Here are a few more points that GM Mike Tannenbaum made during his Friday news conference at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. One question had to do with the free agency/draft timeline and how that affects a team's decisions. Mike T referred to a former Jets GM and the 2007 draft to explain the process.
"We talk about it all the time in the office. Terry Bradway and I have had a lot of philosophical discussions about that," Tannenbaum said. "Really, what I think you are driving at is the structure of the contract. Sometimes, you'd love to sign guys in free agency and then something better comes along and you'd love to move on but you've made a two-year commitment.
"Those are real calculated risks that are tough calls. From where I sit, those are as tough decisions as you have because it's the bird in the hand versus the two in the bush versus we think there is a reasonable risk here that we could improve this position in the draft. Personally, I like to go into the draft with as much flexibility as possible because you just never know what is going to happen."
To illustrate that point, the GM recalled how the Jets traded up with Green Bay in Round 2 of '07 for the 47th overall selection, which they used to select Michigan LB David Harris.
"Every projection we had, he was going in the bottom of the first. When he was there in the second round, we went up to get him," he said. "We never thought in our wildest dreams that we would walk out with [Darrelle] Revis and David Harris in the first two rounds, but we had put ourselves in position that we could take advantage of that opportunity. As best we can I would like to put us in that situation. But it's never perfect."
Tannenbaum also was asked about the quarterback situation. Like a true GM, he didn't rule out bringing in a veteran but he had nice things to say about all three of the QBs on the current roster and the competition that's ahead.
"Philosophically, something that Rex and I believe in is the best players will play and if and when we have opportunities to improve the team we will do that regardless of position," he said, adding, "Those three quarterbacks we have on the roster right now we feel good about.
"Kellen [Clemens] started eight games and actually played very well against Rex's defense.
"Going back a year ago, Brett Ratliff I believe was No. 1 in passer rating in the AFC in the preseason last year. [Ratliff had a 122.6 rating to Drew Brees' 124.0 rating for New Orleans]. You have to take that within the context of it was just preseason, but one thing I have to say about Brett Ratliff is as well as he played in the preseason, nobody in our building was surprised given how hard he had worked and how much he improved.
"I've been on record that Erik Ainge was drafted because his uncle is the GM of the Celtics and we have a lot of great Celtics gear. Erik has done a lot of great things as well. His meticulous preparation in helping some of the other younger players play this year was remarkable, in particular Dustin Keller. I think Erik Ainge had a meaningful impact on our team this year, despite the fact he did get hurt and had some other little bumps in the road, but I am really glad that Erik Ainge is with us."
Tannenbaum stressed that Ainge will have every opportunity to compete for playing time with Clemens and Ratliff and that the competition is "really fun" to watch from his GM's office.
"There will be a great story this year. We just don't know how that story is going to be written. Like a year ago, no one knew who Brett Ratliff was. Now again, he has to go out and earn it, but there are reasons to be encouraged."
Chris Baker knew something was in the wind the day after the end of the season when Eric Mangini had been let go and I asked him what was ahead.
"I don't know where I'll be," he said. "We'll have to see in a few weeks."
It's been more than a few weeks, and Baker finally has found out that for his immediate future, he'll be looking for work after the Jets released him late Friday.
C-Bake was and is a likable guy and a good tight end with good blocking skills and frequently magical hands. But in a sport with 16 games rather than 82 or 162, bad timing can be killer.
In Baker's best season, 2005, he averaged 15.0 yards on each of his 18 catches, the best by a Jets TE since Johnny Mitchell's 16.2 a dozen years earlier. Trouble was, Baker broke his foot in Game 8 during a 4-12 season. His best full season was '07 when he had 41 receptions for 409 yards — during another 4-12 season.
This past season? His numbers were down as rookie Dustin Keller emerged with 48 catches, most by a Jets TE since J-Mitch's 58 in 1994.
Baker, like LBs David Bowens and Brad Kassell, released a day earlier, could return. But for now he's Green & White history and we wish him the best.
Alexander has asked me twice about the Jets' blitzes over the first and second halves of last season. I delayed updating my info on that stat for a while but, spurred to action, I have completed my inputting and I can tell you that (as perhaps you suspected), the Jets' pass pressure wore down as the season wore on.
I'll do you one better, Alexander, and break it down by quarters of the season. Keep in mind the tabulation of the blitzes (defined as sending five or more defenders on a pass play) are not official (they come from my own video review and not from any team sources):
|Span||Pass Plays||Blitzes||Blitz %||Blitz Sacks||Blitz Sack %|