Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comOver the last ten days I’ve been traveling around the Pacific Northwest due to a family wedding and vacation. Now back from my Voodoo Doughut-ing, DB Cooper searching, medical dispensary-ing, crusty gutterpunk-ing, Dream of the 90s-ing, Goonies treasure hunting bingefest, here’s some items I’ve had the time to notice, but not opine on …
We don’t know much about Mike Pettine other than he’s a pretty calculated thinker and is good at the Xs and Os aspect and was a good yang to Ryan’s yin. We do think that he could prove to be an effective NFL head coach, but there’s one thing that I don’t think is in much doubt … he’s kind of a D. Pettine interrupted his vacation to address his comments, but didn’t really refute those comments; comments that were caustic and seemingly in keeping with his personality.
Rex Ryan is playing the diplomat but is obviously disappointed, but look at this statement Rex made about Pettine in an article by Manish Mehta about Thurman, Pettine and Ryan and their brotherhood back in 2011 to the New York Daily News.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Ryan told the Daily News about their friendship. “Pettine’s mean. I’m not mean. When he cuts somebody, he’ll cut to the bone. I’m like, ‘Oh Pett, did you have to go there?’ He’ll find something that can needle a guy and, oh yeah, he’ll get ‘em.”
I pretty much agree with everything that former Jets special teams coach (and Pettine co-worker) said about Pett.
SI.com’s Doug Farrar, one of the better writing game-tape analysts, has been handing out offseason report cards and effusively praised the Jets pick of Trevor O’Reilly. “[Reilly's] dropping to the seventh round was one of the big surprises of this draft,” writes Farrar. “Ryan will likely find a way to use him as a situational pass rusher, and Reilly could make a lot of teams look foolish for passing on him.”
Due to the round he was drafted, he seems like a darkhorse to make this team, but he’s had a good spring, is something of a character and as Farrar points out stands a chance to become an impact player for this time if given a little space to do so.
What are the Jets going to do at the safety spot? There’s been a lot of analysis on the overhaul of the Jets secondary with the most likely scenario that the Jets make Dawan Landry their first safety off the bench. We are in the midst of a youth movement led by CB Dee Milliner and rookie safety Calvin Pryor which will squeeze players like Landry. Landry played the seventh-most snaps at the safety position in 2013, logging 1110 snaps according to ProFootballFocus and casting his experience aside with such a young group might be unwise. Landry can still contribute and might make a good meeting room leader and de facto coach for the group, regardless of his playing time. Landry could back up Antonio Allen as the team’s projected role as the “box” safety and could deploy more Big Nickel or even Big Dime (slot corner and extra safety, I just made that up) packages with Landry on the bench. Brian Costello believes that the Jets will hang onto Landry, as do I. But the way the Jets have disposed of potential veterans like Antonio Garay, Stephen Peterman, Mohammad Massaquoi and others last year has me slightly skeptical.
Cimini has another great mailbag on ESPN NY, and in it he writes some on the team’s first receiver they took in the 2014 draft, Jalen Saunders. Cimini answered a question about who projects as the team’s top returners and answers that the Jets’ “hope … Jalen Saunders emerges as the primary punt returner.”
The Jets have been looking for a dynamic returner who can double as a DeSean Jackson / Percy Harvin type since Marty Morhinweg arrived last year. Saunders is small, but with good speed and will challenge a player like Clyde Gates directly for his roster spot. Moreover, if he can demonstrate some work on offense either as a deep threat or option in the screen game and out of the slot, he might challenge the team’s long-term view of what they do with Jeremy Kerley. Other than Kerley, Saunders is the least like any other receiver the Jets have and there’s a reason they picked him before any other this spring … let’s see how they use him this summer.
One more point from Farrar. The SI.com writer notes that the Jets made an upgrade by signing Eric Decker, but does make clear that the production will dip now that he’s with the Jets and won’t have the help of Peyton Manning and the other excellent Broncos receivers around him. “Decker isn’t a sure-fire No. 1 receiver; more like a 2A player who needs a great quarterback and a complementary target to make things go the best way,” writes Farrar. “He doesn’t yet have either of those things with the Jets, but he’ll be a major improvement over what this team trotted out at the receiver position last year.”
In 2013, the team’s “best” receiver was a player the Jets have been looking to scrape off the bottom of their shoe since 2011 after an ill-advised contract that cemented him on the team through 2013. That “best” receiver is still looking for a new home and no one seems eager to bring him in. Decker is in his prime, he’s not struggled with injuries like Tone, has no legal or substance run-ins (that we know of) and it is clear that he wants to be with New York and to prove his worth.
Decker is an upgrade and will pair well with the slot work of Jeremy Kerley (who we think will be the biggest beneficiary of other receiving threats) and whatever Nelson/Hill/Saunders platoon the Jets run across from Decker. Sprinkle in an upgraded tight end and running back battery and the whole group of potential pass-catchers is much improved. This Jets team isn’t about to become the 1999 Rams reborn, but the host of improvements will raise the tide for the entire Jets offense.