was the team's home base until last September and where they held all training camps for the past 40+ years.
Then they will have some practices open to the public at the new facility in Florham Park on Saturday August 22nd, Wednesday August 26th and Thursday August 27th, which by my calculation should probably be the final day of camp.
In addition, apparently responding to the negative response fans have had regarding the team going away for camp, the Jets are going to make some of their June mini-camps open to the public as well. That will begin June 6th and I'll let you know when they give us a more specific schedule.
In the meantime, let's hope Cortland has enough hotels.
Friday, April 17, 2009
The home opener against the Patriots on September 20th, the second day of Rosh Hashana, remains as scheduled.
The team issued the following statement from its owner, Woody Johnson: "By changing the time of the Tennessee game from 4:15 p.m to 1 p.m., the NFL has provided the best compromise to resolve our scheduling conflict. I want to thank Commissioner Goodell and Howard Katz for quickly responding to our request to accommodate our fans of Jewish faith."
Through some strange twist of fate, both quarterbacks got the ball off at the exact same time - Clemens throwing an out route down his left sideline to wide receiver Wallace Wright and Ratliff throwing one to running back Jehuu Caulcrick down the same sideline. The balls sailed to almost the identical spot and Wright and Kenwin Cummings (who was covering Caulcrick) crashed into each other at full speed. The players weren't even in pads and I still can't accurately convey how loud the sound was as their helmets collided.
Both players lay on the ground for a few minutes, with Cummings looking dazed and Wright clutching at his left knee in obvious pain. Within seconds the training staff was there, along with both quarterbacks and Rex Ryan.
After a couple of minutes they were helped up and taken to the locker room. Wright returned toward the end of practice with a notable limp, but he was putting weight on the leg.
I was able to talk to Wright in the locker room immediately after practice and he told me that in addition to hitting helmets the two players banged knees with Wright getting the worst of it.
Ryan confirmed in his press conference a short time ago that Cummings has what appears to be a concussion, but that they expect both players to be OK.
I'll let you know when I hear an update on Wright. He has become a standout on special teams and is fighting to move up in the receiving corps.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
He opened with a confession, which was greeted by laughter. "I had no idea where to stand," he said of his first practice as a head coach. So, he of course gravitated to his comfort zone - the defense - where he played quarterback for a while. I have to tell you, for a defensive guy, he's got a pretty nice spiral (Ryan's the guy below in black).
Overall Ryan seemed pleased with what he saw indicating that the offense is already ahead of where an offense might normally be and even the defense is ahead of where he expected. He did make one important observation. He thought the players needed to have more fun. He thought they were having fun, but not quite enough. Ladies and gentlemen, your new head coach.
Thomas Jones did not show up (as a reminder, this is a voluntary camp) so Leon Washington got a lot of work and Danny Woodhead showed some flashes as well. On one play the 5'7" Woodhead (and I think that's if he's wearing cleats), who was a favorite before he was injured in camp last year totally disappeared into the cluster of offensive and defensive players and then suddenly popped out the other side with the ball firmly in his grasp. Maybe he ran through somebody's legs. In any case, I enjoyed watching him.
I asked Ryan if, given the unknown situation with Jones, he felt Washington could be an every-down back. The answer I got, in not so many words was, probably not. While Ryan was extremely complimentary of Washington's skills, they need him on special teams and because of his size he most likely wouldn't be able to stand up to the pounding a bigger back could take. However, regardless, you will see a lot more of him on the offense this year.
No update on Erik Ainge who was not in attendance. Ryan said only that Ainge was taking care of personal business and that we could speak to him when he comes back, although no indication of when that would be. I asked several players about it, most of whom didn't know why he wasn't there and the couple who did seem to know weren't saying.
We go back tomorrow when we will also have the pre-Draft press conference with Mike Tannenbaum and Co.
Fun fact: There are five guys on the team named Marcus - three different spellings: Marcus Henry, Marcus Mason, Marquice Cole, Marques Douglas and Marques Murrell.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The home opener (game #2), against none other than the Patriots, is scheduled for September 20th - the second day of Rosh Hashana. The next game on September 27th against the Tennessee Titans is also at home - the evening that Yom Kippur begins. And it's not even a 1:00pm game so that people might be able to get home in time to start the holiday. It's scheduled for a 4:15pm kick-off.
There was a public outcry about this situation more than a decade ago and the league has subsequently addressed it by usually scheduling games that fall on these holidays as away games or bye weeks for the Jets and Giants. Clearly with both holidays falling on a Sunday that couldn't be completely accommodated, but to hit one team with this problem for both holidays...well, seems like somebody might have wanted to put come up with another option. And at the very least, couldn't the Titans game be at 1pm???
Not a great way to help the Jets get fans to pay for those PSLs.
Games are played on Christmas when it falls on a Sunday, which frankly, might be something else that should be addressed at some point.
Here's the link to the entire 2009 NFL Schedule.
It will be fun to get out and watch some of the new things the team is working on. In addition, it will be interesting to see if Thomas Jones shows up. He's currently trying to renegotiate his contract and has not been taking part in the off-season training.
One other note, Jane McManus of the Journal News uncovered the fact that quarterback Erik Ainge has also been missing from workouts over the past couple of weeks. While the workouts are voluntary (as is the upcoming mini-camp) as far as I know, no other player has been absent.
We spoke to Ainge on the first Thursday that we had access four weeks ago, but have not seen him in the locker room since. Ainge, who the Jets drafted last year in the fifth round out of the University of Tennessee, was on injured reserve last season with a foot injury and during that time also served a four-game suspension for steroid use, so we haven't had a chance to get to know him that well yet.
Ryan of course retained Offense Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer who will be coaching his third (or is it fourth) quarterback since Mangini brought him on in 2006. Given that the offense is pretty well intact from last year, with the exception of that pesky quarterback position, the only thing I would expect to see more of is the running game. Ryan has stated unequivocally that the Jets will run the ball more this year and in our conversation with him a few weeks ago, Schottenheimer concurred. Of course, given Thomas Jones' boycott of the off-season program while protesting his contract, the question of who will be running it is also somewhat in question - Leon Washington notwithstanding.
On defense I've talked previously about new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine who the defense players are already working with and seem to have taken to very quickly. Bob Sutton, who served as the defensive coordinator for the last few years is back at linebackers coach, also providing some nice continuity. The players love him and clearly Ryan didn't want to lose him.
We haven't had a chance to get to know the position coaches yet but they come to the Jets with solid experience. It's a long list, but here's some odds and ends on a couple of the new arrivials.
Henry Ellard, the new receivers coach is a former Pro-Bowler who played in the NFL for 16 seasons. He came over from the Rams where he has coached since 2001. His success there speaks for itself with the likes of Torry Holt. Things are a little unsettled at wide receiver and I would think the Jets are going to try to grab somebody in (or via) the Draft that they can make use of right away.
Dennis Thurman is another Ravens immigrant, having coached defensive backs there for the past six seasons. He knows Ryan's system and according to his stats on newyorkjets.com, during his tenure with the Ravens, they led the NFL with 126 interceptions and 18 interception returns for touchdowns. Pretty good.
Matt Cavanaugh has come on board as quarterbacks coach. Cavanaugh played quarterback for more than 10 years in the NFL before starting his coaching career. For the past four seasons, he has been the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Pittsburgh - the team he led to a national championship as a college quarterback in 1976.
The running backs will now be coached by Anthony Lynn who Ryan stole away from the Browns. (OK, that's just me adding some fun drama.) Lynn was on the Denver Broncos Super Bowl champion teams of 1997 and 1998.
Kerry Locklin, the new defensive line coach, is the only new coach with no NFL experience. Ryan brought him over from Fresno State. Their connection goes back to the early 1990s when they coached together at Morehead State.
The Jets hold their first mini-camp under Rex Ryan at the end of the week so hopefully I'll have some good stuff for you from there.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
This move was out of a major necessity since with all of the focus on the quarterback situation it has gone almost unnoticed that the Jets have a grand total of...one tight end on the roster, last year's first-round pick, Dustin Keller. Two if you count James Dearth, but the team doesn't like to put their long snapper in jeopardy by playing him too much on offense.
Given the propensity for Brian Schottenheimer to run two and three tight-end sets - currently in vogue throughout the league - the Jets are clearly wanting at this position. And, given the upcoming three-day mini-camp next week, the team needed bodies in this position.
Although carrying around two playbooks doesn't seem pleasant, Brown is enjoying the challenge. While he has fun playing defense, he said of his new role, "Playing offense is childhood fun."
Right now, he is mostly getting up to speed as a blocker to balance out Keller who is still going to remain mostly a pass catcher.
Now entering his third NFL season, Brown was originally a fourth round Draft pick in 2007 by the New England Patriots, who waived him after 11 games that year, and he was subsequently signed by the Jets.
A "U" guy (that's the University of Miami for those of you not familiar with the term) Brown had 11 sacks in his senior season there, which ranks as the second-best single-season total by a Miami defensive tackle.
He has played tight end before - in high school for Miami-Norland.
Clemens offered up a funny little anecdote; when asked how he heard about the Cutler trade he said, "My mother-in-law texted me. She's right on top of things."
As he moved to slightly more serious conversation, he again offered up what has been his mantra that "it does not good to worry about it." Right now Clemens is doing what everyone else is, learning the new installation so as to be ready for the team's first mini-camp of the year, which is being held next week.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Among the Jets players showcasing their culinary skills will be Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis and Leon Washington. They will work alongside chefs from Nobu, Tao and Blue Smoke, among others. (I will do some advance work and see what delights we might expect from Mangold, Revis and Washington...not entirely sure about their skills in the kitchen.)
Also on hand will be other current and former Jets players and all of those in attendance will be able to mingle with them as they take part in the "taste around," sampling the work of the various chefs.
Tickets are $250 and will benefit the New York Jets Foundation, which funds numerous programs in the New York Tri-State area.
A limited number of VIP tickets are available for $400, which offer early admission including an extra hour of food sampling and special access to the Jets players.
For more information you can visit www.newyorkjets.com/taste or call 973-549-4654 to purchase tickets.
Friday, April 3, 2009
So to clarify, the reason I wrote what I did is that while Clemens and Ratliff are, theoretically, going to have a "competition" the reality is that it is more of Clemens's job to lose. Clemens has more experience (albeit not much more on the field) and has better on-the-field chemistry and relationships with the current receiving corps.
While Ratliff looked great during that one game last pre-season, even some of the other Jets players have said to me privately that you can't go on that because he was playing against twos and threes (back-ups) not ones and most of them aren't sold on Ratliff as the starter.
The spotlight is going to continue to focus more harshly on Clemens at this point simply because of his longer history with the team and the original assumption that he was drafted to be the heir apparent to Chad Pennington.
That said, for all we know right now, Erik Ainge (or one of the in-coming rookies) could be the starter. Things might look a little clearer after the first mini-camp, which is being held in a couple of weeks.
But, with Rex Ryan at the helm, and given the free agency moves they've made, this is a team whose defense is going to win their games for them.
However, the good news is that the Jets can now move on from that potential drama and start focusing fully on the Draft.
I'm sure Kellen Clemens, and to a lesser degree Brett Ratliff, both breathed a sigh of relief last night when word broke. Both players, have handled the situation well, giving the usual platitudes that they can only control what they can control, but you could tell that for Clemens especially, it was deja vu all over again.
Of course, if/when the Jets draft a quarterback in three weeks all the chatter will begin anew.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Following up on my notes about Mangold's hair, I have neglected to update the fact that Alan Faneca has both cut his hair and shaved off the mustache/beard thing he had going all of last season. Why, you ask? His three-and-a half-year-old daughter asked him when he was going to "throw his mustache in the trash." Being the great dad that he is, he got rid of it then and there.
Then I went and had an actual football conversation with Jericho Cotchery. My first question was how he feels about everything heading into the 2009 season. He looked at me and just grinned. Cotchery told me that he has been officially designated the team's number one receiver, so it's more than just the obvious assumption.
The Jets selected Cotchery in the fourth round of the 2004 Draft, but not a lot of attention was paid to him for a while. Toward the end of that season, then Head Coach Herman Edwards started to notice the talent Cotchery was starting to display (in fact, I remember sitting in the press conference where Edwards poked fun at himself for not noticing Cotchery's progress sooner) and insisted that the team find some way to get him on the field. Special Teams Coordinator Mike Westhoff approached Cotchery and asked him, "Can you return punts?" Never having done it, Cotchery of course, answered, "Sure."
Over the past four years, everyone has watched Cotchery work his way up the depth chart, behind Wayne Chrebet, Justin McCareins and Laveranues Coles, becoming an incredibly reliable and consistent receiver.
Off the field, he is not one of the boisterous personalities in the locker room but the other players love him, he's always accessible and easy to talk to.
As for the quarterback situation, while Cotchery and the other members of the offense aren't saying anything against Jay Cutler, several of them have told me that they'd really like to see Kellen Clemens get a shot at the job. They feel that 2007 wasn't really a fair way to judge, given all the problems with the offensive line.
As for all the Cutler trade rumors swirling around, Darrelle Revis and I had a conversation and he told me unequivocally that the only place he wants to play is for the Jets.
I spoke to an agent last night who told me that while a player has no say when he's under contract, teams generally don't like to bring in a player who adamantly doesn't want to be there.
I'll let you know if I hear anything.
And...congratulations to Jason Trusnik who gets married on Saturday!
Had a long conversation with Nick Mangold (whose hair and beard are now even longer than in this photo), which involved golf, Vegas and tupperware parties. Yes, hard-hitting journalism at its finest. I'm taking a poll: Men, do you object to golfing with women? Let me know.
I also spoke with Brad Smith and Chansi Stuckey. Everything remains intact as far as the offensive playbook; Rex Ryan is letting Brian Schottenheimer run his own show. They haven't gotten into determining everyone's specific goals, however, with the departure of Laveranues Coles, there is some opportunity for everyone to move up in the depth chart. Stuckey, who locked up the number three spot in camp last year seems the most logical contender. However, David Clowney continues to impress, so that could be interesting to watch.
In addition, we didn't see enough of Marcus Henry last year to make any strong determinations, so he's a bit of an X factor as well.
On the defensive side, I caught up for a few minutes with Vernon Gholston. After a season that was less productive than anyone would have liked - including him - he's working hard to get ready for 2009. The early discussions are that they are going to have him focus more on being a pure pass rusher, rather than that hybrid thing that didn't work out last year. Pass rushing is more his forte and his comfort zone, so maybe we'll start to see some glimmer of the player that the Jets took with the six overall pick last year.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
That said, multiple reports have confirmed that the Denver Broncos have finally acquiesced to Cutler's demands to be traded. The Jets are reportedly just one of several teams interested in the three-year veteran.
I addressed the possibility of this trade a few days ago - Cutler is an extremely talented player who one coach at another team referred to me as a "jackass." However, a happy player is often less of a...pain...so if Cutler lands in a situation he's happy with, all parties could benefit. He's got a great arm and great game smarts and no matter what the Jets have been saying, they obviously are not 100% comfortable with the idea of choosing among Clemens, Ratliff and Ainge.
Cutler brings three years of experience and, more than likely, still hasn't reached the peak of his career so he is a guy who could become the franchise quarterback this team has been searching for.
My friend Arthur has weighed in again and feels the Jets should trade Thomas Jones for Cutler. One unhappy guy for another. Discuss amongst yourselves.
Anyway, while the Broncos clearly want Cutler out of their building, they know his worth and are almost certainly going to deal him simply to the highest bidder.