In this post, I will address possible coaching changes that should be made/ have been made made, free agency, and the draft to best improve this team to reach Rex's apparent guarantee.
Schottenheimer will be replaced by Tony Sparano which I am happy about but not thrilled. He isn't known as a coach for the development of young QB's and is more ground game oriented. Bill Callahan went to Dallas and the WR coach will not return as well. Rumor is that Todd Haley will be signed as the WR coach and a new O line coach is still underway. I honestly don't know who we should go after as I'm not an NFL scout, just a very big Jets fan.
The signing of Sparano means that we are back to Sanchez's rookie year with ground game about 65% of our offense and passing about 35% of the time. So for those of you that think that we will draft a WR in the 1st of 2nd round, you are sadly mistaken. The Sparano signing also means that if Trent Richardson somehow falls to 16, we WILL not waste any time and pull the trigger. Hes the best RB since Peterson in '07 and would team great with Greene and McKnight and hopefully Powell in the future to give us a 4 headed monster that the NFL has never seen before.
Dennis Thurman is quietly in my opinion the Jets best defensive coach, outside of Rex. It wouldn't be a bad idea to sign Eric Mangini as a defensive assistant and scouting director. We had some of the best drafts under him with the exception of the Gholston pick, but you cant blame him for that because if we didn't pick him he would've went in the top 10 to another team. Its not like we drafted a player 6 overall that was a projected 3rd round pick, he was highly touted and heavily coveted by many teams. I was under the impression that Tanny was responsible for the Brick, Mangold, Revis, and Harris picks... but his drafts with Rex point to the contrary. In my eyes, those were all Mangini picks and there's a reason they're all great. Mangini was a pupil of the Evil Belichick and is also a great talent evaluator. Its possible that some of the Rex era picks can turn into good players, but there's rumors around the league that Rex and Tannembaum are terrible talent evaluators. There's a reason Devon McCourty was drafted higher than Wilson, Belichick knew he can turn him into a very good player and did.
OFFENSE: Sparano brings the Jets offense completely back to ground and pound and he is also a very good offensive line coach, something Bill Callahan is great at, but left and this years results point to the contrary. The Jets tried to be more balanced on offense and for whatever reason, (maybe Schottenheimer's inability to develop young QB's into great ones... for example, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers... Brees goes to NO and Sean Payton turns him into an absolute monster and Norv Turner turns Rivers into an elite QB as well with this season being the exception) it didn't work out with Sanchez taking a more avid role. Expect the Jets to be in the top 5 in rushing yards per game next year, thus gaining time of possession and keeping the other teams offense sitting on the sidelines. Also don't be surprised if we pull the trigger on Richardson if for some reason he falls on draft day as Ingram did last year.
DEFENSE: Keep Thurman ,we will need him to develop whatever safety we draft in April as well as hire Eric Mangini as a defensive assistant and head of the scouting department (if he would want the job).
FREE AGENCY: There's two main areas that we should address via free agency and leave the rest to the draft. Those positions being WR and a Quarterback that can give Mark competition in training camp that isn't closer to being a coach than a player (Brunell). Even though we traded for Braylon during week 5 of the 2009 regular season, he has a lot of playoff experience with the Jets from two years with the orginaztion. Coming off a bad year in San Fran, he wouldn't cost a lot to sign and has a lot of chemistry with Mark. Yes, I hear that the Jets lead the league in red zone efficiency this year... but the fact of the matter is, we weren't in the red zone all that often because our offense is so anemic. And yes, Plaxico is the biggest reason for that. At this stage of his career, he is strictly a large red zone target... think about it, all season long, the only time he got the ball or was on the field was in the redzone. He was invisible in between the 20's and made our offense that much worse and put that much more pressure on our O Line to run block. Our offense in between the 20's was limited to Santonio (always being double covered), Keller (always being double covered), and late in the season Kerley while Mark was being blitzed by LBs. No team respects our pass offense enough to rush 4 and drop 7 in coverage because Mark can't handle the blitz. Braylon gives us another target that teams have to respect, and also a deep threat. Plus, with Sparano calling plays Braylon would be utilized the same way Brandon Marshall was in Miami.
Our receivers would be very similar to that of the 2010 campaign: BRAYLON, SANTONIO, KERLEY (instead of Cotchery), KELLER, CUMBERLAND (taking an avid role in 2 TE sets), and TURNER
That is alot more formidable than: SANTONIO, PLAXICO (only in the red zone), KERLEY (late in the season), and KELLER (constantly being double teamed)
QB: Sign Kyle Orton and tell the media he's being brought in for a formidable backup when really it's an open competition for QB come training camp. Put all that Peyton Manning drama to rest, it won't happen. More possible QBs to bring in would be Bryon Leftwich, Jason Campbell, and maybe even David Garrard.
NFL DRAFT: I won't propose trades to make because we never really know which route a team will go on draft day until we actually watch it. Last year, I wanted Brooks Reed or Jabaal Sheard and we go ahead and draft a 5 technique. The positions we have to address are every down OLB (can rush the passer, and set the edge against the run), FS (can cover slot WRs, TEs, and also play center field and read QBs eyes), RT (wayne hunter is awful, simply put), and maybe even SS. We aren't certain what the future holds for Jim Leonhard with his health and also upcoming free agency.
We have all of our picks I believe this year and we need all of them. I won't address any picks after the fourth round because it's almost impossible to know what a team plans to do late in the draft (whether it be depth, or potential starters). I'm also going to be as realistic as I can assuming how high or low players will be drafted, so bear with my assumptions. In the past, we've elected to draft players that can help us out down the road for aging positions, but this year... we have to draft for immediate need and draft potential starters because the Bilal Powell and Vlad picks exemplify our front offices want to draft for the future while ignoring glaring needs for positions that show youth but need to be upgraded. My assumption is that we will take the best player available with regards to what positions we have to address despite round
(Picks are in order of which I'd like to draft them, if they're available, and I really hope we don't waste any picks on a WR)
R1: 16th overall: OLB Courtney Upshaw, OLB Whitney Mercilus, OLB Nick Perry, FS/SS Mark Barron
R2: 47th pick: OLB Vinny Curry, OT Mike Adams, OT Zebrie Sanders, OLB Andre Branch, OLB Bruce Irvin
R3: 78th pick: FS Markelle Martin, OT Andrew Datko, OT Brandon Mosely, OT Nate Potter
R4: 108th pick: OLB Donte Paige-Moss, OT Levy Adcock, OT Matt Reynolds, SS Antonio Allen, FS George Iloka
In a perefct world, our draft would go:
R1: OLB Courtney Upshaw Alabama 6'2" 263lbs He compares to Lamarr Woodley, a ton of tenacity and can set the edge better than any 3-4 OLB in this class. He can rush the passer effectively, is strong enough to hold up against big offensive tackles, and is deceptively quick in coverage
R2: OT Zebrie Sanders Florida State 6'5" 307lbs Can protect the right side of the line and is an absolute mauler in the run game
R3: FS Markelle Martin Oklahoma State 6'1" 200lbs Center fielder for Oklahoma State's defense.. I originally had Robert Lester here but a few comments confirm that he is headed back to Alabama rather than declare for the draft. Martin makes a ton of plays at the line of scrimmage and is athletic enough to cover TEs, slot WRs, and play center field for our defense. He also hits hard and can cause fumbles
R4: OLB Donte Paige-Moss North Carolina 6'4" 260lbs Once considered a first round pick, Donte fell off this year and is now in contention to go somewhere in the middle rounds. Granted, he has some character concerns, but its clear that Rex is starting to run a tighter ship and won't deal with player nonsense that we've heard about the past couple weeks so I think we should take a chance on him. He's the prototypical size to be a weak side OLB in a 3-4 defense and can turn into a stud with the right mentoring and coaching that he can get from the Jets. Plus, Calvin Pace's play is only declining and he's only getting older. Paige Moss can be drafted to play in the future and can lead a healthy pass rush teamed with Upshaw for the next decade or so.
There you have it... We Have a new starting OLB (Upshaw), a new starting RT (Sanders), a new starting FS (Martin), and a developmental OLB that can turn into a monster with the right coaching. And we addressed coaching changes for the better, as well as a QB that can push Mark and a WR corps that resembles that of our WRs from 2010 in which there was alot of chemistry.
Possible depth chart for opening day 2012
FB: John Connor
LG: Matt Slauson, Caleb Schaullef
RG: Brandon Moore
RT: Zebrie Sanders, Vladimir Ducasse
LDE: Muhammed Wilkerson, Ropati Pitoitua
WOLB: Calvin Pace, Donte Paige-Moss, Garrett McIntyre
RCB: Antonio Cromartie, Marquise Cole
Slot CB: Kyle Wilson
FS: Markelle Martin, Brodney Pool
SS: Jim Leonhard, Eric Smith
P: TJ Conley
K: Nick Folk
KR: Joe McKnight, Kyle Wilson, Jeremy Kerley
PR: Jeremy Kerley, Joe McKnight
What do you think of bring Mangini in to help in the scouting department, bringing back Braylon, and these possible drafts picks? Feel free to give criticisms, and agreements in the comment thread. Thank You