I vouched for this kid. And regardless of many other experts opinions, he made me look like a genius, while leading the surprise New York Jets to a 3-0 start.
But I never said this was a Cinderella story. I said this was a playoff team, but I never alluded to the dream that he was a playoff-caliber quarterback.
He’s a rookie, folks. This is what rookies do. Read more…
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Monday, October 19, 2009
Tags: bench mark sanchez, Jerricho Cotchery, joe flacco, kellen clemens, Kris Jenkins, leon washington, mark sanchez, matt ryan, new york jets, NFL, quarterback benching, Rex Ryan, Rookie Quarterback, thomas jones, trent edwards
Get yo popcorn ready.
More like get your suicide letter ready. While losing yet again in fantasy football may not actually drive you to end it all, the gut-wrenching feeling of watching your “top dogs” blow chunks certainly can bring the thought to mind.
Terrell Owens was just one of the many stars who came up way too short in week three, sending your once prominent starting line-up into a downward spiral of malcontent and evil-thinking. Read more…
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Saturday, October 3, 2009
It’s gut-check time for Buffalo, Miami, and New England. Sort of.
After Monday night is over, two of those teams will be walking into next week’s slate of games at 0-1, and staring at the Jets and their seemingly unshakable rookie quarterback with a 1-0 record.
“Broadway” Joe ain’t got nothin’ on this kid Sanchez.
Except a Super Bowl ring, years of experience, and an alcohol addiction that could kill a Rhino.
But still, all the Sanchez haters out there can give it up. The dude was flawless in a 277-yard, one touchdown effort.
Oh, and Rex Ryan has it all figured out. Think about it.
Andre Johnson had 35 yards receiving, Matt Schaub is currently screaming in his bed with a nightmare of the Jets chasing him down, and Steve Slaton is still trying to figure out how he only had 17 yards rushing.
The answer to all of Houston’s issues on Sunday? The Jets are the 2008 Baltimore Ravens, the 2.0 version.
And this is without Calvin Pace. And they’re running their offense through a rookie quarterback.
But that’s just it. This kid isn’t anymore a rookie than Brett Favre isn’t eligible for the senior citizen deal at your local Taco Bell.
Give that man, and hell, Sanchez too, a free soda. Throw in a damn taco.
While Sanchez may have been solely responsible for Houston’s only points (a pick six), he made very few mistakes, completed 18-of-31 passes, and looked in complete control.
But why is this still a shock?
Rex Ryan, who many argue was “basically” Baltimore’a head coach in 2008 (sorry, John Harbaugh), has been here before.
He had solid holdovers on defense from last season.
All he had to do was lure some solid prospects and veterans (Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard) from Baltimore, and Bam!, he has a stud-driven defense.
Oh, and a solid draft on both ends didn’t hurt, either.
Still, so many doubters, not nearly enough time to list them off. And I know it’s only one week. I know it’s just the first of 16 tests the rookie quarterback will endure. But he passed it.
He passed it big time.
Sorry, Clark Judge. This kid’s got it.
And as long as Thomas Jones and company can keep up this whole “supportive offense” thing, we could see some progress on last year’s 9-7 finish.
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Tags: andre johnson, Baltimore Ravens, Bart Scott, Contenders, houston texans, Jets Win, Jim Leonhard, mark sanchez, matt schaub, new york jets, NFL Playoffs, NFL Week One, Rex Ryan, Rookie Quarterback, steve slaton, thomas jones
He’s small, came out of Chadron State (where?) as an undrafted rookie, and hung around on New York’s roster last year after sustaining a knee injury.
Just another tiny guy coming out of nowhere, undoubtedly destined to fade out of the league before he ever actually gets in, right?
You’d have to agree with all of Woodhead’s doubters about a few things. He’s only 5’8 and listed as around or under 200 pounds.
He’s never faced elite competition. And while his college numbers are earth-shattering, they don’t mean quite as much a they did a few years ago, now that he’s trying to prove he belongs with the big(ger) boys.
But all of that is moot now. Especially after Thursday night’s performance.
True, it’s only pre-season, and it was mostly against the second and third team defense, but if we’re being fair, it was still impressive.
Woodhead started off the night with a rush for -5 yards, added a few carries to get back over 0 yards, and then proceeded to blow everyone away.
With a 55-yard burst around the right tackle, Woodhead ran for a touchdown and made his name known, no longer just to the Jets’ community, but possibly to the entire NFL.
But he didn’t stop there.
He added another 44-yard run that set-up another touchdown, caught a 10-yard pass, and plunged into the end-zone for a three-yard score, furthering the belief that this little guy has enough speed, agility, and versatility to be effective in this league.
Enough about his school and competition.
Cincinnati Bengals’ Bernard Scott was a D-II back last year, yet he was a 6th round draft pick, and has somehow already locked up the back-up spot behind Cedric Benson.
Enough with his size.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren Sproles, Leon Washington (a Jets player, mind you), and Jerious Norwood are all almost the exact same size and weight.
They all have the same attributes. The difference? They all have certainty as members of an NFL roster, and even more, they all have huge roles in their respective offenses.
Don’t talk about speed.
A 55-yard touchdown isn’t easy to be had in this league. Neither is another 40+ yard run in the same game.
Woodhead’s 4.3 40 time adds to his excellent speed and athleticism, eliminating the final road-block in his quest for an NFL team to take notice.
Even his teammates know how talented he is. Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller, and even head coach Rex Ryan have all backed him, applauded his athleticism and work ethic, and voiced their hopes that he’d make the team.
Cotchery even went as far as to say that, while everyone else was excited to see Michael Vick play extensively, he and his teammates couldn’t wait for the “Woodhead show”.
What a show it was.
But will it be the last time we see Woodhead run rampade in a Jets uniform? Or even the NFL?
Unfortunately, that’s a very real possibility.
But Woodhead remains humble, gives all the credit to his line and the rest of his offense, and just hopes that all of his efforts gain him a shot for a season to stick around and continue to prove he’s “got it”.
But if you’ve been watching him with an un-biased approach, you already know the answer to that question.
With Thomas Jones over 30, Leon Washington having contractual issues, and Shonn Greene not yet proving himself, it wouldn’t be a poor choice to keep an electric and hard-working player at the position.
The question is, which makes more sense?
Giving a dedicated, talented player a chance, or showing him the door?
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Friday, September 4, 2009
The Jets accepted the fact that Eric Mangini wasn’t quite the “genius” everyone thought he was, and after saying good-bye to Brett Favre, began a true transformation.
With the hiring of Rex Ryan and drafting of Shonne Green, the Jets proved that they were heavily committed to running the football and shutting down teams with an aggressive defense.
Top it off with a new franchise quarterback, and the Jets have the makings for a competitive playoff team that could contend for years to come.
The question is, will one of those year’s be 2009?
Read on to see five things to watch for this season.
5. Mark Sanchez vs. Kellen Clemens
Sanchez was highly touted, and rightfully so, and is easily the best quarterback on the Jets roster, already despite being a rookie. While Kellen Clemens is a “veteran”, very little about his game would actually suggest it. Sanchez may not be polished in some respects and have NFL-ready game-managing skills, but he’s a true gamer, and has better instincts than Clemens.
Despite Clemens being dubbed the “opening day” starter for the pre-season, it’s unlikely he holds onto the job.
Sanchez can make things happen on the run, has a better arm than Clemens, and would give New York a Joe Namath, young-gun mystique that it hasn’t had in almost 40 years.
Look for the rookie to win the job.
4. The Rex Ryan Era
Ryan new how to build defenses and get them to perform at the highest level in Baltimore, so why would that change in New York?
The only difference now is the colorful Ryan has the ability to choose all of his players, rather than have his personnel decisions handed down to him and made for him.
Ryan knows talent, and he knows potential. But the best part is that he knows, with a deeper understanding than most, that there’s a difference between the two.
Eric Mangini left a solid corps of players that Ryan can easily work with, while some former Baltimore defenders, Jim Leonhard and Bart Scott, who were both successful in his system, joined the team.
Another thing to note is that Mangini has been around contending teams that had in-experienced or rookie quarterbacks. Just look at Joe Flacco.
The tools are there on both sides of the ball, and if we go by history, the Jets should be very competitive.
3. The Progression of Vernon Gholston
After being a rookie bust in 2008, while registering just 13 tackles, Gholston finally has life.
With Rex Ryan in town, he should receive the best guidance and teaching he’s ever gotten, and should every change to succeed in Ryan’s aggressive 3-4.
Gholston is even the starter to start the season, and he was picked to be Calvin Pace’s replacement after Pace was suspended for four games.
It may be difficult to hold off Pace when he gets back, but Gholston is too athletic to not make things happen in a Rex Ryan system.
Anticipate a break-out season for the second-year player.
2. Can Thomas Jones Do It Again?
Before Brett Favre, Jones was just cracking 1,000 yards and scored one measly touchdown in 2008. With Favre? Jones is still relishing in a 13-touchdown Pro Bowl season.
Post-Favre? You tell me.
Jones is 32, more than likely just hit the highest numbers he’ll ever get, and has fierce talent around him weighting for more carries.
Leon Washington, despite being in contract discussions, is still a home-run threat every time he touches the ball, making it an almost certainty that his touches will increase.
Throw in the rookie, Shonne Green, the Jets pre-determined “closer”, and Jones is suddenly in a very quiet RBBC.
If that is indeed the case, which it plainly is, there’s no way Jones scores over 10 touchdowns again, and could even struggle to top 1,000 yards.
But hey, if it means a division title, who cares, right?
1. Can Jerricho Cotchery Survive On His Own?
Cotchery isn’t particularly fast, and isn’t overly reliable in traffic or on deep balls.
To be honest, Cotchery has been living in an elite receiver’s body, but has put in very average results.
It didn’t help that he has never had any truly elite help to take the focus off of him, but being the top (and only) option sure doesn’t hurt your stock, either.
There is no true second receiver behind Cotchery that is scary to opposing defenses, while Dustin Keller and Leon Washington are the only other effective options in the passing game.
If another receiver can’t emerge from the mix to help out Cotchery, he may fold up. Like a lawn chair.
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Sunday, August 16, 2009
Thomas Jones will be 31 in August, yet his spot as the New York Jets’ starting running back is finely cemented.
Rookie Shonn Greene has somehow already earned the “closer” role, while the bit-size Leon Washington continues his change-of-pace role.
Great. So, where does that leave Danny Woodhead?
Still don’t know who he is? I’m not surprised.
Woodhead, a 5’7” running back out of D-II Chadron State, probably isn’t a household name outside of Nebraska.
Turned down by several D-I schools due to his lack of height, Woodhead decided not to attempt to be a walk-on with a big school. Rather, he felt more like being wanted by a team, instead of being just another player.
And I agree with that sentiment. Because Woodhead isn’t just another player.
He’s a physical specimen with outstanding speed and agility.
Since Woodhead wasn’t invited to the NFL scouting combine in 2008, due to his small school and lack of size, he was forced to pack in his work-outs for scouts at his “pro day.”
According to a report from NFLDraftWatch.net, Woodhead posted impressive times in almost every major category.
He displayed speed and agility, running times between 4.33 and 4.38 in the 40-yard dash, which would place second overall for all college running backs.
He also posted the best agility time (4.03 seconds), the second-best vertical jump (38.5 in), and the best 60-yard shuttle time (11.2) seconds.
Despite only being 5’7” and weighing in at 200 pounds, Woodhead had the best athletic times, overall, of all the running back prospects in the nation.
If those numbers don’t sway you, perhaps a look at his college stats will.
Woodhead, the former NCAA’s all-time leading rusher (record recently broken by Mount Union’s Nate Kmic), put up his fourth straight 1,500-yard season in 2007, as well as his fourth straight season with at least 21 touchdowns.
He’s also known for his ridiculous 2006 season, in which he compiled over 2,700 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns in just 13 games.
Woodhead also displayed his receiving ability throughout his career, as he topped at least 30 receptions in his final three years, and scored eight touchdowns on receptions for his career.
Let’s be honest with ourselves.
If you put Woodhead’s numbers up to any other back in that 2008 draft, without knowing his size, name, or school, he’s your first pick, hands down.
And even if that isn’t the case, and you’d still prefer all the other bigger, more experienced backs who faced tough competition, his numbers and athleticism put him in the middle rounds at least, right?
Despite all the numbers, Woodhead found himself undrafted in 2008, while soon signing a free agent contract with the Jets.
But here we are, two years removed from his sensational finale at Chadron State, still hoping he gets an honest chance.
With the flush of smaller backs taking the league by storm, now is as good a time as ever for Woodhead to make his splash and earn a spot with a team.
If that happens to be New York, then so be it.
However, considering the Jets have money invested in Jones, a third-rounder invested in Shonn Greene, and already have a 5’8” running back in Washington, there may not be room for Woodhead.
But there should be.
Woodhead is just like Darren Sproles, Jerious Norwood, and Maurice Jones-Drew.
He’s an ultra-athletic back that has been doubted his entire life, told “no” by anyone he meets, and has constantly overcome the odds.
The only difference is, those running backs previously listed got their chance at a D-I school, and they didn’t have to wait for their shot in the NFL.
Not like Woodhead has.
I know this article won’t save Woodhead’s career. It won’t make him the New York Jets’ starter, and it won’t even guarantee him a spot on their roster.
But what I hope it does is make people aware of his talent and his humble personality. I hope New York fans, and NFL fans alike, can recognize his ability and cheer him on.
Because Danny Woodhead is an underdog, even though he shouldn’t be.