Well this is the last of the five part analysis of the Jets 2011 offseason plans. Like I said, I know not everyone agrees with all the moves but I have been absurdly bored with no football offseason so this is more of a therapeutic exercise to keep me interested. Hope you enjoyed it and here’s hoping for a quick end to the lockout.
Offensive Depth Chart
QB: Sanchez, Brunell, McElroy
RB: Greene, Tomlinson, McKnight, Powell
FB: Connor, Mulligan
WR: Cotcherry, Edwards, Naanee, Amendola, Turner, Kerley
TE: Keller, Mulligan, Cumberland
LT: Ferguson, Greco, Hunter
LG: Slauson, Turner, Greco
OC: Mangold, Turner
RG: Moore, Turner, Greco
RT: Ducasse, Hunter, Greco
Practice Squad (3):
RB: Noel Devine
WR: Scotty McKnight
OL: one of Hix/Hall/O’Dowd/ Marlon Davis/ Dennis Landholt/ Robbie Felix
Departures from the 2010 team (8):
RB: Tony Richardson
TE: Ben Hartstock
OL: Damien Woody
Key Additions including practice squad (9):
RB: Powell, Devine
WR/TE: Naanee, Amendola, Kerley, McKnight
OL: Greco, two of the following six- Kyle Hix/Derek Hall/Kristofer O’Dowd/ Marlon Davis/ Dennis Landholt/ Robbie Felix
Total Active roster players: 26/53
Total Practice Squad: 3/5
% of total cap dedicated to offensive players: 52.5% based on a $128m cap (rumors are that the actual cap will be between $140-$150m). If the salary cap is bumped to $150m (not unreasonable), the 26 offensive players would account for 44.8% of available cap space giving us ample room to rebuild the LBs and safeties while locking up a guy like David Harris to a long term deal.
Starting olinemen- I think we have three guys that can be legitimately considered the best or near the best at their respective positions in Brick, Mangold, and Moore.
Continuity with nine returning starters- I cannot believe how few teams value continuity. In a lockout year with no OTAs, this is especially important and we have key players with two solid years of experience in OC Brian Shottenheimer’s system including starters Sanchez, Greene, Brick, Mangold, Moore, Keller, and Cotcherry. Projected starter Braylon Edwards has 1.5yrs in the system after coming over in a midseason trade in 2009. LG Matt Slauson has a full season as a starter and a season as a backup under his belt- and played under the OL coach in college- so the only “new” starters will be Vlad Ducasse and John Connor who have actually already played a year under the current coaching staff. Even backups like Tomlinson, Joe McKnight, Mulligan, Cumberland, Turner, and Hunter have multiple years of experience in the system.
Big play potential at TE(Keller) and WR (Edwards)- Being able to stretch the field and forcing defenses to defend the whole field is of critical importance if you want to run the ball. The Jets boast at least two of these types of weapons that will force defenses to respect the pass allow gaps for the power running plays to develop.
No true #1 receiver (but hey, how many of those are there in the world?)- Edwards is a solid guy but not a true #1 type of guy. I think he still fits our needs well and is an excellent blocker in the running game. He also seems to be a decent teammate and is participating in Jets West even though he doesn't have a contract.
Depth along the oline- We have maybe the best starting 5 in the NFL but part of our strength is the inability to evaluate what we have in reserve. Our backups have played well when forced into action, but there isn’t the body of work yet to make any conclusive judgment. This is more of a question than a weakness at this stage.
Depth at TE and FB- I think Matthew Mulligan is a strong blocker and Jeff Cumberland has a lot of potential as backup tight ends but neither have seen much playing time in their short NFL careers and neither was a well scouted pro ready prospect coming out of college. Like OL, this is more of a question that a concern.
Can Sanchez take the next step and evolve beyond game manager to develop into a true threat at QB?
Can Shonn Greene become a complete every down back and improve his hands and protection to match his already fantastic running power?
Will Vlad Ducasse take the ball and run away with the starting RT job like Slauson did with the LG job last year?
This team is a competitive team that should, barring injuries, make a deep playoff run. I think we take some minor steps back- specifically RT and WR1- with the losses of Big Wood and Holmes, but we also have some really young contributors poised for big step-up seasons. I think the additions of Naanee and Amendola give our receiving corps more depth than we had last year and come at a significant discount to re-signing our incumbents in Holmes and Smith. I admit to being sentimental about Smith especially, but I agree with many commenters in the WR post about his value being inflated and that- at the end of the day- he’s a pretty mediocre receiver. I do think Holmes is a solid WR with excellent hands and route running, but I just don't see him as a game breaker worthy of a #1 receiver contract (which he will most likely get in free agency).
Edwards already said he’d take a home team discount to remain on the Jets so my cap figure for him could well be a full $1m less which should help us sign some defensive talent like Kiwinuka or Eric Weddle. Our RBs should be solid- even after accounting for some reversion to the mean from Tomlinson- since young guys like Greene and McKnight should improve with experience and an extra year in the system and rookie Bilal Powell will be chomping at the bit to get into the rotation.
Most of all I’m excited about our OL. It is really hard to get the right pieces in place and we certainly have 3-4 cornerstone pieces on ours. If Ducasse pans out, we could be a nasty good offensive team. If Ducasse proves to be a liability at the RT spot, I think we could be scrambling a bit which is why re-signing Wayne Hunter and bringing in a guy like John Greco is crucial since both represent very low cost options to hedge against a black hole at RT which is the one position that I can see potentially putting a damper on our post season hopes.