Speaking this morning on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning show, ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen voiced some skepticism about the New York Jets acquiring WR Braylon Edwards from the Cleveland Browns.
Mortensen said the trade of Edwards was not a surprise to him in light of his recent troubles off the field. Browns head coach Eric Mangini runs a tough, team-first program that Edwards' personality seems to clash with.
Mortensen makes a valid point here. Mangini is essentially a disciple of the Bill Parcells school of coaching. This means a tough, hard-nosed attitude that is centered on the team at all times—no exceptions.
Edwards does not appear to be of the same mindset, oft times showing a tendency for selfishness as opposed to the team first mentality.
This does concern me somewhat as we go forward with Edwards. He has shown a bit of a penchant for trouble in Cleveland, so what will he be like under the lights and excitement of the Big Apple?
I think the New York Jets have a trump card in all this...“Bragosaurus” Rex Ryan. Our new head coach has shown an ability to connect with his players and get them to perform, not just because he demands it, but because they WANT to.
His talent at getting these guys to the point where they will voluntarily tackle a speeding bus may be all that is needed to help straighten out a wide receiver whose talents could well be the final piece to the Jets puzzle.
While I admit I will miss the young Chansi Stuckey, who was dealt to Cleveland as part of the trade, I think a settled down Edwards will be absolute gold for this team. Should Ryan and company be successful in getting Edwards to perform at the same level he did in the 2007 season, this Jets team will be highly touted in those “who’s going to the Super Bowl” talks.
The key, of course, is getting Edwards to match or even exceed his outstanding 2007 performance.
In 2007, Edwards had a breakout season, making his first Pro Bowl and becoming the first Browns receiver to do so since Webster Slaughter in 1989. Edwards also broke Cleveland franchise records for receiving yardage with 1,289 receiving yards and receiving touchdowns with 16.
Edwards’ 16 touchdowns were also second in the league behind only Randy Moss, who set an NFL record with 23 touchdowns that year.
The Edwards we don’t want to see is the Edwards of the 2008 season, when he led the league in dropped passes and scored a paltry three touchdowns.
To be fair, I personally believe that most of his woes on the field had a lot to do with the enormous turmoil the Browns organization was and is experiencing, in particular at the QB position, which has been flip-flopping between starters Derek Anderson and 2007 draft pick Brady Quinn out of Notre Dame.
In the end, this trade has an enormous upside for the New York Jets with what I would consider a very acceptable downside. Obviously, should Edwards perform to his abilities, no one will question the decision, but should he falter or outright fail, we will have given up very little for our experiment.
Worst-case scenario, we get Edwards to hold us over until next year's loaded NFL draft, where with some luck we can draft that elusive No. 1 wideout.