After what seemed like an endless line of New York Jets players tripping over new contracts to get as far away from Florham Park as possible, it’s good to see the team moving forward and bringing in some talented players in difference-making positions. The defense has lost players like LaRon Landry, Mike DeVito and Yeremiah Bell via free agency, while Bart Scott and Calvin Pace had large salary cap numbers which made them easy cuts by new GM John Idzik.
A general manager can look upon the free-agency landscape with wide-eyes at all the available talent, but a smart GM knows to be measured. Long-snapper Tanner Purdum re-signed with the Jets, a two-year extension, meaning punter Robert Malone and kicker Nick Folk will have their man for the 2013 season. Modest contracts to free agents David Garrard and Michael Goodson show that Idzik is attacking the team’s shortcomings, while keeping an eye on that all-important cap number.
Regular readers of the NYJ ReSet and listeners of the Green and White Show know the value I place line of scrimmage play. If you can protect the pocket on offense and apply effective pressure on defense, the game becomes easier to play on both sides of the football. GM Idzik and the Jets have added some much-needed firepower along the front seven that should help Mo Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Kendrick Ellis apply some of that ‘effective pressure’ on opposing signal-callers:
Antonio Garay (NT/DL): The 33-year old New Jersey native is glad to be home and getting another opportunity to show the NFL that he’s made of the right stuff. “I’m like a young bull getting ready to go back into the ring,” responded the second-generation freestyle wrestler and Boston College product. Garay only managed 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 2012 after 105 tackles and 8.0 sacks in 2010 & 2011 combined.
The man known for his wild and crazy hairstyles comes from a family of freestyle wrestlers, competing himself until his senior year at Boston College, when the program was cut by the athletic department. Garay’s extensive wrestling background should be an asset as he navigates the trenches, but injuries have slowed him down during his career. After stints in Cleveland and Chicago, Garay played the last three-plus seasons in San Diego, starting in 16 games in both 2010 and 2011. Only playing in eight games last season, Garay didn’t put up the numbers the Chargers needed to see in order to retain his services. One team’s trash is another team’s treasure. I remember LaRon Landry joining the Jets last offseason while recovering from injury… and how’d that work out for the Jets?
Antwan Barnes (LB): Another former Charger has landed in Florham Park this offseason as Antwan Barnes brings his 23.5 career sacks in seven seasons to the New York Jets. The signing of Barnes to a three-year deal reunites him with a former defensive coach from his early years in Baltimore… current Jets head coach Rex Ryan.
Pressure on the opposing QB hasn’t been a strength of this defense in a long, long time. Aaron Maybin brought some pop in 2011, but fizzled and was ultimately cut by the Jets in 2012. Vernon Gholston was drafted to be a force on the line of scrimmage, but his lackluster performance with the Jets forced them to look for alternatives. If Barnes can find some of those 16 starts, 41 tackles and 11.0 sacks from 2011, the New York Jets would love to have them line up next to Wilkerson & Coples!
-Joseph Haas Editor, HCoftheNYJ.com
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