Dan Leberfeld's Blog

The case for Quincy Enunwa 08.21.14

As we all know, the Jets will have some very tough decisions to make at wide receiver on the final cut-down.

I know he’s likely a practice squad candidate, but I think that rookie Quincy Enunwa can help the Jets immediately.

Of all the Jets’ receivers, he might be the best at going up in traffic and snatching the football, “winning 50-50 balls” as they say in football lingo. These kind of receivers can be a quarterback’s best friend. The signal-caller doesn’t have to make perfect throws to complete passes to guys like this.

The best catch of the summer in Jets camp, was probably the grab Enunwa made on the play that Dee Milliner got hurt.

Enunwa is also a very good blocker, and a terrific special team’s player, who made two impressive coverage tackles in the Jets’ preseason win over Cincinnati.

Enunwa looks like a very good sixth round value for Gang Green.

Like I said, he’s likely headed to the practice squad due to the Jets’ depth at receiver this year.

If that is the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s called up at some point during the season.

This guy can play.

***The latest issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is out on news stands, and available by subscription (1-800-932-4557, M-F, 9-5 or you can subscribe on this website). It’s one of our most popular issues of the year, featuring “The Training Camp Diary,” which provides you with tons of information, you won’t read anywhere else, from behind the scenes at camp. Don’t miss out. A must-read for Jets fans.

Tough questions posed for Marty on what competition means 08.21.14

Q)Was there ever a quarterback competition this summer?

Marty Mornhinweg: Well you know we get into a little bit of (confusion with) words here. Great competition, between all of (the quarterbacks), and that’s the key. That’s what we want on this football team, at all positions. Certainly there is a handful of positions that the fellas have earned their spot. There are other positions where there are some great battles taking place. So we always want competition, so there you have it.

Q)Was Vick was ever competing for a starting job?

Mornhinweg: Well we were all in competition. I will tell you this, crazy things happen. So there was great competition, still is, at the quarterback spot.

Q)Do the Jets define competition differently than the dictionary?

Mornhinweg: I’m not sure about that. Competition, that’s what you want, at every position. In fact, the receivers spot, we have a lot of battles going on there as well.

Q)Did Vick lose the competition for the starting job?

Mornhinweg: No. Mike has done a beautiful job, and he has played at a high level. Mike can still play at a real high level. I have great confidence that way. Now of course, I am biased towards Mike, we go way back. There is no question in my mind, Mike can play at a high level.

*These questions and answers were from Marty Mornhinweg’s press conference yesterday in Florham Park.

Dennis Thurman on Jets CB situation 08.20.14

Q)Are you trying different guys to fill the spots of the injured guys?

Dennis Thurman: What we’re doing is we’re mixing guys in and we want to see the different combinations that we have available to us right now.

Q)How did Antonio Allen play against Cincinnati?

Thurman: For the first time over there, he did okay. He’s long. He’s athletic. He’s talented. We have to get him up to speed on some of his technique and fundamentals, but he’s working at it. It’s not something that’s just going to come. It’s something he’s going to have to work at and we’re going to have to be patient.

I feel like he has a chance to be successful because he is a good athlete and he can cover man-to-man.

Q)Is playing Allen a short-term thing?

Thurman: We’re not sure. We’re not certain that he’s going to stay there 100 percent. It’s an experiment that we’re working with right now. Right now it’s an experiment. We’re not sure how far it’s going to go.

Q)Why didn’t Allen press A.J. Green at the line on his deep reception?

Thurman: That match-up is a tough match-up. On that one play he got behind him. He didn’t score. I don’t know. It’s one of those situations where he knew what he was going to do and for some reason it just didn’t happen.

Q)How much has the cornerback position changed since you played?

Thurman: Prehistoric when they only threw the ball 20 times a game, (it) has changed a lot. The five yard rule was in effect when I first came in the league, but they were a little more liberal with it than they are now. They threw the ball 25-30 times in a game (and) you felt like it was a lot. But they’re throwing that in a half now.

The premium on technique and fundamentals and being able to do it play after play after play, and the consistency of that is much more important than it was back then.

No reason to hate the guy 08.20.14

This situation saddens me.

The vitriol towards Stephen Hill is out of control.

To see his wife today, with baby in hand, confronting a reporter who has been very rough on Hill, was hard to witness.

This is a football player, not a war criminal.

And a player who has worked extremely hard to improve this spring and summer – extremely hard.

“I have a hard time labeling a guy a bust when he’s done everything in his power,” Jets WR coach Sanjay Lal told the Daily News. “I’m not disappointed in him, because I know he’s given it his all. Things haven’t worked out. I’d be disappointed in him if he wasn’t trying or wasn’t attentive. And he’s none of those things.”

And though some people don’t want to hear this, he had a good training camp in Cortland. He had one bad practice, with a couple of drops, in a driving rain storm. My umbrella broke – it got turned inside out from the wind. Some of the media made a big deal about this one practice. Aside from this one day, he was terrific in Cortland.

He got ripped after the first preseason game for not having any catches. He wasn’t thrown any passes.

In the second preseason game, he had a drop, on a pass that was high and late, and he got hit so hard his helmet came off. This wasn’t the first high and late pass that got Hill lit up over the course of his Jets career.

While Hill’s first two seasons could have been better, the Jets’ quarterback play in 2012 and 2013 wasn’t great. I don’t think anyone can dispute that. Wide receivers can’t throw the ball to themselves.

Look, there is no hidden agenda here. I have no relationship with Hill.

He needs to step up this year. I’m not denying that. He knows it.

“What happens, at all positions, but especially at the receiver position, that third year they make a pretty good jump,” said Marty Mornhinweg. “That’s what we’re looking for there.”

And he’s working his tail off to take that step.

But maybe it’s just me, but I view the hate towards this guy as over-the-top.

“He genuinely tries,” Lal said, also in the Daily News. “He wants to be good. He does everything that’s asked.”

Perhaps this won’t work out, but let’s not treat the guy like he’s in ISIS.

Jets should try to trade him 08.20.14

Cortland – The Jets should try to trade Stephen Hill.

The fans have turned on him, the media has turned on him, especially the Daily News.

It’s Brian Shottenheimer-like.

The well has been poisoned.

The karma is terrible.

He needs to get out of here.

He needs a change of scenery.

Is this a good idea? 08.19.14

Yesterday, the Jets lined up Calvin Pace and Jason Babin as their starting outside linebackers for a big chunk of practice.

Is this a good idea?

Pace is soon to be 34, and Babin is 34.

Do you really want that kind of age out there at the same time?

Obviously Quinton Coples is also in the mix.

Honestly, it’s a major projection moving Babin to outside linebacker, a position he has never played before. The guy has been a defensive end his entire career. Moving to outside linebacker at this stage of his career can be very tough. He has been pedestrian against the run this summer at his new spot.

Hey, this could work out great for the Jets. We will see.

But when I saw those two players out there together, I just wondered if this was a good idea, in a league that is so much about speed, and seems to be getting younger, especially after the new CBA was signed in 2011.

Pats probably wish they had a mulligan on this move 08.19.14

The New England Patriots have been awfully thin at tight end this summer, so much so, they added free agents Steve Maneri and Ben Hartsock (who has since been released) in the middle of camp.

In the Patriots’ preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles last week, Maneri was their only active tight end.

They are still waiting for Rob Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui to get back to 100 percent.

So where am I going with this?

They could certainly use Zach Sudfeld.

Remember Sudfeld was a standout in Patriots camp last summer, made the team, but was released in early October, and the Jets claimed him. The Patriots were reportedly trying to move him to their practice squad.

The 6-7 Nevada (Reno)-product looked terrific all summer for the Jets, and he is a big part of their plans this year. He runs well for his size, has good hands and his enormous wingspan creates quite a catching radius. He has taken a quantum leap as a blocker over the last 10 months, thanks to a lot of hard work with Jets tight ends coach Steve Hagen.

I’m not putting Sudfeld in Canton, but the Patriots could certainly use him now.

And the Jets are ecstatic to him him.

Former Jets assistant livid at Rex 08.19.14

Cincinnati Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander, who was on assistant on Bruce Coslet’s Jets staff in the early 1990′s, isn’t happy with how his former employer’s current head coach, Rex Ryan, strategized in the Jets’ win over the Bengals on Saturday.

Alexander didn’t appreciate how much Rex Ryan blitzed the Bengals’ fourth string quarterback, Matt Scott.

“Notice he didn’t bring that stuff when our starters were out there,” Alexander told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “We’d have scored quicker. If he wants to put his starting defense out there and blitz all that garbage against our third-stringers, if he feels good about it, then all the power to him.”

There used to be an unwritten rule around the NFL that you didn’t blitz a lot in preseason games.

“Some of [the blitzing) was a little extreme,” said Bengals reserve QB Jason Campbell, who is injured. “I remember back in the day, preseason games you didn’t see any blitzes.”

Times have changed.

By the way, an interesting aside, Alexander played his college football at SUNY-Cortland.

A totally different view of the Jets win over Cincy 08.18.14

Now for a different perspective on the Jets’ 25-17 preseason win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night.

While the Jets were happy with the victory, the Cincinnati preseason broadcast team of Brad Johansen and Anthony Munoz didn’t come away impressed.

“[The Jets] got beat handily by the first team on both sides of the ball,” said Johansen.

The Bengals played their starters for just about one quarter, and built a 17-3 lead.

During that time, their starting quarterback Andy Dalton was 8 of 8 passing for 144 yards and perfect quarterback rating (158.3).

“The Bengals first-team offense gets it done,” said Johansen

The Jets’ fortunes changed in the second quarter, when their starters played against the Bengals’ backups.

A big theme entering this game was the Jets getting some revenge for last year’s 49-9 drubbing at the hands of the Bengals.

Munoz doesn’t think that happened.

“200 yards of penalties and not doing anything early in the game, I don’t know if this would qualify as revenge,” Munoz said late in the broadcast.

Munoz also wasn’t impressed with the Jets’ six personal fouls in the first half.

“The Jets [showed] a lack of composure in the first half,” said Anthony Munoz. “A lot of frustration on both sides of the ball because they were getting beat up.”

So as you can see, an entirely different view of Saturday night in Cincy.

Tough blow for Saunders, on and off field 08.15.14

As most of you know by now, Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders was involved in a single-car accident this morning on his way to the Jets’ training complex in Florham Park.

He was taken to a hospital and is being monitored there as a precaution, and will not travel to Cincinnati for the Jets’ Saturday night preseason game against the Bengals.

First off, let’s hope he’s a okay. That is the most important thing.

But it goes without saying that missing this game certainly isn’t a good thing for his maturation process as an NFL punt returner, which by no means, is an easy job.

He was going to get a chance to field punts on the road for the first time.

Saunders has a lot of potential as a punt returner, but he certainly needs work. You hear coaches preaching to him in practice – “catch it and head up field.” Sometimes he has a tendency to dance a little.

So missing the work in Cincinnati isn’t a good thing.

But the main focus now is his health following the car accident. It’s unclear what the nature of his injuries are. On a human level, putting football aside, let’s hope he has a speedy recovery.

This guy just keeps making plays 08.12.14

Cortland – One of the pleasant surprises for the Jets in training camp has been journeyman linebacker A.J. Edds.

Edds had two impressive plays in Jets practice today.

He knocked down a pass intended for TE Jeff Cumberland in the right corner of the end zone.

He also snuffed out a middle screen to Chris Johnson, stopping the runner right after he caught the ball.

The 6-4, 256-pound Edds, who played at Iowa, was signed in the spring, after a tryout at the Jets’ rookie mini-camp.

He came into the league as a fourth round pick of the Miami Dolphins in the 2010 draft, and has had two stops in New England and a stint in Indianapolis. He’s never been able to carve a niche in the league due to injuries.

Edds led the Jets in tackles (seven) in their first preseason game of 2014, a win over the Indianapolis’ Colts.

Reilly has a knack 08.12.14

Cortland – Jets rookie Trevor Reilly has a knack.

Every time you turn around, he’s tipping or blocking a pass.

In today’s practice, he blocked a pass attempt by Matt Simms to the right side.

Reilly has a great feel for the game, and has done a lot of good things this summer. He has solid instincts, and is consistently around the ball.

He slipped to the seventh round due to concerns about his surgical knee, but the University of Utah-product is clearly better than a seventh round prospect.

JC Radio today at 2 pm on primesportsnetwork.com 08.12.14

Jets Confidential Radio is on the air today at 2pm, est on PrimeSportsNetwork.com.

Host Greg DePalma and co-host Howard Bender will recap the best and worst from the Jets first preseason game with the Colts, update the latest injuries in the defensive backfield and give reaction to the criticism of how G.M. John Idzik has built the roster.

That’s 2pm, est live today on PrimeSportsNetwork.com. If you have a question or comment for the show you can send an e-mail to JCR@PrimeSportsNetwork.com.

You aren’t going to believe this 08.12.14

With three cornerbacks sidelined due to injuries, the Jets signed LeQuan Lewis today.

And midway through his first practice, he had his left shoe off, and a Jets trainer was working on his foot or ankle.

He eventually was able to return.

Fair to say, the Jets are a little snake-bit at cornerback right now.

Antonio Cromartie angle is revisionist history 08.11.14

Cortland – The Jets are getting second-guessed by some for not re-signing Antonio Cromartie, in light of their current rash of injuries at cornerback.

What about his aversion to playing press coverage, an integral part of Rex Ryan’s defense?

“Cro had a tendency to drift back before the snap instead of crowding the line,” wrote author Nick Dawidoff, who was embedded with the Jets in 2011, and authored the book, “Collision Low Crossers.”

What about his aversion to being physical as a tackler?

“Cro’s like an NBA player who hates to play defense,” said former Jets linebacker coach Bob Sutton, in “Collision Low Crossers.”

After Cromartie ducked a tackle, one Jets coach cracked, “He already made his one for the day.” This quote was also in “Collision Low Crossers.”

What about his constant jersey-grabbing that led to a myriad of pass interference penalties?

What about his inability to deal with criticism from coaches?

“Cro so detested criticism that he shut down in response to it,” wrote Dawidoff.

“Cro can’t take authority,” Darrelle Revis told Dawidoff in the book.

It was time for the Jets to move on.

And Cromartie probably needed a change of scenery as well.

A sleeper in Jets CB sweepstakes 08.11.14

Cortland – With a myriad of injuries at cornerback, the Jets are going to have a casting call, with guys currently on the roster, to determine who will start opposite Dimitri Patterson, who is expected back shortly from a quad injury.

“Our first order of business is to see what our guys can do,” said Jets GM John Idzik.

“We are going to try everybody there,” said Jets coach Rex Ryan.

One sleeper in the competition is former New England Patriots cornerback Ras-I Dowling.

He was very highly-regarded in the 2011 draft coming out of Virginia, and the Patriots grabbed him with the first pick of the second round.

He certainly looks the part, at 6-1, 210 pounds with 4.4 speed.

The Patriots moved on from him after a couple of seasons due to injury issues.

Now is his time to shine.

The opportunity is right there in front of him.

Today, when addressing the media, Jets secondary coach Tim McDonald, said Dowling has done some good things in camp and is a candidate for the opening.

One impressive thing about Dowling is how loose his hips are for a big corner. He changes directions smoothly.

Not only is he a tall cornerback, but has very good leaping ability. Dowling also has the size and temperament to maul receivers at the line.

But it’s now or never for Dowling.

With this opening in front of him, it’s time for him to realize his potential, and reach for the brass ring.

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