TE Bubba Franks
This is the seventh in a series of stories reviewing the Jets' 2007 season and previewing 2008, position by position.
After eight productive seasons in Green Bay, Bubba Franks is excited about the possibilities of his new job with the New York Jets.
"I'm going on my ninth season now and I've never been really featured in the offense — I was just part of the offense," he told newyorkjets.com this afternoon. "The Jets mainly kind of focus on the tight end. They go from the tight end out whereas the Packers were more outside in. I'm looking forward to this opportunity I have and hopefully I can score a bunch of touchdowns."
He's already scored a bunch — 32 if you're keeping score at home. That TD total along with his 256 career receptions both rank second among tight ends in Green Bay history. Franks is pleased with the early results from the Jets' OTA workouts.
"So far, so good. I'm learning the system. It seems like I'm picking it up pretty fast, so I'm happy right now," he said. "I'm in a great mood and with the options we have as an offense, we look pretty good so far. We need to communicate a little better and I'm pretty sure we'll all be on the same page."
The Jets, stymied too many times in the red zone last season, hope they scored big with the addition of the 6'6", 265-pound Franks. QB Brett Favre made it a habit to look in his direction when the Packers moved inside the opponent's 20.
"The red zone may be my forte. It's something I figure should be easiest to all players because it's just like playing basketball," Franks said. "You go into the end zone, post up and the quarterback throws an alley-oop."
But his TD prowess has overshadowed his other talents throughout his career. He is a good blocker who can make headway between the 20s.
"Most people figure I'm just here to help the running game and to be a red zone threat, but I consider myself the full package," he said. "I can do pretty much anything asked from the coaches. You'll see. It will be a little different here and hopefully more successful."
Last season, Chris Baker posted career highs for the Jets in both receptions (41) and receiving yards (409). But Baker is reportedly not happy with his contract and has been absent from Weeb Ewbank Hall while the team conducts its voluntary spring practices.
"It is an opportunity for me to learn the offense a little bit faster," Franks said. "I wish Bake was here right now so I could learn some key points about the tight end position from him. But business is business and I try not to get involved with that. I hope it all gets worked out for him."
The Jets also got contributions at TE from Joe Kowalewski, Sean Ryan and Jason Pociask, who combined for nine catches, 71 yards and one TD — Kowalewski's 1-yard scoring reception from Kellen Clemens vs. Washington. Pociask remains with the Jets but Joe-Ko was waived last month and Ryan signed with Miami on the first day of unrestricted free agency.
For Franks, catching balls from Clemens and Chad Pennington is a huge transition from attempting to handle passes from Favre's howitzer.
"Brett throws the ball like he's playing baseball all the time. He cocks his leg and half the times you can hear the ball whistling as it comes towards you," Franks said. "I don't think Brett had as much touch. All he knew was full-speed and he mainly only had one speed, but there is more of a touch with Kellen and Chad. It's a lot easier to catch, so you have time to react to the ball."
The Jets, who owned four first-round selections in the 2000 draft, used their first two (Shaun Ellis, No. 12, John Abraham, No. 13) before Green Bay took Franks at No. 14. Franks thought New York might have been his initial landing destination, but he's pleased to be here now under head coach Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
"It's not often you get a chance to work with geniuses. When I say geniuses, I mean the guys who are good at what they do. Sometimes you work with coaches who are just kind of thrown into the position, but these guys are actually specialists at what they do," he said. "It's going to be incredible just learning the way they teach and the way they view the game of football."
The Jets didn't announce the signing of Franks until St. Patrick's Day, so he watched their initial free agency surge. He was impressed with the talent they added and thought he could be another nice piece to the puzzle.
"The offensive line is pretty much solidified now and by adding me in, that just makes the offense even more deadly," he said. "It was a pretty good offense last year, but they were a little short in the red zone. Adding a red zone specialist makes the offense a little more dangerous."