Dan Leberfeld's Blog

Good potential picks for the Jets at #4 and #10 01.27.22

While these are pure guesswork, certain mock drafts have a little more value than others, based on who is doing them, and their relationship with the GM making the picks.

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah unveiled his first mock draft of the year a few days ago. Jets GM Joe Douglas and Jeremiah are very close from their time together as Baltimore Ravens scouts. Not saying Douglas is telling Jeremiah exactly what he wants to do, but they talk, and Jeremiah knows Joe’s thinking better the most.

And the two players Jeremiah has the Jets picking seem like an ideal combination for Gang Green.

With the fourth pick of the 2022 draft, Jeremiah has them picking Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, and at 10, he has them grabbing Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie.

This could be perfect, since these are perhaps their two biggest needs – dynamic edge-rusher and #1 cornerback. And this wouldn’t be reaching for need, which is generally a mistake, but marrying need with value.

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Jets need to hit this out of the park 01.24.22

This is perhaps one of the most important offseasons in Jets history.

They must add more talent, and amongst other things, tweak some aspects of their defensive playbook, which some considered too predictable at times. Their defense finished 32nd in the NFL.

The Jets are coming off a 4-13 season. They missed the playoffs for the 11th straight season, a current NFL high.

There isn’t anything positive about those two facts. You can’t put lipstick on those things and make them pretty.

Some people would say that is being negative, but I would disagree, it’s more about being realistic.

“You are what your record says it is.” – Bill Parcells

People can hype certain players all they want, and they do have some talented players, but they need a lot more. And the Jets have a golden opportunity to add the requisite talent they need with the resources they enter 2022 empowered with.

The Jets have a chance to have a transformative off-season with two picks in the top ten in each of the first two rounds. That is amazing draft capital. And let’s not forget they also have a pick at the top of the third round. That is special draft capital. The value of the two picks in the top ten in the first round is obvious. but high second and third-round picks are very valuable. Players you value often slip out of the first round – just look at WR Elijah Moore and RB Michael Carter, who the Jets had much higher grades than where they were picked, and those higher grades were warranted.

The Jets also have plenty of cap space.

They need to hit this off-season out of the park.

The Jets’ football people just need to roll up their sleeves, and kill this off-season, with strong moves in free agency and the draft, and top-shelf player development in their off-season programs.

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The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is out now on news stands and by subscription. So much stuff about Gang Green you will not read anywhere else. An unfiltered, but fair look at the current state of the team. To subscribe, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4). Get it, you won’t regret it.


This should help the Jets scouting for the draft 01.18.22

What an amazing scouting opportunity the Jets have

with their coaching staff getting the chance to coach one of the team’s in the 2022 Senior Bowl.

With so many draft picks at their disposal (two each in the first, second, fourth and fifth rounds), this will give the Jets’ coaches (and scouts) a great opportunity to get unique access to a bunch of draftable prospects, since they will be coaching them all week in practice and the game. While anybody can see the practices and game (on February 5), the Jets staff will be the only people in the meetings with their Senior Bowl squad. The San Francisco 49ers coached at the 2019 Senior Bowl, and their GM John Lynch feels it helped their draft evaluation process.

“(The players) are in a high-stress situation,” said Lynch. “There’s a lot going on, and there’s a lot at stake for all of them. We get to see how they’re going to respond, and we get to do it with the added bonus of being in the meeting rooms.”

The Senior Bowl experience won’t necessarily help the Jets with their two first-round picks. The Jets have two picks in the top ten, and it’s rare that you get top ten prospects at the Senior Bowl, but you do get a lot of guys who go in the late first round and beyond, so selections like their two high second-round picks, could be aided by coaching in the Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl is often loaded with guys who go in the second round.

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Hall of Fame on the passing of Don Maynard 01.10.22

*CANTON, OHIO – Pro Football Hall of Famer DON MAYNARD passed away today at the age of 86, his family told the Hall of Fame. Enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1987, Maynard was a wide receiver for the New York Giants (1958), New York Titans/Jets (1960-62/1963-1972) and the St. Louis Cardinals (1973).

Maynard was known for his ability to improvise – in life and on the field. His second season in professional football was spent in Hamilton with the Canadian Football League before joining the American Football League in 1960 as the first signee for the New York Titans (renamed the Jets in 1963).

While Maynard was a frequent standout for the Jets, he had his biggest day in the 1968 AFL Championship game that preceded the Jets’ stunning upset of Baltimore in Super Bowl III. In New York’s 27-23 victory over Oakland, Maynard caught six passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns. His 14-yard grab in the first period gave the Jets the lead and his 6-yard catch in the fourth period proved to be the game-winner.

At the time of his retirement following the 1973 season, Maynard was one of only five players to record more than 50 receptions and more than 1,000 receiving yards in five different seasons. A four-time AFL All-Star, his 633 career catches for 11,834 yards were both pro records at the time. He was also the first receiver to reach 10,000 yards in receptions – a record he was proud to hold.

The following is a statement from Hall of Fame President Jim Porter:

“Our Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Don Maynard. He was a resilient man on and off the field – and someone that his teammates could always count on. He was humble, and perhaps the best way to remember Don is through his own words – from his Enshrinement speech:

‘I came to play, and I came to stay. Football was a game; Country Don was my name. I made a mark, and I became a star, with a lot of help from near and far. There are good ones and great ones, I played with and against. Thank you, good Lord, for that wonderful chance. As I played my part many times even late after dark, I don’t have to look back as I played it with my heart. The direction from where I came, resulted in a whole lot of fame. I played the best and I believe I passed the test. I am glad this is over; I need some rest.’

Our thoughts and prayers are with Don’s family during this difficult time. The Hall of Fame will forever guard his legacy. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in Don’s memory.

*From the Pro Football Hall 0f Fame


No excuses, no explanations acceptable – just fix the darn thing 11.16.21

There is no way to spin what’s going on with the Jets’ defense.

They have been historically bad in recent weeks, and it must change.

As Tony Dungy always said when coaching: “No excuses, no explanations.”

No Jets fans want to hear any spin on this like “they’re young” or “there were some good stretches.”

None of that matters. Just say, “We’re playing terribly and it must change.” No words are necessary beyond that. No long explanations.

As Elvis Presley once famously sang – “A little less conversation a little more action.”

Everyone involved needs to take ownership and do something about this – the status quo isn’t going to cut it.

All those involved must do their jobs better. That is the bottom line.

We will see if they can moving forward.

But there is absolutely no way to spin what’s going on.

None.

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Rex is wrong about this 11.15.21

The Jets have a lot of issues, but this isn’t one of them.

“This team doesn’t want to play with any damn heart,” said the team’s former head coach Rex Ryan on ESPN.

Ryan was mostly focused on the team’s defense in his comments on Monday, blasting the team’s current head coach, Robert Saleh. He had a lot more to say than just the quote above.

Not sure this particular quote is entirely on the mark. The Jets play very hard and with “heart.” They are just, too often, not playing very smart. There’s a difference.

It’s not an effort or toughness issue, but more related to some players lacking ideal instincts, some being rushed into action before they were ready, and also a defensive scheme that is perhaps too predictable at times.

But the defensive players are flying around out there playing with a lot of effort and toughness.

“Heart” is not the problem.

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Jets brass should pick the brains of these two defensive players 11.15.21

These two players came from solid programs with good defenses.

The Jets need to meet with these two savvy veterans and get their input on how to improve their struggling defense.

Talking about linebacker C.J. Mosley, who used to play for Baltimore, and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who came over from New Orleans, both winning programs with strong defenses.

It’s time for a long meeting between the Jets’ defensive brass and Mosley/Rankins, two very good players, who are both extremely bright and insightful men.

Ask them – “What would you guys do to improve this defense?”

A no holds barred meeting. Let Mosley and Rankins speak their peace behind closed doors.

The more ideas the better!

The status quo isn’t working.

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Jets have major crisis, and the coach needs to fix it 11.14.21

What is going on is clearly unacceptable, and something needs to be done about it ASAP.

The Jets have allowed 45 or more points in three of the last four games. What is Robert Saleh going to do about it?

“Obviously, it’s not good enough,” Saleh said. “It always starts with me. We have eight games left and we have to figure it out.”

Saleh got the Jets’ job based on his work as the San Francisco defensive coordinator from 2016-20, so fixing this should be in his wheelhouse.

“Ever since that bye week, we haven’t been nearly as good as we have wanted to be,” said Saleh. “We have eight games left and from coaches to players, we have to find a way to get better every day. Otherwise, you’re selling yourself short.”

So it’s clearly time for lineup changes and to tweak the scheme.

Shake it up!

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Major changes needed at this position – it was a bad plan 11.14.21

There has been so much focus on the quarterbacks, but at this point . . .

the focus needs to go squarely on the Jets’ defense, which is the worst in the league.

Heck, it might not even matter who the quarterback is, because when you give up 45 points in each of the last two games, and 54 in another recent game, not many quarterbacks on the planet will be able to lead you to wins?

Yes, the Jets’ run defense isn’t very good, but it’s been good at times this season. The pass defense has been bad all year, and is the biggest problem with the 2021 New York Jets.

You might want to cut them a little slack at safety because they lost both veteran starters for the season. However, the plan at cornerback was ill-conceived.

Bryce Hall looks like he could be decent, but the rest of the players are a bunch of late-round picks and undrafted free agents, and there were reasons they were late-round picks and undrafted free agents. Now you know why there’s always a run on corners early in the draft, because guys with elite cover skills are pounced on by teams, hoping now to miss out on them, because it’s very hard to find answers later in the draft and with undrafted free agents.

Look, all these players are giving it their best shot, but it would be hard to find a scout, in the entire league, that would have told you, before the draft, that Brandon Echols was a rookie starting candidate. A sixth-round pick out of Kentucky, he was clearly a developmental prospect, maybe even a player who should have spent this season on the practice squad. To start him is unfair to him and the team.

And then to put him on an island against Stefon Diggs today, before Echols left the game with an injury, was patently unfair to the player.

So with all the Jets’ problems right now, you can put their pass defense at the top of the list, including a deep safety who doesn’t make plays on the ball.

In a passing league, when you play pass defense this bad, it’s hard to win games.

The Jets must have a better plan next off-season at cornerback.

Including not waiting until Day 3 of the draft to address the position.

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Will Jets be able to fix things during ‘mini-bye?’ 11.11.21

Even though players generally don’t like Thursday Night Football due to the short week, one positive is the

ten days after the game to get healthy and fix things strategically.

And we know the Jets have a lot to fix on defense coming off a very poor performance in a 45-30 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts amassed 532 yards, including 260 yards rushing, and scored on seven of 11 possessions.

How much will the Jets be able to fix on defense during their “mini-bye” coming off Thursday Night Football?

Perhaps some things, but remember, after their real bye-week, they came out in Week 7, and gave up 54 points in New England, allowing 551 yards.

Saleh thinks the defensive staff and players are “doing a real nice job.” He feels it was just two bad days at the office against New England and Indianapolis.

“The staff is doing a really nice job, the players are doing a really nice job – we just had two bad games against two pretty good offenses,” said Saleh.

It will be interesting to see what Saleh and Jets DC Jeff Ulbrich are able to fix with 10 days to prepare for Buffalo.

But perhaps some of the fixes will have to come in the off-season in the draft and free agency.

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Robert Saleh explaining his decision in today’s press conference 11.10.21

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Starting quarterback?

Robert Saleh: Mike is starting, Mike White.

Hughes: What went into that decision, can you just elaborate on that?

Saleh: Same thing. We had a feeling on Monday with Zach’s knee that he’s not fully ready to go. Mike, obviously, got all his strength back. He feels good, no residual effects from Thursday, so we’re going with Mike.

Hughes: With Zach not all the way back, could that potentially linger into next week as well? Or do you guys feel really confident about next week?

Saleh: We’ll see. It is a two-to-four-week injury, obviously. He’s trending in the right direction. We’ll see how he practices this week, which was always the goal, and see how he feels coming out of this week.

Brian Costello, New York Post: What will he do, Robert, in practice? Zach?

Saleh: Everything. Individual, he’s going to run the show team, he’ll take reps with the offense, basically a normal practice for him.

Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Will he be activated? Will he be your backup this week, or do you just have to wait to see?

Saleh: Probably going to roll with Joe Flacco on this one.

Bob Glauber, Newsday: Do you feel like things will sort themselves out in terms of the quarterback, longer term, two-three weeks that you’ll know what to do and you’ll know what’s right? Or might things get a little weird if Mike continues to do well and Zach is ready?

Saleh: So, I think it’s going to happen organically. If Mike does phenomenal like we think he’s going to do, that’s not weird, that’s awesome to me, in the sense that quarterback is a precious commodity in this league, and we feel like we’ve got four really good ones. To answer your question, I think it’ll all take care of itself, we just have to let it play out.

Iannazzone: How do you handle that in terms of, everything has been about Zach for the most part, his development. But if Mike gives you the best chance to win, how do you handle that going forward?

Saleh: First, you handle the things you’ve got control over and you just have to be cognizant of the entire organization. Joe (Douglas) and myself are committed to doing whatever is best for this entire organization and that includes every player in this organization. There’s always that commitment. There are 52 players on the roster, or 51 other players on the roster, and then practice squad and all that stuff. So, always sitting down, taking a deep breath, ignore all the outside noise and make the decision that’s best for the organization moving forward and the development of the entire team.

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If he’s healthy, the Jets need to promote this guy 11.10.21

The Jets’ 32nd-ranked defense has allowed over 500 yards in two of the last three games. They also lead the NFL in points and yards allowed.

They clearly need to make some personnel changes.

And one new addition to the lineup should come from their practice squad.

It’s probably time for them to elevate defensive end Ronald Blair and get him into the defensive line rotation.

He played for Robert Saleh in San Francisco when the Jets’ coach ran the 49ers’ defense from 2017-20.

“If you like winning, you like Ronnie Blair,” Saleh said in 2019. “If you don’t like winning, you don’t like him. I love him to death. He can do no wrong in my book.”

Knee issues sidelined Blair in 2020, but if healthy now, the Jets need him on their defensive line.

Blair was a 2016 fifth-round of the 49ers out of Appalachian State. In 47 games, he’s recorded 13.5 sacks, 27 QB hits and 88 tackles.

“He’s your lunch pail, gets things done, makes things work, get people lined up – he does it all,” said Saleh in 2019.

Sounds like a guy who could help the Jets.

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Excerpt from Mike White’s Post-Game Presser 10.31.21

Q: Did you ever think the fans would be chanting your name today?

Mike White: No, I did not. Going out and watching film on them to begin the week and see what they did on defense, I knew there’d be completions out there and I knew it was just a matter of making the right decisions and guys running great routes and tight turns and catching the ball and getting those extra yards and that’s what we did out there. I think that’s what led to the success of the offense.

Q: Did you guys plan on throwing a lot underneath a lot?

White: Yeah, I think that’s according to what the defense plays. They play a lot of zone and they don’t like to let guys get behind them. I know we got behind them one time with Elijah (Moore) and I missed the throw and there was a holding penalty, but I think we did a great job of taking what they gave us and executing the play calls and executing the plan that (Mike) LeFleur drew up for us and I think with this offense, you’ve got to execute within the offense and stay in those third and manageables and first down, second down, third down, and that’s what the result can be.

Q: What can you say about Mike LaFleur’s game plan?

White: Mike came to me on Saturday and called me and said he was going to let it rip to start the game because he thought that with a backup getting his first start and they would be tight and not let us run the ball, so I think that was awesome. We were able to soften them up and we got our run game going and screen game and when they were getting real soft we’d check it down and Michael Carter and Ty Johnson were making great runs after the catch. I think the decision to cut it loose early kind of caught them off guard and we were able to execute the offense from then on.

Q: What happened on the play you got hurt?

White: Yeah, someone hit me from the back and my head ran into someone else and my neck was just a little sore but that was pretty much it. We put some Tiger Balm on it and I was ready to roll.

 

 


Mike White Post-Game Comments 10.24.21

Q: Mike, what was the moment like when you saw Zach Wilson go down?

Mike White: First you worry about your friend on the ground, worrying about his well-being, how he was faring. Now you realize, All right, it’s my shot to go in there, help execute the offense. I told myself not to do anything out of the ordinary, just play within the system, complete the balls, get the balls to our play-makers and kind of go from there.

Q: Did you talk to Zach at all?

White: I didn’t get a chance to talk to him on the field. I just spoke to him in there. He’s in good spirits. He congratulated me. He was good. He was good.

Q: Did the touchdown pass maybe settle you down a little bit?

White: Yeah, I would say so. I mean, it helped me settle down a little bit. Still, I mean, kind of all happened so quickly. You get to the sideline, then you realize. We start talking about what we’re thinking, things of that nature. I think the more drives I got, the more completions I got, I started to settle a little bit more into the game.

Q: How do you feel you played overall?

White: I think overall personally there are things to build on. I think we did some good things as an offense. We executed, moved the ball downfield. As in any game there’s going to be plays you want back. I think the most important thing is going into the film room tomorrow and correcting those things, building upon it, not letting today beat us twice.

Q: Are you confident if Zach is out for any amount of time you can lead this team?

White: I think once we figure out what’s going on with Zach – cross that bridge when we get there sort of deal – yeah, I’m confident in myself. I’m mostly confident in the guys we have in that locker room, the leaders we have. The coaching staff, too. Have to make the corrections necessary and keep going and being professionals and working our tails off and trying to get this thing going.

Q: How beneficial has it been to have Josh Johnson on the practice squad? 

White: Josh has been awesome. I think the QB dynamic that we have in our room between myself, Josh, Zach obviously, Coach Cavanaugh, LaFleur, Rod, everyone brings a different thing into that room. We work real well together. I think Josh was awesome on the sideline for me today. Anytime you’re playing, you want to look to the player’s aspect to get a different point of view on the game. And Josh was awesome.

Q: Any one particular pass that stands out you wish you had back?

White: Yeah, there was a couple. I think the one to Ryan Griffin over the middle. I haven’t been able to watch the film yet, but it felt as if it came out kind of high and hot. Those are something you want back. That’s just off the top of my head.

Q: We saw the work you did in training camp. We don’t watch practice during the regular season. How much work have you gotten with the ones?

White: In the regular season Zach will get all the one reps and I’ll get the scout team. Still working on football mechanics, pocket movement, might be other team’s offenses. At the end of the day a curl is a curl and a slant is a slant. It’s definitely different, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to make any excuses for myself. Every other backup goes through the same thing.


So how is late addition Matt Cavanaugh melding in? 10.22.21

In late August, the Jets hired Matt Cavanaugh as a senior offensive assistant.

He was brought in to help fill the void after passing game coordinator Greg Knapp was killed on his bike by somebody texting and driving.

I asked Jets coach Robert Saleh today about the impact of Cavanaugh so far.

“Cavanaugh, he’s been fantastic,” said Saleh. “He’s been everything that we wanted. G0d rest his soul with Knapper (Greg Knapp), the idea with Knapper, former coordinator, quarterback coach, kind of can be that old soul for the quarterback and for Mike (LaFleur), who’s also a first-time play-caller. We took time in thinking about how we wanted to fill that role and it was not easy, obviously. Cavanaugh was a name that continually popped up from a lot of people around the league who I trust dearly and he’s very similar in that role.

“He’s a former coordinator, old soul, has a lot of experience with quarterback play, played the position. So just to be that presence in the room. He’s been awesome, he’s been everything that we wanted and couldn’t be happier to have him.”

After playing in the NFL as a reserve QB from 1978-91, Cavanaugh has served as a QB coach and/or offensive coordinator on both the college and NFL levels since 1992.

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The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is out and loaded with the unfiltered bottom line about what’s going on with the Jets. Page after page of the good stuff on Gang Green. On newsstands. To subscribe, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4).


Tough balancing act for Jets 10.20.21

Is it hard to do both? I asked Robert Saleh that on Wednesday in his press conference and here is what he said:

Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: Coach, how do you balance working in young players and them taking their lumps on the job while they learn and try to win?

Saleh: It’s the same. We believe that this group can win. It’s an exciting group that we’ve got. They’re not being thrust out there because there’s nobody else, these are really good football players and they’re going to figure it out. You’re always trying to win football games and you understand with this youth that you can cost yourself sometimes. There’s a lot of fear, I’m probably rambling, but there’s always fear with playing young guys, that young guys probably lose you more games than you win. But at the same time, when they figure it out and they learn how not to lose football games, you’ll see the swing and you’ll actually be able to feel it, even from the outside looking in.

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The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is out and loaded with the good stuff on Gang Green. So much stuff about the Jets you won’t read anywhere else. To subscribe, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4). Get it, you won’t regret it!

 


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