EA Q&A: Jets Have Talent Behind Keller at TE

My packing is finished and I'm headed back to Long Island today.  I have an overwhelming feeling of thanks as I depart Cortland: to the so many people at this University and in Central NY who helped make camp hospitable and treated us like family, to the Cortland students who busted their collective tail the past three weeks (including our multimedia staff of Julia Fleming, Kelsay Foote, Amy Halvorsen & Simon Tuckey) and to the many talented folks I work with here at the Jets — staffers, coaches and players — who help make all of our content possible.

I hope you enjoyed our coverage — both video and editorial — from here in Cortland, in Canton, OH at the Hall of Fame and in Cincinnati.  This is just a start and we're ready for the next phase. 

YemiLanham, MD

Q: Here's a real question.  Everyone is focusing so much on the receivers, but how is Jeff Cumberland been looking and the Aussie?   With so much focus on the lack of WR depth and experience, I think the size, speed, and athletic skills that a Cumberland/Keller duo have, it could prove to be a strong cushion of support for Mark — if used consistently.

EA: Right on cue.  I thought Cumberland had his best practice of camp Wednesday.  Mark Sanchez threw to No. 86 on three of the first four plays of team drills and Cumberland was on the receiving end of two quick completions — including one for some chunk yardage down the seam. Unfortunately Cumberland got only his fingertips on the fourth pass and that overthrown ball went right into the hands of rookie S Josh Bush.  Later in 7-on-7 work, Sanchez connected with Cumberland for a long gainer over the middle.

If Cumberland can continue to develop as a blocker, then the Jets will have an intriguing 1-2 combo at tight end.   Hayden Smith, an Australian native who starred in international rugby, is more of a long-term project and could be a practice squad candidate.

It wouldn't be wise to forget Josh Baker.  He is a versatile player with good hands and he has become much more confident.  Nobody talks about him, but they will soon.

ArthurLaguna Beach, CA

Q: Having watched the first quarter of Friday's Bengals game, how much time does Mark need to throw the ball to a wide receiver? It seems that other than D'Brick, Nick & Woody, he and Tebow are not getting the protection they need to open the offense. I fly back for each game from Laguna Beach.

EA: Jets Nation is everywhere — in the air, on the land and even in the sea.   Thanks for the support Arthur.   I think you might mean RG Brandon Moore instead of former RT Damien Woody.  The Jets do have the three Pro Bowlers in LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, C Nick Mangold and Moore.  But I wouldn't be too alarmed by the offensive line starters just yet considering Mark Sanchez took only 14 snaps with the first unit in the 'Nati.  

Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano said the Jets had only one protection breakdown against the Bengals — the McElroy strip sack in the second half.  The Jets saw a pressure that they had not seen before on Sanchez's first sack and they missed an open Dustin Keller on a couple of other occasions.

I don't think the Jets are going to open up too much in the preseason.  The other thing to consider is Sanchez has worked frequently without three of his top four wideouts and Stephen Hill is a rookie.  

RonWilliamsport, PA

Q:* *It seems the Jets continue to get torched on third down from running backs and tight ends. Why does this problem keep recurring?

EA: The Jets know they're going to get tested in two areas on defense — perimeter edge runs and passes to the backs and tight ends over the middle.  Remember the focus in the offseason was to get faster on defense and they've done that.

Both LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell have impressed the coaching staff with their range already and they'll see a lot of tight end assignments in the future.  I covered the linebackers in a blog the other day as David Harris told me 'backers coach Bob Sutton has really focused on pass drops and man-to-man techniques with his unit. 

Harris has looked better in pass coverage in camp, Bart Scott has lost weight and is quicker and let's see how rookie Demario Davis develops.    The hope is Davis helps immediately in sub situations — in coverage and as a blitzer.

There is potential with some of those youngsters in the secondary as well.  Josh Bush is athletic, Antonio Allen has made plays and both Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster have stepped up as possible third down contributors vs. backs and TEs.

*OrlandoMexico CityQ: *Here is a question for a big fan in Mexico City.   I'm watching every single video on this page and I'm seeing McElroy playing well.   I think in the preseason game vs. the Bengals — he was the best QB.   Why don't they give him a chance with the first team?  I'm saying look at Tom Brady what did and he was a 6th or 7th round pick.

EA: G-Mac hasn't even played in an NFL game yet, but there is a lot to like Orlando.  The Alabama product is a heady ball player and he showed some moxie in the preseason last year.   The best thing for McElroy is to get some more snaps in the preseason.  He started off a little slow in camp, but he's come on of late. 

Tom Brady was forced into that situation after Jets LB Mo Lewis delivered a vicious hit on Drew Bledsoe.  If that never happens, well that's for another day….

Cili Littleton, COQ: Percy Harvin is unhappy with the Vikings.  He was one of Tebow's go-to-guys at Florida.   Should the Jets pursue Harvin?
EA: I don't think Harvin is going anywhere.  He is a dynamic playmaker, but I don't think the Vikings are looking to deal him.  If they were, the cost wouldn't be cheap and he is going to want a new lucrative contract soon.

Tim Brooklyn, NY

Q: The Jets safeties concern me. There is little depth there and I am especially concerned since Eric Smith is banged up and Laron Landry's injury history. Will they pick up a veteran somewhere between now and Week 1?

EA: Smitty is listed as day-to-day with a left knee/hip injury he suffered against the Bengals.  As we continue to state here, the Jets really like their depth at safety.  Yeremiah Bell and Laron Landry continue to run with the first unit and the coaches like this trio of rookies — Antonio Allen, Josh Bush and D'Anton Lynn.  We have a while to go before the opener, so let's see how Smitty progresses.  There isn't a depth problem.
SethWarwick, New York

Q: Will McElroy likely be the 3rd QB behind Tebow?   Or does Simms have a shot?

EA: Of course Matt Simms has a shot, but G-Mac is the odds-on favorite for the third spot.  Simms will get his opportunities at some point during game action, but expect an order of Sanchez, Tebow and McElroy Saturday night.  The Jets love McElory's smarts and dependability. They know if he goes in — he'll manage the game and protect the ball.

Simms did some nice things in the Green & White game and he has a good arm, but he is in a position where he'll have to maximize his time with little reps.  The rookie didn't play a ton in college, so he is still learning and gaining game experience will be big for him moving forward. 

Joe M.New York, New York

Q: Do you think the Jets will be able to move the ball more efficiently and score more points?   I have a feeling Jet Nation is in for a long year.

EA:  Well Joe, I hope you see things differently when we reach September.  I did not leave Cincinnati feeling strongly one way or the other about too many things.  It was the first preseason game and the offense played one quarter with a vanilla gameplan.  There have been injuries to the wide receivers and Wayne Hunter has missed some time at RT.

The Jets will have a strong defense, so I don't think this offense has to be "The Greatest Show on Turf".  They simply have to run the football better, cut down on turnovers and stretch the field occasionally.  The trade for Tim Tebow and the selection of Stephen Hill in the draft gave the Jets two additional playmakers and the unit got younger. 

That injury to Nick Mangold in Game 2 last year was huge.  Everything changed from that moment forward as the Jets went into a three-game tailspin.  I also can tell you that the players have truly enjoyed working under Tony Sparano.

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