Dan Leberfeld's Blog

Sheldon has plenty of company 05.22.15

Sheldon Richardson fired back at some fans who criticized his absence from some of the Jets’ off-season workouts.

“I have a life outside of football [and] I chose to enjoy my family a little longer so to [you] fans that know everything please worry [about] yourself,” Richardson tweeted today.

It’s important to point out that these workouts are voluntary.

And family is important. No doubt.

However, don’t you think many guys participating would rather be with their families than going through all the workouts?

So Richardson has a lot of company on this front.

He’s far from being alone.

He’s just chosen to act on it.

***The new issue of Jets Confidential is on Tri-State area news stands. Check it out. Great reading for the long weekend.

So what is Bowles position on Smith/Fitzpatrick? 05.22.15

Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey surprised some people on Wednesday when he anointed Geno Smith the team’s starting quarterback.

“Right now Geno’s the starter and to me, Coach Bowles has said it, I’ve said it, I think everybody has said it,” Gailey said.

Bowles position is a little more nuanced than that.

Here is what Bowles said on March 24, at an NFL meeting in Phoenix – “You can’t have even first team reps at quarterback – Geno will start out taking them, but that doesn’t mean Ryan (Fitzpatrick) can’t take his spot. But I’d be sitting here lying if I said they were going to have equal reps.”

So to Bowles, Smith being the starter now, and entering camp, is more of a reps thing than a commitment.

Gailey clearly doesn’t view it that way.

“(Geno has) done enough good, quality things (while) he’s been here and he’s done enough quality things that he deserves the opportunity to be the guy,” Gailey said.

So the QB semantics continue, even with a new regime.

But the bottom line is the Jets have missed the playoffs four years in a row, and it’s about time they get back there.

So whatever plan will get that done, at quarterback, and other key positions, that is what they need to go with.

***The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is on news stands now. Don’t miss out. To subscribe call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5) or you can subscribe on this website.

Bowles thinks spring practices are meaningless 05.21.15

Jets coach Todd Bowles is a realist.

And he played safety for eight years in the NFL, so he knows a thing or two about the physicality of pro football.

So he’s well-aware that spring practices, with no tackling, no quarterbacks sacks and very little contact, don’t mean much.

Bowles was asked on Wednesday how Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith has looked in the spring.

“He has done what everyone else has done; he’s played two-hand touch and he’s (been) pretty good at it,” the blunt Bowles said. “Again, we have a two-hand touch football team right now and you can’t evaluate. You’re not able to hit receivers, you’re not able to hit the quarterback, you can’t disrupt timing, you really can’t get hands on guys.”

Bowles did add Smith has done a good job with the mental stuff.

But the Jets coach isn’t putting any players in Canton based on their work in the spring.

***The latest issue of JC is out. Pick one up on a news stand. A great read for Jets fans. 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5) to subscribe to this information-packed monthly.

Does Gailey need a fullback? 05.20.15

Florham Park – Aside from Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey announcing that Geno Smith is the team’s starting quarterback, he also had an interesting take on the need for keeping a traditional fullback on the 53-man roster.

“There’s still a place for [a fullback], but everybody’s got to have worth on the team,” Gailey said. “You’ve got to have a role and you’ve got to be able to do it well. We won’t keep somebody just to keep somebody to say we’ve got a fullback. Everybody’s got an important job.”

The Jets have a crowded backfield with Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Stevan Ridley, Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson at running back and Tommy Bohanon and J.C. Copeland at fullback.

It appears as if Bohanon, who is coming off a collarbone injury, will have to do more than just show the coaches he is a better option than Copeland.

Bohanon must prove that he’s versatile enough to merit a roster spot.

In Gailey’s last job as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, the team ran an offense with some spread tendencies, which doesn’t necessarily require a fullback.

So instead of carrying a fullback on the 53-man roster, a tight end could end up being used in an H-back role.

Things Smith needs to work on 05.20.15

Today, Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, named Geno Smith as the team’s starting quarterback.

The Jets are hoping Smith takes a big step in his third season, after plenty of on-the-job training in his first two campaigns.

In order to take that step, he must improve his pocket presence, accuracy and take his ability to read NFL defenses to the next level. He also must do a better job of going through his progressions, and not lock on his first read as much.

These are common areas that young quarterbacks struggle with. Very common.

If Smith can improve in these areas, the Jets’ decision to anoint him as their starter, could turn out to be a good one.

We shall see.

**The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine will be on news stands Thursday. Check it out. Page after page of the good stuff on Gang Green. You can subscribe to this monthly must-read for Jets fans by calling 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5) or you can do so on this website.

Bobby April talks kick returner 05.20.15

Florham Park – The Jets have not returned a kick for a touchdown since 2012.

Bobby April, the team’s new special teams coordinator, is looking to reverse that trend.

So who is going to handle the job?

Chris Owusu and Walter Powell have been rotating as the Jets’ first-team kick returner this offseason.

“They’ve done real well. Of course there’s no live bullets on this field,” April said. “They’ve been flying up in there. They’ve both got pretty good speed. Chris, I base most of it off of – he hasn’t had many opportunities, but he had a really good game doing it.

“I think Walt is a good returner. I think he did a pretty good job. He had a couple gaffes that a lot of rookies have. . .Most rookies struggle to some extent and he had his struggles. But I think he’s really good.”

April also mentioned wide receiver T.J. Graham as an option as a returner.

“I think T.J. Graham is a really good kick returner. He flies and he’s really tough,” April said. “I thought he was a very good player last year. He’s exceptionally good at coverage. He didn’t return much, but out here, he’s a real fine athlete.”

Graham was also a gunner on the punt team last season and recovered three fumbles on special teams.

Wilkerson and Richardson 05.20.15

Florham Park – Jets Defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson have not been on the practice field during the team’s voluntary minicamps or OTAs.

Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers did not appear to be too worried about his two young defensive linemen missing the preliminary installation of his defense.

“Well the thing is right now we’re still in such a voluntary phase and we still have training camp,” Rodgers said. “Our system is very player-friendly. This is not a system where if you fall so far behind you can’t catch up. This is a system that a guy can come in and pick it up in a hurry.”

Head coach Todd Bowles said that Richardson has been “in and out” during the offseason workout program, but has not been to a practice.

You can understand where Woody is coming from 05.20.15

Jets owner Woody Johnson didn’t have much to say to reporters at the NFL’s Spring Meeting in San Francisco.

“I love talking to you [reporters],” Johnson said. “I’m just not going to give you any red meat. Been there, done that.”

His perspective is understandable.

It seems like the mission of some, not all, is to bombard him with “gotcha” questions, hoping to get him to slip up on one.

Throw as many “gotcha” questions against the wall and hope one sticks.

And clearly he’s tired of it.

***The latest issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is in the mail and will be on news stands in the next few days. Tons of great draft coverage and lots of Whispers. Leonard Williams is on the cover. A must-read for Jets fans. Don’t miss out. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5) to subscribe or you can subscribe on this website.

NFLPA wants Goodell recused as Brady abitrator 05.19.15


“The NFLPA has formally requested that Commissioner Roger Goodell recuse himself as the arbitrator in Tom Brady’s disciplinary appeal. Given a process that has contained procedural violations of our collective bargaining agreement, the Commissioner’s role as a central witness in the appeal hearing and his evident partiality with respect to the Wells report, the Commissioner must designate a neutral party to serve as an arbitrator in this matter. The players also believe that the Commissioner’s history of inconsistently issuing discipline against our players makes him ill-suited to hear this appeal in a fair-minded manner.

“If the NFL believes the Ted Wells report has credibility because it is independent, then the NFL should embrace our request for an independent review.”

— NFL Players Association

NFLPA files motion to hold commissioner in contempt of court 05.19.15


“Today, the players filed a motion in Federal Court in the Adrian Peterson matter because the Commissioner and NFL have deliberately ignored both the Court’s decision from eleven weeks ago and our repeated requests to comply with that order.

“On February 26th, the NFL was ordered to change their decision in the Peterson matter and reissue a ruling consistent with our collective bargaining agreement. The Union made multiple requests to the League office asking the arbitrator, who serves at the direction of the Commissioner, to comply with the law and avoid further litigation. Despite our attempts, they have done nothing and leave us no choice but to seek this motion.

“The delay tactics, inconsistencies and arbitrary decision making of the League has continued to hurt the rights of players, the credibility of the League office and the integrity of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. In the absence of any action by the NFL’s governing board of owners, the players have acted to hold the NFL accountable to our players, the CBA and to the law.”

Eric Winston
NFL Players Association President

Another owner responds to National Guard ad scenario 05.18.15


The following is a letter written by Falcons Owner and Chairman Arthur Blank to fans:

I’m sure many of you have read various news accounts regarding the National Guard’s marketing partnership with a number of NFL teams, including the Falcons, and other sports entities. Unfortunately, many of the stories failed to accurately present the business relationships between the two groups, and we want to make sure you have the facts to alleviate any concerns you may have.

Our marketing and sponsorship agreement with the National Guard is designed to fulfill their objectives of increasing awareness and aiding in recruiting efforts, which has become more important in an all-volunteer service environment. This is no different than any other sponsorship agreement in that it is structured to fit a business need.

Our agreement with the National Guard during the 2014 season included advertising on the Falcons website and in the Atlanta Falcons Playbook, which is distributed to fans on game day; signage in the Georgia Dome; LED and backlit messaging on Falcons game days; activation at Falcons Landing on game days; and participation in a number of other game program activities.

As explained by National Guard spokesman Rick Breitenfeldt in a recent story on ESPN.com, their spending with teams in all sports on year-round advertising and marketing programs is a way to reach important audiences.

“We have hundreds of [sponsorship agreements] with teams, including minor league baseball and at high schools,” he said. “We have found that spending in sports to help us recruit in our 18-24 demographic works out for us.”

It is regretful that the good works of our NFL league office and teams were overlooked in the news stories of the last few days, and I hope this letter aids in painting a more accurate portrayal. We remain steadfast in our desire to be good citizens and proud supporters of our community, including our support of the important work of our Armed Forces.

– Arthur Blank

I don’t agree with Chris Simms 05.15.15

Chris Simms said on WFAN that Matt Simms last name is hurting him.

“(Matt) hasn’t proven himself to be an NFL starter or anything like that, but every opportunity he’s gotten, whether it’s the preseason or even coming up in mop-up duty in the regular season he’s done very well and taken advantage of those chances,” Chris Simms said. “Some of the preseason performances he had … I truly believe if his last name was not Simms, teams would be wanting him to be their backup quarterback.”

First of all, Chris is overrating Matt’s performances just a little. In the fourth preseason game last year, against Philadelphia, facing all backups, Matt didn’t get the Jets in the end zone – once. He was given that game to do his thing, and was somewhat average.

Great guy, great teammate, hard worker, class act, but he’s not getting a raw deal. One issue with Matt Simms is he throws a flat deep ball with little arc on it.

Actually, after his rough college career, his stint with the Jets has been more time in the league than most thought he would get.

So I respectfully disagree with Chris Simms.

***The next issue of the monthly Jets Confidential Magazine will be mailed on Monday, and on news stands a few days later. Tons of stuff on the draft, and plenty of Jets Whispers. To subscribe, call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5) or you can do so on this website.

Bowles on Jarvis Harrison’s motor 05.08.15

The Jets got a potential steal in the fifth round, with the selection of Texas A & M guard Jarvis Harrison.

Harrison has good size and athletic ability, but there has been speculation that his hot-and-cold motor in college made him slip in the draft.

What does Jets coach Todd Bowles think of Harrison’s motor?

“Some games he played harder than others, but you can probably pull out any college player going into the pros that has done that at some point in time,” Bowles said. “Jarvis is a big guy, he’s an offensive lineman, he’s not going to go out and run 400 meters in 47, 48 seconds. Obviously, the better shape he’s in, the better he can play. I don’t know the situation down at Texas A&M, but he has a chance for where we got him to be a value pick. He has to show that he’s more than that type of player and we thought it was worth the gamble to take on him.”

If the Jets keep Harrison’s motor revving high, and get him in great shape, he could turn into a very good player for them.

You have to feel bad for this rookie 05.08.15

Florham Park – Within the first minutes of Jets rookie mini-camp, tryout player Anthony Robey pulled a muscle.

The cornerback kept trying trying to come back to practice, but he couldn’t do it.

If you are a long-shot, you can’t afford to get hurt. You just can’t.

You have to feel bad for him.

This was a shot to show what he could do, and it only lasted a few minutes.

Robey is an impressive kid, who graduated from Temple with a degree in criminal justice in the winter of 2014.

So he should be okay if his football dream doesn’t reach fruition.

You might have heard of his famous father 05.08.15

Florham Park – The Jets have a myriad of unsigned players at their rookie mini-camp for tryouts.

One of those players, who flashed today, was Kentucky tight end Steve Borden (6-3, 246). He caught a ton of balls and showed pretty good wheels after the catch.

Wrestling fans out there have definitely heard of his father – Steve Borden Sr., who went by the moniker “Sting” during his wresting career. “Sting” has been active in wresting since 1985.

His son looks like he has potential as an H-Back on the next level.

Williams already makes an impressive play 05.08.15

Florham Park – Late in the Jets’ practice today. Leonard Williams flashed his enormous potential.

On an interception by CB DaShaun Phillips late in practice, the pick was set up by Williams.

Williams soundly beat an interior lineman, and quickly got into Petty’s face, and forced the bad throw.

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