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santana Icon : (Yesterday, 09:36 PM) Well fine! I'll start another fanboard with black jack and hookers! Infact forget the fanboard!
MikeGangGree... Icon : (Yesterday, 10:27 PM) Was the best time of your playing days the Monday night game against Dallas in 05??
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Strategy In Draft May Leave Jets Short Of Depth

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 11:48 AM

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Strategy in Draft May Leave Jets Short of Depth

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Behind the desk in Mike Tannenbaum’s office, a three-sided whiteboard hangs on the wall. It is loaded with magnets, one for each player on the Jets’ roster — a visual representation of the underperforming and the overachieving, the injured and the fit, and everybody in between.

In truth, that board is more than a depth chart. For Tannenbaum, it is a daily puzzle to solve and a stark reminder of the decisions he has made during his six and a half years as general manager.

Only two current Jets, Sione Po’uha and Brandon Moore, predate Tannenbaum’s tenure, which began in February 2006. Everyone else has arrived under his watch, a team created in his image, built to his, and Coach Rex Ryan’s, specifications. Not long ago, they reached two straight A.F.C. championship games. But now the Jets, after a disastrous finish to 2011, are reeling again, even at 2-2. They are struggling to score, pass, run, defend, tackle and keep their fans’ interest, which waned in the second half of a 34-0 home defeat last week to San Francisco.

Their flaws — a paucity of offensive playmakers, a meager pass rush and an erratic quarterback — are no less obvious in October than they were in August or June or April, long before season-ending injuries claimed Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes. At the Jets’ season-ending news conference in January, Tannenbaum vowed that he would field a better team. He was asked in an interview last week whether he had fulfilled that mission.

“Absolutely,” Tannenbaum said. “I still think we have a chance to accomplish everything we want to.”

That is, the Super Bowl. The expectations have not changed, even if by any realistic measure they should. On Monday night, the Jets will play undefeated Houston with Clyde Gates, Lex Hilliard, Konrad Reuland and Jason Hill in line to play significant roles on offense. None were with the team in training camp.

Roster-depleting injuries are inevitable, and the Jets — with Holmes, Revis, Dustin Keller and Stephen Hill — have endured a disproportionate share. But there are teams who seem better equipped to overcome them.

“I think there are some teams whose last eight or nine guys are pretty darn strong,” said Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout for three N.F.L. teams who now works for NFL Network. “I don’t think this is the case here.”

When last season ended, the Jets were like a house in disrepair. They needed to fix the boiler (right tackle), paint the walls (proven receiver) and refinish the floors (impact pass rusher). They wound up spackling holes, replacing the well-worn carpet (safety upgrades with LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell) and buying an HD television for a guest bedroom (Tim Tebow). However much the Jets adore Tebow and value his versatility, so far he has been little more than a decoy and a distraction.

“I’ll give him a grade of incomplete,” Tannenbaum said. “Let’s have that discussion in December.”

A discussion could have been held about Wayne Hunter’s poor performance last December, when the Eagles exposed him. The Jets misjudged his ability to replace Damien Woody, and it took eight months — seven, counting their failed trade for Jeff Otah — before the situation became so untenable that, after allowing two and a half sacks in a preseason game against the Giants, Hunter was shipped to St. Louis.

Realizing that he needed to infuse the offense with younger, faster players, Tannenbaum drafted Stephen Hill, longing for packages that would include Hill, Holmes, Keller, Jeremy Kerley and, at running back, Bilal Powell or Joe McKnight.

By failing to add an established No. 2 complement to Holmes, the Jets heaped responsibility on Hill, who was rarely thrown to in a triple-option offense. Hill had a strong debut, but before being sidelined by a hamstring injury, he dropped two passes in Miami, including a potential touchdown.

“The lack of explosive players at the skill positions on offense, that’s what jumps out at me,” Jeremiah said. “You’d like to have one dynamic weapon on the outside, which I don’t necessarily think they have. You’d also like to have a running back capable of hitting a home run, and they don’t have that.”

That back would be Shonn Greene, who has been disappointing this season. Tannenbaum moved up to take Greene in the third round in 2009, an aggressive strategy that helped him select Keller, Revis, Mark Sanchez and David Harris but one that contrasted sharply with the methodology that Tannenbaum lauded as a senior at the University of Massachusetts.

There, he wrote a paper — which earned an A, according to his professor, Lisa Pike Masteralexis — exploring how to construct a championship team. Analyzing the 49ers, Tannenbaum asserted that Bill Walsh’s preference for trading back to amass a high volume of selections built San Francisco’s core.

Tannenbaum favors quality over quantity, often using his picks to trade up — or to acquire players with troubled pasts: Antonio Cromartie, Braylon Edwards, Holmes — while filling the back of his roster with practice-squad signings (Austin Howard) and waiver claims (Gates and Reuland). It can be a risky tactic. Of the 65 players on the Jets’ roster as of Friday, 26 were acquired through the draft, the ninth-lowest percentage in the N.F.L., according to the Elias Sports Bureau. “They have not, in my estimation, done a very good job of selecting players,” said the former Dallas executive Gil Brandt, who analyzes college players and the draft for NFL.com. Assessing their strategy, Brandt mentioned Bill Belichick of New England: “Why do you think Belichick trades and gets so many draft picks? Would you rather have two chances to win the lottery or one?”

Tannenbaum has presided over seven drafts. The first three, with Eric Mangini as coach, produced a prominent bust in Vernon Gholston but also cornerstones like Revis, Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and valuable pieces like Brad Smith, Eric Smith and Leon Washington.

In Ryan’s four drafts, the Jets have made 21 picks — tied with New Orleans for fewest in the N.F.L. Nineteen of the league’s 32 teams drafted a Pro Bowl player in that time, with three (Packers, Patriots, Steelers) taking multiple, but the Jets are not one of them. None of their players acquired for picks have been so honored, either.

Recent selections like Muhammad Wilkerson, Kerley and Powell have revealed promise, but it is unclear whether their most prominent pick, Sanchez, will ever perform at a level worthy of being chosen fifth over all. Vlad Ducasse has yet to validate his second-round grade, and although the first-round pick Quinton Coples has fared capably at defensive end, he has yet to register the impact of Chandler Jones of New England, selected five spots later, who was named the A.F.C.’s top defensive rookie in September.

Since Ryan’s arrival, the Jets have added several players with character issues, believing that he can reform them. It worked with Cromartie but not Holmes, whose petulance created a locker room rift. The Jets aspire to squeeze every drop of production out of a player before discarding him, though they have not always found suitable replacements for players considered replaceable: a dependable blocking tight end like Ben Hartsock; a reliable possession receiver like Jerricho Cotchery; a vertical threat like Edwards, though Hill is a raw approximation.

“The best organizations that show sustainable success are the ones that can make the hard decisions,” Tannenbaum said.

When Tannenbaum examines that whiteboard, he sees the results of those decisions. It is only going to get harder.


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