Dan Leberfeld's Blog

Jets need to be a playoff contender in 2018 – No medals for trying 01.16.18

The Jets’ bar needs to be raised exponentially.

Christopher Johnson said at the end of the season, “I told you at the beginning of the season that that was going to be based on progress and I did see that progress. It might not have shown up on the final scores. But within the locker room, on the practice field, out during the games, I did see progress.”

2018 can’t be about “progress” for the Jets, it has to be about making the playoffs.

“Like I said, it’s more than the score at the end of the game, which believe me, I wanted to win a lot more of those games,” Johnson said after the season. “But I did see a lot of progress within that young core, especially. It has really come together with Todd’s leadership and I was really, really impressed with how this young team looks.”

The young core is okay, but the Jets should be careful about overrating it. They need a lot more guys like Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. They need more impact players.

The Jets have missed the playoffs seven straight seasons.

No medals for trying.

“Progress” should mean squat in 2018. The Jets need to make the playoffs.

*****A new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is coming out later this week on news stands. So much stuff you won’t read anywhere else. To subscribe to this monthly must-read for Jets fans, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5).

Kay trashes Woody Johnson. Is there an even playing-field? 01.15.18

A prominent host on 98.7 ESPN Radio NY, the Jets’ flagship radio station, ripped into Jets co-owner Woody Johnson Sunday on Twitter.

Michael Kay blasted Woody Johnson for supposedly being scared off of Doug Marrone as a head coaching candidate due to critical articles about the coach by the Daily News in early 2015. Marrone is now the coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Can somebody ring good old Woody in London and ask him what he thinks of Doug Marrone coaching in the AFC Championship game next weekend! Kay tweeted on Sunday. “Through back channels Marrone was told the job was his and then Woody, a man of great conviction, started to read. The rest is history.”

Kay continued, “And this has nothing to do with Todd Bowles, who I think is a good coach. It has to do with an owner that got scared off his own conviction — and the strong recommendation of his consultants — by several columns in a newspaper. That’s pathetic.”

Kay might be right, but not sure how many flagship stations have hosts calling an owner, of a partner team, “pathetic.”

It has to be a rather rare occurrence.

Does he use this kind of language about some of the other team owners with clubs that partner with the station?

Or the Yankees?

Just asking.

Christopher Johnson’s high praise 01.08.18

When it comes to high praise, it can’t get much more powerful than this.

Jets owner Christopher Johnson took some criticism for giving two-year contract extensions to GM Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles, with his team coming off a pair of 5-11 seasons.

However, he categorically disagrees with critics of the decision; Johnson is a huge fan of the Maccagnan/Bowles duo.

“I think they’re really quite extraordinary,” Johnson said about Maccagnan and Bowles last week.

That’s about as effusive as praise can get.

*****To subscribe to the monthly Jets Confidential Magazine click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5). A must-read for Jets fans.

Which College QB in draft is best? This guy says Baker 01.05.18

While many people are debating whether USC’s Sam Darnold or UCLA’s Josh Rosen is the best QB in the draft, ESPN’s David Pollack picks something else.

Pollack believes the top QB in the draft is Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.

“I’ll take Baker,” said Pollack today on ESPN. “He reminds me of Russell Wilson. He just has something about him that galvanizes guys. I think he is a guy who will win on the next level and win big.”


Mandate Schmandate! 01.03.18

On Tuesday, Jets owner Christopher Johnson was asked a trap question, and he didn’t fall into the trap.

“Will there be a mandate that Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan have to make the playoffs in 2018?”

“I have no mandate,” Johnson said. “Believe me, I want to get to the playoffs. I want to build a team with Mike and Todd that can compete for the playoffs every year. That can’t happen fast enough. But there’s no mandate.”

Playoff mandates are foolish, but questions about them generate traffic.

What if you go 10-6, and don’t make the playoffs?

What if you end up with 25 players on injured reserve and don’t make the playoffs?

Playoff mandates don’t make much sense from a football standpoint.

However, they do make sense from a click-bait standpoint.

*****To subscribe to the monthly Jets Confidential Magazine, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5). So much stuff you won’t read anywhere else.

Morton might be better off staying with the Jets. 01.01.18

Manish Mehta announced that if Jon Gruden is hired as Raiders coach, he is interested in John Morton as offensive coordinator.

You can make a strong argument Morton would be better-off staying with the Jets as their offensive coordinator.


If he went to the Raider as offensive coordinator, would he truly be the offensive coordinator?

Gruden is considered an offensive guru, and will have his hands all over the offense, and likely will be very involved in the play-calling.

With the Jets, the offense is Morton’s baby. While Todd Bowles obviously has input, for the most part, Morton has autonomy over Gang Green’s offensive game-plans and play-calling.

Why would you want to go from a situation where you’re running the show, to one where you might be offensive coordinator by-name only, with Gruden lording over that side of the ball?

*****To subscribe to the monthly Jets Confidential Magazine, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5).

NFL-NFLPA Statement on handling of Tom Savage’s Concussion 12.29.17


The NFL and NFLPA have completed their joint review of the application of the Concussion Protocol involving Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage during Houston’s game against the San Francisco 49ers on December 10. As de​tailed below, the parties have both concluded that while the medical staff followed the Protocol, the outcome was unacceptable and therefore further improvements in the Protocol are necessary.

The review showed that following a hard tackle, Mr. Savage was immediately removed from the game and evaluated for a concussion. The Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant (“UNC”) and team physician reviewed the initial broadcast video, saw the play and Mr. Savage’s response and followed the Protocol by performing a complete sideline concussion evaluation on Mr. Savage, which he passed. The slow-motion video, which focused more directly on the fencing posture, was not broadcast until after the doctors had begun the sideline evaluation and thus was not seen by the medical staff prior to the evaluation. The Texans medical staff continued to monitor Mr. Savage after the initial evaluation and shortly after his return to the game, identified symptoms that had not been present during the sideline evaluation and took him to the locker room for further evaluation.

The NFL and NFLPA recognize that Mr. Savage’s return to the game did not reflect the expected outcome of the Protocol. As such, the parties have agreed that no discipline will be assessed, but have already implemented several improvements to the Protocol to prevent such an unacceptable outcome in the future. Working in conjunction with the NFL’s independent Head, Neck and Spine Committee, these improvements include:

Implemented a pilot program utilizing a centralized UNC based at the league office to monitor the broadcast feeds of all games. The UNC will contact the team medical staff on the sideline should they observe any signs or symptoms warranting further evaluation.
Defined impact seizure and fencing responses as independent signs of potential loss of consciousness, representing “No-Go” criteria under the current Protocol. Players who display either of these signs at any time shall be removed from play and may not return to the game.
Require a locker room concussion evaluation for all players demonstrating gross or sustained vertical instability (e.g., stumbling or falling to the ground when trying to stand).
Officials, teammates, and coaching staffs have been instructed to take an injured player directly to a member of the medical team for appropriate evaluation, including a concussion assessment, if warranted.
Require all players who undergo any concussion evaluation on game day to have a follow-up evaluation conducted the following day by a member of the medical staff.
Added a third UNC to all playoff games and the Super Bowl to serve as a backup who can step in immediately should one of the original two UNCs be absent from the sideline for a time to attend to a more severely injured player.
In addition to implementing these changes to the Concussion Protocol, the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer and NFLPA’s Medical Director have hosted conference calls with every Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant, Booth ATC Spotter and relevant team medical staff members to review the changes to the Protocol and the signs and symptoms of concussion. The NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee, NFL and NFLPA will conduct a comprehensive off-season review of all aspects of the protocol with an emphasis toward continued improvement in detection and diagnosis.

*Press Release

John Morton – ‘Listen, I’m not a quarterback guru’ 12.28.17

Q)Did Bryce Petty take some positive steps from the New Orleans to the Los Angeles game?

John Morton – Jets offensive coordinator: I think so. I really do. He just missed a couple of throws. You have guys open and you have to hit those guys. You have to do that.

Q)Petty said he didn’t have his feet and eyes in sync at times in the (Los Angeles) game . . .

Morton: Listen, I’m not a quarterback guru, but sometimes you might rush the throw a little bit too much, where you can really take the proper footwork and throw the ball and put it in there. When he does that, he’s pretty good. So, we’ve continued to work on those things.

Q)Have seen Petty pressing at all?

Morton: I don’t see him pressing, I really don’t. Things don’t faze him, he just goes to the next play. That’s what you need to do, you need to be mentally tough, especially at that position.

Q)Have you seen the kind of progress you wanted out of Christian Hackenberg?

Morton: I have in practice, but we don’t know in the game, you know what I mean. But I have, I have seen that.

Q)How important is it to see [Hackenberg] play on Sunday in making a determination on his progress?

Morton: I think it’s a determining factor. That’s up to the head coach if he makes that call. He always gets some reps with the first team and he’s got a couple more this week. So, we’ll see what happens

Q)Does Petty’s inconsistent footwork diminish his accuracy?

Morton: I think that has a little bit to do with it. But you can have the same footwork and then miss the throw too. So, it goes both hand in hand.

Bowles: ‘What me and Mike talk about is private’ 12.27.17

Q)Will Bryce Petty start against the Patriots?

Todd Bowles: Correct.

Q)Do you see Christian Hackenberg receiving any playing time?

Bowles: We’ll see.

Q)What will go into that decision?

Bowles: We’ll see. Bryce is starting.

Q)Would you split the game between the two quarterbacks?

Bowles: We’ll see.

Q)Will Hackenberg receive limited first-team reps this week?

Bowles: He’s been getting them.

Q)How has Hackenberg looked in practice?

Bowles: He’s fine.

Q)When will you make the decision on whether Hackenberg will play?

Bowles: Probably sometime during the game. We’ll see how the game is going.

Q)Is Hackenberg ready to play?

Bowles: Yes, he’s ready to play.

Q)Why wouldn’t you take a look at Hackenberg if he’s ready to play?

Bowles: Bryce is the second-team quarterback.

Q)Do you need to play Hackenberg and see what he can do?

Bowles: No, not really. If I play (Hackenberg), we’ll see how Bryce goes, but I don’t feel the need to put (Hackenberg) in this game.

Q)Is there a risk-reward you have to consider with playing Hackenberg?

Bowles: It’s not a risk-reward. It’s the last game of the season. Bryce had a chance to play two games, we’re trying to see what we have in him. Christian’s time will come. (To) put him out there the last game and expect him to be superman, we’d be fooling ourselves.

Q)What are your thoughts on Hackenberg not playing yet at this point of his career?

Bowles: We see him every day in practice and we saw him in the preseason. We’re comfortable.

Q)What does deciding to play Hackenberg during the game depend upon?

Bowles: That would mean I’ll decide during the game if I want to play him or not.

Q)How much did you learn from Hackenberg’s reps in the preseason?

Bowles: You can pull a lot out of preseason. He had a new offense, too. He learned, he played a lot in the preseason. Mentally, he got better at a lot of things and we’ll go from there. The regular season’s not preseason. You don’t get a chance to play those guys like you want to and you don’t just pull them in and out, put them in and out and expect them to play when the defenses are more complex than they are in the preseason.

Q)Has Mike Maccagnan talked to you at all about playing Hackenberg?

Bowles: What me and Mike talk about is private.

Jets didn’t handle depth chart ideally at this position 12.24.17

It wasn’t an ideal plan.

The Jets went into this season with a veteran starter (Josh McCown) and two raw, developmental backups (Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty).

That isn’t a pragmatic depth chart scenario.

Ideally you should have a #2 QB with some game experience, a good feel for the NFL game, who can get you through games, like Case Keenum and Nick Foles.

The #3 spot, and the practice squad, is where development quarterbacks should be placed.

Mike Maccagnan and Brian Heimerdinger need a better QB depth chart plan in 2018.

Jets can’t let this impact their off-season decisions 12.24.17

It was average this past season.

I’m talking about the Jets’ home attendance. A lot of teams had this problem in 2017.

But the Jets can’t let average attendance impact their off-season personnel moves.

When marketing and player personnel mix, the results often aren’t great, like when the Jets traded up for Mark Sanchez, traded for Brett Favre and overpaid for Darrelle Revis in 2015.

No question the Jets need to have an active, productive off-season with tons of cap space and three picks in the first two rounds.

But everything they do should be driven by sound player personnel judgement, and not empty seats.

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Mo saying he “let the team down” wasn’t enough for some 12.21.17

Muhammad Wilkerson was late for work last Friday, and was left home from the team’s trip to New Orleans to play the Saints.

On Wednesday, he said, “I let my teammates down. I respect what coach did. We’re moving forward, getting ready for the next opponent.”

But that wasn’t enough for some. They wanted him to say he hasn’t earned his salary, and they weren’t going to take “no” for an answer.

“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion,” Wilkerson said. “I feel like I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”

Perhaps he hasn’t earned his big-money deal, but do you think he’s going to admit that to people who have been smearing him non-stop?

Also, keep in mind, some of the people who think he hasn’t earned his salary don’t understand his role in the Jets’ scheme.

They are obsessed with sacks.

While Wilkerson is probably overpaid, keep in mind he’s a 6-4, 315-pound defense end. Guys in that position rarely get big sacks numbers. The big sack numbers in a 3-4 defense should come from the outside linebackers, ala Von Miller and Justin Houston. The Jets need to find somebody like that.

So a heads-up for Jets fans – ignore the reporters who are obsessed with Wilkerson’s sack total.

They need a primer on how the Jets’ defense works.

Coverage of Mo Wilkerson’s play is just foolish 12.20.17

There is no excuse for being late. None.

And Mo Wilkerson needs to get his act together, whether it’s with the Jets, or playing somewhere like New England next year.

The following blog is strictly football related, and not condoning lateness.

But there are people out there who just don’t understand Wilkerson’s role in the Jets’ defense, and it’s time to ignore those people.

The Jets’ run defense was dominant the previous five games leading into the Saints’ game, shutting down the likes of LeSean McCoy, Jonathan Stewart and C.J. Anderson. In New Orleans, their run defense wasn’t nearly as good.

Wilkerson was playing good run defense during that dominant stretch, and when he wasn’t making the tackle, he was often protecting the linebackers, by taking up blocks, allowing the linebackers to flow freely to the football, especially linebacker Darron Lee.

Lee had his most inconsistent game of the last six games in New Orleans (aside from Kansas City game when Lee was deactivated, but the Jets’ run defense was outstanding against K.C.), and this was the only game during that stretch where Wilkerson didn’t play. You do the math.

The Jets missed Mo in New Orleans.

Lateness is wrong, and Bowles was right for leaving him home. Once again, this blog is strictly about football, so when you respond to it, keep that in mind.

I just want to counter some of the people who think Mo wasn’t playing well.

Wilkerson wasn’t very good the Jets’ first six games, dealing with a shoulder injury and broken toe. Starting in Week Seven, he was much healthier, and has played a lot better.

The problem is lot of the people who criticize Mo’s play clearly don’t understand the job of a 3-4 end. They judge Wilkerson by sacks. They are obsessed with sacks. Yes, Wilkerson had one good sack season, but that was an aberration. Not a lot of 3-4 ends are big sack guys. How many 6-4, 315-pound defensive linemen are big sack guys? 3-4 defensive ends do a lot of dirty work that allow others to make plays.

Don’t listen to the people who judge Wilkerson by his sack total. They clearly need to learn more about football.

New England-Pittsburgh TV Ratings 12.18.17



THE NFL ON CBS coverage on Sunday, Dec. 17 scored the highest rating of the 2017 NFL season on any network with the National 4:25 PM, ET game window that featured New England’s win over Pittsburgh with an average metered market HH rating/share of 17.0/32, up +8% from last year’s 15.8/29 for the comparable National game (Denver-New England).

This year’s game rating/share peaked with a 20.5/36 from 7:00-7:30 PM, ET.

This year’s rating/share also was THE NFL ON CBS’s highest-rated regular-season game telecast since 2015 (18.3/32; 11/15/15; New England-N.Y. Giants, Kansas City-Denver).

*Press Release

Plenty of blame to go around with this Wilkerson mess 12.15.17

Mo Wilkerson was a hometown guy who made good.

He was a late first-round pick who turned into a star in his hometown.

And now he’s being left home for the Jets’ trip to New Orleans, and there is a good chance he’s done with the team after the season.

While he’s had some lateness issues which is unacceptable, I also think a particular newspaper poisoned the well.

That newspaper has destroyed this guy in his hometown over and over and over again, including an article that compared him to a “Goodyear Blimp.” You know how tough this stuff had to be on his family?

Did the team have his back? Not sure. Don’t think they have an answer on this front.

I’m sure he wants to get the hell out of here after getting the Douglas Marrone treatment from this paper. How’s Marrone working out in Jacksonville.

The Jets shouldn’t have given him a big-money contract extension before his leg was 100 percent healed. That was not a good business decision. They should have let him play on a one-year tag and see if he got back to his old dominant self.

Wilkerson, as team leader, should never be late to meetings. That is unprofessional.

Plenty of blame to go around here.

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Can McCown help Petty “see the game?” 12.14.17

Injured Jets QB Josh McCown will be on the sidelines in New Orleans to help starter Bryce Petty.

Jets coach Todd Bowles was asked on Wednesday how McCown can help Petty.

“It can help him see the game,”Bowles said.

As for McCown’s presence helping Petty “see the game” – perhaps to a degree. When the Jets’ defense is on the field, McCown can talk to Petty and review the blue tablet. But so often, when you talk to young quarterbacks about reads, when they go back on the field, with pass rushers trying to hit them, defenses being disguised, their mind starts racing and much of info goes by the wayside.

So McCown can’t help him “see the game” while Petty is in the game. He can help him a little going over things on the bench. But since can’t can be his eyes and mind when he’s actually on the field, the impact of these skull sessions in minimal.

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