2010 NFL Offseason in Review

With the NFL season about to start in less than two weeks, let’s look back on this year’s historic offseason.

After a 5-0 start, the Giants seemed to have had booked a ticket to the 2009 playoffs. Unfortunately, the Giants would collapse and finish 8-8 on the season. The Giants’ defense was awful down the stretch, allowing over forty points in three of their last four games. The Giants would close out their old stadium in week 16 with a demoralizing 41-9 loss against Matt Moore and the Panthers. The Giants would address one of their needs immediately by signing safety Antrel Rolle to a five-year, $37 million contract. The Giants would add even more depth at safety by signing former Seahawk Deon Grant to a one-year deal.

With the 15th pick in the draft, the Giants decided to pick the best player available on their board. That player was Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end out of South Florida. Pierre-Paul will be a work in progress, but he could eventually become a solid building piece. In the second round, the Giants selected defensive tackle Linval Joseph out of East Carolina. Picking another defensive lineman was a controversial move by the Giants. The Giants would draft safety Chad Jones out of LSU in round three to close out day two of the NFL Draft. The Giants finally addressed their middle linebacker situation in round four. Phillip Dillard, middle linebacker out of Nebraska, was selected by the Giants with the 115th overall pick. The problem with this pick is that most analysts don’t project him to be a starter. The Giants would take guard Mitch Petrus in the fifth round, before drafting outside linebacker Adrian Tracy in the sixth round. Giants finished off their draft by taking punter Matt Dodge, who could replace the retired Jeff Feagles.

The Giants’ off-season will ultimately be looked at as a success or failure, depending on their success this season. The front office didn’t address their starting middle linebacker situation as well as they could have, completely ignored their offense, and drafted for potential as opposed to definite talent. With an uncapped season, this certainly wasn’t the year to be cheap. Unfortunately, the Giants’ brass was rather passive when it came to the free agent market. The Giants should win anywhere from eight to twelve games this season. If their defense can hold up, expect a return to the playoffs.

Despite a 3-0 start, the Jets would end up falling to 7-7 by Week 15. Thanks to a great amount of luck, the Jets were able to leap over other teams in the standings and sneak their way into the playoffs. The Jets would dominate Cincinnati in the first round of the playoffs and advance to the AFC Divisional Round. The following week, the Jets pulled off an amazing upset against the Chargers to advance to the AFC Championship Game. The Jets would finally be eliminated by the Colts, despite having a lead at halftime.

Most people expected the Jets to have a quiet off-season. Because of the “final eight” rule, the Jets were severely limited on what they could do in the free agent market. The first move for the Jets was to bringing back fullback Tony Richardson on a one-year deal. Kicker Nick Folk and safety Brodney Pool were also signed early in the off-season. I would have personally kept kicker Jay Feely around for one more year, as Folk‘s kicking could become problematic. However, Pool is the perfect free safety for Rex Ryan’s defense. Before the Pool signing, the Jets traded safety Kerry Rhodes to the Cardinals for a fourth round pick in this year’s draft and a seventh round pick in next year’s draft.

The Jets made a huge trade in early March that brought in cornerback Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie is one of the best “big play” corners in the league. With Darelle Revis patrolling the other side of the field, Cromartie will be tested more than he ever has before. This should lead to the opportunity to intercept more passes.

Gang Green’s other big trade this off-season was the Santonio Holmes trade. The Jets acquired former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes for a fifth round draft pick. This trade was an absolute steal, as Holmes is widely considered a top-15 wide receiver. Unfortunately, Holmes will be suspended the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Perhaps the biggest signing of the off-season for the Jets was the signing of running back Ladainian Tomlinson. Ladainian isn’t the player he once was, but he is still an above average back. Since the Jets had one of the best offensive lines in football last year, look for Tomlinson’s production to increase. The Tomlinson signing led to the departure of Thomas Jones. This was a controversial move, but I feel it was the right one to make. Jones has very little left in the tank and has been overused for many years. Last year in the playoffs, Jones was falling down after the slightest contact. He may have had more production last year than Tomlinson, but Jones didn’t have to deal with the poor run-blocking offensive line that Tomlinson did.

The Jets made the most controversial signing of their off-season by bringing in former Dolphin linebacker Jason Taylor. Despite his talent, many Jets fans still have bitter feelings towards him. Taylor was a long time villain in Jets history. He was often being seen taunting Jets fans during games and making obscene comments about the franchise itself. Jason once said, “The Jets fans take the ’cl’ out of class.” The controversial linebacker will be a pass rusher at the 3-4 outside linebacker position. This should add a new dimension to the Jets’ defense.

The Jets had a risky, yet productive draft. In the first round, the Jets selected New Jersey native Kyle Wilson with the 29th overall pick. Wilson is the perfect nickel backer for Rex Ryan’s defense. If Wilson can cover slot wide receivers, Rex Ryan would gain the ability to blitz more often without worrying about allowing a big play. Wilson is also an amazing punt returner.

The Jets selected tackle/guard Vladimir Ducasse in the second round. Ducasse is projected to be a right tackle, but this year he will play left guard. Ducasse has shown the ability to pull block successfully, even for a 330 pound monster. With this pick, Alan Faneca became expendable. Faneca, the nine-time Pro Bowl selection, was released by the Jets during day three of the draft. Despite being a solid run-blocker, Faneca was awful in pass protection last season.

The Jets didn’t have a third round pick, but in the fourth round the Jets traded up to select running back Joe McKnight. McKnight is considered to have a similar skill set to Leon Washington, who was traded with a seventh round pick to the Seahawks for a fifth round pick. The Jets didn’t get much back for Leon, who is recovering from a fractured fibula. McKnight, Greene, and Tomlinson should easily make up for the loss of Leon. The Jets used their last pick to draft fullback John Conner, the likely replacement for Tony Richardson after this season.

Overall, it was an amazing off-season for the Jets. Despite having numerous restrictions against them, the Jets got younger, cheaper, and better during this off-season. Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson once again proved that the Jets have one of the best front offices in all of sports. If the Jets can stay healthy and effective, I don’t see why they can’t make a run for a championship. I wouldn’t count on a Jets-Giants Super Bowl, but anything is possible.

Dylan McIlrath: The Counter Argument

Little was clear when the Rangers’ scout team went up to the podium. Would they go for a goal scoring forward, or would they go for a creative center who can set up goals consistently? The last thing you would expect them to pick up is another defenseman, for the Rangers are stocked in that position with good prospects and young starters, such as Michael Del Zotto, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh and Matt Gilroy. Then, it was announced that they picked another defenseman, Dylan McIlrath.

Right away, a huge sigh of disbelief came out of our mouths. It seemed like the Rangers just picked another Hugh Jessiman, especially when it seemed more talented defensemen were not picked yet, such as Cam Fowler. Instantly, I checked out McIlrath’s stats. In 65 games for the Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL), he had 7 goals, 24 points and 169 penalty minutes. That last statistic made my mouth drop down, asking why would they draft a goon, who seems to fight way too much. After healing my mouth, I looked up the rest of his stats. The one that stuck out to me the most is his +\-. In 2008-09, he was -22, but in 09-10, he was +20. What an incredible improvement.

Then to his points: Truthfully, 24 points in 65 games is not bad at all for a defensive defenseman who has spent so much time in the penalty box. Brandon Gormley, a defenseman who was ranked much higher than McIlrath, scored only six more points McIlrath, although he did play three less games then he did.

Next, I researched the team that he was on. The Warriors are in a rebuilding stage, and are an offensively challenged team. If a defensive defenseman can score that many points on an offensively challenged team, he may have potential in an area on the ice that is not surrounding the goaltender.
Then, I analyzed the Rangers defensemen- both prospect and professional. Nowhere in the system do we have someone like him. We have offensive defensemen, all around defensemen, perhaps even shutdown defensemen (and don’t forget over paid defensemen). No where do we have an extremely physical defensemen who will strike fear into forwards like Semin (look up the “fight” he had with Marc Staal) or Crosby, and make them think twice before coming into our zone.

Lastly, I wanted to see what other teams were saying about him. Most surprisingly, many people did not see him left to be drafted after the 15th pick, and Dallas, who had the 11th pick, were supposedly going to take him. In conclusion, the picking of McIlrath was not bad. In three to six years, you can come back to this article and see how much of a beast (hopefully) McIlrath will become just as I described him before.

The AFC’s Eastern Front

Over the past two months, many fans and analysts have been looking at the AFC East as potentially the best division in football.  The Patriots, Jets, and Dolphins are all playoff caliber teams in most people’s eyes.  Let’s take a look at each team.

The Incumbent:  New England

Although they lost in the first round of last year’s playoffs, the Patriots won the AFC East once again.  Led by a dominant passing attack and a crafty defense, the Patriots could once again be the team to beat in the East.

The Favorite:  New York

Despite only finishing 9-7, the Jets earned a wild card berth and rode all the way to the AFC Championship Game.  After some key pickups in the offseason, many people consider the Jets the favorites to win the division.

The Dark Horse: Miami

With a dominant running attack and a big play wide receiver in Brandon Marshall, the Dolphins should not be overlooked.

The Underdog: Buffalo

They’ll be lucky to win two games.

Now it’s time to look at which team has the best talent at each position.

Quarterback: New England

Chad Henne and Mark Sanchez are continuing to grow, while Tom Brady is one of the best in the league.

Running Backs: Miami

We all know the Patriots have no running attack, but New York and Miami have solid backs.  I’d give Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown the slight advantage over Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson because Greene is still a bit unproven in the backfield.

Receivers: New York

Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Jericho Cotchery, Dustin Keller, and LaDainian Tomlinson.  That’s all I have to say.  The Patriots have a lot of talent with Welker and Moss, but I personally feel that the Jets have much more depth than New England.

Offensive Line: New York

Do I even have to explain myself here?

Defensive Line: New York

All three teams are pretty even, but I’d give the advantage to the Jets because of Kris Jenkins.

Linebackers: New York

Good luck finding a better linebacker corps than the Jets have.  Bryan Thomas, Bart Scott, David Harris, Calvin Pace, Jason Taylor, and possibly Adalius Thomas make up what could be the best group of linebackers in the league.  Don’t count out Jamaal Westerman either.

Secondary: New York

The Jets have the best secondary, with or without Revis.  Jim Leonhard, Brodney Pool, Eric Smth, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson are all quality players.  Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman have struggled, but they are fine as nickel or dime corners.

Predicted Standings:

1. New York Jets (12-4)
2. New England Patriots (10-6)*
3. Miami Dolphins (7-9)
4. Buffalo Bills (2-14)

* = Wild Card

It’s Time for the Jets to Issue an Ultimatum

I’ve had enough, Jets fans have had enough, and hopefully the organization has had enough.  It’s time for an ultimatum.  The Jets must tell Darrelle Revis that if he doesn’t show up by Week 1 against the Ravens, he will not play for three years.

Yes, you heard me right.  If Darrelle misses even one game, the Jets should give him the Stephon Marbury treatment.  Let him sit out the remainder of his contract on his couch.

If Revis wants to ruin this season for the Jets, Woody Johnson and Mike Tannenbaum should ruin his career.  If Rex Ryan is truly a team first coach, then he should send a message that it isn’t about one guy.  The Jets can still be competitive without Revis.  It’s time to show that if he isn’t there Week 1.  Maybe the Jets won’t win the Super Bowl, but they’ll be in the playoffs.

Who knows.  Maybe Kyle Wilson is the second coming of Darrelle Revis.  He’s sure looks pretty good so far in camp and in the preseason.  I still have faith in this secondary without Revis.  Maybe it won’t be an elite secondary, but it will still be pretty damn good. 

The bottom line is that I’d highly doubt a team would give Revis a 10 year, $162 million deal after sitting out three full seasons.  If Revis was smart, he’d accept the deal for $40 million less.  The Jets have all the leverage here.  They could make Revis a miserable man if they wanted to.  It’s not like Revis could even go to the UFL while still under contract with the Jets.

The Best and Worst Acquistions of the 2010 NBA Offseason

In this article, I am going to examine the Knicks’ and Nets’ best and worst offseason moves.  Taken into the equation while ranking the acquisitions are each player’s contract length, total value, and fit on the team.  Therefore, Amar’e Stoudemire isn’t the best signing off the Knicks’ offseason just because he’s the best player.

Knicks

Best Acquisition: Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike, and Ronny Turiaf for David Lee

This was one of the better trades in Knick history. David Lee (who was going to leave the Knicks for nothing) was traded to the Golden State Warriors for a potential star forward in Randolph, a sniping guard/forward in Azubuike, and a solid center in Ronny Turiaf. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Worst Acquisition:  Not signing Shannon Brown or Delonte West

Instead of going for Brown or West, the Knicks decided to sign Roger Mason to a one year deal. While Mason could have it a bounce back season, Shannon or Delonte could have been real impact players off the bench or starting. It doesn’t get much worse than that.

Nets

Best Acquisition: Troy Murphy for Courtney Lee

In a four-team deal, the Nets turned Courtney Lee into Troy Murphy. For a shooting guard that likely would have had limited playing time, the Nets got back a proven 15-10 power forward with an expiring contract who can start while Derrick Favors develops. The Nets got better and filled a need in this trade.

Worst Acquisition: Travis Outlaw

Five years, $35 million. That’s all I have to say. Any possible positives Outlaw brings to the table are wiped out by his contract. If this signing prevents the Nets from signing a star free agent, it would be a huge shame. Outlaw is a solid sixth man, but he will be starting for the Nets for the time being. Travis was arguably the third best small forward on the market, but there was no reason to overspend for him. Hopefully he performs close to his crazy contract.

Jets to Sign Adalius Thomas?

Manish Mehta is reporting that the Jets are close to signing free agent outside linebacker Adalius Thomas.  Before joining the Patriots in 2007, Adalius played under Rex Ryan for the Ravens.  Thomas would likely be a run-stopping linebacker for the Jets with Jason Taylor subbing in for him on passing downs.

Could we be close to a Bryan Thomas/Adalius Thomas outside linebacker duo?

Jets Quick Hits

Adam Schefter has the latest news concerning the Jets.

– The Jets have released Laveranues Coles.

Good.  He would have been a huge waste of money.  Use Clowney or Smith in the slot until Week 5 when Holmes comes back.

– The Jets have waived Marcus Henry, Aundrae Allison, and Rodrique Wright.

I was hoping Henry and Allison could contribute on special teams, but waiving them isn’t going to cost anyone any sleep.  I was really looking forward to seeing if Wright could make the roster, but I guess he wasn’t playing like a Jet.

– For those scoring at home, Darrelle Revis’ fine total for his 28-day holdout is up to $462,644. And counting.

Thank you Adam.  As if I cared.  That’s like fifty cents to Revis.

– Calvin Pace will undergo foot surgery Monday in North Carolina that could sideline him four to six weeks.

Not good.  Is anyone still mad we signed Jason Taylor?  The Jets will go Taylor-Harris-Scott-Thomas at linebacker.