Jun 122013
 

Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan9. New York Jets
Head Coach: Rex Ryan
2012 Record: 6-10
2012 Offense: 281 points scored, 28th in points, 30th in yards (30th passing, 12th rushing)
2012 Defense: 375 points allowed, 20th in points, 8th in yards (2nd passing, 26th rushing)

Key Additions
RB Mike Goodson, RB Chris Ivory, G Willie Colon, DL Antonio Garay, LB Antwan Barnes, S Dawan Landry, G Stephen Peterman, WR Ben Obomanu, CB Dee Milliner, DT Sheldon Richardson, QB Geno Smith, G Brian Winters

Key Losses
CB Darrelle Revis, S Yeremiah Bell, DL Mike DeVito, WR Braylon Edwards, RB Shonn Greene, TE Dustin Keller, S LaRon Landry, LB Bart Scott, DT Sione Pouha, G Brandon Moore, G Matt Slauson, WR Chaz Schilens, LB Bryan Thomas, QB Tim Tebow, S Eric Smith

Why 2013 will be better
Define better? If by better we mean that the Jets will no longer have a circus sideshow in Tim Tebow, then yes it will be better. Otherwise, I’m not so sure. But since this is the part of the article where we look for bright spots, let’s start with running back Chris Ivory, who appears ready to replace the steady but enigmatic Greene. There are question marks after Ivory, with Goodson appearing to be a personal train wreck. Still, Ivory looks like the real deal and will be getting the bulk of the snaps this season. Given a weak passing game, the Jets should once again rank in the top twelve rushing attacks. The offensive line is beginning to come together, with Nick Mangold, D’Brickasah Ferguson, Austin Howard, Willie Colon, and Brian Winters eyeing starting roles, and the group should be able to open holes for Ivory, but it is in pass protection where this group must improve, as the Jets ranked 30th in pass protection last season, yielding 47 sacks, along with one very memorable butt fumble. However, the Jets are very thin on the line after the five starters, so health will be a key to success. On defense, the team looks to improve on its sub-par performance in 2012 with Rex Ryan taking a more direct role in defensive meetings and play calling, and looks to be a better group. Muhammad Wilkerson is a dominant presence at end, and looks to be flanked by Sheldon Richardson, who also looks like a beast. The only downside is that Quinton Coples will see an increased role at outside linebacker, which does not appear to cater to his strengths. Kendrick Ellis, Garay, and Damon Harrison round out this solid unit.

Why 2013 will be worse
The quarterback controversy that consumed 2012 has a new face in 2013 in rookie quarterback Geno Smith. It remains to be seen who will win the competition, as Sanchez has the early lead but Smith has the bigger potential upside. That said, I am unconvinced that Smith’s game will translate to the NFL. The Jets gambled on a quarterback in a weak quarterback draft, and I suspect will lose this bet in the long run, just as they are losing their gamble on Sanchez. In an offense happy league, the Jets enter the fray with one arm tied behind their collective backs. The wide receiving corps is weak and wounded, with Stephen Hill dealing with a knee injury, and Holmes’ status is unknown for the start of the season. Jeremy Kerley is finally healthy, and could see his numbers increase in 2013. Jeff Cumberland takes over at tight end in place of Keller, but will have a difficult time filling Keller’s shoes when Keller was healthy. Hayden Smith may also see time, but this is not a group that will cause panic in opposing defenses. The linebacker unit will be interesting to watch with Coples moving outside, with David Harris and Demario Davis inside and Pace playing the opposite side. Pace was brought back after being cut, and struggles to apply pressure to the quarterback, resulting in the Jets bringing in Barnes, a pass rush specialist. Harris was one of the worst starting inside linebackers in the league last season, who despite good tackling numbers is a significant liability in pass coverage and who also had a poor year against the run. While the Jets’ defense will likely still be in the top half of the league this season, the linebacker group doesn’t appear to be as solid as it has been in years past. Losing Revis in the secondary doesn’t help matters, especially since Milliner is struggling to even get onto the field. Milliner is a natural talent but was a risky pick for the Jets, who need Antonio Cromartie to step up in a big way this season. Cro may not be able to remember his kids’ names, but he is a solid corner talent, and the drop-off should not be significant. Kyle Wilson started opposite Cro last season and may not be able to hold off Milliner for a starting nod once Milliner is healthy. At safety, the Jets replaced one Landry with another, but overall the safety group has slipped from last year’s one year rentals, both of whom performed admirably.

Outlook
Only the most blindly loyal Jets’ fans will think this team has a chance of competing in 2013. New GM John Idzik tore the team apart to deal with Mike Tannenbaum’s salary cap debacle, but the Jets didn’t go as far as the Raiders did in simply blowing things up in order to start again. That’s why David Harris and Mark Sanchez still have jobs despite spotty performances (to be generous) and big salary cap hits. The Jets’ defensive front will be able to improve its performance against the run, but pass rushing issues have not been resolved, and a weakened secondary means their performance against the pass can be expected to slip. On offense, the quarterback drama promises to undo 2013 before it begins, and a lack of quality receivers who can’t stay healthy won’t help matters. Chris Ivory may be carrying a heavy load this season, but thankfully for the Jets he appears to be up to the task. In the final analysis the Jets got rid of Tim Tebow, but the circus remains firmly planted in town. I subscribe to the view that this is Year One of Idzik’s rebuilding plan, and that Year Two will be sans Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez, among others. The Jets will battle the Bills for third place in the AFC East, and can be expected to win anywhere from three to six wins in 2013.

UPDATE: As noted in the comments, I missed the addition of Kellen Winslow, Jr. I must admit to not being real high on him as a solution at tight end. He is a beast of an athlete, but his attitude has gotten him run out of more than one town. The Jets are not a team I would send a reclamation project to, but he might none the less be helpful. Winslow has not signed yet, but he and Mike Sims-Walker have been trying out for the team.

Jun 112013
 

Arians and Palmer7. Arizona Cardinals
Head Coach: Bruce Arians
2012 Record: 5-11
2012 Offense: 250 points scored, 32st in points, 32nd in yards (28th passing, 32nd rushing)
2012 Defense: 357 points allowed, 17th in points, 12th in yards (5th passing, 28th rushing)

Key Additions
Head Coach Bruce Arians, QB Carson Palmer, RB Rashard Mendenhall, DL Frostee Rucker, LB Karlos Dansby, LB Lorenzo Alexander, LB Jasper Brinkley, CB Javier Arenas, CB Jerraud Powers, S Yeremiah Bell, CB Antoine Cason, S Curtis Taylor, DE Matt Shaughnessy, G Jonathan Cooper, LB Kevin Minter, S Tyrann Mathieu, G Earl Watford

Key Losses
S Adrian Wilson, QB Kevin Kolb, QB Brian Hoyer, QB John Skelton, S Kerry Rhodes, S James Sanders, CB William Gay, LB Quentin Groves, LB Paris Lenon, RB Beanie Wells, WR Early Doucet, CB Greg Toler, RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, DE Vonnie Holliday, DE Nick Eason, LB Stewart Bradley

Why 2013 will be better
The Cardinals offensive line gave up 58 sacks in 2012… that’s right – 58. It’s hard to imagine the line performing that poorly again. So by default one can expect the offense to fare better than it did last season. Tackle Levi Brown spent last season on IR, so his return is good news for the Cardinals. Jonathan Cooper will start next to him, meaning the left side of the line will be a vast improvement over last season. Center Lyle Sendlein returns, flanked by another rookie in Watford. Only second year player Bobby Massie returns as a starter from all 16 games at right tackle. Carson Palmer will bring stability to the quarterback position and will love throwing to Larry Fitzgerald. That will result in huge fantasy number for the pair; it remains to be seen whether or not it will convert to wins. Despite a solid defensive last core from last year, this group also went through an off-season overhaul, particularly at linebacker and in the secondary. If Mendenhall can return from injury (and attitude) to post 1,000 rushing yards, the Cardinals could be looking at an 8 or 9 win season.

Why 2013 will be worse
I’m not sold on Mendenhall as the answer at running back, and I’m really not sold on Carson Palmer. Palmer will put up big numbers for yards and will rack up some touchdowns, but he also has a knack for interceptions and lost fumbles, and has never proven to be a quarterback who can will his team to victory. He may stop the revolving the door and increase the point totals, but he’s not a guy I would stake the franchise on. The key to 2013 will once again be the defense, and as long as Palmer and the offense don’t turn the ball over with the frequency that the Cardinals’ offense did last season, the worst the Cardinals are looking at is another five win season.

Outlook
The Arizona Cardinals started off the 2012 season with four straight victories before collapsing the rest of the way, with an offense that scored 20 or more points only once in the team’s final twelve games. So it was no wonder that the Cardinals cleaned house in the offseason, on the roster as well as on the coaching staff. Palmer is an upgrade, but he’s not the answer, at least not by himself. Mendenhall has to bounce back in a big way for the Cardinals to rack up more wins, and an offensive line with two rookie guards has to find its chemistry early. Bruce Arians proved last season with the Colts that he is a tremendous coach, and it will take no less of an effort than the one he gave last season for the Cardinals to exceed six wins.

Mar 122013
 

Mike WallaceWe will continue updating this article for the next few days until may of the top tier free agents have landed. Some may get their own article, but this spot will keep track of the major comings and goings of players as the free agency period begins.

 

Tuesday, March 12

– Prior to the start of free agency today, the Jets released defensive tackle Sione Po’uha, who had a base salary of $4.9 million for the upcoming season, creating $3.8 million in cap space. No word yet on whether or not he is expected to re-sign at a lower price.

– The Panthers released linebacker James Anderson, whom they had overpaid for last season to the tune of 5 years and $22 million.

– The Chargers released tight end Randy McMichael.

– The Rams released safety Quintin Mikell, and have now parted ways with both starting safeties from last season.

– Word is that Wes Welker is still waiting to hear the Patriots’ first contract offer before free agency begins.  Tom E. Curran suggesting it is hard for the Patriots to know what the market for Welker will look like, but Welker is likely to wait for offers to increase his leverage. The soft market for wide receivers doesn’t help the Patriots. The Colts and Broncos may well rival the Patriots for Welker’s service. The Pats are risking not making the highest offer to Welker, and it might come back to bite them. Perhaps the Patriots are heading in another direction? One thing is for sure… Bill Belichick has ice water in his veins.

Tony Gonzalez looks like he is heading back to the Falcons.

– The Texans have released receiver Kevin Walter.

– The Vikings have re-signed receiver Jerome Simpson for one year. Meanwhile, the Steelers are giving Plaxico Burress another shot (drum roll).

– Safety James Ihedigbo has re-signed with the Ravens, insuring another year of him being able to drop to the ground in pain after every play.

– Linebacker Larry Foote has worked out a deal to stay in Pittsburgh. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley has also agreed to restructure his contract.

Santonio Holmes has worked out a deal to restructure his contract and remain with the Jets.

– Cornerback Antoine Winfield has been released by the Vikings.

– Running back Beanie Wells released by the Arizona Cardinals.

– The Rams reach a deal to keep defensive end William Hayes in St. Louis.

– As expected, the Eagles have released cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha from their famous “Dream Team”

– Prediction 14 minutes before free agency begins, though not a stunner. Wes Welker is not returning to New England, and the Patriots don’t appear too concerned about losing him, despite numbers that put him on a path to the Hall of Fame.

– Giants sign cornerback Aaron Ross, who did not have to wait for free agency to begin as a result of being released by the Jaguars and going unclaimed.

– Vikings keep tackle Phil Loadholt just before free agency begins.

And now free agency begins…

Paul Kruger looks like he is headed to Cleveland… major surprise that the Ravens couldn’t get this one done. New word is that he has officially signed.

– The Bengals re-sign defensive end Robert Geathers.

– The Broncos steal away guard Louis Vasquez from the Chargers.

Mike Wallace appears set to make $13 million a year with the Miami Dolphins.

– Tight end Delanie Walker agrees to a deal with the Titans.

– The Bills have cut quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. I guess that prank phone call caused some embarrassment in western New York. Talk about addition by subtraction.

– The Chiefs have agreed to a deal with tight end Anthony Fasano.

– The Alex Smith to Kansas City trade is now official.

– Are the Colts set to steal both Talib and Welker from the Pats? A tweet from the Colts’ bizarre owner seems to go in this direction.

– Former Bills guard Andy Levitre headed to Titans on a six year deal.

– Or is this what Irsay was talking about? The Colts have reached agreement with offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus. Does he really merit that many exclamation points?

– Quarterback Chase Daniel agrees to terms with Chiefs.

– No, this is why Irsay is excited. The Colts have agreed to terms with cornerback Greg Toler. It’s a good move by Grigson.

– The Colts are on a roll. Linebacker Erik Walden has left Green Bay to join the Colts. Good moves by Indy, even if they aren’t sexy.

– Ah, the Colts did steal a Patriot! Guard Donald Thomas is headed to Indy.

– Punter Sav Rocca is staying with the Redskins.

– Elvis Dumervil now appears willing to take pay cut from Broncos; the two sides are apparently negotiating according to Ian Rapoport.

– Another Ravens loss: Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe reaches agreement in principle with Miami Dolphins.

– Colts make it five Day One signings as they pen linebacker Lawrence Sidbury from the Falcons. Busy day for the Colts.

Taking a dinner break now… will be back later.

Back from a long dinner break, and lots more has happened…

– Safety Darius Butler will be remaining with the Colts.

Martellus Bennett has landed with the Bears, with the tight end signing a four year deal.

– The Ravens signed defensive lineman Chris Canty to a three year deal.

– The Vikings re-signed fullback Jerome Felton to a three year deal.

– The Dolphins dumped linebacker Karlos Dansby, who started all 16 games last season playing with a torn biceps muscle and racking up 134 tackles. Ouch. They added linebacker Phillip Wheeler and re-signed safety Chris Clemons.

– The Rams are poised to sign the coveted tight end Jared Cook, formerly of the Titans.

– The Eagles get into action by signing former Patriots’ safety Patrick Chung (good riddance) and former Panthers’ linebacker Jason Phillips, as well as tight end James Casey from Houston.

– The Eagles keep it coming with former 49ers nose tackle Isaac Sopoga and former Rams’ cornerback Bradley Fletcher.

– The Raiders released receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and safety Michael Huff.

– The Chiefs have stolen away a Jets’ favorite by signing defensive tackle Mike DeVito.

– Apparently Warren Sapp doesn’t think much of covering Bill Belichick on the NFL Network. Or maybe he just doesn’t think.

– The Browns get another one with the signing of defensive tackle Desmond Bryant.

The pace is slowing down a little at 8:30 pm Central, but there may still be a few transactions before the end of the night. In the meantime, the free agents that we are waiting to see what transpires with on this thread include (in no particular order):

Cliff Avril (Det / SEA)
Wes Welker (NE / DEN)
Jake Long (Mia)
Greg Jennings (GB / MIN)
Aqib Talib (NE)
Dashon Goldson (SF / TB)
Osi Umemyiora (NYG)
Steven Jackson (StL / ATL)
Ed Reed (Bal)
Danny Amendola (StL / NE)
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Phi / DEN)
Sebastian Vollmer (NE)
Connor Barwin (Hou / PHI)
Adrian Wilson (ARI / NE)
Andre Smith (Cin)
Cary Williams (Bal / PHI)
Brian Urlacher (Chi)
Dustin Keller (NYJ / MIA)
John Abraham (ATL / NE)

– Last one for tonight – offensive tackle Sam Baker is staying with the Falcons, signing a six year deal. See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 13

A few early tidbits before the action begins again in earnest.

Wes Welker and the Patriots are described as very far apart on terms, with the Patriots maintaining an offer on the table. It will be interesting to see how this develops between now and the weekend.

– The Redskins signed defensive tackle Kedric Golston to a new three-year contract on Tuesday.

Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma are taking big pay cuts to stay in New Orleans.

– The Chargers signed former Eagles tackle King Dunlap to a two year deal.

– The Browns signed free agent linebacker Quentin Groves, who played in Arizona last season.

– The Jets housecleaning is in full swing. And even with Revis likely on his way out of town, it didn’t stop the the Jets from restructuring the contract of cornerback Antonio Cromartie. Baby Mamas should beware.

More to come as the day develops!

– The Ravens have just released safety Bernard Pollard. Is he worth a look in Foxboro?

Mike Giardi is tweeting that Wes Welker drew some attention, and those offers have impacted negotiations with the Pats. Expect the Patriots to move on and find a new slot receiver.

– The Lions have re-signed cornerback Chris Houston.

– The Broncos have guaranteed the salary of Peyton Manning for the next two seasons.

– Linebacker Manny Lawson has signed a multi-year deal with the Buffalo Bills.

– Some very interesting chatter about where Wes Welker may be going. Due to the source I won’t share where, but this is going to be a very interesting thing to watch. Plus I am going to lay $5 on my info.  I know, I know… big spender. :-)

– The Steelers have signed quarterback Bruce Gradkowski to a three-year deal.

– The Jaguars have waived wide receiver Laurent Robinson one year after signing the former Cowboy to a huge deal.

Wes Welker’s agent has described the Patriots’ offer to the wide receiver as “laughably low.” Sounds like all sides are ready to move on.

– The Giants have signed kicker Josh Brown.

– Former Colts’ receiver Donnie Avery is joining the Kansas City Chiefs.

– The Ravens have re-signed offensive guard Ramon Harewood.

Reggie Bush is the new lead back for the Detroit Lions.

– Word is that the Patriots offered 4 year, $32 million to Wes Welker and the Welker camp is unhappy. Suitors may be down to the Broncos and Pats, though I am hearing there are two dark horses, at least one of which has made a better offer than New England.

– The Arizona Cardinals agree on a one-year deal with former Steelers’ running back Rashard Mendenhall.

– A big one is off the market; the Rams have signed offensive tackle Jake Long to a contract. Update: Correction; an offer has yet to be made or accepted (as of 1:56 pm Central).

– It looks like the Broncos are working hard to get a deal with Wes Welker done today. I’m going to lose my five bucks.

– The Detroit Lions have added safety Glover Quin, formerly of the Texans; this is a big upgrade in their secondary.

– The Buccaneers have signed former 49ers safety Dashon Goldson to a five year deal.

– The Jaguars signed former Bears free agent linebacker Geno Hayes to a one-year deal.

– The Wes Welker to Denver deal is looking close to done.

– The 49ers have agreed to a contract with former Chiefs defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey.

– The Titans have reached agreement on a three-year, $10 million deal with former Jets’ running back Shonn Greene.

– According to WEEI, Wes Welker’s camp has brought the Broncos’ offer back to the Patriots to give New England a chance to match. My guess is no, but this shows where Wes’ heart really is.

– The Broncos announce one-year deal with linebacker Stewart Bradley.

– Running back Lex Hilliard has signed a one year deal to stay with the Jets.

– Cornerback Drayton Florence has agreed to a one year deal with the Panthers. It looks like the corners are now going to start to go.

– Defensive tackle Samie Lee Hill has reached agreement on a three-year, $11.4 million deal with the Titans.

Wes Welker has agreed to terms with the Denver Broncos. Clearly, the Patriots declined the offer to match. It is only a two year deal, so it must be coming down to guaranteed money. Waiting for the details.

– Details on Wes Welker… it is “only” two years, $12 million. Must be fully guaranteed, and it must be that the Patriots set a value for the position and would not exceed it.  Sounds like the Patriots had already determined that Welker was no longer “Plan A.” Patriots have yet to make major moves, but it’s in the air. The next couple of days should show us the Pats’ off-season approach.

According to Greg Bedard, Patriots initial offer to Wes Welker was two years and $10 million with incentives. Albert Breer accurately notes that the Pats likely see Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker as redundant, and Hernandez is much younger and at least as difficult to cover. This deal underscores how much the Miami Dolphins, who have agreed to shell out $30.55 million over five years for Brian Hartline, overpaid for a number two receiver.

– Quarterback Drew Stanton signed a three year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. Here’s hoping they don’t trade for Tim Tebow.

– The Broncos have signed former Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton.

OK… time for another dinner break… and to make sure I move the Wes Welker to the back of my closet.

– The Oakland Raiders signed linebacker  Kaluka Maiava and defensive tackle and defensive end Pat Sims, as well as defensive end Jason Hunter.

– The Arizona Cardinals signed cornerback Jerraud Powers and safety Yeremiah Bell.

– The Seattle Seahawks have landed defensive lineman Cliff Avril, who provides an instant upgrade to the Seahawks’ pass rush.

– Not waiting long to respond to Wes Welker’s deal with Denver, the Patriots have signed wide receiver Danny Amendola to a five year, $31 million deal,, with $10 million guaranteed.

– The Titans signed linebacker Moise Fokou, formerly with the Colts.

– The Broncos complete a successful day by reeling in cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on a one year deal.

– The Colts have signed former Jets free agent safety LaRon Landry

That’s all for tonight…. more to come on Thursday!

Thursday, March 14

I’m expecting today to be a little bit slower as the agents and teams take a breath and assess where they are, and as remaining players line up visits with teams.

– Former Seahawks’ running back and return man Leon Washington will visit the patriots, who just lost their punt returner yesterday (what was his name again?). Washington has also been connected to talks with the Bucs.

– Cornerback Derek Cox has signed a four year, $20 million deal with the San Diego Chargers.

– Running back Chris Ogbonnaya will be staying in Cleveland, agreeing to a two year deal.

Greg Jennings will be visiting the Minnesota Vikings, who seem to be the front runners (along with Green Bay) to land the veteran wide receiver.

– A mystery suitor for Wes Welker has been revealed by Adam Schefter.. the Tennessee Titans. I rather suspect we will learn of one or two more teams in the coming days.

Great article from Mike Reiss details that Wes Welker went back to the Patriots with the Broncos’ offer, only to be later informed that the Patriots had already made a commitment to another player (Danny Amendola).

– The Chiefs have released Matt Cassel. Is a homecoming a possibility in Foxboro?

– The J-E-T-S are trying to build leverage by suggesting that they are not actively trying to trade Darrelle Revis.

– The Panthers are keeping quarterback Derek Anderson for another year.

– Cornerback Sean Smith has found a new home in Kansas City, agreeing to a three year deal.

– It turns out that the Patriots signed Danny Amendola on Tuesday, a full day before the Wes Welker drama took place. Anyone else think the team hadn’t already decided to move on?

– The Redskins and offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood have reached a deal.

Kevin Kolb is about to be released by the Cardinals, and his next destination appears to be the starting quarterback of the J-E-T-S.

Ricky Jean Francois has agreed to a four-year, $22 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts.

– The Vikings have landed quarterback Matt Cassel, who was just released from the Chiefs.

– The Eagles have added cornerback Cary Williams and safety Kenny Phillips .

– Cornerback Keenan Lewis has agreed to terms with the New Orleans Saints on a five year deal.

– The Falcons have landed running back Steven Jackson to replace Michael Turner in Atlanta.

– Linebacker Connor Barwin leaves Houston for Philadelphia and a six year deal.

– The Patriots have landed kick returner and running back Leon Washington.

– The Buccaneers have signed wide receiver Kevin Ogletree.

 Friday, March 15

We’ll wrap this thread up with a recap of last night’s signings and some look at today.

– The Jets are close to signing running back Mike Goodson. UPDATE: Goodson has signed.

– Defensive end Michael Bennett has agreed to a one year, $5 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers may be an early favorite for the Super Bowl, but right now they appear to have serious competition to win the NFC West.

– Former Vikings’ linebacker Jasper Brinkley has agreed to a two year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.

– John Elway says that defensive end Elvis Dumervil’s salary is “out of whack.” From a business perspective Elway is right, but does anyone seeing a change of location coming for the pass rushing star?

– The Jaguars re-signed cornerback Antwaun Molden to a one-year veteran minimum deal.

– The Rams have re-signed defensive end William Hayes and defensive tackle Jeremelle Cudjo.

– The Bears re-signed defensive tackle Nate Collins to a one-year contract.

– Former Bears’ linebacker Nick Roach has joined the Oakland Raiders.

– Adam Schefter is expecting cornerback Aqib Talib to return to the Patriots, as the cornerback market is not drawing the same dollars it was just a year ago.

We’ll keep updating the list presented at the end of Day One, but we will only be posting updates for bigger news the rest of the way out.

– OK, this is worth an update. According to PFT, the 49ers are in “serious discussions” with cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Charles Woodson.

– The Patriots have signed former Bills’ wide receiver Donald Jones.

– Tight end Dustin Keller has joined the Miami Dolphins, who appear to be cementing second place in the AFC East.

Kevin Kolb is being released in Arizona. Is New York next?

– Cornerback Kyle Arrington has re-signed with the Patriots and a four year deal.

– Running back Danny Woodhead has signed to two year deal with the San Diego Chargers.

– Offensive Lineman Willie Colon has joined the Jets.

– Safety Louis Delmas has signed back on with the Detroit Lions.

– Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy has a one-year deal in Arizona.

– Huge drama surrounding Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil agreed to a salary reduction but the paperwork did not get filed on time by his agent. The Broncos were seven minutes late filing, and Dumervil has been officially released. The release, along with Welker’s new deal, has just created a cap problem in Denver. The Broncos can likely still work out a deal, but they now have a huge financial mess on their hands. UPDATE: The release creates $4.87M in dead money for this season, meaning Denver will be hard pressed to bring Dumervil back. Question: Why are teams in a multi-billion dollar industry still relying on fax machines?

– While fax machines are being flung out windows in Denver, defensive end John Abraham officially becomes a member of the New England Patriots.

– Eagles announce they acquired wide receiver Arrelious Benn, a former 2nd-rd pick, and 7th-rounder from Tampa Bay for a 2013 6th-rounder and 2014 conditional pick.

– Wide receiver Brandon Gibson is now a member of the Miami Dolphins.

– Running back Justin Forsett has agreed to terms with the Jaguars.

– Big news breaking that the Patriots have signed wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet, which is undoubtedly front-loaded with case. The cap-strapped Pittsburgh Steelers now have a chance to match the offer. It’s been a big day for the Patriots.

– The Cardinals agree to terms with cornerback Antoine Cason on a one year deal.

– Safety Adrian Wilson has signed a three year deal with the New England Patriots. Right now Bill Belichickk is looking like a salary cap genius.

– Big news in Minnesota… the Vikings have signed wide receiver Greg Jennings away from Green Bay.

– The Jets signed defensive tackle Antonio Garay to a one year deal. That’s two good moves in the same day, Jets’ fans.

– The Ravens signed defensive lineman Marcus Spears to a two year deal.

Saturday, March 16

– Per Adam Schefter, the Patriots have not signed wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet… yet. They are mulling over the possibility. That may be a cap issue, or it may be an issue of whether or not they believe they can fit Sanders in with Lloyd, Amendola, Jones, Gronk, Hernandez, and Balllard. The Pats have also been quiet on the re-negotiations with Lloyd, so that may be part of the calculus.

– Hearing that something is likely forthcoming on cornerback Aqib Talib’s return to the Patriots. All is still quiet on the Sebastian Vollmer front.

Oct 172012
 

The meltdown in Seattle has many Patriots’ fans wondering what is wrong with the New England Patriots. The offense, despite putting up over 450 total yards against the league’s top-ranked defense, suffered from bad decision-making, poor throws by Tom Brady (two picks and at least two more that could/should have been), and awful time management that cost points on the board which might well have made the difference in the outcome. The defensive front seven played exceptionally well, but were hung out to dry by an abysmal secondary; the corners routinely got beat and/or ran through receivers to draw PI calls, and the safeties got beat deep while in Cover-2. I am not sure what the secondary coaches are teaching the players, but it clearly isn’t working, and it all conspired to contribute to a dramatic Seattle 24-23 comeback win while the Patriots went 1 for 6 in the red zone and left many points on the field. The Patriots ran 86 offensive plays to the Seahawks’ 57, yet lost the game. Their secondary made Russell Wilson look like Joe Montana, and John Boyer, Patriots’ cornerbacks coach since 2009, is now under scrutiny given the team’s pattern of bringing in cornerbacks who perform well for a period of time and then regress.

So what is to stem the tide of negativity and bring relief to Patriots’ fans? Why, there’s nothing like a visit from the J-E-T-S (or Y-E-T-S for those paying attention) to cure what ails us.

If the Patriots are really as bad as they looked in the final seven minutes of the game in Seattle, then you can expect the Jets to come in, exceed expectations, and engineer an unexpected upset of the host Patriots. If however, you are one who concludes that the Patriots will make the necessary corrections that are required to beat the Jets and get back on track, then you can expect a game that features exacting offensive execution and opportunistic defense in a game that will quickly get away from the Jets.

My money is on the latter.

Pay no attention to the Jets’ dismantling of the Colts last weekend; the Colts’ don’t possess the league’s top offense and are vulnerable against the run. One only need to look at the match-ups to realize that the Jets are not currently constructed and equipped to seriously threaten the Patriots this weekend. The Jets are without Darrelle Revis and Kendrick Ellis, are likely without Eric Smith and Sione Po’uha, and possess a dreadful run defense. While the Jets aspire to be a “ground and pound” team, it is the Patriots who have the capability to pound the Jets into submission through the run while also moving the ball effectively through the air. The Patriots not only have the league’s best offense, they also maintain control of the ball for more than 32 minutes a a game. No matter what troubles the Patriots are having in the secondary and in closing out games they should win, the Jets are not prepared to go up against this offense. The formula for a Jets’ win is to create an ugly contest, run the ball effectively and keep Tom Brady off the field, and hope that their safeties can contain Gronk and Hernandez. I’m thinking it’s more likely that the Patriots take out several weeks of frustration against a very vulnerable New York Jets team.

Patriots’ offense (4th rushing, 3rd passing) versus Jets’ defense (28th rushing, 5th passing)

The Jets’ defense has been coming around, but without Darrelle Revis on the field they are likely woefully outmatched against the Patriots’ offense. While Cromartie is a good coverage corner, he can only cover one receiver at a time. The Jets don’t have the corners or the safeties to compete with the Patriots’ arsenal of Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, and Deion Branch. Despite earlier boasting from Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry, the Patriots will be able to choose their preference of match-ups for Gronk, Hernandez, and Welker. The biggest question mark for the Patriots in the passing game is the health of both Gronkowski and Lloyd, but their status should be known well before game time. Expect Brady to pick apart the middle of the field and hit quick outs to Branch and Lloyd to help the Patriots move down the field. Brady could stand to improve the accuracy of his throws, as he has been off the mark on a number of throws in the past few weeks, and has been fortunate not to have more balls picked off by opposing defenses. The Patriots have the third-ranked passing offense going up against the Jets’ fifth ranked passing defense, but Brady won’t need a big statistical day to effectively navigate the Patriots down the field. The Jets got four sacks of Andrew Luck on Sunday, but the Patriots only gave up one late sack to the Seahawks. The Patriots should contain Coples and Wilkerson and give Brady the time he needs to make his reads.

It is in the rushing game that the Jets’ are even more vulnerable. The Jets are giving up 150 yards per game on the ground, and the Patriots have the horses to gain at least that much, ranking fourth in the league in rushing yards per game. The game plan against the Seahawks was intentionally pass heavy, but you can expect that Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden, and Danny Woodhead will get plenty of carries to take advantage of the porous New York run defense. Look for the Patriots to execute long scoring drives all afternoon to shorten the game and build a substantial lead.

Jets’  offense (15th rushing, 30th passing) versus Patriots’ defense (6th rushing, 28th passing)

Shonn Greene ran for a career-high 161 yards against Indianapolis on Sunday, but the Patriots’ run defense is far more formidable. The offensive line of the Jets will struggle to contain the Patriots’ front four, and Chandler Jones in particular has been a tremendous complement to Vince Wilfork on the line. Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo are both fierce against the run, making the idea that Greene will have another banner day an unlikely possibility. Greene will need to rush for at least 100 yards (more likely 125) for the Jets’ to have a realistic chance to compete in this game, but it is more likely that he will be in the 50-60 range; the Patriots recognize Greene as the strength of the Jets’ offense, and will take that strength away. The Jets’ like to find ways to utilize Joe McKnight (if he is available) and he has the potential to bust off a big play or two but once again, the Patriots’ run defense is better than the Colts.

In the air, even Mark Sanchez could have connected on some of the plays that Russell Wilson made on Sunday, but truthfully Wilson already has better judgment as well as more mobility to be a more effective quarterback. The Jets’ thin receiving corps is comprised of Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Dustin Keller, and Chaz Schilens, and is not the same type of threatening group that the Patriots faced in Seattle. Given Sanchez’ propensity for bad decisions, the Patriots will likely be able to force some mistakes and give their offense a short field, particularly given the pass rush that the Patriots can bring to bear against a suspect offensive line. While you can expect the Jets to hit one or two long sideline passes over the course of the game, I rather suspect the safety play in the middle will be cleaned up before this game begins. Additionally, the Jets may play with the Wildcat offense; expect Tebow to trot onto the field for a couple of series’ worth of plays, grab a first down or two, and get stuffed for a loss or two, but the Patriots will not allow Tebow to change the course of the game.

Special Teams

Both the Patriots and Jets have solid kicking units, though the Patriots’ punt cover team is susceptible to giving up a big return and Jeremy Kerley is capable of delivering. Similarly, Wes Welker has a knack for turning bad field position into good field position, so big plays are a possibility on either side. Look for the Jets to treat this game like they have nothing to lose, and fake runs and passes with Tebow in on the punt team are very likely. The Patriots will have to spy every special teams play to prevent this from turning the tide of the game.

Prediction

Obviously, I am expecting the Patriots to rebound for at least Week Seven. The Jets are coming in to Foxboro at exactly the right time and are going to have a hard time with the Patriots’ new diversity on offense. On defense the Patriots front seven will take away the Jets’ best chance to win the game (Greene) and force the ball into Mark Sanchez’ hands. Sanchez is no Russell Wilson, and will have a hard time executing over the middle of the field.

Even with the Patriots’ defensive woes, it is hard to imagine the Jets scoring more than 17 points, if you assume Sanchez to be good for one scoring drive, and allow for one big special teams play and a big play from Tebow. On the flip side, expect the Patriots offense to be angry for failing to execute when it counted on Sunday and to be looking to pile it on the Jets this Sunday. After an early exchange of scores, I look for the Patriots to take control of the game in the second and third quarters, and to close out the game in the fourth quarter by running the rock and pouring the points on. Patriots 41 Jets 17.

Jul 092012
 

First of all, as resident “newbie” (and this being my first real post), we need to set a few things straight. First, I’m very happy to be here to set the record straight against all this Pats fan propaganda that the Ghost Rat has been stinking up the AFC East section with… your team is good, we are all very happy for you (especially the New York Giants haha) but the competition in the AFC East is stronger than you may think. Second, yes – I probably am just as outrageous and delusional as every other Jets fan you have ever met. Get used to it.

I’m here to tell you that Gang Green is coming back this year with a vengeance and because I like you so much… I’ll tell you the reasons why:

Reasons the Jets will be AWESOME this season:

1. We have better players.
Across the board, the Jets have much better players than they had last year. This is most evident in two areas:
Safety – Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry (assuming he can get/stay healthy) are a more powerful, more experienced, more dynamic duo then Leonard/Smith ever were. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED Jim Leonard – but Eric Smith tackles even worse than he covers the deep ball and though neither Bell nor Landry are long term solutions – they will be much better than the alternative.
Wide Receiver – outside of our veteran diva who seems only interested in continuing to see if he can get “tone time” to catch on, the Jets WR core is bigger, faster, stronger, and YOUNGER. We saw last year that rookie Jeremy Kerley could be a deadly (sure-handed) weapon in the slot; now add his speed to that of our newest rookie Stephen Hill who is tall like Plax, blocks like Braylon, but has the speed that this positions has lacked. Hill ran the 40 in 4.3 seconds at the combine this year – this guy is FAST! Number 4 and 5 guys like the veteran Chaz Schilens and the 6’5”- 220lb – Patrick Turner also provide some depth that the Jets haven’t enjoyed in a long time.

2. The Wildcat
… I know, you were waiting for me to talk about Tebow. Well here you go. The Wildcat will be the best it has been in Jets history. Not only is our Wildcat guy a better QB than Brad Smith and Jeremy Kerley ever were, but he is probably faster and more experienced in it as well. Along with Tebow (who poses both ground and air problems for defenses), the Jets front line is healthy and hungry. My boy Matt Slauson (out of Nebraska) who had shoulder injuries throughout the whole last year is at full health and ready to get back to leveling DTs all over the league. Finally, the outside of our box got a lot stronger this year. We said goodbye to the worthless Matt Mulligan (TE) and have accepted that Dustin Keller will never learn how to block to make room for some young guys like Josh Baker (TE), Terrance Ganaway (Rookie RB), and the infamous Terminator to get involved.

3. The Coaching Staff
Take the incredible defensive mind of Rex Ryan, pair that with the guru of great special teams play Mike Westhoff and add the disciplined, run-heavy, father of the wildcat – Tony Sparano and you are likely to find success. Jets fans will no longer be able to play the Brian Schottenheimer drinking game (taking a shot every time a fullback lines up as a wide out, a run call is played on third and (very) long, or the slowest receiver is targeted on a screen pass) this season because Gang Green has new leadership. Rex is thinner, quieter, and watching his words and the consistent message from players, coaches, scouts, and the front office has been that the locker room dynamic is at the top of the priority list this season. When a guy like Bart Scott comes out and says that the Jets will be better because they don’t have their old sense of entitlement anymore… that says something.

4. GROUND AND POUND
I don’t care how many ESPN analysts say that the NFL is a passing league first – the Jets are at our best when we are beating the pulp out of defenses over and over again. Shonn Greene has his back against the wall and if he doesn’t need his typical 7 game warm up period, Jets fans are going to like his production. Greene, Tebow, McKnight, (the occasional Conner and Ganaway) and a healthy/hungry O-Line will rival any D-Line and will do a lot to set up Mark Sanchez in the one place he actually does excel – the play action.

5. We’re still the JETS!
I don’t care if you like us or not, but you have to admit… The Jets are just awesome. We are loud, in your face, old-school football at its best. We have a great defense, we have a great balance of young guys and veterans you love to watch, and we never stop finding ways to beat you. You have to be on your game when facing our run game, our special teams, our secondary, our pass rush (oh you better believe it’s coming back)… We may not always take ourselves seriously, but you better while you prepare to face us.

Confused?

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. Mr. Reyno, how are you going to tell us that the Jets will be awesome when you predicted they would go just 9-7? Well my loyal (first time) readers, that is because awesome does not equate good. The Jets have missed out on a few things that will likely keep them from success this season. For every step we took forward, we took a few steps back.

Reasons Awesome ≠ Playoffs

1. Depth…
This is our biggest issue. The talent gap between our top players and their backups is larger than Gronkowski’s ego. Think about it. What hope do we have if Shonn Greene gets hurt and we have to rely on Joe McKnight exclusively as our starter? What if Brick gets hurt and we have to use Vladmir Ducasse? If John Conner gets hurt do we even have another FB??? These are the things that keep me up at night.

2. Wayne Hunter
I don’t need to explain this do I? Basically, if you haven’t followed football much over that last year, Wayne Hunter is the Jets Right Tackle. He is bad at football. The End.

3. Mike Tannenbaum
How can a GM ruin a season? Just you wait… this man has a gift for making absurd decisions. I’m hoping that our first round draft pick in 2013 is a new GM but it looks less and less like my wish will ever come true.

4. Other teams will be better than us
It is going to be very difficult to be the team to beat in the AFC East when 2/3 of the Dolphins possible starting QBs are probably better than both of ours and the Bills and Patriots seem to understand complex equations that have plagued our front office for years like: How to sign free agents that will be helpful to your team or How to draft based on your teams current needs

5. We’re still the JETS
Don’t think we will stay muzzled forever. You have Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes, Bart Scott, and Tim Tebow on one team. So what do you get when you take the equation: Boisterous + Diva + Cocky + Polarizing … you get problems.

So is it better to be awesome or good? I don’t really know. Someday I’d like to be both. Either way you spin it though, one thing is for sure. It’s still better than being a Browns fan. :-)

Thank you for visiting Reyno Island!