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Very little Jets news today 7/5/08

Kentucky Jet

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As the weeks without football go on seemingly without end, my brain, in its idle wonderment, has started visiting some bad places in regards to upcoming season of Jets football. Very bad places.

I know some of you probably think I should keep things to myself, but you have to understand, I’m the kind of superstitious guy that needs to say the worst things out loud — I find by doing so, it’s likely to break whatever potential jinx may be hovering. Simply, if I say it out loud for everyone to hear, it’s much less likely to happen. (Not sure if that’s reverse psychology or just pure neuroses.) It works for me.

So it’s in that haunting spirit, I share –

R in CT’s Top 10 Potential Nightmares for the 2008 Jets- THEJETSBLOG

10. An 0-3 Start. Like last year, the schedule makers have not done the Jets any favors: Opening in Miami is always tough, even if the team was 1-15 in ‘07 — with a new coach and the Tuna on board, the Phins will be very motivated coming out of the gate; we also know what the Patriots do in the Meadowlands (win) and going to San Diego is no easy task, so a bad start is not inconceivable. I just dread that if comes to fruition, then we’ll have to endure a feeding frenzy of stories about the Jets off-season spending spree, how whatever quarterback wins the competition is the wrong one and that Mangini is already on the hot seat. Ugh!

9. An ongoing quarterback controversy. This was no fun last year and I can’t see a scenario where a repeat would be anything less than a migraine headache for the team and the fans. I hope whoever wins, wins decisively and plays on a level that is satisfactory. Otherwise, the second-guessing and naysaying will reach epic proportions.

8. The disbanding of the Flight Crew, leaving only Bea Arthur in a tutu to lead the J-E-T-S JETS! JETS! JETS! cheer. In the words of Darth Vader: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” And talk about waking up in a cold sweat. Aaaahhhhh!

7. Gholston is a bust. Any time you pick a player high in the draft and give him a huge amount of guaranteed money, there are lofty expectations heaped upon that player, both by the fans and the media. Obviously, the higher the expectations, the less likely they are to be attained, which is recipe for disappointment. As New York is not particularly known for its patience, things can go sour for a young player rather quick. And we all know there’s no sour like a Big Apple sour. (By the way, this also goes for players who are traded up for in the first round — *cough cough* Dustin Keller *cough* and young players who get big free agent contracts *cough cough* Calvin Pace *cough*)

6. The Chris Baker situation goes unresolved. This thing has already lingered like a fart in a space suit, and the longer it goes, the more fodder for those who make a living off of raising a stink. It also gives the same people an excuse to keep stirring the pot by bringing up the name Pete Kendall, who, although was a steady performer and leader during his Jets tenure, has now almost been elevated to legendary status. Hey, Kendall was solid, but he wasn’t Winston Hill, Marvin Powell or Kevin Mawae! He wasn’t even a Joe Fields, as he never made (nor was he ever even considered for) a Pro Bowl or All Pro. Baker is very similar — a good, not great player — with the same agent, playing the same “give me more $$$ or trade me” card. Let’s hope he isn’t the martyr du jour.

5. The AFC East becomes the best division in football again. Although we hope it, we all know the Patriots aren’t going away any time soon, and after their one untimely loss last season, they are more than likely to be angry and even more focused — which will be a Nightmare in Foxboro for everyone. The Bills are a young, tough team who showed a bit of improvement last season and may be on the rise, while the Tuna-led Dolphins have made over their roster and only have one way to go — up. Obviously, the better the division is, the scarier the road will be for the Jets.

4. Kevin O’Dea can’t carry Mike Westhoff’s crutch. Anyone who has followed the Jets even semi-closely knows how great the special teams have been, entirely due to the presence of Westhoff, the best special teams coach in the NFL (period). Now that he’s gone for medical reasons, I don’t expect the team to maintain their high level in this phase of the game, but I’m just hoping his replacement O’Dea can at least manage to not fall off dramatically. The team faces return men Ted Ginn Jr. and Ellis Hobbs the first two weeks — let’s see if they continue to eat white lightnin’ and crap green thunder, or if it’s like having Paulie manage against Clubber Lang after Mickey goes down: “Uh, just hit him.”

3. Spygate 2: Electric Boogaloo. I know that Mangini and the Jets did nothing wrong in that whole mess last season, yet it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And even though it’s allegedly dead and buried at this point, I still fear that it will pop up like Jason Vorhees at the end of Friday the 13th, with the press both in New York and Boston looking extra hard at both team’s conduct on and around the field, hoping to find something that will ratchet up the rivalry (and sell more papers). Of course, if it makes both teams look worse in the national eye, well, that’s just ducky for them, isn’t it?

2. A defense that is porous against the run and can’t get to the quarterback, or an offensive line that can’t run the ball or protect the quarterback. With the large amounts of money invested in this team during the off-season, an early season failure to produce on expected levels — even if expectations are unrealistically high already — will only ignite a firestorm of second-guessing and unproductive criticism. Also, if these two units do actually under perform, the team will obviously suffering on the field, too. And let’s not forget my stomach, which will burn and twitch if I have to see no name running backs (like Kenny Watson) or neophyte quarterbacks (like Trent Edwards) look like Corey Dillon and Jim Kelly, respectively.

1. Alan Faneca’s knees a-splode. With so much riding on the improvement of the offensive line, it truly keeps me awake at night thinking that this whole season may be riding upon the left guard. Last season came down like a house a cards with no viable replacement for Kendall, and with still no viable solid backup apparent for Faneca, one Kimo-like low hit (Vince Wilfork, I’m looking at you) or misplaced chopblock may spell a premature — and truly nightmarish — end to the season. I just hope they can wake up before the bad stuff happens.

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Changing labor landscape might make juniors anxious to cash in

By Paul Kuharsky


Highly touted juniors across the country are enjoying a little downtime. Soon enough, they'll be back on campus, getting ready for football season.

But that's not all they should be getting ready for, because early departure to the NFL may soon become a more attractive option.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently called it "ridiculous" to reward unproven rookies with contracts like the one No. 1 pick Jake Long got from the Miami Dolphins -- a five-year deal with $30 million guaranteed. Plenty of players around the league would prefer to see more of the money go to veterans.

The owners recently opted out of the collective bargaining agreement, which means it will expire in 2011 instead of 2013. But if there isn't a new deal by March 2009, an absence of one would trigger big changes -- there would be no 2010 salary cap, and the framework of free agency would change.

[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Jason DeCrow

Count Roger Goodell, left, among those who believe No. 1 pick Jake Long is making too much money.

Let's presume the sides find common ground for a new deal next spring, keep 2009 in place under its existing structure, but agree on some revision to rookie salaries starting in 2010.

If you're a junior this fall, you'll want to get into the league as soon as you can. Wait, and you'd be part of the first draft class to enter after the system is changed, perhaps costing yourself millions.

Agent Ian Greengross thinks that if an inequity exists in the salaries top picks are getting, it doesn't last very deep into the draft. He's negotiated first-round deals for Oakland running back Darren McFadden, Houston defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and Indianapolis running back Joseph Addai.

Greengross and his fellow agents cannot talk to players who are true juniors or younger. Barring family issues or hardships, he said he's always offered blanket encouragement for juniors to stay in school. If there is potential for the financial landscape for rookies to change, however, he might come to see things differently.

"As the 10th pick [in 2007], Amobi Okoye got $12.5 in bonuses and guarantees," Greengross said. "If next year [the 10th pick] still gets the two-year increase above him but there is the possibility that the year after that you'd get cut down to $5 million, you would think some of those juniors would look at that and say, 'It's to my economic advantage to declare early and take my chances. Because even if I go in the second round, I'm not losing that much -- next year will be cut down anyway.'"

Former Denver general manager Ted Sundquist said he expects things will change for the NFL's college advisory committee on which he once served. He hopes juniors who consider declaring for the draft still listen to the committee's recommendations.

"What it may do is at least temporarily overload the system," he said. "The CAC may get blasted with, who knows, twice as many evaluations as they have in the past."

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach doesn't believe juniors will rush to beat changes to the NFL's system.

"I don't think that would happen, because if they leave early, they're idiots because the scale would go up [the next year]," he said. "They need to remember that the success rate of players who leave early is dismal. Historically, guys lose money if they come out early, and a lot of these agents are nothing but loan sharks. And all these players who would be so worried about how much money they're going to make just need to be worried about making the team."

Those involved have not publicly floated any solid proposals about how rookie salaries could be changed.

Will Goodell and the owners push for a NBA-style rookie salary scale in which the numbers are predetermined? Will owners look to cut down the numbers only on the first handful of picks? Will they try to negotiate something in between?

Some of the conversation amounts to posturing.

Few teams didn't have the cap space they needed to chase whom they wanted when free agency began. And if teams are so concerned about rookies outdoing proven performers in the paycheck department, plenty of clubs still have enough room to redo the contracts of select veterans right now.

Sundquist thinks an adjustment to rookie deals needs to be made and said he thinks one fair way to alter rookie salaries is to get back to the intention of the rookie pool -- the total cap number a team is allowed to spend on its draft class, figured by a formula that considers the previous cost of the same slots.

Agents and teams manage to keep first-round picks in line with the rookie pool by negotiating option or roster bonuses for later in the deal.

"There would have to be some sort of cap on guaranteed money -- signing bonus, option bonus," Sundquist said. "The rookie pool in a sense was a good idea -- in a sense it controlled those first-year numbers. But it ended up controlling those first-year numbers and putting a great deal of guaranteed money in the second year, which at times becomes very difficult for teams to swallow.

"After one year, you can quickly figure out sometimes that you've missed. Then you're staring down the double barrel of an option bonus or a guaranteed buyout."

Complicated contracts can be difficult to compare in real dollars, but on a recent edition of ESPN's "NFL Live" it was suggested the deal for the third pick in the draft, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, actually puts him ahead of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Ryan's deal has been framed as worth $72 million for six years and includes $34.75 million guaranteed.

Ryan said he understands both sides of the debate.

Green Bay cornerback Al Harris is OK with some rookies hitting the jackpot, but unsurprisingly prefers when it's veterans who get the big bucks.

"I think some guys, they do a great job in college and they should get a significant amount of money," Harris said. "If you get paid, that's your blessing, and I'm for that. But if there is another quarterback that's making more than Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, you probably should look into it."

Like Harris, NFLPA president Kevin Mawae has said he's not mad at rookies, that all players should get all they can get when they can get it.

The Titans center doesn't consider rookie salaries a huge issue at this point, though he said he's aware it may rate as one for management.

"You've got what, 250 kids getting drafted this year, and only five of them are making that kind of money," Mawae said. "So the problem is probably not as big as everybody's making it out to be."

He pointed to two young players on his own offensive line, Michael Roos and David Stewart, who recently signed big extensions.

"Guys are getting the money, and it's not just the top three draft picks, but it would seem that way because the media focuses on the rookies coming out," he said. "It's one of those deals. You get the big contract, a lot is expected out of you, and if you don't perform you're not going to get another one."

Which is what makes the first one so important.

Which is what will prompt more juniors to declare for the draft and get that contract before anything changes.

Paul Kuharsky covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

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AFCE Trends: Patriots' Point Production

Published: Fri, July 4, 2008 - 3:43pm EST

By Randy Lange

Lange is editor-in-chief of newyorkjets.com. He covered the Jets for 13 years for The Record of Hackensack, N.J.

File Under: Randy Moss, Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Bob Waterfield, Crazylegs Hirsch, L.A. Rams

change font email article 07/04

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AFCE Trends: Dolphins' Run Defense

Published: Wed, July 2, 2008 - 1:48pm EST

By Randy Lange

Lange is editor-in-chief of newyorkjets.com. He covered the Jets for 13 years for The Record of Hackensack, N.J.

File Under: Jason Taylor, Miami Dolphins, Bill Parcells, Vonnie Holliday, Joey Porter, Jason Ferguson, Tony Sparano

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Two Guys Wheeling and Dealing

Published: Wed, June 25, 2008 - 10:04am EST

By Randy Lange

Lange is editor-in-chief of newyorkjets.com. He covered the Jets for 13 years for The Record of Hackensack, N.J.

File Under: Adam Schein, Chris Baker, Brian Schottenheimer, Jeremy Shockey, Eric Parker

change font email article 06/25

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NYJ Spotlight on Nick Mangold

By Angel Navedo on July 3rd, 2008

I want to switch gears a little bit and re-direct attention to the offensive side of the ball. Allow me to introduce you to the man who is going to aggravate your defensive line to no end. To be more specific, he is the very center of our entire offensive universe. He is the man that sets the tone of the play before the ball is even snapped! Let

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