Dan Leberfeld's Blog

Why Wilson was picked second overall 09.23.21

Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson had a rough day on Sunday, throwing four interceptions in the Jets’ 25-6 loss to New England.

However, while there are no moral victories in the NFL, there were two throws in the fourth quarter that were illustrative of why the Jets picked him with the #2 pick of the 2021 draft.

The first was on third-and-10, with 10:34 left, with Patriots defensive end Matt Judon about to hit him, he threw a deep out to wide receiver Braxton Berrios for a 27-yard gain. It was a perfectly placed throw, dropped into a very small window on the left sideline.

Then, with 1:06 left in the game, on fourth-and-15, he hit wide receiver Jeff Smith for a 35-yard gain, on the left sideline, also into a small window.

To New England Patriots radio analyst Scott Zolak, this throw to Smith, was a case-in-point as to why this quarterback went so high in the draft.

“I don’t know how a kid that little, small hands, makes that type of throw,” said Zolak on 98.7 The Sports Hub right after this throw. “He is off his back foot, going backwards. This is why they liked him at two, why the had to take him. It’s a throw like that where you saw there is something there with this kid.”

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Is Zo right? 09.22.21

Is it too for much for a rookie QB? One former NFL QB thinks so.

Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson is coming off a four interception game in the Jets 25-6 loss to New England.

Late in the New England radio broadcast, on 98.5 The Sports Hub, long-time Patriots color analyst Scott Zolak, a former NFL QB in the 1990’s (was in Jets camp in 1999), surmised that the Jets might need to tweak their offensive play-calling a tad to help the young QB.

“It’s too expansive,” Zolak said about the Jets’ offensive approach against New England. “Everything is [shot-gun] and spread and I know he dealt with a lot of that in college, but at the same [time], part of the pro game is being able to put your hands under center. Maybe it’s a height issue for him. I don’t know that. Maybe he’s more comfortable in the ‘gun.’ But they are going to have to protect him and give him some other chances where it’s not all on his shoulders.”

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‘Trying to go for the home run.’ 09.21.21

One Jets defender had a deep take on what happened to QB Zach Wilson in his 4  interception game against New England:

“A part of that is trial and error,” said Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, a former New Orleans Saints. “You can go back to younger Drew Brees, and he is taking a lot of shots. Trying to go for the home run and try to win the game now. I think as a young player period, not just the quarterback position, I can think about in my younger career, I wanted the big sack now. You got to go through the process, the fundamentals. You’re training. Everything you’re taught to do. You have to let your training take over.

“As a young player, it gets tough at times because you want to be the one making the big plays and get the fans going crazy. But he’ll be fine. I have no doubts about him. I’ve seen him go through his progressions at practice and go through the things he’s taught to do. He’ll be fine. It’s his first home game in front of his first home crowd. He wanted to do some special things. He’s making some throws he thinks he can make. Sometimes he will make them, and sometimes he won’t. That’s the nature of this business.

“He will continue to learn from it. We’ll continue to build on it and every week you’ll see, even if it’s not anything big or huge, he’ll continue to grow each and every week, and become a better overall player consistently.”

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This new issue of the one-and-only Jets Confidential Magazine hits newsstands later this week. To subscribe to this must-read for Jets fans, click below or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4).

 


Ghostbusting 09.20.21

It’s well-documented that New England coach Bill Belichick does a great job on rookie quarterbacks.

Last year, his defense shutout the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert, 45-0. Herbert had an excellent rookie season, but even he was baffled.

And remember when former Jets QB Sam Darnold, in 2019, threw four picks against New England, to go with a 3.7 quarterback rating, in a 33-0 Patriots win. Granted Darnold wasn’t a rookie at the time, but he was still young and inexperienced, and was stumped by Belichick’s defense.

Darnold said he was “seeing ghosts” that day. In other words, Belichicks complex coverages were messing with his mind. Belichick is known for creating great coverage disguises.

But with Zach Wilson’s four-pick performance on Sunday, you could argue that none of the four interceptions were “seeing ghosts” picks. One interception was a thrown a little high to wide receiver  Corey Davis on a bootleg right, went off his hands, and was intercepted. The other three seemed to have some “hero ball” elements to them – ill-advised throws down field that were forced

However, none of the picks seemed to derive from tricky Patriots coverages baffling Wilson.

So the argument that Wilson was “seeing ghosts” was probably not the issue that led to the four picks.

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This new issue of the one-and-only Jets Confidential Magazine hits newsstands later this week. To subscribe to this must-read for Jets fans, click below or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4).


This summed it up 09.20.21

This quote from Jets coach Robert Saleh sums up his team’s loss to New England perfectly.

“I felt like we showed up to play,” said Saleh. “I thought our guys played their butts off, but when you lose the turnover battle 4-0, it’s impossible.”

Bingo!

It might sound like a strange thing to say, but this game was pretty even if you take out Zach Wilson’s four picks.

Of course, you can’t do that. They happened. But you still get the sense that these are two very even teams sans turnovers. 

Both have rookie quarterbacks and physical, hard-hitting defenses.

The Patriots aren’t a dominating team, as they showed in their week one loss at home to an average Miami Dolphin team, that got blown out by Buffalo yesterday.

So without those four picks, the New England-Jets game probably comes down to the wire.

But you give New England four early Christmas gifts, you have very little chance of winning.

“It’s hard enough to win in this league when the turnover battle is even,” Saleh said. “When it’s [minus] four, it’s darn near impossible.”

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This new issue of the one-and-only Jets Confidential Magazine hits newsstands later this week. To subscribe to this must-read for Jets fans, click below or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4).


Zach Wilson’s Post-Game Press Conference 09.12.21

Q: Was it difficult to play under constant pressure?

Wilson: I mean it is tough, but it is part of the job right. That is why we sign up to be quarterback. I feel like I am just getting better. Experiencing. Having stuff in your face you’ve got to be able to play. That is a part of the quarterback position. You can’t just say, “all this pressure, I cant do my job.” That is why quarterbacks, it is a tough position to come by. It is good for me and I am just going to keep working and getting better.

Q: How do you feel physically?

Wilson: Yeah, neck is a little sore. You know a little whip lash, but I will be alright.

Q:Was there a difference in intensity that you felt in this game versus preseason?

Wilson: Yeah, I mean you’ve got to give those guys credit. They are flying around. They are doing a great job on defense breaking up balls. All that kind of thing. But really, I feel like I was seeing the field well. Even early on when we struggled a little bit. I felt like I was seeing what I was supposed to be seeing. I just felt like we were just a little bit short on execution. Just some of the details overall and I have to clean that up. Us as a team you know we’ve got to get back in and watch the film and do better next week.

Q: What happed with the interception?

Wilson: Honestly, I wasnt mad about the read. It just was not a great throw. I got to, I mean I see the dude right there right and I’ve got to put the ball over top of him and we got to a route coming in behind him. It is tight. So obviously dont force things, but really, I’ve just got to make a better throw right there cant let him get a hand on it. Or get to my check down there.

Q: How shaken up were you after that late sack?

Wilson: Yeah, I was fine. But you know sometimes, it felt like I got hit by a truck there for a second. Sometimes you’ve got to catch your breath, take a deep breath and understand we are still in it. You’ve just got to stand up and keep going. So, I was fine. Just got the wind knocked out of me a little bit. And then we were able to go down and execute.

Q: Were they doing anything presnap to disguise pressure packages?

Wilson: Yeah, I mean we knew on third down that we were going to get pressure. We knew what we were going to bring and I feel like we were seeing it well. We’ve just got to execute and I’ve got to do a better job of getting the ball out of my hands faster. We’ve just got to get better at picking some of those up. I wouldn’t say we didnt know what they were doing though. They try to disguise certain things, but I feel like we had a good idea of what was going on.

Q: What are the range of emotions on your first touchdown pass?

Wilson: Yeah it is rough. It kind of kills the whole play a little bit and you hope he is doing ok. I am not even sure what was going on. It was the heat of the moment. We had to go back out there for another play. Of course, my prayers are with him and everyone else that got dinged up or hurt today. I hope he is doing alright because it sucks to see your left tackle out.

Q: What adjustments did you make in the second half to produce?

Wilson: Really, I think it just comes down to the NFL. Every series is kind of a new series. A new game almost. Even early on when things were struggling I felt like we were so close to having that play or one guy does this. Get that out a little bit faster. Throw a better ball here we were going to be going. I feel like it was really settling in. Honing in on the details and then just focusing on execution.

Q: Did the Panthers linebackers changing their numbers have any effect on you?

Wilson: Nah. They are still linebackers. You still see them standing there. You know you put it in your mind you see 7 and 4 back there you understand they are linebackers. They are big dudes. You know their safeties 21 and 31 so you are not confusing who is playing where at that point, but it is good to be aware of those.

Q: Did you feel that the game was still within reach at 16-0?

Wilson: Of course. Every game is. Even if it was 40-0. You’ve got to approach every single series like you have a chance to come back. That is why we do this. We are all competitors. No one out here is thinking “ah game is over let’s move on to next week.” If you are a competitor you are not going to take that. You are going to keep coming back every single series. Especially, 16-0. You have seen how quick some teams can score. In that situation we’ve just got to get the guys going a little bit. Get some energy and then execute.

Q: What do you think caused most of your issues today?

Wilson: No, I am not entirely sure. You’ve got to give credit to Carolina. They got some good pass rushers up front. I think we just got to settle in. Some of those first game things and you know we’ve got a great O-line. Those guys are going to go back. They are going to do their thing and they are going to get better this week in practice. We are going to make it work.

Are you disappointed that you weren’t able to run the ball better as an offense?

I wouldn’t say disappointed. I’ve got all the faith in the world in our run game, our scheme, everything we are doing. Like I said I think the run game came down to the little details as well. When you guys watch it looks just like a big scramble of dudes, but it is very organized as far as who is going to who. When you get back in the film room there is going to be a lot of good opportunities for these guys to learn on how we can improve in that run game.

Q: Do you think you have a better idea of what you need to do moving forward?

Wilson: Yeah, a little bit. I think every game I am going to keep learning. You know talking to Aaron Rogers a little bit ago as well. He is in year 17 and he is still learning every single game. It is like you are always going to be learning. So, it is like how quickly can I keep learning and every game there is going to be something new and I just need to keep settling in. Going through my keys and what I am looking at.


Jets have new official beer sponsor 09.10.21

*CHICAGO, September 10, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – With the NFL season kicking off, Constellation Brands, Inc. is furthering its presence in the New York football market with the announcement of a new multi-year partnership with the New York Jets, New York Giants and MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ in collaboration with Modelo and the Corona Brand Family.
Modelo Especial, brewed for those with The Fighting Spirit™, is now an official beer sponsor of the New York Giants and Corona Extra will be an official beer sponsor of the New York Jets. Both brands will enter a new partnership with MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The brands’ presence in the stadium will provide Jets and Giants fans with a unique viewing and meeting experience equipped with advertising and branding from football fans’ favorite import beer brands.
As part of this new partnership, Constellation Brands is unveiling multiple branded activation spaces within MetLife Stadium. The 200-level East Mezzanine Club (42,500 sq. ft.) will be branded the Corona Beach Club and will be open for fans looking to enjoy La Vida Más Fina (The Fine Life). Additionally, the Modelo Cantina, an enclosed bar totaling 3,100 sq. ft., will be located outside of section 142 on the Main Concourse level.
“The new Corona Beach Club and Modelo Cantina will truly amplify the fan experience on gameday as well as all of our other events during the year,” said Ron VanDeVeen, MetLife Stadium President and CEO. “As we prepare to launch into a full NFL season and with a packed event schedule around the corner in 2022, MetLife Stadium is the perfect venue to create these branded spaces for the best fans in football”.
Fans will be able to experience the Constellation Brands presence at MetLife Stadium this Sunday when the New York Giants face the Denver Broncos in their season opener. The New York Jets will open at home against the New England Patriots on Sept. 19.
“As we kickoff the regular season this Sunday, we’re excited to announce this partnership with Modelo,” said Pete Guelli, Chief Commercial Officer of the New York Giants. “We’re always looking to provide our fans with the most exclusive and memorable gameday experiences, and we know that these new spaces will achieve that goal.”
“NFL fans visiting MetLife Stadium will enjoy our brands not only throughout the stands, but also in new, immersive spaces we’ve created to heighten the experience of attending a game live,” said Rene Ramos, VP Field, Lifestyle & Experiential Marketing, Constellation Brands. “Fans will now have exciting, memorable experiences.”
“We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Corona and have them activate in the stadium for the first time,” said Ian Lasher, New York Jets Senior Vice President, Corporate Partnerships. “The addition of the Corona Beach Club and Modelo Cantina will provide Jets fans with unique gameday experiences. And after a long year without fans, we are eager to show them all of the amazing additions that this partnership has brought.”
In addition to the new, unique brand experiences throughout MetLife Stadium, Jets and Giants fans will also see various digital marketing in-game messaging of Corona Extra and Modelo Especial as well as Team App integration for in-venue mobile ordering. Corona and Modelo will also leverage the IP and marks of the Jets and Giants both on and off premise in the New York market.
*Press Release

What else could Saleh say? 09.09.21

Robert Saleh was asked a question about how things might have worked out if he kept Sam Darnold at quarterback.

“I think it would have been fine, in either direction,” said Saleh. “Whether we have Zach (Wilson) at the reins, whether we had Sam, it didn’t really matter to us. It’s about process, it’s about the organization, it’s about trying to get an entire team ready to play a football game.”

This answer is something you say the week before facing another team and the player you traded to them. Many might not buy that answer, but you can totally understand why Saleh said it. You don’t want to provide bulletin board fodder for an opponent, and you don’t want to insult the player who was traded.

Obviously time will tell if Wilson is an upgrade over Darnold, but clearly the Jets think he can be. Darnold was traded in April to the Carolina Panthers for a 2021 sixth-round pick (No. 226), plus second- and fourth-round selections in the 2022 draft. The Jets face Carolina on Sunday in their season-opener in Charlotte. They picked Wilson with the second pick overall in the 2021 draft to replace Darnold.

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It’s a balancing act 09.03.21

NFL coaches and players want to win every time they take the field.

And of course the GM wants to win as well, but he also needs to think long-term and build the program the right way.

So how does Jets GM Joe Douglas manage this quandary?

“It’s a good question because it is really my job to stay out in front and see a big picture,” said Douglas. “This staff is focused on win now, but we’re all focused on win now, but we’re all focused on doing what’s best for this organization this year and in the future.”

And while Jets coach Robert Saleh wants to win every time he coaches a game, the coach agrees with Douglas, that the Jets need to build their program the right way, and not cut corners.

“I know Coach, and what I’ve been preaching really since I’ve been here, we want to do this the right way.,” Douglas said. “We want to build this foundation the right way so that it’s a long-term success and not just a flash in the pan.”

While it’s challenging, it is possible to reconstruct a team, and still win while your doing it.

We will see if the 2021 Jets can accomplish that.

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To subscribe to Jets Confidential Magazine, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4). The best Jets coverage anywhere! Also, you can subscribe to our Website Whispers, posted Monday-Friday year round, on this website. So much stuff you won’t read anywhere else, and different content from the monthly magazine. You can grab a combo deal – a year of the print magazine and the M-F Website Whispers – all for $74.95 a year.

 


Jets form partnership with Kean University 09.03.21

*Kean University is teaming up with the New York Jets to create academic and career opportunities for students, becoming an Official Education Partner of the NFL team.
The Jets and the University today announced the new partnership, which includes a multi-faceted educational program for Kean students, featuring a new Jets-centric course to be offered at Kean. Students and alumni will also have access to internships and jobs with the NFL franchise.
“I am thrilled to announce that Kean University has signed on to become an Official Education Partner of the New York Jets,” said Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. “This connection offers wonderful opportunities for our students to study the business of professional sports, to conduct research, and to obtain internships and other professional opportunities that can lead to truly exciting futures.”
“The New York Jets organization is excited to partner with Kean University and further our support and involvement within the education system,” said Jets President Hymie Elhai. “Both Kean and the Jets are dedicated to providing students with unique opportunities and resources to further the development of future sports industry executives.”
A lifelong football fan, Repollet said the partnership gives Kean an immediate connection to the Jets team and the NFL. The partnership also provides the University with new marketing opportunities.
“The NFL is the best-known sports league in the United States, and the New York Jets, who play at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, are a team with a long history and an exciting future,” Repollet said. “We could not be more pleased to be able to share in the prestige and excitement of the world-class NFL.”
A highlight of the new partnership will be the creation of a New York Jets-themed class to be offered annually at Kean beginning in Spring 2022. The course, which will be developed with the Office of the Provost at Kean, will feature project-based education, providing students advanced insight into the business of high-profile professional sports. Jets personnel will participate in the class.
In addition, the Jets will work with Kean to identify for-credit internships that Kean students can apply for, and the Jets human resources department will collaborate with Kean Career Services to connect students with other opportunities and positions.
William H. Miller, chief executive officer of the Kean University Foundation, which collaborated on the partnership, said it fits perfectly with the Foundation’s mission.
“The Kean University Foundation works diligently to create partnerships benefitting our students and the institution,” said Miller. “We are grateful to the New York Jets for opening the door to new learning and career opportunities for our students.”
Kean University Board of Trustees Chair Ada Morell ’97 said the new relationship gives Kean students a better shot at getting into the business of professional sports.
“I am delighted that Kean University and our Kean students now have an educational connection to the Jets and the NFL brand,” said Morell. “When the eyes of America turn to NFL football on Sundays, through this partnership with the New York Jets, we will now have the right to say, ‘Kean is part of the team.’”
*Press Release

You play to win the game 09.02.21

As Hall-of-Fame coach Tony Dungy liked to say – “No excuses, no explanations.”

It doesn’t matter how young they are, the Jets need to win this year. They have missed the playoffs for the last decade.

“We’re around 20 first and second-year players,” said Jets GM Joe Douglas. “Almost 40 percent of the roster are first and second-year players. There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of energy. At the same time, there’s going to be some ups and downs.”

The “ups and downs” are expected, but they need to find a way to compete for the playoffs. Douglas said as much when he was hired.

“If you are not trying to win a Super Bowl every year, you shouldn’t be in this business,” Douglas said.

So yes the Jets are young, but that is no excuse.

And I’m not saying Douglas and Jets coach Robert Saleh are making excuses. They aren’t. The narrative they might be writing off this season to develop young players is coming from the outside.

But the bottom line is the Jets need to win games and compete for the playoffs this season.

End of story.

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This waiver claim makes perfect sense from a scheme standpoint 09.01.21

While it is a nice story for two brothers to play together, it’s bigger than that.

As you probably know by now, the Jets claimed LB Quincy Williams off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars.  He is the brother of Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.

But he wasn’t claimed because he is Quinnen’s brother, but instead because he’s a great fit for the Jets’ new defensive system, which calls for smaller, quicker linebackers who cover a lot of ground.

Quincy is 5-11, 225 with 4.59 speed.

Quincy played in a system, similar to the Jets’ new one, his first two years in Jacksonville, but the Jags moved away from that scheme with new coordinator Joe Cullen, putting in a system like Baltimore, which calls for bigger linebackers, and that made him expendable.

“He’s extremely fast and violent,” said Jets coach Robert Saleh. “To get him back into this system, he’s been injured in his first couple of years with little minor stuff, but to get him in this system where we feel like he belongs, we’re excited about the possibility and the growth we can see out of him.”

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The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is out later this week, and loaded with tons of great information about Gang Green you won’t read anywhere else. To subscribe, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4).

 

 


Thoughts on the price the Vikings paid 09.01.21

The player needed a change of scenery and the offer was right.

You’ve got to understand something – Joe Douglas knows Chris Herndon has talent and wasn’t going to give him away. He wasn’t going to take a conditional late pick, and was able to land a fourth-round pick from the Minnesota Vikings for the tight end. The Jets also sent a sixth-round pick to the Vikings in the deal.

Douglas doesn’t make decisions based on social media where Herndon wasn’t popular. Some writers and fans might think Herndon is a bad player, but Douglas and the Vikings don’t share their opinion.

Herndon had a good camp. He’s a mobile tight end who can threaten all parts of the field, and is also very good blocker.

He had a bad stretch at the beginning of last year, but to his credit, got his act together, and played well down the stretch.

So while some people don’t understand how the Jets got a fourth-round pick for the player, it does makes sense.

Yes, he had an up-and-down stint with the Jets, but he flashed at times, there is no shortage of talent, and there is a good chance he helps the Vikings.

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The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is out later this week, and loaded with tons of great information about Gang Green you won’t read anywhere else. To subscribe, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4).


He continues to grow and that’s the most important thing 08.31.21

This is the most important thing the Jets needed to see from rookie QB Zach Wilson over the course of the summer . . .

Not highlight film plays or great practice stats, but continual growth.

“We’re excited about where he’s at just because of the fact that he’s shown (the ability) to grow, and not make the same mistakes twice,” said Jets coach Robert Saleh.

The Jets’ offense is very complex, and Wilson has shown he ability to process all the information being thrown at him by offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.

“We like where he’s at, his process and how he prepares has us very confident in the fact that he’s going to be able to absorb all that information and execute it at a high level,” Saleh said.

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The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is out later this week, and loaded with tons of great information about Gang Green you won’t read anywhere else. To subscribe, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4).

 


The importance of Matty C 08.30.21

Jets added an important piece to their coaching puzzle on August 25.

They hired Matt Cavanaugh as a senior offensive assistant.

The long-time NFL assistant will help Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and QB coach Rob Calabrese.

“To have that old soul who’s had so many different experiences, for Mike as a play caller, to help him through all the different questions he might have, game planning, such a valuable resource,” said Jets coach Robert Saleh.

And Cavanaugh will also be a huge help to Calabrese, a first-time NFL QB coach, who was brought in to assist Greg Knapp with the quarterbacks, but Knapp was killed by a motorist, texting and driving, while riding his bike in California, right before training camp.

“Obviously, for the quarterback and talking about the different experiences that he’s had, and developing quarterbacks along the way, [Cavanaugh’s role is] very similar, God rest his soul, with Knapper (Greg Knapp) and what we were expecting out of him,” Saleh said. “To have [Cavanaugh], he’s going to provide a lot.”

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The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine comes out this week. You don’t want to miss it. To subscribe, click below or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4).

 


Very hard to find big-time guys at this spot this time of year 08.26.21

Let’s be honest, these guys don’t grow on trees.

Talking about finding a good edge-rusher, especially this time of year. 

“It’s always easy, right Connor? To play the fictional game of let’s go get somebody, but the reality is there’s very far and few in between in terms of just what’s available,” said Jets coach Robert Saleh.

The Jets lost their starting end combination for the season – Carl Lawson (torn achilles) and Vinny Curry (blood disorder).

But do any of us really think they are going to find a great pass rusher this time of year, like another team is going to let that kind of guy out of the building by cutting or trading him? Teams don’t give away weapons like that.

Perhaps the Jets will claim or trade for a pass rusher, but to think that guy is going to transform their pass rush, is probably a little unrealistic.

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The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine comes out next week, and you don’t want to miss it. To subscribe to this must-read for Jets fans, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4).


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