There's more to the New York Jets than the quarterback competition.
Do you want to prove you're a diehard New York Jets fan? Then stop talking about old news, whether it be Super Bowl III, butt fumbles or Mark Sanchez turnovers. The Jets have interesting tales to tell this year. Separate yourself from the crowd and check them out.
It's not that this content is new. However, the hubbub over stories like the quarterback competition, Mike Goodson's arrest and Woody Johnson's "truth, justice and the American way" reference obscures other people and stories that Jets fans should follow. It's time to take a look.
Most of what you'll find here is related to football or at least to sports. Some is not. In fact, one slide reveals a set of human tragedies independent of profession. You'll learn how one bad decision ended the NFL career dreams of two men and pushed one of them into more trouble.
If you make it from beginning to end of these slides and find nothing you didn't already know, congratulations! You know you're a true Jets fan.
Player statistics not otherwise credited come from Pro-Football-Reference.com.
Mike Goodson isn't the only Jet facing legal issues.
So you think Mike Goodson was the only New York Jets player arrested this year? You're about to meet more. We'll start with former Jets Cliff Harris and Claude Davis.
When a friend first told me about "Cliff and Claude," I thought she meant the identical twin brothers in the R&B group The Treniers. Was I ever wrong.
The Jets signed CB Cliff Harris and DE Claude Davis to reserve/future contracts in early January. On April 29, Morristown, New Jersey police arrested the players for marijuana possession. Police had observed that the players' parked car was full of smoke and detected the telltale odor when a window opened.
The Jets waived them both on April 30.
Fans and media thought John Idzik and the team had set a precedent. He had not. When police arrested RB Mike Goodson on drugs and weapons charges, the Jets did not waive him. Instead, Goodson attended both OTAs and minicamp. Rex Ryan praised his explosiveness.
It shows the power of a three-year, $6.9 million contract. Davis and Harris were training camp bodies most likely to be cut before Week 1. The Jets expect more from Goodson in 2013 and won't let something like drug charges get in their way. That is, as long as Goodson avoids jail.
We're not finished yet. There's one more former Jet in this club and an encore to Harris' story.
Former OLB Bryan Thomas has been facing ongoing domestic violence issues, one of which resulted in an April court appearance. He had been placed on probation in February in connection with previous incidents. Thomas played 11 seasons for the Jets and became an unrestricted free agent in 2013.
As for Harris, he was arrested three more times within eight days of his Jets release. Once for domestic violence, once for speeding and the last for being late to court because of the speeding incident.
It was a fitting coda to four months in which one poor choice took away dreams of an NFL career.
Hayden Smith with Saracens in 2011
You may not know the difference between a scrum and a line-out. However, if you're a Jets fan you know that tight end Hayden Smith played for the English rugby club Saracens in the Premiership and Heineken Cup before joining the Jets.
Saracens won the Premiership title during Smith's final season.
Smith has played rugby on both sides on the pond. According to the BBC, his introduction to the sport came in Denver. He'd moved there from Australia to attend Metropolitan State College on a basketball scholarship. He joined a rugby club to pass the time between his final semester's end and graduation.
Three years later in 2008, Smith joined Saracens. After winning the Premiership with them, he made the United States World Cup team, competing in four matches. That's when he began the discussions that led to joining the Jets in 2012.
Here's some of what Smith told the BBC about the differences between rugby and NFL football:
In rugby, you are either jogging or running over to the play, but in the NFL you have to be explosive off the mark. Everything is about going from a static stop to 100% as hard as you can for really no more really than 15 seconds. There is a lot less emphasis on conditioning and more on speed and power.
Smith seems to have made the transition, so much so that ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini named him a "stud" of the Jets' recently completed minicamp.
That may be all the international rugby knowledge Jets fans need.
Damon "Snacks" Harrison intercepted a Sanchez screen pass during OTAs.
Meet Damon "Snacks" Harrison, once the heaviest person on the Jets' roster at 350 lbs. This is Snacks' second training camp with the Jets after appearing in five games with the team during 2012. He's slimmed down to 335 pounds, but his nickname is here to stay.
Snacks didn't accomplish anything in those games according to normal statistics. Advanced statistics paint a different picture.
According to ProFootballFocus.com (paid subscription required), Harrison played for 22 snaps in those five games, equally split between runs and passes. His overall grade of 0.2 was in the average range. Run coverage was his strength, with a 0.8 grade. A negative pass rush grade of -0.6 worked against him.
ProFootballFocus.com credits Harrison with one "stop," which means he stopped an offensive play short of its objective.
However, what Snacks is best known for now has nothing to do with last year's play. His interception of a Mark Sanchez screen pass during OTAs is what's raised his profile. During a May 23 news conference that followed midday OTAs, Ryan was asked:
On if having a defensive lineman intercept a pass is the best scenario for your defense...
Well, but you look at who it was, it was "Snacks" [Damon Harrison], so I don't think there's anything to be ashamed of. With that particular defense, it's interesting, to just show you how multiple we're being, we actually had the defensive tackle spying the back. So sure enough, he saw the blitz, launched it over there and he was right there for it. [Nick] Mangold was blocking and was like, "You have to be kidding me." But, yes, it was disappointing. That's one, you just have to throw it away. If it's not there, weigh the positives and minuses of that and I prefer that he gets rid of it, throws the ball away or runs with it.
In other words, Harrison played his role perfectly, covering the intended receiver when Sanchez read the blitz and attempted to beat it.
However, don't count on Snacks doing this too often, as Jets' senior reporter Eric Allen reminds us in his "'Snacks Doesn't Have Butterfingers" post:
Harrison, who didn't record an interception in his 44-game collegiate career, longs for a theft in an NFL game. Rex Ryan is aware of the goal, but don't expect to see Snacks dropping too much in the future.
"He told me to just stick to the nose tackle," Harrison said.
Matt Sims lets one fly at 2013 Jets' OTAs.
Which New York Jets quarterback has the strongest arm? Is it Mark Sanchez? Geno Smith? If your choice is one of them, Jets' quarterbacks coach David Lee says you're wrong. In his opinion, the strongest quarterback arm on the New York Jets belongs to a contender for the No. 3 quarterback role--Matt Simms.
That's Matt Simms, son of former New York Giants star and current lead CBS analyst Phil Simms.
In her June 12 post, "QB coach: Simms has best arm on Jets," ESPNNewYork.com blogger Jane McManus reports Lee's assessment:
"Matt Simms, you guys see it," Lee said. "The guy's got a cannon for an arm. He's got the best arm of the four, he's just so inconsistent with his accuracy. If his accuracy was better, he'd be thicker in the hunt."
Lee has a reputation for saying exactly what he means, or as Simms puts it, he "Tells you the truth no matter what, even if it hurts."
This means that if Simms could improve his accuracy, he could move from contending for the No. 3 quarterback role to contending for the No. 1 quarterback role. On the other hand, he and Greg McElroy have been getting precious few repetitions so far. If Simms wants to improve his place in the competition, he's going to make the most of limited opportunities.
If he does, Simms could throw an unexpected wrinkle into the Jets' quarterback sweepstakes.
Santonio Holmes is helped off the field during 2012 loss to 49ers.
In 2012, Santonio Holmes joined a group of players that includes Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Schaub, Cedric Benson and Darren McFadden who have incurred a Lisfranc foot injury, an injury that can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Jets fans are eager for news of his progress and potential return to the field.
Here's Holmes' description of the injury, as he told Jets senior reporter Eric Allen in the post "Santonio: 'My Target Date is Training Camp'":
A Lisfranc injury is a separation of the joints in your foot. I actually had muscle tear and joint separation, so the injury process for me was a lot longer for some guys who say have a Grade 1 and the highest being a 4. I suffered a Grade 4 injury where I had suffered a separation and ligament damage in my foot.
The injury required two surgeries, as Holmes described:
The first was to do the repairing and the second procedure this past March was to remove some hardware, taking out a plate and some screws that were placed in. To this day, I still have two screws that are going to be permanently implanted in my foot. Like I said it's a long process of recovering, but I'm up for the challenge.
How long? That's the $64,000 question.
Here's Holmes' goal:
My target date is to be ready for training camp. That's the only thing right now that I'm focused on is as much rehab as possible, getting back into running and conditioning and then be ready for training camp.
However, Rex Ryan has said Holmes may be on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list when training camp opens. Is that a setback?
Here's an answer from the medical site footeducation.com:
A displaced injury takes a number of months to recover. Perhaps, 80% of the recovery occurs in the first six months, but it is often a year or more before our patient has reached their point of maximal improvement following a significant Lisfranc injury.
Assuming the six months begins after pin removal, Holmes might be 80 percent recovered by the early part of the season. However, if he isn't, I wouldn't panic and call it a setback. It's just part of the normal variability associated this injury's recovery.
In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the Jets postponed Holmes' debut until Week 4 or beyond. The Week 4 game against the Titans on September 29 would be one day shy of a year since his injury.
I'd rather see Holmes be patient and take the field at full throttle than rush things and ruin his career and his health. However, the way wide receivers performed during minicamp, the sooner Holmes reaches full throttle, the better.
If you're a Jets fan, you've followed the reports from OTAs and minicamp. You've heard about Jets wide receivers dropping passes. You've heard about TE Kellen Winslow Jr.'s tryout and subsequent signing.
Now you must be wondering if anything can help the wide receivers. You ask yourself, "Why don't they bring back Braylon Edwards?"
Edwards' 10 catches for 125 yards in three games last year were almost a third of his production since he left the Jets for San Francisco after 2010. Knee injuries played a role in his limited action.
ProFootballFocus.com's grading system (paid subscription required) supports that Edwards re-surged after rejoining the Jets.
In his three games with the Jets, Edwards appeared in 147 of the Jets' 209 snaps. As a Jet, his overall grade of 1.7 significantly surpassed his overall season's 0.4. With the Jets, Edwards' most significant black mark was a -0.8 in penalties during the season finale against Buffalo. Otherwise, his grades of 1.0 on pass plays and 1.5 in screen blocking would have given him a respectable 2.5, as his 0.2 penalties grade in his first two Jets' games would have offset his -0.2 grade in run blocking.
Compare that to his first 13 games. His grade was -1.3, based on a -1.9 grade in pass plays, 1.3 grade in run plays and a -0.7 grade in penalties.
Other statistics from ESPN note that the Jets targeted Edwards 18 times to get those 10 catches. Eight of those catches resulted in first downs.
By way of comparison, Jeremy Kerley needed 96 targets to get 56 receptions. Of the 56 catches, 31 went for first downs while two resulted in scores.
Kerley's catch rate per times targeted is seven of 12, compared to Edwards' 5-of-9. Do a little math to find a common denominator and you can project that for every 108 times targeted, Kerley would catch the ball 63 times to Edwards' 60.
Of course, that's based on one year, and a limited year in Edwards' case. It's only meant to make you ask yourself: Should Edwards get another shot? Especially if he plays at the veteran's minimum base salary with the cap benefits that could provide?
You'll have to weigh the pros and cons like Ryan Alfieri does in his post, "The Case For and Against Braylon Edwards" before drawing your own conclusion.
Follow Philip Schawillie on Twitter: @digitaltechguid