Monthly Archives: December 2017

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The New York Jets should have enough resources to significantly improve the team in the offseason. We’re talking about a possible top-10 draft pick and a ton of cap room. Our question of the week focus on the latter.

22 Dec

Rich Cimini

@RichCimini
Accepting questions for the Jets mailbag. Plenty on the table — Bowles, college bowls, QBs, the handling of Wilkerson, etc. Please use #jetsmail

Jeff Weinstein
@JAW4217
#jetsmail Where do the Jets use the most cap space in the off season? The offensive line?
11:10 PM – Dec 22, 2017
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@RichCimini: Right now, they’re projected to have about $81 million in cap space for 2018, but that number will approach $100 million once they get done cutting veterans. Releasing Muhammad Wilkerson — a certainty — will open up $11 million in cap space.

I don’t think the Jets will blow through all the cap room because general manager Mike Maccagnan’s philosophy is to build through the draft. The No. 1 priority will be to re-sign their own free agents. They don’t have any big-ticket guys, but they have a handful of starters who will land medium-sized deals — namely Demario Davis, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Morris Claiborne. There’s also Josh McCown, who could return on a one-year contract if they want to go the bridge-quarterback route again.

You’re right, Jeff, the Jets need to upgrade the offensive line, especially center. Wesley Johnson isn’t the answer and he will be a free agent. Problem is, there isn’t an heir apparent on the roster and there are no sure-fire solutions on the free-agent market. The top guys will be Weston Richburg, Ryan Jensen and Russell Bodine. Any of those guys tickle your fancy?

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The Jets’ offensive-line situation reminds me of 1998, when Bill Parcells identified center as his No. 1 need. Fortunately for him, there was a center named Kevin Mawae on the free-agent market. Parcells gave Mawae the biggest contract in history for a center and — voila — the problem was solved for nearly a decade. Unfortunately for the Jets, I don’t see any Mawaes floating around out there.

Maccagnan hasn’t done well with mega-contracts (see: Darrelle Revis and Muhammad Wilkerson), so you have to wonder if he’ll be gun-shy in a high-stakes bidding war. Unless they make a strong push for Kirk Cousins, I can’t see the Jets doling out a top-of-the-market contract. But there is one name to watch: Demarcus Lawrence, who will be only 26 and has 13.5 sacks. You have to think the Dallas Cowboys will find a way to keep him. If not, he could be a target.

Another big need is cornerback, as the Jets have only two proven veteran corners under contract — Buster Skrine and Darryl Roberts. There could be some big names on the market (Trumaine Johnson, Malcolm Butler), but I’d be surprised if they spend big money there. They have some young corners in the pipeline and it’s said to be a good draft for the position.

The Jets have the money to burn. It’ll be fascinating to see what they do with it.

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — From Week 3 to Week 6, Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught more passes than any tight end in the NFL. He was a key part of the New York Jets’ offense, and his off-the-field story — a successful battle against booze — added an element of inspiration to his sudden rise.

That seems like a long time ago.

Seferian-Jenkins’ production has all but disappeared in recent weeks. He’s disappointed because he feels he can be doing more, but he’s not discouraged. He wants the ball, but he won’t make a stink about his slump.

“It sucks, it really sucks because I felt like I was making really good improvements,” the 25-year-old told ESPN on Thursday. “For whatever reason, it’s not going my way, but the most important thing is that we try to win as a team.”

Seferian-Jenkins already has a career-high 44 receptions, but he has only five catches for 35 yards in the past three games. Except for a few late catches in a Week 10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he really hasn’t been a factor since Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons — the game in which an apparent touchdown was overturned by replay because he bobbled the ball.

“Sure, I’d like to help the team by getting the ball a little more, but there are other ways to help the team, whether it’s pass protection or run blocking,” he said. “When I get my opportunities, I’m going to cash in on them.

What you need to know in the NFL

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• 2017 schedule, results
• Standings
“I missed a block in the Denver game, but I think there’s been a great maturation in my run blocking and pass protection over these last three or four weeks,” he continued. “My blocking has gotten a lot better.

“I’m having a great season so far and I’m not going to let the last three weeks affect the next three weeks. If I get the ball, I get the ball. If I don’t, I don’t. The most important thing is to help the team win.”

In Weeks 12 and 13, the offense revolved around wide receivers Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse, who both produced back-to-back 100-yard days. In Sunday’s 23-0 loss in Denver, the Jets should’ve featured Seferian-Jenkins. Anderson and Kearse were neutralized by Denver’s cornerbacks, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr., so there should’ve been plenty of opportunities for Seferian-Jenkins in the middle of the field.

His final line: four targets, one catch for 1 yard and one drop.
In the past, Seferian-Jenkins might have complained about his role. He has done a lot of growing up over the past 12 months, a period during which he acknowledged a drinking problem and sought counseling. Now he tries to understand the big picture before making impulsive comments. If someone told him in the offseason he’d have 44 catches after 13 games, he would’ve signed up for that, he said.

“Don’t get me wrong, I still want the ball,” he said, smiling. “I definitely want the ball, but at the same time, it’s not just about me. A younger me, I probably would’ve expressed it in a different way than I am now. It’s just understanding there’s more than one person on this team.

“These last three weeks, they haven’t been great for me, personally, numbers-wise, but I’ve been blocking great. These next three weeks, who knows what’s going to happen? It could be a huge three games. You never know.”

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets will have at least one of their starting cornerbacks in the lineup on Thursday night against the Buffalo Bills.

Buster Skrine, who sat out last week with a concussion, was cleared on Wednesday, practiced fully (a walk-through) and is scheduled to play in the game. His last game was a nightmare — three touchdowns allowed and three penalties.

His partner, Morris Claiborne, may not be available. The Jets’ top corner, who sprained his left foot last Sunday, missed practice for the third straight day and is listed as questionable. Considering the nature of the injury and the short week, it’s very possible he will be inactive. Darryl Roberts likely would start in his place, with Juston Burris (or perhaps newcomer Rashard Robinson) handling the No. 3 role.

As usual, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (foot/shoulder) is questionable after another week of not practicing. Because of the quick turnaround, it’s “going to be tough” for him to play, coach Todd Bowles said on Monday. Nevertheless, the Jets are hopeful he will give it a shot.

Right tackle Brent Qvale is expected to start for the second straight week, as Brandon Shell (neck) suffered a setback this week and is doubtful for the game. So is Terrence Brooks (hamstring), who plays on defense when they go to a four-safety package. Fullback Lawrence Thomas (concussion) has been ruled out.

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The New York Jets stock report, looking at risers and fallers from their 35-27 loss to the Carolina Panthers (before film review):

THREE UP

What you need to know in the NFL

• Statistics
• Scoreboard
• 2017 schedule, results
• Standings
WR Robby Anderson — He sparked a controversy by lobbying for Pro Bowl votes on TV during the game, resulting in a rebuke from coach Todd Bowles. I’m not a fan of what he did, either, but you know what? He belongs in the Pro Bowl conversation, especially after his six-catch, 146-yard, two-touchdown performance. He has scored in five straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL. Among wide receivers, he’s 13th in receiving yards (714), tied for fourth in touchdowns (seven) and fourth in average yards per catch (17.4).

WR Jermaine Kearse — Maintaining his reputation as a Panthers killer, Kearse finished with seven catches for a season-high 105 yards and a touchdown. There’s about Carolina blue that brings out the best in Kearse, who racked up 14 catches, 239 yards and three touchdown in two playoff games against them while playing for the Seattle Seahawks.

The Cam Newton plan — The defense did an outstanding job against Newton, who played one of the worst games of his career. The Jets held him to 168 passing yards and 28 rushing yards (one touchdown) — and he entered the game as one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league. His completion percentage (39.3) was the third-worst in his career. The Jets recorded three sacks and eight “hits,” including two apiece by Demario Davis, Leonard Williams and Josh Martin. Kudos to Jamal Adams for letting Newton know he didn’t appreciate his silly “Superman” celebration.

FOUR DOWN

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins — He has developed a case of the end-zone yips. Seferian-Jenkins cost his team a touchdown with a blatant drop in the first quarter, and he failed to secure a catchable ball in the fourth quarter. The latter was ruled a touchdown on the field, but it was overturned by replay, an all-too-familiar feeling for Seferian-Jenkins. On Oct. 15, he fumbled away a touchdown against the New England Patriots. That, too, was a controversial replay review.

DT Mike Pennel — Statistically, it was his best game of the year (seven total tackles), but no one will remember that because of his senseless roughing-the-passer penalty in the fourth quarter. The Jets should’ve had the ball back with just over two minutes left, down by five, but Pennel’s dumb foul extended the Carolina drive. That’s the type of play that could get a marginal player cut.
LB Jordan Jenkins — His offsides penalty on fourth-and-2 in the third quarter extended a drive, which, of course, ended with a touchdown. The Jets aren’t good enough to overcome those kind of penalties.

Punting unit — Kaelin Clay’s 60-yard touchdown return resulted from a number of factors. Start with Lachlan Edwards, whose punt was short (37 yards) and had poor hang time (about 3.7 seconds). Long snapper Thomas Hennessy missed a chance to wrap up Clay as soon as he caught the ball. The Jets like Hennessy because of his ability to get downfield. On this play, he showed his speed, but he had to make that tackle. Eric Tomlinson tried a lunge tackle, but it was no use; Clay was a goner, essentially sealing the Panthers’ win.

Two minutes earlier, the Panthers had scored on a fumble recovery. Prior to Sunday, they had scored just two non-offensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter in their previous 186 games combined, dating to the start of 2006 season. Why does the crazy stuff always happen against the Jets?