With Draft in the Books, Which Remaining Free Agents can Help Jets?

The NFL draft is a wrap and there won’t be much news between now and the start of training camp.  But this doesn’t mean there aren’t some veteran free agents waiting to sign with a club who can help the Jets if given the opportunity in the coming weeks and months.  Let’s take a look at who would make sense and why.

CB Mo Claiborne: The former Jet can probably be had on a team-friendly one-year deal while providing an experienced starter to compete with Darryl Roberts and Derrick Jones.

C Stefen Wisniewski: Wisniewski or fellow free agent John Sullivan should be brought in to compete with Jonotthan Harrison if the Jets don’t pursue a center via trade.  None of the three would be viewed as a long-term solution, but after two years of Wesley Johnson and a failed Spencer Long experiment, either of the options should offer an upgrade.

OLB Shane Ray: As a “plan A” to upgrade your pass rush, Ray would be a potential disaster.  Now with Jachai Polite in the fold along with the addition of Quinnen Williams and pressure up front from Jordan Jenkins and Henry Anderson (7 sacks each) up front, Ray would be worth an audition as a situational pass rusher.

OLB Nick Perry: Perry, a veteran of seven NFL seasons picked up 18 sacks over the course of the 2016-2017 NFL seasons before slumping in 2018.  A bit older than the aforementioned Shane Ray at 29-years-old, the former Packer could bring some punch off the edge.

DE Muhammad Wilkerson: This one may sound crazy on the surface, but if you dig down and look at the numbers on a potential Wilkerson return…No, we’re not serious, and shame on you for thinking we were.

 

 

 

 

Report: Trumaine Johnson Skipped Meetings, Practice

The spirit of Muhammad Wilkerson lives on in Florham Park and has apparently re-surfaced in Jets cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts.

According to multiple reports, both players took some extra time off this week with Johnson skipping out on some meetings and a practice while Roberts was present to both but showed up late to other team commitments.

 

James Carpenter Could Prove to be Huge Test for Todd Bowles

As the Jets prepare to kick off their 2018 pre-season, ,there are plenty of questions surrounding the team’s personnel.  How will they generate a pass rush?  Will Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye take “the next step”?  When will Sam Darnold get the nod to take the reins?  All of these will be answered in time, but there are also questions about head coach Todd Bowles, and left guard James Carpenter’s play could provide us with an answer.

Through his first three years at the helm for the Jets, one flaw in Bowles’ style, and one that seems to be often overlooked, is his unwillingness to bench, or in some cases adjust his game plan, when dealing with an under-performing veteran starter.

We saw it in year one when the Jets shocked onlookers by going 10-6, missing the playoffs by a hair.  It was at 10-5 when the Jets needed to travel to Western New York and take on the Buffalo Bills whose season was over and had nothing at stake.  On that day, time and again, the defensive-minded head coach had no answer for the Bills’ only real aerial target in Sammy Watkins.

As former star cornerback Darrelle Revis consistently gave Watkins cushions of ten to fifteen yards, Bowles did nothing, opting to leave “Revis Island” all alone.  That day, the Island was flooded with completions from Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor to  Watkins who hauled in 11 balls for 136 yards.  So wide open was Watkins, that his 15 targets outnumbered the rest of the Bills entire offensive roster as they saw just 13 passes come their way.

The following season, it was Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Bowles handed the starting job to Fitzpatrick before he was signed, opting to forego a quarterback competition of any kind.  When Fitzpatrick’s early failures led to the crumbling of the locker room and rapidly lost season, Bowles waited until the team sat at 1-5 before finally pulling the plug.

Last season, we saw Bowles’ unwillingness to bench a starting player once again when right guard Brian Winters struggled through what was easily his worst season as a pro.  To make matters worse, we learned after the season that Bowles had been playing Winters despite his struggles being caused by a torn abdominal muscle.

It was a head-scratching move if ever there was one.  Especially given the fact that Winters’ play was among the worst in the NFL at the position, and the Jets had a couple of options behind him in Brent Qvale and Dakota Dozier.  Neither one a superstar, but both better than what Winters offered for much of the season.

Muhammad Wilkerson lack of effort was also an issue last season, but there’s really no need to re-hash that disaster.

Now, we move on to 2017, where the expectation is for the Jets to transition to a heavy zone-blocking scheme up front.  The same type of scheme that left guard James Carpenter has struggled with in the past as he himself acknowledged after signing with the Jets as a free agent.

The Jets are in the midst of trying to build something special with a young quarterback, and if Carpenter plays as poorly as he did in Seattle and with the Jets last season, Bowles’ willingness to keep running a starter out there simply because he’s a starter will be tested.

Jets fans will be watching, and along with Bowles, hoping that Carpenter finds a way to make things work and make it a non-issue.  If he doesn’t, and Bowles doesn’t make a change, he could be shooting himself in the foot once again.

Jets Deal for Anderson Solidifies D-Line

In a deal that didn’t get much press at the time it was struck due to the fact that the NFL draft was in progress, Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan pulled off what could be another heist involving Gang Green and the Indianapolis Colts. Maccagnan shipped a seventh round draft choice to Indianapolis in exchange for 26 year-old defensive lineman Henry Anderson.

Over the past few seasons, the Jets have had to part ways with Damon Harrison, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson for a variety of reasons, meaning they were going to have to re-build the defensive line with youth and talent.

Yes, Steve McLendon is largely underrated by Jets fans, but even as good as he’s been, he’s over 30 years old and is unlikely to be around for more than a couple of seasons.  With that in mind, the Jets got to work in finding a crop of linemen to place in the trenches alongside Leonard Williams for the foreseeable future.  While draft choices Nathan Shepherd and Foley Fatukasi give the Jets a potentially strong duo, adding Anderson gives the Jets a proven NFL lineman who was no longer a fit with the Colts.

A 3-4 defensive end who was drafted in the third round of the 2015 draft out of Stanford, Anderson earned glowing reviews from the get go.  Anderson was so good early on that he earned the sixth highest ever grade for a rookie 3-4 defensive end from pro football focus at 82.9.

As is often the case with 3-4 defensive ends, Anderson didn’t light up the stat sheet, but on film, he does show up as an upper echelon player more often that not, finding ways to re-direct running plays and while not piling up sacks, getting the quarterback off of his spot.  In fact, PFF credited Anderson with 40 quarterback hurries over the course of his first three pro seasons despite being limited to just 29 games (19 starts) due to injury, and therein lies the biggest problem with the former Stanford Cardinal.

The 6′ 6” 301 lb behemoth was placed on season-ending IR last year with a laryngeal fracture that he suffered when squaring off against former Jets offensive lineman Breno Giacomini.  In some cases, such an injury can be life-threatening.  Not that it mattered to Anderson, who would go on to play a total of 62 snaps in the game, according to indystar.com.

In addition to the laryngeal fracture, Anderson suffered a torn ACL in 2015 that led to missed snaps and landed him on the PUP list to start the 2016 season.  Once he was back in action, he showed no ill effects prior to being placed on injured reserve.

With the Colts transitioning to a 4-3 defensive front from a 3-4, Anderson became expendable and Maccagnan and the Jets didn’t waste any time in taking a huge step in re-building a defensive line that, for many years was great on paper, but never really lived up to the hype on the field.

Now, by pairing a couple of hungry rookies with some young veterans who have proven they can play at a high level, the Jets are hoping to go from big names and big letdowns, to low-key, but high performance.  Something Anderson and Williams can team up to make a reality.

Daniel Jeremiah Reviews Last 10 Jets First Round Picks

Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL network has taken the time to review every NFL team’s last 10 first round picks in a segment the network has titled, “hit, miss or meh”.  According to Jeremiah, the Jets have had 5 hits, 4 misses and 1 “meh”.  Some of Jeremiah’s “hits” may not sit well with Jets fans.

Disgraced defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson was in the “hit” category, a curious label given the fact that he was cut this off-season for lack of interest in playing football once he got a huge paycheck.

Sheldon Richardson was also called a “hit”, despite never getting a second contract due to off-field issues, but from a pure performance standpoint, Richardson’s talent is undeniable.

Perhaps the most encouraging part of Jeremiah’s rankings is that of the five “hits”, three of them have come in the last three years with Leonard Williams, Darron Lee and Jamal Adams.

No Mo’ Wilkerson; Jets Release Indifferent Defensive End

The New York Jets have officially done what we’ve known they’d be doing for several months now and parted ways with defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson after a season in which the overpaid lineman failed to show up in time for meetings more often than he showed up in the opponents backfield.

Wilkerson’s dumping will save the Jets $11 million but will also come with a $9 million charge in dead money according to Darryl Slater of NJ Advanced Media.

Making Morton Fall guy Wouldn’t Reflect Well on Bowles

Some fans may write this one off because the source is Manish Mehta of the Daily News, but let’s not forget Jets fans, there were plenty of people scoffing and poking fun last season when Mehta tried to tell the world that Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson lacked leadership and work ethic.  How did that work out?

Now another claim from Mehta is that there’s a chance Jets offensive coordinator John Morton may not be back next season in this article that was posted to his twitter page recently.

Now, without getting more specific, Mehta sent out a cryptic tweet indicating that something big is coming as he claimed “a storm is brewing”.

While many have speculated that Morton’s ouster would mean quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates would be a slam dunk to replace him, the Jets may make another run at Eagles QB coach John DeFilippo who the Jets showed interest last season.  The Jets were spurned when Philadelphia refused to grant permission for Gang Green to interview DeFilippo.

Firing Morton could reflect poorly on Bowles after the first-year coordinator had the Jets functioning at a level that few anticipated.  Yes, Gang Green was only 24th in the NFL in scoring, but not many people expected them to be out of the bottom two or three teams in the league.  Having to play QB Bryce Petty in the season’s final four games certainly didn’t help.

Meanwhile, Bowles and his close friend Kacy Rodgers had a slew of highly touted first and second round picks on defense (Morris Claiborne, Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Darron Lee, Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson) to work with and still placed just 22nd in the NFL, allowing 22.9 points per game, blowing multiple fourth quarter leads throughout the season.  If Bowles makes Morton the scapegoat for the team’s defensive meltdowns and continues to shield Rodgers, it won’t bode well for a head coach who is said to be conducting a critical self-evaluation this off-season.

Report: Jets, Sheldon Interested in Reunion

Is it a beat reporter spinning a yarn, or a legitimate claim that could have Jets GM Mike Maccagnan looking like the smartest guy in the room?

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News is reporting that the Jets have interest in signing soon-to-be free agent defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson.  Yes, the same Sheldon Richardson whom they shipped off to the Seattle Seahawks earlier this season in exchange for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and a second round draft choice.

Dealing Richardson when they did and getting what they got was fantastic maneuvering by the Jets’ front office.  Unloading a highly talented player is never ideal, but when that player has had the same off-field troubles as Richardson and is expected to demand a salary that would place him among the game’s greats, making a deal was the right thing to do.

Prior pulling the trigger, skeptics insisted that Mike Maccagnan had fumbled away earlier chances to make a trade and that he’d be fortunate to get a fourth round draft choice.  A third round pick was an impossibility according to armchair GM’s everywhere.  When the dust cleared, it was a second round pick and a starting wide receiver.

A few months down the road, and there have definitely been some notable changes.

  1. For another full season, Richardson has kept his nose clean and stayed out of trouble.
  2. While he’s been a disruptive player for the Seahawks, his production has slipped enough that he’ll have a difficult time commanding the type of payday he would have likely been seeking had he played up to expectations.
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson is likely to be let go in the coming months, freeing up both the money needed to sign Richardson, and creating a hole for him to fill in Todd Bowles’ defense..

How much validity to the story there is remains to be seen, but if the Jets have Richardson at a reasonable rate next season along with Kearse and a second round draft choice, a deal that was already seen as being a big win for the Jets, would become that much better.

JetNation Tuesday Tidbits: Jamal Adams Living up to the Hype?

Just a few notes, quotes, links and thoughts pertaining to Gang Green as the season winds down.

  • Rookie safety Jamal Adams was a key factor in the Jets’ defense keeping Gang Green within shooting distance of the New Orleans Saints for much of Sunday’s game.  His performance on the day (and on the year) hasn’t gone unnoticed by the folks at Pro Football Focus (PFF.com)

  • Second-year cornerback Juston Burris played 40 snaps on Sunday, his second-highest total of the season (46 in week nine) and played what may have been his best game of the year.  Look for Burris to get more of a look over the final two weeks.
  • Leonard Williams is in concussion protocol and Muhammad Wilkerson’s future is in limbo following his recent suspension.  If neither is active on Sunday, we may get our first look of the season at Deon Simon as the Jets will be very thin along the D-line.
  • If you take a step back from the vitriol surrounding cornerback Buster Skrine for his frequent penalties and struggles in coverage, he’s actually had himself six or seven very good games this season.  Problem is, he’s also had five or six very bad ones.  Consistency continues to be an issue which could lead to the team cutting ties with him this offseason.
  • Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley was a good soldier for the Jets during both his stints.  An underrated player, it would be nice to see Kerley catch on with a contender.  After years of playing with the likes of Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Blaine Gabbert and Josh McCown at quarterback,  Kerley should seek out a contender with a quality gunslinger under center.

Mum on Mo; Jets Won’t Clarify Wilkerson’s Status

According to New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles, recently suspended defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is at the team facility in Florham Park, but there has been no clarification regarding his role in the coming weeks, says Rich Cimini of ESPN.

With just two games left on the schedule and the Jets in full evaluation mode, the right thing to do is to bench Wilkerson for the duration. Here is the short Q & A that Bowles had today with the media.

On if Muhammad Wilkerson will be back this week…
He’s in the building today.

On if Wilkerson will play next Sunday…
I didn’t say that. I said he’s in the building today. We’re still working through things.

On if he expects Wilkerson to practice on Wednesday…
We’ll see. It’s an internal thing. We’re still working through some things and we’ll go from there.

On if it is possible that Wilkerson will be held out of the final two games…
It’s an internal thing. We haven’t worked through everything yet, but we’ll work through them and you guys will know when we make a decision.

On what will factor into that decision…
It’s an internal thing. That’s all I’m going to say about it.

On if he has had the chance to talk with Wilkerson today…
No. I was in meetings.

On if Wilkerson reported as he normally would on a Monday…
Correct.

On what goes into an internal decision…
Internal means internal.

On if he can clarify what “internal” means…
It’s not meant for you to (know). When we make a decision, we’ll let you guys know. That’s all I have to say about it.

On if this will be his decision or if other people will be involved…
It will be a lot of people involved in this.

On how frustrating this situation has been…
I’m kind of through talking about (Wilkerson). If you guys have anything else, I’ll answer, but I’ve said all I have to say about that situation.