Dan Leberfeld's Blog

It’s time to move on from this . . . 10.20.14

Early last week, Geno Smith was asked by a member of the New England media, about the supposed craziness of the Jets’ scene.

“I think, obviously with everything that goes on with the media, a lot of things are, I would say, miscommunicated, and then it just gets misprinted and then misunderstood,” Smith said. “I don’t have any quarrels with anything. The main thing is that we just have to find a way to get a win.”

Smith was asked about this today, a week after the statement.

“You know really, I don’t want to talk about it. I understand that everyone has a job to do and in no way was that meant to disrespect anyone’s job,” Smith said. “My focus isn’t even on that. I am focused on the next opponent which is the Buffalo Bills.”

It’s time for those in the media, obsessed with a quote from last week, to move past it.

It wasn’t that big of deal.

**The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is in the mail to subscribers, and will be on news stands on Thursday. It’s packed with tons of good stuff on Gang Green.


If you dish it out, you need to be able to take it 10.14.14

Geno Smith said something on Monday, to the Boston media, that has upset some reporters.

“I think, obviously with everything that goes on with the media, a lot of things are, I would say, miscommunicated, and then it just gets misprinted and then misunderstood,” Smith said.

Does that happen sometimes with the media? Probably.

Is that quote the end of the world? No.

He’s entitled to his opinion.

Why throw a tizzy over it?

Reporters certainly know how to dish it out. We are ripping these players all the time for their play.

So we should be able to take it when they fire back once in a while.


Rex should not be fired 10.13.14

Rex Ryan should not be fired during or after this season.

He was forced by his GM to start a quarterback, the last two seasons, who was a project entering the NFL.

Geno Smith was the kind of prospect who needed to sit for a couple of years. Coming out of West Virginia, he had a ton to work on – footwork, accuracy, playing under center, pocket presence, speeding up his decision-making and so forth.

He wasn’t instant coffee.

This is John Idzik’s quarterback.

And since he is Idzik’s quarterback, and the Jets played him way before he was ready, why should Ryan lose his job, due to a pair of substandard seasons, with this player as his signal-caller?

This is quarterback-driven league. There is no way around that. You can point to this weakness or that weakness, but all arrows usually point back to the quarterback.

And has Ryan ever had a true answer at quarterback while coaching the Jets? Probably not.

Drafting Smith and hitching the Jets’ wagon to him was Idzik’s plan.

So why would you fire Ryan when he was forced to play a quarterback who was handed the car keys to quickly?

You shouldn’t.


I don’t blame Geno Smith 10.12.14

East Rutherford – The current state of the Jets isn’t the fault of Geno Smith.

He’s doing the best he can.

His current vocation is a very tough job.

Being an NFL starting quarterback is one of the toughest assignments in sports. It’s a really, really hard position to play, mentally and physically.

I’ve always felt Smith was rushed into action too quickly. I would have sat him for a couple of years, especially coming out of a gimmicky shot-gun college offense.

I don’t want to hear about the Mark Sanchez injury. That is no excuse to rush him. Find somebody else. Develop him right.

As Mike Mayock said, “You don’t hand him the keys immediately.”

But Smith was given the keys immediately, and he’s giving it the old college try.

He’s a very nice guy. He’s a good person. He’s trying to make this work.

I don’t blame him for the struggles of the Jets’ offense.

I blame the powers-that-be who decided to force him into action, and essentially write-off two seasons, letting him learn on the job.

It’s on them. Not Geno.


Parcells feels you owe it to other players to start Geno 10.09.14

Bill Parcells doesn’t think Geno Smith should have been benched for missing a meeting, because that wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the players on the team.

“I wouldn’t have done that because I’ve got a responsibility to the other 52 players, too,” Parcells told ESPN Radio. “If that player gives us the best chance to win, as long as he didn’t commit a crime, I’m playing him.”

Parcells also said he doesn’t think missing a meeting is a big deal.

He’s certainly mellowed with age.


It’s too early to say this 10.09.14

ESPN’s Ian O’Connor recently wrote a scathing column about Jets owner Woody Johnson and GM John Idzik.

I’m not here to be their public defenders, and O’Connor made some salient points, but I disagree with the scribe writing, “Idzik had a terrible draft last spring.”

No matter how you feel about Mr. Idzik right now, it’s not fair to label a draft as “terrible” five months after it took place.

Two picks are on injured reserve, others are developing.

You really need to wait a couple of years before assessing an NFL draft.


This was Vick and Idzik’s fault 10.09.14

Michael Vick played in the second half against the San Diego Chargers and didn’t fare that well.

He said he didn’t prepare well enough.

“Maybe I didn’t prepare or I wasn’t prepared, but I’ll tell you what, it won’t happen again,” Vick said. “I learned a lesson last week: Always stay ready, always be prepared. That left a bitter taste in my mouth that I wasn’t able to go out and put points on the board or even help this team in any fashion. So this week has been a different work week. From me throughout the rest of the year, it’s going to be totally different for me as far as my preparation.”

This is inexcusable.

Vick deserves most of the blame for this, but I also blame John Idzik.

To basically tell an athlete you have no chance to compete for a job is a horrific approach from a motivational standpoint.

“He didn’t feel he got a fair shot, so he moped,” said ESPN’s Mark Schlereth.

I’m not sure where Idzik came up with this idea that you don’t allow competition against a hand-picked player, but he needs to drop it from his blueprint on how to build a champion.

Like I said, most of this is Vick’s fault. It’s mostly on him.

But for Idzik to not allow Vick to even compete, and on top of that redefine what “competition” means, made little sense.


For the life of me . . . 10.07.14

I don’t understand Rex’s handling of Geno Smith.

After a week Smith cursed out a fan, missed a meeting and had a very poor half in San Diego, why would the coach say immediately after the San Diego game, he will start against Denver.

Why not sleep on it a little bit?

At least say, “I need to think about this for a few days. I will make an announcement later in the week.”

Make the kid sweat for a few days and think about his actions.


Boomer – Geno should sit for lesson 10.07.14

Former NFL QB Boomer Esiason doesn’t think Rex Ryan has handled Geno Smith well, considering some of the quarterback’s recent actions.

“As a quarterback, we are the ones who set the tone,” Esiason said on Showtime. “We have to be there first, and we have to be out of there last. The thing with Geno Smith this week, Rex Ryan had a real opportunity here to say, ‘You know what, you are not playing son. We supported you this entire week. You had a horrendous week. You’ve played poorly. You’ve turned the ball over. You cussed out a fan. You show up late to a meeting. You played poorly against San Diego.’ Sooner-or-later you have to get treated like a man. I think Rex Ryan really missed an opportunity to sit that young man down, play Michael Vick and bring up Matt Simms as the backup.”


Rex in danger of losing the locker room. 10.07.14

Rex Ryan is risking losing his locker room.

Players aren’t stupid.

Most of them realize Mike Vick gives them a better chance to win.

I’m not saying he’s a great quarterback, but with all his experience (which is huge at that position), he gives them a better chance to win.

Players know which way is up.

Reporters and fans can say, “The Jets should just spend this year letting Geno Smith develop – Mike Vick’s not the future.”

Players aren’t into that NFL Europe mentality.

Players want to win.

They destroy their bodies every week, and feel like they were in a car wreck every Monday morning after a game. True they get paid well, but the pain is a lot easier to deal with after a win.

To so many players in the Jets’ locker room, Vick is an iconic figure. So many of them had him as their “Madden” quarterback.

Obviously the Jets aren’t going to the Super Bowl.

The playoffs are the longest of long-shots.

But the players still want to win games. That is how they are wired.

And for them to see Vick in the locker room and on the practice field, and then see him standing on the sidelines during games, has to frustrate the heck out of most of them.

To me, if Ryan and John Idzik continue to start Geno Smith, and continue to lose, there is a chance the coach loses the locker room (if he hasn’t already).

Players aren’t stupid.


This Mike Vick stuff is bull 10.06.14

I keep hearing on ESPN, and other places, how Mike Vick hasn’t been impressive since arriving with the Jets, so he’s not an option.

That is bull crap.

I’ve watched 99 percent of the practices since he arrived.

He’s still a good player.

He has a great arm and can run like a deer.

One thing that contributed to his issues in San Diego, is that he almost never works with the first-team, and when he does, it’s on a limited basis. So his chemistry isn’t great with some of these targets.

Also, the Jets didn’t game-plan for him in San Diego. It was a game-plan for Geno Smith. When Vick starts a game, with his unique skill-set, you really need to design a Vick-specific game plan to maximize his talent.

Look, I’m not putting Vick in Canton.

He’s not a great quarterback, but I still think he’s a good one, who has a lot of experience (which is so important at that position).

These reports that he hasn’t looked good in practice (the limited reps he gets) have been blown way out proportion.

If the Jets want to stick with Geno Smith, that is their right, but this idea that Vick can’t help them, is nonsense.


Why Idzik, Woody and others might be wrong about their Geno theory 10.05.14

Here is why John Idzik, Woody Johnson and others might be wrong to surmise that playing time will allow Geno Smith to get the kinks out, and develop into a franchise quarterback.

JaMarcus Russell, Joey Harrington, Matt Leinart, Brady Quinn, J.P. Losman, Christian Ponder, Kyle Boller, Vince Young, David Carr, Patrick Ramsey, Byron Leftwich, Jake Locker, Rex Grossman, Cade McNown, Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, David Klingler, Tim Couch . . .

Do I need to keep going? I can.

The NFL wayside is littered with high draft pick quarterbacks, who were given time for the light bulb to come on, and it didn’t happen.

I’m not saying Smith is bust.

Not at all.

And he might improve with time.

But there are no guarantees.

And anybody who thinks that playing time will magically transform him into a top-shelf quarterback, isn’t dealing with the reality of the NFL landscape.

As that list above points out.

And believe me, I could have made that list a lot longer than I did.


Is Decker injury really a huge deal? 10.05.14

San Diego – Eric Decker is inactive for the Jets in San Diego.

Obviously, this isn’t the best news for the Jets, but it’s not the end of the world.

Decker is a very solid player, but not a transcendent talent.

While he’s the Jets #1 receiver, on other teams, he would be a two or three.

I personally don’t see a big difference in talent between Decker, and Greg Salas, who will replace him in the starting lineup today. Neither player is a burner, but both run good routes and have excellent hands.

The Jets also got a break with the announcement that David Nelson (ankle) will be active. Honestly, while Decker is better than Nelson, I don’t see a huge gap there.

This isn’t meant as a slight at Decker, who is a terrific player.

But to act like the sky is falling because he can’t play, is a bit rash.


This factor could help Jets running game 10.05.14

San Diego – The San Diego Chargers will be without starting cornerback Shareece Wright due to a knee injury.

It’s hard to say this will help the Jets’ passing attack, since they faced teams with banged-up secondaries the last two weeks, and didn’t exploit these situations very much.

However, the loss of Wright could help the Jets’ running game a little.

For a cornerback, Wright is a terrific tackler.

Before his injury last week against Jacksonville, he led the Chargers in tackles.

So taking him out of the mix, could help the Jets’ running game, especially on runs to the second level.


The Jets can exploit this match-up 10.05.14

San Diego – The San Diego Chargers will be without center Rich Ohrnberger, who has a back problem.

He entered the season as the Chargers’ backup center.

Early this season, they lost starting center Nick Hardwick, due to a neck injury.

So the Chargers will be on their third center, Doug Legursky, who wasn’t even with them when the season began. He was signed after Week One due to the Hardwick injury.

So Legursky is still working on chemistry with his line-mates, and also getting up to speed on the line calls.

Legursky is strong, but doesn’t great lateral quickness. So the Jets’ nose tackles, especially the super-quick Harrison, could be a mismatch for Legursky.


Q-and-A with Rex on Decker injury 10.02.14

Rex Ryan: (Eric) Decker, when he was out there, he felt tight so we pulled him out of practice, so he did not practice today. But that allowed us to work some of the others, especially T.J. Graham, work him more. And so I think it was good to get some of those guys more opportunities. Hopefully, Decker will be alright. I’m hopeful he’ll play, but that was just something we felt that it would be best to not have him practice today.

Q)Do you think Decker’s hamstring injury will be a lingering issue?

Ryan: I think you always have that concern, but he probably played more than we even thought he would. He had like 51 plays. That was when Nelson went down in the game. That was probably a little more than we anticipated. But the fact (is), we’re being smart with him. If it’s tight, he feels tight, then we’re not going to push him on the practice field. But like I said, I’m hopeful he’ll play Sunday.

Q)Is the Decker injury the same hamstring?

Ryan: Yes.

Q)When did the hamstring tighten up?

Ryan: It was just out there on the field. He just never felt right and that’s why we just backed him down.

Q)Would there be a benefit to resting Decker to give him a full two weeks to rest?

Ryan: Yeah, I understand where you’re coming (from) with that, but I think if he thinks he’s well enough to play and our trainers think he’s well enough to play, even in a limited role, you want your best players out there.


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