BGA: The Strife of Brian

Since the season ended, I’ve been charting a series of 2007 games, which – somewhat unexpectedly – gave me a different perspective on some of the issues affecting this current Jets team.

Today, I’ll be reflecting on Brian Winters’ rookie season by looking back to 2007, where the Jets had similar problems filling their left guard position.

Winters started the last 12 games of 2013 and struggled, although he did show some signs of improvement over the last month. Even though he felt he played well, even Winters himself admitted there was plenty of room for growth. After the jump, a look back at 2007 and what this might tell us about how far Winters has to go.

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BGA: On the nose

During the 2013 offseason, there was plenty of uncertainty over the Jets nose tackle position. Not only was Sione Po’uha – who had been hampered by a back injury throughout the 2012 season – released, but the Jets also lost Mike DeVito to the Chiefs. DeVito had provided the team with a backup option at the nose tackle position while also starting at defensive end.

In order to address this, the Jets signed Chargers veteran Antonio Garay, who had been outstanding in 2011 and played pretty well in 2012 despite missing the start of the season. While the Jets were perhaps hoping that 2011 third round pick Kenrick Ellis would step into a starting role, it was actually 2012 undrafted free agent Damon Harrison who stepped up. With Ellis injured in preseason and only able to play in one game, Harrison made the most of the opportunity to start and deservedly hung onto the job all year with Ellis backing him up. An unimpressive Garay was unable to make the final roster.

After the jump, a look at some numbers and analysis for these this pairing as we aim to project where their careers could be headed over the next few seasons.

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BGA: The Q Miscue?

By contrast to the subject of yesterday’s BGA, Quinton Coples has been one of the most scrutinized players this offseason. Heading into his third year in the league, people are still speculating over whether the way Rex Ryan uses him is a miscalculation on the part of the Jets’ defensive mastermind.

Coples had 4.5 sacks last season, a slight decrease from the 5.5 he managed in his rookie season. Focus on him increased even further when former Jets great Joe Klecko questioned his work ethic. However, there are plenty of overlooked factors which need to be explored in more depth.

After the jump, we consider some of these things and discuss what the Jets can expect from Coples in 2014.

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BGA: The Finau Reckoning

One player who hasn’t received a great deal of attention, despite the fact he was arguably on the brink of a roster spot last year is defensive lineman Tevita Finau. Finau was a final cut at the end of August and remained on the practice squad all year.

Finau is listed at 6’5″ and 288 pounds and, at the age of 28, is awaiting an opportunity for his first NFL regular season action. The New Zealand born former Utah defensive tackle took an extraordinary route to get to this point. Be sure to read Kristian Dyer’s article from last week that goes into more detail on that subject.

After the jump, a brief recap of Finau’s body of work from last preseason, together with a look at what his likely role will be as he competes for a spot this year.

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BGA: Dee Milliner and Revisionist history

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be profiling some key performers heading into the season. We kick off this series with a look at cornerback Dee Milliner.

Milliner struggled throughout most of his rookie season, but the light bulb seemed to go on for him in December as he won the AFC Defensive Rookie of the Month award, intercepting three passes and helping the Jets win three out of their last four games. Heading into the 2014 season, the Jets will be relying on Milliner to continue to step up, especially after having released Antonio Cromartie.

Ever since the Jets drafted Milliner with the 9th pick in last year’s draft, comparisons to departing all-pro Darrelle Revis have been inevitable. While my sense is that these should be regarded with scepticism, their most useful function is to highlight differences between the two. Rather than a device to facilitate an accurate projection of how Milliner’s career will play out (which would be impossible) any such comparison should be seen as an indicator of where Milliner stands in terms of his learning curve with reference to where Revis was at the same point in his career. This allows us to evaluate Milliner against the benchmark of an elite cornerback and look at where in particular he still has to develop.

With all that in mind, I’ve been watching detailed footage from Milliner’s rookie season last year and Revis’ rookie season back in 2007. A comprehensive look into what this could tell us about where Milliner stands heading into his second season follows after the jump.

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BGA: Scouting AJ Edds

Last week, the Jets signed two of the players who were attending rookie mini-camp on a tryout basis to their 90-man roster. Jets fans might not know too much about these players, so I’ve been reviewing game footage to try and get an idea of their strengths and weaknesses. We’ll be looking at offensive tackle Markus Zusevics in a day or two, but today we focus on linebacker AJ Edds.

Edds is a 26-year-old former fourth-round pick of the Miami Dolphins and is 6’4″, 256 pounds. He suffered a torn ACL prior to his rookie season (2010) before playing a total of 11 games for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts in 2011. In 2012, he tore his ACL again. He was with the Patriots again for preseason in 2013, but did not make the final roster.

After the jump, a recap of Edds’ career so far, together with a review of footage from 2011 and 2013 to assess what Edds brings to the table.

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Ex-Raven Thompson headlines players trying out at rookie camp

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

The Jets’ rookie mini-camp will take place over the weekend (reportedly from Friday to Sunday). Greg Gabriel has a good breakdown of what happens during a rookie camp here.

The Jets will typically have between 50 and 60 players on their rookie mini-camp roster. Approximately half of this roster will be made up of players currently on the team’s current 90-man roster, including the players selected in last week’s draft, the eight undrafted free agent signings and most of the undrafted players on the roster that are entering their second season. Although the draft picks have obviously not signed yet, they are automatically placed on a temporary minimum-level tender and allowed to participate in team activities.

The other half of the rookie mini-camp roster will comprise players who have been invited to try out for the team. At the moment, there are no roster spots available, but tryout players don’t count towards the roster limit, which is a loophole that enables the team to get a look at some extra guys. If any of these impress enough to earn a contract, then someone will have to be released to make room for them on the 90-man roster. There will usually be two or three guys who earn that right. In fact, in recent years, the Jets have had two players enter rookie mini-camp on a tryout basis and eventually end up on the active roster during regular season play; Quarterback Matt Simms and Safety James Ihedigbo.

As Gabriel’s article suggests, the activities conducted at rookie camp are very basic, with no contact allowed and mostly one-on-one or individual drills with some 7-on-7 thrown in. By rule, rookies are not supposed to join the offseason program until May 15th at the earliest, which usually means they get a break between rookie mini-camp and having to join the rest of the team for workouts and conditioning. However, the later draft this year means that everyone can join up with the rest of the team after Sunday (as long as they’ve finished with school for the semester).

By far the highest profile name on the tryout list is former Ravens safety Christian Thompson, a 2012 fourth round draft pick. Thompson had 10 tackles and a forced fumble in preseason as a rookie and went on to play for the team on special teams in seven regular season games before landing on injured reserve with a knee injury. He had no tackles and one penalty. In 2013, he had four tackles in preseason, but was released in October after serving a four game suspension for violating the substance abuse policy. The 6’0″, 210-pound 23-year old is a center fielder who ran a 4.46 forty yard dash at the 2012 scouting combine.

We should hopefully get a peek at the full rookie mini-camp roster within the next day or two, probably via Randy Lange on the Jets Official Site. However, we’ve been compiling a list of players reported to have been invited on a tryout basis, which is included after the jump.

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BGA: Scouting Brandon Hardin

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

Over the last month, I’ve been looking at some of the players the Jets have added to the active roster since the end of last season. Jets fans might not know too much about some of these players, so I’ve been looking in detail at preseason and regular season footage to get an insight into their strengths and weaknesses. This series concludes today with a look at former Bears safety Brandon Hardin.

The 24-year old Hardin is listed at 6’3″ and 217 pounds and was a third round pick in the 2012 draft. He has never played in an NFL regular season game, following some injury issues. However, he did play in six preseason games before the Bears released him in August. The Jets picked him up in January.

After the jump, I look in detail at footage from the last two preseasons to evaluate some what Hardin brings to the table.

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BGA: Scouting Ras-I Dowling

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

Throughout this month, I’ve been looking at some of the players the Jets have added to the active roster since the end of the regular season. Jets fans might not know too much about these players, so I’ll be looking at NFL game footage to try and assess what they might be able to bring to the table.

Today we look at cornerback Ras-I Dowling. The 25-year old is 6’1″ and 210 pounds and was a second round pick for the New England Patriots in 2011. However, he was released before the 2013 season after a series of injuries limited him over his first few years. The Jets signed him to their practice squad in October and signed him to a futures contract at the end of the season.

After the jump, I look in detail at footage from Dowling’s career so far to evaluate some of his strengths and weaknesses.

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Critiquing the B/R NFL 1000 Project: Special Teams

Bloggers, media and sport fans used to heap scorn on Bleacher Report, mainly due to some questionable user-generated content that damaged the site’s reputation in its infancy. However, since their big money deal with Turner 18 months ago, they’ve added some talented and respected names as featured writers and a great deal of their content is now well worth checking out.

One of the featured writers they added to their roster was draft scouting guru and former TJB Podcast guest Matt Miller, who — along with several other film junkies — has been spearheading the B/R NFL 1000 project, where they attempt to rank the NFL’s top 1,000 players. The project is now into its third year and they’ve now completed this year’s results. For more on how the project works go here.

In our final installment, we look at their rankings for punters and kickers. To look back at the previous updates go here.

In their top 32 punters list, Miller and his colleagues rank Ryan Quigley 22nd and Robert Malone (who was cut after week two) 28th. In the top 32 kickers list, Nick Folk was ranked 4th.

Here’s what they said about Folk:

The Jets got it right when they brought in Folk, and he rewarded them with top-notch kicking. Given the windy, unpredictable conditions in MetLife Stadium, he has to be applauded.

Read Bent’s thoughts after the jump.

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