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Posted 7 Jan 2016WILLIAMS IS KIPER'S TOP DEFENSIVE ROOKIE
Leonard Williams was the top player on Mel Kiper's Big Board last year, and he's lived up to that billing. Kudos to the Jets for passing on need for value. Kiper's all-rookie team (Insider)
Posted 21 Dec 2015Reaching into the Week 15 mailbag for a question on the New York Jets :
Patrick Wilson @Wilmonger
@RichCimini Demarco Murray an option at RB next season? Seems like a buy low option like the Marshall trade #jetsmail
@RichCimini: It's a very interesting thought, one worth exploring. Ultimately, I think the Jets would find it cost-prohibitive, but let's take a look at it anyway.
This, of course, is based on the assumption the Philadelphia Eagles would be willing to sell low. Obviously, it hasn't worked out with DeMarco Murray, so, yeah, I could see Chip Kelly -- if he's still in charge -- putting him on the trading block. We also know the Jets will be looking for a running back (probably two) because Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell and Stevan Ridley will be free agents.The Eagles could trade Murray without wrecking their cap. Right now, his cap number for 2016 is $8 million, but they'd cut that in half by dealing him, according to Overthecap.com. They'd get stuck with $4 million in dead money, which is manageable.
Now look at it from the Jets' perspective. Murray has four years, $29.5 million remaining on his contract, including a $7 million guarantee in 2016 and a $2 million guarantee in 2017. The guaranteed money isn't ridiculous; they absorbed roughly the same amount when they traded for Brandon Marshall. The problem is the total compensation in 2016 and 2017 -- $14.5 million.The Jets probably could re-sign Ivory and Powell for that price. Looking at recent running-back contracts, Ivory figures to land something in the $3-million to $4-million-a-year range. Case in point: Ryan Mathews, whose career numbers are close to those of Ivory, signed a three-year, $11-million contract last offseason with the Eagles. Remember, the free-agent market isn't what it used to be for backs, with a few exceptions.
With cap issues looming, I don't think the Jets would be willing to pay $7 million a year to one back. Ivory might not be on Murray's level, but he's pretty close and they're the same age, 27. Me? I'd re-sign Ivory, draft a back in the third or fourth round and use the leftover money at another position.
Posted 21 Aug 2015ó As Todd Bowles walked through the indoor field at Jetsí headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, his partially replaced right knee wrapped in ice, he came upon his star defender giving an interview. There was Darrelle Revis, sitting on a bench and preparing to answer a question about how Bowlesís defensive style compares to that of other coaches the cornerback has played for. Before Revis could speak, Bowles chimed in. ďYes, what are they?Ē he said, walking by without breaking stride.
ďCome on, coach,Ē a laughing Revis teased back.
Bowlesí easy rapport with perhaps the most important player in the locker room is critical. Just seven months into his tenure as the Jetsí head coach, Bowles has already faced a crisis heard íround the NFL. Geno Smithís broken jaw, inflicted by IK Enemkpaliís locker-room punch, has knocked the prospective starting quarterback out six to 10 weeks. That imbroglio occurred just a few weeks after defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was charged with resisting arrest, which could keep him off the field for longer than his four-game drug suspension. Bowles, who inherited the majority of his roster, was suddenly faced with holding his team together under the glare of the New York and national media.
Who is Todd Bowles ? And what is he made of as a leader ? The MMQB sat down with him this week to find out.
VRENTAS: Youíve had an interesting week. When you first heard what had happened between Smith and Enemkpali, what was your first reaction? Was there a part of you that thought someone was trying to prank you?
BOWLES: No. This is football. Theyíre grown men, and theyíve got to handle things better. You handle it the same way you handle any crisis, whether it was Sheldonís thing or whether it was something else. Youíre disappointed, and then youíve got to look for solutions.
ĎI donít put up any fronts,í Bowles says. ĎWhat you see is what you get.í
VRENTAS: Thereís not a road map for how a head coach should handle one player punching another one in the locker room.
BOWLES: Definitely not. Not a road map. But if youíve been in this business long enough you see quite a few things that happen. You just donít want it to be your team, but when itís your team, youíve got to have a good pulse of your team to see how you handle it.
VRENTAS: Was there a situation from your playing or coaching career that has been helpful?
BOWLES: My whole career (chuckles). You see a lot, and you go through a lot. It doesnít necessarily have to be on your team. It can be on different teams. You try to learn from othersí mistakes so it doesnít have to be yours. Over your whole career, you see a lot in this business, so nothing really surprises you. The first time youíre like, Wow; then the next time, youíre like, OK; then just nothing surprises you. You donít want it to happen, but youíve got to deal with it.
VRENTAS: You were an interim head coach before, after the head coach was fired in Miami, and you were an interim defensive coordinator in Philadelphia, after the defensive coordinator was fired. What did those experiences teach you about holding players together in turbulent situations?
BOWLES: It teaches you to be yourself, and not to get too high or too low when situations happen. Youíve just got to be ready to handle them. Because if you panic, everybody else panics. You canít panic.
VRENTAS: Are you watching to see how players handle last weekís incident as test of sorts for what you have in the locker room?
BOWLES: I know what I have in there. We have some good guys, and we have some good leaders in that locker room. Thatís not even a question. Every day is a test, and things come up, and you learn how to handle them together. Itís easy to handle them by yourself, but as a team, you have to handle them together. You have to be walking on the same page.
VRENTAS: Did what happened last week cause you to change any part of your approach as a head coach?
BOWLES: No, you canít change your approach. Certain things are going to happen that are out of your control. You have to make sure everybody knows and understands and makes sure it doesnít happen again.
VRENTAS: Will it affect how you view or coach Geno?
BOWLES: Not one thing. Nothing changed.
VRENTAS: You coached with Bill Parcells for two seasons in Dallas, when you were the Cowboysí secondary coach. What did you take from being a part of his staff?
BOWLES: Everybody talks about the snarl and the demeanor, but heís a very sharp, intelligent guy. I donít think he gets enough credit for being such a smart football coach. And he teaches you the ball game. Heís a no-excuse, no-nonsense guy, but he teaches you how to coach the game, how to see the game, and he taught a lot of people how to play the game. On that staff, in 2005, we had a bunch of people who were pretty good coaches: [Sean] Payton, [Tony] Sparano, [Todd] Haley, Kacy Rodgers.
VRENTAS: Youíre the seventh member of that í05 Cowboys staff hired as a head coach.
BOWLES: That says a lot about [Parcells]. It doesnít say anything about us. It says a lot about him, and how he picks and grooms coaches, and what he can do with people, and how he sees talent and develops talent. Heís a Hall of Famer, and that says a bunch about him.
VRENTAS: Your most recent influence before becoming a head coach was Bruce Arians in Arizona. What rubbed off from him?
BOWLES: Bruce was my college head coach, so being a head coach with him in the league, he trusted me to be myself. Bruceís [mentality] is defend every blade of grass, and always try to win every game. So he taught me the ďno fearĒ attitude, which I already had, but he ensured it. And you play to win, all the time. In case of doubt, you play full speed. You donít back off; youíre going for all or nothing.
VRENTAS: ďNo fearĒ in what respect?
BOWLES: How you play the game. Donít be afraid to take chances and do things. Just play the game as you see it. If you have a thought, let it go through. Donít second-guess yourself. Just go ahead and do it, and you live with the results.
VRENTAS: He always did that on offense. Go deep, and donít settle for the check-downs.
BOWLES: Yes, he did. But it was calculated. It wasnít just a whole aerial show. It was calculated in the things he did. When itís calculated, donít have any doubts. Just make sure you pull the trigger.
VRENTAS: Your defense has played that way, blitzing as much as you did in Arizona last season.
BOWLES: We did. But again, it was all calculated. Those guys were good players. They made me look good.
VRENTAS: Did you talk to Arians after what happened last week?
BOWLES: He texted me, to make sure I was alright. I said I was fine. He said OK, if you need to vent, let me know. I said OK.
VRENTAS: Have you taken him up on that offer?
BOWLES: No, heís got his own team to run. You donít do that. (laughs) In the offseason, though, I might vent to him a little bit.
VRENTAS: Youíve put up a strong front publicly responding to crises on your team. Do you feel like youíve responded well?
BOWLES: I donít put up any fronts. What you see is what you get. You donít look back and say youíve done a good or bad job. Itís a learning process. I donít care if youíve been a coach in this league for 10, 15 years, itís an ever-growing process. You just try to weather the storm the best you can, and move forward and make sure the team is focused. There will be more things that come up throughout my coaching career, Iím sure. And you handle that as they come.
VRENTAS: The transition from coordinator to head coach is always an interesting one. How have you balanced your responsibilities?
BOWLES: Itís still a work in progress. You try to do a little bit of one thing one week, then you do a little bit the next week. You try to put your foot in where needed until you get a good feel for your team, which I think I do at this point. Itís a steady balancing act. You donít ever get to say, Iím doing one thing all the time. Itís always a little bit of this, a little bit of that.
VRENTAS: Have you decided whether you want to call the defense during the regular season?
BOWLES: No, because [in the first preseason game], we were just letting guys play. There was no game-planning or play-calling really involved. It was very generic, and we were just trying to make sure guys could run around fast and know what they were doing. Weíll get a good feel these next two games coming up. A lot of other coaches [call plays], so itís no big deal. You just want to see where your your team is at before you do that.
VRENTAS: What identity do you want your defense to have?
BOWLES: Aggressive. Weíre going to try to be an offensive defensive team. We try to dictate and not be dictated to. Thatís pretty much what it is.
VRENTAS: In picking an offensive coordinator, did you want someone who would complement that style?
BOWLES: Itís whole different set of circumstances. You donít want him to be conservative, but you want him to be well-rounded. You want him to be able to teach, first of all. I wanted a good balance between the run game and the pass game. I wanted a guy that I know could command a room, but yet relate to the players and get his point across, and do a bunch of things that we do on defense but from an offensive standpoint. Chan [Gailey] was that guy.
VRENTAS: When news of the locker room fight broke, and Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped into the starting role, there were some people in the league who were more concerned about facing Fitzpatrick early in the season because of his long history in Gaileyís system. How big of a factor was that familiarity with the offense in bringing Fitzpatrick in?
BOWLES: You bring him in because heís played a bunch of games in this league and heís smart. You bring him in because he knows how to play. We brought him in because we still thought he could be a good player.
VRENTAS: With Rex Ryan in Buffalo and Mike Tannenbaum in Miami, your division rivals are people who have been in this buildingóthey either coached or drafted your players. What kind of impact will that have on those games?
BOWLES: It makes it more interesting from a fan standpoint and a commentary standpoint. As a coach, you canít approach it any other way. If youíre in this league long enough, youíre going to bounce around some places. All those guys have been in this building before. But that doesnít have any bearing on the football game, so youíve got to kind of keep it separate.
VRENTAS: But these are guys who know your playersí motivations, know their strengths and weaknesses, have coached them or drafted them.
BOWLES: Iíve been a lot of places where theyíve coached my players. Thatís not a big deal. Players play for whatever reason they play. They play because they want to show those guys they can still play, and they play for themselves, and they play for the team. It is very interesting having all of them in the same division, though. I canít recall that before. Itís interesting.
VRENTAS: Your reputation so far has been that you are understated. Will that change?
BOWLES: I just go with what the day says. If everything isnít going right, Iíll probably be upset. If things are, Iíll probably be calm. If there are big plays, Iíll be excited. I just coach. I donít worry about the understatement or the overstatement. Your personality comes out as it goes. You canít just make one.
VRENTAS: What makes you believe in your team this season?
BOWLES: The guys we have, and the coaches we have coaching those guys. Weíve got some proven players and guys that have been dong it for a while. And we have some exciting new young guys. If we can jell, and the chemistry can come together, and the injury bug doesnít bite us, we have a chance to have a solid team.
Posted 23 Jun 2015For the third straight year, the Around The NFL crew will document the players we believe will be "Making the Leap" in 2015. This could be a player emerging from no-name status to a quality starter. Or it could mean an excellent player jumping to superstar status.
Geno Smith showed more last December than Derek Carr or Blake Bortles showed all season. He torched the Dolphins in a nearly flawless Week 17 game, but nobody noticed because the Jets' season was over in November. Nobody noticed because "Geno" is already a four-letter word in New York.There are different types of Making the Leap candidates. There are diamonds in the rough like Charles Johnson. There are guys like Le'Veon Bell last year, a great young player that we believed could develop into a true superstar. And there are guys like Geno, just trying to improve to "acceptable."Though he is only 24, it feels like the book has already been written on Smith because of his propensity for big mistakes under pressure. But after being viewed as a punchline for two seasons, Geno is now in a perfect position to develop into a midlevel starter who survives a full 16-game slate. After a brutal start to his career, that would be quite a leap.
What changed in December
Geno's lowest moment as a pro was the last memory most folks have of him. In an ugly Week 13 loss to Miami on Monday Night Football, Rex Ryan was so afraid of letting Smith actually play quarterback that the Jets only attempted 13 passes compared to 49 rushes. Rex told a national audience that he'd rather set offensive progress back 40 years than allow Smith to do his job.And then suddenly Geno started to do his job quite well. In the last four games, Smith completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,001 yards, six touchdowns, and two picks. He averaged 9.2 yards-per-attempt over that stretch, tied for best in the league. By the time the Jets played Miami again in Week 17, Geno was virtually flawless :
I re-watched each Smith snap on the coaches film from Game Rewind to see how he pulled off this turnaround. Here are my biggest takeaways :
1. Geno excelled over the final month because of his decision-making. His biggest issue as a pro has been panicking when under duress and throwing passes up for grabs. He's prone to the brain freeze. In the final month, Smith calmly found the open receiver. When no one was open, he made plays with his legs or got rid of the ball.
2. One huge reason that Smith made good decisions: He had time. The Jets protected Smith very well over the final month, which allowed him to show off his strengths. Smith has a strong arm and methodically goes through his reads better than plenty of his young contemporaries. A big question: If protection isn't so ideal in 2015, can he still excel ?
3. Geno got me fired up enough to write this because he owns skills that are difficult to teach. He has excellent pocket movement, buying time to attempt passes. Some quarterbacks never get that sixth sense in the pocket; Geno has it. He is not afraid to make difficult throws, aggressively pushing the ball down the field. He looks off defenders. The play below is an example of him stepping up in the pocket and taking a hit before delivering :
4. The Jets didn't ask Smith to do too much. He ran the offense and didn't take too many chances.
5. In Weeks 14-16, Smith played solid midlevel starter football. He mostly stayed out of the way. But in the season finale, Smith put together one of the best games by any quarterback all season, throwing for 358 yards on only 25 attempts. He threw receivers open and even his incompletions were on point. The game showed off his big arm and his touch.
The Gailey effect
December was fun and all, but Smith wouldn't make our list if not for the arrival of Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. In previous stops, Gailey has turned Tyler Thigpen into a starting fantasy option, helped Ryan Fitzpatrick get a $60 million contract and coached a Jay Fiedler-led Dolphins team to finish eighth in points scored.Gailey accomplished all of the above by getting mediocre quarterbacks to play smart and get rid of the ball quickly. Smith has plenty of talent, and he certainly has the supporting cast. The Jets receiver posse -- Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, second-round pick Devin Smith and tight end Jace Amaro -- form one of the deeper groups in the league.Gailey has cooked up numbers with far less talent. His best offenses are similar to the one that Smith excelled in at West Virginia. It's almost like the Jets had a plan here.
We aren't making the case that Geno Smith will be a Pro Bowler. We do believe he has the skills to be a competent starting quarterback that holds off backup Ryan Fitzpatrick all season. He can be the type of guy that finishes in the top 20 of our year-end QB rankings. Those guys have plenty of market value.
To put it another way : Geno, like Alex Smith in Kansas City, will no longer be the guy to hold the team back. The Genocoaster in 2015 should more closely resemble a Swiss train, staying efficiently on schedule.
Did Jets Really Get The Most Value Out Of The Nfl Draft, Among All Teams ? ?...one Study Says Yes ~ ~ ~
Posted 12 May 2015We all know that grading an NFL team's draft right after it happens is a fool's errand, if you take such grading seriously.Still, after the Jets finished their 2015 draft earlier this month, we posted a couple "just for fun" lists of grades ó here and here.
Really, though, you need two to three years to properly and accurately grade a draft class. So in addition to those 2015 grades, we also circled back and graded the Jets' 2012 draft.But what if there was a way, for 2015 draft picks, to assess the relative value and efficiency of a team's draft, beyond just arbitrary letter grades? Might we really be able to determine how well a team drafted, compared to the NFL's other 31 organizations ? No immediate draft grading system is perfect, of course, but RotoViz conducted a neat exercise after the draft. And it determined that the Jets got the most value out of this draft, among all NFL teams.
Following the Jets, in these ratings, were the Falcons, Bears, Jaguars and Vikings. The worst value grades went to the Titans, Panthers and Eagles, with Philadelphia coming in last. (Or maybe Eagles coach Chip Kelly just sees something the rest of us don't, as he scouts draft prospects.)
Here's essentially how RotoViz's analysis worked: The website used NFL.com's prospect scouting grades, in combination with where players were actually picked, to determine whether a player was picked above or below his expected slot.Now, this doesn't factor the necessary filling of positional needs into a team's drafting acumen. And naturally, teams' internal scouting of players isn't going to match up with NFL.com's ratings, even if teams are operating on the "take the best player available, regardless of position" method. The draft ó as if you didn't know this already ó is a subjective, unscientific process that is largely a crapshoot. It takes a lot of luck.
Considering all those caveats, RotoViz rates the Jets as having milked the most value out of this draft ó largely because they picked defensive end Leonard Williams sixth overall and offensive guard Jarvis Harrison in the fifth round. In short, the RotoViz analysis concluded that both players should've gone higher, based on their scouting grades.A lot of people were surprised Williams fell to the Jets at No. 6. Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan basically said Williams was a no-brainer pick, once the Jets saw he was available. Williams was widely regarded as the most talented defensive player in this draft.Harrison is a more interesting, less-heralded potential value pick. It's likely that he fell to Round 5 because of concerns about his work ethic. By most accounts, he has the talent and physical attributes to play in the NFL. But is he willing to put in the work required of a starting offensive lineman in this league ?
When considering this question, Jets coach Todd Bowles offered a good summary of how teams weigh these risks, while attempting to maximize their value in the draft."Some games, [Harrison] played harder than others, but you can probably pull out any college player going into the pros that has done that at some point in time," Bowles said. "Jarvis is a big guy. He's not going to go out and run 400 meters in 47, 48 seconds. Obviously, the better shape he's in, the better he can play. He has a chance, for where we got him, to be a value pick. He has to show that he's more than that type of [lazy] player. We thought it was worth the gamble to take on him."
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