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Jets Journal

Jane McManus of The Journal News on the Jets.

Archive for January, 2009

Let’s recap your opinions


During the course of the season, I asked a lot of questions on the so-called democracy poll. The rules were simple, you were only allowed to answer once, and you had to pick one of the four answers provided. I tried to make it so write-in votes counted, but it never seemed to work.

First up though, the Jets still need to pick a QB coach and a D Line coach. Then it’s on to players and free agency starting on Feb. 28.

Anyway, thought you might find it interesting to see what you thought, here are about half of the questions posed over the season.

May 5: Which Draft pick will have the most immediate impact? Vernon Gholston.

May 16: Who should be the Jets’ starting quarterback? Kellen Clemens.

July 24: Do the Jets even need a new stadium? Yes, they can’t play in Giants Stadium.

Sept. 30: Who do you think will make the biggest impact upon return? David Clowney.

Oct. 12: Which receiver will have the most impressive year? Jerricho Cotchery.

Nov. 6: Favre and another year? If the Jets do well, he’ll be back.

Nov. 18: What do you think the Jets will end up? 12-4.

Nov. 28: Five straight wins, what do you expect from the Jets against Denver? Jets struggle against a pass-heavy offense, but win.

Dec. 2: Now what? Is the loss to Denver a bad sign? Jets win out.

Dec. 17: The Jets have an NFL-best 7 players selected for the Pro Bowl. Your first thought? If Mangini can’t make it to the playoffs with this, he’s in trouble.

Dec. 25: The future of Brett Favre? Back mowing his own lawn in Hattiesburg after retiring next week.

Dec. 31: Oh Brett, *sigh.* Let’s give this another shot. I think we can make this work.

Jan. 5: Being a Jets fan is… A fan is a fan, you can’t just bail out if things don’t go your way.

Well, have you learned anything about yourselves?

Posted by Jane McManus on Saturday, January 31st, 2009 at 3:22 pm |

The return of Herm


Not to the Jets, but Herm Edwards will be an NFL analyst for ESPN next season. When I got on the beat this year, I noticed my fellow writers would practically tear up when talking about Herm and how great he was to interact with.

During the week of the Kansas City game, the Jets writers got Herm on the conference call and it was like old home week. Given that engaging personna, ESPN might be the perfect stop for Edwards. Plenty of coaches go on to rehab careers after a difficult season, or park there, like Fran Frascilla did after years coaching NCAA basketball.

Posted by Jane McManus on Thursday, January 29th, 2009 at 2:05 pm |

Sutton stays as Ryan sets staff


Rex Ryan is getting his staff together, and the Jets made some changes official. Former defensive coordinator Bob Sutton will remain part of the Jets staff, at defensive assistant for linebackers. Other adds are wide receivers coach Henry Ellard, running backs coach Anthony Lynn, assistant secondary coach Doug Plank and secondary coach Dennis Thurman.

That means Jimmy Raye is out as running backs coach, and he is being interviewed by San Francisco. Even though Eric Mangini didn’t let us within a country mile of Raye, the players had a lot of respect for him.

So, to recap, Brian Schottenheimer will remain offensive coordinator, former Baltimore defensive assistant Mike Pettine is now defensive coordinator and Mike Westhoff remains on special teams. Although Kevin O’Dea officially held the special teams title even after Westhoff returned last year, I wouldn’t expect him to return.

How do you like your staff?

Schotty should have a lot of sway here, considering he is the strongest holdover from last year and the fact that Rex Ryan is a defensive guy. The Jets must see something that many of the fans haven’t. The adjustments in game were a real problem for the offense, but interceptions can drive a stake through the best schemes. And Mangini (another defensive guy) really controlled all three phases. This year should reveal how much the botched calls were a function of the former head coach.

Posted by Jane McManus on Thursday, January 29th, 2009 at 9:42 am |


The Oracle by Proxy


The Oracle of Hattiesburg has let proxy Peter King in on his thinking about whether or not he intends to return next season and quarterback the Jets, and apparently Brett Favre is leaning toward retirement.

That may be the result of players like Kerry Rhodes, Jets coach Rex Ryan and team owner Woody Johnson‘s preference for him to work out with the team during the off season. In the past, Favre has used a personal trainer and stayed home in Hattiesburg to work out rather that physically staying in Green Bay.

“You’re kidding yourself if you think he’s going to move back to New Jersey for 12 to 16 weeks in March,” King wrote on Monday.

I know we have a vocal Favre contingient here, so let me say that there is no judgement on my part in this. He has been a quarterback for nearly two decades and can feel he’s earned the right to sit out of OTAs. The Jets however, feel strongly that the unit needs the offseason to knit with a new coach.

Are they too much at odds to come together?

Posted by Jane McManus on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 at 10:59 am |

Ryan challenges the fans


The day that Rex Ryan came on board, he took a moment during a question about Vernon Gholston to issue a challenge to the fans. Here is what the new Jets coach said.

“I’m excited about this opportunity,” Ryan said. “There’s some talent here that I think if you put them in a certain style of play you’re going to see some great things. I expect to always be in the top five in the NFL in defense. With that being said, I want to challenge our fans.

“Our fans are part of our defense, in particular. They’re obviously part of our whole football team, but in particular you can see the value of your fans in how you play defense at home. I bring that up because I’m excited about this opportunity. I know the Jets’ fans. This is going to be great. This is a great marriage right here, I can honestly say. The style of defense that we’re going to play, with our fans, ‘whoo,’ it’s going to be rough on people.”

I didn’t really see what he was challenging the fans to do. It seems like he had the beginnings of what he wanted to say and then backed off a little. Is he saying he wants them to scream their lungs out at the Meadowlands? That the fans need to be less critical?

And are you willing to go along with him?

Posted by Jane McManus on Monday, January 26th, 2009 at 8:35 pm |

Staffing and roster additions


The Jets are bringing players and coaches on now that coach Rex Ryan is in place. He has retained Brian Schottenheimer and added defensive quality control coach Jim O’Neil and defensive assistant Jeff Weeks. O’Neil was with Eastern Michigan University the last three seasons as recruiting coordinator and safeties coach. Weeks was in the same role with the Raiders last season.

In addition, a slew of players were signed to reserve or futures contracts. Names are below.

DL Kareem Brown, RB Jehuu Caulcrick, DE Kenwin Cummings, OL Stanley Daniels, WR Marcus Henry, RB Noah Herron, RB Marcus Mason, DE Ropati Pitoitua, WR Paul Raymond, LB Brandon Renkart, DT Brian Schafering and WR Huey Whittaker.

Posted by Jane McManus on Saturday, January 24th, 2009 at 2:22 pm |


To the puzzle of Gholston


Rex Ryan made a point of calling out Vernon Gholston. The new Jets coach did it in a nice way, saying that the first round draft pick had a ton of potential and that he was just the defensive-minded coach to take on the project.

To the facts. In the year end stats that the Jets just released, Gholston is last on the list of defensive tackles with — wait for it — one solo tackle. A full season and just that one. Sure, he had four assists for a grand total of five, but check out some of the names on the list above him: Abram Elam, Cody Spencer, Drew Coleman, Donald Duck

All right, so that last one was a cheap shot.

And Gholston did have 12 combined tackles on special teams. Not to mention that he seems like a decent person who has been struggling with the process of coming to the NFL.

He is lucky that his salary is so large that it is in the Jets best interest to keep working with him. Gholston has $21 million in guaranteed money over the life of his five-year contract. He makes that even if he never records another tackle. When he was asked about the linebacker on Wednesday, Ryan gave one of his longest answers of the day. The abridged version:

“He’s going to have to humble himself, just like Terrell Suggs did,” Ryan said.

He compared Gholston to the Baltimore linebacker who some considered a bust. Ryan worked with him, and the rest is history. Maybe Ryan and his new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine really can turn Gholston from a project to a Pro Bowler.

“That’s (Ryan’s) confidence,” Pettine said. “But he knows if the guy has it in him, we’re going to get it out of him. That’s just what we believe in. We’ve had that mentality in Baltimore for a long time on defense ever since Rex has been there. What we’ve done a good job of doing is identifying what a guy can do and let him do that. ‘Let’s turn him loose and let him play to his strengths at the same time we’re working on what he might be deficient in.’ A guy like Vernon, we’re going to find out early what he can do. I think a big part with him is getting him some confidence early.”

Posted by Jane McManus on Friday, January 23rd, 2009 at 5:02 pm |

This is a little meta…


Now that we’ve gotten the news out of the way, I’m going to give you my personal take on what yesterday was like.

In the Eric Mangini era, assistant coaches were not allowed to talk to reporters (other than the NFL mandate of every other week). Mangini feared that if he made, say, war hero Ben Kotwika available for a Veteran’s Day story, that it would make the other coaches jealous and eventually Jimmy Raye and Brian Daboll might succumb to the desire to stab him with plastic sporks in the cafeteria.

So yesterday the scribes asked new coach Rex Ryan if we would be able to speak to assistants and his response was along the lines of, “Sure, why not.”

Is that a choir I hear? Is the snow melting already?

Now, I’m not necessarily thinking Ryan is the Jets savior. The odds are against him, as they are against every one who has taken that job since 1970. But I do believe that he will make it easier for us to get to know the players and coaches on this team and, by extension, for you to find out about your team.

A few examples — reporters and cameras were led to the auditorium yesterday. This was the first time we’d seen much of the interior of the new Jets facility. In fact, reporters are so used to being led around the building rather than through hallways that two writers walked outside by rote to get to the media room, when the interior doors were open and unlocked. Mangini was afraid we might see something on the way to the field or lockers.

A wall in the small media room will be knocked down to make the place larger. It’s a move tangible and symbolic.

I asked Woody Johnson yesterday if this openness would continue and he assured me it would, that he felt the fans haven’t gotten a chance to know the players.

Players have been given media training over the years to teach them how not to talk to reporters. It’s made finding an interesting piece of information very difficult. If players can be themselves, it certainly makes them more relatable.

Now, if you think I’m just being a whiny prima donna, (and oh, I’ve been called worse), I ask you this: Did such restrictive policies make the Jets better? Did it help them win?

The answer is that the militaristic mindset alienated players and ultimately led to Mangini’s downfall. Whether the new good vibes can help the Jets win remains to be seen.

UPDATE 5:15: Johnson said on the Michael Kay Show that he had spoken to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and expects that Schotty will stay. Ryan and Schotty had a meeting scheduled for today.

Posted by Jane McManus on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 at 6:14 pm |

Schotty and D-Rex meet today


On the Boomer and Carton in the Morning show on WFAN, new Jets coach Rex Ryan said he was scheduled to meet with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer today. Schottenheimer was a strong candidate for the Jets head coaching job, and might have gotten it if Baltimore kept winning, but has yet to decide whether he will remain as OC.

Ryan said he wanted Schotty to stay, and could understand the assistant’s disappointment. Last year he was passed over for the Baltimore head job after nine years with the team.

Posted by Jane McManus on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 at 8:52 am |


Rex on Favre


The first question posed to Rex Ryan was about the status of Brett Favre. (OK, I was the one who asked, but it really is his most pressing issue as coach.) His response — who wouldn’t want Favre? — was his least candid answer of the day.

For one, Green Bay didn’t want Favre. After the last five games of the season, there were plenty of Jets fans who didn’t want him either. The ground on that seems to be shifting, and with Ryan as coach, Favre might have a better shot than under Eric Mangini.

Ryan said he hadn’t yet spoken to Favre. Perhaps he wants the dust to settle a little before they talk, but Ryan seems like the kind of coach who would be compatible with the Mississippi quarterback (pictured here on the White Rivers Whitetails website, those deer are mighty docile!).

One snag could be the offseason training program. Favre didn’t hit Green Bay until training camp, and worked out with a personal trainer at home instead. This year, those meetings will be all the more important since all the players will be learning Ryan’s system.

Favre is skipping the Pro Bowl due to the injured arm. You can try to read the tea leaves on that. Either he is protecting the injury in hopes of playing again or he is so done with football that he isn’t up for the party.

General manager Mike Tannenbaum seems to want to keep Favre hunting for a little while, to keep him from being a distraction. But the Jets need to have the Favre issue settled. If he doesn’t come back, the Jets will immediately need to secure a quarterback either in house or through free agency. That position is crucial to Ryan’s success as a first-year coach.

Here is our story in The Journal News on Ryan’s brash opening press conference yesterday. He gave the kind of quotes the New York media loves while you’re winning. Ryan knows those words could come back to haunt him if they lose. That’s OK, Ryan said, he likes high expectations.

Posted by Jane McManus on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 at 8:28 am |

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A team of Journal News reporters share their thoughts on the Jets with the Lower Hudson fans.

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Jane McManusJane McManus joined The Journal News in 1999, after working at The Daily News and Newsday. Since she's been here, she's covered everything from girls basketball to the Final Four, the U.S. Open of both golf and tennis and recreational sports from rock climbing to roller derby (which she liked so much she joined the team). READ MORE
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