The Expendables: Left Guards Are Always Greener…

I take another look around the league at some of the guys the Jets got rid of since the end of last season, to see whether there are any early indications that these releases could prove to be shrewd moves or disastrous mistakes on behalf of both the Jets and the new teams for the crop of ex-Jets and also to see if any of these players might yet become available again. If you missed part one, click here and for part two, click here.

I’ve watched a ton of preseason football and been searching for articles and blog posts about our former players and I’ll share my findings after the jump.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know, it’s only preseason and the results and performances often prove to have little correlation with regular season production. Still, I can look for positive and negative signs, so that’s all I’m trying to do here.

One ex-Jet this week sacked the quarterback, but it wasn’t who you might have expected…

Alan Faneca (ARIZONA) – Started, Cardinals averaged 3.5 yards per carry and gave up three sacks

Faneca was not dominant at all, but wasn’t beaten as often in the running game this week and did get some push on some plays. This didn’t translate to the statsheet though, as Arizona had just 15 yards rushing in the first half, 9 of which came on a run where the runner pushed the pile five yards with a great second effort. Faneca still had a few issues. He blocked nobody on the first play and the QB got hit. He also pulled on an end around play, but got blown up by a safety (!) and the play ended up in a 3 yard loss. Just like last week, the Bears ran a stunt and Faneca and Brown both blocked the tackle while the end came underneath to pressure the QB. The next time they tried it, they finally picked it up – just. He also got driven back in pass protection a few times. He pulled well on one play, but couldn’t open a hole and the runner ran into his back and was stuffed for no gain. In the second half he blocked quite well on a couple of runs, but then got badly beaten by Tommie Harris and actually ended up sacking Matt Leinart himself as he tried to step up and avoid Faneca’s man. Oddly enough, there were immediately 29 and 14 yard runs by Tim Hightower as soon as Faneca went out. Maybe that’s because Faneca had done most of the “tree-chopping” in the first half?

What they’re saying:

On Saturday evening against the Chicago Bears, the offensive line again was creating ways to have Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks Derek Anderson, Matt Leinart, and John Skelton running and ducking every which way … Maybe Alan Faneca is washed up? … Maybe, just maybe the line just isn’t very good? … I hope Faneca isn’t washed up. Hopefully we can just chalk it up to it being a preseason thing.

Kerry Rhodes (ARIZONA) – Started, One solo tackle

Once again, Rhodes was mostly in deep centerfield as he played the first half and the first part of the third quarter. One one play, he lined up on the edge, but was easily ridden out of the play by a lineman and was still approaching tackles tentatively, most notably on a screen pass up the middle, but did keep everything in front of him. There were several coverage sacks or close to it, which suggests he was doing his job in centerfield and he also chased all the way across field to make a good saving tackle after a long Chester Taylor run.

What they’re saying:

I’d say the Cardinals have an edge in the secondary with DRC, Adrian Wilson, and Kerry Rhodes [who I viewed as an upgrade over Rolle]

Marques Murrell (NEW ENGLAND) – Came off the bench, two tackles, one roughing the passer penalty

Murrell has lost his starting job and didn’t get into the game until late in the third. For the second straight week, he spooked the guy opposite him into a false start, which was again perhaps the highlight of his day, although he did shed a block to stop a run for a short gain. He should’ve had a pick as well, as the ball deflected high into the air, but he juggled it and the RB caught it. He was driven back and flattened on running play on last drive and appealed for a hold (actually his teammate was held and drew a flag anyway). Finally, on the last drive, he at last got to the QB, beating the backup right tackle outside with 1:49 to go, but was called for roughing to move ball into range for the winning FG.

What they’re saying:

Marques Murrell: Struggled getting a pass rush, and looked lost at times. Also lost his spot as a starting outside linebacker to Derrick Burgess after Tully Banta-Cain returned from injury this week.

Howard Green (WASHINGTON) – Came off the bench, three tackles.

Green didn’t play until the 4th quarter and was mostly matched up with Dan Gay and got driven back once. Gay was a third stringer until this week. He tackled Larry Taylor on an end around but looked really slow chasing him down. Green also assisted on a couple of other tackles.

What they’re saying:

Howard Green is really, really slow. If he needs to help at end, then this will cost him. Just can’t run.

James Dearth (WASHINGTON) – Did not play

Once again, James Dearth did not get any reps for the Redskins, but I wanted to share this link. Great article. It doesn’t sound like the Redskins will regret this signing, even though he seems unlikely to make the team.

What they’re saying:

Long snapper Nick Sundberg has snapped very well in practice and both preseason games since the Redskins signed James Dearth. That’s no coincidence.
They’re watching film together, and Dearth is tutoring Sundberg about blocking techniques. Keep in mind that there’s more to being a snapper than just the snapping. Blocking is crucial, and the adjustment from college to the NFL means bigger, faster defenders to contend with. To combat them, Sundberg is working on getting deeper in his sets. It’s a significant adjustment.
Credit Dearth for being a team-first guy, even though it doesn’t necessarily help his attempt to win a roster spot.

Marques Douglas (MIAMI) – Came off the bench, no stats recorded

Douglas did not get on the stat sheet, but held up well at the point of attack, notably on a third and one play where Michael Turner lost a fumble on his second effort. He got plenty of playing time, rotating with the starters in each of the first three quarters. He made the tackle on a run right at him in the third, but didn’t get credit. Also, he got into a few shoving matches.

What they’re saying:

[Charles] Grant was one of three defensive linemen signed by Miami in late July after Phillip Merling was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. Of the three — the other two are Marques Douglas and Montavious Stanley — he’s made by far the most impact.

Thomas Jones (KANSAS CITY) – Came off the bench, 10-30-TD rushing, 4-16 receiving

Jones didn’t get into the game until last minute of first quarter, although the team struggled without him. He picked up 8 yards on his first two carries. The crowd booed after he didn’t have the speed to get outside on 3rd and 3. He converted on 2nd and 2 up the middle and actually avoided a tackle on a dump off pass for 7, although the linebacker he did it to appeared to have twisted his ankle. Jones dived over the top to convert on 4th and 1 inside the ten and had an 11 yard TD run on his final carry late in the third against the 2nd string defense. They weren’t properly set defensively at the snap and Jones easily got to the outside and lowered his shoulder inside the five to dive in untouched.

What they’re saying:

He hasn’t disappointed the Chiefs so far. He held the starting job throughout camp, though Charles may wind up playing as much or even more than Jones during the regular season … [Todd] Haley recently tried to describe Jones to his father, Dick, a longtime NFL scout and personnel director. What he finally came up with: a cross between former NFL running back Curtis Martin, who talked only when necessary, and the loudmouthed Bryan Cox, a former NFL linebacker.

Donald Strickland (SAN DIEGO) – Came off the bench, three tackles

Strickland got plenty of playing time in the slot against the Saints first-string offense. He made a tackle after Reggie Bush ran for a first down and blitzed several times but didn’t get to the QB. A mix-up in the zone between him and Antoine Cason left Robert Meachem wide open for the second TD. On one play, he sat in zone coverage and couldn’t get over to the sideline in time to prevent a first down throw to the tight end and also got burned down the seam for a big gain by Marques Colston.

What they’re saying:

Donald Strickland has to be one of the Chargers’ best offseason pickups. … Donald Strickland appears to have playing priority over Nathan Vasher

Wallace Wright (CAROLINA) – Started, 2-13 receiving, one fumble, one special teams tackle, left with injured shoulder

Wright regained his starting spot this week and made a great leaping 11 yard catch getting both feet inbounds on the first series. He wasn’t thrown to again until just before halftime and he lost a fumble inside the redzone after catching the ball seven yards downfield but then losing it when he tried to put a move on his receiver. He also injured his shoulder on the play and did not return. Wright also made one special teams tackle, on the opening kickoff.

What they’re saying:

The Panthers have three special-teams specialists currently on the bubble: WR Wallace Wright, SS Aaron Francisco and FS Marcus Hudson

Leon Washington (SEATTLE) – Started, 6-16 rushing, 1-23 returning kickoffs

Leon was in the starting lineup this week, but Seattle was missing three starters on the offensive line. Leon was only 6-16, but the other Seahawks combined to go just 9-28. He gained 10 yards on his first two carries but was then stuffed on 3rd and 3 and his last three carries were all short gains. His one kickoff return, in the second quarter saw him take it to the outside, but didn’t look quite as dynamic as we’re accustomed to. He didn’t play in the second half.

What they’re saying:

Leon Washington: No one looked good. Washington looked less damaging.

Lito Sheppard (MINNESOTA) – Came off the bench, three tackles

Sheppard came off the bench in this one and didn’t get any playing time on defense in the first half, as rookie Chris Cook, who has since been named a starter, was impressive. Lito had a holding penalty on a first quarter punt and missed a tackle on Mike Williams in the flat in the third. He did assist on a tackle at the line of scrimmage after the runner was forced to cut back, but then gave up a first down to rookie Golden Tate by being too far off him on 3rd and 3. With 6 minutes left a throw to his man, who was open, was off target and intercepted by another CB to effectively clinch the win. There was still time for Ruvell Martin to catch a first down right in front of him on 4th and 10 and also for Lito to break up a pass on a quick slant in the final minute.

What they’re saying:

Last season Sheppard played with Darrelle Revis “Island,” one of the top defensive backs in the NFL. Revis is a shutdown cornerback with fantastic talent. However, Revis wants more cash and is currently involved in a long holdout with the New York Jets. Sheppard says New York should cough up the dough.
“Having the chance to play with him and seeing what type of pressure is put on a guy like that, I think he deserves it and when you hype him up like that, you can’t go back on your word from that point,” said Sheppard.

Others: Jay Feely (ARIZONA) did not attempt a field goal this week, but made two extra points. One of his kickoffs went through the endzone, one was returned from three yards deep to the 28 (and he made the tackle himself) and one was fielded at the three and eventually fumbled.