Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comThe Jets have already refused to make a major changes this week at the quarterback spot against the Raiders, but here’s three moves we think the team should make but likely won’t due to front office politics or just plain stubbornness.
We were big fans of the Ed Reed signing when the Jets made it. We would be bigger fans of the move had the Jets not been so stubborn and ham-handed in their use of the future Hall of Famer. All that using Reed as a full-time player has done for the Jets is make the whole unit worse by adding a player with a fraction of his former abilities to the most central role thereby making Dawan Landry take on new roles and force out the only young dynamic athlete of the group. It might have been something that the Jets could get away with with strong corners like in years past, but without that element, the whole thing is failing badly.
True, Antonio Allen’s first year as a starter wasn’t always flawless, but has Rex Ryan already forgotten that Allen was a big part of the Jets win over the Patriots? The team is stubbornly playing Reed a majority of the snaps. To the world this looks like the Emporer’s New Clothes, though the Jets abrupt move to Cover Two might be the first sign of modesty. The day Reed arrived, he told the press he’d be willing to play whatever role the team laid out for him. That role should not be as a full time starter and those snaps should go to the only man on the roster who has the speed, size and athleticism to help at this point, Antonio Allen.
The Likely Result: The Jets might work Allen in a bit more, but not enough to paper over the problems that Ryan’s use of Reed has compounded on this already leaky secondary.
Someone needs to have a Brian Winters intervention with John Idzik. In fact, someone should have a Useless Drafted Rookie Linemen Intervention with John Idzik. While Brian Winters is the team’s worst left guard since Adrien Clarke in 2007, his classmates Oday Aboushi and Will Campbell have been occupying roster spots that could otherwise be used for more useful players. There’s no shame in squadding guys like Aboushi and Campbell, in fact it would demonstrate acumen. Even players that could threaten to contribute on special teams would be more useful when it comes to activation/de-activation discussions at those two roster spots.
But I digress.
The only thing Winters seems capable of doing correctly right now is pull-blocking. And since this offense is fighting their obvious calling to be a ground and pound unit, Winters usefulness is even more suspect. Maybe someday Winters can be a quality starter, but for right now he is little more than a single point of failure that opponents have exploited during his time as a starter. Going back to Vlad Ducasse would allow scribes one more shorthand for the troubles with the team.
While I can’t even believe I’m typing this, the obvious solution is to give former Tannenbaum Golden Boy Caleb Schlauderaff a shot. Schauderaff has been around the team for years now and if he doesn’t know what is required by now, then he never will. While Schlauderaff has not proven to me during his preseason stints that he’s a legit long-term answer, can it be worse than what we are currently seeing? It’s worth trying something else rather than watching Winters get overpowered play after play.
The Likely Result: Winters might become a quality starter some day, but it is hard to imagine that the front office would allow the benching of their third rounder. Idzik will dictate that the coaches work through it … which the guard simply cannot do right now even when placed between two former Pro-Bowlers.
To his credit, for the first time this season I saw Dee Milliner get himself into position and have his head swiveled enough to actually make plays on Sunday against the Dolphins. I am unsure whether or not that was a factor of him playing in a Cover Two, but his positioning was a marked improvement. The problem, of course, is that he was getting crisped while looking at the play rather than with his back to it. Sigh.
The book on Dee Milliner is far from written, but the Jets seem to be closing the book on Ellis Lankster before even scanning it. Kyle Wilson is under the team’s control next year, Aaron Berry could be back off the IR and Darrin Walls seems to have found a spot with this team. Even so, the team is going to have some serious question marks at corner going forward. Cromartie might not be back and Ellis Lankster is about to become a restricted free agent. It is not a coincidence that during a game where the secondary was falling apart Lankster saw more snaps on defense than he had all season. Lankster did commendably notching three tackles and one stop according to Pro Football Focus. Lankster did see two first downs come against him, but at least one was the fault of Dawan Landry, who bit on a run-fake, leaving Lankster isolated.
Lankster showed some promise back in 2012, but up until this week, the Jets have limited him to special teams. With just a month left, the Jets need to let Ellis Lankster see more time on defense to make a proper judgement on whether they fish-or-cut-bait with him.
Lankster might not rack up tackles on special teams, but that’s not necessarily his role. More times than not he flushes the quarry for others to then pick up the tackles. He is the Jets special teamer on the Pro Bowl ballot and just this past week the Dolphins doubled him almost every time to take him out of plays. Once upon a time Rex would promise special teamers that if they were successful on teams, he would work them into sub-packages on their respective side of the ball. That sort of production used to warrant players more opportunities, but Lankster’s opportunity only came due to the shortcomings of others. The misfortunes of others along with his work on specials should precipitate his playing time on defense, but someone upstairs must not see it the same way.
The Likely Result: John Idzik and Rex Ryan like to talk about “competition” but if they are unwilling to back up rhetoric with action, then players like Lankster will leave this organization insufficiently evaluated for larger roles at bargain pricing.